Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Convert ideas to actions


Living a purposeful life requires you to devote yourself to fulfilling your personal mission statement. You have concentrated your attention upon where you want to go and what you want to become. You may want all of or a combination of the following: money, health, education, faith, relationship, success, recognition and creative expression. However, it is not enough just to visualize or imagine something. Vision, information and knowledge are only potential power until they are converted into results through effective actions. Ideas and intentions are fine but without commitment and action you can never realize your goal. You don't achieve your goal simply by wishing and wanting it. To achieve your purpose in life, you must be able to progress from having a global picture of what you want to accomplish in your lifetime to taking action. Your thoughts, ideas and choices need to be converted into decisive actions. This is where most people have doubts and uncertainty about their ability and the outcome. Some people find it difficult to act if they have to take risks. The risk of failure becomes a daunting barrier. The key is to acknowledge that there is a certain amount of risk and uncertainty while you remain focused on taking action. While you can expect some mistakes and setbacks in the process, you can develop life skills to cope and overcome them. You need to expect changes and be prepared to adapt and improvise. By being flexible and adaptive and by persevering, you will eventually achieve positive outcomes and experience success. It is when you act by striving to do your best that you have the opportunity to develop resilience and self-confidence. The whole process of converting ideas to actions should be done in alignment with your values, principles and purpose. This involves some careful thought about setting realistic goals and planning appropriate tasks. The challenges you face to accomplish your mission can best be summarized step by step as follows:

1. Determine your purpose
2. Create your vision
3. Set specific goals
4. Plan your strategy
5. Focus your energy
6. Get the proper tools
7. Take decisive actions
8. Monitor your progress

You should have a very good idea about your purpose in life by now if you have written your personal mission statement. The previous exercises have helped you to create a clearer vision of where you want to go and who you want to become.
The third step is to set your goals. What are your goals? Each of us will have to answer this question personally. Most people can relate to goals such as: be happy, become successful, build satisfying relationships and maintain good health. You can be given guidance and advice but in the end it is a decision you have to make on your own. Only you can decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Guided by your purpose in life, set realistic and manageable goals. It is important that your objectives are as specific as they can be.
You'll need to plan your strategy to help you focus your efforts toward achieving your goals. An action plan based on your strategy is a must, especially for major goals. List the actions that will be required to achieve your goals. Your plan should be specific and should spell out exactly how you are going to accomplish your goal. A proper plan is essential if you want to be rewarded with the desired results. The next step is to focus your energy through self-motivation, perseverance and readiness to make the required efforts. The sixth step is to acquire the physical and psychological tools you need to reach your goals. This step is often skipped because it is time consuming and requires commitment, concentration and discipline. It can be anything from training and overcoming obstacles to developing the required skills and confidence to see you through. The seventh step deals with taking charge. A good plan without action achieves nothing. It's time to put your plan into action. Now you move from the thinking and planning phase to taking decisive actions. The eighth step is to monitor your progress and to measure your achievements.
There should be a good balance between your home and work. Make sure your family relationships are not suffering while you are pursuing your professional responsibilities. You should monitor that you are functioning with positive characteristics such as honesty, integrity, kindness and respect. It is also very important that you have the capacity to enjoy and celebrate your little victories along the long and sometimes difficult road toward achieving your goals. These skills can be learned, refined to suit your particular circumstances and used over and over again as your journey in life takes you into uncharted territory.
When you are ready to convert ideas into actions, pull out the anchor. Set your sails and cast away. Keep your eyes all the time on your Northern Star, your personal mission statement.

Extract from my book: Become your best

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Deeply ingrained in human nature, the desire to control our destiny occurs in everyone’s life, with varying degree and intensity. Not only do we want to control our life, sometimes we also want to control the behaviours of others. After all, control over others is power. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to abuse this power and domination over others.
Some people mistake the control over one’s own destiny and the destiny of others as being a necessary condition for ensuring their happiness and contentment. These people tend to be control freaks. They want to control everything, and in so doing they drive you crazy. They can be an overbearing father, an overprotective mother, an autocratic boss, a manipulative friend, or a jealous spouse. These are people who want to change you and your behaviours. They want to tell you what to do, and if they could they would run your lives. Their ego plays brilliantly on their fundamental fear of losing control, and of the unknown. They will use intimidation, manipulation, reason and logic, and emotional exploitation to try to persuade you to do things their way.
On the other extreme, there are people who hate confrontation to such a point that they always give in to others. These people tend to be treated accommodating doormats with other people walking all over them. They can be shy people, followers, colleagues without any initiative, abused spouses, yes-men, people who cannot decide for themselves. These are people who will do what they are told whether they like it or not. They tend to let others impose their will on them because they hate confrontation, have low self-worth and self-confidence, have no initiative, are laissez-faire type of people.
Under normal circumstances, most of us are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. When we interact with others we like that our relationship follow a certain path. We are not comfortable being with people whose behaviours are unpredictable, irrational or puzzling to us. Sometimes we want to the leaders, and at other times we are quite happy to follow others. Regardless, we all have a certain amount of control on others and ourselves.
People’s behaviour is fundamentally selfish in nature. We are all looking after our self interest. And it is no different in the realm of personal relationships. Even when we act benevolently toward others, most of the time we don’t do it out of altruism. We do so in the expectation of being recognized and rewarded by some reciprocal act of kindness in the future. It’s like having a deposit account where we are depositing favours, and acts of kindness. In times of needs, we expect that we can call on the past beneficiaries, and successfully draw from that deposit account.
Let’s take, for example, the maxim, “Honesty is the best policy” in a relationship context. Many people can honestly say to spouses that they have never been unfaithful to them. However, how many of them have really had the opportunity of having an affair or a one night stand, but have genuinely refuse the offer. How many of them would engage in sexual activities with other partners if they were sure that they would not be caught? How many of them are not tempted because they are scared of sexually transmitted diseases like aids and venereal diseases? The controlling factors for fidelity are not necessarily love, respect and loyalty to their spouses, but rather a combination of other factors as described above.
We have the tendency of trying to influence others so that they will see things from our point of view. Everything is fine when people agree with us, and when our values and beliefs systems coincide. Once there is difference of opinions and conflicts, the relationship is in distress. It’s much more difficult to have the habit of putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. To have healthy interactions, we need to develop relationships based on mutual love and trust. When there is disagreement, try to find a win-win solution.
You need to learn when to combat the control that others want to impose on you, and when to accommodate them to create respectful and trustful relationships. Don’t let someone’s else controlling behaviour dictate how you live your life. Take control of your life and relationship. Be assertive and don’t let control freaks dominate or victimize you. Be flexible, think in terms of preference rather than in terms of must have or must be like that.
Most human relationships consist of people interacting mentally and emotionally with each other. Healthy human relationships need commitment, caring, compatibility, communication and compromise. You need to give up the illusion of control. You certainly need to have a positive mental attitude and a healthy self-esteem. No relationship can thrive without you being in touch with your inner self and having a relationship with God. When all is said and done, everything in life that truly matters can be boiled down to meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Life is a series of relationships; the rest is just the mechanics of life.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Accept yourself and be self-reliant


Once you are aware of the reality and the truth about yourself, you are able to understand why you are the way you are and behave the way you behave. Most importantly, you will learn to love and accept yourself as you are. You must accept who you are at the present even though you want to change and become a better person. Accepting yourself and being self-reliant put your well-being into your own hands. Acceptance of self is surrendering to what is: our circumstances, our values and beliefs, our emotions and feelings, our problems, our strengths and shortcomings, our financial status, our dreams and goals, our relationships with other people, and our procrastination.
You are a special and unique individual. From birth to death, the only person you can count on to be there with you during good and bad times is YOU. Understand that you are the one person on whom you can and should depend at all times. Become your best friend because you are going to spend all your time together. You might as well enjoy your company. Don't spend your life trying to be somebody else. The easiest thing to be in the world is yourself. Simplify your life, come as you are. You don't need to seek external confirmation of your ability, integrity and worth. You have feelings and opinions about yourself physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Have a compassionate attitude toward yourself on the inside and on the outside, and don't undermine your self-esteem. Self-acceptance means in essence learning the lesson of compassion for oneself.
If there are some mistakes you made or some aspects of your personality you want to work on, accept these facts and try to do something positive about them. All things in life are imperfect, including you. When you accept your imperfection, you can embrace life and try to enhance yourself. Accept your life experiences, attitudes and emotional reactions. Make a commitment to accept and trust your intention with respect to people, situations and aspirations. There are many things about which you can do nothing so why not accept them and do the best you can with what you have. For example, you cannot change some of the characteristics that were given to you at birth. You may be short or tall, you may be dark or fair skinned and you may have an aptitude for figures and facts or for abstract subjects. You can accept yourself as you are and yet keep helping yourself to become better in areas you can improve. Have the confidence to be yourself and improve yourself in areas of your choice. Don't hide the natural you under all kinds of artificial masks and disguises. You don't need to have a major surgical operation or a face lift to feel lovable. To have self-reliance and confidence, you have to understand and develop your self-awareness. As you become more aware of your self-acceptance, you can move toward growth and fulfillment without fear.
Your reality is the values, beliefs, ideas, experiences and attitudes you have right now. You must understand the basis of the present reality and know that you are doing your best within your personal reality. The key to change is to accept your behaviour and other people's behaviour without judgement and without imposing your values on others. Realize that no one must change just to make you feel better. What you have to do is reevaluate your self-awareness. See whether you can enhance the clarity and vision with which you perceive and understand everything that affects your life. If something or someone is disturbing you physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, you can change your reaction to the disturbing source by your conscious thoughts and decisions. Evaluate the potential benefits of changing your self-awareness and choose your response and reaction accordingly.
Recognition of our self-worth as a person is a crucial factor in building self-acceptance. Practically all our problems are the results of how we feel about ourselves. Our self-esteem is based on our personal self-acceptance and perception as a worthy or unworthy individual. It is the foundation on which to build our whole life. Often, people judge themselves almost exclusively in terms of achievement, prestige, power, money and physical attractiveness. They tend to be more preoccupied with how other people feel about them than how they feel about themselves. They feel bad if they cannot meet other people's expectations, paying less attention to their own needs and aspirations. They have a strong fear of rejection and failure, never daring to allow themselves to be rejected.
From an early age, you have been used to being compared to others. Do not compare yourself to others or judge yourself by comparison. There is absolutely no need for it. You rarely compare yourself with others that are worse off than you. You usually compare yourself with friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and famous people who are better off than you in one way or another. Making self-defeating comparisons is not a helpful thing to do. It is counterproductive and undermines your self-esteem. When you compare yourself unfavourably with other people in terms of educational qualifications, physical attributes, social status and wealth, you open yourself to self-doubt. You undermine your self-confidence and become discouraged to strive effectively to fulfill your own potential. If you allow this type of negative thinking to take over, it's not long before you feel resentful, discontented and depressed.
You can always find someone who is better or worse than you if you look hard enough. The person who compares himself or herself to others tends to live in a state of frustration and envy. He or she is always trying to do better than the next person. In the process, life loses its enjoyment. If you are confident and sure of yourself and your abilities, you don't feel the need to compete or compare yourself with others. Your sense of self-worth should not depend on how you measure up in comparison to others, but whether you remain true to your personal priorities and values. Don't worry whether other people are better off than you, create a lifestyle that meets your needs, aspirations and desires. The only thing that matters in the end is how you think of your own achievement based on your own efforts and abilities.
Self-reliance is the belief that you can handle things, solve your problems and become successful. Unfortunately, many people have the habit of depending on others, abdicating all personal authority and responsibility in favour of another person, organization, government, or religion. They permit this person, group or religion to be responsible for their happiness. They then have the luxury of having someone or something to blame whenever failure occurs. Since childhood, most of us have been conditioned to look at others for our welfare, and for guidance and wisdom. First it was our parents, then our teachers and later on our partners, colleagues, mentors, advisors and role models. While dependency plays an important role in our early upbringing and education, it was never intended to obliterate individual identity, personality and responsibility. It is very important to realize that even children should be encouraged to be self-reliant and should be given as much responsibility as they can handle at an early age. Every time you do something that your children are capable and willing to do for themselves, you may be undermining their self-esteem and confidence. Allow them to do whatever they can, even though it may not be done as well as what you expect. Allow them to make mistakes as long as the mistakes are not going to be catastrophic. Once they are willing to learn from them, most likely, they will not repeat them. They will know that, whatever they do, they either earn their own rewards or suffer the consequences of their mistakes.
You all have the innate ability to resolve most of the difficulties and problems you face. Ideas and solutions come easier when you are self-reliant and confident. You have a better chance to create options in situations where none seem to exist. If you are self-reliant, you don't need to blame others or external circumstances for the conditions of your life. You take responsibility for making your own decisions. You don't need to find somebody to depend on and to seek approval for everything you do. There will always be some people who disagree with you because we are all individuals with our own opinions and perceptions. When you meet disapproval, take it with a positive attitude. Think of self-enhancing thoughts rather than let the disapproval upset you. Trust yourself and believe in yourself. You don't have to argue or try to convince anyone of your belief and opinion. It is OK for people to have different opinions. You are what you choose to think and do, let others be what they want to be. You are able to meet life's challenges with confidence by looking at each situation in the light of reality.
Self-reliance does not mean that you should not accept or even ask for the much-needed help and assistance from others on occasion. It just means that you do not depend on them for your well-being, success and happiness. You cease to expect others to rescue you every time you are in trouble. It means you are secure within yourself taking full responsibility for your actions. You take personal responsibility for your successes and failures without blaming others for your lot in life. Self-reliance should not prevent you from asking for help when you need it. The nourishing effects of give-and-take, of assisting, of cooperating and of being helped do not preclude you from being self-reliant. Independence and reliance are valuable assets but they should not imply the rejection of other people's help. As you develop self-reliance, you will have the confidence to meet each life situation with self-assurance and poise. You will have more freedom to make better and wiser choices about the priorities in your life.

Extract from my book: Become your Best