positivity

A New Year, A New Hope (lol)

Happy 2019 everyone!!! Hope you all made wonderful New Years’ Resolutions that you actually plan on keeping.

I wanted to share with you my New Years’ Resolution for 2019. This resolution is a special one because it’s actually my second year working on it.

Just so you know, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never decided to have the same resolution two years in a row before. However, this one is so important, and while I have made significant progress in it, I am still not where I want/need to be with it, so I am continuing it again.

Last year, I wrote the following:

“This year on my birthday, I decided to have a chill night in and watch Legally Blonde, a movie that I have not watched for a good 10-15 years. I watched it, stunned, as I saw a woman struggle with moving across the country and then not belonging there, and then being eschewed from society with a firm hand.

She’s just like me! I thought. But, Elle Woods handled her situation far differently (and more successfully) than I did; she never lost sight of who she was and she learned to be successful by being herself.

On the other hand, I seem to always lose who I am. I am a very open-minded person, and I am very committed to my own personal growth journey, which is an extremely good/bad thing. Throughout my life, I have been in many different places and met many different people, all with seemingly their own conflicting opinions about who I should be, what I should do with my life, what I should believe, what I should value, and how I should act. I always felt like I needed to adapt and change myself in order to fit in with my surroundings and make friends; plus, the perfectionist in me always strove to improve myself to be a better person so as not to disappoint anybody or put anybody off. You would think that those would be great qualities to have, but I’m really seeing now that they are not good qualities at all. There is nothing worse than having every single group of people or association that you join tell you that you have to change your entire being in order to please them and to fit in.

In my personal experience, I’ve found that with everybody always correcting me, and telling me that I’m doing everything wrong, and that everything about me is wrong, it gets really confusing and disheartening. After awhile, I lost sight of myself because I received such conflicting information from all sorts of different people, and I changed myself to please all of them, and then I didn’t even know who I was anymore. But seeing this movie again made me realize that this year, for my New Year’s Resolution, I resolve to just be myself in all situations, regardless of who I meet or where I end up. The first step is to filter through all this bullsh*t and remember who I actually am and who I want to be (“You used to come here and eat toast…” -Sophie Kinsella).

Let me tell you right now the things I am definitely NOT:
-I am NOT a morning person. Every morning, I hit the snooze button for approximately 1 hour and I am the crankiest person in the world before I have had my first cup of coffee.
-I am NOT a structured time-blocking person. Take your restrictive, boring nature somewhere else.
-I am NOT a Christian. Sorry.
-I am NOT a conservative, discriminatory, judgmental person.
-I am NOT a logic person. I enjoy watching romantic comedies and reading trashy romance novels and crying because they’re so good.
-I am NOT someone who wants to punt everything important to me, compromise my values, and be 100% serious to be successful.
-I am NOT an introvert. I enjoy talking to other people, getting to know other people, and hanging out with other people. THIS IS NOT WRONG, PEOPLE.
-I am NOT someone who likes boundaries. People set boundaries with other people in order to control them, and they have no intention whatsoever of following the other person’s boundaries in return. It’s their way or the highway (I find this to be extremely disgusting and disrespectful).

This is what I AM:
-I am ENFJ personality (I decided. My journey has been ESFP to ENFP to ENFJ to INFJ to INTJ back to ENFJ).
-I am smart and creative, but I care more about being creative than I care about being smart.
-I tend to share entirely too much personal info with other people, and that’s ok. That’s how you build meaningful relationships.
-I give people too many chances because I always want to believe the best in them.
-I believe in Hinduism (dualism) and transcendentalism.
-I am loud and obnoxious and enjoy singing and dancing whenever possible.
-I have a really dry, twisted sense of humor.
-I have a work hard / play hard philosophy.
-I will tell you the truth if you need to hear it, and that is NOT RUDE.
-I love all people, regardless of their race, gender, age, and sexual orientation.
-I believe that it’s possible to change yourself if you change your mind. I am literally walking proof of this, so if anybody else wants to quote Einstein at me and say that it’s impossible to change yourself without outside help, you can go f*ck yourself.
-My purpose in life is to be a musician and writer, and to help other people through sharing my experiences and teaching them to love art.

So anyway, that’s it. I am a flawed, imperfect person and that’s ok. 2018 is the year I fully embrace myself for being myself, and I will no longer change myself or adapt to try to fit in with people who just don’t value me. If Elle Woods can do it, so can I. Happy New Year!”

That being said, I did learn, over the past year, that:

  1. It is not healthy to snooze for 1 hour every morning and I am currently working on breaking this bad habit.
  2. While I am neither conservative nor discriminatory, I can at times be highly judgmental of others.
  3. I do lead with my emotions but I can also back them up with logic. I am actually quite practical! Who would have thought.
  4. Good people who have a giving heart will do boundaries correctly. I had to see it to believe it, but there are actually people out there who will both set boundaries correctly and then also respect the boundaries of others in return.
  5. Most people, unfortunately, are unreceptive to blunt and direct feedback. For it to be effective, you have to add some flowers.

Everything else still applies and I stand by it.

Over the past year, I have become much stronger in myself, who I am, what I believe, what I value, and what is right/moral/ethical. However, I still often feel like I have to compromise those things in order to gain other people’s approval. Thoughts I continually think to myself:

  1. Even though I hate the rigidity of structure, I haven’t been able to find the same efficiency as a spontaneous person. Hmm, what to do…
  2. I still need to take some time and occasionally watch romantic comedies and read trashy romance novels and cry. Not to mention, sing and dance and harmonize and do arts and crafts and take long walks in nature.
  3. It’s really, really hard to become an extrovert again after you have been acting like an introvert. Sorry. Working on it.
  4. Still learning how to be vulnerable and share stuff and have it all turn out ok in the end. Hopefully this post goes over well.

Generally speaking, 2019 will be the year that I finally become comfortable in my own skin. I will truly embrace myself for being myself, flaws and imperfections and all. I will learn how to be myself despite pressure from others who want me to change. I will be able to retrain my thinking of personal growth from perfectionism to mastery and be able to distinguish a good change from a bad change. This will be the year that I will shine bright like a diamond.

The Rumination Antidote

Do you find yourself continually lost in thought? Do you find that as you go about your daily business at work, at home, or out with friends, negative thoughts seem to intrude into your consciousness and distract you from being present in the moment? Do you find that your mind swirls uncontrollably as you recount past negative experiences, one after the other? Once you start, do you find it impossible to stop and feel as though your mind has completely taken over?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could suffer from rumination. Side effects of rumination include anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, health problems, selfishness, and sour relationships. If you are prone to ruminating, don’t worry. The good news is that you’re not alone — and I know the secret antidote!

For many years, I myself suffered from rumination. When something bad happened in my life, I found it nearly impossible to move on from it because I felt like my mind kept mulling it over and over and over and over. Even if something bad happened three years previously, my mind would ruminate about it like the bad event had happened yesterday. There was no escape! I felt like my mind was continually holding me as a prisoner. For many years, I felt helplessly enslaved to my own mind.

It took me a long time, but eventually I realized that the situations that happened in my life were not the problem. The problem, I discovered, was that I kept ruminating about the negative situations in my life. It was the ruminating that paralyzed me from moving forward, not the events themselves.

Once I understood this, it took me awhile before I discovered the secret antidote. Eventually, I discovered the antidote in a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. In this book, Carnegie describes the critical thinking method, which is by far the most invaluable piece of advice that I have ever received in my life. By practicing critical thinking every day, I was soon able to gain control of the thoughts that continually swirled around in my mind and I was able to think of solutions to move forward. Not only that, but I could actually take action; as a result, I could cease thinking about the same problems over and over again.

So how does it work?

Good critical thinking skills employ the following steps:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are my goals?
  4. What are all solutions to the problem?
  5. What is the best solution to the problem?

All you have to do to unpack a problem– ie) controlling the swirling thoughts that ruminate around in your mind– is to sit down and write out the answers to these questions on a piece of paper.

Absolutely revolutionary. What. A. Genius!

Not only does the critical thinking method allow you to remove the thoughts from your mind, but it also allows you to unpack the problem and actually think about solutions to the problem. In addition, it helps you to reframe your mind from one of negativity (thinking about a problem) to one of positivity (thinking about your goals and solutions). Huzzah!

Once you practice critical thinking, then you will start to really think through the decisions you make. Eventually you will become so good at this that you will start to make really good decisions on your own. Consequently, you will rely less on other people’s advice and perspective and rely more on your own. As a result of this, you will build a self worth and a trust in yourself simply because you have the knowledge that you can make great decisions all by yourself.

When you think about it, rumination is actually a combination of 1) anxiety, 2) unforgiveness, and 3) victim mentality. People who ruminate frequently are paralyzed with fear of taking action because they do not know how to avoid repeating the same negative event or circumstance again in the future. People who ruminate frequently are simply blaming other people or circumstances for their own misfortune in life. They do not know how to move forward because they are stuck in the same bad circumstances from the past, as bitter victims.

As I learned, the best way to un-stick yourself from the past is to learn how to forgive the people who hurt you and to cultivate an accountability mindset. Learn how to examine the situation from both sides to determine what role you played in causing your own current situation of misfortune and then learn how to grow from it. Improve yourself to be better or to act differently so that you can avoid similar misfortune in the future. Lastly, cultivate a mindset of accountability and responsibility.

Remember: You, and you alone, are responsible for your current circumstances and your life. If you do not like something, then think critically about it and then take action to change it. This is the secret antidote.

 

Align Your Purpose(s)

In my last post, Become a Master of Time Management, I discussed how to organize your schedule for maximum efficiency. Not only that, but I gave advice on how to incorporate your “sub-goals,” or daily habits, into your schedule in order to work towards achieving your life goals. But what do you do when you have multiple life goals that all seem to conflict and collide with each other? How do you move forward in all areas when you seemingly need 28 hours in a day instead of 24? Read on for some tips on how to Align Your Purpose(s).

For me personally, I have always been double-, triple-, even quadruple- and quintuple-minded. As a musician, writer, and business entrepreneur, I have always had many goals and ambitions for myself and my life. In addition to my professional goals, I also wanted to prioritize the more common and widespread goals of living a long life and being a responsible person. As a result of this, I have always found it hard to focus on and prioritize just one thing.  So confusing! No wonder I had issues fitting everything into the same day.

To make matters even more confusing, when I first started thinking about goals and time management, I was trapped in a standard 9-5 corporate job which actually ended up taking over my entire life. I therefore had no time or energy left over to actually work on my goals at all. In spite of this, I stayed at my job because “I needed to earn money to pay my bills so that I could work on my passions, goals, and dreams.”

Unfortunately at that time, I did not understand the vital flaw in this logic. Maybe I did understand it on a subconscious level, but that didn’t mean that I actually knew what to do to fix it. The result was increasing frustration, irritation, and helplessness with my life on the surface and not understanding what was causing it.

Step #1: Prioritize Your Values

The first thing I did solve this problem was to compare my ideal list of values (how I would like to spend my time) with my actual values (the way that I was actually spending my time). My lists looked like this:

My ideal values:

  1. Living a long life
  2. Music
  3. Writing
  4. Business
  5. Job
  6. Housework

My actual values:

  1. Job
  2. Living a long life
  3. Business
  4. Housework
  5. Music
  6. Writing

Writing these lists, as you can see, was pretty jarring. It woke me up to the fact that I was, for the most part, prioritizing all the “responsible” aspects of life and was not really delving into either of my passions. No wonder I felt so frustrated and unfulfilled! I decided to do something about it.

Step #2: Quit Your Day Job

I know, this decision is not for everyone. That being said, it was definitely the right decision for me. I realized that if I wanted to live a life of true authenticity, I needed to make my music and writing more of a priority. So I rid myself of the largest time-sucker of all: the 9-5 job. Once I quit my job, I decided to earn money as a professional musician and as a business entrepreneur.

Once I quit my job, I felt much more comfortable and secure in the fact that the life that I was living was far more in alignment with my values than it had ever been previously. That being said, I still struggled with music goals vs business goals, and I hardly ever had time to write.

What was causing this problem? Each category had its own goals, sub-goals, and daily habits, there turned out to be not enough hours in the day to prioritize everything at the same time. Even though I tried my best to streamline, combine, and shuffle things around, I still felt too overwhelmed to fully focus on everything at the same time because I felt like I was way too overly extended to be successful in everything.

For example, I would make some success with my music in piano, but then my viola would suffer. Or I would prioritize my viola and my piano would suffer. Or I would have it on track with both instruments, but then I would never go to the gym. Or I would have the gym on track at the same time as the housework, but not do any music. Or I would have the gym and both instruments on track but neglect the housework. That’s not even mentioning my writing or my business. Sheesh.

See? Too many variables. No good. All it did was make me upset with myself for not being able to consistently follow through on anything because I had too many things going on at the same time. Because of this, I still felt deeply unsettled and unsatisfied. While I had made a large amount of progress, I had not yet achieved perfection (lol).

Step #3: Establish Mutual Purpose

Next, I decided to really look into each category and see if they were all truly important to me. Then I asked myself why they were so important to me and what was my purpose that was driving me towards completing goals in each area.

When I answered these questions, I still said that yes, all of these things are f*cking important. Clearly. Even though I still wished that I could hire a personal assistant and/or marry a hot husband who did all the housework, so that *I* didn’t have to be the one to do it, it was still important to me that someone did it.

Housework aside, what was really interesting when I completed this step was that I actually did manage to establish a mutual purpose behind my goals of living a long life, music, writing, and business.

My Mutual Purpose:

  1. I want to overcome to become. I want to overcome the negative, toxic, and scarcity experiences from my past to become a happy, healthy, and wholesome person who lives a life of abundance.
  2. I want to use my knowledge and experience to help others overcome negativity and toxicity and also live happy, healthy, and wholesome lives. I want to break others out of scarcity mindset and help them also live lives of abundance.

I was both relieved and pleased to discover that I was actually using three different channels to achieve the same mutual purpose. However, this still did not solve my problem of not having enough hours in the day and not being able to achieve long-term consistency in any category.

Step #4: The One Thing

While I had established that all of my goals were noble and that they all did serve the same mutual purpose, I had to take a good, hard look at each category to determine the order and the level of impact for each. Which one category allowed me to facilitate success in the other categories? Which category helped me the most in my own overcoming and healing process? Which category helped me the most in my quest to help others?

Another way of thinking about it is like a row of dominoes. Which domino is the most powerful that, if you could knock it down, it would result in the others also falling down? This is what I set out to find.

When I completed this step, the results were pretty shocking. I realized that while in the past I had achieved great success in my overcoming and healing process through my writing, I actually was now currently achieving better results with my personal growth through my business opportunity. While I still enjoyed writing, I realized that it no longer served me to write novels the way that it did in the past. Thus I decided to put novel writing on-hold for the time being and instead write about personal growth in this blog. See what I did there?

For my music, I realized that while I am currently making a difference with my students and with my performances, I will be able to make even more of an impact when I have the funding available to create my own Grand Performance Academy. In starting my own music academy, I will have control of the environment and culture, so that I can ensure that I am only teaching students (and parents) with the right attitude and mindset of abundance. Therefore, in order to become more selective with my music, I realized that I needed to first focus on building my business. The change and movement that I will make in the music industry will therefore be a byproduct of the results of building my business.

As a result, I decided to focus and concentrate first and foremost on building my business. Not only does building my business help me with my first goal of overcoming to become, but it also helps me in my quest to help others overcome to become. Not only that, but down the line I can make an even greater impact and change in the music industry once I have the finances in place to be able to do so.

Therefore, my order of priorities has now shifted to the following:

  1. Living a long life
  2. Business
  3. Music
  4. Writing
  5. Housework

Which therefore made it possible to streamline all of my daily habits and fit them into a 24-hour day, actually even less-than. Ironically, since making the decision to focus more on my business, I have since spent more time playing my instruments, going to music concerts, and writing. I call that a triple-minded success!

Welcome to ‘Find Your Balance’!

Do you feel like you are completely and utterly overwhelmed by all of life’s demands? Do you find that you are stressed out beyond belief trying to take proper care of yourself, at the same time as managing your to-do list, at the same time as working full time? Do you find yourself truly unable to cram everything into a twenty-four hour day and instead wish that you had thirty hours in the day (or maybe a personal chef, maid, and assistant to take care of the chores)? Do you find yourself continually resentful of the people closest to you, having fight after fight with them that never gets resolved, and then ruminating about the problems for months afterward? Do you consistently find yourself in the midst of a crisis that you didn’t see coming, and then do you have to delegate hundreds of unpleasant hours afterward cleaning up your own mess? What if you do have a plan to set yourself up for success in all areas of life, but then find yourself not wanting to follow through on your own schedule and instead end up curling up on the couch, watching a romantic comedy, and shoving chocolate down your throat as you break down in panicked misery?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, this blog is for you!

Oftentimes, we feel overwhelmed by life because our lives are not in balance. Who can blame us? There’s so much that goes into taking care of ourselves properly and taking care of our responsibilities. From mental, physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual well-being, to working to pay our bills, to taking care of our homes, it is no wonder that we are overwhelmed by life. As if all that weren’t enough, we also need to maintain good relationships with our loved ones and be selfless, giving people. With all of that on our plate, how do we even have time to focus on our passions in life and work toward achieving our life’s purpose? How is it possible to find the balance between being productive in all areas of life and relaxing?

In my new blog, Find Your Balance, I will explore with you the idea of a balanced life. I will discuss the importance of self-care, mindset and attitude, maintaining good relationships, thinking, time management, and alignment. Before you know it, you will be a master of balance in your own life! To learn more about specific balancing tips in each area, read on to my next post, “The Six Main Self-Care Areas for Adults.”