Being away from Australia in early January has given me the time to reflect on 2014 and observe the effects Australia is experiencing – bushfires in South Australia and Victoria, drought and debt in rural New South Wales and Queensland, monsoon season in Darwin and the low Australian Dollar. Away from our own shores, we’ve also seen the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket by extremists in Paris.
Thinking about the effect of some of these situations have on those who are affected significantly by them lead me to realise that being out of control (or being influenced by things out of our control) has a significant negative impact on our well being.
I’ve also read a few books recently which have linked neuroscience to wellness, and this has reinforced how much our brains and minds need either real or perceived control. (My recommendation is Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson)
So if you lose control, how do you regain it?
Three crucial elements are required – hope, strategy and action, and they must all be achieved in order to regain control and enhance your wellness.
I define hope as the mystic of life – it’s what makes this world so wonderful and makes our lives worth living. It underpins the core of our beliefs and values – if there is no hope, there is no hope!
Hope is essential in our lives because it drives us to achieve our plans, goals and pathways. When hope is low or lost we become cynical about our lives and feel there is ‘no point’ in trying to plan or set goals because we feel that we cannot achieve them.
Have you ever felt hopeless or known someone who did? Think back and remember how hard it was to motivate that person or yourself during that period. I’ve worked with many teams who have excellent business ideas, but a lack of drive and passion (through hope) means that the idea never becomes a reality.
So develop hope and believe.
Quickly, note your immediate thoughts to the following questions:
- What is your ideal life?
- What is your purpose?
- Where do you want to end up in life?
- What will be your legacy?
When you’ve answered these questions, you can develop the strategy you need to get there. Starting with the end in mind and working backwards is probably one of the most powerful pieces of wisdom I have ever been given.
In developing your strategy think about these questions:
- What is your end game? (And really visualise it – what will it look like?, what will it feel like? what will it smell like?!)
- How will you know that you have achieved it? (at an objective and subjective level)
Use planning mechanisms that we have all been trained in – a business plan, mind mapping or even noting your thoughts on paper is a great starting point.
Think about the key result areas – your personal life, family, social life, career, finances, health and wellness – put an emphasis on those areas that are the most important, but don’t ignore the ones that aren’t. Write these down in order of importance, including the steps you’ll take to achieve them – and hold yourself accountable
Make your strategy concrete, public and tangible.
Writing your strategy on paper or having it on a computer document will hold you more accountable and you’ll be able to refer back to it to assess how you’re going. Tell trusted friends and family about your new goals – they will support you and open doors to help you where they can. Your goals also need to be tangible – in other words, you need to be able to measure your progress, whether it be financial (by tracking your savings), health-wise (being able to run 5kms faster than last month) or happiness (score yourself out of 10 every week, and record any differences).
Without focussed, committed and deliberate action, there is no change. Within your strategy or plan, you need to assign action steps in order to achieve each goal, no matter how small or big it may be. Have a logical sequence of steps and a realistic timeline, hold yourself accountable or find someone who will.
The acting of doing satisfies many needs of our bodies and minds – don’t overthink it – just do it! How does a shark die? They stop moving!
An end note
Hope, strategy and action – each is required to regain control and enhance wellness. Hope without strategy and action means little, strategy without hope and action is a waste of time. Action without hope and strategy is just filling in time. But all three, combined – wow!.
My approach won’t stop you from being challenged by life, but it will give you direction and an approach to keep you focused. The joy of life is not how many times you get knocked, the joy is the discovery of your capacity to keep getting up and learning lessons.
Happy New Year and here is hoping 2015 brings you challenge, joy and happiness!
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