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How to Set Yourself on the “Right” Path

How to Set Yourself on the “Right” Path

    A few years ago, I stumbled on a letter I wrote to my future self when I was 15. I’ll spare you the bad writing but, it was frustrating to see how far I had strayed from the plan.

    I hadn’t moved to Australia, I wasn’t an architect. I wasn’t rich and I wasn’t travelling 6 months a year.

    In the eyes of 15 year old me, I was a failure, yet, I had done many other things.

    Turns out, John Lennon had it right…

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    Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

    Although I had done other things and made progress in other ways, I had lost track of what my ambition wanted me to achieve.

    Through being busy, I had chosen opportunities, relationships and a lifestyle that only met my short term needs. It was time for me to reclaim my ambition.

    You can’t rely on serendipity

    Some people are lucky, they find passion for acting, medicine or police work early in their life and stick to it. But, they’re the exception; it’s a lot harder for most of us.

    Through trial and error, we’re good at discovering what we don’t want (a 9 to 5, a business, a boring job, stress) but terrible at discovering what we really want to do.

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    How can we know how we’ll feel about things we’ve never experienced?

    At some point, whether we know what we really want to do or not no longer matters. We need to earn a living as we’re swallowed by the flow of daily life.

    Along the way, serendipity might hit us or it might not; you can’t rely on it, you need to be in control.

    Interrupting the flow

    The first step I took in order to regain control of my ambition and stop letting life drive me was a drastic one: I moved to Asia.

    Moving to Asia meant abandonning some relationships, closing a succesful consulting business, discarding many things I owned, embarking on an unclear path, but most importantly, interrupting the flow. I took a step back and started to understand what my “right” path should be.

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    I was away for 331 days, travelled 92,364 kms, worked, didn’t work, looked for work, started my own thing, closed my own thing and moved back with a newly gained perspective on what my life should be.

    I think its a huge step to know what you want. I know how things can steamroll and often, we have a hard time to take a step back, look at the big picture, analyze, realign and move forward. – Ex-colleague

    What you can do for yourself

    Through being busy, we often lose our ability to take strategic life-changing decisions. Without ever wanting it, we’re swallowed by the flow and a form of self-perpetuating status quo sets in.

    To reclaim control of your path, it’s essential to have time to think and know what it is you want to win in life; you need a plan.

    If you have one, make sure it’s loose enough to adapt when life changes on you. If you don’t, why not set up a series of experiments to help you proceed by elimination and identify what you no longer want in life.

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    To force a serendipitous outcome, you can try jobs you’ve never done, mingle with people that are nothing like you, restructure your life in a completely different way or be willing to listen to opportunities you would have never listened to before.

    The important thing is to realize that the best opportunities in life are not the short wins; they’re the opportunities that best match your long term vision and “right” path.

    Everyone’s on a path, but are you moving in the right direction? Are you on your “right” path?

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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