Plan ahead or live in the moment?

I can’t exactly put my finger on when things changed, but I know for sure they have. It’s not that I didn’t used to plan ahead, it’s just how far into the future I thought things through, that seems to have changed.

The plans of what to wear on Saturday night and if I had enough money to get drunk and get the last bus home, have somehow morphed into – how much do I need to earn to be able to pay the mortgage in 4 years time, and what do I need to do to combat the long term effects of alcohol on my body?

With every inspirational quote on Instagram telling us to be more present, I can’t help but question, is this shift to future planning actually doing me any favours? Life is definitely more fun when you forget about the consequences and live in the now.

It is however, worth mentioning at this stage, anyone with a social media following of 300K plus, at some point must have given a nod to the future, when they mapped out their path to Instagram influencer fame. And not, as they quote, stayed fully in the present.

Perhaps it’s ok to live in the moment if you have a plan for the future?

But what if it’s not the distance into the future that’s the problem, but the sentiment behind it. It seems to me, that planning ahead somehow got replaced with worrying ahead.

When you plan for the short term, it’s easy to see the outcome and in the most part take joy form it. Worrying about the future is useless, there’s no real way of knowing how things will go. And worrying doesn’t have any influence on the outcome, it doesn’t change a thing.

Planning into the future is a great thing, as long you actually do something about it and take action. That’s the difference between planning ahead and worrying ahead – the action you take.

I believe it’s possible to be fully present and look ahead at the same time, when your actions in the now line up with the future you want.

However in the ultimate twist, it does seem to me that the best adventures always come along when you least expect them, from an unplanned, unexpected place.

So now all that’s left to do is, be present, while planning ahead and remaining flexible…….

If anyone has mastered that please let me know how.

What my fears have taught me

I don’t suppose anyone sits down and thinks intentionally about what their afraid of, but somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve always known.

I remember once on a date, I was asked – “what are you scared of?” He meant like spiders or snakes, but without even thinking I blurted out “not being able to have children.” Needless to say I didn’t see him again.

Recently I’ve found myself wondering, if  perhaps I’d manifested this painful reality there and then? Did the universe hear my worry and set out to challenge me? Is there a lesson I need to learn?

And, on other days it feels as though life is just a line of disconnected events, that we’re so desperate to join together in the hope of making sense of it all?

Whatever the reason for the things that happen, I’ve found two things to be true.

  1. There are things you can change.
  2. There are things you can not change – no matter how desperately you want to.

And with this knowledge I re-access the damage caused by this all mighty fear coming true. I am still standing, I have not ceased to exist, the world did not end – although perhaps it did, if only for a moment.

By accepting the things I can not change, I’m not giving up. No, i’m just loosing the tight grip that’s controlled my world. I’m unclenching my teeth and breathing out – this is me. I’d spent so long focused on things that were outside of my control, that i’d let the important stuff slip away. So much worry, so much fear and for no benefit, nothing has changed.

And so to focus on the things I can change, here comes the fun. My mindset, my thoughts, in time my feelings, but most importantly my future. It’s ours to shape however we want.

Focus on the good stuff and pour your energy into the things you can change.

For I truly believe, the best is yet to come.

Why I’m selfish

Being selfish has never been a good look. I get it, being nice to other people is important.

However, if you don’t put yourself first and be selfish, I know from experience it’s super hard to be there for others.

I’m a crappy friend when I need a bit of me time. I’m a shitty girlfriend when I make everything about him and when work takes over, I eventually run out of steam and quit.

But, when we’re constantly told not to be selfish, how do you make it more about you?

The saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup” – that is, you can’t give away what you haven’t got. So how do you fill up your cup?

For the longest time, I thought my problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what made me happy. I’d try writing lists of things I liked to do, but never ended up doing them.

As I looked at my latest list, I realised the issue wasn’t knowing what I wanted, the issue was that I wasn’t prepared to make it a priority. I never made space in my life for doing the things that made me feel like me. And slowly but surely those things slipped away.

It’s not a matter of having time, it’s always amazing what you can fit into a day when your being productive. It’s a matter of boundaries. The amount of me time I have is no one else’s responsibility, and it’s no one else problem if I made it to the gym or not.

And, if I want to there for you, i’ve got to be there for me first.

Whatever makes you shine hold onto and don’t let go – even if a better offer comes along. I promise that offer will still be there after you’ve been to the gym or meditated.

The stories I’ve made up about you

I have a running conversation in my head and it’s not just with myself. I imagine conversations I might have with people I know and then I make up their response. More often than not it’s a negative conversation. Sometimes it’s a friend picking me up on my shitty behavior or my boss pulling me up on my bad mood. Whatever the situation I always have the best answers to their reprimanding.

Apart from the obvious issues with having a chat with yourself, there are a few other problems with speaking on behalf of someone else, even if it’s in your own head. The biggest issue is you have absolutely no way of knowing how the other person feels about this situation, let alone might actually say in reality.

Now, as our brains are constantly looking to make sense of the world we live in, we join the dots where possible. And, when there is no obvious connection we make it up. This creation of a story will always reinforcing the view you already have, because after all it’s you making it up. Whatever you believe you’ll find ways to confirm.

As I run though these made up scenarios in my head and allow myself to play every role, I muster an emotional response towards these people, and just like that, my brain subconsciously applies it to real life.

With very pieces of information (fiction or real) I construct a linear story that reinforces my views of the people I know and the world we’re in.

As I write this I can’t help but wonder if anyone else is doing the same thing inside their head? And if they are, how different is their world must to mine? Have they already made up my responses and crafted an image of who they believe I am. Will they even be able to hear me if I answer differently to what they believe? Do our realities ever cross?

All I can do is consciously tried to stop myself when I feel those stories stirring in my head.

 

Getting to the bottom of things

There’s no denying it, it all feels like too much today.

Certain life choices with unknown out comes loom over head, bigger and scarier than ever, while the daily practice of functioning like a normal adult human just seems like too bigger task for me.

Looking around, it’s as though my surroundings reflect the inside of my head. 100 jobs started and not finished, too many good intentions to count, disorder rules – it’s a mess.

I look to my phone, surely this faithful distraction will take the edge off. But in a rare moment it looks blankly back at me, as if to say “don’t even think about it.”

I’m stuck here, in this moment forced to take it in. And, unless I want to stay here forever, lost in the disorder, starting but never finishing, I’d better find a different rout out.

But, when you don’t even know what the problem is, how could you possibly find a solution.

For me, it’s with 3 simple ‘why’ questions.

Q1. Why are you feeling like this?

  • There’s too much to do, nothing is getting done, I’m late with everything, it feels like chaos.

Q2. Why is nothing getting done?

  • Because I keep getting distracted.

Q3. Why are you distracted? 

  • I’ve got so much on my plate, I don’t know where to start.

Obviously you could ask why forever and this example is a pretty basic one. But this exercise is useful non the less.

For me it cuts through the surface level emotion and gets to the point – I’m feeling over whelmed and with so much to do I don’t know where to start.

All that’s left to do now is find a good starting point, work out what exactly needs doing and how I’m going to get it done.

 

 

Even free spirits thrive on routine

I hate routine, at least I used to think I did.

As a serial short term employee, I craved new and exciting experiences.

As soon as I’d mastered a role, when the everyday tasks become a repetitive chore, and it all got a bit too samey, I would polity but ever so efficiently exit the building.

Soon enough this behaviour led me to the only logical conclusion; I would only be happy if my life was forever changing. Never the same, never stuck in routine. I craved freedom and adventure, I am a free spirt, don’t hold me down.

Perhaps I was looking at things from the wrong angle…….

Studies have been done across all areas of success, from loosing weight to running a business and they all point back to one common trait – dedication to routine. Not just for a few days or even weeks, but repetitively acting in a certain way, day after day, and not stopping at the first sign of success, but setting this new way of life in stone.

Think back to any point in your life when you’ve felt great. A time when you were killing it.

Without a shadow of doubt for me, it was a time when I had my morning routine nailed. I did the same actions, at the same time, in the same order, every single day.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t for the full day –  just a simple morning routine of hot water and lemon, a walk, writing and a coffee. The point is I wasn’t bored, I didn’t crave change, I was actually the happiest I’ve ever been and, when my circumstances changed, I took it with me and life continued to fly in the right direction.

Perhaps I’ve had mundane routines confused with creative rituals all this time? Or maybe it’s as simple as being the creator of your own routine that’s important.

Whatever it is, for me a little bit of a routine goes a really long way. Waking up and not having to think about the first actions I need to take seemed to throw me out of bed with out question and sets me up for the best day I could possible have.

What’s your routine?

Pissed off therapy

I’ve been trying to ignore it but it won’t go away. I’ve been dancing around in the hope it will disappear, desperately trying every strategy to shake it off.

But it’s still there.

There’s the big issues, the ones that you give yourself permission to feel, because you know they’re a big deal. And most days I can take them in my stride.

And then there’s the smaller issues, the kind of things that are so small I shouldn’t even acknowledge them and yet, it is the weight of these little dramas that seem to send my whole world toppling over, spinning out of control – like the guy who beeped at me in the car park and then stole my space, or the fact we don’t have any milk in the fridge.

It’s all just too much.

So today i’m trying a different tactic. I’m putting my positive mantras down and diving into a whole world of pissed off.

I’m allowing myself one hour to be totally annoyed.

In this one hour i’m going to indulge in the feelings. I’m going to list every single little thing that is getting on my nerves, making me sad, mad or just generally pissing me off.

If it’s a person i’m writing them a letter, with no intention of them receiving it I can let loose.

I’m going to dive in, fully embrace and totally explore these feelings. I give myself full permission to be pissed off, annoyed and as emotional as I want.

However, when the hour is up, that’s it, we’re done, it’s over.

Step two: 

Taking a different pen and setting one more timer on my phone.

In this next hour I address each and every point on the page. It’s incredible what a difference letting the problems out has. Having to not just articulate what’s annoying me, but also write it down. The smaller issues seem to instantly dissolve away and the bigger ones are clear now and easier to tackle.

And just like that I feel better, even lighter.