We all know that stealing is wrong. There are laws against stealing. And yet we constantly steal from ourselves without even thinking twice. What do I mean? I don’t mean stealing an item or idea from someone else. I mean the critical aspects of life that we are robbing ourselves of and from.
How and when do you steal from yourself? It comes in many different forms and the top 3 ways are:
- Time and Energy. Time and our body’s energy level is limited. We all have only 24 hours in a day and depending what your fitness level is, you will have a limited amount of energy to concentrate, to work, to play and so on. When we have depleted our energy resource, it is natural to be less productive, mistake prone and emotionally grumpy and negative. Here are some examples of how we steal our time and energy:
- “Me” or Quiet time: Spending time to fuel yourself whether through exercise or meditation is critical to give you the energy to start the day. If your energy tank is near empty, it is just tough to get through the day in one piece. Spending just 15 – 30 minutes a day is enough to get going.
- Allocation of time and energy. Prioritising how we should spend our time and energy is important. Knowing that if completing task A is important and that requires your 100% focus and concentration we must then allocate sufficient time to it first before anything else. Just remember that time and energy is just like the battery level of your phone. It gets depleted until at the end of the day, you charge it again.
I would like to challenge you to think about in what ways do you steal time and energy? You will be surprise with how long the list is.
- Opportunities. Opportunities that come our way in forms of promotions, new roles, investments etc. Opportunities will inherently come with fear, risk and doubt. However, when we do not give the opportunity its well deserved consideration, we are in essence stealing from our growth, learning, development and maturity. We all want to learn, grow and mature. In order for us to achieve that, we need to get out of our comfort zone and take some risk. Think about the opportunities that you have passed up on:
- What were the reasons? If things were different, would you make the same decision?
- What would you have gained if you took on the opportunity?
- What have you gained by not taking on the opportunity?
More often than not, there will some opportunities that we will regret missing out on and some we are thankful that we did not take up. The critical aspect is to know and understand the reasons. That’s how we learn and learn not to be make the same mistake.
- Relationships. The number 1 focus or priority for all us will be family. People. Relationships. How do we steal from that?
- We take certain relationships for granted.
- We don’t pay enough attention.
- We don’t spend enough time.
- We don’t care or nurture that relationship.
- We don’t allow the relationship to grow.
If it is our Number 1 priority, what makes us steal from relationships? Think about any one relationship that is critical to you
- what areas are you nurturing it?
- What areas are you falling short in?
- What sacrifices would you need to make?
- What areas could you be preventing the relationship from growing?
- How could you strengthen a relationship?
What happens when we constantly and consistently steal from ourselves?
- Growth. Our learning and road to maturity is impacted. To be emotionally immature when you are no longer a child is hard going. We mature through all the highs and lows of life. We experience and learn because of the highs and lows. No one enjoys the challenges, trials and difficulties, however, once we manage to survive and make it through the other side, there is no greater satisfaction. The reward is meaningful and well deserved.
- Purpose. There is a lack of meaning and purpose in our lives. The constant stealing from our dreams, potential and talent will slowly but surely dim the light of passion. Once that happens, you will ponder the life long question: What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose here? I guess that’s why there are life coaches. So don’t wait for that moment to happen, start by being clear on what your life purpose is.
- Joy. We steal the joy of life that comes in 2 ways:
- Relationships that are meaningful and powerful. Relationships that will last a life time. People who will be with you through thick and thin. There is great joy in that.
- Your accomplishments and hard work. All of us know it feels to have accomplished a goal. Not just accomplishing it but exceeding our expectations. When we put in the hard work, setting aside fear and doubt, and overcoming, there is an indescribable sense of worth and value in that.
The key questions are these:
- Are you stealing from yourself today?
- What are they?
- What do you want to do about it?
- When are you going to start to make the change?
I wrote an article previous on 10 Things to Give up to Move forward. There are only things that we should never give up on. Just like any sporting team or athlete, the never give up attitude is critical to winning or losing. This attitude enables us to overcome adversities, challenges and turns the impossible to possible.
The top 3 areas never to give up on:
- Who YOU are. This comprises your principles, character, values and faith. It makes up who you are. In turn that will determine your outcome in how life is lived out. You determine what you believe in, the choices that you make and the actions that you will take. Successful people are those who are very clear on who they are and who they are not. Don’t try to imitate someone else. Don’t try and live out under the expectations of others. You determine the quality and significance of your life.
- Dreams and Life Purpose. Life is precious and short. We all know that. Hence don’t go through life without seeing out your dreams and life purposes. Each of us is created for a purpose and it is in your hands how you live it out. It is easy to give up when the going gets tough, but don’t take the easy way out as the result will be of regret.
- People that you love. Love is a powerful emotion but also a decision and commitment that requires perseverance, forgiveness, patience and hard work. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. We might perceive some mistakes to be bigger or more unforgivable than some. It is important to separate the person that we love vs. the acts or actions that a person does. To love the person and not necessarily the action is key in never giving up on someone who is difficult to love.
What happens if we are faced with impossible odds or the challenges seem like Goliath? All challenges by definition will seem like Goliath at the start as our mind makes it harder and scarier that it actually is. Challenges seems huge because our minds will perceive the task ahead as impossible and perceive our abilities as weak and feeble. As a result, we see ourselves as grasshoppers and the challenge as giants.
As with all perceptions, we are also able to change our perceptions and view it through different lenses. View it though eyes of faith vs. eyes of fear. To help you do so, try these options:
- Ask yourself What-If. What if you overcome the challenge? What do you see beyond the challenge? What if the challenge is not as complex or big as you had first thought? What-if you break it down to smaller parts?
- Step by step. Breaking down a problem or challenge, step by step. Smaller bits are easier to chew and overcome than taking the big chunk and try to solve it. Deconstruct the challenge.
- Ask for help. Find a friend, mentor, adviser, coach, someone that you can talk to and brainstorm ideas. Someone who is able to help you redefine the challenge and explore options with you. Don’t be afraid to reach for help.
- Take accountability of your actions. Don’t blame the situation or other people for the challenges. Take ownership of it and take responsible steps to action on it. Mind your business as they say. You are only in control of your actions and not others.
- Always focus on the big picture, your dreams or purpose. Don’t lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish. Having a clear objective of what you are trying to accomplish can drive you forward as well as to give you that extra push when required.
No one ever succeeds in anything if they give up. Never giving up is a driving force to ensure that we push through whatever the challenges, no matter the odds. Success is just around the corner, only if we never give up on the final few steps. Failure or mistakes will be made. Owning up to the mistakes and making the necessary adjustments to start again. Never giving up enables that start to take place. Only you can make that mindset and heart change. Decide today to never give up on yourself, your dreams and the people you love.
Terms and conditions. Something we are all familiar with. We see it in the things that we buy, services we render or consume as well as in our everyday interactions with family and friends. Before you say that that’s not true, think about when we try to get a child to do something, are we not setting up some sort of terms and conditions for the behaviour or action?
In the workplace, we are bound by terms and conditions known as policies and for most of us, we probably only know less than 1% of the whole company policies or manual. How our performance is reviewed and rewarded, how metrics are calculated and awards given are all based on a standard set of terms that are set out and agreed upon. Most of the time, we don’t even think about it, we just go about doing our job until an issue crops up or someone complaints. Each of us could go through our entire lives living based on terms and conditions set by the people around us, place we work as well as self-inflicted terms and conditions which we call expectations. Hence the question, on whose terms are you living your life today?
I was reading an article around freelancers and how they are satisfied with being in control of their time and doing what they enjoy doing without the structure of an organization but face great challenges in meeting financial obligations and the struggles that comes with that. There must be a good balance between freedom of time and pursuing your passion with realities of living in this material world. Does that balance exist? What is the appropriate balance for you?
Whenever I watch sports and most recently tennis, Wimbledon to be exact, I am always amazed with how these athletes take defeat and bounce back up, practice day in and day out, never losing hope that they are able to win or do better. For most of them, they don’t earn the huge paycheck, so what makes them keep on going? Clearly it is not the money. What is it? Undoubtedly they say that it’s because they just love the game or sport. Each of them is clearly living out his/her talent and passion and on his/her terms. Acknowledging all the time that it is not a bed of roses. But then again, life in general is not a bed of roses. What and how we define the bed of roses is the term and condition of the life we live.
Whose terms are you living your life on? What are my dreams that I have not fulfilled? Am I doing what I enjoy doing? Do I know what I would enjoy doing? Do I have the power to change? Do I have the choice to make the move? What do I need to do? What do I need to let go of? What do I need to embrace this change? How do I know if I am ready? How do I know if I need to? Do I even want to?
There is no right or wrong and no good or bad options here. Just what is aligned to your values and purpose. If you are living aligned with your values and purpose, then in all probability you are living on your terms. You are doing what you are supposed to and you should enjoy it to the fullest. I am constantly reminded that life is short and precious so as they say Carpe Diem. Seize the day with both hands and make an impact on those around you. Or as the Vulcan would say “Live long and Prosper”.
We have all at one point or another felt that something isn’t right. That strange feeling that tells us to take a step back or to be careful or to stop and re-look. We might call it gut instinct or just something that does not sit right with us. When that happens, what do we do? Most of the time we will :
- Stop and check. We will stop what we are doing and check to see if we have done it right. For example, when we are writing a report and when we feel that something is not “right”, we will stop and check the facts or re-read what was written. More often than not, we will spot the error, correct it and move on.
- Be cautious or be more careful. When we sense that something isn’t “right”, we will naturally be more cautious, more aware of what’s going on around us and take a more careful approach. For example, if we are walking on a quiet street, we will heighten our senses and be aware of what’s around us and take precautions.
These are all natural defense mechanism that we have. What would you do if you feel that something is not feeling “right” when it comes to your work or life in general? What do you do when you feel that you are missing something? Have you ever felt like there is something missing in what you are doing? Something that you can’t quite get your finger on. In this scenario, I would suggest the following:
- Reflect on your values: You can take a quick look at your values. List down your top 10 values. Based on that list, reflect on where you are today and what you are doing and whether it is aligned with the value list.
- Review your life purpose: Go back to what your life purpose is. Stop and pause and see if what you are doing aligns with your life purpose. Now you may ask “What is my life purpose?” How can I align with something that I don’t even know the answer to? That could be a challenge. I would suggest that you spend some time thinking about this. List down what you enjoy or are good at, your strengths and your inner desires. Patterns may appear for you to connect the dots and you might be able to discover what your purpose is. Now summarise it into 2 words and see how that feels and whether it resonates with you.
Once you have establish these 2 key areas, you can then align where you are today based on those 2 parameters. Most of us will struggle with coming up with our values and life purpose, however, I would encourage you to make the effort. This will give you clarity on the “why” and “how” we do what we do. It will also provide you with the ability to check your alignment when something does not feel “right”. Just like the wheels of our car, if we find that the car is veering slightly to one direction, we know that there is something wrong with the wheel alignment. We take the car and get it aligned. For our lives, the alignment is towards what our values and life purpose are. There is nothing worse than going through day by day struggling and not enjoying what we are doing. The hard part is being honest with yourself and then making the necessary adjustments. Check your alignment at least once a year just like servicing your car to ensure that you are on track and working towards a desired outcome. You will enjoy what you do, be fulfilled with who you are and bring happiness to those around you when you are aligned with you values and life purpose. Live life in alignment.