How to reclaim and regain your FREEDOM, and live your life with INTENTION.

Freedom is_Letting go of what other people think of you and listening to your intuition

Let go of the preoccupation with other people’s opinions of you.

One of the most liberating experiences is when you let go of what other people think of you…. Why? Because it’s none of your business what other people think of you! And because when you start carving out the path for your own life you won’t have the time or energy to care what other people think of you. It’s the biggest waste of time and energy to try and make other people like you. You can’t make others like you, even if you tried. They either like you, or they don’t. Listening to other people’s opinions also quietens your own inner voice. Listen to yourself and your own voice, and if you can’t hear it yet, spend some time meditating to help you find it.

Don’t just do things for people if you can’t help them to learn to do it for themselves.

Stop subjugating your needs for others.

If you do things for other people, at the expense of your own needs, it leads to a build up of resentment. Aside from that, rescuing others also does them a disservice. People need to learn and grow from their own struggles in life! So, if you want to do something nice for someone, do it because a) you want to and because the act of doing something for that person is rewarding for you, personally, and b) because it’s actually helping them to be their best self. Don’t just do things for people if you can’t help them to learn to do it for themselves. Most importantly, don’t do things for others because you want their approval or validation. It doesn’t help you to find your freedom, and it definitely doesn’t help them to find theirs either. It simply leads to a pattern of dependence.

Do it for the love, and let go of the fear.

Let go of fear of disapproval, fear of abandonment and fear of rejection. Fear blocks your energy from flowing freely. Doing things out of fear never leads you to a place of freedom and happiness. Genuine fear is there to protect you, but make sure your fear fits the facts before you act on it. Examining your fears is step one… if you are detecting a danger when there isn’t one there then you’re limiting yourself. Ask yourself if your is fear coming from a rational place. If not, then perhaps you need to raise your awareness by practicing mindfulness and sit with it for a bit longer until it passes. Don’t let fear control you. You can gain your power back. When you’re in the driver’s seat of your own life, you can take ownership and responsibility for the direction you choose to go in. Don’t take the backseat and let your fear steer you in the wrong direction.

Find freedom from the shackles of your feelings. Don't be a puppet in your own life.

Live your life with intention.

Don’t walk around on autopilot. Feel your feelings, but evaluate the effectiveness of your actions. Don’t let your feelings control you. Don’t be a puppet in your own life. You only have one life, so live it in line with your values, not your fears. Rise above your feelings and evaluate your actions. Don’t act on toxic feelings and stay stuck in a place that does not serve you or those around you.

Be YOU!

Be you.

Be your authentic, true, genuine self. This is who you were born to be! Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to be that person. Your purpose on this earth is to be who you were meant to be. You are a one of kind, unique person…. this earth needs you, and you were born into this world for a reason. Embrace who you truly are and follow your own passions, dreams and desires. You are stronger, braver and more powerful than you know. Harness and channel the power that was bestowed upon you, and let your light shine!

Freedom is_Taking ownership and responsibility for your life choices.

Own your life and your life choices.

Freedom comes with responsibility. Don’t be a victim of your circumstances. You impact everything and everyone that is connected to you. This is a really big deal! So take responsibility for yourself and your choices and how they affect this world.

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Creativity: What it Means to Me.

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From as far back as I can remember I have always wanted to create art. When I was little and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer boldly, “An artist!” As a child I was always seen with a paintbrush or pencil in my hand. I would sit in my cubby house after school and draw on my blackboard. When my grandparents would babysit me, I’d keep myself busy in their garage by moulding and painting sculptures out of Plaster of Paris, painting papier mâché over balloons, making woollen pom-poms, knitting scarves (my grandma taught me how to knit), painting, drawing, sticking bits of grass, flower petals and leaves onto paper, writing in my journal or dancing on the kitchen bench-top like a crazy lunatic (see exhibit A below)

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Exhibit A: Me as a child dancing on a bench-top like a crazy lunatic

My childhood was one filled with glitter, pipe cleaners, PVA glue, scrapbooks, play dough and paint. Art was my escape and the process of creating it was the most liberating thing in the world for me. This was all, of course, a long time ago… but creativity still is, and has always been, a huge part of my life. I love to express myself through writing, dance, painting, drawing, crafting and making.

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This blog itself is a creative and expressive venture and a way of pushing past the fear and perfectionism. Truth be told, reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, was what inspired me to tap back into my creativity again.

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Why do I write and create?

I’ve been making art my whole life and writing in journals since I was about 10 years old. Writing and creating helps me to make sense of myself and the world; I love the process. I read this quote recently and it rang true for me:

“I don’t know what I think until I write about it” Joan Didion.

Art works for me in the same way. I love the process of creating something out of nothing. I love how art helps me to cultivate new ideas that I never even knew I had. I love how it is healing and releases emotions. I love the magic and unpredictability of it. I love starting off with a blank piece of paper or canvas and the uncertainty of not knowing what the outcome will be. Creating art is fucking scary, but beautiful; it’s true freedom. When I am creating, I feel truly alive.

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Art is a metaphor for life. The language of art and creativity speaks to me in ways that words cannot. Art and creativity helps me to understand who I am. Art making for me is soothing, stress reducing and a way of transcending troubling circumstances and life problems.

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Street art on Degraves St, Melbourne, Aus (Image credit: me)

Creating art softens and opens up my heart and soul.

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Creating art allows me to explore new ideas, concepts and perceptions.

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Creating art allows me to be completely vulnerable, imaginative and free.

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Creating art helps me to unlock my potential and understand the parts of myself that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to make sense of.

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What does creativity, art or writing mean for you? Tell me.

Mindfulness: How to Be Here Right Now.

Be Here Now

Mindfulness is the latest sliced-bread of psychology. It’s all over the media. There are countless books, courses, journals, videos, apps and even colouring books on it! However, I thought it would be worthwhile to give you a summary of what the underlying principles of Mindfulness are, and how you might go about incorporating it into your own life and self-care practice.

Mindfulness has its roots in eastern and Buddhist philosophy. Jon Kabat-Zinn was the founder of the modern form of Mindfulness and he was also the founder of the Mindfulness-based stress reduction clinic. Weirdly enough, Kabat-Zinn is a Professor of Medicine and a Molecular Biologist. Although he has been trained in Buddhist principles, he doesn’t actually follow the Buddhist religion and prefers instead to think of himself as a scientist. He published this big fat bible-like book about Mindfulness in 1991 called Full Catatrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness.  If you want a really deep understanding of Mindfulness and the mind-body connection, I’d highly recommend getting your hands on this book. However, there are some other books around now which are more concise and perhaps easier and quicker to read. I’ll suggest a few of my favourites at the end of this article.

What is Mindfulness?

So, you’re probably wondering, what is Mindfulness about anyway?

Kabat-Zinn reckons it means, “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. Well, that’s the bite-size version!

The purpose of mindfulness is basically to bring a greater sense of awareness to the present moment. When life gets busy, we get so caught up in thinking, planning, remembering and worrying that we often get stuck in autopilot mode and we forget to check in with the present moment. Mindfulness gives us the tools and skills to be able to do this effectively and to gently pull ourselves out of the vortex that is our mind.

It’s important for me to clarify a few points:

The goal of Mindfulness is not relaxation. Although relaxation can be a bonus benefit of engaging in a regular mindfulness practice, it’s not the goal. The thoughts that Mindfulness brings into our awareness are not necessarily always pleasant, however, Mindfulness does help to give us some distance from them, and it also brings a greater sense of acceptance to them.

Acceptance does not mean “liking” or “approving” of what comes into your awareness, it simply means, “sitting with” the thoughts, without a struggle. The struggle with your thoughts is what creates the suffering. Thoughts are just thoughts. It’s getting caught up in them, becoming preoccupied with them and consumed by them that causes problems. You see, as the saying goes, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. You don’t necessarily have a choice about what comes up, but if you notice it, you do then have a choice about whether you engage with it, struggle with it or simply allow it. You don’t have to control it or change it. If it changes by itself, that’s ok, if it doesn’t change, that’s ok too.

The goal of Mindfulness is not to stop your thoughts or to stop your mind from thinking. That is impossible. Not even Zen masters can do this. The goal is to simply notice your thoughts and to bring a greater sense of kindness and compassion to those thoughts. It’s about being open to, and curious to, whatever comes up.

You can't stopthe waves,But you canlearn to surf

Why should I practice Mindfuless?

 Well, why not? Struggling with painful or unpleasant thoughts is not fun! Besides this obvious point, stress is actually quite damaging on the human body. It stops your body from functioning normally. When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is activated in what’s sometimes referred to as the “fight or flight” response. This is an evolutionary response to a perceived danger or threat. Our body cleverly channels all of our energy into fighting or fleeing a danger or threat, and while it does this, the parts of our body that are not needed are simply shut down. This means that our digestive, immune, growth and reproductive systems are all hindered during stressful times. This is a pretty handy thing for our body to do, especially if a tiger is chasing us. It’s a system which is in place to protect us, except that, in our modern lives, this system is being activated by things such as deadlines, running late, fighting with your partner, being cut off in traffic, overworking and other such things. It’s basically turned into a sensitive car alarm, which is going off when it shouldn’t. We all need a little bit of stress to get things done, but when it’s happening too much and too often, that’s when it can be damaging to our mental health and general wellbeing. It can cause stomach ulcers, heart problems, lowered libido and other illnesses.

While stress triggers a fight-or-flight response, Mindfulness activates the parasympathetic nervous system, or the “rest and digest” system. Our heart rate slows, our breathing slows and our blood pressure drops. Mindfulness is therefore restorative and benefits our wellbeing.

The benefits of Mindfulness are also well researched and empirically supported. In fact, a scholarly search on Mindfulness brings up a wealth of empirical evidence to support its benefits, effectiveness and usefulness.

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How can Mindfulness help me?

Reduces Stress. People who practice mindfulness meditation regularly have reported feeling less stressed and more emotionally balanced, and, according to research by neuroscientists, as you continue to meditate, your brain physically changes! How amazing! The part of the brain that reacts to stress was found to be less reactive in those who practiced mindfulness regularly.

Increases creativity. Aside from helping you to feel less stressed, Mindfulness has also been shown to promote creative thinking and to help you to generate more ideas!

Enhances focus and concentration. Mindfulness helps you to focus and concentrate. Being able to focus and defy distraction is linked to our ability to control our impulses, emotions and achieve our long-term goals. Remember, being able to focus on your goals is one of the keys to finding success.

Improves your relationships. Finally, it also improves your relationships. Not just with those close to you, but also with everyone else you meet. As you become more comfortable with yourself, it makes it easier for you to get along with others, and you may find it easier to accept them as they are too. Mindfulness is therefore not only beneficial for you, but also for those around you!

Now that you know about all the benefits of Mindfulness, let’s get on to the practical side of it all…

 How do I practice Mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be practiced formally and informally. The formal practice is usually called Mindfulness Meditation, which I’ll get on to in a sec. Informal practice can be doing things like having a shower mindfully, brushing your teeth mindfully, eating mindfully, going for a mindful walk, or using tools such as the “5,5,5” or the “Stop Practice”, which I’ll also explain in a sec. The important thing to remember is that most of the research on the benefits of Mindfulness is based on the formal practice of Mindfulness Meditation; so scheduling in some time every day to do a formal practice is what’s going to be most beneficial for you. Setting a reminder on your phone may help you with this.

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Mindfulness Meditation

 There are 3 basic components to most Mindfulness Meditations: your body, your breath and your thoughts. First, let’s talk about the body – which also involves our environment and how we set it up for our Mindfulness Meditation. You should be in a comfortable and safe environment. With practice, you should be able to practice Meditation anywhere, but to begin with, pick a relatively quiet space, which is a comfortable temperature for you and where you are not likely to be distracted by others. This may be your bedroom, for example.

Some people like to create a meditation space or “altar” and decorate it with pictures, photos, objects that mean something to you or your meditation practice. Sometimes people like to light a candle or burn incense while they meditate, too. All of this stuff is optional and not essential to engaging in the practice, but it may enhance it.

Before you begin, you may wish to set a timer or alarm. If this is your first time meditating, set it for 5 minutes to begin with. As you continue practicing, you may wish to extend this time to be 10 or 20 minutes.

Now that you have the space and time, you will need somewhere to sit. Some people like to sit in chair; others like to sit on a cushion. The main thing here is that your posture is upright but not too rigid. Your posture should be one that is conducive to alertness and awareness. Remember, it’s not about relaxation, so sit naturally and comfortably but ensure that your back is straight and that there is a natural curve in your back. If you’re in a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the floor. If you’re on a cushion, you can sit with them crossed underneath you. You can place your hands on your knees with your palms facing down, or if you’re trying to cultivate a greater sense of openness, you may like to have your palms facing up. Eyes can be open or closed. If you’re just starting out, sometimes having them partially open and focused on a spot can help to increase your focus and limit distraction from thoughts.

Begin by just sitting in this posture for a bit. Just be aware of your body and any sensations you are experiencing right now in this moment. Notice what you can see and hear. Notice what you are thinking right now in this moment. Notice what you are feeling. Just notice. Remember, your mind will wander. This is ok. When you notice that your mind has wandered, gently bring your awareness back to your body, without judgment.

Next, you will bring your awareness to your breath. Notice your breath flowing in and out. Notice it as it enters through your nose or mouth, fills your lungs with air, and then makes its way back out of the body. Notice your tummy rising and falling. Imagine that you have a balloon in your tummy and every time you breathe in, the balloon inflates and every time you breathe out the balloon deflates.

Just keep your focus on your breath for the next few minutes. Use the breath as your anchor to this moment. Once again, it’s normal and natural for your mind to wander. Simply notice the thoughts, acknowledge them and gently bring your awareness back to the breath. Your mind will wander repeatedly. Every time it wanders, notice it and gently bring it back. You can sit and meditate for as long as you like, or until your alarm goes off to signal the end of the practice. Come out of your meditation slowly and gently.

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When should I meditate?

You can meditate any time you like, but some people prefer to do it first thing in the morning to prepare them for the day, or just before bed to aid with sleep. It’s really up to you when you choose to meditate, how often and for how long.

Informal practice

As I said, you can also practice mindfulness informally…

Try eating a piece of chocolate mindfully. Pick it up. Look at it. Notice the texture in your hand. Bring it up to your mouth. Smell it. Place it in your mouth on your tongue for a few seconds. Taste it. Feel the texture. Bite into it slowly. Feel it melt in your mouth. Savour the taste.

Try going for a Mindful Walk. Take note of everything you see, hear, smell, taste, think and touch on your walk. Notice your stride. Notice the breeze against your cheek. Notice the birds singing. Notice your thoughts. Feel the ground beneath your feet.

Try taking a shower mindfully. Feel the water soaking your skin. Feel the temperature. Feel the texture of your hair as you shampoo it. Every time a thought enters your awareness, imagine it being washed away.

Try the 5, 5, 5. You can do this anywhere, anytime. It’s a grounding practice. Notice 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, and 5 things you can touch. So, right now I can see my desk, drink bottle, notebook, candle, pen. I can hear birds outside, the TV on in the living room, my sister’s laughter, my fingers typing on my keyboard, the clanging of cutlery in the kitchen. I can feel my laptop keyboard, the clothes against my skin, my feet on the ground, my hair touching the back of my neck, and the chair beneath me. This practice is really good for pulling your mind out of quicksand, that is, when you are ruminating or getting caught up in your thoughts about something.

Try the STOP practice. The STOP practice is really good for stopping you when you’re about to react to something – i.e. you’ve just been cut off in traffic. Instead of reacting, you can:

Stop: Literally stop whatever you’re doing.

Take: A few deep breaths.

Observe: Your thoughts, feelings and surroundings

Proceed: In the most effective way.

Try colouring in mindfully. This is the latest craze and it really is a great alternative to the formal mindfulness practice. Just make sure you choose a colouring book with repetitive and simple patterns, so you don’t get distracted easily by the pictures/design and can simply focus on colouring in.

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Some other tools.

My favourite apps on Mindfulness

Headspace is a UK-based Mindfulness Meditation App with guided Mindfulness Meditations.

Smiling Mind is an Australian Mindfulness Meditation App targeted to young people, but it is helpful for all ages.

My favourite books on Mindfulness

Mindfulness for Life by Dr. Craig Hassed and Dr. Stephen McKenzie is a helpful overview of Mindfulness.

The Mindfulness Journal by Corrinne Sweet is handy if you’re wanting to incorporate writing into your mindfulness practice.

The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris is the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy bible.

The Reality Slap by Dr. Russ Harris is helpful for when there’s a gap between what you want and what you’ve got.

The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr. Patrizia Collard is small enough to carry in a handbag.

The Mindfulness Colouring Book by Emma Farrarons is handy if you don’t like formal mindfulness practice. Colouring in can be a helpful alternative.

A final note….

Mindfulness practice is not intended to treat acute stress in the moment, but rather, to be practiced daily over time to reduce your overall level of stress, which in turn will result in fewer acute episodes of stress. It is recommended that you practice these exercises daily even when you are not feeling stressed. If you only practice when you are stressed or anxious, you will not get the full benefit of it. Like any new skill, it takes practice to get the best results. Find a suitable time in your day to schedule in your mindfulness practice and commit to it as a daily part of your routine. Setting an alarm or reminder on your phone may be helpful for this. As you start to see the benefits of your daily practice, you are likely to want to continue with this.

Good luck and enjoy the moment.

Please let me know how you go with it and what you notice.

For bonus points: Go for a mindfulness walk and share what you noticed on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #mindfulnesswithkerry or #thekerryfiles

Authenticity: How your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe.

Authenticity

Being authentic, owning your own story and taking responsibility for your life requires you to let go of seeking approval from others for your life choices, opinions, style, taste and quirks. This is really bloody hard to do, for most people.

Being true to yourself means you must listen to the voice that comes from within that tells you what you like and don’t like and then follow through with that by communicating it, both to yourself and to others.

Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we'll ever do.Brené Brown

It’s really tricky because we all want to connect with others and be liked, but yet, if you constantly chase for other people’s approval, you are compromising your own needs and doubting yourself, which leads to you feeling fragmented. It also undercuts the conviction of your overall message or assertion and leads to other people also doubting you. When you are constantly trying to win fans by giving them what they want, your sense of identity starts to disintegrate. Your identity is what makes you unique and special and is ironically the very thing that will make people like you. It’s that perfect combination of personality traits, opinions, views, style and quirks that makes you, you.

Just be yourself.Let people see the real, imperfectflawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magicalperson that you are.-Mandy Hale.

Authenticity fosters connection. When you have the courage to be yourself, it gives others permission to do the same. It’s nice, and it’s all well and good if you like yourself enough to do that in the first place. However, most people, at some point in their lives, go through the battle of wanting to be authentic, but also wanting the approval of their peers. High school is the typical time when this happens, but it can also happen during other points in your life. Most people have experienced some kind of rejection or criticism, and if it happens that it’s been repeated or consistent, it may starts to erode your self-esteem and confidence. It may start to impact on and change the story that you have formed about yourself. You may start to see yourself through the eyes of your haters instead of through the eyes of your fans. You may start to question and doubt your opinions and you may even try to change yourself to fit in with what you think is more likeable or acceptable. The voice inside of you that tells you what you like and don’t like may start to fade and become softer and quieter and you may even stop listening to it altogether. Indeed, you may even start to become preoccupied by all the things you have said or done, and become hypercritical of yourself. Basically, you may start to lose yourself and feel depressed and anxious because you’re forcing yourself to be someone you’re not. You may have gained yourself a few friends or fans along the way, but the constant appeasing and accommodating is so exhausting, and the connections you have made feel so fake and inauthentic anyway. A crowd of people may surround you, but you feel so alone and empty and it sucks.

One thing I’ve realised in my own life and experience is that not everyone is going to like me. In fact, quite a significant chunk of people don’t like me, and that’s ok. It used to really bother me when I was younger, probably because I didn’t rate myself that highly back then. I really, really, really wanted to be liked, but I also really, really, really wanted to be liked for being me. I was too strong-willed to want to change myself to be the version that other people wanted me to be. Besides, as much as you can try and fit yourself in to be what you think people want or need, it’s impossible to maintain over time; eventually, your true self shines through the façade. What I realised over the years is that the more and more I started to like myself and was comfortable to show my authentic self, the more and more I was able to attract people into my life who were more like me. My vibe was attracting my tribe, so to speak. It was awesome. I realised that I didn’t need to be anyone but myself to be liked. Instead of focusing on my imperfections and trying to change them, I realised that my flaws were perfect for the hearts that were meant to love me. The more I gave myself unconditional positive regard and acceptance, the more I started to attract other people into my life who did. The more I validated my own feelings, the more other people did.

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The point of this story is to share that sometimes we forget that we are all unique and special, and that instead of constantly trying to fit in or be liked, sometimes you just need to be yourself and have faith that the right people will come into your life and accept you for being that perfect combination of unique that makes you, you. When you do things from your soul, other people really dig that shit. So, let yourself be flawed, fuck perfection, fall in love with your life – all of it, and learn to celebrate yourself and love the crap out of yourself! If you want to find out more about how to do that, stay tuned.

How to Find Success in Whatever You Choose to Do

 

BeI often get people telling me how “lucky” I am that I have found success in my chosen career, that I get to do what I love, and that I get to choose the hours I work. Here’s a little secret: my “success” doesn’t come down to luck at all! It was an active choice and commitment, and one that I worked really bloody hard for. I thought I would share a few of my insights and reflections on success, and some ideas about how to be successful in whatever you choose to do.

Define what success means to you.

For some people, success means that they have a job that pays the bills, a roof over their head and food in their belly. For some people, success means they get to do what they love. For some people, success means being famous or having a certain amount of followers, subscribers or readers. For some people, success means earning a certain amount of money. For some people, success means getting a certain qualification. For some people, success means helping people or creating meaningful change in the world.

It’s really important to define what success actually means for you and to have a way of measuring your success. It might be based on monetary gain, it might be based on how it makes you feel, it might be a piece of paper, a publishing deal, a measure of popularity or it might be a combination of the above. It’s also really important that you define what success means to you because you need to know what you’re aiming for. It gives you a sense of direction and focus. It creates a specific and targeted goal to work towards. You may wish to also break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks or goals. As you meet certain benchmarks along the way, you may wish to then adjust your goal(s) accordingly.

While I was studying at uni, there were many times when I felt like giving up. It’s no secret that becoming a psychologist is a long and arduous journey with many hoops to jump through along the way. What kept me going was reminding myself of why I started in the first place. I wanted to understand myself better which in turn would help me understand others better and therefore hopefully help them. I also wanted to create meaningful change in the world and to give my suffering some purpose. Sounds a bit cheesy, egocentric and idealistic, but that’s pretty much the gist of it. The other major thing that kept me going was that I’d shared my goals with my late grandpa, who’d always encouraged me to pursue my academic dreams, and it was one of his dying wishes for me to complete my university education. This leads me on to the next important point, which is to….

Write down and share your goals!

According to a study by Gail Matthews, writing your goals down as well as sharing them with others, was shown to increase the chances of achieving them. As well as giving you a specific, measurable target or benchmark to work toward, writing your goals down or sharing them with others also gives you an action commitment and a sense of accountability. Seems pretty obvious to do this, but how many times have you set New Years Resolutions and then forgotten all about them a few weeks later? Write your goals down and check in with yourself every few months to see how you’re tracking.

Success isn’t a destination.

While I am quite content with where I am right now, I am one of those annoyingly ambitious and goal-driven people that dreams, believes and achieves. The sky’s the limit. If I want my dream job, I get it. If I want to write a thesis, I write a thesis. If I want to start a blog, I start one. Success is a journey, not a destination, so why place limits on yourself? It’s not about being insatiable; it’s about aspiring to be the best you can be. You can certainly accept yourself for where you are right now, but still work toward your next big dream or goal. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful and proud for all that I have already achieved, but I still have so much more that I want to achieve, and I truly believe that I will.

Persistence – “just keep swimming”.

If you really, really, really want something, you have to be prepared to put in the hard work. This means that you must persist! No matter what challenges, hurdles or barriers that you may have to face along the way, you MUST persist because persistence really is one of the most important keys in finding success. Keep going! Don’t stop! Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Even if it is at a snail’s pace, it doesn’t matter! Life isn’t a race, so take it at your own pace, but just keep going! Or, as Dory from Finding Nemo says, “just keep swimming”.

Just-Keep-SwimmingImage Source

Having said that, make sure you’re swimming in the right direction! If you find that you’re no longer swimming in the direction you want to be swimming in then stop. Figure out which direction you need to be going in, and change your course. It’s one thing to be persistent, and another to be stubborn and unwilling to admit when you’ve made a poor choice or chosen the wrong path. It’s ok to re-evaluate your goals and change your mind about things.

Sometimes we have goals, but then when we actually dive in and pursue them we realise they were not right for us. That’s ok too! Sometimes it takes more strength and courage to recognise when it’s time to give up and walk away than to continue fighting a losing battle. It shouldn’t be that hard. You don’t have to stay in a job you hate, a relationship you’re unhappy in or a career that’s unfulfilling. You have options! One door closes and another opens, as they say. You just have to have the courage to make the change. I stayed in a job once that I hated for 6 months and almost sacrificed my sanity, but then the minute I left I found a job that I loved and it all worked out. Sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do because something better is waiting for you around the corner. However, you can never cross the ocean if you don’t have the courage to lose sight of the shore. Change is hard, but it’s also sometimes necessary, especially if you’re stuck in a “comfort zone”. Pip Lincolne talks about how to bounce back from failure in an article she wrote for Dumbo Feather.

You may be wondering, how do you even know if you’re on the right path? Well, it’s about trusting your own judgment, listening to your feelings and responding to them. Doing something you love should create an overall sense of flow, contentment and fulfilment. Yes, there will be challenges along the way, but if you are having more bad days than good that’s usually a pretty good indicator that you’re not on the right path. Also, get to know your limits and set realistic goals. No matter how hard I try; I know I will never be able to fly, for example. Also, sometimes it may be that you need to skill up first, gain a certain qualification, or do some research – so be aware of all the steps along the way, and commit to climbing one step at a time. In other words, don’t run before you can walk.

Consistence

Being persistent is one thing, but being consistent is another. Consistency creates structure, routine and habit, and humans are creatures of habit. I’ve been learning about consistence recently in Pip Lincolne’s Blog With Pip course. In the course, she shares her blog-to-book journey and insights with her students and she reckons that it’s all about consistency. If you want to write a book, for example, you need to commit to writing it Every. Single. Day. She suggests writing 750 words every day until you finish writing your book. Pretty simple, and pretty obvious, no?

If you are persistentYou will get itIf you are consistentYou will keep it

Take informed, educated risks.

This is an important point to clarify because not all risks are equal. People take risks every day in business and in life, however, some risks are well informed and educated, and others are just plain silly. The difference between an informed risk and a silly risk is when the upside outweighs the downside. Think about the best-case scenario for your risk and then think about the worst-case scenario. If the potential downside is limited and manageable but the potential upside is unlimited, you should probably take that risk.

For example, when thinking about starting this blog, I considered the best possible outcome or measure of success, which was for my blog to gain a significant readership, for me to share my ideas, connect with, inspire and help others, and to eventually perhaps write a book based on the ideas shared on the blog. The worst-case scenario was that no one would read my blog and that I’d wasted $20 on buying a domain name. However, I figured that even if people weren’t reading or following along, my time wasn’t being wasted because I still enjoying the process of writing regardless. So, I realised I’d still find some measure of success and enjoyment in the pursuit of this venture even if I didn’t meet all the benchmarks along the way. In this case, the potential downside is limited but the upside is virtually unlimited. It’s a risk worth taking. Steve Pavlina talks more about this, if you’re interested.

Have the courage to face your fears.

Finally, success takes courage. No matter what goal you’re working toward, it takes courage. To be successful you have to conquer your fears, doubts and insecurities, sometimes on a daily basis. It’s normal to feel scared when you’re trying to achieve something. The fear of failure is real, and it’s scary. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about fear and creativity in her new (and awesome) book, Big Magic. For Gilbert, whenever she attempts to pursue any new venture, creativity is always in the driver’s seat and fear is in the back. She reckons that if you let your fear jump into the driver’s seat, your life will be pretty boring. And she’s right, of course. Fear wants to keep us safe, and it has its place, but we can’t let it make all the decisions for us in life.

As Liz says, “Creativity and inspiration are the vehicles that will transport you to the person you most need to become”. – Elizabeth Gilbert.

Social researcher Brené Brown also talks about courage and vulnerability and how we must dare to show up and be seen; to walk into the arena of our lives, whether it be for work, relationships, a difficult conversation, a job interview, or whatever. When you show up authentically, you create the space for others to do the same. Authenticity is a form of vulnerability, but vulnerability is not weakness – it’s courage. So be authentic, be you and believe in yourself – you have what it takes!

Brené reckons that vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change, and I reckon she’s totally right. When I think of all the awesome achievements in my own life, I can definitely see how they were born out of vulnerability.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené shares part of a speech by Theodore Roosevelt. It’s too awesome not to share…

theodore roosevelt quote

I hope you were inspired by some of my ideas, stories and reflections on success and I hope you find success in whatever you choose to pursue. Do you have any success stories you’d like to share with me? Feel free to comment here or chat to me on Facebook.