HELLO AND WELCOME.

I’m Raymond. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Law Major) Degree in South Africa. I started this blog to talk about issues that are never really mentioned in schools or by anyone else our age and this blog will give teenagers and young adults motivation and hope with a dash of youth to spice it up20170406_134305!

Is your past holding you back?

My dearest friend,

My greatest setback in life so far has been my continuous longing for, and reflection of my past. Past relationships, past successes, past achievements, past failures, past mistakes and past memories.

I have held onto the wrong that has been done to me, and even more so, the wrongs that I have done to others. Focusing on my past has chained me to where I am, limiting the heights of success that I can achieve. It has made me become complacent, believeing that I do not have to put in any work at all because everything “has come naturally to me before”. I have used my past as a cover up. It has covered up my feelings of disappointment and also my present lack of action.

I have been riding on past success at the expense of my happiness and sanity. I have let my past experiences increase my expectations of what my life right now should be, and this has caused me to freeze with inactivity.

The main problem with the past is that it keeps you stuck there, well mentally that is. It offers welcome solace and comfort when things are hard and this makes it hard to do anything. It comes with colour and splendour, exaggerating what actually happened and painting it in a light that makes things favourable to how you are feeling.

My greatest setback in life has been my focus on the past. I have lost sight of the idea that there is still more greatness to achieve and accomplish. It has made me forget and overlook the great things that are happening to me right now. Focusing on my past has made me overlook the new people in my life, thinking that all those who have left me are better and would be better. My gratitude for everything has slowly slipped and focusing on my past has made me entitled.

“Because of what happened to me, I should…”

“Because of what I accomplished back then, I should be…”

These phrases have dominated my thoughts and directed my actions. My past has moved me from the land “of “can and “will” to the land of “if” and “should”.

Focusing on my past holds me back, does it hold you?

I remember absolutely messing up an impromptu speech once. It was a public speaking society interview and I was absolutely terrified. I rehearsed the same question over and over again afterwards (as if the same question would be asked ever again). That is the effect of putting your focus on the past. It was and is absolutely absurd.

Past experiences have served to suit me and the situation that I am currently in. The same way that history is told by the victor, the past is fashioned and remoulded by the individual. Success in the past blinds me from the process that brought it about. It makes me beleive that the situation is similar and that circumstances play no role in the outcome. It also convinces me that times have changed, so I am allowed to do wrong and harmful things.

I find it funny how everytime I seem to be making headway, when I am happy, when I am on the rise and things are going well, something from my past happens to spring up into my sphere of attention. It forces me to slow down and look back. I am slowed down by the memories of a life once lived, moments once experienced and feelings once felt. The timing of this “wonderful” process always happens to be at a time when there is healing and progress in life. I wonder why.

Focusing on my past will hold me back, will it do the same to you?

Learning from my past and using it to grow or as a stepping stone has not been the issue. The issue has been sitting back and wishing for the past. Giving undue attention and unnecessary emotions to past hardships and wrongs have been the big issue. Trying to change past mistakes and errors in a bid to make me feel better or vindicated has been a major detriment to my progress. The past can never be changed and I have battled with coming to terms with this principle of life. Trying to change what I have done or has been done to me has made me keep toxic people in my life and has chained me to old ways of thinking that serve no purpose for where I am today.

Like a room used to house mental assylum patients, (those white ones with the padded walls and no window), the past has kept me in one place, everything seeming to be fine when they really are not. Nostalgia has created a utopian escape from what is going on in the present moment and has kept me from accepting what is going on.

The past comes dressed in fine linen and soft silks. Dressed like a friend and companion, it comes to make you feel comfortable. The past comes in the form you most desire and need, making you lower your guard and allow its poisonous influence to take a hold on your life. Like a water siren, luring men to their deaths, focusing on the past and trying to change certain aspects of it chokes your dreams and your future. Focusing on your past dims the light at the end of your tunnel and distracts you from where you are headed and the bigger picture.

The past offers temporary solace, solace that is unwanted and unneeded. Focusing on the past makes you think that you are lacking something or will never be good at something. Focusing on the past makes you rush into making decisions prematurely. It makes you take time to make a decision, making you lose something great or something that could be great.

My focus on what happened to me in the past has affected the way in which I look at myself. My focus on what happened to me in the past has changed the way I treat other people.

Focusing on my past once hindered my progress, don’t let it hinder yours.

Yours truly,

Young Old Soul

Why do I write?

This question has been plaguing me for the longest time ever. The main reason that I ask myself this question is that after a month and a bit of writing, I have produced nothing more than just a few drafts that still sit incomplete on my laptop. Where before, I posted on a regular basis, burning with passion and the drive to become a “someone” in this blogging game, of late, I have been uninspired and afraid to post or come up with anything new. Nothing has been happening and it is sheer frustration and unhappiness that has driven me to go back to the drawing board with this idea, and start from the very beginning of it all.  

This will be my third attempting at writing this blog and to be honest after lying to myself about why I write and why I started writing, I was close to not posting this. My motivation to start blogging were two things: I was broke, my bank account having a negative balance, and my ex and I had just broken up. I was still bitter and sour and wanted to prove that I would do just fine without her. So off I went on this journey, fueled by money and a quest to get the approval of someone who had left my life.  

Where perverted will resides, a way is scarcely made.  

So there I was, a grand and amazing idea, R2000 in debt to pay for my subscription and a “why” that would later fade away and lose meaning.  

My main problem was the fact that my outer image was not reflecting my inner character and there was intense frustration. Now this is not a case where my inner character was good and exemplary, no. My inner character was weak, fragile and complicated. A lot of my past experiences were coming to the surface and they needed to be dealt with ASAP.  

I write because it is the one place that I can really show who I am, imperfections and all. I write to come to terms with my imperfections and to hopefully make others see that there is no need for the chase to perfection. I also get the chance to come to terms with who I am as an individual and see how I can change to become the person that I want to be.  

Writing allows me to remove those rose-colored glasses we always seem to wear, that paint better pictures of ourselves and the world we live in. It is these same rose-colored glasses that paint a false image and give us a false viewpoint of the world. When I write, I allow myself to look at things from a different viewpoint and almost always seem to broaden my horizon and the way I look at the world that I currently live in. There is a realism that comes to the surface when I write as I look at my situation and try come to terms with what is going on.  

I write because I am afraid. I am afraid to ask questions, to voice my opinion, to go against the status quo. I am afraid of harming my false self image, of taking a stand and showing people who I really am. I am afraid of all these things and more and writing throws me into the very things I fear. I get to overcome the fear of what people will think about my opinions, whether they will agree or disagree and what people will say. Writing actually allows me to face my deepest fears head on and to be honest, after posting and receiving support like the way I have been, I gain more confidence and become a better person for it. I write as a way of breaking free from these internal limitations that have protected me from the “harmful world” that has been created by false ideals and years of conditioning.  

“A problem shared, is a problem halved” and I write in a bid that somewhere out there, there is someone going through the same thing or who has experienced what I am currently going through. That way, I may be able to help someone realise something, or maybe, I could even get some valuable feedback that will help me in my time of need .  

I write because I have a responsibility to share all the knowledge and viewpoints that I have gained over the years as I look to make myself a better person. The responsibility of knowledge is to share and spread it in our own way and understanding. We all have this inherent responsibility to help and teach and impart knowledge to those we come across. I guess through writing, I get to do my bit in sharing what I have learnt to people across the world.

 I write as a way of coming  to terms with life and not just my life and what goes on in it, but simply life in general. I get to wrap life in custom-made “Young Old Soul wrapping paper” and offer my own two-cents on issues that I feel a need to talk about and debate. The world can be a big and scary place and a lot of the time, we try to take it on alone.

MORE THAN A LABEL- overcoming barriers

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.”

Goi Nasu

Negative labels are one of the biggest obstacles that people face when it comes to success. They affect the mind like cancer and become self-fulfilling prophecies that limit our true potential.

The good news is that labels can be done away with, ignored and cast away in very much the same way that they surface in our lives. I am not saying that it will be easy, take a day or two, and, boom, they are gone. Doing away with negative labels takes a lot of personal motivation, grit, determination and work. No amount of money can wipe negative labels away (if anything, it actually just makes the negative label worse).

In this blog, I am going to list down steps that you can take if you have any negative labels to overcome. I also offer some realizations that will help you keep negative labels from storming you and ruling your life.

Before I do that, however, I want to set the scene for you with an all-time favourite story of mine. Tom Brady, an American football player for the New England Patriots, has been deemed one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. It is not his success that motivates me, no. It is his draft report before he was selected for the team. This is what it read:

POOR build

SKINNY

LACKS great physical structure and strength

LACKS mobility and the ability to avoid the rush

LACKS a strong arm

CANNOT drive the ball downfield

DOES NOT throw a tight spiral

A SYSTEM TYPE QUARTERBACK THAT BE EXPOSED IF FORCED TO ADLIB

GETS KNOCKED DOWN EASILY

When I read that draft report, I simply thought ” wow! Now they made this guy seem so useless. I wonder how they felt as he overcame and surpassed all expectations.”

How many of us have similar situations?

How many of us are wrongfully looked down upon, or simply put into a category because we have done what humans do (make mistakes)?

Well let me tell you now, all that has come to an end and I am going to help you overcome it.

The list that I will provide below is not exhaustive or in any particular order. What I aim to do is give you an idea of what it takes to overcome any limitations and boundaries that may have been set by labels.

1. IDENTIFY THE LABEL

The key to overcoming a label is to first identify what the actual label is. There is no point trying to fix something or beat something when you don’t know what that something is.

Identifying the label is about sifting through all that has been said and pick the one thing that they are saying about you. A lot of the time a label is one word or a small phrase and in the small phrase, you will find what the person is really saying about you.

In this process, you find what it is that you may need to work on, or what you need to look out for if there is a need to.

2. DISSECT THE LABEL

Just like a scientist dissects rats to see what’s inside for further scrutinizing, so too does a label need to be dissected. This involves asking questions like:

What does the label mean?

How does it relate to me?

Why was it said?

What were the circumstances that brought the action about?

Is it a “me” problem or a “them” problem?

Dissecting the labels allows you to look at the greater scheme of things and this means that you do not confine your mind to the narrow nature of the ascribed label. Your mind will begin to start formulating ways to deal with and overcome that label, which allows you to explore multiple ways of achieving success in spite of the limitations that have been set.

You begin to see all the possibilities that lie ahead of you. Dissecting the label also allows you to move forward from the barrier that has been placed in front of you. You can work on who you want to be from the position that you find yourself in.

3. LOOK AT WHO IS LABELING YOU

This step involves some discrimination. Before I explain what I mean, I would like to put up a cautionary note with this one: I am not saying look at someone based on superficial attributes like appearance, social status or income level. Karl Marx pointed out that those who are in the lower levels of society are more critical of the system because they know how it truly works, so be careful how you discriminate.

Looking at who is labelling you involves seeing whether what they are saying has substance, are they speaking from an informed stance and are they being malicious in any way. You also need to discern whether they are someone you hope to emulate in any way and what their traits are. This means looking at everything about them and what they have said in order to get a full picture of the label.

There will be a lot of people who will look to bring you down, break you, distract you from your goals and success and just simply slow you down. Look out for these people.

4. THE TWO P’S

Perseverance and Persistence. These two words and principles are at the very heart of overcoming labels and boundaries. Shaking off labels takes quite a lot of time to do, it involves making small daily steps to becoming a better person and breaking through the barrier that has been created.

As you progress, trust that there will be many people and things out there that will want to stop you from reaching your true potential. You will be faced with that negative label the more you break free and you will feel like you are making no progress. That is expected, it’s life.

Perseverance and Persistence mean moving forward. Going onwards and upwards to the person you want to become. It involves continuing on your path in the face of adversity and simply trusting the process.

5. DIG DEEP

Labels are usually shallow representations of who you are as an individual. They do not capture how intricate and complex you are as a person. Although the label may hurt for a while, it is the perfect time to dig deep, pull out the parts of you that nobody else in the world knows about and just move past it. This is when you pull out your big guns and move past the shallowness of the label, banking on your intrinsic power and magnificence.

Think of it like this, there are some foreign concepts that cannot be truly captured by an English word or phrase. If this is true of foreign concepts, like different types of love, then what more a living, breathing and thinking human being?

6. LOOK TO PROVE THEM WRONG

I once heard that the point of life is not to prove anything to anyone, but rather to prove people wrong ( or maybe I thought it up!). Think about it for a second. If someone has high hopes for you and you do not deliver, you have proved their expectations wrong. If someone looks down on you and you surpass their expectations, you have proved them wrong.

When it comes to labels, that is the best way to overcome them. It’s a simple case of:

“Oh, I am (lazy/crazy/a coward/irresponsible/careless/immature), that’s fine. I have heard you and don’t you worry, I won’t be that for long.”

And then simply go about proving them wrong silently. Your success will speak volumes for you.

7. LOOK AT YOUR GOALS AND DREAMS

These serve as your guideline and the path you must follow in order to live your best life. It is when you achieve these that you feel fulfilled as an individual.

How does this link to overcoming labels? A lot actually. Labels can serve to steer you away from your goals if you let them. They can slow you down and hamper your progress because all things come from the mind. Focusing on your goals and dreams allows you to look past the temporary label to the future that you want to lead.

Just like a fire dies when it is starved of oxygen, negative labels will die off if you focus on greater things outside their confines.

No one can run away from the reality of being labelled negatively, being called something bad or being deemed bad no matter what they do for the world. There will always be someone out there who will have something bad to say.

Successful people and not-so-successful people all get labelled negatively, the difference is how they choose to react to the label. The power is in your hands now, do you want to react like those who are successful or like those who are not satisfied with their lives?

Make life personal.

Young Old Soul.

HOW TO THEME YOUR YEAR

So far I have managed to set the stage for 2019. I have listed down and explained why setting New Year’s resolutions is a waste of time. I have also offered a solution for setting New Year’s resolutions in the form of giving your year a theme or focal point.

In this short blog, which is the third and final piece to the New Year’s bundle pack, I am going to lay down the things that you need to take into consideration when setting your theme. All that I am going to do is offer up the key elements that you need to look and make sure that you have checked out in order to complete a full proof plan for the upcoming year. The rest is up to you, the floor is open and you are free to do whatever you want.

  1. LIST DOWN IDEAS
List down ideas that appeal to you the most. Some people will be able to pick off a theme just like that off the top of their heads. Others will need more time and thinking to find the right idea and that’s perfectly fine. The key is not to rush yourself and trust the process. When the right theme comes to your mind, you will know it.

Go through all your ideas after you have written them down. I advise that you list no more than 10 ideas to pick from. As you go through your list, there should be an idea or a couple that stand out to you, put ticks next to those ones.

Continue this process of elimination until you come down to the one idea that really gets you motivated and excited. The key is not to question this idea and just go with it.

1a. LOOK BACK INTO THE YEAR

This will help you to pick your theme. It also gives you an idea of where you are at this present stage in your life. This exercise is not so that you can beat yourself up and make yourself feel hopeless. This exercise is meant to give you an idea of what you would like to work on in the upcoming year. Keep in mind that “what’s happened has happened” and you cannot change that. Learn from all your mistakes and look to move forward with the wisdom you have acquired.

1b. LOOK AT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE IN THE NEAR FUTURE

This is another exercise that could help you pick your theme. It could be where you want to be at the end of the year or where you would like to be in five years. There is no need for a specific, step-by-step blueprint of where you want to be. You do, however, need to have a fair idea of the type of person that you would like to be, what you would like to have and the impact that your name could have on others around you.

WHAT IS YOUR TOMORROW LOOKING LIKE?

2. DEFINE THE IDEA

So now you have picked your theme and you are feeling all warm inside. Now you have to define that theme. This is a very crucial part of setting a theme because you are making the theme personal and mean something to you. The world will tell you what that specific theme means, but the point is to break away from the world telling you who to be for yourself.

2019 is my year of GROWTH. This means that in 2019 I want to strecth my boundaries and redefine my comfort zone. Growth for me is coming out and blooming in a world of adversity and hardship

What does your theme mean to you?

3. BREAK YOUR THEME DOWN

In my last post, I showed you how everything is linked and how one theme just branches out and covers a whole lot of other goals. You now have your theme and you have defined it. The next thing to make sure you have done is to break down what that theme is made up of. To explain this one I am going to use the example that a very close friend of mine gave to me.

Her 2019 is themed “the year of a level 10 life”. After completing all the steps above she then wrote down what she wanted to accomplish in her year. She included the following things that needed to be worked on in order to accomplish a satisfactory level 10 life.

Level 10 life
  • Mental Health
  • Mindfulness and Spirituality
  • Home and physical environment
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Growth and pesonal development
  • Creativity
  • Finances
  • Fun, recreation and self-care

This step simply involves pointing out what your package includes. It’s the same principle that clothing lines use when they ask for ambassadors. They tell you what you are getting into and what you get as a benefit for becoming an ambassador.

What does your package include?

4. PLAN HOW YOU WILL ACHIEVE THIS

You have identified what it is that you would like to add to your year. It is encased by a theme that motivates you. Now you have to create your plan of action. How are you going to achieve all that you put down? Try and plan to do something towards your goal every day. The plan you want to make must be as specific as possible. Obviously, you cannot see into the future, you don’t know what will happen on a daily basis, that’s understandable. That’s why you have the theme if all else fails and you cannot plan the specific, aim to reach your theme every day. If it’s growth, look for a situation to grow every day. If it’s living a level 10 life, look to add a level to something each day. If it’s to be healthy, look to do something healthy each day (that could be just eating fruit twice during the day, buying a smoothie instead of a soft drink).

How are you going to achieve it on a daily basis?

5. GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE

This step refers to making sure that you regularly check on your progress as you move through the year. Give yourself a target to reach by the end of the year. A target for 9 months, for 6 months, for three months, for a month, for a week and so on. This will force you to actually go through with what you aim to achieve as there is now a time frame within which to complete your time. By when, should you have done what?

6. START

Just start. I don’t need to explain this. Just start your journey to your goal.

SOME KEY THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND AS THE YEAR GOES ON

  • Language is key
With this, I am saying that you need to watch how you write your goals. There is a big difference in:
In 2019 I will run 3 times a week

I will eat vegetables

Make more money

and this:

In 2019 I run 3 times a week

I eat vegatables

I make more money

The second is way more personal and makes the goal present. This means that there are no two ways about it, there is no room for excuses and you will do what you say you are. With the second list, you are calling it into existence and this makes all the difference.

  • You will fall short at times

    Sometimes you will fall short and this is perfectly normal. It happens and that’s just life. What we need to realise is that failure does not mean the end of the world, it is actually a measure of where we are right now. It is not a measure of where we will be. Every successful [erson has fallen short, what matters is how you react after you have fallen short.

  • Accountability is key
  • Keep a record of what you are doing and what you have been doing. This will make it easier for you to check on your progress and will help you see all the progress you have made when self-doubt kicks in.

    This can be done by keeping a journal or notebook and keeping a record of what you do, how you felt and where you have left off. This can also be done by getting a group of supporters who you can ask to keep a tab on you. Don’t let yourself down by letting what you have done fall by the wayside.

    • Gratitude will keep you moving
    An attitude of gratitude will take you farther than you can even fathom. Be grateful for everything that happens when the year comes along.

    A good way to keep a track of your gratitude would be to start a gratitude jar. You write one thing you must be grateful for each day and put it in a jar. This will help you to look at the positive things that happen in life and this will change how you look at things. Don’t underestimate the power of gratitude.

    • Do something every day
    Small things add up to big things. That’s how you get ahead with what you want to achieve. Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep.

    • Have fun
    This marks the end of 2018. This blog hopes to help you make 2019 a more personal year, a year full of adventures that you bring upon yourself. Have fun, make the New Year yours and I hope that I get to see you in 2019.

Young Old Soul

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS REWRITTEN

In my previous post, I gave multiple reasons as to why New Year’s resolutions just do not work. Now, there really is no point telling you that something doesn’t work and then not offer an alternative thing to do.

My solution to the New Year’s resolution dilemma is giving your year a theme or a focal point.

Now, what exactly do I mean by the terms theme and focal point? I simply mean giving yourself one goal that you aim to achieve by the end of the year.

This idea came to me when I was complaining about the problem of setting resolutions and as I was complaining, I just named what 2019 would be for me. As I did my research on how to effectively set New Year’s resolutions, no one I read on actually spoke about this idea and I won’t lie, I began to think I was crazy. The only problem was that the idea made so much sense in my head, so why was I the “only” one who thought about it.

The most interesting thing about having a theme or a focal point is that big organisations the world over always use them. When governments come together, there is always a theme that accompanies the meeting.

The 2019 UN Climate Summit is themed

A RACE WE CAN WIN

The AU theme for 2018 was the year of combating corruption

In 2016 it was the African year of human rights

A lot of churches do the same things too for their calendar years and any particular events that they are hosting. 2018 was the “year of the youth” in the Catholic Church. Schools do the same thing as well to give their years a guideline and a central point.

My question to you is this: If big organisations, governments and schools use this to plan their years and events, why can’t we do the same thing to plan our year?

THE BENEFITS OF GIVING YOUR YEAR A THEME

  1. F.O.C.U.S

Every race has one finish line, the courses and routes may be different, but they always finish at a predestined place. When you give your year one focal point, you are basically giving all your other smaller goals an arrowhead with which to give direction and guidance.

All your efforts and actions are geared at achieving that one aim by the end of the year and this means that you are most likely going to succeed with it.

Steve Jobs points out that focus “means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” Giving yourself just one theme actually does this because it forces you be very selective about what you bring on your journey. If something contradicts what your main aim is for the year, then you will not follow through with it.

2. LESS TO THINK ABOUT

Unlike the conventional resolutions list in which you have to focus on a lot of different things, with one theme, you only give yourself one thing to focus on. All your energy and drive is directed to this one goal and this means that you will have more energy and motivation to go through it.

This also leaves room for life to happen. During the day, a lot of things that we cannot control happen and things may not exactly go our way and if we have our long list of resolutions to think about, the task may actually become daunting.

I want to put this into perspective for us. You have been asked to do the dishes by your parents and this is just after a lot of people have come to eat over at your place. Which situation seems bearable and manageable: having the dishes scattered around the kitchen, all over the counters and stove top or having the dishes neatly stacked in one place? (bear in mind that there are the same number of dishes in both scenarios).

3. VARIETY

Having one big theme for the year means that you have the ability to come up with new ways of achieving that goal. Instead of going through boring and monotonous ways to achieve a goal, you can actually rewrite the script on what do and how to do things.

Having one big goal means that you aren’t telling your mind the exact path it should take to get to the end goal. Like I mentioned in my last post on why New Year’s resolutions fail, when you list down a resolution, you are wiring your mind to achieve it in a certain way.

There is also an endless list of things to choose from. This means that the realm of themes is your oyster and you can just go and pick one that is best suited for you and who you want to be. You can pick absolutely anything and you can even have it in a code word. The good thing about it is that it has to make sense to you only and you need to know what you are aiming to do.

4. INCLUSIVE

Brian Tracy actually made this one clear to me a few days ago. He said that if you have one focal point, all your other goals indirectly benefit as you seek to attain that goal. The interesting thing about a lot of goals and personal development aims is that they are all linked and connected. It is sort of like a train: all the carriages are linked and when one moves forward, all the ones that are behind it move forward.

To illustrate, I am going to explain how a year dedicated to Health impacts all other areas of your life.

Leading a healthier lifestyle has an impact on your finances and ability to make money because you become more efficient and productive. You don’t worry about illnesses that may slow your thinking or ability down and you are also very quick when it comes to seizing opportunities to make more money. Health is wealth.

It has an impact on your intellectual ability as you are able to think about situations faster. You also avoid stress and can think clearly.

Emotionally, you are more able to be in control of your emotions as health plays an impact on how we feel and how we express our feelings.

You are indirectly forced to work out to keep up that healthy lifestyle and you also pay attention to how much you would drink and smoke.

The same can be said for any theme and goal, all areas of life are connected and thus if you work on one worthy goal for yourself, all other smaller goals follow suit and you grow. You would be surprised how many other things you managed to accomplish when you simply focused on one thing.

5. UNITY

Unity refers to all your actions and decisions being in congruence.

When you have one overarching aim, all your actions are pointed towards attaining that one goal and you would not easily do anything to contradict it. You find that you will have one purpose on your mind and this will make sure that you do not impede on attaining it. Have you ever heard of an athlete who wanted to win the Olympics 100m race and yet all they did before the race and leading up to the Olympics was drink and party?

6. GUIDING STAR

Now I am sure that this has happened to a lot of people:

You go into a shop with your grocery list and you are determined to buy the things that you have identified as important. As you continue to put stuff into the shopping cart, you feel good, I mean you are doing what you came to do and it seems to be going well. You get to the till point and you are now unloading the shopping cart and as you do, you find that there are quite a number of things that weren’t on the list but have managed to find their way into the shopping cart, onto the counter and into a carrier bag. And now you suddenly have to pay a little extra for those things that gained a sudden relevance when you saw them on the shelf.

This happens to a lot of people and the same concept applies to writing a long list of resolutions. You find yourself doing other things that suddenly became fashionable as the year progressed.

This problem is done away with because your one theme acts like a star that guides you at sea. When you find yourself going off-course, all you have to do is realign and readjust yourself in order to get back to your main goal. This would be hard with a long list of resolutions.

6. FOSTERS A “WHY?”

Successful goals, as I pointed out in my last post have to be S.M.A.R.T and this also means they have to answer the following questions:

WHAT?- What is your goal?

HOW?- The steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

WHEN?- the time limit of your goal.

WHO?- Who do you need to be to achieve that goal?

WHERE?- at specific points in the journey, where do you want to be?

All of these questions are important and are essential to complete the goal-attaining puzzle. However, there is the centrepiece of the puzzle and this is the question WHY. 

This question is basically asking yourself :

TO WHAT END?

WHY DO I WANT TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL?

The main reason why resolutions fail is that there is no real “why” that comes up when people write them. Having one goal forces you to come up with a why because you need to know the reason behind you picking that one specific thing when there are other things that you could have chosen from.

This one question is what will keep you motivated and energized. It will also increase the likelihood of you noticing small improvements towards your goal which will foster joy and gratitude. All of these small ingredients play a role in the success of your goal.

Find your why and stay true to it.

8. ENSURES CONTINUITY

The main aim of having one theme is so that you begin to position yourself to become the person you want to be in the near and distant future.

This means that you have to look at what you did in the previous year in order to pick an appropriate theme. It involves looking back at the past critically and looking into the future that you want and then creating the most appropriate present for yourself.

Continuity is very important because life itself is continuous and you do not live in stages that are set in stone. Having one aim frees up more time to take in life and allows you to continue to live your life without trying to change the whole script.

9. PERSONAL

Setting a theme or focal point is extremely personal. No one in the world can help you come up with a focal point that is specific to you, your needs and abilities, and where you are in life. No one can come and tell you what you must do in the upcoming year and this means that you will create a very strong bond with your theme. This is very important, not just for goal setting but also for living life.

Giving your year a theme is like giving someone you like a nickname. I once read a novel that pointed out that giving a person a nickname was in a way actually marking them as yours. Think about it, do you give nicknames to someone you do not like? And if you have a nickname and you hear it, you just know that its’s someone close to you.

10. ALLOWS FOR SETBACKS AND MISTAKES

The key ingredient to why theming is amazing is in the fact that it gears your mind towards positive and progressive thinking. As you write down what your year will be, you are basically calling it into existence and this makes all the difference.

Unlike the resolutions that list down what not to do in the year, a theme lists down what you can and will do in the upcoming year. This means that you focus on what you have been doing right, and you see what you have been struggling with as a challenge to be solved and not a measure of who you are as a person.

Having a theme and focal point for your year is my substitute for setting a long “grocery list” of resolutions. We have seen why they don’t work and we agree that the script needs to be rewritten.

Go out there, name what your year will be and begin the journey that will chhhhhhange your life.

To making life personal.

Young Old Soul

New Year’s resolutions don’t work

Whether we like it or not, New Year’s resolutions have become the “grocery list of life”. Before, on or after New Year’s day, millions of people worldwide “pick” what they would like to achieve in the New Year. It is a case of:

In 2019 I would like :

some QUIT SMOKING

a little bit of LOSE WEIGHT

EAT HEALTHIER

a dash of GYM THREE TIMES A WEEK

a handful of JOG MORE

a yearly dose of STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL

oh and BECOME VEGETARIAN sounds nice

and so on

Everyone in the world writes down every single thing that they hope to attain in the coming year with great enthusiasm and energy. It’s as though the New Year injects us with a fresh dose of inspiration and hope.

But oh how I wish that the success rate of New Year’s resolutions was as high as the large number of people that actually write them down. I am not trying to hint or sugar coat that New Year’s resolutions don’t work, no. I am actually telling you that they do not work and I am going to list down some reasons why they fail so often.

WHY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FAIL

  1. BROAD

New Year’s resolutions, like I have shown above, are usually written in list form (sometimes they aren’t even written down!) and when you look at them it seems as though anything and everything that came to mind was written down.

Little planning is actually done when it comes to writing down resolutions, and thus there is no unification between their resolutions. There is no link and people write what seems to be in fashion when others are talking about what they will do in the coming year. We find that as a result, a lot of resolutions have no link to where we want to be later in life.

2. VAGUE

New Year’s resolutions are basically goals for the upcoming year and thus in order for them to be successful, they need to be as well thought out as possible.

When I write down any goal I make sure that it is a S.M.A.R.T goal.

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-oriented

3. UNREALISTIC

A lot of the time people just set unrealistic goals. Many people think that achieving resolutions is a “zero to a hundred real quick” situation and yet the only thing that this leads to is extreme disappointment and a loss of self-confidence.

We want to go to the gym every day and yet the only physical exercise we know is going to the fridge every morning. We aim to lose 10kgs in a month and yet one of our main hobbies is eating.

4. OVERWHELMING

If you have ever used a computer, you will know what happens if you open a whole lot of tabs and different applications at the same time. The computer begins to slow down and process things in a longer time than normal. At the very worst, the computer may actually just freeze whilst you are using it.

The same thing happens when you write down a long list of New Year’s resolutions. You are forcing your mind to focus on a number of different tasks and goals that need to be done at the same time. You are actually just overloading your mind with a lot of different needs and tasks.

Let’s not forget that at the same time, life is actually happening and going on. This means that at the same time as you are trying to maneuver around life and your day-to-day activities, your mind is also focused on your numerous resolutions.

5. BORING

Now let’s be honest with each other, resolutions in general are just boring. Look at it like this, I do not know many people who like the concept of homework and doing homework. Homework consists of commands that require answers right? So basically “go to page 10, exercise A, numbers 1-10 (answer in full)”. We write our resolutions in the same way.

“Don’t drink alcohol: quit smoking: eat healthier”, are all commands and they become tedious and boring for us. We find ourselves going through traditional methods to achieve our resolutions when there are so many different ways to skin a cat.

6. NO ROOM FOR MISTAKES

Resolutions rarely incorporate or even have space for the possibility of failure and setbacks. This means that when life does its thing of just throwing a curve ball at us, many of us just quit and give up our resolutions.

This is because we have no room for mistakes of any kind when we set resolutions. If we drink one beer, or smoke one cigarette, we people begin to feel like their resolutions are useless and thus we stop altogether.

Resolutions, in my opinion, would be best fit for a world that is perfect in every way and predictable.

7. NO APPRECIATION OF THE PROCESS

Imagine what a human being would look like without a skeleton to hold it up. That’s one weird looking person now isn’t it?

The same thing happens when we set New Year’s resolutions haphazardly. Everything in the world runs according to systems and processes. Too many people believe that they can rewrite the script of their lives just because a new number has been added to the end of the year.

There is no consideration of how we have lived in the previous year. There is no consideration of how to achieve this goal in the upcoming year nor is there any consideration of any constraints that might come up. We just write and hope that it will all come together.

8. DOES NOT MIRROR LIFE

Life is one long continuous book, with each year a new chapter is added to the book. This means that life is continuous and there are no breaks or stops or sudden changes in lifestyle that have no deep motivation.

The ” New Year, new me” craze is one that makes people think that they can just wake up on the 1st of January and just be a completely new and changed person. This just does not happen.

Listing resolutions that create a sense of immediate completion and achievement thus draws people into a false sense of living. There is no quick fix or overnight remedy to becoming a better person and forming new habits.

9. NOT PERSONAL

This is a very important reason why a lot of New Year’s resolutions fail. Most people’s New Year’s look like a “one size fits all” guidebook to living a better life. We can’t exactly tell who the resolutions belong to and thus they can be given to any other person in the world, and they can use the very same resolutions that we have written down.

Does this make sense? Does it add up that we all lead different lives and yet our New Year’s resolutions can be used by a hundred other people?

Does it make sense that we are all at different stages in our lives and yet a child can use more or less the same resolutions as we can?

A lot of resolutions do not have the pronoun “I”. So who exactly are they for? A lot of resolutions do not have any reasons why they must be attained. So what’s the point of having them there?

10. TERMINOLOGY

New Year’s resolutions are usually phrased in a way that aims to either stop a bad habit or create a good one.

Has it ever occurred to us that those same things we want to stop are actually considered good by our mind? Has it ever dawned on us that we do those things for a specific reason? I don’t think it has. Well, at least it hadn’t dawned on me for quite a while.

This means that when we list resolutions down, our defense mechanisms immediately kick in as a way to protect us from “hurtful” habits.

Like I said before, New Year’s resolutions do not work and what I have listed above are just some of the very important reasons as to why.

Don’t be like the millions that are waiting for New Year’s to arrive so that they can start writing down what they would like to “order from life” in the New Year.

Look out for my next post to see what to do instead of setting New Year’s resolutions.

Young Old Soul

DON’T LABEL ME

SOCIETAL NORMS AND LABELS

BLACK- WHITE- RICH- POOR- LIAR- CHEATER- THIEF- “SNAKE”- SNITCH- SMART- DUMB- UGLY- BEAUTIFUL- FAST- SLOW- PRACTICAL- FUNNY- ADVENTUROUS-  and the list is endless.

We live in a world that is simply full of labels and this causes many people to forget who they are or actually hinders them from finding themselves and unlocking their true potential

In one group, an individual can be viewed as smart and loving, whilst in another group, they can be viewed as dumb and stingy. This can lead to a dichotomy in one’s character as well as identity confusion.

Labels in themselves are not all bad and destructive and they actually serve the purpose of categorising and making things easily identifiable.

Labels that I had been given by many people in my life actually defined me for a long time and I found myself becoming those labels.  The phrase that began to control my every thought and action was:

“If you do something, you become that thing”

I won’t discredit this and refute the quote as there is some truth in it. If you lie, you become a liar, if you pass in school you become smart and if you steal you become a thief. The plague that is associated with labels, however, can be found in the very essence of this phrase.

Labels are given to us from a young age. When we are born people already ascribe labels to us based on how we look and actions that we perform and as we grow older, we are constantly told who we are and what will we be in the future.

PROBLEMS OF SOCIETAL LABELS

  1. AFFECT THE MIND

brain

If we take into account the fact that everything we see, HEAR, taste, smell and feel are processed in the brain, this can be seen as the entry point for both positive and negative labels.

Our brains are not programmed to decide between good or bad labels as they appear the same to our mind. With this in mind, when good labels make us feel some kind of way, the negative labels are then accepted as well. This leads to a lot of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, social awkwardness and the like. Labels make us question ourselves and our actions. This can lead to self-doubt and uncertainty.

2. BECOME SELF-FULFILLING

vision-prophecy-crystal-ball

The urban dictionary defines self-fulfilling prophecy as:

 Positive or negative expectations about circumstances, events, or   people that may affect a persons behavior toward them in a manner   that he or she (unknowingly) creates situations in which those expectations are fulfilled. 

An innocent man is put into prison for something he did not do. After constantly being called a murderer, rapist or any other term associated with criminals, it has been noticed that the individual will eventually begin to believe that they are a criminal. Their actions and behaviour will actually represent those of the label that has been assigned to him.

A below average student is placed into the top stream of his class. After constant exposure to the preferential treatment that he is given by the top stream teachers in comparison to bottom stream teachers, his grades begin to steadily improve and he begins to achieve higher grades. His vocabulary and reasoning change too and he becomes more mature.

Labels actually begin to define the individual and all that they do as constant exposure to the said label makes them think and act according to the expected behaviour. This can be good if the individual listens to positive and constructive labels, however, if the labels are negative, they can foster antisocial behaviour.

3. LIMIT ABILITY

quantumspeed

Labels are a limit to the intrinsic potential that we all possess inside of us. When we become defined by labels that are given to us, these labels begin to colour and dominate our inner identity and belief in ourselves.

There is a sense of hopelessness that is created when we are given negative labels. The same happens we come across a norm that does not encourage originality and initiative.

It is unfortunate that people lose their way and their identity simply because someone told them that they could not do what they wanted over and over again.

Detrimental labels become barriers to what we can achieve. They have become non-existent barriers that are entrenched in the mind and become a real hardship as these labels take root in the false world and identity that is created.

I always knew it would not work. What did i expect? I am skinny and too small and yet everyone else that is doing this is big and muscular

All seemingly normal labels come with specific expectations and connotations. These expectations then serve to create certain behaviours that will conform to the expectations that have been placed by other people.

4. DANGEROUS

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The most dangerous thing about labels is that they creep up on you slowly. Like cancer, the limitations and behaviour change start small and unnoticeable and unlike cancer, they are noticed when it is a bit too late.

They become “truths” that we begin to believe and actually begin to conform to. We find ourselves settling for less than we deserve and behaving in ways that are contrary to our true ideals simply because other people have imprinted their false images on us.

We begin to believe that:

If others see it, then surely it must be true and I might as well act that way.

5. MAKE YOU POWERLESS

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Labels take away our accountability for the actions that we perform. Labels become a pivot against which we can blame others and our apparent label for any mistakes and errors that become “part of our nature”.

As this happens over long periods of time, we lose the urge and drive to break through the labels and fail to recreate ourselves in this ever-changing universe that we find ourselves in.

6. LIMITS OUR PERCEPTION

Act-of-perception

Social labels create a black and white for us. 

It is either you are this or that

Labels are like a great load, restricting our freedom of thought and making us less creative as we follow everyone else. There is no room for alternatives and other ways of thinking.

Labels limit us to the set standards and ways of solving problems that we may be faced with. There are many ways to skin a cat and solve an issue. Labels also take away from the fact that not everything is a yes or no situation.

They also make us ignore any other things that could be affecting an individual. Statements like ” they are just LAZY” and more take away from the bigger picture and actually reduce that other person and all that they are going through.

7. BREED COMPARISON

comparison_wise

Comparing one’s life to another’s is a major cause for suicide the world over. Many victims believe that their life is less satisfying when compared to other people’s lives.

Labels take away the unique and intrinsic characteristics that can be found within oneself. As we become objectified by our labels, we begin to look at our outward differences and the world that we live in.

Labels make us forget all our strengths and focus on our shortcomings and this is not good as we all have different gifts and capabilities.

Labels, especially the negative ones that are poured upon us by society are not good and actually serve to hold us back and keep us well below where we deserve to be. They are usually passed in by small minded people who are not as confident in themselves and thus aim to break others down by demeaning them. Look out for these people and labels that hold you back and begin the journey to break past them.

Make life personal.

Young Old Soul