These 12 points should be considered when embarking on any journey of change or transformation for the individual.
Start as early as possible. Your future ideal is looking back at your present decisions and actions judgingly.
Plan the best journey you can (given the knowledge you have).
At least consider/research alternatives -to assess which is the best route. If you just set off prematurely you might be going in completely the opposite direction to what you should be going, and will require you to backtrack later, wasting lots of time and effort. Remember, the shortest route between two points is a straight line. Don’t panic if you have set off prematurely, learn from it and get back on track.
You don’t need to know everything when you start out, the journey is partly (even mainly) about growing into the type of person who can complete it, through acquired knowledge learned from the journey itself.
The journey may have lots of distractions, or temptations, always keep one eye on the destination. When making decisions between choices, make sure moving closer to the destination is the deciding factor.
Expect obstacles, they will teach you something about your journey. Consider them a missing part of your plan. Learn from them, they may crop up again further down the road, and you’ll know what to do next time. Some obstacles may even be fun to problem solve.
Enjoy the journey whenever you can. It’s the thing that is going to take up most of your time. You’re less likely to pursue a goal that requires a dull, uncomfortable, or unenjoyable journey. Sometimes you have no choice, but when you do, pick wisely.
The worry of fear is often an exaggerated version of the thing itself. The mind plays tricks to instinctively keep us safe. Think it through, what is the worst that could happen, and is that outcome really that bad?
Listen to that off-putting part of you thoroughly before going any further, negotiate a satisfying resolution (in good faith), so it doesn’t keep popping up, and using up your energy and resolution. All parts of you should be 100% committed to the journey, so setbacks don’t end things later (wasting more of your time).
Have 3 or 4 good arguments for undertaking the journey to begin with, so that counterarguments don’t get the upper hand. If 40% of you is against the journey, then the remaining 60% is having to pull against this anchor, requiring more expenditure of energy. If 60% is against your journey/ goal/ destination, you’re not going to even try. Do you really want to get to the destination enough? Do you have a big enough reason or enough reasons?
Is completion of the journey a matter of life or death, very important, not really important at all? Get this straight in your mind. ‘Life and death’ is a big enough reason on its own, and you better get on with it. With ‘very low importance’, obviously not so much, but why not give it a go anyway, it might be fun and a great learning opportunity, since you have nothing to lose either way. Value being a lifelong learner.
Once you reach your destination, you’ve got your next journey to navigate. Life is made up of many journeys and these will make up the dash between your birthday and the date of death on your gravestone (final destination of this life at least). We have one life (that we know about for sure), so make the most of it, while you can. But remember, it’s not just about hedonistic pleasure, it’s about making things better for others as well.
We can probably all agree that being able to get results and achieve success is no bad thing, after all we are exploratory creatures. We aren’t designed to rest on our laurels and be satisfied with what we have. We always want to have more and to be better. We can try to fight our nature, but it’s a constant battle to engage in.
It’s also important to be grateful for the things we have, and to enjoy the fruits of our labour and the rewards of our love, otherwise, what’s the point.
But forward momentum is part of our genetic makeup, and it’s easier to face that truth than deny it.
We currently find ourselves stuck at point A, when we want to get to point B.
Point B is the promised land. It’s the place we aspire to be, if only we could get there. There may well be many smaller intermediary goals that point towards the end destination, and like dominos we need to line them up so each can help knock down the next.
Having a goal gives us a sense of direction, otherwise we are aimless, like a rudderless boat drifting wherever the current takes us. Goals allow us to take strategic action.
The consequences of not moving forward towards goals, towards point B, can be hard to stomach. The initial frustration is later replaced by regret and both these negative emotions drain self-esteem. A disaffected person can easily become embittered and take a destructive path which aims to tear things down rather than contribute to make things better.
We can all have more by being more. To have more than you’ve got, you’ve got to be more than you are, according to self-development guru, Jim Rohn.
Most things in life are unknown to us in any meaningful way. We know just enough about things to get through our daily routines, but meaning is condensed into abstract representations which allow us to manage our interactions with them, but little more.
This condensing of meaning lightens cognitive load, and allows us to focus attention on more important things, usually in pursuit of our goals. Everything is an aid, an obstruction or irrelevant in pursuit of whatever we’re busy aiming for.
For example, if we’re driving down to the supermarket in a bit of a hurry because it’s about to close, every red light, or motorist is an obstruction acting to block our goal.
Everything that’s irrelevant to our goal is ignored or filtered out, most of the time. It doesn’t affect us and our current endeavour so we need not pay any attention to it.
The same is true with regard to the attainment of knowledge, we are motivated to learn things that interest or concern us, but everything else is ignored or filtered out of our conscious attention.
As a consequence of our limited knowledge, most things are unknown. We may know things on a superficial level, especially if we are curious, or as a result our life experiences, but there is always much more to learn, then we could ever know.
The unknown can be a scary place, it’s full of potential, made up of good and bad. The unknown is full of opportunities and possibility as well as risks and dangers. We’ll come back to the unknown shortly.
Learning new things involves finding accurate information, and as most information is not acquired from personal first-hand experience, we must find it from other reliable sources.
However, this is easier said than done, although we have more access to information than ever before, there is so much more misleading and incorrect information that has to be sorted through, to find the golden nuggets that will actually help us.
It’s all about learning what we need to move from point A to point B, and this can take a great deal of time and dedication to do. We have to do our research, find the nuggets of information we can use, put that into practice and learn through the experience of doing. It’s a process of learning, trying and failing (if we must), there isn’t really any other way to do it. Try to get better at filtering out the things that will cause you to fail, but don’t fear failure, just make sure you learn from it, and try to ensure it doesn’t put you out of the game completely.
Coming back to the unknown, any kind of meaningful change requires reaching into the unknown as we search for answers to help us move forward. If you’re not taking the actions you know you should be taking, then something is preventing you.
Fear is usually the most frequent reason people don’t chase down their goals. Fear of failure, of discomfort, of uncertainty, of embarrassment if things don’t work out as planned. Fear is even more persuasive if you lack confidence in your ability to do what’s required, or in case you find yourself out of your depth.
The unknown carries within it the monster of all monsters. It is a category of threat that holds all possible fears. But we also realise that the unknown is made up of all potential: all risks and dangers, but also all opportunities and possibilities.
The self-preservation instinct is often our guide within the unknown domain. It’s the biological reflex which causes us to freeze, take flight or fight. It’s easy to fall foul of this initial gut-reaction, which has little interest in anything other than protecting us from pain or suffering. If all you do is listen to your survival instinct, you’re certain to remain stuck at point A.
It’s useful to understand that motivation has two opposing forces: Blocking motivations like fear, but also supporting motivations that help propel us forward towards our goals.
With a shift in perspective, you can make use of the fear impulse to move you forward. Use the fear of regret to propel you towards your goals. Imagine looking back at your life as an old man or woman, having not pursued your goals or dreams. How would you feel about living a life only half lived? Regret can be a positive emotion if you harness it to support your progress.
If you’re anxious about doing something you need to do, you instinctively know that you’re lacking in some department. You have a realisation at some level that you need to learn or acquire something that you don’t currently possess. Carl Jung once said, “That which we need the most will be found where we least want to look”.
Finding inspiration within your belief system will sustain your journey towards your goals.
We weave beliefs into stories that we tell ourselves, and which subsequently guide our behaviours and actions. If your story isn’t serving you, change it for a more inspiring story.
The move from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be), is a journey, a journey of transformation. It’s like any story you’ve read in a book or watched on a screen.
You are the hero of your own story, of your own journey. Like all the great fictional heroes, you have something you need to learn in order to make yourself a better version of who you currently are. You have to find the courage to face your fears and still move forward. Solve your own problems, face your own demons, and you will be stronger for it.
Pick a goal and plot a path forward that inspires and excites you, focus on that path, learn what needs to be learned so you improve as you journey forward. Embrace the challenges and solve the problems that block your path. Each win gives you the ammunition to fight the next battle, all the while you get stronger and more competent to deal with ever bigger problems. If you can pick a goal that also solves other people’s problems, you’re probably onto a winner.
Let’s assume you want to start your own business, and someone close to you tells you to stick it out where you currently are. After all, you’ve got a regular pay check, you know what you’re doing, you get on with colleagues, and you’re comfortable and safe.
They want to protect you, they don’t want you to suffer because they love you. This resonates with you because the same conflict is going on inside your head.
Doubts are designed to warn you of the potential dangers you may face and paying attention to them is wise. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go ahead, it just means your plan needs to keep the pitfalls in mind, to mitigate them as much as possible.
The unknown is uncomfortable and exciting at the same time.
You feel alive because there is uncharted territory ahead, it’s a natural reaction, in the same way as a surprise or something unexpected grabs your attention from the slumber of your familiar routine. We have evolved to pay attention to change, to different, to new, because they are unknown.
The unknown has significance. Suddenly there is uncertainty, and risk, and you need to pay attention to it in case it hurts you. But don’t quit because of it. You can’t do anything different or new without encountering some level of unknown.
As well as paying attention to the possible dangers, give thought to the opportunities and possibilities that come out of change. You become more by experiencing more. Even failure can be a great teacher, so don’t fear it, just plan to mitigate it where possible.
The status quo is a lie, change is inevitable, whether you accept it our not. Face change, deal with change, take advantage of change.
Be a predator of chance rather than a victim of circumstance.
Connecting with your creative instinct can provide you with a deep sense of fulfillment. Creativity has a way of directly touching something in our soul. Personally I find it rejuvenating, fulfilling and even spiritual.
Be more creative!
For efficiency we tend towards path of least resistance, often this is the path taken before; routine, habit, structure.
We have to dig deeper to get more creative.
Get off the path of least resistance, and try something new, a change of direction.
Step out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill.
Specialisation is rewarded by society, but it is binding and narrowing, whereas trying lots of different things, means a greater variety of inputs, more influences, more diverse experiences.
To do new things, you have to be confused and frustrated, at least to start and to be creative, to think outside the box, you have to be willing to be wrong.
Brains are novelty seekers, they gets bored easily.
We have to push boundaries.
If we go too crazy, too far out, nobody is going to follow us there. The secret is to explore the range of possibilities, pushing boundaries everywhere to figure out what works and push the limits of creativity.
Our brains can interfere with the creative process, we fear failure. Don’t be afraid of failure – success rises from the ashes of failure. Embrace the possibility of failure as an opportunity to try and learn
You don’t have to invent something completely new to be creative, use an old idea in a new way. Blend different ideas into new ideas, different things into new things.
Develop a creative mindset, take risks and try something new TODAY!
Fear and Love are the main drivers for all human behaviour, and this fact is accurate for every person that has ever lived, but we differ greatly in how we believe to best achieve this.
We all have a mix of conservative and liberal views, we are positioned along a continuum which as liberal values at one end, and conservative views at the other. We appear along this continuum at different points from one another and also from ourselves with reference to different subjects, topics at at different time and in different situations.
I lean towards stability and responsibility in some situations while favoring innovation and a more carefree attitude in others. I feel reassured by politicians and celebrities that I am familiar with, and that I trust (there aren’t many of those to be honest), but also embrace change and uncertainty at times.
Conservative values come from beliefs that resist CHANGE, and carry the narrative that change equals uncertainty, risk, threat, and/or danger. Those with Conservative values that feel under threat crave the reassurance of something and someone familiar.
Research shows that people who identify as having liberal values often display conservative tendencies when they feel threatened, and those that classify themselves as conservatives display liberal tendencies when they feel less inhibited.
I was recently researching Simon Baron-Cohen’s hypothesis Empathising-Systemising theory, which suggests that people may be classified on the basis of their scores along two dimensions: empathising and systemising.
It supposedly measures a person’s strength of interest in empathy (the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions) and a person’s strength of interest in systems (in terms of the drive to analyse or construct them).
Well I consider systemising to be a conservatively based trait. The need to take things apart and figure out how they work, and to organise processes into routines, that are easy to understand and follow, I hypothesis, come from a desire to make us feel less threatened by our environment and more in control of our destiny.
Empathising could also be considered fear based trait, but its an alternative strategy to achieve the same thing as systemising, but in a more inclusive way. It could also be perceived as a way to spiritually connect with others, to get outside of ourselves. Empathisers figure that understanding others makes them less vulnerable to the world. It’s the same desire as the conservative, but employs a completely different strategy to achieve it.
Now let’s consider the diffusion of innovation bell. This attempts to explain why some people embrace innovation quicker than others. At one end of the scale you have the Early Adaptors and at the other, Laggards.
So why do Laggards resist change, because they crave the status quo, they like to keep things the same, because they fear change, which is a conservative trait. On the other hand Early Adapters focus on the new thing because it brings with it opportunities rather than risk and danger, which is a liberal trait.
So while you might consider yourself coming from a more conservative or liberal mindset, the underlying desire for pleasure and need to avoid pain are the same in everyone. We are more similar than we are different. We love and fear in the same way, but our beliefs shape our strategies for navigating the world so that we avoid pain and find pleasure.
We should embrace different views because they open our minds, and give us ideas for alternative strategies for achieving the same goals.
Fear of LOSS, fear of DISAPPOINTMENT, fear of REGRET and fear of LONELINESS are often quoted as some of the most feared sadness emotions.
Loss and disappointment
Fear of loss and disappointment are often behind why we avoid doing things, such pursuing goals and dreams, I’m talking about the fear of loss in terms of losing money, property or time rather than losing people and relationships. We often experience this kind of fear so strongly, that it paralysis us into inaction.
This is a fairly understandable reaction with fear of loss, after all, you don’t want to be plowing your hard earned money into an investment which has the potential of wiping you out if you get it wrong.
However the fear of disappointment can be easily re-framed by shifting your perspective and looking more critically at your perceptions and the underlying and often shaky beliefs that they are built on.
When it comes to fear of loss in respect of people and relationships, fear of loss often manifests itself in being over-protective towards loved ones, or jealous of their attention with others. Some people avoid falling in love, for fear of having to deal with the possibility of that relationship coming to an end in the future, either because of it breaking down or because of the death of one of the parties. The quote “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never of loved at all”, comes to mind here, but we all know from experience, that it doesn’t feel so clear cut when we’re going through the grieving process.
Regret comes from making choices, that in retrospect you might wish you hadn’t taken on, including the choice of doing nothing. It’s about looking back on your life or a section of your life and wishing you’d have made better decisions when they presented themselves. The fear of regret is about mitigating the risk of being in such a dreaded future situation.
There are many other situations that cause sadness, some being;
Drug addiction and substance abuse
Unemployment and financial hardship
Terminal illness and chronic pain
and while I’ve not gone further into detail with these (because I wanted to keep this article to a reasonable length), they are no less valid than the ones I have detailed previously.
Fear of the future
Fear of the future occurrence of any sadness emotions, while understandable in some respects, is an irrational fear. We can’t know for sure how one decision and one choice will unfold and impact us, in the future. I like the Zen parable; Is that so, for a good illustration of this point.
Sure we can mitigate the risks, by improving our knowledge, doing our homework and due diligence and making the best educated decision, at the time.
But we must be aware that there may be many variables in play that we may not be in control of, or even aware of; the unknown, unknowns, the known unknowns etc.
That’s why it’s always good to have a plan B, a backup plan that helps hedge your position, if things go pear-shaped.
Fear comes from worrying about something imagined in the futures, and often fear and worry are over played in our thoughts. The reality is often not nearly as bad as we’d anticipated.
Obviously terminal illness, chronic pain and future traumatic experiences can be mitigated, by trying to refrain from behaviours that could make them more likely to occur, such as avoiding smoking, substance abuse or putting yourself in risky situations, but simply worrying too much about their potential occurrence, can be draining and stressful, and probably best avoided.
Dealing with Sadness
So what do we do when we’re stuck in the emotion of sadness? When it’s here and real.
Dealing with emotion, is about facing it, rather than running away from it. I’ve known people that have used alcohol, and substances to escape dealing with emotion, It doesn’t appear to work for them, in fact, it often compounds problems and adds to an already difficult situation.
Feeling trapped and unable to cope, thinking there is no hope or no way out can result in a downward spiral of emotions, if allowed to do so.
Pain is an inevitable part of life, everyone deals with sadness and pain more generally, to some extent, and finding a way to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing or increasing coping resources is where the answer ultimately lays.
Support networks are vital, if you don’t have the luxury of having good people around you, in your family and friends circle, there are many great specialised organisations, that want to help. Never feel you have to deal with any emotion or situation alone.
It is possible to find pleasure and purpose in life again, it really is. Just find the resources within you, to find those resources that are out there to help you navigate your way through.
Did you know we wear masks, and hide behind the social roles we play; we might be a parent, a brother/sister, a son/daughter, we might be a boss, an employee, a friend. We might be Bill the marketing guy, or Jenny the supplies manager. You might be a son, a dad, a brother, a boss to some, a subordinate to others, and Bill the marketing guy within a single day.
We play roles and wear masks because we’re conditioned by society to, after all, everyone is doing the same.
We might even get some comfort from this fact, we feel less vulnerable hiding behind a persona.
As a result, we don’t connect genuinely with others. We interact Ego to Ego, rather than soul to soul. My mask is communicating with your mask, and we’re not getting close to the real people below the surface.
Relationships are fearful, fraught, fragile, self serving and dysfunctional, because when we act from within our roles, from behind our masks, we know intuitively we are not being true to ourselves, we are pretending and we know this deep down, even if we don’t want to admit it.
So, be authentic, drop the mask, come from behind your social roles, and let your inner light shine through. If you fear rejection or the feeling of vulnerability, realise this is only the Ego (the part of you that mistakes your thoughts to be who you are) struggling to hold on to power. When you genuinely let yourself go, you can’t be hurt, particular if you fear you will fall, because outside the Ego there is no floor to hit, metaphorically speaking.