“What I can do now, I can do sometime today. What I can do today I can do tomorrow” it goes on. Sounds familiar? Well, by nature many of us are great procrastinators. I am no great organizer either unless of course I have to face a deadline. Maybe, I get a great kick out of the excitement and anxiety, which forces me to complete a task just in the nick of time. But then, procrastinating for too long could muddle up one’s entire life. I realized this by accident when one fine day, I fumbled in spite of all the ‘challenge and facing a deadline bit.’ That set me thinking and ever since I have been trying hard to set my perspectives in order.
I realize that most of us have tiny dreams and little desires but all of them stand in the danger of getting ignored or crushed by the fast pace of life. Or maybe not, if only we can find a path for ourselves. We can after all see, observe, learn and experience ourselves. But, making choices is no easy ball game. We can spend our entire lives making and remaking choices and still not feel successful or content. Why is it that in spite of innumerable prospects we tend to squander away chances to succeed and be happy? I am not saying that all of us are unhappy. It’s just that the majority of us often tend to feel that we are not where we would like to be or we are not doing what we would really like to do. Why do three hundred and sixty five days given to us to plan, to spend, and to live well go in vain most of the time? It is September and I realize now how much time I have lost in vain hopes and foolish actions. Okay. Maybe, you got that salary raise you so desperately wished for. Maybe, I managed to save money to purchase that expensive DVD player my family wanted. Maybe, his son got the video game he promised him for so long. Maybe, herteenaged daughter got her very own personal computer. But, something still seems incomplete. That uncomfortable feeling still persists, doesn’t it? This leaves us wondering as to what is going wrong. The answer lies in the things that matter to us today. All of us are aware that there are only certain things that can make us joyful and satisfied. But, the problem is that our daily responsibilities take us away from the things that matter most because we are not disciplined. No, I am definitely not talking about the rigid obedient discipline of a neat, tidy and organized life. It would become too bland and boring. It is the wisdom to know and follow what makes our lives not only easy but also does not leave us with any regret weeks, months or years later.
Shristi is a workingwoman who was faced with the option of forgoing a promotion to stay with her family. Shristi knew that if she left this promotion she could possibly never get promoted again. But she was also aware that she would be losing valuable time with her husband and kids. She decided to go ahead with her job that was to take her out of the city. She has to painfully tear herself apart whenever she visits her family on weekends. She does not know how long she can continue this way. The stress is killing her. Vinay on the other hand had always wanted to be an artist. The world of paint, brush and imagination always gave him a lot of pleasure. But, his parents had other plans. His father wanted him to be an administrative officer. He was goaded into taking coaching classes and what not. He disliked it but, he did it all anyway. Today, he is what his father wanted and has status and money but he is nowhere near contentment. He has become a workaholic and dreads every day.
There is no success formula for satisfaction but yes, there is one thing that we all can always do albeit a little unwillingly. And that is reaching a compromise between our dreams and our abilities. Remember, a compromise is not defeat. It is realizing reality in practical terms. PRIORITIZING OUR LIVES RIGHT is one very important step towards achieving our goals. Taking stock of our priorities would top the agenda because what we want, need and what we had originally set out to achieve is forever distracting us. While making a list of the priorities that matter most to us we need to stay clear of little desires as these may override the priority list and the most important priorities might just not get written! Once the list is made, we need to see how we are contributing everyday towards these goals. At the end of the day we need to crosscheck whether we have completed at least one constructive task, which would help in our long time priority accomplishment. By the end of the day even if all the tasks may not get completed at least there is the satisfaction that one knew what one wanted from the day ahead. Once one is able to devote energy and time (both of which are extremely valuable today) to the most essential tasks then, planning ahead is easier. And, the joy of having spent time well is a reward in itself.
THROWING AWAY THE ROTTEN STUFF is another way of making the right choice. It is a fact that most of us are very vulnerable on the inside although we often tend to show otherwise! Instead of being what we are, we tend to build up tower like shrewd defenses to hide our disabilities and deformities that, in the long run prove to be harmful for our growth. Just like food tends to get rotten when kept for too long the very actions that we use to protect us develop bacteria and stunt our path to success. So, the only way out is to throw away all the justifications, the procrastinations, envy influenced actions and the excuses we tell the world and ourselves. Don’t fake your abilities. Pretending to be something we are not by lying to the world about our real ability will not get us anywhere. Instead, every time we take a step forward we will only land ourselves in situations we cannot handle. Whether the society we live in knows the real us or not, we must know ourselves. And, that means not cheating oneself. Being true to oneself warrants that one makes realistic goals. They could be for the immediate future or for long term. But, it should be borne in mind that they correspond to our capacity and capability to accomplish them. Making improbable demands on oneself only makes us lose our clarity of thought and throws us further away from the very goals that we had set out to achieve.
Another way of avoiding disharmony in our lives is COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY WITH PEOPLE thereby solving half our problems. But it is a fact that many of us are unable to do so. Many a time we have only just lost our hold on a successful or happy situation all because we were unable to get our message across. It is communication alone that guarantees victory be it with a boss, spouse, colleague or friend. This does not mean that we need to be good orators. We only need to develop the art of letting the other person know exactly what we want or think. Of course, this also requires us to have the patience to listen to what others are saying. Most of us tend to commit the mistake of speaking too much and not listening to others’ views. Or, we tend to just clamp up permitting the other side to usurp the situation. When we communicate effectively with people around us then, we stay free from stress and strain, the two S’s that cause us problems. Learning to accept another view can make things easy and interesting.
LEARNING TO STRETCH A LITTLE is another thing, which we all need to do in this fast paced life. In order to keep up with the moving times we tend to rush ahead so much that we do not even realize that we are not only pushing others in our way, we our also squeezing out all the energy that we possess in the process. No wonder so many of us land up like emotional wrecks. We must understand the fact that we are not indispensable. There is always more than one way to work and more than one answer to a problem. In fact, if we learn to be a little adaptable we tend to do things better. Being flexible opens up a world of opportunities and we learn to be sharing and considerate. Slowing down in between work can prove to be energizing and creative. We need to take deliberate breaks from the daily schedule. Apart from all the other resources, good health is also a vital force in aiding us to reach towards our goals. We may be mentally strong. We may have everything but, if our health fails us then, nothing can help us. That is why we need to take little breaks in between whatever task we are busy with. Work holism never helped anyone. A 10-minute break every day or a ten-day long holiday helps to reduce the stress that swells up within us every day. This in turn keeps us fit as a fiddle. It is a short-term investment for a long-term result. A long drive far from the maddening crowd or a cup of coffee alone can do wonders.
Change is one element in our lives that is constant. And, when things do not seem to be going our way it is only change that can help bring in the desired results. So, BRING IN CHANGE.“
Change comes more from managing the journey than from announcing the destination.” A very apt statement made by William Bridges. We are so busy wanting to reach the destination (which may ultimately not be the right one) that we forget to enjoy the journey. When such a thing happens then, even the fulfillment of the desire does not bring satisfaction because we dreaded every step we took towards our goal. When things are not going as planned then, the best thing would be to accept change however uncomfortable it may be initially. The only way we can become more effective in making the right choices is by willing to accept change. Surprisingly, not all people are motivated by material success to implement change in their lives. A sense of worth and the feeling of warmth inspire many of us. Status, power and money are of course desires but they are not always the virtues that goad people to bring about change in their lives. More than anything else, it is found that the desire for acceptance is the real stimulation for effective change. But then, all this cannot be acquired unless a ‘give and take policy’ is followed where one respects others to acquire a sense of worth for oneself, where one is warm and friendly to others to get affection and where one acknowledges others to be accepted.
HAVING AN ALL WEATHER FRIEND is the next best thing to leading a sane and happy life. Amidst the confusion and nerve-racking life that we lead everyday we need some one who can help us see a new perspective in life. It is not that we need some psychologist or something. Just a friend who is willing to spend some time with us and for us. Many a time, when there seems to be no way out in a complicated situation or, life seems too weary to carry on then, just a word or two spent with a friend tends to do wonders. All you could be doing is just hanging out at the bar, watching a movie at home or even spending time talking about world politics! But it helps all right. And the tunnel that had appeared dark and ugly sometime back suddenly begins to show some light! It helps to store support and strength for a period when we are undergoing trials and conflicts.
SETTING SOME TIME FOR GRATITUDE in our lives helps us to be less demanding and more content with our lives. It happens at times that life is going smoothly. We are not having too many problems to grapple with. At such times, we tend to become a little over confident about things. We wrongly presume that only we alone have a right to success. This may appear so initially but it is not always the case. There are innumerable others who do not get what they truly deserve. So, we need to be grateful for all that we have in life. And, this requires humility. It doesn’t come easy but it is not impossible either. Prayer alone cannot accomplish things but faith in the power above can help one to feel the harmony in life and venture further with confidence.
Problems do not come with warnings. Just when we feel that things are fine, misfortune in the form of illness, job problems, family conflicts etc. might descend upon us. At such times, we need to be able to draw back on mental strength that resides within each one of us. Yes! We all have the ability to face trials. It is just that we are not aware of these hidden strengths. Whether it is a friend we need to go to or just drown ourselves in work and family, we all have survival instincts. We may be just tired of living or we might be going through a bad uninspiring exhausting period. But, if we prepare our minds with the thought that “this too shall pass” then there is nothing that can stop us from staying happy.
At the fag end of our lives it is not our booming careers or our social circle that will count if all we have in our minds and hearts is guilt and regret for having done or not done something. Just think calmly. Ten years from now, will we be content with the choices we have made? Today, what is urgently required is a sorting out of all that we really need in our lives. The right choices have to be made because they can brighten or blight the peace within us. Once we are clear about what we want and why we want then, life becomes easy to sail through. We owe it to ourselves to get onto the right track. As this year ends, let us all do some re-thinking about our goals. Life is too short to fritter away in anger and remorse. Proper perspectives and priorities and, making the most of our lives, let’s just do that.