Wants and actions

There is often a gap between what we want and our actions.

For example you could say that you want to be a writer but you never take up the opportunity to share your work or get feedback.

Or maybe you want to move to a new city but you never look for jobs outside the city you currently live in.

In situations like this, when you’re actions don’t align with what you say you want it’s quite unlikely that things will ever work out.

And maybe you don’t really want the things you think you want but maybe you do.

This is why it is so useful to reflect and check. You might not even realise that if you just make a few small changes you can start making good progress towards the things you want.

The most important thing

Often in life the thing causing the most anxiety and frustration is not particularly important in the long term. If you were to assess it in the grand scheme of life and death you’ll probably find that it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.

We tend to get swept up in how other people feel and what other people will think (in general but mainly towards us). We do this because we are eager to please, want to be liked and we convince ourselves that if we just try hard enough we can control what other people think and feel towards us.

But instead of getting swept up in other people, think about yourself. Have you even considered that what you feel and think is important too?

More to the point, maybe how you think and feel is actually the most important thing.

Why learning something new is a great idea

Last year there were lots of discussions, tweets and conversations about how we’re in a pandemic, you don’t need to do xyz it’s totally okay if all you did was survive.

The thing is, of course you don’t need to do anything new or different with your time. That statement has always been true. But if you want to and if you feel like you can, why not choose to do something new?

And even if you don’t feel like it, even if you’re anxious and overwhelmed maybe trying 10 minutes of aerobics or a breath work exercise might actually help.

I think learning or doing something new during a period where you have more free time than usual is a great idea.

The reason for this is whether you sit around passively watching YouTube all day or try out a couple of new recipes every week, the same amount of time has still gone by.

You don’t need to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, pick something that you will enjoy.

And you don’t need to use up all your free time, it could be 20 minutes of meditation each day or a few hours a week doing an online course.

You don’t need to post about it online and it doesn’t make you better than others because you’ve now started a successful business or have perfected the crème brûlée.

The focus should be on how you feel about the way that you’re choosing to live and the way that you’re spending your time.

Making plans for the new year

Setting goal or making plans for the coming year might seem like a waste of time. We’re in a period of great uncertainty and many of us may have already experienced a long list of things we planned to do in 2020 remain undone.

However, I think a lot of people did much more than they thought they would but in different ways. There was less focus on social activities, in person events and travel but perhaps more emphasis on wellbeing and personal growth.

Maybe this year you started a business, started a project, volunteered, overcame unexpected challenges, read some interesting books, discovered new interests, learned a new skill, developed your confidence, started a new job, got a promotion, visited a new city, bought a house, made new friends, tried some new recipes or figured out what you really want to do with your life.

Some of the things you did this year might seem small or meaningless but you still did them. It’s easy to forget afternoons spent catching up with your favourite people in a cafe, solo dance parties and endless laughter with siblings when you’re focusing on all the concerts you booked that got cancelled or all the places you never got to travel to.

And so for 2021, don’t be afraid to make plans or set intentions for the kind of year you want to have.

The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to at least check-in, recalibrate and ensure that the life you’re living is leading you in the direction that you want to go in.

The pick me up playlist

Around 18 months ago I created a Pick me up playlist.

The reason I did this is in the name, I wanted a pick me up. But more importantly I wanted something I could go back to.

I’m lucky enough to know how the music I listen to makes me feel and, I curated a playlist of songs to listen to when I am in need of a pick me up.

It is simple yet incredibly effective.

And of course the music doesn’t fix the issue but it reminds me what it is like to feel good and that makes me want to make the effort to make things better.

If you’re someone that enjoys listening to music, I’d advise you to give it a go.

You don’t even need to create a whole playlist but the next time you feel down just listen to one of your favourite songs and see how it makes you feel.

Daydreams and the dream life

One of the things I enjoy writing about is the dream life.

But it’s more than just words it’s about the kind of life I aspire to. Whilst daydreaming one night I realised that I’ve never really shared my dream life in great detail.

One of the main reasons is, there is not one set type of life that I want. Instead I am open to a variety of different scenarios. But another reason is, it can be scary to share your aspirations. As soon as you consider it questions like ‘what will people say if things don’t work out?’ start popping up.

However I’m learning that, it’s good to talk about what you want. It doesn’t need to be on a blog or social media, it could be with friends or family instead. I think sometimes with daydreams because it is something we create in our minds, we end up convincing ourselves that it can’t come true.

But the dream life is possible and I think simply talking about it can be one of the first steps to bringing it to life.

Does more choice make us happier?

A lot of people regularly find themselves overwhelmed.

The possibilites in every area of life are growing more and more each day.

There was a point in time where what you ate was limited to what you could kill and what you could grow at that time of year.

On one hand having more choice gives us the possibility of a richer life with more freedom. And let’s not forget, the increase in choice is the result of innovation that has has resulted in more options than humans once thought was possible.

However, having more choice can also make things harder, having 100 options instead of 10 can end up causing unnecessary stress. This in turn can reduce your overall happiness.

I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how much or how little choice you have, there is always room for innovation.

But we can’t ignore the unhelpful side effects of increased choice and so the important thing to remember is that when you know what you want you’re less likely to be overwhelmed.

Emotional labour

When it comes to the work that you do, do you work hard?

Not as in work that requires physical labour but another kind of hard work, the sort that requires you to give something of yourself. I guess it’s what is known as emotional labour.

So often, we refrain from exerting emotional labour because it’s easier not to. Or maybe you feel like it’ll wear you out or you just don’t want to give that much of yourself.

But I think it’s really just about making the choice to offer something of yourself. It’s sort of like an act of generosity, if you look back on the places you have worked you’re likely to find that your willingness to be generous varied.

I suppose that’s why I think it’s important that we like the place we work and the work that we do.

The consumer doesn’t care

The viewer or the consumer does not have to care about what went on behind the scenes. They are there for the art not the person and I think that in some cases that’s the way it should be.

In other cases, like on social media, the consumer is often there for the person just as much as if not more than they’re there for the art (or whatever creative thing that the person does).

This is why people with highly dedicated fans/followers will be supported no matter what they do.

I think that because of social media there are now blurred lines between what is business and what is personal.

But it is important to know that just because you’re visible online and people may know what you do it doesn’t mean that they care. Some people are there for the work, not for you and that is perfectly alright.

So, if you offer a product or service and the customer is not satisfied they might voice how they feel. If it is not considered good enough the customer doesn’t necessarily care that you did your best and that you will be better next time. They care that they bought someone thing they are not happy with.

And so your job is not to find customers that care about you personally but to instead to show up, create great work and deliver.

Learned behaviour

I’m really into self-observation and learning about why we are the way we are.

I find behaviour to be quite fascinating. I’ve learnt that often how we act is down to the people we surround ourselves with and the people we allow ourselves to be influenced by rather than just something ingrained within.

It might be easy to blame external factors for why you are the way you are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change.

The same way you learned to be one way you can choose to learn to be different (and hopefully better).