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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, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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