What matters most?

When it comes to what is important sometimes we confuse external pressures or expectations with what really matters to us personally.

In doing so we end up focusing on and prioritising the wrong things.

These external things could come from work, family or friends and they overwhelm us because we aren’t clear about what we’re willing to give.

Maybe you end up working late because you have a lot of deadlines in a short period of time and it’s important that it gets done. But, if you take the time to think it turns out that what matters most to you is that you have time to de-stress as being busy has you in a constant state of overwhelm.

It’s important that the work get’s done but our wellbeing is what matters most.

Even if you know what matters most sometimes it still turns out that we’re not able to acknowledge and take action in the moment. It’s only upon reflection that we’re able to identify what we should have done at the time.

Other peoples opinions

Sometimes we stop ourselves from doing the things that we want to do because we put others above ourselves.

We choose to consider how our actions might make someone else feel, as if that is our responsibility. It often results in not doing the things that we want to do.

In the moment, it might feel like the right choice but in the long run it often leads to regret or resentment.

It could be staying in a ‘good job’ when you actually want to pursue something that is held in a much lower regard by the people you know, maybe it pays less too. You’re worried that people will tell you you’re making a mistake, of the looks you’ll get at the family dinner when they ask how work is going, you want to please your parents and you don’t want other people to think that you’ve regressed.

So, you stick with your current job that you’re no longer interested in.

Overtime you grown to resent those people around you because even though they’re happy with where you’re at in life, you’re miserable. It feels like it’s their fault. But, deep down you know that your misery comes from you caring about other peoples opinions more than you care about making yourself happy.

The lesson here is to learn to put yourself first. How you feel about your life and the choices you make matters so much more than what other people think.

Don’t try, just be

I think it could be said that one of the biggest things that holds us back is that we try to hard to be a specific type of way or create a certain kind of thing. Often our efforts go into emulating what we have already seen done and the way that we think or have been told that things should be.

When this occurs instead of just doing our work and creating, we put limits on ourselves.

Suddenly, the ideas you have end up being tweaked and altered because you haven’t seen things done that way and you’d rather go with what’s been seen to work.

I think a reason we do this is because we don’t have enough self belief to really do things the way we want plus, we want things to work out.

When you’re someone that creates, you never want to put your heart and soul into something and it not be well received. People not taking to your work feels personal because it came from you and often we end up internalising that feeling and coming up with stories like ‘I’m not good enough…’.

The way to avoid all this is to just be, just create. The more you create, the more you find your own flow and no longer feel like you need to mimic others. The work you do will become so much more gratifying.

The more you create, the more you lower the stakes. The first time you create something that comes from you might be scary but over time once it becomes more familiar, it will get easier.

Knowing when to pivot

There is a popular saying goes something like ‘insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results’.

But what’s worth understanding is that sometimes you need to do the same thing over and over again.

Take meditation for example, it’s very rare that you get it the first time. It could take ten times, that doesnt mean you should stop.

Or, maybe you’re an artist taking your work to galleries, or a writer pitching to publications. Just because things don’t work out the first or 15th time, doesn’t mean you should stop. But, of course if you’re doing something that costs money don’t go broke trying to make things work.

I think it’s good to have the determination to keep going even when things aren’t working out.

But it’s also important to know when to pivot. The end goal doesn’t need to change but maybe your approach should.

In need of a push

I think it’s fair to say that sometimes we’d rather be comfortable and complain than push ourselves. It’s not a bad thing to be able to admit it, infact I think it’s good to be able to pick up on these habits if you have them.

A common example of where this occurs is the work place. You have an issue to deal with and instead of sorting out the issue by facing it head on, you skirt around it.

Perhaps you’ve even had times of venting to someone but when they offered you suggestions you ignored them because you weren’t ready.

And sometimes that’s the simple truth, you need more time.

So, complain and stay stagnant for a little longer, just until you can take it no more.

Then either you take a leap and do what needs to be done or someone gives you a push. If it’s the latter it might not feel so good in the moment but it will benefit you in the long run.

Making time for fun

There is always so much emphasis on the work, on dedicating your time, effort and energy. There are quotes like the grind don’t stop or I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, being dedicated and focusing on making money or building something (as in a non-physical thing like community).

But what about fun?

When was the last time you consciously set time aside to do something for fun, to make yourself laugh and bring a little joy into your life. The work, your work is great and it matters but it doesn’t have to be your whole life.

And the fun can be short and free, in fact it’s better that way. It could be watching Key and Peele skits on YouTube, having a solo dance party or maybe baking cupcakes.

As much as the work matters, there is also so much more to life that you might end up missing out on when you don’t make time for fun.

Short-term pros

When making a decision you might find yourself making a pros and cons list.

The choice you make in the end is likely to be based on whether the cons make the benefits worth it.

But sometimes we focus too much on the short-term. Making a particular decision might be great right now, great in 6 months and even great in a year. However, in 2 years or 5 years it will end up being something you regret.

Or, perhaps we allow short-term pros to outweigh long-term cons.

It could be taking a job where you earn way more money but isn’t in a field you want to progress in. Maybe the alternative was a job in the field you’re interested in but you passed it up because the salary is lower and the commute is longer.

In the short-term you’re earning more money and you’re journey to work is shorter. But in the long-term you’re progressing in a job you don’t want to be in which probably means you’re not as happy as you could be.

On the flipside, if you’d chosen the other job in the short-term you’re salary would be lower and your commute would be longer. However in the long-term, your salary will increase, you’re progressing in field you’re interested in, you may choose to move closer to work and have a shorter commute or perhaps you now work from home 2 or 3 days a week and best of all you’re happier.

Getting ready for what you want

If there’s something that you want and something that you’re working towards, you might find that you don’t quite know what to do once you finally get it.

We spend so much time wishing and pining for the things that we want that sometimes it takes finally getting them for us to realise that we don’t even want them anymore.

Or maybe once you get the thing you want you don’t really know what to do next.

This is about things like wanting a promotion but not fully considering that once you get it you’ll have more responsibilities. Instead you could begin by trying to get more experience in what will be involved in the new role before you get it so that when you do it’s a seamless transition.

It could be moving to a particular town that’s far from everyone you know but not considering that you might feel lonely for the first . To prepare you could come up with things you’ll do to meet new people such as volunteering or attending local events.

Or perhaps it’s wanting to go viral but not knowing what to do with the attention once you get it. You could instead focus on consistently putting stuff out so that when you gain an influx of attention nobody has to wonder ‘what’s next?’.

As great as it is to want things it’s also important to have some idea of what you’ll do once you get them.

Getting ahead and falling behind

The trick to getting ahead is to increase your work rate and never go below your usual work rate.

If you want to get ahead long-term then you have to make time to regularly increase your work rate, this gives you the ability to know that you’re always ahead even when you back to your usual work rate.

However, if you want to get ahead as a temporary thing, you can increase your work rate for a period of time and then you can take time time off from working. But before long that time will run out and you have to get back to work again otherwise you fall behind.

The way I work follows the second option, getting ahead temporarily. Every month or so I’ll have a period of time where my work rate increases. This gives me the chance to take time off completely or space to work without focusing on the end result.

How creatives find their flow

It’s much easier than you might think.

The creative flow or state of being inspired is often held in high regard. It’s put on a pedestal as this magical thing.

People often like to ask creatives about their process in order to understand how they are able to do what they do.

But the thing is, finding your creative flow is just like finding anything else, you have to look for it. It might not be right in front of you and you might encounter a few flows that just aren’t quite right but that shouldn’t stop you from looking.

All of a sudden you’ll find it and your work will change. The good bits will get even better and you’ll have more of those moments where it comes to you with such ease that you’ll look back and wonder if you were in a trance.

And that is all there is to it. You can’t figure out what works without encountering the stuff that doesn’t work.