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Are you living consciously in an unconscious world?

Are you living consciously in an unconscious world?

You may have noticed that our world is something of a chaotic place lately. Loud. Noisy. Frantic. Angry. Violent. Fearful. Just watch the news. Actually, don’t. And by ‘world’, I mean the physical world we inhabit, not the self-created one inside our head. Although that can be a pretty awful place too. When we let it be.

    A Personal Search

    For me, a large part of the last decade has been something of a personal expedition beyond the world of logic, academia, business, conventional thinking, religion and even (the traditional approach to) personal development. While all of those things serve a purpose and have value (of course), I wanted to see what lives beyond them. After all, sometimes terms like ‘logic’ and ‘common sense’ are just euphemisms for fear and not-knowing-any-different. And, to be completely honest, sometimes success doesn’t feel very, er, successful.

    If you know what I mean.

    A Realisation

    I arrived at a point in my life where I had an overwhelming sense that, despite my reasonable education, mildly successful career and alleged knowledge and intelligence, I was missing out on something that could be fundamental to my existence, my future and to my potential growth. I wanted to see what existed beyond my programming. Beyond my (then) ‘current world view’. My social conditioning. My default setting. My comfort zone. My formal education. My self-limiting beliefs. My expectations. My fears. And my prejudices.

    I considered the notion that maybe my concept of how the world and all its intricacies ‘worked’ (life, death, people, relationships, spirituality, wealth, happiness, misery, success, failure, fear, destiny, etc.) was the very thing which held me back. I also considered the notion that perhaps my over-thinking mind was, ironically, my barrier to learning, understanding and enjoying a new way of being. I wanted to learn more about my non-cerebral self.

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    Could it be that in some ways, with some issues, I was missing the point? Could my mind possibly be a handicap (with some things)? Could it be that I’ve been taught things – perhaps many things – which simply aren’t true? Or maybe, not true for me. But surely if enough people believe the same thing, it must be true?

    Much of the information (teaching) you and I receive (from about kindergarten onwards) tells us that success, and therefore happiness, is largely about what we can accumulate, do, achieve, control, own and look like. I decided to explore what success might look like working from the inside-out and not the other way around (the conventional model).

    A Glimpse of What Might Be

    Have you ever had an experience, perhaps a brief moment in time, when a door to a different world was opened for you? Perhaps a moment when you got a glimpse of something more than your current perception of reality? A time when you secretly (or maybe openly) questioned everything you’ve ever thought, believed and known? A time when you realised that maybe there is a different way to ‘do’ life? A different way to experience, think (or not think), feel and be?

    For me, there came a stage when I realised that the way I saw the world was just that: the way I saw it. My version of reality. And that in itself can be a limitation. Doesn’t have to be, but can be. This realisation, this awakening, was the beginning of my journey towards consciousness. Or, should I say, a more conscious version of me. I committed to becoming more aware, more open and less ‘right’. Damn that need to be right.

    I determined to stop thinking that I knew so much, to stop assuming and to stop finding comfort and safety in the familiar and the cerebral. And no, I didn’t have any plans to become some kind of soft-speaking, all-knowing, sandal-wearing mystical, magical, enlightened guru living in a cave and writing sacred texts on parchment (although, I don’t mind a good sandal and I do like a nice piece of parchment) but rather, just a simple and hopeful desire to become a more conscious, aware and humble person.

    A Parable

    Imagine you’ve spent your entire life in a medium-sized town (probably not a stretch for some of you). And living in that medium-sized town, your parents have always warned you, no, they have ordered you, not to venture down certain streets or to go into certain areas. For your own good. You’re told not to go down those streets because it’s dangerous. Unsafe. You might get hurt. Bad things happen there. Since you were a kid, you were taught that all you ever needed for happiness and security existed in ‘your part’ of town.

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    Strangely, nobody in your part of town ever seemed to be particularly happy.

    Then one day you’re an adult and you make a bold decision to talk to your parents about life beyond the safe-zone. You’ve been curious for a long time but nobody ever discusses it. Ever. You wonder why. You feel you’re now old enough to know exactly what lies beyond those safe and familiar (and let’s be honest, boring) streets. You want to know more. To have some insight into a world beyond the only one you’ve ever experienced.

    You muster up the courage to ask your father exactly what it’s like down those forbidden streets. You want details. You tell him it’s time. You ask the question and he stares at you blankly. He says nothing. He looks a little guilty and sheepish; two looks you’ve never seen before. You ask again. More silence. Your stomach sinks a little as you begin to realise something. Something big. You look to your mother. She shrugs her shoulders and looks to the ground. Your stomach churns. You realise they’ve never been there. They have no answers for you. Only fear. Fear of the unknown.

    They’ve trained you to be terrified of something they know nothing about. Just as they themselves were trained.

    In desperation, you run to the phone and dial your grandfather: the wise old family patriarch. He will know. He knows everything. Two minutes later you put down the phone. Shattered and disillusioned, you walk slowly to the window. You feel physically ill. You stare out and wonder what lies beyond your familiar surroundings. All of a sudden, those streets you know so well have come to represent something else. In a heartbeat you make a decision to take a trip. You tell your concerned parents you’re going on a journey. They panic. They protest. Scared of the unknown.

    They have built their own prison. And you decide you’ve been an inmate for too long.

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    You fill a backpack with some supplies and prepare yourself mentally. You’re not really sure what to pack because you don’t know where you’re going, what you’ll find or when you’ll return. Or even, if you’ll return. You walk out of the house and, as you do, you close the door on a lifetime of fear, control, pointless repetition, repression and self-limiting beliefs. You love your parents and they love you but, despite your respect for them and appreciation of them, you don’t want to become them.

    As you begin your walk, your heart is filled with hope and possibilities. In a moment of clarity and insight, a small voice tells you that an important part of the journey ahead is really about what you’re leaving behind: insecurity, fear, self-doubt, self-limiting thinking, crazy rules and destructive beliefs.

    As you reach the outer limits of the ‘safe-zone’ your irrational (but understandable) childhood fears have been replaced with curiosity and excitement. Before long, you have travelled further than ever before and to your surprise and delight, the new place is not terrifying at all. In fact, it’s beautiful. And magical. Even though you’ve never been there, you feel like you’ve come home. For the first time ever, you feel like you belong.

    Knowledge Beyond Education

    It’s my belief that in the process of life we often allow ourselves to become disconnected from our inner intelligence. From the ‘knowing’ we have beyond our experiences. Beyond our education. Beyond logic. Beyond what we’ve been told to believe and trained to do. I believe we’re all born with an intelligence and a consciousness that’s hard-wired into our DNA. There are things we ‘just know’ without ever having been taught them. In animals we call this instinct.

    We humans have no problem believing in the ability of animals to just know certain things. However, when it comes to us very educated, intellectual and over-thinking humans, we often find ways to discount things such as inbuilt knowledge. Or human instinct. Some call it genetic intelligence. And sadly, for many of us, if we can’t see it, touch it, measure it, graph it or explain it, we won’t believe in it. Or even consider it.

    Sometimes science is a limitation. As is knowledge.

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    Being a fundamentally flawed (but eternally curious) alpha-male, I’m still using my training wheels to explore the realms of consciousness and enlightenment. My ‘L’ plate is firmly fastened around my neck as I learn, grow and continue to ask questions. I know next-to-nothing but what I do know, excites me. The ideas of ‘tuning in to’ my genetic intelligence and becoming a more conscious being are things that simply feel right for me. Overdue even.

    Choosing to live consciously in an unconscious world presents many challenges, opportunities and lessons. It also presents me with a chance to experience life beyond those old familiar streets of my own medium-sized town.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    Achieving personal goals deserves a huge amount of celebration but setting these goals in the first place is a massive achievement in itself.

    While the big goals serve as a destination, the journey is probably the most important part of the process. It reflects your progress, your growth and your ability take control and steer your life towards positive change.

    Whatever your goal is, whether it’s losing 20lbs or learning a new language, there will always be a set amount of steps you need to take in order to achieve it. Once you’ve set your sights on your goal, the next stage is to take an assertive path towards how you will get there.

    The aim of this article is to guide you through how to take action towards your personal goals in a way that will help you achieve them strategically and successfully.

    1. Get very specific

    When it comes to setting your personal goals, honing in on its specifics is crucial for success.

    It’s common to have a broad idea of where you want to go or what you want to achieve, but this can sabotage your efforts in the long run.

    Get clear on what you want your goal to look like so you can create solid steps towards it.

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    Say you have a vision on retiring early. This goal feels good to you and you can envision filling your days of work-free life with worldly adventures and time with loved ones.

    If retiring early is a serious personal goal for you, you will need to insert a timeframe. So your goal has changed from “I’d like to someday retire early and travel the world” to “I’m going to retire by 50 and travel the world”.

    It may not seem significant, but creating this tweak in your goal by specifying a definite time, will help create and structure the steps needed to achieve it in a more purposeful way.

    2. Identify the preparation you need to achieve your goal

    It’s easy to set a goal and excitedly, yet aimlessly move towards it. But this way of going about achieving goals will only leave you eventually lost and feeling like you’ll never achieve it.

    You have to really think about what you need to do in order to make this goal possible. It’s all very well wanting it to happen, but if you just sit back and hope you’ll get there one day will result in disappointment.

    Self-managing your goals is a crucial step in the process. This involves taking control of your goal, owning it and making sure you are in a great position to make it happen.

    In the early retirement example, this would mean you will need to think about your financial situation.

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    What will your finances ideally need to look like if you were to retire early and travel the world? How much money will you need to put into your retirement fund to retire at 50? How much extra savings will you need to support your travels? You could also start researching the places you’d like to travel to and how long you’d like to travel for.

    Outlining these factors will, not only make your goal seem more tangible, but also create a mind shift to one of forward motion. Seeing the steps more clearly will help you make a more useful plan of action and seeing your goal as a reality.

    3. Breakdown each step into more manageable goals

    The secret to achieving your goals is to create smaller goals within each step and take action. Remember, you’re looking for progress, no matter how small it may seem.

    These small steps build up and get you to the top. By doing this, you also make the whole process much less daunting and overwhelming.

    In the early retirement scenario, there are several smaller goals you could implement here:

    • Decide to make an appointment with a financial advisor asking what financial options would be available to you if you were to go into early retirement and travel. Get advice on how much you would need to top up your funds in order to reach your goal on time.
    • Set up and start to make payments into the retirement fund.
    • Research savings accounts with good rates of interest and commit to depositing a certain amount each month.
    • Make sure you meet with your financial advisor each year to make sure your retirement plan remains the best one for you. Research new savings accounts to move your money into to reap the best returns in interest rates.
    • Start investing in travel books, building up a library that covers where you want to go.
    • Think about starting a language course that will help you get the most out of your travel experience.

    4. Get started on the journey

    Creating a goal planner in which you can start writing down your next steps is where the magic happens. This is where the real momentum towards your dream starts!

    Create a schedule and start by writing in when you will start the first task and on which day. Commit to completing this small task and feel the joy of crossing it off your list. Do this with every little step until your first mini goal has been reached.

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    In the early retirement example, schedule in a meeting with a financial advisor. That’s it. Easy.

    As I mentioned before, it may seem such a small step but it’s the momentum that’s the most important element here. Once you cross this off, you can focus on the meeting itself, then once that’s ticked off, you are in a position of starting a profitable retirement fund…and so the momentum continues. You are now on your journey to achieving your dream goal.

    5. Create an annual review

    Taking a step back and reviewing your progress is essential for keeping yourself on the right track. Sometimes you can be moving full steam ahead towards your goal but miss seeing the opportunities to improve a process or even re-evaluate your feelings towards the goal.

    Nominate a day each year to sit down and take a look at your progress. Celebrate your achievements and how far you’ve come. But also think about changing any of the remaining steps in light of new circumstances.

    Has anything changed? Perhaps you got a promotion at work and you feel you can add more to your monthly savings.

    Do you still feel the same about your goal? It’s normal for our desires to change over time and our personal goals need to reflect this.

    Perhaps you’d like to take someone new with you on your travels and you need to take this into account regarding timelines. Are there any new steps you want to add as a result?

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    Remember, reflection is a useful tool in realigning your goal to any changes and it’s important to keep on the right trajectory towards it.

    Strive to become the best goal-setter you can be

    Having personal goals gives you purpose and the feeling of becoming a better version of yourself.

    But it’s the smaller steps within these big goals that the growth and achievement really lies:

    • Whatever your goal is, make sure you get specific on when you want to achieve it. This helps you focus on the necessary steps much more efficiently.
    • Research the actionable steps required to get to the end result and…
    • Break these down into smaller, manageable goals.
    • Create a daily or weekly schedule for these smaller goals and start the positive momentum.
    • Reflect each year on your goal journey and purpose, readjusting steps according to changes in circumstance or desire.

    Keep going and always have the end goal in sight. Remember the ‘why’ behind your goal throughout to keep you motivated and positive.

    More Resources About Setting & Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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