Good Morning Peaches! Well, now that I have reviewed many of my highlights from 2016 (in my last post here), I decided it was time to really think about how I want to spend my 2017. I started this thought process by going back and looking at a lot of my old posts because my writing tells me a lot about myself. It tells me where my state of mind was at in a point in time and how I have grown since then.
In 2016, I discovered a lot about self awareness and a big over lying theme for me was living a life of intent. I realized that no matter what level of contentment I reach I will never be complacent and this my friends, is one of the biggest blessings in my life and yet one of the biggest curses (I definitely have mentioned this a bunch before, especially in this post here, but it really is an ongoing thing so I feel the need to continually bring it up). Even though this has lead me to have the drive and determination I have today, this attribute is a big burden. A poison quite actually. Always asking myself and others so many questions. Why do I do the things I do? Why do others do the things they do? What are my fatal flaws? What are other people’s fatal flaws? What do I have to do so I don’t become like that? What is my purpose in life? Why? Why? Why?
Being this way, more often than not, adds a lot of additional confusion to my life.
I learned if I didn’t deal with this confusion and curiosity correctly this can lead to many side effects like never feeling good enough, or that I am not doing enough in life. I am always searching for more. Or it leads to a lot of comparison and always caring what others think.
So I told myself to just stop. Stop over-thinking.
To not “give a sh** about anything”
However, this was fake. Deep down everyone cares and if you tell yourself you don’t then you are probably lying.
That is when I had a slap in the face one day and realized I would rather have 500,000 thoughts, emotions, and questions in a day no matter how heavy this may seem than to ever feel numb in my life again. In a society that often times takes pride in feeling numb I wanted to choose to feel and not only feel but to feel deeply.
The next stage in 2016, after all of this, was really recognizing my thoughts. Not letting them just come and go or even worse, eat away at myself. Taking time to pause and allowing a moment of reflection- to gain clarity. This is truly becoming self aware.
So, in the next stages of cultivating self awareness, I learned that a person fights against all of our personal adaptive and evolutionary habits/behaviors. What I mean by this is, in life our minds are hard wired to protect themselves at all times so instead of expending energy on fruitless actions for the sake of a damaged ego, we pause for only a split second and then go on doing what we think is best for ourselves. As Paul Jun, the writer and author of the book Connect The Dots: Strategies and Meditations on Self-Education, states wonderfully, “self improvement is not about finishing a book or a seminar. Self awareness is a practice, a muscle that grows with time and effort, that ultimately provides us strength. We are in constant state of change. Adapting to our cultural influences and our individual experiences . The more we learn to be conscious of our impulses, thoughts, and actions while also keeping in mind our principles that foster practical wisdom, we can more easily become our best selves.”
In other words, in years prior to 2016, I thought that I was working on self awareness because I would read some self help books here and there or watch a few seminars every once in awhile and expect my problems to start to go away. Now, don’t get me wrong these things are good and they help. I use this method quite often, but in 2016 I learned to truly be self aware is to really live a life of intent every day and that is what I did. I would find my purpose in everything, even if it was as simple of a task as going to the grocery store everyday, making a new meal, trying a new workout. Once I got back to the city, my attitude changed about things as simple as daily tasks like riding the subway.
I look back now and even though this has been a long journey for me, I realize it is all just the beginning. My original idea of what “self awareness” was didn’t work out for me because it was a life built off of goal after goal. I told myself, if I finish this book, then my life will be different. If I do this workout then my life will be different. I was so concerned about the goal and the outcome that I wasn’t focused on the methodology, technique, and structure of the process I was doing. I recently read an article from this website that explained this idea perfectly.
What James Clears states is, “What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things.
It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.”
In the article he asks “If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?” He answers, “I think you would.”
And I completely agree with him. In an example he gives, he talks about how he used the process of his writing to get him to where he is rather than the goals he set for his writing. He explains, ” In the last 12 months, I’ve written over 115,000 words. The typical book is about 50,000 to 60,000 words, so I have written enough to fill two books this year.
All of this is such a surprise because I never set a goal for my writing. I didn’t measure my progress in relation to some benchmark. I never set a word count goal for any particular article. I never said, “I want to write two books this year.”
What I did focus on was writing one article every Monday and Thursday. And after sticking to that schedule for 11 months, the result was 115,000 words. I focused on my system and the process of doing the work. In the end, I enjoyed the same (or perhaps better) results”
In just the beginning of 2017 I realized that, in any area of my life I feel unsatisfied in, it is because I do not have a successful system set in place. Whether it is goals with this blog, goals with my career, fitness goals, financial goals. I don’t have a system implemented in these areas in my life and that is why I never actually achieve the end goal I had in mind.
“When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.” Ultimately this is my goal for 2017, to set in place a series of systems that in the long run will bring improvement to all the things that are important to me.