I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just feel sad and lonely. Down, dejected, hopeless, and depressed. Upon further reflection, I remember what I should be doing to make myself feel better, but now and again, I rightly feel as though the energy it would take to make myself feel better just isn’t worth it.
At these times, I reason that feeling the way I do is preferable, perhaps even beneficial to the alternative. I don’t feel like pushing myself to go to the gym, to go for a run, or to participate in life at all. But somehow, I turn my attitude around by just allowing myself to experience my feelings without judgment or any effort to change them at all. Judgment is what seems to lock them into place. I’ve come to the realization that feelings come and go, and all I have to do is pay attention to and acknowledge them.
Ambivalence is an insidious motivation destroyer. So, as I occasionally feel down and discouraged, I remind myself that life is mostly excellent. I know that I’ll have to remind myself of this fact from time to time. I hold onto no illusions that negative experiences or feelings are somehow a punishment for previous wrong-doings or that once I get in control of my emotions that they will simply evaporate. They are a natural part of life that gives me something to grind on. This tends to bring out my best. Reminding myself is a valuable tool and an important part of my strategy.
It’s relatively straightforward – most of the time – to merely slide my focus of thought from unhappy areas of life to satisfying experiences and to conclude that the status quo is working. If you wait until you’re seriously depressed, it’s a harder task. But if you can do it, it seems like a reasonable thing to do, right? The downside of this approach is that, on occasion, circumstances don’t always change.
I recommend a personal development plan. Something should change, and it’s unlikely to be life itself. If we want life to change, we should change. Because there are one or two areas in life that I am less than satisfied with, I put effort into making a difference in those areas. Namely, eating healthy for me and avoiding sugary sweets.
The effort that we put into discovering our purpose should help significantly. But don’t let yourself think that you’ll consider this on the drive home tonight and come to a perfect conclusion by the time you throw your keys down. This is likely a life-long process of guesswork and refinement. It’s also well worth the effort.
Thinking like a leader will result in acting like a leader. This suggests that you’ll make decisions like a leader. Responsibly. Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not. But, allow yourself to think like someone you know who is capable of handling great responsibility. This is often the first step in recovery: the starting place to bring back self-confidence, clear thoughts, and healthy decision-making.
Ultimately, leaders tend to focus on their ability to influence. The direction of their influence depends upon their values and goals, in that order. That determines their strategy for life. When working with a psychological coach, insist on taking a values assessment for yourself. This is another powerful way of maintaining your focus positively.
Once you begin to think of yourself in this way – as influencing ourselves and others – start looking at the emotional impact you’re creating. The way you’re influencing creates an atmosphere. Is your personal style of influence more of a command and control or one of influence, support, and teamwork. At this very point, life begins to change. Creating either a tense, uncomfortable environment or a calm, peaceful, cooperative one.
Worry and self-loathing will have to come second to this newly evolving power and responsibility regarding how you influence. Too many people are counting on you. It feels good already, just considering life from a new angle. Taking on new perspectives, therefore, is also a valuable aspect of strategy.
Your emotional energy is what gets things done and lifts ourselves and others so they can achieve. When you nudge your thinking in this way, to consider others around you, you are thinking like a leader. This way of attacking life should be actively robust in life every day. Perhaps a great strategy isn’t even about “attacking” life but about “building” or “cultivating” life.
One thing is for sure, that whatever we want from life if we don’t stop to plan and reflect upon our more long-term goals, we’re more likely to end up pushing them further away, substituting them with short-term immediate gratification. Living life spontaneously, responding to the day-to-day pressures of life, we don’t stop to plan, days come and go, and wonder why life is the way it is. I may have a closet full of shirts, but I’m driving a 10-year-old Civic, plus I’m getting flabby around the waist and feeling miserable about life.
“Whenever I say “yes” to one thing, I’m saying “no” to something else. It’s unreasonable to think I can have it all.”
The more important something is to you, the more likely you will put undue pressure on yourself to achieve it and fail. Paul Azinger, a PGA professional, said that pressure changes how you feel. It changes how your arms feel and how your legs feel.
I’ll add that this new feeling isn’t likely positive, and so we start thinking and feeling in negative ways, try harder, get frustrated, and nothing moves in our favor. Pressure takes our “feel” away. We lose our intuition. In these situations, I like to admit to myself how significant achievement would be and add a layer to my strategy.
Get into the flow of life by adding a layer of calm relaxation. A psychological state that reminds me of two things. First, I have been successful in similar situations before; and second, although I have influence, I have zero control in this situation to make this desire come true. So enjoy the process regardless of how things seem to be going.
The fact is, we all strategize, even if at a subconscious level. Perhaps we should be more careful of how our conscious and unconscious decisions are affecting our lives. Maybe also give “time for reflection” a modicum of respect by adding it to our weekly agenda.
I’d like to remind us all – and especially myself – to consider creating regular opportunities to discuss and reflect. Make sure we’re on track with our vision or long-term objectives. Reflect on our perceptions; they’re what counts most. And as far as feelings go? I recommend that we learn to use them to guide us, without being judgemental, and make better decisions.
If we’re not slowing down, actively gaining control over, or deliberately instituting positive goals, beliefs, and expectations into our psyche, maybe we’re really living a life of unconsidered habits. Perhaps we’re evolving in a way directed by our short-term urges, impulses, and not our well-thought-out plans.
Be cautious, for one day, your future may come calling, and you may not like what it has to say or how you feel. To get our best results means creating the “best version of ourselves.” It means being aware of your vision and regularly strategizing on how to precisely get there.
“So, is there any good reason why we don’t devote some regularly scheduled time and effort to increase our level of conscious awareness of our individual strategies?”
Let’s get things going in our favor. Make things happen. Change the direction of lives so that they’re unfolding in our direction: experience more joy, better connections. Explore, feel proud of our lives and of what we’re creating, and what we’re contributing. Because we cannot not participate.
What if we both had all the time we needed to talk and reflect upon our own personal strategies?