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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

What It Really Means to Seize the Day

What It Really Means to Seize the Day

“Carpe Diem – seize the day” is one of the oldest philosophical mottos in western history. This motto was said by the Roman poet Horace 2,000 years ago and it still resonates with us today—though, how we go about seizing the day is very different from how it was done in Horace’s time.

I was bought up on this mantra of seizing the day, and I still have this approach to my life. However, after reading Roman Krznaric’s book Carpe Diem Regained: The Vanishing Art of Seizing the Day, I was shocked to discover that meaning of Carpe Diem had been hijacked.

According to Krznaric, the advertising giants have turned Carpe Diem into a belief where life is short, time is running out, and we are living in the here and now so grab everything you can before it is too late. The overlying message we are consistently bombarded with is. “you don’t want to regret that you didn’t take action because you will lose out! You have not seized the moment and that’s bad!”

Seizing the day now brings up images of people taking what they can get, people who get things done, and people who just do it. Guess where Nike got their slogan from?

People are encouraged today to take charge and pursue their happiness right now, and this results in the consumption of products and services that reflect an instant gratification consumer culture that does not stop to smell the roses.

We hit the ground running to make the most of every minute because we may miss the opportunity of happiness if we don’t grab it now. What an exhausting way to live life!

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What Does It Mean to Seize the Day in 2020?

The good news is that the motto Carpe Diem is still great advice to follow if you want to lead a meaningful life today despite COVID-19.

Living with the disruption that COVID-19 has bought us, Carpe Diem reminds us to make the most of the present moment rather than angst about the uncertainty of the future. Being present in the moment gives us control over our situation, and we can then take action to seize the day in a way that enables us to face the uncertainty and the unknown from a place of strength and power.

The secret to taking action and fully embracing the concept of Carpe Diem is to spend time working out and getting very clear about what actions and thoughts define what it means for you.

For me, the original definition Carpe Diem from the poet Horaces “Seize the day, trusting little in the future” in these current times resonates with me. I now focus on NOT putting tasks or activities on hold until tomorrow. When I am thinking about a friend who I haven’t spoken to in a while, I immediately call them because I know that if I don’t, I will forget.

My future right now, like many of you, feels very uncertain. There is a lot of the unknown and to navigate my way through this, I need to focus on the present and what is happening right now in my life that is good. This means I have to commit to finding the space to spend more time smelling the roses and enjoying the precious moments in my life right now. That is what Carpe Diem means to me in 2020.

5 Ways to Seize the Day Right Now

Integrating the philosophy of Carpe Diem into your life does not happen overnight, especially when you have lived your life influenced by the advertising messages of self-gratification and living in the now. It takes time and when you take one step at a time, you will create and sustain transformational change in your life.

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There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “the journey of a thousand steps begins with a single one.” Follow this piece of advice because it is key to you embracing Carpe Diem into your life.

1. Get Clarity on What Is Important in Your Life

Clarity gives you peace of mind. When you know what is important in your life, you are less likely to be distracted or procrastinate. When you know what you want and have a sense of purpose, then you have direction and focus.

You are more likely to take action to attain those aspects of life that are important to you rather than ignore or put aside for another day. Clarity gives you the desire and the will to take action, which is aligned with the philosophy of Carpe Diem.

2. Let Go of Regrets and Move on

Focusing on all the mistakes or the things you could have, would have, or should have done creates inertia in your life. Carpe Diem is all about taking action and grabbing opportunity—the complete opposite of living your life in regret.

There is no action, no movement, and no energy when you live your life in regret. That is why it is so important to let your regrets go so that you can move and take action to seize the day!

3. Fix Your Priorities

Decide what activities or actions in your life are important to you. Create a space for you to spend the time to figure out what is important to you. What are the activities that bring you joy and energize you?

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Here are 3 simple steps to sort out your 4 top priorities:

  1. Divide an A4 piece of paper into 4 quarters and write down 4 things in your life that are most important to you. Once you have done this, have a look at the piece of paper then throw it away.
  2. Then get another A4 piece of paper and repeat the same exercise, BUT leave out Work and Relationships (Family). These elements of your life are with you all the time and are a top priority. They are non-negotiable. This exercise is about you finding out what the top 4 activities that are a priority in your life that bring you joy, such as exercise, creating, writing, volunteering, cooking, helping others, or spending time in nature.
  3. Once you have finished writing down 4 activities, reflect as to how you are spending your time with each of these 4 activities.

Are you doing things in your life right now that brings you joy and are important to you? If the answer is no, then go seize the day! Start taking action.

4. Set Personal Boundaries for Success

When you have no direction, it is hard to focus on what is important to you or what path you want to take in life. As result, you are more likely to procrastinate, be easily distracted, and have no personal boundaries in place that help you regulate your emotional and physical well-being.

Having healthy boundaries is also a great way for you to protect your emotional space. Your boundaries give you the physical and emotional control of your life. With boundaries, you know your limits and you can communicate these limits from a place of strength and emotional stability. These emotional foundations give you the energy and self-belief to go seize the day.

5. Invest in You and Create Space for You

Spend time creating the space for you to reflect, reboot, and re-energize. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to commit to investing in yourself.

Simple things like turning off the television and your phone provide you with the space to relax and reflect. Go for a walk, take up yoga, or do any form of physical exercise that gets you out into nature. Take a vacation, practice gratitude daily, and focus on creating balance in your life.

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Don’t let the world pass you by because you are too busy working or focusing on tasks and activities that distract you away from your growth and wellbeing.

Final Thoughts

In the movie, Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams said to his students “Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary”. This is the definition of Carpe Diem that I believe will inspire you to live your life to the fullest!

Life is too short for you to ignore the opportunity to seize the day!

More About Living Your Life to the Fullest

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

7 Practical Ways to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

7 Practical Ways to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

Changing your mindset is no easy task, but having an open and positive mindset is a game changer. Your personal growth is what propels the choices you make for your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Just something as simple as changing your thinking can change your life.

Importance of Mindset Work

There’s great importance in spending time doing mindset work. Within this period, we begin to understand ourselves, and through that understanding, we become more compassionate and patient with ourselves.

Our society and culture thrive on the busyness that life brings not only into our lives but even to our dinner table. With that comes some consequences of using “band-aid” solutions and quick remedies to get through particular blocks in our lives. Those solutions never last long and it’s about committing the time and effort to slow down, ground ourselves, and reshift our focus.

Changing your thinking is not only to be more optimistic but giving your mind the breathing room it needs to grow and expand. It’s about looking at everything that hasn’t worked for you and being open to other ways that might.

How to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

Here are 11 practical ways to change your thinking:

1. Show up

Not feeling the gym? Go anyway. Don’t feel like playing the piano after making a commitment to practice every day? Do it and play.

The payout of showing up and committing goes a long way. It builds confidence, and with that growth, your mindset begins to change.

Of course, showing up may not always be fun but by meeting these small goals on your list allows you to tackle on the bigger ones that may seem far out of reach.

2. Find an Anchor

We all need an anchor, or in other words, we all need something to believe in when our thoughts are wavering. Whether you are religious, have a spiritual connection with a higher power, or have someone who grounds you – hold onto it.

My dad first introduced me to the Law of Attraction when I was 17 and to be completely honest, I thought it was silly and never gave it much thought. Fast forward ten years and the Law of Attraction has become so integrated into my daily life that it’s become the anchor in my belief system. That anchor is also what propels me to be a better version of myself. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel when I have convinced myself that light does not exist.

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The purpose of an anchor is to ground you when your mind and/or external factors come weighing you down. It’s about having faith and trust in that one thing or power when everything else seems to go dark. This is one of the most important things you need to have if you want to begin to change your mindset.

3. Ask Why

It’s really that simple. In order to change your thinking, you have to dig deeper into what it is that’s causing a reaction.

  • Why does it bother me that another person took the parking slot that I was waiting for?
  • Why do I feel uneasy when I dine at a restaurant alone?
  • Why do I feel happy after I purchase a new outfit?

We ask “why” to a lot of external factors, but very rarely we ask that about ourselves. It’s also a way to get to know yourself as if getting to know a friend.

As we begin to answer these questions, we realize that it’s not the external factors that bring happiness, sadness, guilt, or joy, and it’s more about understanding our own values.

Now, have a conversation with yourself and reflect on your answers when you do ask these “whys.”

For example:

The reason why I’m irritated at this person for taking my parking slot is that I’m busy and have endless errands to run. I don’t have time to be looking for another slot.

Reflection: how am I managing my time and are these time restrictions causing me unnecessary stress? I should prioritize my errands so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

The reason why I feel uneasy when I dine in at a restaurant alone is that I don’t want people to think I have no friends.

Reflection: I care a lot of what people think of me including strangers and it affects my emotional well-being. I don’t have these thoughts when I see another person eating alone, so why and when did I start having this opinion about myself? I should start dining out alone so I can learn how to step out of my comfort zone.

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The reason why I feel great after purchasing a new outfit is is that I feel confident.

Confidence is key because it determines how I show up when I meet strangers, clients, and overall how I carry myself. How do I maintain this confidence without splurging on a new outfit everytime I need that extra boost? I could wear my glasses or carry a book with me to help me play that part.

Having these mindful yet straightforward conversations with yourself are simple ways you can change your thinking. Reflection is the key to understanding your strong and weak points.

Here is also a great article on the power of self-reflection and ten questions you should ask yourself.

4. Step out of Your Comfort Zone

As mentioned above, we all have a comfort zone. Like a turtle, we feel cozy and safe inside our shell, but to change your thinking, one must be willing to step out of that shell no matter how much that shell feels like home.

Our mindset will only begin to change if we allow ourselves to be exposed to the possibilities of change. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be one of the hardest things you can do, but it all goes back to building your confidence.

Some of the most significant friendships I have to date is all thanks to the five seconds I decided to step out of my comfort zone, introduce myself, and carry a converastion.

Strive to learn something new every day – even if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable at first.

Still wondering how to step out of your comfort zone? Take a look at this article:

Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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5. Look at Things from a Different View

I once asked a friend what self-love meant to her. She answered, “self-love means being a parent to yourself.”

I was never expecting that answer, but it got me the wheels in my mind exploring other definitions of what self-love could mean to others and myself.

Changing your thinking also means being open to other opinions, especially if it challenges your own. You’ll begin to realize that the more mindset work you dive into, the more you will be approaching new opinions and ideas from a grounding and calming place. Things that used to have you on your defense will slowly turn into a question of curiosity instead.

6. Slow Down

Here’s the thing. You take the same route to work and leave your house at the same time. While on you are getting off the highway, you stop by your favorite coffee shop to order your daily brew, then you’re out the door and heading straight to the office.

During this daily routine, have you ever noticed the color of the corner building right before you get off the highway? Or have you noticed whether your barista is left-handed or right-handed?

Probably not, because most of the time we tend to live our lives on auto-pilot.

Science says we make about 35,000 decisions a day;[1] therefore it makes sense that half the time our minds are on auto-pilot. There are great setbacks that come from having this “auto switch” including having those feelings of mindlessly scrolling through your phone or being so deep in your thoughts that you are mentally checked out.

One way to change your mindset is slowing down. When you slow down, you begin to find yourself in the same tune and vibrations as the world around you. You begin to become aware of what resonates with you and what doesn’t. You start becoming present.

If you want to change your life, you must be present in the life you are currently living in. By being present, you begin to shift to a state of gratitude.

7. Eliminate the Excuses and Create Solutions

How often do we use the word “but?”

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For instance, “I want to eat healthier but I’m so busy that I can’t meal prep,” “I want to buy a new car but I’m still paying off some of my debt,” “I would like to start my own business but I don’t have the time or finances for that.”

Now eliminate the “but” and imagine how you would feel if these external factors weren’t much of an issue.

This is a simple but powerful technique in changing your thinking. It’s all about tapping into those emotions and eliminating the roadblocks that we spend so much energy focusing on. Instead, begin shifting your focus from the but’s and toward the “how’s.”

Here’s some nice advice for you:

How to Stop Making Excuses and Get What You Want

The Bottom Line

Changing your mindset is a work in progress and one that should be eye-opening as it is rewarding. It’s about getting to know yourself on a deeper level and creating a friendship with yourself along the way.

There’s no one solution fits all, but it all comes down to taking that first step.

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Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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