How to Create a Meaningful Life

How to Live with Purpose and Intention

We all seek to live a life that answers the question “why”.

  • Why am I here?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • What is my purpose?

While somedays we feel as though we are on a clear path, we’ve got it all together, and we are heading in a certain direction other days are not so easy. Knowing who you are and that you have the choice to change your life is key in determining your purpose. You have the choice to determine your direction; good or bad.

As always, the audio version can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play.

1. Stay True to Yourself

Admit to your imperfections. No human is perfect so learn to embrace this sense of honesty; imperfection is okay.

Remember why you started the path you are one; school, career, hobbies – why did you start these? Come back to your purpose particularly when you are feeling as though things aren’t working as intended.  Social media puts a ton of pressure on us to do more and to be more, but at the end of the day you need to focus on what works for you.

Ask yourself this. At the end of the day, what will make you happy and how are you going to get there? Stay true to you.

2. Focus on Your Value

As a society we have a tendency to be incredibly self-centred always focusing on “me”, that we forget all that we have available within ourselves to help enhance other’s lives. Finding your value; a sense of humour, knowledge, a listening ear, etc. is going to change someone’s life.

What can you provide to other people? Which problems can you help people solve? What do people in your life often call on you for?

Use these questions to reflect. Take a step back, figure out what skills you have to offer, and work on applying them in your life to make a difference. Too many of us simply exist, focus on staying true to yourself and use what you already have within you to enhance the lives of others.

There is meaning in a life that serves. Serve yourself so you can overflow into serving everyone around.

How to Set Goals in a New Year

Dreaming Big Every Day

So it’s now mid-January. How are your goals and resolutions going? Damn.

Let me guess, you either:

  1.  Missed the mark for starting your new years’ resolution (there’s always next year right?)
  2. Started out strong but fell off the wagon around day 5
  3.  Are killing it with your goals.

In order to be successful in achieving your goals you first need to understand the common struggles with setting goals, the flexibility available when things don’t seem to be going your way, and the strategies for making the most out of your 2018.  This week I have 4 simple steps to set you on track to taking control of the next 12 months and beyond.

As always you can listen to the audio version of this post on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

1. Stop Setting Time Limitations

Nothing is ever going to go as scheduled. So what if it’s not January first – you have the choice to steer your life in whatever direction you choose, any day of the year! The great thing about navigating adulthood is that each day affords a new chance for you to decide which way you want to go.

If you’ve tried something new and you’ve failed, it’s okay to try again. If you’ve decided that you would rather steer course in a different direction, that’s fine too! You do not need the permission of a date on a calendar to start pursuing the things you have always wanted. Stop limiting yourself, and start chasing your dreams.

2. Find Purpose

Motivation is fleeting. What seems like a good idea one minute, may bore you the next. It’s important not to rely solely on your initial motivation, as it will most certainly fizzle. You instead need to determine the root of your motivation and use that as your purpose.

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What are you hoping to achieve?

Goals are only worth having if they enrich our lives so find your deeper purpose to create that value.

3. Establish a Meaningful Vision

Where is it you want to get to with your goals? What is it going to help you achieve? By creating the larger picture of what you want your life to be, you will more easily manifest these results into your reality. A vision of the future that matters to you will help you stay motivated to achieving your goals.

4. Remember There is No Finish Line

As a society we have created an illusion that some magical fairytale exists at “the end of our goals” – this is a lie. With every new achievement comes new responsibilities, and there is no real end game. Think of a time you started a new job with a few tasks. Chances are, over time, you accumulated more tasks, more responsibility, and more opportunities.

Life is always changing. You are always learning new skills.  You will never be able to predict what the future holds, but you need to be prepared to adapt to these unexpected changes.

Welcome all new opportunities with open arms and enrich your life. Start right now.

How To Accept and Use Feedback

How to Accept and Use Feedback

Receiving feedback is never very easy, particularly when that feedback is negative. In fact, your initial reaction when it comes to receiving criticism is likely going to be defensive. Even when you know the feedback you are getting is entirely accurate, it can sometimes be difficult to accept it graciously and move on.

Learning how to rewire your reactions when it comes to receiving negative feedback is essential in learning how to use that feedback to your advantage. The first step to growing as a person is to learn where it is that you can improve. No one is perfect, and therefore nobody expects you to be.

Follow these 3 simple steps to begin accepting and utilizing feedback for your own personal benefit. As always, the audio version of this podcast can be found on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play.

1. Pick Your Audience

You are never going to satisfy or suit everyone. Focus your efforts on the people you actually want to please. If it’s a product or idea you are selling or pitching – who is your intended consumer? Design your content for them. If it’s a work project for a specific client – design your presentation towards what they want.

Sometimes in life it is important to recognize that your opinion or idea isn’t always going to best deliver your message. Listen to the feedback you are receiving and re-work your message to suit your audience’s needs.  You need to know who you are trying to talk to, work for, satisfy, and so on. Deliver your message in a way the intended audience will understand while still staying true to your own intentions. You can still be yourself and please others too provided you use their feedback to determine how best you can satisfy their needs.

2. Learn to Listen and Evaluate

Negative feedback: it’s uncomfortable, it can be hurtful, and it can really do a number on your self-esteem. While in these times it may seem easy enough to just nod along and tune whatever the other party is saying; you need to remember that the opportunity to receive feedback, even if it is negative, is an important one!

You never want to send out the signal that you are

  1. Not open for feedback in the future.
  2. Entirely “uncoachable” all together.

Take in the feedback you have been given, and rather than react to it; I encourage you to process. Take the time to really pick it apart (not in an obsessive way) in order to determine the validity of the feedback.

  • Was it something you already knew about yourself or your project?
  • Have you received similar feedback in the past?
  • How credible is the person giving you this feedback? (Maybe their opinion doesn’t really matter anyway).

Only by listening and really evaluating what the individual is trying to tell you can you really begin to process the response, and apply the necessary or recommended changes into your life.

3. Take a Hard Look In The Mirror

Mindfulness is integral to this process; knowing your behaviours, and recognizing where you can improve, and feedback is the perfect opportunity for you to reflect on just how mindful you are really being.

It is easy to blame other factors, people, and situations for why our work was received poorly, but that reaction is not helpful nor constructive in the long run. You are in control of your own life. Own it.

  • Where can you be better?
  • What can you do better?

Accept, but don’t dwell on what isn’t working and keep moving towards being better and doing better next time. Criticism can hurt, and that is okay. Remember, the difficult times in which we struggle are often the times that provide the most successes.

Embrace resistance, embrace feedback, and work on moving forward as a better self.

How to Improve Your Communication

How to Deliver Your Intended Message

Communication is key in every aspect of our lives – our careers, our education, and our relationships. Pretty much anyone can communicate in some way shape or form, but not everyone is capable of doing so effectively. While some are naturally gifted with great communication; many are not and that is OKAY!Communication is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and improved over time.

In this post, I have compiled my top 3 strategies to help in achieving these effective communication skills in your own life. As always, the audio version can be found on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

1. Force Yourself to Listen

First of all, take note that listening is not the same as waiting your turn to talk. Sometimes we are so focused on the next point we want to say that we don’t actually listen to the other person.  You can’t concentrate on what someone’s saying if you’re busy forming what you’re going to say next. Often, the speaker can read your facial expressions and know that your mind’s elsewhere.

Be present in conversation,  slow down and listen to what the speaker is saying so that you can genuinely respond based on the information they provide. We all get so afraid that our opinions are going to get lost in the discussion that we tend to disregard what the other person has to say.

So, next time you find yourself in a heated discussion with someone you genuinely care about, slow down and actually listen. What are they saying? Why do they feel that way? Perhaps paying attention will change your own perspective.

2. Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Cues

This one may sound simple (i.e. if a person is facing away from you they probably aren’t interested in the conversation). However, have you ever tried paying attention to your own cues? Are you:

  1. Looking up and down from your phone while in a conversation in person with someone?
  2. Distracted by other visuals in the room?
  3. Crossing your arms?
  4. Yelling or speaking in an aggressive tone?

These could all be indicators (some more aggressive and obvious than others) that will reflect negatively on you in the perception of the other person. Focus on your tone (which will be different for different audiences), eye contact, and on appearing engaged and interested.

So much is interpreted – or misinterpreted – through body language, it is equally important that we are representing the message we want physically as much as we are verbally.

3. Keep Stress In Check

How many times have you said something in an argument that you later regretted? Learning how to quickly relieve stress and return to a calm state in an efficient and time effective manner is a necessary skill when it comes to effective communication. It is only in a more relaxed state that you can actually practice the other two tips I have mentioned.

But how? How do we remain calm when our emotions are starting to spin out of control? Whether it’s a job interview that has you jittered, or a heated conversation with a colleague or partner remember the following:

  1.  Recognize that you are stressed (muscle tightness, shortness of breath, heart pounding, temperature rising).
  2. Breathe. Simple but easily forgotten. Remember that breathing is what will help you maintain that calm, cool, attitude even if you are internally losing your mind.
  3. Be open to compromise, and accept the circumstances. Some things are simply out of your control. If you can both bend a little perhaps you can find middle ground painlessly.

Maintaining your stress levels, will allow you to think rationally, be able to understand the other party’s point of view, and respond in a calm and meaningful way.

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Even if you are not a gifted speaker, you can still become highly effective in the art of communication. Of course, it takes time and effort to develop this skill, BUT the more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive and effective your communication skills will become.

How to Practice Self-Love

2 Steps to Loving Yourself

Self-love, what is it? You see it preached everywhere on the internet –

LOVE YOURSELF – EMBRACE YOUR FLAWS – BE THE REAL YOU

A seemingly nice concept to think about, but for some not so easy to achieve in practice. As someone who has never really struggled with this, I would like to share a single piece of advice that has always resonated with me and made self-love easy:

At the end of the day it is your CHOICE to accept yourself as you are. You are gifted one life, that’s it – why waste it in self-loathing when you could instead CHOOSE to enjoy it and enjoy yourself in all of your messy, imperfect glory.

Self-love is integral to determining your success in life, your career, your relationships, and so on. Valuing yourself and knowing what you deserve will guide you to make choices reflective of this value. Self-love grows from actions we take physically, psychologically, and spiritually. If this is something you struggle with and need some strategies to improve your mindset and afford yourself the love that you deserve, then these 4 tips are for you.

As always, the audio version for this post is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Google Play.

1. Set Boundaries and Protect Yourself

In order to begin focusing on truly loving yourself, you need to be mindful of your own needs. Stop focusing so much on what will make others happy and start focusing on what it is that is going to make YOU happy?

Remember that it is okay to say no to people when you don’t want to participate in something. People who truly care will understand, and the people in your life who get defensive when you turn them down are the kind you need to get rid of!

There are simply not enough hours in a day to waste on people who empty your bucket. I promise that you will love and respect yourself more in the long term if you tell these people to get lost (or maybe something a little nicer).

You will love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, relationships, or activities that deplete you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Don’t worry about the fear that you are missing out on something great, you have the whole rest of your life to recreate the opportunity if you really want it.

2. Act on What You Need, Not What You Want

Next, I encourage you to take a moment to focus on what you are really thinking, how you are really feeling, and what it is you really want.

Are you frustrated with your job? Are you feeling like the relationships you have in your life are draining your energy? What are you going to need to do to change these circumstances?

While some solutions may seem tempting as a quick fix, they likely aren’t keeping you centred and focused on the path to making a change. Instant gratification can be tempting, but does not often yield long term benefits. By straying from these temptations, you will in turn set yourself up to change the automatic behaviours that have kept you stuck for so long.

3. Use the “It’s Already Over Mentality”

We have all made mistakes, said foolish things, or down right embarrassed ourselves in public. I’ve been there, and I know you have too! The difficult part about these times, is not letting these scenarios consume you. You need to quit replaying the scenarios in your head over and over thinking of the things you wish you had said or done.

Recognizing the negative self-talk is the hard part, but once you’ve gotten there and know you are doing it, correcting it is easy. THE SITUATION HAS ALREADY HAPPENED. Why obsess over something you can’t change or make different?

We can be so hard on ourselves. Cut yourself some slack, these lapses in judgement and decision making ability prove that we are actual humans; we are not perfect. Remind yourself it is over, and there will be another opportunity to prove to the world you are better than your mistakes. Just remember, always move forward.

4. Live With Intention

You will accept and love yourself more, no matter what is happening in your life, when you begin to live with purpose and design. Focus more on WHAT you want in your life, and worry less about HOW you are going to achieve that. Afford yourself the opportunity to dream big becase you deserve it! Whatever the path is you choose, make sure that your actions are helping you to get there.

Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear, (in fact it rarely is)! However if you have a general idea of where you want to go in life, your decisions should support this intention. Think of how good you will feel about yourself when you are actually trying to achieve success. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do! You are capable of doing this.

– – –

Self-love is about knowing and honoring your needs, wants and wishes. It’s about understanding youself, including your thoughts and feelings. It’s about being kind, compassionate, and forgiving with yourself. You are capable of self-love with the right mentality and focus.

In order to start living the life you want, you need to start with yourself.

How to Have a Successful Mindset

Achieving Success

Success is not merely granted; it is achieved through hard work and persistence. In this life, there is a well defined difference between people who create their own life to become successful and people who settle for what life provides them. In order to create the life you want, you need the foundation for a mindset that allows you to succeed.

Remaining focused on the pathway to success can be challenging at times. There are often road blocks impeding your efforts – lack of inspiration, societal pressures, barriers to starting. When faced with these challenges,  you can say MEH and just give up OR you can persist and push through. You don’t have to be the smartest person, have access to the most resources, or be the most talented in order to be successful; you just have to make the effort to try, and continue see your dream through to the end even when times get tough.

As always, the audio version for this is available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play.

Believe in Yourself and Be Willing to Forgive

As with any pursuit in life, the journey is mental and your mentality will control your outcomes. If you believe in yourself that you can do whatever you set out to accomplish, you are subconsciously not going to back down. This ability is established from growing your self confidence (this concept was addressed in August’s post: How to Create Your Confidence). By having the confidence to know that you can accomplish things, you will lead yourself to believe that you can and will accomplish even more.

While getting stuff done is great, it is always important to check in with yourself and to make sure that you are working towards being your best self.

Ask yourself:

  1. What am I doing well?
  2. Where can I improve?

You are going to make mistakes (even big ones), that’s inevitable if you are trying your best. Mistakes are learning experiences to do better later on. Learn to forgive yourself and let go of the pressure sooner rather than later. The sooner you forgive yourself, the sooner you can get back on track. Whatever your mistake may be, it’s important to remember that it is already over so why dwell on feeling bad?

Be Committed

In a generation focused on instant rewards and success, it can be difficult to stay motivated when times get tough. However, in order to be successful you need to be willing to commit to your pursuit. Pick something that you wish to achieve (career, relationship, hobby etc.) and stick to it longer than 5 seconds. Nothing is achieve over night, and things are rarely achieved with great ease; remember this and hold on tight.

Make the changes to your lifestyle that allow you to support whatever your commitment may be. People are too often guilty of blaming time (or lack their of) for their inability to commit to things. If this is something you really want, you need to actually commit to it and make the time to pursue it. Arrange your schedule to make your goal a priority.  Hard work yields desired results.

Practice Patience

Remember that most great things take time. In fact, in most instances things will take much longer than anticipated. You have to be willing to put in the time and be comfortable waiting in the place of not know when or how things will work out. The rewards aren’t always obvious or immediate so remain patient and trust the process.

Have Stamina, Consistency and Persistence

This concept ties into patience. You need to be willing to have the patience to wait while not becoming complacent. Always remember to continue to push in other areas, figuring out where improvements can be made. Resting is not failure, but giving up is. Develop your character to stay committed. Successful people value action, especially consistent action.

– – –

The first step to achieving any sort of success in life is to make a single move. You will never know if something is right for you unless you try it. Slow and steady is the best approach. Break down your goals and approach them piece by piece – consistently. Every day, every week, whatever works for your life.

The world is yours to pursue. All beliefs are limiting. It is up to you where that limit is.