How To Just Get Started: 5 Timeless Lessons From My Cat

mycatronja

Have you ever felt like you wanted to be a cat? Not a care in the world?

Well maybe you should act more like one. Maybe we all should.

Cats tend to deal with the world in the simplest way possible.

Unlike most of us humans.¬†We like to overcomplicate things until we’re too damn overwhelmed to do anything at all.

We can get really caught up with things like our own preconceptions of how people will think about us if we choose to do something, and decide against doing it for no apparent reason.

 

Want Something? Go Get It

When my cat wants something, she doesn’t lie down depressed and overwhelmed, she just goes to get it. If she’s lonely she straight jumps in my lap, or lies on top of my keyboard so I’ll have to pay attention to her. And while that particular strategy might not be your cup of tea, I’m sure you get the picture.

But human lives can be a little bit more complicated than the life of a housecat. So I’m not telling you to go ask for a raise without preparing, or quit your job without having a back-up plan. Continue reading

Always Be Knitting, And Other Lessons Learned At A Christmas Fair

christmasfair
If you know someone that knits obsessively there is one simple yet vital lesson to glean from their efforts. They’re always making progress. They’ll knit on the bus, while they’re on the phone.. while talking to friends, even while selling the final result at a Christmas fair, they’re still knitting.¬†Sure, it might be a little excessive at times.. but the results can be astounding.

This Saturday I volunteered to stand in for an acquaintance at somewhat of a Christmas fair, selling homemade marmalade, ramsons butter and cheese. Around the fair, there were quite a few compulsive knitters, and most of them had their own stands. The array was always remarkable. You could tell how many hours went into making the sweaters, the hats and slippers. And here’s the kicker, many of them were working full-time as well. So where do they find the time? I asked. Most of the time the answer went something like this: “Oh I don’t know, a little here.. a little there. Before I know it I’m done with another piece.”

Always Be Knitting

Of course, I’m not talking about knitting, but working towards your goals in life.

There Is Always Time

If a woman working a full time job can knit 5 full sweaters in a month, you can find the time to work towards your goals and dreams. There are some exceptions, but 90% of whoever reads this article with have the opportunity to spend some of their time better.

Master Your Pockets Of Time

Whenever you have a free 10-30 minutes unplanned, don’t immediately default to TV or something unproductive. Work towards some of your goals. Get some vocabulary down for the language you’ve always wanted to learn. Read success stories from people who’ve already achieved what you want to. Keep your momentum going. And if you’re going to relax, focus only on that. Put on some relaxing music, take off your glasses and shut down for a little while.

Find Synergy Where You Can

One of the things many of the knitters had in common, was that they had friends that knit as well. That way when they went to hang out, when they were talking and knitting, they were not out of place at all. Of course realistically not all of your friends will share your current interests. People that used to share every single of your interests might even become obstacles. Never ditch a loyal friend, but if somebody refuses to acknowledge and support you on your new journey, that is something to consider.

If you’re trying to lose weight and get more active, try to hang out more with people who share your priorities. And hang out a little less with people who you only eat, play games or watch movies with. If you want to lose weight and get more confident, start arranging get-togethers, like hiking trips. If you want to improve your business knowledge, find successful entrepreneurs in your area and learn from their successes and failures through simple conversations.

You Can Make Money Doing Virtually Anything

Some of the people were making money making sausages by hand, other’s by knitting, other’s by handpainting postcards. For some it was more of a hobby, but for others, it was what put food on their table and paid their bills. Handmade work seems to be making somewhat of a comeback, so it’s not a bad idea to get into arts and crafts if that’s your thing.

Not Every Run-In With The Past Is Unpleasant

So I bumped into my old Japanese teacher from high school. Usually bumping into a high school teacher I’m not sure I would even bother saying hi, but Japanese was one of the things that kept me from dropping out. So that was a cool reminder.

You Can Always Learn Something

Although sometimes it’s a lot harder than others. Keep an open mind, be observant and inquisitive and there’s always something to be learned. Even if the lesson is to not do something again.

Remember To Try New Things Every Now And Then

Something of a timeless classic of personal development, there’s not much else to be said. I forget at times, and I’m sure you do as well. But that’s alright. There’s more to be experienced here on earth than any of us can cram into one lifetime, although some come closer than others. Find the balance you like best, and stick with it. Not everyone is suited to be on an endless journey of running away from everything that is familiar.

So while we’re somewhat on the subject, how do you feel about Christmas? Does it always strike you as premature to start with the tunes and decorations in early November too? Or are you one of the people who think it’s never too early? (comment)

Have a great week!

Picture By: shrinkin’violet

 

Knowledge Is Only Power If You Will It To Be – Failing And Accounting For Your Weaknesses

accounting for weakness
If any man said he had none, he would be lying. Even the idols of the personal development space, have weaknesses. You can call them quirks if you want, that’s a different discussion.

There is no one more devastating to disappoint than yourself. I had an idea, a vision, and I failed to follow through. I failed to account for my weaknesses, and it robbed me of my momentum. I relapsed into self-brainwashing with endless TV watching, although I managed to start helping out a little more.

Month to make a difference was supposed to be a life changing month for me, where I managed to shift the focus from myself by allowing myself to focus on helping others. Because of lack of preparation, and some inaction, all I’ve done is set a meeting with a volunteer manager and start piling clothes to give away. The meeting had to be postponed once despite me only having one day a week it wouldn’t work which was discouraging to say the least, but that’s no excuse.

Know Them

The first step to accounting for your weaknesses is of course; knowing them. In most cases, it’s a question of remembering rather than discovering something new. What got in your way the last time you attempted something similar? If you ask yourself that, you should be well on your way.

I have known for a very long time that I am terrible with preparations. That I have a tendency to postpone things longer than is healthy, and that I am prone to inaction. There are of course other things, but in the context of Month To Make A Difference these are the ones that matter.

Accept Them

The first step towards changing for the better, is admitting that you have room to improve. This doesn’t change here.
Once you’ve gotten to know your weaknesses, accept that you have them. Lose the frustration and the anger, or at least, direct it away from yourself, and strictly towards the specific weaknesses you have.

One thing to keep in mind is not to immediately assume something is a weakness. Sometimes it’s just an isolated incident where you made a bad decision.

Account For Them

This is where things get a little more complicated. Some weaknesses can be accounted for simply by making an effort to do so. If I had made an effort to prepare properly, knowing that I have a tendency to dismiss it as I find it tedious, I would have prepared properly. At other times it’s not so simple, but preparation is a key word to remember when thinking about how to overcome, or work around your weaknesses.

Of course if you’re worried about physical inadequacy, in many cases, training will suffice. But when you’re struggling with a weakness, there are times when working around it, rather than trying to change it, is more effective. That’s where the next, and final, step comes in.

Know And Play To Your Strengths

A little more uplifting than figuring out your weaknesses, but no less necessary. The most important thing to keep in mind is to forget outward comparisons. For this exercise it doesn’t matter whether you are good at something compared to someone else, it matters what you are good at compared to other things you are not so good at.

If you’re a good writer, but a terrible designer, hiring a designer is usually better to allow you to focus on what you’re already good at. In a sense this is a similar concept. You could call it internal outsourcing.. but in reality you are just approaching something in a way that suits you better. This is why acceptance is an important step, if you can accept your weakness, it will help you work around it whenever needed.

Let’s say you are terrible at auditory learning. Instead of investing hours upon hours into trying to better benefit from going to lectures, your time is better spent learning in a way that is more effective for you personally.

In the right circumstance, what others perceive to be weakness can be used as a strength as well. I have a tendency to get obsessed with something for short periods of time, then tend to slowly lose interest. Writing is a way for me to tie my obsessions together into something meaningful, or at least that’s my intention. That way I’m always building one skill for a longer period of time, regardless of what I’m currently obsessed with.

It’s also why I chose such a short timeframe for my project.. something I will continue to do, although hopefully with more success.

Getting A Job In A Week

The moral of this post is that I need to be taking more action. I’m making an effort to do more and talk less on this blog. At the very least, actually do some of the things that I talk about. So for that reason, and others, I’ve decided to work out my issues with employment this week. It might sound ambitious, but companies are starting to look for extra help towards the Christmas period, hopefully I’m not too late.

This time around I won’t be overly ambitious about the kind of work I’ll be doing, and physically show up, instead of just lazily sending applications to jobs I’m not really qualified for from my couch.

Picture by David Sim

3 Reasons Not To Idolize And What To Do Instead

reasons-not-to-idolizeIt’s time to admit it. We all idolize something, but it’s not always such a great idea. Let me rephrase that.. 99% of the time, it’s a pretty darn terrible idea.

Sure, idolization is great in one way, because it can be a driving force that enables you to improve. But the fact is that you rarely get to see the whole picture. And what you end up following, is a projected version of the idol, a version that you created in your own mind.

It Can Lead You Astray

While there are a variety of people that inspire me to be better, I find it more beneficial to keep it as such, a variety. Never singling out anyone that I particularly aspire to be like. When you try to force yourself to fit within the confines of the character of your interpretation of your idol, weird things can happen. You can end up forcing yourself down a path you have no real interest in, blinded by the life that you think your idol leads.

It doesn’t really have to be a particular person either. You can idolize a concept, or a lifestyle. A few years back, I had gotten tired of my awkward, over-analyzing ways and decided to make myself into a stereotypical douchebag. I started working out, getting drunk several times a week, but it never clicked. I never managed to be as carefree as I had imagined them to be. Then, to my surprise, some of the douchier friends I made during the process, seemed to actually share some of the concerns and troubles I had had all along. Leaving me to wonder whether there really was such a thing as a carefree douchebag, short of a complete egomaniac, and so I moved on.

While not exactly the story of following a great idol, it’s an example of how it can be hard to predict whether or not the lifestyle you idolize is actually something you would enjoy. Some successful actors and musicians have been known to express their distaste for many aspects of their life of fame.. and many a newlywed is surprised at what their lives actually entail as time goes on.

It Can Make You Overlook What You’re Doing Right

Idolization can not only lead you astray, and have you doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, you can end up missing the things that you’re actually doing right.

It’s easy to get so hung up on the idea of how you think things should be, that you ignore the things that are actually working great for you. A great example of this is people that are living far beyond their means, because they’ve idolized that lifestyle, and think that it’s their only way to happiness.. when in fact, keeping their expenses low and living in the smaller apartment, was actually what could have helped lead to a better life down the road.

My idolization of the “making money online” lifestyle, was a large reason for why I quit my first job, although in fact it probably put me further off achieving my main goal, which was traveling the world next year.

It Can Keep You From Learning

Perhaps the worst side-effect, is that it makes it hard to keep an open mind. When people speak out against what you idolize, it is incredibly easy to just brush aside as “hate”, and just keep on going. And while sometimes, people will offer criticism for no particular reason, and definitely not with your best interests in mind, sometimes that’s not the case. Depending on how far you’re along in your journey, separating helpful criticism from bullshit is an important skill to have, because it can change your perspective in a way that allows you to get to where you want to be faster.

What To Do Instead:

Now that you’ve managed to let go of your idolizing ways, you’re more than halfway there. But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down just yet.

Follow Your Goals, But Keep An Open Mind
Don’t be afraid to make changes to your approach when you face concerns about what you are currently doing. Of course the worst thing to do, is never really focusing, always jumping from one idea to the other, but the second worst is blindly following a path into oblivion.

Forget Idols, Get Mentors
And I don’t mean someone you don’t really know or care about that you pay to tell you what to do. I mean someone you know and admire, someone who obviously knows more about what you want to achieve than you do, and can offer not only insight but hands-on guidance when you most need it.

If you’re not quite sure what you want to pursue yet, don’t worry. You don’t have to choose a mentor in a specific field, sometimes the most interesting and invaluable information a mentor can give you, is about the approach, processes and the mindset.. not the subject at hand.

Find Like-Minded Peers
While the drive idolization can give you is good, it’s nowhere near a substitute for the support of like-minded friends. Times where an idol would have led you down to a dead-end with no way out, such friends can provide you with the support you need to claw your way out of difficult situations, and even avoid them.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that while the support can keep you going when things get tough.. it is important to know when things are going nowhere. Depending on your friends, they might tell you of their own volition, or you might have to ask for their honest opinion. Although major decisions might be better to confer with your mentor about.

Trust Your Gut
Sometimes, when all else fails, your gut saves the day. It’s not easy to understand, or explain, but the important thing here is to not confuse rationalization with an actual gut feeling. When you’re getting tired, and you just want to quit, it’s easy to think it’s a gut feeling and just give in. I’ve made that mistake several times, and it’s not always easy to spot, but it gets easier with time.

Trusting yourself and trusting others doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, just make sure you surround yourself with the right people.

If you have something on your mind, share it in a comment, and if you enjoyed the post/found it useful feel free to share.

The picture is of Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. I ended up visiting the temple 3 times, once when I first came to Kyoto, which is when I took this particular picture. Once with a few friends on a sightseeing spree, and the last time when my family came to visit.