Reflections on Achieving Your Goals: Learning Curves

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Learning is never going to stop. You die if you stop learning.

I’m in a phase right now learning something new every day. Mostly about myself. Not always something to be proud of, but I am trying to work on it. I am listening to the book “You are a Badass” on Audible right now and it totally resonates with me.

A few outtakes right now are on my mind here:

Be in the present.

Don’t be anxious. Don’t fret what may come in the future, because it will always be different from what you are fretting about. And I think our mind conjures up the worst scenarios anyways. Most of the time it won’t be as bad as imagined.

Is it life threatening? Is it threatening someone else’s life? No? Then don’t worry!

Own your mistakes.

Try to at least learn from them. Maybe set up some contingencies, so it won’t happen again in the future or ask for help!

Don’t trust your own imagination and memories, because they can deceive you anyways. There are enough studies showing that memories change over time and over emotions.

Imagine yourself owning your own dreams and then go for it! Don’t wait, because we only have this one life and one body to work with.

Yes, you might not have this unrealistic body they want to sell you in magazines, but you have your body and hopefully your health to enjoy life.

And yes, there might be others who are better …. ( you fill in the blank) than you are, but there is only one you! No-one else is there who can do whatever you want to do the way YOU are.

Don’t worry about what others may think of you , because it’s your own life and as long as you don’t hurt – and I don’t think feelings – others with it. Go for it!

And if you commit to something, do it now. With your whole you in the mix and in the present! It might turn out to not be the one thing you wanted to do, but at least you did it.

As Yoda might say:

“Try not, Do!”

Enjoy the ride!

Spiritual Balance – Week 46: Explore Your Purpose

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What is your purpose? What makes you get up in the morning? What keeps you going when the going gets tough?

Understand your values and purpose. Then take a critical look at what you are doing right now. Be willing to experiment and take risks. And always keep your eyes open for opportunities that present themselves.

The passion trap

In many ways we are over-emphasizing purpose and passion today. We tell High school kids that they need to find their passion when they pick a career. An impossible task at that age. Many people actually never discover what their passion really is.

Doing something, that you are sufficiently interested in, with full dedication until you head towards mastery often turns into passion. This is in fact a more likely way to find something that you will be passionate about, than soul-searching for the perfect occupation.

Passion doesn’t come magically for free. It requires dedication and hard work.

Alignment with core values counts

However, at the same time too many of us spend our lives in settings, that go against our core values and our purpose. We do things and execute work that we don’t agree with in principle.

Both trying to find the one thing that will make you happy just by its nature as well as sticking with something that fundamentally disagrees with your core values and purpose are futile.

It is much better to understand what your core values and purpose are, and then experimenting with different things. Once you find something that aligns in principle and peeks you interest, go deep and give it your full self.

What makes you tick

Self reflection and self awareness is not easy. For some of us it comes more naturally, others never truly find it.

If you are not clear about what inherently motivates you and what turns you off, you can start journaling your mini-motivators. Throughout the day, what did you like, what felt great, and what didn’t. When you watch other people, what do you admire and what do you despise. What would you want other people to say about you, and what would you rather not?

Those should be small and in-the-moment things. Don’t overthink it. Jolt down the random reactions and thoughts as they come, for example ‘those meetings as sapping out my energy’, ‘it felt really good to help Joe through his problem’ or ‘it was awesome to solve this situation my way’.

After a few weeks look at those micro-motivators and see what patterns emerge.

Brainstorm on new options

Then reflect on how much those value and purpose patterns are matched in your current occupation. If they are not, make a list of other careers that would get you to a closer match. Don’t go for perfect match, chances are you won’t find that (lucky you, if you do!).

Make a list of those close matches and be aware that you will still have to work hard for them. Nothing will be rosy all day every day. Just setting expectations here.

Make a change, reinvent yourself

Let’s assume that your values and passions don’t align well with you current occupation. That’s nothing to feel bad about. For one, it’s super hard to find good alignment from the get go. In most cases we don’t know enough about the job as well as ourselves when we begin. Also we are (luckily!) changing over time and what might have been the perfect milestone a few years ago, might not fit anymore as our path leads us to the next one.

Start experimenting with the occupations that made it to your list. Or something completely different that just feels right for reasons that you cannot explain.

If we talk about big shifts in your occupation and trajectory, really experiment. Don’t go full in right away without really knowing if you like where you’re heading. Try out a few things on the side. Volunteer in the new occupation rather than leaving your current job only to figure out after a few months that the grass actually isn’t greener on the other side.

Experiment, be flexible

Experiment a lot. Learn from those experiments. Adjust what you know about yourself and tweak the list of things you want to do based on that knowledge.

Recognize open doors and opportunities as they present themselves and find the courage to explore them.

Don’t put yourself under the stress of having to succeed with the first thing you try out.

One of the life lessons I learned from my martial arts teacher was to have a plan but remain flexible.

Have a plan, but always keep your mind open for opportunities that present themselves. Have the flexibility and courage to leverage them. Life is a winding path, not a straight line.

Looking at my own winding path, I can point out at least four rather big shifts in the direction I was heading for. Each shift has set me back a little in short-term – as big change always does – but propelled me toward a much better place in the long-term. I don’t even want to imagine who I would be if I had been stuck in my initial (subsequent, current,..) choices.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 44: Make Time for Creativity

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We are all creative and we enjoy, even crave expressing ourselves through that creativity. You might not know, but you are creative as well. It might be painting, writing, making music, sculpting, writing poems, working with flowers or gardens. Whatever it is, find the creative expression that is yours and embrace it.

Identify your creative passion. Embrace it. Block time. Have a regular date with your creativity. And don’t do it for anyone other than yourself.

For the longest time (about 50 years), I thought I didn’t have any creative talents or passions in me. Then one day it dawned on me, that I actually enjoy writing. And I have done it in one way or another my whole life, starting from early childhood. I have not given it the space it deserved or the acknowledgment I should have, but I’ve subconsciously done it anyway.

For Uli it’s painting and flower arrangements, for our 7 year old son it’s building stuff, and our daughter is just writing on her first horse book at the age of 9 (she only has about 10 pages so far, but that’s not the point).

Find out what fuels your creativity. If you already know, awesome. If you don’t, experiment. Try things out. Take a few classes. See what sticks.

Not knowing and exercising your creative passions leaves a big gap in your life.

Once you identified your creative passion, make time for it! Whether you block an hour every day, a few evenings during the week, or some time on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t matter. What matters is that you book that time with yourself and stick to it. Make an appointment. Have a date with your creativity.

Enjoy to witness as you create something new that you are passionate about. Most important, don’t worry about others. All that matters is what you think about your works and how you feel about the outcome.

Right now I’m sitting on a deck, in the sunshine, on a trip to Germany. The whole family is taking a nap while I can indulge in my creativity, writing down these thoughts.

‘An audience of one’ is a great book to explore that thought a little more.

Whatever it is for you, writing, painting, music, photography – do it, make it a point in your life!

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 42: Get Inspiration

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Just as our body needs food and nutrients, our mind needs inspiration. We usually get that inspiration from being exposed to new experiences, information and stimuli. The more we work in our comfort zone of the things we already know and the routines we already master, the less our minds are challenged, inspired and nurtured.

Seek out new experiences that challenge your existing beliefs. Nurture your mind. Get inspired and work hard for new insights, instead of being dulled by passive consumption.

Treat yourself with a new stimuli every day. Opt for active experiences and information over passive consumption. Active stimuli are those that you need to process and work for like learning a craft. Passive Stimuli are those that you can mindlessly consume like watching TV.

Ditch your TV (we did that many years ago and never regretted it), delete your computer games, limit your social media times.

Instead seek experiences that extend what you already know, push your boundaries and challenge your comfort zone.

There are many ways to stimulate and inspire yourself. Pick a few and make time for them. Pick a fixed time in your day or week that is devoted to those experiences and inspirations to make sure you prioritize them.

Reading – Read a non-fictional book about an area that interests you, or even a completely new topic. Read a chapter every day and reflect on it.

Learning a craft – Learn a new craft or a new hobby. Push yourself to learn and grow all the time. Maybe your job provides those opportunities, if it doesn’t, either seek out new challenges in your work or find them in your personal time.

Pursuit of mastery – Push for mastery in something that you are passionate about. Find something that excites you long-term and go deeper and deeper, exploring the core ideas and concepts (for me it’s my martial arts journey that kept me exploring and discovering for over 25 years now).

Different perspectives – Talk to interesting new people and try to understand their views. This is not about talking to the same people you already know and meet all the time. Those are often echo chambers, only confirming what you already believe. Rather seeks out new perspectives and opinions and reflect on them. Avoid negative people though, they are not worth the negative impact they will have on you.

Seek surprises – Expose yourself to situations that surprise you. Travel, seek out new experiences. Change your context and challenge your frameworks. Break complacency whenever it creeps up.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 39: Buy Fewer Things But Things That You Really Like

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No, I’m not a monk. I possess things and I take pleasure from working with and using tools and gadgets that I really care about.

Have fewer things, but things that you really value.

What I learned and changed over time is to have fewer things, but things that I value.

When I was a boy my dad always told me to spend my money for fewer things that are higher quality and will last and give me pleasure longer. As in so many cases, I should have listened to him closer. It took me many years to re-learn the same lesson on my own.

How many different jackets do you really need versus having a few that you want to wear every day? Do you need all those different gadgets versus a phone and tablet that you really like? How many different shoes do you need to own? How much silverware do you need? How much stuff to decorate your home? How many stuffed animals? How big does your house have to be? How many cars do you really need? What are you going to do with that bigger property?

The more stuff you have, the more your mind and life get cluttered. Also, the more stuff you have, the more time, energy and money you will need to manage and maintain that stuff. The more stuff you have, the more of your time you will spend with the things that you don’t like as much or feel guilty that you don’t, and the less time you will spend with the things that give you joy.

I developed a process to deal with shopping urges. When I get excited about a new gadget, I will read all about it and then put it on my Amazon wish list. That’s already half of the gratification with nothing spent so far. I will have it sit on that wish list for a while and only if I still think after a few weeks that I really need that gadget I will buy it. In most cases, I end up deleting it from my list.

You don’t need to become a monk. However, do focus on fewer things that give you real joy. Rather spend more money on fewer high quality things that you love dearly, than the same amount on a lot of stuff that you don’t care about much.

Even better, invest in things that help you create experiences rather than things that sit on your shelf.

Also remember, that many things that create experiences can be rented rather than bought. It takes a lot of boat trips to warrant the purchase of a motor boat.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 36: Be Home When You’re Home

What is the most important part of your life? What will be the one thing that remains when everything weakens and fades away (like your career, your friends and eventually your health)?

It’s your family. Your family is the one thing that won’t go away – that is unless you screw it up.

Work hard at the office. Be home when you’re home. Disconnect. Develop a shut down routine for the transition.

Work hard at the office. Follow your hobbies and passions. But not at the expense of the time you spend with and invest in your family.

You will not be able to get back time that you have wasted. When your parents left this world they will be gone. Anything you didn’t say until then will remain unheard forever. If you don’t bind with your kids while they are young and looking up to you, chances are they will not care much about you once they are grown up and independent.

Family should be your single most important priority. Then comes health and your own wellbeing (put on your own oxygen mask first). After that follow your passions. Everything else comes after.

When you’re home be home.

Work hard at the office but then turn everything off and mentally disconnect on your way back home. When you’re home, be home! Don’t check back on messages or return phone calls. Don’t fret over your problems at work, you won’t solve them that evening anyway. Tomorrow is another day. Often problems are solved over night anyway, as we grant our subconscious brain the freedom to go where it needs to go without our interference.

Develop a shut down and transition routine

Turn everything off when you leave your office. Develop a shut down routine to help yourself disconnect from work worries. Shutdown routines can be anything from closing your books, tidying up your work desk or shutting down your computer. Make it a routine though and over time it will automatically trigger your brain into the right state.

Further the mental transition on your commute. Drop work thoughts and get into family thoughts. Do this even if it’s just from room to room for folks who work at home. Physical separation between work and family helps a lot. If you do work at home, be sure to have a place for work and a place for family. If you are a stay at home parent, don’t make the place where you gather and play in the evening the place where you do your chores.

When you’re home be home. Don’t check emails, check in with your family and friends!

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 35: Open Doors

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I’m a person of lists and plans. I always want to have a plan for the short and longer term. I need to be organized to feel comfortable and be in control.

However, I was also taught by my teacher early on in my martial arts training, that situations constantly change and we need to adapt to new opportunities and challenges. As they say in the military: “all plans are outdated upon first contact with the enemy”.

Have a plan and follow it. However, watch out for unexpected opportunities and be flexible enough to change your plan to embrace them.

We need to have a plan and a goal to know where we want to go to, and to make progress towards that destination, instead of wandering aimlessly around (“going nowhere fast”). However, that plan must not make us myopic and oblivious for necessary change.

Throughout my life, I always had a plan, but the best things happened when an unexpected opportunity presented itself and I reached out for it. Even though many times I was scared to my bones.

Having a plan and working towards it, prepares us to be ready for the moment when opportunities present themselves. However, if we don’t make the leap and grasp them, all the preparation was for nothing.

Have a plan, work on it. Prepare yourself, but be ready to drop your plan and adjust to the moment when needed. Don’t be scared of unexpected opportunities. They are when magic happens in life.

I recently read a very similar idea in ‘Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail’, by Kyle S Rohrig. It goes like this:

There are always doors that open unexpectedly for us. Walk through them. After you walk through an open door, new doors will open up behind, eventually leading to an endless universe of open doors and opportunities. You find good thing behind open doors.

If you close the door, the opportunities end right there. That’s it, end of story, you’re stuck. Being stuck is stagnation. Stagnation is the beginning of the end.

Or in the words of Daoism:

When we are young we are flexible, we push out, we try new things and grow. When we stop being curious and flexible, we get hard. When we get hard, we break, crumble and fade away.

Be open, be flexible, see opportunities!

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Spiritual Balance – Week 32: Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

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First we have focused on developing healthy habits to lay a sustainable foundation to go through our days. Then we explored ways to be more effective at work in order to free up time. Let’s take both to good use and move on to exploring what really matters to you and then making time for those things – your purposes.

Put on your own oxygen mask first.

When you travel on any commercial airplane, you will need to go through the safety briefing before taking off. One of things that stuck with me was the advice to “put on your own oxygen mask first”.

It seems to go against our instincts initially. We want to help our kids or the elderly before we turn our attention to our own needs. However that is shortsighted. Even if we want to help others, we first need to take care of ourselves.

Let me repeat this – before we can help others we need to take care of ourselves first!

In the specific example for airlines, there is no use in putting on the oxygen mask on your first child and then passing out before you can help the second. You have to get yourself into a stable spot before you can help others in a sustainable way. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

The same is true for less dramatic settings. You need to get yourself into a good spot first, before you can have positive impact on your family, friends, community or society at large.

Get yourself a healthy basis, de-stress your work, find the things you really care about, explore your passion, purpose and spirituality, and allocate time and energy to it. Then help others and make this world a better place. This is what these tips, hacks, habits and suggestions are all about.

Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Most likely the most important piece of advice of all.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Put on your oxygen mask first - book cover

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.