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.

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?

Why it won’t work

Have you ever faced a seemingly impossible idea, but known with every single part of your body, it’s the right thing to do?

Have you ever been so sure of the path you’ve chosen that when you achieve it, it feels like the whole world conspired together to make it work for you?

Like a satisfying game of Tetris, all the pieces fit perfectly together, simply clicking into place, making you the ultimate champion.

For one year, it felt like I had that.

Every crazy idea just seemed to work out, every ridiculous scheme came together seamlessly.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. There was plenty of stress, late nights and hard work. I was on this crazy rollercoaster and everything was going right.

The only problem is, it goes the other way too. Sometimes it just feels like the whole world is working against you and nothing will work out.

There’s something I want so much I’m sure of it, but I just can’t get my shit together.

Something feels wrong and no matter how hard I try, or how much I want it, I simply can’t line all the pieces up.

And, as the feeling that everything’s spiralling out of control takes over, I finally realise it’s not the world, it’s me that’s stopping things from working. It’s the pieces on the inside that aren’t alined yet.

I’m a big believer in following your gut, or perhaps it’s intuition. Either way, there’s no denying that when things feel right on the inside, when you’re so sure that what you’re doing is the right thing for you – that’s when everything lines up in the outside world.

So rather than looking first to external forces that seem to trip us up at every turn, it’s time to look inside and ask yourself what’s holding you back?

The rules of saying I love you

He told me he loved me on our 3rd date. Not in any romantic way, he just chucked it out there, like it was nothing. I wondered for a minute if it was a mistake – like when you call your teacher mum. But it wasn’t.

All that was left to think, was it must be some sort of weird joke.

When he said it again on the 4th date, I thought perhaps he did mean it, but  I couldn’t help but wonder, “how can you possibly love me, what do you know about love? You don’t even know me.”

Turns out he knew a lot more about love than I gave him credit for.

I used to think there were these rules about falling in love. Rules that if you played to, you were guaranteed love, happiness and everything else that’s meant to follow. I’d been playing by these rules my whole life.

Rule 1. Wait 3 months before you say I love you.
Rule 2. Look deeply into each others eyes.
Rule 3. Be totally blown away when you hear the words.

As I discussed his obvious disregard for the rules with my friend she said, “maybe he does love you? Love isn’t about looking into each others eyes, it’s about looking into the future together.”

I thought back to past relationships, where the moment had been right and the sacred three words had been said, but there was nothing more to it, nothing to back that perfect moment. No future, just all present.

Suddenly my rules dissolved, they crumble away. Falling in love and saying it, isn’t a one time transaction that has to be perfect or even life changing. It’s simply a feeling that you want to be around that person for a lot longer. You’re saying you want to be in their future.

And with that, on our 5th date, I casually told him I wanted to be a part of his future too.

I love you.

Why you don’t like change

I used to pride myself on liking change. In fact, I found it hard when things stayed the same for too long.

But then why, when it comes to making a few changes in my life, changes I know will transform things,  am I so resistant?

I’d dig in my heels, look away and hold my breath.

In life, it seems that we thrive off change and new challenges, even when we hate them at the time. Change forces us to adapt and learn, it’s what makes us grow.

However, I’m all too aware of the repetition we seek out in everyday life. We find comfort in doing things the same way. I catch myself drawn to the same seat on the bus every single time I get on.

And, with a wardrobe full of clothes, why then do we wear the same things over and over again?

I may like it when things in my life change, but how proactive am I at instigating that change and finding new challenges?

I recently read Mel Robins, 5 Second Rule, she explains that we’re hardwired to avoid anything that makes us feel uncomfortable, especially change.

That’s why you’ll never really feel ready to take that leap of faith, or put yourself out there – you just have to make yourself do it anyway.

From getting fit to finding your dream job, Mel says that if it means simply putting one foot outside your comfort zone, your brain will go into overdrive to protect you. It will do everything it can to talk you out of taking action.

Change is scary, staying the same is not.
Change requires action, staying the same does not.
Change is unknown, staying the same is not.

The way I see it, is we have a choice when it comes to change. Each of those 3 sentences can be split in half. One half is negative and the other is positive, it’s up to us which half is which.

Mantra this, and change your life

To say I didn’t enjoy school, would be an understatement.

I remember being 15 years old, and trying to make the walk to school last as long as humanly possible.

I started to notice a pattern on the days I dreaded going in. I would find myself repeating in my head over and over again, “It’s going to be a horrible day”. I think I honestly believed that if I prepared myself, it wouldn’t matter if it was a bad day, because I’d already called it.

And of course, it always was.

Then one day I decided to try something different. I started to repeat in my head, over and over again, “today is a great day”.

I remember it feeling so forced, and I’m sure I rolled my eyes with every repetition.

But, I kept doing it, the whole walk to school.

Today is a great day.
Today is a great day.
Today is a great day.

I’m not sure what was more annoying, the fact it worked, or the fact I actually did have a good day. But, none the less things got a little bit brighter.

Ever since then, I’ve used matras to keep me and my mind on the right track.

I repeat a short phrase to myself, over and over again, most often while I’m walking somewhere.

I’ll say anything from “I love myself”, to “I am successful”. And, from time to time I still find myself repeating the words, “today is a great day”.

The trick is to talk in the first person and as if it’s already true. Try not to use any negative words, like not. Because, your brain can’t identify them and only hears the instruction.

So if you say “I am not late” over and over, all your brain hears is “I’m late, I’m late”. And with the power of matras being what it is, you’ll most definitely end up being late.

And that’s it. Just pick something you want and start saying it over and over again.

It doesn’t even matter whether you believe it or not at first. All that matters is that you say it, over and over again.

From brightening your mood to increasing productivity, mantras will change the way you view the world.

What are you waiting for? Give it a go right now.