Here at CE we’re all about evolving and bettering our world by bettering ourselves. While most people are making fitness/health, travel, lifestyle, or career goals (which are all awesome) at this time of year, we thought it would be a good idea to also throw some personal development goals into the mix, too. Why? Because these are challenging! They are perhaps the most challenging tasks to set ourselves. Looking at ourselves objectively is never easy. If you’re on the path of self discovery or mastery, these goals can serve as fun experiments to help you on your way. Let us know if you take any of them on! We’d love to swap stories.
Drop the Stories
The stories we spin about ourselves shape our lives. These stories impact how we interact with others, and even how they interact with us. They shape how we feel about ourselves and what we think we’re capable of, and as a result, influence the decisions we make. These stories can govern everything from the partners we pick to the activities we participate in.
Here’s how to change the conversation in your head:
- Take some time to meditate, and just listen to what comes up in your mind. Notice the frantic, scurrying nature of your thoughts. Try not to judge the stories, but approach them with curiosity.
- Journal any feelings, doubts, conversations, or anxiety you have. This way, you have an easy, visual way to discover patterns in your thinking.
- Come up with a list of your common “I can’t” statements. Then go from there to figure out if you are facing true, tangible impediments, or if they are simply emotional blocks you need to work though. There will be a solution either way, but identifying the nature of the problem will go a long way towards taking steps to solve it. This process may not be fun or exciting, but it is necessary.
Be A Better Listener
It’s no secret that more people like to talk than listen, but it’s hard to connect when everyone is just saying what they want to say. If connection is the key, then listening is the way to build the best relationships, in any situation.
Here’s how to be a better listener:
- Paraphrase information you were just told. Say what you just heard someone say in your own words and ask if you got it right.
- If you’re in a conversation and you both speak at the same time, let them go first. It’s courteous and shows you are more interested in what they have to say than getting your ideas out there (and hearing the sound of your own voice).
- Ask at least one question about what was just told to you to clarify it. This actually helps you and them define what is being said.
Respond Rather Than React
The truth is, we often react without thinking. It’s a reflex triggered by automatic thinking according to mental behavioural patterns which are usually based in fear and insecurity. But, as they are governed by our own values. reacting isn’t necessarily the most rational or appropriate way to act. Responding, on the other hand, is taking the situation in and deciding the best course of action based on shared values such as reason, compassion towards yourself and others, and cooperation.
How to respond rather than react:
- When something happens, pause. Take a deep breath and notice your feelings towards the situation. Think about how this is affecting you both psychologically and physically.
- Walk away. Give yourself space. Not everything needs to be worked out or discussed right away. Let the other person know you are taking your time.
- Seize the opportunity as a mindfulness exercise. Be the observer by letting the reaction play out in your mind. Rather than identifying with the emotion, ask where it is coming from. Ask for more time to respond if necessary.
Schedule and Track Your Progress
A very new-agey concept or, let’s say, habit, has become popular lately, which tells us that we have to “go with the flow.” In both a business and personal context, this seems to mean we cannot actually schedule things ahead of time. But that is not taking into account the reality that our brains like patterns, routine, and organization. You will be blown away by what happens when you actually write things down and schedule — things actually get done! And when you track your progress, you get the satisfaction of seeing how much you’ve accomplished.
- Get a notebook or agenda that will allow you the flexibility to jot notes down and also be a bit more structured with your time because — let’s face it — modern life sometimes demands a lot from us.
- Don’t commit without checking if you have space. Pleasing others by not refusing takes a toll on our mind, body, and soul, doing neither yourself nor the other person any favours. Burning out is a real thing and can happen to the best of us, even with the best intentions at heart. By scheduling things over a period of time, you can feel out how many things you can actually do well in a day, without overdoing it.
- Make adjustments as you go. Remember, you’re driving the ship. We aren’t blindly following someone else’s rules and guides (or shouldn’t be, at least). Do what works for you!
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