You Do You – its More Than a Catchy Saying

I cannot stress enough the importance of you doing you. No, I am not talking about some self pleasing gesture, what I mean by that is that you do what makes you happy – what gives you energy. And not copying what other people do. We are often uncertain in life or overwhelmed with too many options we look to others to guide us. We look at our friends or society, we look at their lives and the things they do and often consider that what works for them would work for us.

Especially when it comes to social events such as weddings or birthdays, we tend to be driven to do something other people do, just because they are created by society so we do what we feel society would want us to do.

But you might have noticed by now, if you do what other people do, you may feel more anxious or stress. You may feel more lost than if you just did what you wanted to do. It might seem easy to simply copy others, yet it will cost you more energy because you are forcing yourself to comply to what is natural to others and not yourself. There is nothing wrong with doing what you want for your wedding or birthday. If you want to wear flats down the aisle, wear flats. If you want to stay home for your 30th and order in, do that. Find out what makes you happy and not what makes others happy. This will not only come easy to you but oh my god – it will feel so liberating! So fulfilling and so rewarding that you are listening to yourself and doing well for yourself.

And if you fear that others might judge you (which should never matter anyway, but is somethings hard to switch off) you just might find you not only inspire people by doing your own thing but also impress them that you are listening to yourself. Shine the light in your awesomeness. Be brave, be bold, be you.d1584da132fc6673c8779de29ccc41d7

Mono-tasking

So much of our lives is spent doing something. We often get so used to doing multiple things at once even, that we don’t notice just how much of our own capacity we are using at once. For example walking down the street, listening to music and thinking about work. This all means you have to navigate your surroundings, while dealing with multiple sounds and then navigating all of that while trying to manage your livelihood. In all honesty, it just sounds rather crazy to be doing so much yet for most of us – this is how our day begins. And often is the more relaxed part of our day.

I wonder at what point in history it was decided that people should do multiple things at once. Or who thought it would be a great idea to make overextending yourself a bit part of everyday life. Perhaps it is a part of our own existentialism that we know we have a limited time on earth and that makes us feel like we have to do everything, try everything, explore as much as possible in the limited time we are given. It is not about the quality but rather ticking off boxes and crossing out items on a list than actually enjoying what you are doing. If you were, you would probably not need to combine this one thing you are doing with another thing.

These days, multitasking has been made so much easier thanks to technology but I really doubt it was technological capabilities that drove us to multitask. Rather I think it was customer needs that drove companies to build products that facilitate the concurring of various items at once. And from that point on, its just a continuous wheel, a perpetuum mobile, of trying to do more in a smaller window.

You may ask me now – what is so wrong about doing more than one thing? I mean, if you can fit multiple things into your day that you enjoy, what is wrong with that?

I believe in our generation we do not have the capability to just be present. We have eliminated the enjoyment of committing ourselves to one thing and one thing fully.  There is always more to be added to every situation to the point where we are not only used to being overwhelmed with stimuli but also frighteningly, to the point where we have become immune to it.

Doing one thing at a time helps you not only fully commit to what you are doing, it helps you focus and avoid errors, stress as well as feeling burnt out after a short time. How often have you grabbed coffee on your way to work and by the time you got to work just feeling exhausted from having to commute to work, stand in line for coffee and battle the upcoming stress? Perhaps its more of a New Yorker thing, but often things we enjoy become disagreeable because we didn’t take the time to – you guessed it – enjoy them.

In our society, these days, there seems something so wrong about just doing one thing. Just walking down the road. Or just sitting and listening to music. If you can, why not do more right? When was the last time you laid on the ground to full listen and enjoy a good song? When was the last time you did just one thing? Let me go one step further, when was the last time you were bored?

I challenge you to spend just an hour thinking bout doing one thing at a time. Lets see if you can last 10min. Because as I am typing this so aware of how beneficial it can be to concentrate on one thing at a time, I am wondering what I need to do next. I hope you have better persistence than me.

Why is the Finish Line More Exciting Than the Run?

I have many goals – become fluent in a new language, learn new recipes, play new songs on my weapon of choice – the ukelele. The easiest thing is to define the goals. I hear people speak of goals all the time “I want to do a trip alone”, “I want to lose 5 pounds”. Intentions are easily defined. Then starting to work on them is not too hard – you buy running shoes, you stop eating fries, you do the first steps in the right direction. Actually achieving them is also, really rewarding. Fitting into those jeans you haven’t in 5 years, sitting on a empty beach alone with a drink in your hand – you set your mind on something and then you did it. What an amazing leap that is.

Yet, the journey in between can be so hard – it is at times so not enjoyable that we quit on our goals. Its almost as if you are testing your determination than growing. Its so frustrating – the setting the goal and achieving it are the motivating factors. And the middle part, the longest part is the journey there that is rarely enjoyed. How can you get about it?

1. Set small goals inside a large goal. Give yourself little wins to keep you going and celebrate each one. For example, when you lose two pounds, it means you are on the right way! If you learn a new word each day, by the end of the week repeat them to yourself and treat yourself for remembering them! Celebrate the journey.

2. Write a diary where you can track your progress. Perhaps it is personal growth you are striving for, you can flip back over the pages and see how you felt and notice you no longer feel this way. You might be taking larger steps in the right direction than you actually feel.

3. Find people that support you on your journey. People that you can tell you progress to, people that will see you do the 5k run and then come to watch you run the marathon. Perhaps find people that have similar goals you can exchange with about your journey. Sometimes its so hard to stay focused, other people can help guide you on your way so you don’t stray.

Anyone motivated to achieve any goal is impressive. And if you are on the journey – that is also very impressive. I believe in you, you can achieve it. Find ways to get through the journey and perhaps even enjoy it.

Confrontation – could it be the Gift We Have All Been Waiting For

I have often in my life avoided confrontation. My first hand experience with confrontation is that is it a horribly awkward, uncomfortable thing that always leads to fights and no results. Nothing but tension comes out of confrontation. Its full of anger and hurt and instead of confronting people, I would avoid it in any means. Not that that was helpful, often I felt hurt around people and often left things unsaid, left things hanging in the air and unsolved. Then a friend told me something that changed my perception:

Confrontation gives people the chance to explain themselves and clear up the situation.

I never thought of confrontation other than something negative. I never thought of it in a way that it can help improve a relationship. Could it really be a tool to improve a relationship? I decided to change my approach and talk to people directly when I felt something needed to be said. Results have been very different so far.

First of all, it depends how you go about confronting someone. Don’t be angry, and don’t blame the other person. Rather phrase it as a question to check if you misunderstood the situation “Sorry, I just want to check, is there a reason I was not invited to the meeting” or “Did I miss a text message bout this event or..”. Make it seem like you misunderstood, give people the benefit of the doubt. People are not walking around planning to hurt or harm you. Sometimes they are just neglectful.

Second, do it in person. I’ve tried doing it via text. It was not good at all. It gave people the chance to put tones and feelings into my words that were not meant to be there. If possible, try to talk in person. It is hard to look at people and admit you are hurt. And to be honest, confronting people puts you in a vulnerable position.

Third – its not worth it confronting everybody. Only confront people that are able to understand you, have compassion and you know care about you. There is no point of confronting people you will never meet again or people who will no matter what just attack you and not accept your hurt. It is best in general to keep those people at a minimum in your life. Keep your distance. It is pointless to have people in your life that will not take your feelings, concerns and thoughts in consideration and respect them enough to be confronted.

You have a choice how you want to live your life. Don’t live it being afraid to give people the chance to clear up situations on their on behalf.

 

Breakout not Burnout

I was recently sent the article about “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation” in Buzzfeed (Link). It was an interesting read and really resonated with me. The part that really spoke to me was the following:

“Those expectations encapsulate the millennial rearing project, in which (…) they internalize the need to find employment that reflects well on their parents (steady, decently paying, recognizable as a “good job”) that’s also impressive to their peers (at a “cool” company) and fulfills what they’ve been told has been the end goal of all of this childhood optimization: doing work that you’re passionate about”

I sure feel a lot of internal pressure to find a job that is steady, that I can get promoted in, put money aside, be able to travel the world and have a fabulous life to feed my Instagram with. Also – through all the books I have read and all the courses I have completed, I know I have to find something self-fulfilling. All motivational books written by previous generations talk about meaning, “start with why” (Simon Sinek) or “jump”. That’s why I have this blog, my Yoga and meditation courses I teach and work as a life coach. I mean, how crazy is that? That’s not normal and I know it. I just haven’t found a way to have a steady job with good pay and benefits AND is my passion. If you have seriously, you are one lucky breed and I envy you.

And even if you do have that steady, great job you are passionate about, our generation, we can’t afford to stay in one job and not develop. The world has become a much faster environment, just look at how fast technology has progressed. When I first joined the work force, there were still ipods and no iphones. This constant change and evolving of our environment is happening faster and faster. And we are expected to keep up. Not only keep up, but excel in it. Most people in the generation before us were better off than the previous generation. So we are expected to do better than our parents. Well fun fact, 75% of us will not. The world markets are not the same as things were. We’ve been hit with two financial crisis’ and increasing college costs.

As the world becomes faster and ever evolving, it gets more and more diverse and confusing. And still, you are expected to excel. How do we sustain the pace, the expectations we carry internally and we are given externally? And that, without burning out?

One thing is to always check in with yourself. See how you are feeling and make sure your tank is fueled. If that means spending a night in even though its Friday – or getting a massage a week. You need to do what you need to get by. Whatever that may be. Find it and do it as much as possible. This world will take all of you if it can and suck you dry. Protect yourself.

Another thing that helps with your energy levels is only doing things if you do them for yourself. Going to that birthday party, only do it because you want to. Doing that additional training at work – only because it excites you. Helping someone move – only because you love them and want to help them. Otherwise no. Everything is no. Save your energy for the things that fulfill you not empty you.

I know its so tempting to to try everything, to strive to have it all. Because of social media we are able to see into other people’s lives and be mesmerized with the lives portrayed. Do not try to have someone else’s life and live up to other people’s expectations.  You can only be best at living your life. You just have to find the energy to do it.

GOALS = Great Obstacles to Achieve in Life

I myself am not a follower of New Years resolutions as I believe goals are something you should continuously be setting. Then again, I am a weird person who thinks blogging about life is super relaxing so don’t hold me to a standard. Either way, it doesn’t matter when you are setting your goals, as long as you are. Goals help us have a direction in life and give us a purpose. Life tends to be chaotic, so many things are out of our control, like the weather, our daily commute or the date milk expires. Goals give us the feeling that we at least have a direction in all this chaos and ensure personal growth. I am a big fan of goals – and I am also the first one to say – goals can be absolutely terrifying.

The terrifying thing about goals is: What if I fail? Or – what if I achieve them, what will it mean? How do I achieve them- what will it cost me?

A goal that doesn’t terrify you is not really a goal. Its more a task. Something that is just added to your regular to do list. A goal should make you feel like you are advancing, progressing in a certain direction. Its growth and most growth doesn’t come without growing pains – or you outgrowing someone or something.

With these obstacles, its easy to hit some setbacks. Or even just to get tired of pursuing a goal. Lets face it – its scary and exhausting and a lot of the time we ask ourselves, is it really worth the personal struggle just to grow a bit. Especially since no one is holding us accountable but we ourselves, I mean, whom would it really harm if the goal is you know, postponed? But I would like to emphasize that there is a reason why you set the goal in the first place. No one told you to, no one mandated it to you. Its something you wanted to do for yourself. So here are some ways you can facilitate achieving your goals, and making them less terrifying:

1) Think big: Sometimes its better if you set a theme, like live healthier instead of “lost 10 pounds” because as you know when you start working out you gain muscle and hence weight. Which would be counterproductive of your goal but eventually lead to weight loss. It might get you to give up on your goal because the scale goes up. Think of a theme and do the next step:

2) Act small: Set minor milestones that help you track your progress. For example, be able to run 5miles, or be able to ask for directions in Spanish. Small milestones are the best and personal favourite thing about setting goals – you track your progress! It makes you feel continuously like you are achieving something. And if you don’t achieve your overall goal – at least you order food in Italian!

3) Remember set backs are normal! Some days are good, some days are bad. Breathe and continue the next day. If you want to do Dry January but then have a drink – its not horrible! Just do an extra day in February. Life is constant adjustment to circumstances. As long as you stay focused on your “Think Big” goal, you will get there.

4) Make your goal measurable – have a checklist and write down your act small items and check them off. You need to keep checking in to see if you still want this goal or if you want to adjust it. Adjusting, removing, adapting the goal is totally fine. If its not making you happy and you don’t feel you are growing that is ok. No need to waste energy in something you are not convinced of. Just set another goal and start by point 2.

5) Remember – you set a goal. That is huge. Be proud of yourself where ever your path may take you, you decided to invest in yourself. That’s a step in the right direction – in creating the best version of you.

Oh the Bother

If you are human,  you have probably told yourself this at least once in your life “I shouldn’t let this bother me” or “This thing just really bothers me and I don’t know why”. And other people’s response would have probably been something in the range of: “Don’t let it upset you” or “You are overthinking it”. Well even though that’s probably true, its advice known as “TBU” – true but useless. What will you even do with that information? Like – Ok great, I probably am but just because you said it should stop doesn’t make me stop overthinking or obsessing.

The thing is, the reason you are overthinking something or letting it is usually a really good one. You just may not know it. But it is a good one otherwise it would not linger around. Instead of focusing on the thoughts, try to ask yourself:

“Why does this particularly bother me?”

“What about it triggers me?”

“What do I actually feel besides just being preoccupied? Am I angry, sad, frustrated, feel betrayed..?”

And if your answer keeps being “I don’t know” try making suggestions to yourself. For example “Is what Sue said? If so – what about what she said didn’t I like”. When you find the reason, suddenly the overthinking dies down. It quiets down. The whole reason it is bothering you and your thoughts keep circling is because you are not seeing the real issue. You are obsessing over a symptom and not the cause. Its like, treating a cough when you have a flu. You can treat the cough but the cold will always be there and can be triggered easily and cause other pains. The cough is the one you see and feel, not the flu, but the flu is the main issue you should be tackling.

It is normal that things bother you. And they bother you in order perilously to highlight or bring your attention to a deeper issue. Don’t ignore it. Don’t push your thoughts away. The more you push things away, the stronger they come back. Try instead to understand why they are coming up, what is their foundation and I tell you, it will cure a lot of things.

The most wonderful time of the year?

Even if we actually enjoy the presence of our families, getting through the holidays can be tough. Family comes with a lot of expectations. For some reason, we believe we cannot expect the same from friends as we do from family. Family has a high bar and yet at the same time, we also forgive them the most. Because I guess, they are the ones most likely to disappoint us with the high standards we impose on them.

This is why being around family for a while can be tough. Not only do you have expectations for them, but they towards you. And a lot of the times, past disappointments can be piled up and come out in moments – like when there is alcohol involved. Being around the people closest to you – at least at one point closest to you, can be a double edge sword: They have the ability to make you feel loved the most and have the ability to hurt you the most.

So how do you get through it? The shear amount of people really close to each other that have disappointed one another can just be overwhelming. Here are some easy tips:

1) Take breaks. In the bathroom, in a bed room whatever. Go more often than you think you should. Just check in with yourself and see how you are feeling. Its easy to feel so lost with all these people around you.

2) If you feel lonely – write to a friend. Even if they don’t respond know that there are other people out there that are not your family and are there for you too. You are not limited to that world and that table.

3) Breathe. Take a moment around the table to just check in with your breathing. If you can, just focus on counting your breaths to ten. You can even do it with a smile on your face and pretending to nod. Trust me, this will help you get through any kind of political discussions or jabs. Or even boredom. It’s my secret weapon.

4) Google affirmations on your phone under the table. If you notice any specific feeling arise – like feeling inadequate or anxious or unaccomplished, google that specifically. Its great to get a certain reminder like “I am of value” or “I am doing my best” forces these thoughts into your head. You don’t have to believe them, it just helps to hear them.

5) Don’t listen to what everyone says. We all have our favourite people. Zone out the other ones, just focus on your favourite person in that room and what they have to say. Even if there is really no one that makes you feel amazing, at least one person is the lesser evil or has gone through more pain than you. Say to yourself you will only accept what they have to say. It limits the noise.

With that – I wish you happy holidays and hope you get through it. I follow my 6th advise which is: if all else fails and you are able to, celebrate on your own with your own made family.

There’s a Reason for the Comfort Zone – Don’t Leave It

One of the things I truly love in my life is my comfort zone. Its warm. Its far away from other people. And its tiny. It ends at the edge of my bed. Yet from this area, I feel like I concur the world. I have learned languages, read classics, watched movies that taught me about human kind, finished entire degrees, planned international adventures and spent many hours recuperating from life, charging myself with energy to make sure the next day I can kick ass. Also – guess where I am writing this from? Yes that’s right – my comfort zone. Here is where I feel I gather all the different things that go on in life and I can sort them. Here I feel like I take a minute to figure out what I want and how I feel. This is so to say my office for my life.

So – one of the things I truly hate in my life is the quote: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. Why should it? Is this quote just trying to tell people that the only way you can live life is if you are not living your every day life? Like – grabbing a coffee with a friend, watching your favourite TV show, enjoying a cup of tea – is that not life? Is that not what life is all about? Why is there so much pressure in society to push yourself, to throw yourself in situations that are hard for you? You can grow some much in an area that doesn’t frighten you, haven’t studies shown that encouragement is what helps children learn, not fear?

I guess what the quote is trying to do is make it clear that if you want to feel alive, you have to do something accelerating. Something perhaps that scares you. Something that thrills you. Yet I wonder when it became a thing that life is something outside of your regular everyday life and its little pleasures. People that live life which revolves around traveling the world, are yoga instructors in different countries every couple of months, volunteer in random countries and go sky diving. The rest of us just are given the perception that we just exist. We are told, we are not living, because we are in our comfort zones. Yet I am here to dispute that. Being happy with just your comfort zone – that is an accomplishment. Not that I am saying all the other adventurous stuff isn’t an accomplishment, but the real challenge in life is not being distracting with exciting, scary things. But its about making your comfort zone as thrilling, exciting, energetic, rejuvenating as much as you need it to be.

The quote should not be “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” but “Life is all about that comfort zone”. Who’s with me?

Why You Couldn’t, and Also Shouldn’t but Maybe Would

What I hear a lot from other people is that they feel they should have been a certain way or should have done something different. “I should have done better in that interview” or “I shouldn’t have texted my ex”. There is always this assumption of how something should have been different than it actually was. “I should work out more” or “I should drink less” – I wonder where all these restrictions of how someone should be come from.

Well fun fact – and let me blow your mind: If you could have done better in that interview, you would have. If you could have not texted your ex, you would have, but you clearly wanted to. If you want to work out more, you would. If you wanted to drink less, you would too.

Lets first deal with Should: First rule of thumb, in life,  stop using the useless word should. It is a word that has a lifeless tone of order to it. Some random rule that you cant justify or example, some secret law that you adhere to but don’t even know why. “I should floss more” ok well, we all should, but how much is more? When is it enough? Is there someone who flosses too much? The thing is should has a connotation that you are doing something wrong. Breaking a secret law per say. It is a very strict word and locks you in. Try moving towards words that define an action or wish.”I want to do better in the next interview” or “I would like to text my ex less”. Notice how much more accepting and softer that is. See how it is you taking the steering wheel or your actions?

Now we deal with Could: If you could, then you would. Learn to accept that. A lot of people live with this ideal version of themselves, thinking they could do something. Like “I could have done better in that interview” or “I could work out more”. Well look, if you really could, then you would and you won’t be saying it but doing it. And that’s ok. Maybe you did your best in that interview and you are just too hard on yourself. Maybe you are doing the best you can to work out, and your life or your energy level don’t live up to your own expectations.

Should is a word that feels like you have to adhere to some rule. Could is some ideal expectation that you have put on yourself. In both cases, they are only in your head. Laws are determined “Employees must wash hands before returning to work” not “You should not shoot a person”. Who you are is determined “I am 5ft 7 and love ice cream” not “I could be 6ft and could like ice cream”. None of those sentences need or have a use for “should” or “could”. So neither should you (small pun there, I hope you appreciate it:).