Making the best of challenging circumstances

One of the best lessons to have learnt this year is how to make the best of challenging circumstances.

I’d be highly surprised to find that there is anyone who reads this blog that has not been affected by the pandemic.

People have lost their jobs, had family and friends pass, experienced financial difficulties, had holidays postponed, struggled to cope because they’re living alone, missed moments with the people they care about, had plans cancelled and so much more.

It’s easy to end up feeling as though life can be nothing more than bleak but it’s important to remember the joys of life.

No matter what is going on if you only focus on the ‘bad bits’ it will consume your whole outlook until you can’t see past it.

Of course you can’t ignore what is going on in the world but you can make time for things that bring you joy and make you feel good.

Ahead of their time

Often the key indicators of someone being ahead of their time is that years later other people are doing what they did with less pushback and other people are gaining more success.

Another indicator is if the person were to do what they did 5 years ago today, how would it be received.

A few years ago I started listening to a podcast that began a few years prior so I had hundreds of episodes to catch up on.

From the very first episode I listened to, I was hooked. I went back to the very beginning and worked my way through.

The podcast ended around a year after I started listening and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve gone back to the beginning and re-listened.

When I think about that podcast I honestly believe it was ahead of it’s time.

I’ve come across other people that are doing similar podcasts and I’ve come across people who started later and have had more ‘success’. Lastly, if the podcast I enjoyed started 5 years later than it did or even if it started today I’m certain I’d have liked it just as much if not more.

And so, I think it’s fair to say that the podcast was ahead of it’s time.

The disciplined creative

One of the things that I think is severely underestimated is the need for discipline in creative pursuits.

We’re bombarded with ideas and imagery of the wild artist. The creative that is awoken from slumber with their great idea. The writers block or creative block that results in nothing being produced for days, weeks or months. Then suddenly they’re almost possessed by the desire to create.

I think we separate the idea of being disciplined because it seems so in contrast to the idea of creativity.

But furthermore because we often look at creativity as a natural thing that just comes to you instead if being something you have to work at.

Time, dedication and discipline of a creative pursuit isn’t always appealing but it’s necessary.

Changing your mind

When you’re vocal about your beliefs and the things you want to do in your life, it can be difficult when you change your mind.

If you openly displayed yourself to the world in a particular way, major change (especially if it contradicts with your existing aims) will come with judgement.

It will come from strangers and people around you but it will also come from yourself. You judge yourself because you have difficulty comprehending and accepting that a person can hold a set of beliefs and then months or years later decide to reject them in favour of something else.

That internal judgement matters more than the judgement we receive from others because if you can’t understand yourself and the choices you’re making, what does that say about who you are?

If it doesn’t work out

We’re often brought up to believe that risk is a bad thing.

But the truth is it depends on the risk.

Packing up and moving to a new city could be considered risky but it’s not a bad thing. On the flipside, gambling away your savings hoping to hit the big time is risky and it’s not a particularly good idea.

I think when it comes to taking risks you know whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on how you’ll feel if it doesn’t work out.

When the risk not panning out means your safety at risk it’s probably not something worth pursing. Let’s take the gambling example.

If it turns out well you could walk away with more than your annual salary which is enticing. However, if we look at what happens if things go wrong you’ll realise that you gain nothing. If you gamble away thousands of pounds you don’t leave the experience haven’t learnt a lesson.

Those kinds of risks aren’t worth taking.

But when you try something new, push yourself and get out of your comfort zone, even if it doesn’t work out as planned, you’ve given yourself the opportunity to grow and develop into the kind of person you want to be.

Making things happen

It’s easy to make excuses for why things didn’t work out.

But often the reason is simply because you didn’t believe it was possible.

When you have self belief you approach life differently.

You walk with your head held high, you don’t second guess yourself and your actions flow.

When you don’t have self belief, you struggle to make decisions with certainty, your confidence is low and and you’re less likely to think the life you want can become a reality.

And so when it comes to making things happen self belief is essential.

Identifying barriers

If you had £10million what would you do differently?

We otfen think that money is the biggets barrier to us being able to achcive our dreams. However, that is rarely the case because where there is a will there is a way.

The real barrier is a little more challenging to overcome.

The real barrier is fear, a lack of confidence or low self-esteem, the list could go on.

If you’re scared to pursue your dreams without money you’ll still have some of that fear leftover when money is no longer an issue.

So work out what you’re afraid of and overcome it so that it’ll no longer hold you back.

Yes or no questions

All decisions about whether or not you should do something come down to yes or no questions.

Should I move to another city?

Should I cut my hair short?

Should I ask him out to dinner?

The questions on their own are simple but when we add in context, feelings and fears we make it much more complicated. Granted, context can be helpful because if the person you’re considering asking to dinner is in a relationship, it’s probably best not to bother.

However, the added information can also be unhelpful.

Take moving to another city, you might be super excited but also kind of scared because of the uncertainty, even though you feel like you need a change.

When you allow feelings related to fear to be at the forefront of your mind, it can often hinder your ability to make decisions.

So sometimes it’s best to remove all the details and ask yourself a simple question. Answer yes or no, stick with it and move forward.

Two steps back

When you feel like you’re making progress having to then take a step back is a big deal. It feels like you’ve wasted your efforts but more importantly time that you can’t get back.

But if you change your perspective, those steps back could actually be a good thing.

Perhaps you were heading down an unhelpful path and now gain clarity.

I think the main thing is to understand that a setback doesn’t stop you from reaching your end goal it just changes the path you take to get there.

Internalising boundaries

You can learn a lot from someone by simply observing them.

I recently noticed in a particular relationship that the other person had very clear boundaries. It wasn’t anything that had been explicitly stated but through this persons actions it was very clear what they were and were not open to.

Sometimes a persons boundaries can feel personal. You might feel that they’re being harsh and closed off toward you. On the other hand you might internalise it and end up thinking you need to put in more effort.

In the situation I experienced I could have taken it personally, in fact 5 years ago I would have. I’d have thought this means [insert monologue of dramatic over reaction here] and maybe this person doesn’t like me.

But I now understand that a boundary is for the person setting them, it has little to do with the people on the receiving end.