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Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

7 Reasons to Accept Your Limitations

In Designer Lifestyle on November 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm

What happens when limitations overpower us

It’s difficult not to feel hard done-by when you consider some of the problems some of us suffer from. We dream of having the freedom to do whatever we want and to shed whatever shackles are holding us back. But limitations aren’t manacles or a jail sentence. If they are managed in the proper way, they can be the inspiration for great feats of creativity and daring. Enough pressure creates diamonds.

There are the more obvious limitations like physical disabilities, health or mental issues, limited finances and poor education. But we are also good at creating limitations that are entirely made up. When you come to accept your limitations, you will escape denial and figure out ways to cope, to improve, or to rise above them.

1. Life isn’t fun without a challenge.

If you could have everything that you wanted handed to you on a plate, it would be amazing. For a short time. But we give value to things by striving towards them and appreciating the effort we’ve put into them. If you could have something without effort, you might end up wanting more. There are reasons that we hear about lottery winners losing all their money so frequently. Some people simply can’t respect their new wealth if they don’t feel that they’ve earned it, so they lose it. What the people we don’t hear about do is realise that using the money wisely is an even greater challenge. In rising to it, they have to deal with begging relatives, shady investors and their own greed.

2. So many others have it so much worse.

Without sounding holier than thou, you need reminding that you’re reading this on the internet – a luxury many people can’t afford. Some people don’t have the money, others don’t have the time. Time they need to spend walking twenty miles to school, or caring for sick loved ones. Having perspective makes dealing with your own issues so much easier.
Even people with severe disabilities are showing us at the moment that it’s no barrier to excellence – the Paralympic games are a classic example of the fact that others can have it worse but still create their own opportunities.

3. People will respect you more for it.

How much more impressive is it to hear about somebody who’s become successful despite adversity? That’s why I prefer the origin story of KFC and Colonel Sanders’ plight over that of Burger King, or the Paralympic games over the Olympics. And with respect, of course, comes inspiration. Marathon runner Paula Radcliffe suffers from asthma but still consistently wins races. Knowing that, I can’t use my own asthma as an excuse to not run anymore.

It isn’t entirely healthy to do things just because others will respect you, but if you can inspire and help others it’s a valid reason.

4. You will respect yourself much more for it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You respect things more when you work harder for them. And having the willpower and determination to overcome your obstacles builds momentum. If it’s a smaller problem, you have the confidence to tackle a larger problem. If it’s a large problem that you’ve overcome, others look smaller in comparison.

5. Worrying about something makes it bigger in your mind.

It’s often said that our minds can’t tell the difference between a real event and an imagined one. So if we obsess over a problem we experience all the things that could possibly go wrong and fail to see all the ways it could go well. Worrying is simply a way of suffering because of an event that hasn’t happened yet (or never will).
The only way that worrying can be of help is if you use it to plan ways to overcome the problems your mind has created. If you adopt a problem-solving mindset then worrying loses its emotional hold over you and becomes a tool for success.

6. You have to take responsibility for your own life.

It may not be your fault, but until you accept your issues are your burdens to bear and in your control, you’ll be somebody’s victim. If you approach life with the mindset that you should solve your own problems, you’ll keep progressing with or without others. And any help you receive will be a pleasant surprise.

7. Having limitations never means that there’s no opportunity to improve.

There’s nothing to fear by accepting them and embracing them will open you up to opportunity and creativity instead of denial. Even if you are unable to escape your limitation, you can reduce the effect that it has on your wellbeing. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

5 Reasons Why You Need to Review Your Goals

In Designer Lifestyle on November 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm

 

Using a Diary to Remember the Week

Self-imposed performance reviews are increasingly becoming a part of the corporate world, to allow bosses to see how you’ve been doing without keeping tabs on you, and to keep you mindful of your progress. But these reviews shouldn’t only be necessary in your working life; they should be a weekly standard. It is all well and good to have targets and deadlines for work, but you should have personal goals that you’ve set yourself.

It can be intimidating to evaluate yourself and how you’ve performed recently, but it’s a fear you need to get over if you want to achieve your goals. Goal setting needs both the projection period of settling where you want to be in the future and the reflection period of evaluating how well you’ve met your goals. Today I’m going to focus on reflection. Soon I will deal with projection. Say your long-term goal is to run a marathon. A shorter-term goal would be to run a 10k. The most immediate, if you aren’t a runner, is to go on a certain amount of weekly runs and build from that.

  1. Work in objective measures to your achievements. It’s a good idea to work in how you felt about your goals and how well you thought you did in meeting them, but objective data does better at lasting the tests of time. The Nike+ app records how long you ran for, your distance, your pace, the route, the weather, the running conditions and how you felt about the run. This is a good mixture of objective and subjective recording. When the endorphin rush has worn off and a few days have passed, you might not remember how far you ran, so you need to rely on hard data. But noting how you felt about the run might give you hints about which routes give you the best pace, or make you enjoy the run the most.
  2. Don’t be modest. The only person who is going to be reading this is probably yourself. Likewise, if you’ve performed terribly, don’t try to sugarcoat it. Accurate recording requires a bit of truth from the recorder. It might be hard to accept your failings (or your successes), but acknowledging them will help you build towards a more realistic view of how well you’ve done.
  3. Don’t agonise about grammar, spelling or ‘flow’. This might be something to worry about if writing for somebody else, but this is for you. You’ll understand your own written nonsense, so there’s no need to pretty it up.
  4. Think about areas you can improve upon. Have you been doing certain things that have proven to be ineffective? Try different methods. Have you been lacking motivation? Search for ways to improve efficiency.
  5. Keep at it. Reviewing your performance is only effective if you repeatedly do it. It can be disheartening if you repeatedly fail your self-imposed goals. All that tells you is that you’re being unrealistic with your assumptions and need to go slower. The ‘reality gap’ between the results you want and the legwork it takes you to get there is the leading cause of failing goals. In other words, your desires and your pleasures contradict each other. While you may desire something (say, a fitter body) you’re unable to see the pleasure in the actions you need to get there (running three times a week). Looking back at your progress shows you how far you’ve come towards your goal and can give you the pleasure in your own achievements that you would not have realised had you carried on without direction.

Next, projecting future desires, a.k.a. goal-setting.

10 Unusual Ways to be Happy in Life

In Designer Lifestyle on November 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Being happy. As simple as shaking your head.

Photo courtesy of thiquinho

We all know that there are things you should do to make yourself happier. Often, they’re presented as daunting tasks. Find your soulmate, live a life of passion, do meaningful work to help others… The fact that we know this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll do it. Nor does it make it easier. I try not to think about these difficult, multi-step, goals and focus on smaller, more unusual, ways to be happy when I need a boost.

 

  1. If there is an event that you find traumatic or painful, try writing about it. The natural response is to try to avoid things which make you feel hurt or uncomfortable, but thinking about it in a structured way takes away some of its power over you. 
  2. Focus on the little things that affect your body’s chemistry. Living a life of passion and love is a complicated and multi-step process. Getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and avoiding extremes of blood sugar are not. They are primary building blocks to let you build momentum towards something bigger.
  3. Fake it ’til you make it. This works with happiness and confidence particularly well. In a way similar to the placebo effect, the body starts to rely on something that isn’t really there, and provides the ‘cure’ for your affliction on its own. If you’re lacking confidence or happiness, your body adapts to project it.
  4. Buy experiences, not objects. Life experiences are inherently more social, and they have some element of risk. Successfully navigating risks is naturally thrilling and spending quality time with others is a proven factor for happiness
  5. Think a little more about a new job. Going for the job that will get you the most money won’t necessarily make you happier. Work is where people spend a significant portion of their lives, and taking any job is a decision that should be based on multiple factors. Finding somewhere with people that you get along with, or that works towards a purpose you are passionate about, can be more valuable to your well being than money.
  6. Expand your time. Focusing on the here-and-now can actually slow your perception of time and make you more willing to use that time on activities that will make you happy, rather than hurrying around without the time to please yourself.
  7. Take action. About 50% of your happiness level is genetic, but that’s no reason to assume that you were born, and always will be, an Eeyore or a Tigger. The simple act of doing something to improve your future is (and I try to use this word sparingly) an empowering one. Your material circumstances account for about another 10% of your happiness level. But the rest is within your direct control – how you think and behave.
  8. Lose some friends. 5000 Facebook friends but nobody to confide in? I’m sure you can point to a person like that (but please don’t; it’s rude). If you want to be happy, sometimes you have to make an effort to surround yourself with positive people and get rid of the negative ones. Maybe, once your life is wonderful and nobody can drag you down, you will be able to help them with their lives and lift them up. But don’t sacrifice your happiness for no reason.
  9. Play practical jokes. You have to feed your inner child at some point. There’s a genuine mirth you can create from a joke that everybody can enjoy. Just try to make sure that the fall guy will find it funny too. 
  10. Set stupid challenges for the day. Maybe it’s a competition with a co-worker to see how many times you can say ‘horse’ in conversation with others. Maybe you’re only allowed to walk if you’re whistling (avoid libraries). One of my favourites when on tiled floors is that I can only move like a knight would in a game of chess. They’re silly, and that’s the idea. Adding variety to your day, and taking things less seriously, makes it more enjoyable. Life has a sense of humour; we should too.
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