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Where am I going? Putting your life in context.

Where am I going? Putting your life in context.

The great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley, famously wrote:

There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

An average lifespan in the developed world is 70-something years – as indicated on the bar below.

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    Each of the phases of that life has different characteristics. The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

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      Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives. Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

      The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net:

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        The overriding concern in this Earning phase is security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.) Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives. Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

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          Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

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            What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

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            “A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

            A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

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              With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made. Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this. It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

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              Think about where you are on the chart above. How far along are you in the Earning years? Just starting out or 20 years in an 20 years to go? How many job or career changes have you been through already? How many of those have been voluntary and how many involuntary? If you retired (or stepped under a bus) tomorrow, how would you look back over your working life? With indifference? Regret? Pride? Delight? Anger?

              As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future; you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness. I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

              Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realisation of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his business in his early 50s. Harlon Sanders didn’t start his franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s! It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it …

              Rowan Manahan is The Insultant. He blogs at Fortify Your Oasis. Apart from roaring (occasionally) helpful advice at his clients, he has written the best-seller Where’s My Oasis?. He also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines and runs Fortify Services – an Irish-based careers consultancy.

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              Last Updated on October 30, 2018

              How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now

              How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now

              Who needs Tony Robbins when you can motivate yourself? Overcoming the emotional hurdle to get stuff done when you’d rather sit on the couch isn’t always easy. But unless calling in sick and waking up at noon have no consequences for you, it’s often a must.

              For those of you who never procrastinate, distract yourself or drag your feet when you should be doing something important, well done so far! But for the rest of you, it’s good to have a library of motivational boosters to move along.

              Whether you’re starting a buisiness, trying to los weight or breaking a bad habit, you’ll learn how to motivate yourself with different techniques in this article.

              13 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Right Now

              Despite your best efforts, passion, habits and a flow-producing environment can fail. In that case, it’s time to find whatever emotional pump-up you can use to get started:

              1. Go back to “why”

              Focusing on a dull task doesn’t make it any more attractive. Zooming out and asking yourself why you are bothering in the first place will make it more appealing.

              If you can’t figure out why, then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t bother with it in the first place.

              2. Go for five

              Start working for five minutes. Often that little push will be enough to get you going.

              3. Move around

              Get your body moving as you would if you were extremely motivated to do something. This ‘faking it’ approach to motivation may seem silly or crude but it works.

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              4. Find the next step

              If it seems impossible to work on a project for you, you can try to focus on the next immediate step.

              Fighting an amorphous blob of work will only cause procrastination. Chunk it up so that it becomes manageable. Learn how to stop procrastinating in this guide.

              5. Find your itch

              What is keeping you from working? Don’t let the itch continue without isolating it and removing the problem.

              Are you unmotivated because you feel overwhelmed, tired, afraid, bored, restless or angry? Maybe it is because you aren’t sure you have time or delegated tasks haven’t been finished yet?

              6. Deconstruct your fears

              I’m sure you don’t have a phobia about getting stuff done. But at the same time, hidden fears or anxieties can keep you from getting real work completed.

              Isolate the unknowns and make yourself confident, you can handle the worst case scenario.

              7. Get a partner

              Find someone who will motivate you when you’re feeling lazy. I have a friend I go to the gym with. Besides spotting weight, having a friend can help motivate you to work hard when you’d normally quit.

              8. Kickstart your day

              Plan out tomorrow. Get up early and place all the important things early in the morning. Building momentum early in the day can usually carry you forward far later.

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              Having a morning routine is a good idea for you to stay motivated!

              9. Read books

              Read not just self-help or motivational books but any book that has new ideas. New ideas get your mental gears turning and can build motivation. Here’re more reasons to read every day.

              Learning new ideas puts your brain in motion so it requires less time to speed up to your tasks.

              10. Get the right tools

              Your environment can have a profound effect on your enthusiasm. Computers that are too slow, inefficient applications or a vehicle that breaks down constantly can kill your motivation.

              Building motivation is almost as important as avoiding the traps that can stop it.

              11. Be careful with the small problems

              The worst killer of motivation is facing a seemingly small problem that creates endless frustration.

              Reframe little problems that must be fixed as bigger ones or they will kill any drive you have.

              12. Develop a mantra

              Find a few statements that focus your mind and motivate you. It doesn’t matter whether they are pulled from a tacky motivational poster or just a few words to tell you what to do.

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              If you aren’t sure where to start, a good personal mantra is “Do it now!” You can find more here too: 7 Empowering Affirmations That Will Help You Be Mentally Strong

              13. Build on success

              Success creates success. When you’ve just won, it is easy to feel motivated about almost anything. Emotions tend not to be situation specific, so a small win, whether it is a compliment from a colleague or finishing two thirds of your tasks before noon can turn you into a juggernaut.

              There are many ways you can place small successes earlier on to spur motivation later. Structuring your to-do lists, placing straightforward tasks such as exercising early in the day or giving yourself an affirmation can do the trick.

              How to Stay Motivated Forever (Without Motivation Tricks)

              The best way to motivate yourself is to organize your life so you don’t have to. If work is a constant battle for you, perhaps it is time to start thinking about a new job. The idea is that explicit motivational techniques should be a backup, not your regular routine.

              Here are some other things to consider making work flow more naturally:

              Passion

              Do things you have a passion for. We all have to do things we don’t want to. But if life has become a chronic source of dull chores, you’ve got a big problem that needs fixing.

              Not sure what your passion is to get you motivated? This will help you:

              How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

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              Habits

              You can’t put everything on autopilot. I’ve found putting a few core habits in place creates a structure for the day.

              Waking up at the same time, working at the same times and having a similar productive routine makes it easier to do the next day.

              This guide will be useful for you if you’re looking to build good habits:

              Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%

              Flow

              Flow is the state where your mind is completely focused on the task at hand. While there are many factors that go into producing this state, having the right challenge level is a big part.

              Find ways to tweak your tasks so they hover in that sweet spot between boredom and maddening frustration.

              Easily distracted and hard to focus? Here’s your solution.

              Final Thoughts

              With all these tips I’ve shared with you, now you know what to do when you’re feeling unmotivated.

              Find your passion and develop a positive mantra so when the next time negativity hits you again, you know how to stay positive and motivated!

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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