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Half the time, we’re so distracted by so many things, we practically let our lives fly past. Sometimes we’re just in our head, opening the portal to the doors in the space-time continuum labelled “Past” and “Future”. Other times, we’re sucked into the Black Hole of the Internet. It’s like we can’t afford to pay attention to our life anymore, and for some, it takes walking right into a glass door with our head hung over our phone to knock some sense into us. Or not.
So what does being present mean? It’s self-explanatory really. It means being present in the present while you work, eat and hang out with people. While it may sound simple but how many times have we rushed our meals while doing something important? How many times do we multi-task per day? And it seems that people spend more time photographing their dinners than talking to the people they go to those dinners with. Here are five practical steps to take control of your life and Be Present:
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The good thing about living in our age is that the internet is filled with career advice. The bad thing about living in our age is that the internet is filled with contradicting career advice.
The economic crisis happened the year I graduated, which meant I didn’t have to look far and wide to discover that “Go to school, get into a good university, get a good job and you’re set for life” no longer applied. All I had to do was go to work one day and see the empty desks around me. Apparently our peers in the Western world had discovered that a bit earlier but living in the Middle East, someone seemed to have missed the memo.
So at some point in your life, it’s 6abee3i jiddan (natural) to type into google, “I hate my job wh…” and google totally gets you. The trick is to somehow find your way through the 264,000,000 results that come up.
Some people will tell you to follow your passion, and again, if you live in the part of the world where you’re branded an engineer or a doctor from the day you’re born, then there’s a high chance your passion is very much different from what you’ve studied. However, the main risk connected with following your passion is you’ll be broke — for a very, very long time — and following your passion — or doing anything in fact — is pretty difficult when you’re broke and hungry.
“Following your passion – or doing anything in fact – is pretty difficult when you’re broke and hungry.” Tweet this
Then Cal Newport entered the scene with his message, “Why ‘Following your passion’ is bad advice,” in his book So Good they Can’t Ignore You. His advice focuses on how passion comes after working really, really hard on something, and being really good at it.
Personally, I support the second message, because of a few truths:
- Not everybody knows what their passion is
- The world might not be willing to pay you for your passion
So let’s say you’re really passionate about counting baby coconuts. The most that someone might pay you for counting coconuts is a free baby coconut drink. But the world might not be ready for your counting-coconut-services, so following your passion happens to be really really really bad advice.
So let’s say you’re one of those people who doesn’t know what their passion is.It’s very easy to read all this stuff on the internet and get pretty pumped up about quitting your job and hitchhiking around the globe to discover what your passion is. It’s easy theoretically, but pretty hard practically (read $$$$).
But here’s one thing to know about those successful ‘follow your passion’ stories on the internet. To each one, there are probably five failure stories that don’t get reported.
So before quitting your job, find out exactly what’s bothering you. You might not be having a passion crisis. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you get intellectually challenged at your job?
- Are you building your skill set?
- Do you enter a state of flow while you’re working?
- Is the world ready to pay you for your services?
If the first three answers are no, then those might be your reasons for ‘hating your job’ not that you’re not passionate about it. Maybe if you find something else in the field that intellectually challenges you then you might throw those ‘Malaysia, truly Asia’ brochures out the window.
If you do know what your passion is, and really want to make money out of it, then work at monetizing it before you quit your day job. Ask the world if they are ready to pay for it and don’t be like that coconut-counter.
The trick is whatever you do, do not make rash emotional decisions based on one bad day at work. Even people who follow their passions will tell you it’s not always good in the ‘Living My Dream’ world. There are difficult clients, and tasks they hate doing but have to do it anyway. And if you’re not really convinced, read Cal Newport’s “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”. He definitely does a better job convincing than I do.
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So in the previous post, we spoke about defining our personal values so today we’re going to delve deeper into the topic. To figure out our personal values we need to answer the cliched question of who we were before the world told us who we should be? And that’s not easy. It requires taking a very deep look into our lives, rummaging through the closets in search of any hidden skeletons, opening doors we’d rather pretend they never existed. We’d need to look deep and search for two things in particular; the crossroads and the non-negotiables.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost Tweet this
The crossroads are those life-altering moments where we chose one road instead of another. While there might be many crossroads in our lives-and some might be major mistakes we wish we could undo-there are others that felt right the moment we were taking that first step. Maybe society tried to tell us we were crazy to make the choice we did, and yet we knew deep in our hearts it was the right choice, and eventually things turned out all right. So look at those moments and try to unearth the values driving those decisions.
These are the little rules and regulations we’ve set for ourselves in our work, life, relationships…While some of them might be inherited from society and need to be modified or upgraded, there are some that resonate with our very cores. d regulations. We might not have explicitly written them down, but we have them lying somewhere in the back of our minds.
Maybe they sound something like,
“People come before things.”
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
And most importantly, “Thou shall eat a banana every day of your life.”
The non-negotiables usually direct you towards the values you most likely embody, and if they don’t – like the banana one – maybe they need to be removed from the list.
Some people might want to do this hunting-for-personal-values with a friend or a family member, and that’s actually good as it helps create harmony between friends and family. However a couple of things that need to be noted are:
1) Your personal values must be yours, not theirs. Don’t put something on your list just because it’s on theirs. Also back every value with a personal story to show it’s something you care about.
2) Because it’s deeply personal, and it might require you to open up the deepest part of your soul, and be vulnerable with somebody else, don’t just trust anybody with this exercise. As Brene Brown advises, “Only share your stories with the people who earned the right to listen to them.”
I remember when I first heard that line, it baffled me. I wondered, “How does somebody earn the right to listen to your stories?”
After perusing a lot of Brene’s work, I came to realize the answer is simply, “Look at how they react to your not-so-important stories at first. If they react with judgement, sarcasm and apathy, then they probably do not deserve to listen to your deeper stories. The reaction you’re looking for from others is usually empathy; someone telling you, I have been in your shoes – or I can imaging being in your shoes – and I totally understand.”
Then there are others who might do this exercise alone using the writer’s best friend and worse enemy; a blank page. You might start unearthing your values using prompts such as answering the following questions:
- What did you enjoy doing as a child?
- Describe a person you really admire. Why do you admire them? What qualities do they exhibit?
- If you went to Hogwarts, which house would you have found yourself in and why? Alternatively, if you were in the fictional world of Divergent, which faction would you have been in?
Whether you’re doing this exercise alone or with a friend, the steps are simple;
- List down your value – e.g. kindness
- Explain why it’s important for you –e.g if people were more kind, the world would be a better place so I want to start with myself
- Back it up with experiences from your life that show you embodying the value – e.g. the last time I showed kindness was when I helped that person with something
- Brainstorm ways of exercising the value everyday – e.g. get ideas of doing kindness from websites like randomactsofkindness.org
Feel free to share your personal values in the comments section below. Like this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook
Original post appeared on http://ahscribbles.com/unearthing-your-values/
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