We’re well into September now. Summer’s over, the kids have gone back to school, a new crop of first year students are filling our cities, experiencing their first taste of freedom and the evenings are drawing in.
Even though we may have finished school or college years ago – it’s a natural time of year to take stock of where we are and what progress we’ve made through the year. The many brochures dropping through the letterbox for evening classes act as a reminder to us that we could be doing more during the long winter months than spending our evenings watching Game of Thrones, Strictly, X-factor or whatever you’re having yourself!
It’s a good time to take a little time out for self-reflection. Think about the person you are right now and the person you want to be. Is there a gap between where you are now and where you want to be? This is not an excuse to beat yourself up or make you feel bad about yourself. It should just be an honest reflection of where you are now and where you want to be. You need to have some idea of the the direction you want to grow in so that you can lean in the right direction. Why do you do the things that you do? Does this reveal any patterns about your behaviour? Who do you hang out with? How does this impact the way that you behave or your ability to accomplish your goals?
For a sense of balance - look at where you were one, two, three or five years ago – and see how much you have grown since then.
So now that you have a better idea of who you are and where you want to grow – how do you go about it? One great way is to get into a routine of getting out of routines. Make a conscious effort to eliminate habits and routines that don’t align with your goals. Once something starts to feel like a comfort zone, it’s time to switch it up.
One of the best ways of doing this is by doing the things that scare you. When a client tells me that they are afraid of doing something - I always ask them what is it about that thing that excites them. Often we fear what we want most as we think that we have much more to lose if it doesn’t work out. Taking risks is meant to feel scary, but overcoming this fear is your only ticket to experiencing new and exciting things. We should all learn to embrace risk rather than fear it. It is one of our greatest learning tools.
I had a huge fear of speaking in public for as long as I can remember. I’m doing a post- grad at the moment with UCD Innovation Academy and as part of the course am required to speak in front of a large group of about 40 people on a regular basis. Rather than try and wriggle my way out of it, I took every opportunity to do it. Of course I was terrified at first - but I now find that I am getting much more comfortable doing it - speaking from the heart without aids or notes, trusting that the right words will come to me, and if not, that it’s not the end of the world. I find it is very empowering and the more I do it the better I get. I am now even moving around the room too - rather than being fixed rigid to the one spot! Little steps and all that!
What fears do you have? What small steps could you take right now to address these fears? Even though it’s not going to be easy in the beginning – go ahead and do it. Try to push and challenge yourself at every opportunity. When you’re constantly pushing yourself, growth becomes inevitable.
Don’t wait until you are ready. If you wait until you have enough money, enough education, enough time, enough experience, or meet the right people, you will never get started; and getting started is the most important step. Once begun, you’re half-done!
Adopt the attitude to learn as you go. Trust that you will learn from your mistakes as you continue to move forward. You must get started on the journey if you ever hope to reach your full potential. “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” – Andy Rooney
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