I’m not sure about you, but when it gets to this time of year, I personally feel lethargic, and just praying for December to hurry the hell up. Paradoxically, however, this is my busiest time of year running my own business, and so it’s now when I need my greatest burst of energy, enthusiasm and focus. So why on earth is this evading me? And strangely enough, after asking around, I’ve discovered I am not the only one. I need to get my mojo back. However there’s one thing I manage to do consistently – and that’s putting myself last. So in a bid to trick myself into helping myself, I’ve decided to write this piece for not only me – but YOU. I’ve written this not only from an entrepreneur’s perspective, but from being a young professional, juggling many tasks and responsibilities, and wanting to be the best I can be (but feeling I’m failing hopelessly). If this is you, please read on…
I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I will LITERALLY find ANY excuse to not do something I dread. This is usually my admin, tiding my office, or returning my bookkeeper’s calls and emails. I love writing, so it’s perplexed me that I’ve been putting off writing on this topic for so long. I guess if I dig deep, I realise that things like strategising your future, your business, your career, your family… it’s all a bit overwhelming. I’m haunted by the fact that we are all mortal, which means that in five years I may not even be alive (bleak, much?). Or, the fact that I may be bitterly disappointed that I had not achieved my dreams. I did myself a favour and read my New Years Resolutions from 2016 and the first few goals actually stung. I was going to once again shut down my PC and put this task off when I read on… as many of my goals I did not reach, there were a healthy number of big ones I DID achieve. I wrote my book. I lost 14kgs. I hired my first employee. Sure there were disappointments; but what I’ve learned time and time again is that without the bad, how will you know good? If all you could see was green, how could you appreciate colour? So in the spirit of embracing our mortality and living our life like we only have one (you’d be surprised how shocking this fact is for most), let’s being on some self-reflection.
1. A Reason For Being
Often when I talk to others who seem to have lost their mojo, or their zest for life, is because they have lost their passion; their reason (or perhaps it’s pursuing the elusive “work-life balance” you can read about here). The Japanese have a clever little concept called Ikigai. Whilst there is no direct English translation, Ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for”. Together these definitions create the concept of “a reason to live” or the idea of having a purpose in life.
To find your reason or your purpose, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
If you would like a more in-depth breakdown of the above, read our article on Personal Development and Growth.
The above is more of a way for us Westerners to interpret this ancient concept, but for the Japs, Ikigai is a much slower process and often has nothing to do with work or income. However the latter appears to dictate a large proportion of our focus. However this is reminiscent of the old proverb “it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey.”
What’s important to remember is that Ikigai is not a life-choice, and it’s certainly not something grandiose or extraordinary. In fact, it’s possibly quite the opposite.
2. Scribble those Goals
I have an absolute weakness for Typo stationery; if you’re anything like me, this next nugget of advice will give you the perfect opportunity to splurge on some new notebooks and sexy pens. According to a study done by the Dominican University in Illinois, those who WROTE their goals down accomplished significantly more than those who did not. It’s not enough to simply type them up somewhere; actually physically writing down those goals has a far greater impact. When writing down those goals, get crystal clear on what it is that you want. Where exactly do you want to be this time next year? What do you see? What have you achieved? What have you learned? How does it all make you feel?
#SideTip: Write these goals as if they have already manifested in your life.
To manifest your goals, dreams and aspirations, you need to create an immense and intense emotional connection. Every high performer knows and understands that the event with the highest emotional charge is what will show up in your life. You need to be tapping into an emotional peak state whenever you are thinking about what you desire to manifest. Now connect to these goals every. single. day.
What I like to do every morning as I wake up is to enjoy my first cup of coffee and I scribble down what I would like to achieve for the day. You could keep your goals at the front of your notebook; or you could create a vision board and put it somewhere you see daily. Need some more guidance on attaining those goals? Check out our piece on Becoming Your Most Authentic You here.
3. Seek Just Enough… or Lagom
In a Westernised society, seeking just enough sounds like a slap in the face. However, research shows us that we are raising our children to be the most stressed out population of our kind. It’s always good to have goals to work towards to drive our hopes, dreams and wishes. However, it’s also easy to get sucked into a culture of always wanting more, and never just appreciating that our best effort may have been “good enough”.
Lagom, a Swedish term, can be translated to “enough, sufficient, adequate” or “just right”. One of my best friends, Lara, travelled to Scandinavia recently, and what she said was rather poignant. She described the environment as an almost spiritual experience; the surroundings were minimalistic. It didn’t feel so crowded. Massive windows gave one the opportunity to peer out the airport onto the tarmac, with stretches of forest spanning out behind the aircrafts. Even the airport itself smelt of fresh pine needles and wood.
When she described the above to me, I could not have imagined such simplicity could sound so damn appealing. But it did. Perhaps the Scandinavian people are onto something with their concept of Lagom?
4. Improve your Grit
In my personal and professional experience, the best precursor for a person’s success (which I personally define as achieving optimisation and congruency in various facets of life) is GRIT.
Grit can be defined as a positive, non-cognitive skill which transcends talent and intelligence if you want to reach the next level of personal achievement in your life. Although we are all born with more or less of a talent for something, the beauty of a skill is that it can be learned. Grit is It’s the resilience to go on with renewed purpose after you’ve suffered a setback, failure or disappointment. It’s commitment to your goals and a belief in yourself and/or to a greater cause.
Cheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has to be my most inspirational leader currently. This is largely due to the manner in which I’ve observed her re-frame what could have been negative (and at times catastrophic) occurrences into positives.
“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void: the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.” – Cheryl Sandberg
I watched a video of Sandberg on Facebook fairly recently, as she recounted the tragic loss of her husband. To anyone who’s lost anyone – I’m sure you can tell first-hand what a debilitating experience this is. Sandberg said she spoke to a psychologist friend shortly after the death of her life partner, desperate for something in his words to comfort her acute emotional pain. He suggested that she find some gratitude in her harrowing experience. Gratitude?! W.T.F. It was only after he elaborated that she imagined how much more horrific her plight may have been if her husband suffered his heart attack whilst driving their two young children.
Just last night I was doing some light reading (don’t judge me, but the YOU Magazine is a favourite for a chilled night in!); I came across an article of a women, Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted at the age of 14 for 9 horrific months. She was raped, tortured and starved, until she was eventually found and rescued. I wouldn’t blame the woman for wanting to live under a rock for the entirety of her life after what she’d been through. But today Smart is a correspondent on American TV show Crime Watch. She’s published a Memoir of her ordeal (titled My Story) in 2013, she’s an activist in preventing child abductions, she is a motivational speaker, and her most recent achievement is bringing her story to life in the form of a true-story film of what happened to her.
#SideTip: In terms of learning how to reframe negative to positive, and challenging your own personal worldview, I’ve found the book “The Breakthrough Experience” by Dr John Martini pivotal in the strengthening of my own grit.
I wish you inspiration, creativity, energy and bucket loads of grit as we begin to wrap up 2017 (can you flippen believe it?!). I would absolutely LOVE your feedback on how YOU are feeling – whether you are an entrepreneur, employed, a student, stay at home mom - whatever! Please mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org; I promise I will respond to every email.
Lots of love,
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