It has been an interesting 2018 so far. Hasn't it? And the year is still just getting started it feels like. Especially now that spring has finally arrived. So, as you begin getting more active, I hope you remember the lessons from our podcasts and blogs this year that will guide you to a year of fulfillment and a year of doing what you absolutely love most. One word of caution though. Be aware of your expectations you have for yourself.
The old saying goes "expectations breed pain". This doesn't mean that you should have ZERO expectations. It simply means you should focus on raising your standards rather than your expectations. Your standards define who you are in life and are the foundation for all decisions that you make. Standards are completely in your control. Expectations, on the other hand, are typically in relation to other people and are not entirely under your control because of this. For example, you expect that your child will pick up after him or herself, or you expect your boss will give you enough time to complete a project on top of all the other work you have piling up on your desk. If you are familiar with either of these, then join me in saying good luck with these expectations!
Your standards define who you are in life and are the foundation for all decisions that you make.
Standards on the other hand, define you on the inside and are the root of every action you take. Standards build morality; they strengthen character; they control your thoughts and your emotions; and they instill in you the qualities of the type of person you envision yourself becoming in this world. Your standards are the foundation for your entire life and determine how far you will go and how much impact you will have on the world. Think of it this way: When you get excited about something, and jump high into the air screaming with joy, there are a few things you need. You need something under your feet to push off of; enough space to jump as high as you can; and the ability to express yourself freely in the biggest and loudest way possible. In this example, your standards are like the ground beneath your feet. They provide you with a solid base to push off from. And when combined with your internal drive to seek fulfillment in your life (this being your expression of your excitement in the previous example), you will have the potential to reach as high into the air as possible and feel totally uninhibited and larger than life.
Make the choice to depend on yourself first, just like when putting on your oxygen mask on the airplane. Go on a journey and explore what you love most in life and what you believe you are or capable of. Discover what fuels your fire to live and search for more of it. These are the key components of your personal standards that will help them to grow and thrive. Standards that no one can create for you. We on the outside can only see your potential when you have forgotten what it looks and feels like. We cannot see the standards you create for yourself. However, we most certainly CAN see the standards you choose NOT to live up to.
Your next decision after raising your standards should be to lower all of your expectations to a level that you know will not impact your mission in life and your life's purpose. If expectations breed pain, you will either have too many of them or you will invest yourself too much in the few you do have. Redirect this energy NOW into developing your standards so that you can sculpt your own Sistine Chapel of inner confidence and self-understanding.
These powerful instructions should give you the boost your need to achieve what some people refer to as happiness, others refer to as fulfillment, and we all experience as a sense of satisfaction. If we can learn to raise our standards and lower our expectations, we could all walk out into the world each day knowing who we are.
The Pursuit of Excellence
Yesterday evening I hosted our monthly Ask The Expert live interview with Jamie Gallagher, founder of Origin Fitness Fairfax and CrossFit Burke. (Listen to the Live Interview Here) At the end of a great interview, I asked him one final question, the same question I close every interview with each month:
"What gets you out of bed every morning?"
His response? "The pursuit of excellence." Knowing Jamie for some time now, I couldn't agree more with him that this is truly what he looks for each day. But what exactly is the pursuit of excellence? What actually does excellence mean? To answer this question, first ask yourself the same question I asked Jamie during his interview: "What gets you out of bed every morning?" More specifically, what is your purpose in life you are so passionate about that drives you to get up everyday and live every moment to its fullest?
The pursuit of excellence is ALWAYS exhilarating!
Excellence is built upon the standards you set for yourself because they are the blueprint of your life. If your accomplishments in life do not match your overall blueprint, then how could you possibly achieve excellence? From this blueprint, this innate schematic leading you towards fulfillment, you are driven to use your body in a certain way. You mind is flooded with only certain kinds of thoughts. Your spiritual beliefs tie them all together with what you see as your higher purpose in life. Without these connections, we are just an empty, lifeless shell following the robotic actions of what we were taught that society "needs" from us.
By allowing yourself to not just move against the current, but step out of the water altogether, you allow a transition towards personal freedom. From this moment onward, you understand the power of choice. For in every moment lies a new choice in life; one that can create opportunities no matter what lies before you. Be it negativity, pessimism, or doubt, you know that you can step away from that current and walk in the direction of excellence every single time. Your ability to hold the light as you walk to the end of the tunnel rather that walk towards the light that someone else is holding sets you apart from every other human being. However, the light you hold is actually a light shining from within you that is now so strong it has begun to illuminate outward and requires no holding at all. It is a self-generated luminescence that comes from your heart, your soul, and your newfound ability to unlock your personal potential.
I want to warn you though. This is not something I read in an inspiring book or heard on some podcast similar to mine. This is real and this is powerful. How do I know? Because, through experience, this is my life every single day. This is also Jamie's life every single day. Now, do we both stumble? Do we both have our days full of doubts and find ourselves questioning our purpose in life? Darn right we do! But do we ever veer away from the direction we believe to be "right"? Never. No matter the obstacle that appears before us, even if it's in our minds, we look forward to the challenge. Some might even say that I love the game more than the result myself. I might agree with this. That is because the pursuit of excellence is ALWAYS exhilarating!
The power of choice determines your understanding of your own potential and your own ability to empower yourself. This is not to be confused with destiny either. Your destiny points you in a certain direction, but it is your daily choice to get up an start your day with a specific mindset; a day that stems from a desire to pursue something. And the goal of this pursuit should be nothing less than the pursuit of excellence. THIS is personal power. THIS is inspiration. THIS is a life of fulfillment. I challenge you from this moment forward to join Jamie and me together in this pursuit; a pursuit of excellence.
Success is Only a Label.
Every single day people get out of bed and go on with their lives and their routines. What sets some people apart from others is their point of focus. They focus on their purpose, their WHY in life. They find drivers for success and always move towards them.
Sometimes, however, people get caught up in the idea of success. They have the thought flowing through their head that success is the only option. They are constantly bombarding their brains with success this, success that, no failure this, no failure that. They shield themselves from the rest of the world by opening an umbrella of success. In most cases, this works in the long run. As long as you don't focus on the label and, instead, focus on the contents of the success jar in connection with your vision of what success looks and feels like..
It doesn't matter what label you put on the jar because it will be meaningless if you don't focus on filling it up with the necessary contents or ingredients for your success! Yes, you can have an image or vision of what your success ultimately looks like, but if you only focus on the outcome, you never get a chance to observe the environment and the landscape you are traveling on. You will never appreciate the journey and what you learn along the way because of your unbeknownst ignorance.
So, if you are working your tail off to achieve the success you envision for yourself, then label the jar and be done with it. Then focus on filling it with as many awesome things in your life as you possibly can. It doesn't matter the experience, the size, the weight, or any other method you use to measure with to see if they will fit in your jar. Because the moment it is filled is the moment it's time to get a new jar and pour the contents of the old one into it. All the while using the same label.
Labels are things that keep us confined and comfortable within a specific set of boundaries we or other people have created for ourselves. The label does not matter. NOT AT ALL! The contents of the jar are the most important and require the most attention. In order for you to be fulfilled, your jar of success must also be Full Filled.
My question to you then is...
What are you going to put in YOUR jar today?
Every time I hear the word motivation, I am taken back to my days of being a teenager when I stepped foot into my first martial arts school. It was a small school in an even smaller town in western Pennsylvania. The class had no more than 10 people, most of which were light years ahead of me in ranks.
I'll never forget the feeling I had when I first entered the room to line up with the rest of the students. Because of having the lowest rank, I was told to stand at the beginning of the line. It didn't matter if my height had me towering over most of the students, I still felt smaller than anyone else in the room. My confidence was severely lacking, and my experience was non-existent. Plus, the constant thoughts running through my head were making me dizzier than I ever had been in my life. Then, the class started.
We began our warm up, which to me at the time was worse than running a marathon. Although, I had never run one before, I imagined that this was what it would feel like, PAIN. Then we got around to practicing kicks and punches. When they brought out the striking pads and asked the higher level students to demonstrate proper technique, I recall the person holding the bag nearly toppling over onto 3 or 4 students next to him. All of us beginners chuckled, and we knew that we did not want to be behind the bag. Then, it was our turn. One by one we practiced our kicks and did our best to show proper form and deliver a powerful blow each time.
After a few turns, I noticed an energy building up inside of me. And the person holding the bag noticed they had to hold on tighter and tighter each time I came around. Then once again, it was my turn. I stepped up to the bag; put myself in position; took a deep breath; and delivered one more kick. The next thing I new, the same person holding the bag lost their balance again and fell into a group of people just like the earlier demonstration. I was completely stunned and thrilled at the same time because I couldn't believe that I possibly kicked this person which as much power as one of the higher level students.
My teacher saw this and immediately walked over. I assumed right away that I was in trouble for doing something I wasn't supposed to. Instead, to my surprise, he began explaining to the other beginners that I had done something RIGHT! Really? In my first class? He then asked me to be an example for the other beginners to observe. He adjusted my posture, corrected my form, and guided me with my breathing. Then he shouted powerfully, "Go!" I immediately kicked the bag as hard as I possibly could, and this time, my kick not only knocked the person off balance, it penetrated the bag and I unknowingly hurt the person's arm, but thankfully the injury was not serious. At that moment in time, I had tapped into a part of my mind and connected it with my body in the most exhilarating way possible. The only word I can use to describe that feeling is POWER.
What exactly does this have to do with motivation?
Most people believe that before you can do the things you want, you need to first have the motivation. Like getting up and going to the gym, this takes a certain amount of motivation, doesn't it? Or, reading the book that has been sitting on your coffee table for more than a month, which you keep telling yourself you will get to. Still needs motivation, right? Or perhaps even making the first move to starting a relationship by asking somebody out on a date. Motivation, right?
WRONG! ALL wrong!
Motivation is not required to take action. ACTION is required to develop MOTIVATION!
Remember the story I just told you about myself? If I hadn't discovered the feeling of inner power and strength after delivering a few hard kicks to a striking pad, do you think I would have returned to the class? If I hadn't followed the instructions of the teacher, do you think I would have had the energy to kick that hard, let alone complete the whole class? The answer is obviously no. Without developing my own motivation by taking a massive amount of effective action, I would not have become the national martial arts champion that I am today. And to this day, I am still able to create and tap into this ability by knowing it only takes one action to get me moving.
Without taking action and committing yourself fully to that action, you will never develop the ability to generate your own motivation. You will only be an adequate follower. Not an outstanding leader.
So, let me ask you. Are you satisfied with being adequate? Or do you want to be OUTSTANDING?
Do you want to discover and experience the highest potential of your inner power? Do you want to develop an impenetrable level of confidence and master your ability to create your own motivation? Then you HAVE to TAKE ACTION! Once you do this, your first spark of motivation will be created. Then, by repeating your action again, and again, and again, you will have a blazing fire within you that will keep you motivated from the inside out for any moment when you need it.
The bottom line is that if you have your heart and soul set on accomplishing a specific goal in your life and reaching the next level of success, you need to take action! You need to step up and kick the bag! Now get moving and start mastering your motivation!
I have a dream. In fact, I have many dreams. I dream of my future. I dream of my family's future. I dream of each of my patients' futures. The challenge is that I can't stop dreaming...and I don't want to.
Each and every one of us dreams. We dream of owning our first home; we dream that we have the lucky lottery ticket; we dream to one day sit on the beaches of the South Pacific, or we simply dream about being able to experience happiness once again. Whatever the dream, we are often encouraged to "reach for our dreams" and dream BIG. But what if we changed this dream-reaching idea. What if we changed it to...
Don't reach for your dreams. Achieve them!
What if we decided to live each day as if our dreams were already achieved? How do you think your life would be? Would it give you more incentive to keep dreaming?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating that you live a lie, so to speak, or pretend that something is happening when it actually hasn't. For example, you don't think of what clothes to wear and then never put them on before you walk out of your home and realize your just in your skibbies. No, you imagine what clothes you will wear for the day, then you begin the process of dressing yourself. This is the same when it comes to achieving your dreams. The moment you dream BIG you have begun the process of achieving your dream. So, in a sense, you've already achieved a portion of what you are actually dreaming.
Achieving your dreams happens before
If you lived each day as if you have already achieved your dreams, a number of things would happen:
- Your confidence would increase immensely.
- You would never question (nor let others question) your belief in yourself.
- Your self-esteem would skyrocket!
- You would maintain a successful attitude.
- You would reach every goal you set.
- Every step you take on this path would be more solid than ever before.
...and above all...
- You would experience true and lasting happiness.
Your future, your dreams, your life. They are all in your hands for as long as you are alive. So, why not choose right now that you ARE living your dream? Because really, the only person stopping you is yourself. Eleanor Roosevelt put it beautifully when she said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
I will close by urging you to start living your dreams NOW! Don't wait for when you will reach them, and especially, don't chase your dreams. Why? Because you have already caught them. I bet I could see it in your eyes without even looking. If you need a little extra inspiration, watch the music video below of Michael Bolton singing a song from the Disney movie soundtrack of "Hercules" called "Go the Distance". Now, GO LIVE YOUR DREAMS!!!
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.