How many thoughts did you have today that you also had yesterday?
Ever think about it? We're broken records, ruminating on the same events, people, hang-ups, and to-do lists over and over again. Are you ready to hear about the impact those thought loops have on our actual, well, lives?
As co-founder of Handel Group and a life coach for over 20 years, I've seen countless numbers of people stay stuck in their day-to-day lives until they make the conscious decision to change and evolve into something better.
Luckily, you don't have to wait another day or be stuck any longer. I have a quick roadmap to use when determining what is keeping you “stuck" at any time of year, and it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with you:
Personal Integrity: When what you say and do aligns with your highest values.
You can break integrity down into three connected components: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In any given moment, from the lens of these three categories, you can understand why you are where you are in reference to how you think and see your life. I'll elaborate:
Physical: Exercise, diet, sleep, personal space, and any actions you are taking in this arena.
Emotional: How your physical actions are making you feel and how you react to the actions of others.
Spiritual: In a macro sense, how you feel about your life, how you see your path, and how you relate to the bigger picture. How connected you feel to what's going on around you.
Here's a fact: whether you know it or not, these three factors are already at work in your own life. So often, we can't see their patterns because we invented the patterns ourselves, through our beliefs, habits, and character traits. Many of my clients come to me fully aware of their space in those three arenas, but totally oblivious to the connection between them. Like a little black box in our head, that information reveals the how and why of what's really going on in our lives.
So how do we change the message?
Breaking into that inner black box is the key to becoming unstuck, but it requires a thorough investigation of your inner dialogue (thoughts). Most people are hesitant to admit that their inner dialogue is controlled by fear and negativity, or they don't even realize it's happening. They continue to self-sabotage and then feel all the worse for dropping the ball, breaking their promises, and selling out on their dreams.
You can gain insight into your own Personal Integrity by asking yourself the following 10 questions, and being honest:
1. What have you accomplished in life that you are most proud of?
2. How were you the driver in those accomplishments?
3. What areas of your life are not working for you?
4. How are you responsible for those things that aren't working?
5. How would you rate your integrity in these areas on a scale of 1-10: physical, emotional, and spiritual?
6. What are you saying to yourself about your life in the areas that aren't working?
7. What actions are you taking (or not taking!) in the areas of life that aren't working?
8. What are your dreams in the areas you want to improve?
9. Can you spot the pattern linking your actions to the way you feel on a daily basis?
10. How do you think changes in one area would affect another area?
Truth is, in areas where you are succeeding, you have harnessed your mind. If you have a great career, a hot and healthy body, an awesome family, you have indeed figured something out in those areas. You have figured out how to smell the fresh bread at a fancy restaurant, hand the bread basket back to the waiter, and order and eat the kale. You can be powerful in a meeting, even if you're premenstrual (or your partner is). You know how to harness your mind and tell it to stop talking smack to you. Heck, you have even figured out that if you don't listen to that inner voice of yours, it shuts up.
But in every other area of your life where you are not winning (yet), you haven't dealt with this. You haven't separated yourself from your inner dialogue, your thoughts, and your theories. Who is catching them?
Answer: no one.
Except now you are going to start separating yourself from them. This exercise does more than just revisit the New Year's resolutions you've half-committed to. It's the “why" of your promises and connects you back to your dream for the big picture of your life. It lets you see how any one thing you're doing (or not doing) has a ripple effect on other areas of your life and shows you where your attention is most needed. More than anything, it addresses the voices in your head that are calling the shots and gives you the opportunity to change the message you are sending yourself.
The good news is that every single day is a chance to experiment -- with a new plan, a different practice, or a modified perspective. “How will I feel if I meditate four days in a row?" “What will happen if I alter this one thing?" Experiment, and then watch the changes as they happen before your eyes.
Whatever you do, don't wait for spring cleaning to take an inventory of your current situation and do a thorough integrity check. Just as an action plan for “bathing suit season" starts months in advance of summer, an action plan for your life starts today, and it starts with changing your mind.
Give it a try!
This piece was originally published January 14, 2018.
It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.