This blog is not called “Secret2anamazinggarden” but please allow me to dispense with some gardening advice. First you start with some seeds. Some you may have picked out, some you may have just found in the garage or the basement and thought it may be fun to grow. At least that is how it seems to work in my family. Now you must choose a place for your garden to grow. You pick a fine spot one which has both enough shade and enough sun for a good garden needs the right mix of both. Then you prepare the land for the garden. Clearing away debris, rocks and anything else that may inhibit the plants from growing. Then you plant the seeds, water them and begin the wait for them to grow. You know they will take a few days to a few weeks for the plants to sprout so you do not expect to harvest a crop the next day. Now as the days pass you continue to water and take care of what you have planted to give them the best chance to grow. Soon something starts to grow in your garden. If your luck is anything like mine they are called weeds. Sometimes they even sprout before the things we have planted. So you must work on removing them to allow the plants to grow. The next day you come out and sure enough your plants have started to grow! Unfortunately so have more weeds. You think didn’t I just remove these yesterday? So you water the plants and pull the weeds. Then you notice a small little worm starting to eat the leaves of your plants. Great you got rid of the weeds now you have pests to deal with too? So you take steps to remove the pests, water your plants, maybe even fertilize them a bit and pull the weeds. This whole production goes on for weeks, perhaps even months. After which time you begin to be able to pick some fruits and vegetables. Some plants only give you one harvest, others continue to provide as long as you take care of them.
Ok, so what does all this have to do with living an amazing life? The steps to growing a good garden are fairly easy to understand even though they do take a good amount of time and effort. Honestly so are the steps to growing an amazing life. They are also quite similar. Let’s compare. The seeds are like your skills and talents. Some you are just born with, others you may choose and wish to develop. The spot for your garden is like the life you chose. You need enough sun and shade. Time to shine and time to relax. Even if your plot of ground is not ideal with the right effort you can still grow a very good garden. So you plant your seeds or choose your skills and talents you wish to develop. Now here is where some people get off track. They water them once and expect a crop the next day. Everything in life takes time. Sometimes even longer than it normally should. A plant will take longer to sprout if the weather is cool and there is a lack of sun. So a talent may take longer to develop if some key ingredients are missing. Continue to take care of them both and they will surely grow. Now come the weeds which can be likened to the challenges that arise in our life. Often before our talents had a chance to get started. Now when the first weed pops up do we give up on the garden? I hope not or you will never grow anything. Still if we do not do our best to remove the weed it will continue to grow and take over our garden. The same can be true of our challenges and weaknesses. If we do not strive to improve them eventually they will choke out any chance of a good life for us. So now your plants start to sprout, or in the case of your life you begin to see your talents come to light. If you only focus on removing the weeds or improving your weaknesses and never water your plants or build your strengths they will surely die. This is a curse of even the person with the best intentions on self-improvement. They often see it as just “fixing the problems with themselves” That is only roughly 50% of the plan. You must also grow the good that is in you. Develop it fully so you can bring the most to the world. So we come to the pests. What do they represent in the real world? Well, simply put, pests. They are the negative people who come into our lives and begin to eat our dreams and hold us back from our goals. if we do nothing to eliminate them or at the very least reduce their effect on our lives we will have no garden at all. Now much like a garden more weeds and pests will always come up and at times it might seem frustrating but if we keep watering our plants and pulling the weeds quite often they will provide us with far more fruits than we expected. So work on not only removing the challenges in your life and improving your weaknesses, but growing your talents. Try to at least make that a 50/50 effort, but understand much like in a garden both will continue in order for us to continue you reap our harvest
As you can see in the graph most prices has both its ups and downs. Just stay focused on your goal and keep moving forward. Whether your goal is to improve your financial situation or your relationship there is very seldom a straight line up. Nor should there be. The beautiful thing about the downs is that is forces us to refocus. If everything is going along smoothly there is little motivation to think about improvement. When things start slipping away then we often are forced to take things seriously and work harder. It is quite often after someone suffers a heart attack or some other health scare that they suddenly adopt a healthy lifestyle they have been avoiding. When someone loses some of their income they often start to review their budget. We grow from our challenges. A set back is only a failure if you give up. Any growth or goal you are working toward is never a straight line from A to B but is quite often a crooked line moving in that direction. If you are able map your goal. Keep an eye on your budget, if you start to spend more than you should or income should decline and the graph go down use that to motivate you to positive action. If you are trying to keep track of how many positive days you have with your spouse and one week you have 5 and the next week you only have 3 use that to examine the difference. Sometimes it can be circumstances you hadn’t expected or even ones beyond your control. Your car breaks down, your spouse is sick and in a bad mood. Still keep your goal firmly in mind and remember where you are heading.
Working for the United States Postal Service always presents interesting challenges. One of them is that I am not always surrounded by the most positive and inspiring people. While these people prove to be an interesting challenge to maintaining a positive attitude, they also provide some of the best ideas. Here is a prime example. Just the other day one of my coworkers asked one of these less inspiring folks the simple question “How are you doing?” He replied with the answer “Just like a lemming getting closer to jumping off the cliff to his death” The scary part is this man was very serious. I was saddened by the fact many people view their lives in just such a manner. The interesting thing to note is this man is in good health, has a fairly safe job that pays him a decent wage, a car to drive to and from work and place to stay. Still, instead of feeling grateful for all of these things he literally felt his life was on its way to falling off a cliff. The other gentleman knowing that I am an advocate of developing a positive attitude felt the need to include me in the discussion. “What do you think of that Neil?” he asked. I turned to the gentleman who seemed to have a rather dark view and asked if he was a happy lemming or a sad lemming? He looked confused for a second and replied “What difference does it make?” I said well if one lemming was happy and another lemming was always unhappy and they both jumped off a cliff what would happen to them when they hit the bottom? A smile crossed his face and he said triumphantly “They would both die! It doesn’t matter if they were happy or not!” “You are right” I told him. Which both shocked him and seemed to increase his sense of satisfaction. As he stated to walk away I had one quick question for him. “It is true both lemmings will die, but which one do you think will have more fun on the way down?” I will have to say his response was probable not fit to print here, but did involve waving at me with just one finger.
So what is the whole point of this story? In a nutshell here it is. The bad news, we are all going to die. Some of us quicker than others. We never know. Things in life will go wrong. We will lose those we care about. We will encounter an endless amount of challenges as we go through life. Not very inspiring is it? Well, I did say that was the bad news. Here is the good news your attitude is up to your choosing. To a rather large extent it can have an influence on how long and healthy your life is, but more important than the years in your life is the life in your years. If we all have a set time on this planet is it not our duty to drain every last drop of joy and passion out of it? It is true we are all lemmings getting closer to the edge of that cliff, but why not be the one who enjoys the feel of the wind rushing by on the way down instead of dreading the end. Enjoy every last second of life all the way up to the end. We are all going to meet the same end. How much we enjoy the journey there is what is up to us! Find reasons to be grateful, find the beauty and joy in life. Be the happy lemming.
“A number two pencil and a dream can take you anywhere”
This fabulous quote was given to me by a good friend who saw it on a sign at her work. At face value it seems a little pie in the sky, but is it true? In a word, absolutely. Every great dream begins with these two elements. First we need a dream, goal or whatever you care to call it. Without this step it is hard to get excited In fact without a destination in mind it is hard to get anywhere in life. I relate it to getting in your car on the passenger size, starting the ignition and putting a brick on the gas pedal. If you don’t steer and break you will either end up in someone’s back yard, or in the back of someone’s mini van. Either way effort without direction is wasted effort.
Ok, so you have a dream, now what? Can it really be realized with a simple #2 pencil? The simple answer is yes. Let me relay a personal example to you. When I began work on my book “A Happy Life for Busy People” I had a dream. That was a strong desire to bring what I have learned about living a successful and rewarding life with as many people as I could. What didn’t I have? Any idea what the hell I was doing! This can be the biggest obstacle to people achieving their dream life. It has been mine in the past. You have a great idea, but not the slightest clue as to how to accomplish it. Some see endless challenges and often quick before they really begin. I did this in years past. I would think 12 steps down the line and get so overwhelmed I wouldn’t even start step one. This is where the pencil comes in handy.
When I began work on my first book the same idea constantly came into my mind over and over again. That idea simply stated was “I have no idea how to write a book” So I began to write down everything I could think of. Every question I thought of I wrote down. “How do you get your book printed?” “What website is the best choice to use?” “Who do I know who has written a book?” Then I made lists of pros and cons of subjects. I jotted down ideas and bits of inspiration that came to me. Most of which would later only make sense to me. Considering my wonderful handwriting sometimes even that was debatable. The point being I was literally teaching myself as I went along. I wrote down the information I needed to continue. Then I would write down sources I could get that very information from. Is there a website that has that? Do I have to get a book on the subject? Is there a person I know who could advise me in this field?
I would have to say I would add one item to a dream and a pencil. That item would be a positive and expectant attitude. In reflection I fully expected and knew I was going to write a book. So when challenges arose I would just have to ask myself how can I solve this to move forward? Without this valuable tool you may be inclined to give up. If you totally expect your goal to be reached obstacles just appear as challenges to be solved and not walls stopping you.
Another important thing to realize when chasing your dreams is that chances are someone less talented, connected or gifted has accomplished the very thing you are trying to do. Even if this is not the case, consider how many people have done things others have thought impossible. So if you are considering chasing a dream grab a pencil and a great attitude and begin your journey there!
What does building a bonfire have to do with living an amazing life? It serves as a very good metaphor. What does it take to build a good fire? Let’s assume you were never in boys or girls scouts and we will break it down for you. You will need a safe place to do so. Making sure your fire burns only where you want it to. You will need kindling, or small pieces of wood or other flammable material that lights easy but burns quickly. You will also need successfully larger and larger pieces of wood to burn more intense and for longer periods of time. You will need to arrange these in such a way that they burn in the proper order. If you try to light the big log first, chances are your match will burn out far before the log catches fire. This brings us to our last needed element, an ignition source of some nature to start the whole thing burning.
Ok, so we have established what it takes to build a good fire, but what does this have to do with living an amazing life? Here is the answer, your motivation is much like building a fire. You will need to properly keep the fires of passion burning hot and big if you want to be able to push through obstacles toward the amazing life you reaching for. This is true of any goal or project you are working on. You will need kindling, which represents small goals that are easier to obtain as you are on your way to achieving the ultimate goal. The feeling of triumph you feel is like the burning of the kindling that will slowly start the larger logs, also known as bigger goals ablaze. You will need the right amount of this kindling. To little and your passion will fizzle long before you are able to reach your bigger goals. Just as you will need successfully larger more daring and scary goals as you get closer to your prize. You will also need an ignition source. Now many people in life, myself included, have waited for a situation to get so bad that it forces you to take action. Desperation can be a great motivator. So should we sit around waiting for our lives to fall apart so we can give ourselves a big kick in the ass to take the actions needed? Not necessarily. Another great way to motivate your self and ignite your own personal bonfire of passion is to look at what you are missing by not taking action. Grab a pen and paper and start to make a list. What will you lose or are you currently losing by not taking action? How worse off is your life being made by your procrastination? Here is a good time to be brutally honest. Trying to lose weight? How does it make you feel when you go clothes shopping and nothing fits? How does it feel when you look in the mirror? This may seem harsh but emotion is the strongest human motivator. So in addition to this ‘push’ of emotion you can double your chances of success by adding a pull. What I mean here is on another piece of paper, or the other side list how much better your life would be if you did take action. Using the above example, how good would it feel to look in the mirror and like what you see? Write it down, but even better take time to close your eyes and picture this. Really add the element of emotion. How could would it feel to get attention from a person you find attractive? If your goal was financial freedom how good would it feel to not worry about paying the bills or if your job is safe? Write it all down and picture it in your mind. Really add as much emotion as you can.
Now if you have done this all correctly you will have created an unstoppable force that will literally burn through and fear or doubt that stands in your way. Still even after you have created your bonfire of passion for success there is more work to do. Let me ask you if you have a fire going and leave it unattended what happens? Eventually you burn through all the logs you have. So the secret to keeping motivation going is to keep adding logs. Now this doesn’t mean only to keep adding new goals, although that is not a bad idea. Other logs you can add include gathering friends who both motivate you and hold you accountable. Purchasing new books or motivational CDs, taking pictures or your fitness progress or bank statements. As you continue to go towards a goal, you must continue to add logs or your fire will burn out.