Monday, February 10, 2014

Motivational Monday | The one factor that can have the most impact on your life

Happy Monday!  I'm practicing the habit of seeing Monday, as a fresh start to a new week as opposed to the dreaded day of horror I used to see it as.  I'd like to utilize Monday as the day where I set new goals and get connected to how I make each day of the week count.  Prior to the start of 2014,  I watched a seminar on Youtube that focused on how our lives are crafted by simple, consistent action we take day after day.

Taking action is a great thing, but before action there is something that happens which is even more critical than the action itself.  The reason behind its importance is that it drives the action.  The "thing" I speak of is....CHOICE.

This year, I am committed to making as many choices that support my ideal life as possible.  The realization that helped drive this commitment, is that my day is pretty much a sum of the thousands of decisions I make.  And my life is the sum of the millions of tiny decisions I've made throughout all of my days. Reminds me of how solid objects aren't really one single item but a sum of all the atoms that make up the whole.  Meaning, if we really look at our lives under the "microscope" we can see all the factors that led us to the outcomes we experience today. Actually our choices have a compound effect that either catapults us to where we want to be or not.  

If my pants are feeling a little too tight, I can trace it back to my decision(s) not to exercise while saying "yes" to unhealthy snacks.  If I'm feeling overwhelmed, it's likely because I decided not to plan my day and utilize time management strategies to stay on task.   Choices are everything.  You might remember me sharing a story of when I was just waking from an afternoon nap. I was still in that phase when not yet fully awake.  Suddenly, I had a dream/vision where this man was standing surrounded by a large group of people. I could tell the man was very successful and highly sought after. Everyone around him was vying for his attention. Just before his departure, I quickly ran up to him, navigating through the crowd of eager onlookers, and asked him to give me the one piece of advice that would create success.  The man looked at me and replied......choices, before turning around and disappearing.  As soon as I heard him speak, I woke up.  

That's when I realized that if  I weren't making the right choices at the smallest level, my life may not turn out as I imagine.  Here's the kicker, most people (including myself) tend to make the same choices day after day (good or bad).  Our brains are wired to create rituals/routines so it can delegate most of our waking hours to our subconscious minds.  Yes, most of the decisions we make are on the subconscious level. Meaning we don't even realize it's a choice. The only issue with that is that our subconscious prefers to "make choices" based on a pre-written program.  Meaning, if we made the choice on a few occasions before, our subconscious minds now select it as a default action for future situations which are similar in nature.

So how does one break the cycle of "bad" or unconscious choices so she can actively choose options that support the life she wants?  Three things:


Awareness is the first step that breaks us out of our zombie-like state.  Otherwise we repeat the same day over and over again.  If our awareness is high, we can see all the options available to us in any given situation.  When the options are clear, we don't fall into the trap of repeating the same behavior over and over again.  There are a few ways to increase our awareness.  One way is through meditation.  We've talked about the benefits before.  Meditation has a direct impact on our awareness.  Another tip I have comes from a book I read years ago.  In it the author describes conducting studies to help raise the awareness levels of participants.  One of the exercises she prescribed was for participants to think about all the options they had before making any choice.  For example, instead of just reaching for eggs and bacon for breakfast, the person would ask herself, "what are my choices" and list out all the options.  From that place, she was more likely chose a different outcome.

Action is the next tool you have.  More specifically, action outside your comfort zone.  For instance, if you volunteer to make a presentation, even though you afraid of speaking in public, you are literally creating a new possible future for yourself.  If you repeat that action of taking opportunities to practice public speaking, you are taking active part redefining yourself.  Same thing happens if you repeatedly take any action that isn't what you normally would do.

Finally, one must have a safeguard from keeping themselves from operating out of the same habit loop over and over again.  The safeguard is dedicated time for reflection. At the end of the day, I can ask myself questions that raise my awareness about the choices I made.  Reflection doesn't only happen after the fact, I should also take time to reflect on the day prior to happening.  Opportunities also exist to reflect numerous times throughout the day.  Sometimes, I might randomly ask myself "how did I manage my time in the last hour?"  "Is there anything I could have done differently?"  or "I've got an hour before my next appt, how can I best use this time?"

If you inject awareness, action (outside of routine), and reflection throughout the day, you suddenly find yourself making new choices throughout the day. New choices create new realities.