How often have you found yourself wondering what to do next, looked around for inspiration and ended up beating yourself down over how little you have achieved, how inferior it all is, compared to the wonderful examples you have found?
For example – here are a few things that really get me:
- That person who owns their own business and no longer has to submit to the will of an employer.
- That person who put together a deposit for a house, as well as paid their studies and wedding and is now free of debts while everyone else struggles with paying for each of these “stepping-stones”.
- That person who lost 30 kg, got really fit and healthy and posts daily selfies from the gym.
- That person who went on some really amazing holidays and is planning the next one already.
How about that new 30 under 30 Forbes list of overachievers, or that celebrity who found success in their dream field by the time they turned 20, is richer than the rich and, as Daniel Radcliffe put it in a recent BBC Radio 1 interview is free to do what they want, to choose what they want to do and to do it with support and confidence while their friends have to work on what they can get.
Feeling down yet?
Actually, the worse is not over yet.
Even your friends and acquaintances taunt you. Daily. You don’t even need to look for it.
Anything that calls to you and what you feel you have not achieved (yet) will simply jump at you out of nowhere. When you look around for it, everyone and anyone around you can appear more interesting than you and your daily life.
What about you?
You probably just had a normal day, but decided to read people’s emails, texts, social media updates and also checked out your magazines and blogs and other favourite websites because, well no particular reason in fact, that’s just what we do. In that ‘bigger’ picture you start feeling like a pixel, one that has no way to differentiate itself, one that does not shine. You know, everything is already said and done and all that demoralizing rubbish.
In fact, here’s me blogging with these thoughts in the back of my mind which is why it’s easy for me to point it out – but you wouldn’t do anything in life ever if you let these thoughts sink in.
Let me demonstrate why that’s absolutely the wrong way to go about it, and how I have learned to find positive inspiration instead. Once you have this realisation too, you will never unwittingly put yourself through this hamster wheel again (I’m trying hard to stay PG13 here).
First, remember this:
- Most people only post online or promote what they are proud of. When it’s not so good, the message is either cryptic (we all hate these messages!!) or not there at all.
- You and the path you take in life are entirely unique and can be shaped by …you. You are the only one with enough interest and time to care mostly about yourself. You are exposed to a specific environment, set of opportunities, and challenges which are yours alone.
- You can never assume that your priorities and desires are the same as others’.
- Life is a journey, there’s a lot less joy if you have everything served on a plate.
- You cannot be and do everything, neither should you want to as it would be alienating.
- Don’t take anything you are and have now for granted.
- Look both ways on the scale, you may find that you are looked up to as well.
Simply put, when you look for a comparison, you are comparing yourself to a perfect figure you have put together in your own head. That person does not exist, and if you were to look further into the people you compare yourself with, you would find that they do not hold all the answers.
Believe me, this leads to two things only (though not always both):
- Irrational disappointment in those you look up to for inspiration.
- Getting distracted or lost and forgetting what it is you really need to do to be yourself, and happy.
What you are doing is comparing your life away. That’s not an acceptable way to live your life.
Whenever I have looked around for ways to overcome this problem of comparing myself I have found great generic advice, but never anything that can be measured. By measured I mean that most of the advice was centered around building self-trust out of thin air… and that’s simply never happened to me. I’ve always and will always need to measure my thoughts and achievements.
So, if you are like me, here are a few things you can do instead which in my experience rate much higher in productivity and fulfillment:
Talk to people
Really talk and really listen to people who peak your interest, so you don’t just get a selective section of the information. People are neither their achievements nor their failures, and talking to them about themselves and really listening is simply invaluable. It’s both a source of inspiration and mental strength. The key word is empathy — Here’s this fantastic video from the RSA I highly recommend: RSA Shorts: Dr Brené Brown, “The Power of Empathy”
Be straightforward & honest with yourself
You need to know what you want from your own life. What are your priorities? Who do you want to be? There’s no time for shame, pride and assumptions. None at all. If you make mistakes, it doesn’t matter if it’s ok, it somewhat matters if you learn from it, but in reality what matters most is honestly acknowledging it happened, understanding why, getting up and moving on.
Don’t be afraid to focus
It’s completely ok to focus on something and give it your all. While life is indeed short in the grand scheme of things, in reality you have plenty of time to achieve a lot of things in the course of your life. What matters is how valuable you make each experience, and focus as well as passion are key in building value. Don’t worry about being good at everything – it’s impossible and overrated.
And if you think there isn’t enough time I hear you. I work long long hours and have a silly commute, and I travel about 50% of my working time. Not easy. I find however that as I focus and do new things I find more time somehow. Usually the best way to do just that is to build habits so that you are no longer having to think about accomplishing more.
Gain exposure, open your mind
To me there’s nothing quite as exciting as new ideas, ways of doing things…discoveries. I’m sure you enjoy them enormously as well. Lucky us – it’s very easy to find them. And there are two types:
Emotional exposure: You won’t find it on TV most likely, but a new book is a great source, walking around, looking for dream holidays… simple stuff but reliably efficient. There’s a reason we all love to browse. We want whatever is new, it’s emotional food, excitement and it triggers a buzz, an interest that may then prompt to action if you capitalize on it swiftly.
Practical exposure: This one is the most valuable. It’s the one that gives you confidence because it tells you that you can do what you set out to do. Think of it as the step coming after the emotional buzz, the step that solidifies a feeling and experience. For example, I was so excited when I learned easy ways to make soap, I decided to try it immediately. Since, I know I can make my own soap and have decided to try making a recipe for sale.
Do things – cleverly
The time you invest in doing is never lost. I find when I’m really doing something I have no time to care how someone else is doing 100x better at something else, I immerse myself entirely in my idea. It’s quite selfish but you need to understand that it is necessary: you are doing things because they interest you, and benefit you in some way. Make a plan, understand what steps you need to take and celebrate each time you achieve a milestone. Never back down from a big objective because you don’t know if you can do it – instead, break it into smaller ones and feel proud with however much it is you achieved. If you find along the way that you reached your satisfaction at step 3 out of 10, that’s totally ok. You have effectively reached YOUR goal. Yay you! Your path hasn’t stopped has it? You just went a different way than expected 🙂 You are in possession of a measurable list achievements…compared to your old self.
So there you have it. My thoughts on finding inspiration, and a sustainable way to make life decisions. You should never compare your life away/You really don’t have to put yourself through this and that’s a huge relief. Living life inspired is a huge goal of mine. I can’t stand to do things because I was influenced, or because it’s the done thing. This blog helps me to clearly put out these thoughts and share them and I hope you have found sustainable inspiration in this post.
Have a great day!
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