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Who Do You Believe Is In Control Of Your Destiny?

What is your dream and how will you get there?

Do you dream big or do you settle for what you have?

You may already have everything you want but that doesn’t mean you don’t stop reaching. It doesn’t mean you stop searching.

If you have every step of your path laid out before you, then you know which direction to turn in your search when you are lost. Maybe you feel that you have already arrived at your destination. Ask yourself – have you? The journey doesn’t end so therefore the search doesn’t end.

Who do you believe is in charge of you and your destiny?

Is it the system?

Is it the beurocrats, the politicians, the government, your boss, your wages, your talents? No. These are all just aspects of your life.

I feel that the key word here is believe. Who do you BELIEVE is in charge or your destiny? It’s not society, it’s not the people who wronged you, forget them.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE, whether you believe that or not.

There’s that word again. That belief is what is important. That belief is what makes or breaks you. That belief defines you and shapes you into the person you will become.

If you don’t believe, then you will not change. Stand up, raise your chin, pull your shoulders back and declare to all in a strong voice “I am in charge of my own destiny.” Grab the bull the horns and get out there into the storm of a world we have to weather and take what is yours.

Take your destiny.

I speak metaphorically here, but the power is there, all you have to do is take charge. You have the power to get out of bed and go for a run before work. You have the power to spend one hour less watching Netflix and read a book from the library. You have the power to chose a salad or a pizza.

You are in charge of your destiny and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Who do you think was in charge of Christopher Reeves destiny? Or Stephen Hawking? Or Viktor Frankl? Was it the horse that threw superman to the ground and broke his back? Motor neurone disease which slowed the world renowned physicist down to a physical stop but did it take charge of his life? The Nazis took everythign from Frankl but they did not best him.

Paralyzing injuries, debilitating sickness and an army of evil could not overpower these people.

They had the drive to keep going, to push through the hardest, life ending moments, to crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side just like Andy Defresne in The Shawshank Redemption.

Forget about the privelaged folk who have everything, forget about the people you think you need to compare yourself to – they are not in charge of your destiny.

They do not care about your destiny. It is in your hands and you are in charge.

Take a pause and look around. Where are you? What are you going to do next? What did you eat today? Did you exercise? What did you learn? If you dont like the answer to any of these questions, remember that the rest of your life starts now and you are in control.

You have the power to change and shape your destiny as you chose. Not as someone else choses but as you chose.

Get up, look up, get out there and do what it is that makes you feel strong and powerful and keep on doing it. Keep on looking up.

You have the power to do what you want.

Peace,

George

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Having Less: Why & How It Has Changed Us

The decision to live our lives with less gradually occurred over years. Realising that buying things only lead to buying more got exhausting, expensive and stressful. The constant need to keep up with friends & family, comparing what we had with others would make anyone feel inadequate.

Constantly going around the same loop of needing-wanting-getting-feeling bad, I came to a realisation that buying things was not making me happy but creating stress, worry, sadness and loneliness. I hate shopping malls and really didn’t like spending time in them. So why was I going there to buy stuff, it didn’t make sense.

Wakening up to the fact that buying things did not make me happy or having lots of clutter in our home did not make me happy. I decided to make a change. This decision came about from certain events but I think the one real eye opener was being around people who had so much money and things. Soon I realised they were no happier than we were. In fact, all their stuff caused them so much stress. People were even hired to take care of their stuff; houses, cars, animals, bags, jewelry. Stuff needs taking care of, maintenance, up keep, constant surveillance. Owing more than one home creates so much stress, especially when they are not lived in all the time leaks, electrical issues, surveillance, security alarms, all of these extra stresses which start to control the lives of the people.

I saw first-hand how people who seem to have it all, were controlled by it all. Spending months working on their houses, renovating, painting, adding on thinking it would all end in a few months but then the upkeep of the homes began to take over weekends. The time spent having to clean the house, do jobs around the house, or paying people to do all that just didn’t appeal to me.

Living in a rented 1-bedroom apartment might not seem like a lot to most people but what it is freedom. Freedom from upkeeping a massive house, freedom from huge mortgage bills, freedom from having to hire staff to clean, freedom to live more simply. Is this going to be reality for the rest of our lives, no, we want to live in our own small place on our own land someday but for now this is perfect.

Living in a small space doesn’t mean that we are living simply, you can over complicate life very easily with extreme shopping habits. This is what we wanted to change. We wanted to eradicate the need to want things, we wanted to sit and relax in our home and not want or need. Be happy with what we had because everything we had was chosen with care & love and thought.

We want to live in a home with less noise, more space and beauty. That meant going through every room, drawer, cupboard, box, shelf, basket and storage area to get rid of all the things that did not spark joy or happiness. Marie Kondo book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” was the road map we used to help declutter our home. For me this process of getting rid of stuff is fun, I have no issue with giving unused, unwanted and no longer needed items away. In fact, when they find a great home it makes me feel so happy! We gave away and sold lots of stuff, no dumping required except we recycled a lot of bank statements, notes from courses we took, old notebooks and lots of other paper that was stored throughout the years. Now we just have 1 folder for our important paperwork and avoid bringing paperwork back to our home.

I like to look through each area of our place on a monthly basis to see if there are any other items we could donate or give away. We have come very close to a place now that we truly have just what we use & need.

I cannot explain how relaxing this is and how happy I am when I walk through our home door every evening after work and look around to a place where I want to relax, destress and be comfortable in. Not having a need to clean, improve or change anything. Its home. I swear I smile everything I come home, maybe because we worked so hard for it and spent a lot of time deciding how we want our place to look & feel. The constant need to buy is no longer there. We would rather spend time working on projects we want to complete, be out in nature & socializing with friends.

Having less is not easy in fact it is so much easier to have more, more stuff, more debt, more stress, more money, more drink, more credit cards, more cars, shoes……. it’s harder to limit, to say no and to realise that having more does not make you happy. Having been around people who have lots of money……. but still want more money & more stuff….it made me realise that the wanting never stops even when you become hugely successful.

Spending life taking care of your stuff is a horrid waste of time when you could be doing things that spark joy & happiness…don’t waste life accumulating things instead accumulate memoires, experiences, friends, love & relationships. Focus on what really matters, connection, community, health, wellbeing, friendships, family…. stuff will never make you happy…. It may make life easier sometimes but never happier.

Having less is the best decision we ever made. We Know having less is better for our environment, relationships, health and bank accounts. We choose having less clutter and more time to enjoy life. Yes, this lifestyle will not make sense to a lot of people but we are free to life exactly how we choose…. we choose less. Our possessions do not control our lives.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback and comments.

Have a great week,

Chat soon,

Theresa xx

The Productivity Project, By Chris Bailey: A Review

Chris Bailey is young, well younger than me anyway, maybe that’s not so young anymore.

When I saw his fresh face on the inside cover of his book on Productivity I wasn’t sure he had the experience to be a “productivity guru.”

Experience he has, a whole year which he spent trying every productivity technique under the sun.

The book is an easy read and full of useful information. My favourite tips are as follows.

  1. Meditate.
  2. Drink water.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Nap.
  5. Turn off notifications.
  6. The rule of three.
  7. Keep your work week under 50 hours.
  8. Catch your ideas.
  9. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it.

I had some of these practises in place before I read the book, but here’s how I put them into action.

Meditation:

Chris explains that one of the results of meditation is to create space in your brain and that regular practisers create approximately 30% more space for memory, leaving you with more “battery life” to concentrate.

I started small, with 5-10 minutes a day and built up to 30 minutes a day at one stage. 30 minutes didn’t work with my schedule and routine, but here’s the key, instead of not meditating, I just cut it back to a manageable time. That’s 20 minutes for me and I have stuck with that consistently for probably three years now.

I think that’s a great rule you can apply to almost any habit. If you feel you are struggling with it then instead of abandoning it, just reduce the time you are putting into it.

Drink water:

This is not something I have worked at as consistently as I should, but what I try to do is start the morning with a pint of water with some lemon juice in it. It helps you wake up quicker as you are dehydrated after a nights sleep. Lemon is also a great way to hydrate.

It’s helps to prepare this the previous night. As I have said in my previous blogs, a successful morning starts the night before.

Get enough sleep:

As I just mentioned, a great morning routine starts the night before (Click here to see my previous blog on this subject).

Getting enough sleep is so important. Chris compares people in today’s society who are sleep deprived to hoards of mindless zombies, roaming around, unable to operate at full capacity.

I have also read that a good nights sleep depends on the amount of sunlight you receive during the day, bringing things full circle. Sleep depends (somewhat) on sunlight, and daytime alertness, productivity and mindfulness depend on sleep.

Chris also talks about blue light and caffeine. Blue light – ie. screens should be avoided at least an hour before sleep. There are blue light glasses you can buy and filters for your devices if you really need to use them before bed but my general rule is no screen time after 8:45pm. The same applies in the morning, the only screen time I have before 7:00 is to use my meditation app (insight timer).

Caffeine is another one to watch out for. It will stay in your system for 8-14 hours so you should avoid drinking caffiene after 11:30am. Chris also recommends using caffeine strategically, as in timing it so that it will carry you through the low energy parts of the day. I was never into coffee so my caffeine intake is a cup of green tea early in the morning.

Napping:

I was once asked in a team building exercise what my superpower is. My answer – the ability to fall asleep anywhere. We had a 10 hour layover in Toronto once, so we had time to explore downtown and as Theresa browsed the shops I sat down on one of the display couches and slept.

The author talks about the value of a short nap throughout your work day to boost your productivity or energy levels. For me the optimum time is about 12 minutes. Each time I put my head down for the “12 minutes” I feel like I will not sleep yet the alarm always wakes me. I say 12 minutes because it is not long enough to fall into a deep sleep and you will not have that groggy, heavy feeling when you wake.

Some people just can’t nap, but napping, in my opinion, is a skill that can be practised and learned, just like meditation. It started for me, years ago when I used to drive to different building sites all over Ireland. I might have a 3-4 hour drive home after a though days work. I always made sure to pull over before I felt too tired. A 10-15 minute nap and I would be good to drive safely for another hour and a half or so.

One word of caution, napping will not replace deep night time sleep as your body will not regenerate and repair as it does throughout the night.

Turning off notifications:

This ties back in to my morning and evening. Apple iPhones now have a great system called screen time, which will either limit your phone time or app time or lock you out completely. I restrict my phone so I cannot use it during the night or early morning. I can still receive phone calls if there is an emergency, but my phone will be in do not disturb mode. Another great feature which you can turn on automatically.

 

Screen shot of Screen Time from IPhone settings

Screen shot of Do Not Disturb from IPhone settings

One thing that annoys me a little is apps that constantly offer to turn on notifications. It’s not my thing. I have almost all notifications turned off. The author talks about the amount of time (25 minutes) it takes to get back into the flow of work after you have been interrupted,whether that be a device or another person.

I really believe that multi tasking is a fable, you simply cannot concentrate on more than one thing at a time. My own personal example is that when I’m in the office working away on something and an email pops up in the lower right corner I will immediately open it, lose my work flow and actually start working on the email. (There’s the start of 25 minutes to get back into the flow).

What I like to do to combat this is to put outlook into offline mode and only update my inbox at specific times or when I have fully finished a specific task.

The Rule of Three:

This simply means identifying three things you want to accomplish during the week ahead and also the day ahead. I only use this on a daily basis rather than a weekly basis, but when I sit down at my computer in the office I list my three most important tasks. Indeed, like everybody, we probably have one hundred and seven things on our to do list, but identifying the three most important let’s me see what the priority is. I also have a sense of achievement when I get through them, rather than feeling overwhelmed with the amount I have left to do.

These three tasks may take me an hour or the rest of the day but once they’re complete I can move onto something else or head home knowing I achieved something.

Keep your work week under 50 hours:

This can be a tricky one to put into practise and stick to. Sometimes you cannot avoid working over 50 hours, especially when you work for yourself or if you are a full time parent but the authors experiments (along with other independent research) showed that any work over the fifty hour mark was not productive.

In other words the same amount of work was acieved in 80 hours as was achieved in 50 hours.

I try to stick to this in my own working life by getting out of the office between 5 and 6 every day and not engaging in work (unless absolutely necessary) at home. France has actually made it illegal for companies to contact employees outside of work hours.

35-40 hours is your most productive working time for the week.

Catch your ideas:

Make lists. Many people (Richard Branson among them) carry a notebook everywhere to write down ideas (I suppose everyone does nowadays with a smart phone).

This frees up space in your mind rather than having your brain work away in the background to remember tasks.

I write everything down and have done so for years now. Probably 90% of what I write down is never used but the other 10% consists of important things I need to remember and also creative ideas (like my pending historical fiction novel and these blogs).

I also catch all my work tasks electronically so I am not spending brain power trying to think of what I need to work on. It is easily accessible in my calendar or email with reminders set up to ensure it gets done.

SIRI or voice memo is a great way to note things which pop into your brain when your driving. Just record it or ask SIRI to send yourself an email.

This makes a big difference to our overburdened brain. Have you ever gone to the supermarket without a list and found yourself overwhelmed by everything on offer?

You can also (if possible) address easy tasks right away. Why put it on a to do list if it isn’t worth it? David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) recommends that if a task takes less than two minutes then it doesn’t go on a to do list.

My caution here is to make sure it does not interrupt your work flow. I do not recommend jumping off something you are in the middle of to address a two minute task as the interruption to your work flow is a lot more than two minutes.

If it doesn’t work, don’t do it:

Another really interesting thing I learned from this book is that if it doesn’t work for you then don’t do it.

The author struggled to get up at 5:30am for some time before coming to the conclusion that it didn’t work for him. Many productivity “gurus” talk about using the morning time to your advantage but this isn’t necessarily what will work for you.

Determine your most productive and energy filled times and use them to your advantage.

 

The verdict:

Overall The Productivity Project is an quick and easy read and has lots of useful info. It’s also written for real, everyday people rather than CEOs and Hedge Fund investors (Whatever the hell that is), though the advise does apply to everyone.

I recommend this book if you work a regular 9-5 job like me, or if you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have in your general life.

If you want to know more about Chris Bailey and his productivity experiments have a look at his blog by clicking Here.

Peace,

George

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