I’m at the crossroads…now what?

Very often in our lives we find ourselves standing at the major crossroad, not knowing which way to chose. Crossroads can be scary & difficult yet enticing because they introduce an opportunity & excitement. Even if danger may be nonexistent, the choice feels dreadful to make and hangs over our heads before, during and even after a decision has been made. Some major decisions come unannounced & without anticipation. Changes or transformation can be gradual or it can be sudden. It comes as no surprise that choices often cause a lot of anxiety. It can either make you or break you. Deep inside we know there is a lot at stake. However, making the right decision can really pay off in the most rewarding way. But if it’s the wrong choice, we are filled with regrets.

When you hit a crossroad or life altering choice, counsel with someone who can be objective & non bias.  Whomever you chose to confide in, keep in mind that you are only collecting data. This person will not & cannot make a decision for you. Have an open mind. You might hear an advice that you wouldn’t even consider. Important element to think about is to follow your heart, your passion, your talents and the outcome you’d like to accomplish. Also, don’t ignore your gut feeling. The feeling that keeps you up at night. That could be your gut talking. Approach the crossroads lightly but head straight for it at full force. Otherwise the path might be chosen for you. The decision might be forced upon you if your time is up. In Alice in Wonderland, when Alice meets the Cheshire Cat for the first time. She asks him which way to go. In response, he asks her where she wants to go. She answers “It doesn’t much matter”. To which he says “If that’s the case, then take any road and eventually you will arrive somewhere”. The same can be said about decisions. If they are not firm or precise, they may lead you to an outcome, but likely not the one you wanted. Have a desired result- the end game of what do you want to accomplish.

During the process embrace the idea of change & see what happens. Unknown can be scary but you can start an entirely new life. Don’t oscillate between “holding on” & “letting go”. Chose curiosity over fear. We actually learn about ourselves from difficult experiences. I have lived thru it more than once & each experience was quite liberating. I connected with my intuition which is strength of mine. My intuition only fails me when I decide against it. If I follow it, I know that my values will not be intact. Once I made that one crucial decision, opportunities started to present by itself. So be true to yourself. Do some soul searching if time permits. Don’t make decisions to please someone else & do not settle for less.   

We might not always welcome changes that disrupt our stability & turn our world upside down. No matter how grim the situation is, unfortunately things happen when they happen. But there is always a silver lining. You just need to find it. Don’t be afraid to try new things even if they might be challenging at first. You might discover new paths in life, you don’t yet know exist.

L.

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – J.K. Rowling

Are you experiencing setbacks in life? Time for new beginnings!

I never thought that I would be a victim of starting new life after 40. That phrase always sounded like a cliché to me. (The truth about clichés is, they’re usually right). Two years ago, I heard the exact saying from someone close- “Hey, life begins at 40 right?!”  The irony is, this was said at my 40th birthday party. I didn’t want the party to begin with but I decided to have one so my friends could hang out. At the end, I paid the bill & went home.

It took me a while to get myself together but one night I realized that new beginning after life altering events, at any age, doesn’t have to sound so gloomy. I mean, just because the relationship status changed and perhaps  the place of residence, it doesn’t mean that life can’t still be fabulous & fulfilling. It doesn’t mean that happiness just reached its expiration date. We had decades to guide us & shape our persona so we definitely know who we are!

First step is to learn how to live with yourself. You always were and always will be in the relationship with YOUrself, so simply- get comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid to be alone & don’t wait for someone to occupy your life. It will be a chance to discover who you really are. Learn to love your life detour. It’s not a bad thing. Every detour, every new road teaches you something new. Every. Single. Time.

Second step is -don’t let your emotions to take over. It’s all about you now but your emotions can’t dominate you. You have to dominate your domain. Assign lots of quiet hours & be the most productive during those hours. Come up with the plan & structure for the foreseeable future. You will be amazed how much we need the serenity & what a luxury it is nowadays. That’s when you can hear your own thoughts & visualize your dreams. Tranquility is a sound of creativity. Before you know it, that bucket list of yours will be longer & more realistic.

Keep a journal of your private thoughts & read it often. Pour your heart into it. No one will read it anyway. Say & write what you want. Be brutally honest. Leave the emotional residue on the paper.

Make room every day to pray or meditate if you are a believer. It helps to talk to someone who’s bigger than you & the life itself. Say what you want or what you have to in your own words.

Acknowledge & discard toxic emotions. It takes a while to distinguish what they are, especially if those emotions were part of your everyday life.  It might take a while to identify them. You might have to spend some time alone to start noticing the difference. Toxic emotions might lead you to toxic people. End relationships that steal your joy.

Lastly..buy flowers. Lots of flowers!  Flowers are joyful to the eye and soul. They make any room pretty.

It might take a while for your epiphany to kick in, but it’s up to you to embrace it. You have an extraordinary chance to live the life you truly want. You’re in the front seat so enjoy the ride.

L.

“We need setbacks, we need things to overcome. They are the essential building blocks that shape us into the people we become” – Gary Numan

The Power of Gratitude

Grat·i·tude /ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/

Noun: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude is an appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel unnatural at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. We tend to forget our benefits & to count our blessings daily. We start to think that we are owed from others, that life owes us something and that we deserve things. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful is also to pay it forward.  Show appreciation by simple acts of kindness such as giving to charity. Giving back doesn’t have to be monetary. Volunteer instead. For many people the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others. It puts more value on it.

Don’t be picky- appreciate everything. Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Write Thank You notes. Hand-write them if you can. Put a personal touch on gratitude. Hand writing of any kind is a dying breed. Practice gratefulness. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier. It is hard to be negative about your situation when you are thinking about things for which you are grateful.

How did you miss the bus of gratitude? Perhaps your life became more of a routine & you simply stopped paying attention. Maybe you’re taking things for granted because it’s actually hard to stop & recognize things we have.  We start to view life through shades. This sounds obvious and simplistic, but it’s a plain truth that expressing more gratitude makes us feel more grateful.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Behind every problem lies an opportunity. Being grateful – even if you don’t like your current situation – allows us to be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new.

L.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah

Electronic device- friend or foe?

It appears that we live in an era of digital distraction. Technology is used in every aspect of our lives. Everywhere you look people are on their phones. It’s even replacing books. Electronic addiction can grow from healthy, to compulsive to addictive. Just as there are healthy and unhealthy ways to eat, there should be daily decisions about the use of technology. Speaking directly to people is becoming less & less popular. Everyone is texting each other instead. I see a family eating dinner and no one is talking to each other.  We are surrounded by toxic & destructive behaviors. Our lives are structured to be loud & busy because we are either scared or don’t know how to be quiet & alone. It’s holding us back- physically, socially & mentally. Technology makes us lazy. Electronic devices create social isolation & block real life interaction. Younger generation doesn’t know how to establish an eye contact. Young men don’t know how to interact with their date and have a simple conversation. We gave up our identity, privacy & security. Do you remember when parents would scold us for sitting too close to the television? They warned us that the screens would rot our brains and we would go blind. When cell phones came out, everyone said the radiation from them was damaging our brain cells. Is it now true? On the flip side, there’s something to be said for an era in which counting our steps has become trendy. While physical shape is not as important to as many of us as it should be, tech devices has made fitness a lot more fun & creative.  It also provided some positive opportunities for the long-term health improvement.

The point is to find the right balance. It’s not quite possible to remove the technology to avoid all the risks. Find alternatives.  Go old school once in a while- it feels great. Turn of your phone for some time & reboot. Eliminate distractions. Find a hobby. Go to the library instead or read an actual book. Every time I go to the library, the world slows down. I love staring at old books. When you’re meeting with people, give them undivided attention. Talk, listen, have an eye contact & human touch. You might not see them again. Look outside the window occasionally, take a deep breath & just observe the world & foliage. Relax.  You’ll discover peace & calmness within when you let tranquility into your live.

L.

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for few hours” – Elton John

Do we live in society of “easy”?

Believing that life should be easy and straightforward often leads to dissatisfaction, un-fulfillment and sadness. You might find certain parts of life challenging where other people seem to sail through. Finding shortcuts in life can become a fault or character defect. Wouldn’t it be easy if there was some switch we can flip? An App we could use?

It’s natural to want the good & easy things in life without paying the price. We want to lose weight but don’t want to exercise or sacrifice your favorite foods- so we give up. We want the promotion but don’t want to put in extra hours or effort- so we stay in a miserable job. Research shows, that having a sheltered childhood that involved a lack of exposure to difficulty and challenge, often means that when we face any level of hardship in adulthood it feels unfamiliar and intolerable. Relationships end because they feel too difficult, careers are cut short when it gets too hard, family dramas that could be resolved are swept under the rug and challenging opportunities aren’t taken. Believing that relationships, outcomes, feelings, people and careers should be a certain way is one of the reasons why it becomes a road block when you find something challenging. We start to say “maybe this isn’t for me?” We have a deep belief that easy is better. It is not better. Success is not defined by “easy”. Every success & accomplishment has a price tag. You can’t just follow the yellow brick road. We want everything to be perfect. We want our ideas to be big ones. We hope to get everything right the first time. We want to make millions with the first business venture. We ignore the fact that we never owned a business before. We ignore the fact that we never created anything new before except for maybe a dinner idea. We ignore the fact that by expecting perfection we create impossible reality. We often think that since perfection will never happen, why bother pursuing an idea, so we don’t even begin. Be careful asking for an easy life. Easy life is not worth examining. Easy life creates a routine & monotony. Dreams have gone unfulfilled. Business ideas are not implemented. Relationships stay miserable. Friendships are undiscovered. Instead of making a huge splash, we just dip our feet in the water. No one’s life is easy. Not your rich neighbors, not your colleagues, not your friends, not even your social media friends despite posting photos and status updates that make it seem like their life is one big vacation. Instead of wishing for easy life, wish for skills to handle life. Problems will always going to happen. Be prepared to move a lot of dirt in life. Picture gold miners. The more dirt they dig through- the more gold they find. Bottom line- success doesn’t come easy- so keep digging.

L.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”- Bruce Lee

You settled for less

“The only difference between you & someone you envy is, you settled for less”. Dr. Phil

I came across this quote twice in my life. The first time I heard it I was convinced that Dr Phil was watching me from a hidden camera. It felt like he was observing me, whispered the quote into my ear, and left me to figure out the rest. I have to admit that it made a small impact but I didn’t think much of it. Every now & then I would remind myself of it but again didn’t make a big deal about it. Years went by and I continued to live uneventful & tedious life.  I noticed however that my life started to irritate me, make me sad & I began to suffocate. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong but each day I felt less & less happy. I did however put a good face to a bad game. I adore & respect Megyn Kelly and I was very excited when her book “Settle for more” came out. I was reading it & all of the sudden there it was. Same quote starring at me, right into my face: “the only difference between you & someone you envy is, you settled for less”. I have those words pinned to the wall in my office. I look at it daily. Megyn went on explaining how it was an eye opener for her & I recall the time froze on me. I felt paralyzed. I kept reading it over & over sitting straight up in my bed as I discovered world’s greatest secret. This time I knew it was meant for me to see it. I knew right there that I did settle for less. It felt like an intervention. I couldn’t sleep that night. Time to re-examine my life I thought. I was afraid that if I didn’t act on it now, I would miss out in life. This wasn’t a coincidence.

 I reached deep into my heart & soul and started visualizing my dreams. I categorized it as short & long term but I stayed realistic. Some changes required immediate action & some remained on the list for a while. Warning, dreams also come with setbacks. I have accepted mine as part of the process instead of giving up on everything all together. Setbacks build patience and perseverance. I adjusted my attitude and started working on myself & the emotions that caused my unhappiness. I pretty much created an improvement plan. It is crucial to stick to it & give yourself a deadline. Continue to visualize your dreams and don’t betray your authenticity. Few months went by and I started noticing how my attitude changed. I made small steps towards small goals at the beginning. All of the sudden I became curious of how much more I can stretch my ambitions. Turned out that opportunities were endless. My future was 100% in my hands. I stayed consistent with the plan because only consistency leads to personal transformation. I did experience hurts & fails during my journey. Big ones. The truth is, the more hurts & disappointments you experience- the more challenges & fears you can face. Important is to honor commitments to yourself. Don’t make excuses because excuses are dream killers. Be specific & commit to it. If you truly want to send an earthquake through your soul, when you know it’s time to make a change- you will somehow figure out the way to make it happen. Don’t let the dreams scare you. Devote your time, your energy & money if necessary. Be true & honest with yourself.  Otherwise it will not work. And remember, settling for less is not an option! L.

“…I have been asking myself some tough questions. Ones I’m not sure I want the answers to. I fear screwing up my life. Why can’t I be satisfied with what I have? Because, in my heart, my soul, I want more. I hope I have the courage to listen to myself. I hope I figure out what settling for more means in my personal life and have the strength to do whatever it takes to have a full, meaningful life….” “Settle for more” – Megyn Kelly

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Happiness has many definitions. Generally we tend to get happy if we get what we want. Unfortunately that is not how life is designed. Struggles are real, pain is real, stress is real. Throughout this journey of life, you will hit rock bottom from time to time.  Life may knock you right out; so? It happens! Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. Now I know this may sound like a cliché, (the thing about clichés is that they’re typically true)but try to learn from difficult times. Dissect an ugly situation & see what went wrong. If the story repeats itself you’ll know how to minimize the impact. Otherwise it’s pointless to learn from the difficult times if what you learned doesn’t affect your actions. Your emotions should be focused on things that are within your control. Don’t dwell on things that you have absolutely no power. Don’t let worry to become a chronic source of anxiety in your life. It’s a waste of energy because outcome will be the same whether you worry about something or not. Most of the time, our worries don’t pan out. That’s because worry is often created by our imagination, and it rarely originates in fact or truth. Eventually, we realize that worry doesn’t prevent tomorrow’s troubles, it just robs today of its joy. Be grateful for what you have. Gratitude should be the barometer of good things you have in your life vs bad. Share your thoughts with trusted friend or family member. Loved ones can be a great source of support & can provide different perspective. Look at your worries closer & asses if you’re being realistic. Learn how to relax. It can be through breathing exercises, yoga, meditation etc.

I will wrap up with the quote from the book “Settle for more” by Megyn Kelly. I personally adore Megyn & her book could not come in a better time for me. Few years ago I had to make some of the hardest decisions in my life. Her book was an eye opener for me on many levels.

“You can use the difficult times to shore yourself up, to prove to yourself you can handle anything, or you can lament your bad luck and cry in your soup about life being unfair. One is productive, and the other, most certainly, is not. Though times can be stressful, but they also have a way of centering us, of shining a light through the darkness…The hard times remind you it is possible to change your life. To do better. To be better. To settle for more”

L.

“In every life we have some trouble; But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy” – Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

Don’t be so hard on yourself

While growing up we all heard a phrase “Is this the best you can do?” or “Only a B and not an A?” Now in life whether we’re launching new business, new career or new projects we tend to get hard on ourselves & apply the same thinking process.  As a result we end up being our own worst critics and enemies. We let fear & doubt to take over and we start coming up with resistance, excuses and eventually we abandon the project. More than once I thought to myself “This is such a waste of time”, “I’m not good with this & it will fail me”, “I’m too old”..Sounds familiar? I have mentioned this already, as soon as you start to think that something is a waste of time or you’re not ready, it means you should go for it. Now! So what if you fail. Failure is part of live and we are going to experience it. We have to experience it. More than once. There is no learning process otherwise. You will never learn if you don’t make mistakes. I wrote about failure in my previous blog.

Don’t compare yourself to others because you’re not them. You are you and your projects are unique and you came up with it. Stand up for your ideas & put your unique spin on it. Only you can see it the way it supposed to be created. So respect your desires & make it happen. Shift to a determined, creative mindset. You owe it to yourself! There are always lessons learned with criticism as long as it’s constructive. Learn from your critics. But don’t allow people who didn’t create or accomplish anything to criticize you or give you advice. Don’t allow ridicule in your life either. Remember, there is no such thing as perfect. You can always get better with what you do but you will never be perfect. Don’t let the circumstances control you. Someone said that fear is the enemy of inspiration. So sleep with the enemy. Have a relationship with it. Create smallest goals possible first. Aim high but start low. Series of small successes is better than no successes at all. And don’t forget to scream if it’s too much. But don’t be so hard on yourself.

L.

“Success is falling nine times and getting up ten”- Jon Bon Jovi

The “F” word

It’s the F-word that everyone fears the most in life- Failure. Everyone fails in life. At one point or another, you’re going to suffer failure & disappointment (if you haven’t already). I myself failed numerous times. I experienced failure in almost every aspect of my life. And you know what- I wouldn’t want it any other way. If I had a chance to alter my past, I wouldn’t take any of it back.

Failure, as painful as it might be, allows us to unlock great potential. Failure shapes our character, our DNA, our core, our stamina. It resets our perspective on life, money, relationships, love, friendships, work…whatever it might be. Disappointments always have take-ways & lessons learned. If there is nothing to learn from the experience & it has no effect on you- it wasn’t as bad as you think it was. If you spot a potential failure on the horizon, let it happen. Let it crash, let it explode, let it collapse. You might cause more damage to yourself by changing a dynamic in the midst of it. But, it is entirely up to you, a person who failed, to see this as an opportunity to embark on a new direction.

Failure is the greatest teacher. You cannot live a life by always playing safe & staying under radar. It’s an uneducated & un-experienced existence.  You are potentially repeating same unsuccessful steps only not to cause any waves. Accepting possible failure is a key to taking on a variety of challenges, whether you’re reinventing yourself by starting new career, new business, new relationship or even allowing yourself to trust another person.

I advise you to shake your mind & allow yourself to fail. And yes, you will feel embarrassed, especially if you are used to succeeding a lot. But there are no successes in life without utter failures.

L.

“You are built on failure. Use it as a stepping stone and close the door on the past. Don’t try to forget the mistakes, but don’t dwell on it.” –Johnny Cash

Anger- useless emotion & waste of time!

Anger is one of the basic human emotions such as happiness, sadness, anxiety, or disgust. We’ve all experienced anger & we’ve all know the feeling: arrhythmia, higher blood pressure, frowning that causes irreversible wrinkles. Anger is the rage that rises when a car cuts us off  and we just want to flip the bird, it’s the call being put on hold, it’s when things simply don’t go our way…we can come up with endless examples. Anger doesn’t dissipate just because it is unleashed; in fact, it can reinforce and deepen into rage. It prepares us for a fight, a battle, an emotional war. It can erupt into hostile, aggressive, or even violent behavior toward others.

I tell you, anger is a useless emotion & waste of time. Anger only depletes energy and leads to loss of perspective and judgment. Anger decreases our productivity level. The angrier we get the more control we lose of our mind, focus & energy. Our muscles stiff, our bodies  paralyze & our nervous system is completely derailed. Anger itself isn’t a problem- it’s how you handle it. Cognitive restructuring (simply put) means changing the way you think. Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, it won’t make you feel better and may actually make you feel worse. Logic should defeat anger, because anger, even when it’s justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. If you have a bad day, remind yourself that the world is “not out to get you,” you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. As someone said, tomorrow is another day. Don’t drag your irritation or anger for days and don’t spread it around. Anger is contagious! Bad attitude is contagious. And just think of how much time is wasted on anger. We start rewinding & reliving the incident that made us angry over & over. We start to think how we should have responded or how we should have punch back at that moment. Why? Coulda, woulda, shoulda…It’s in the past. It already happen so move on. Utilize the time for pleasant thoughts. Immediately go to your happy place or incident that will make you smile. Always have them on the back burner just in case. I have few that no matter what, always make me smile or laugh.  Cunt to ten or a hundred if you have to, focus on calmness & joy. Joy is an antidote of anger!

L.

“Music is a weapon in the war against unhappiness.” – Jason Mraz