“If you can’t pay it back, pay it forward.”
—Catherine Ryan Hyde, American novelist and short story writer
Image from Unsplash by Ekaterina Shakharova
Who are the people who have invested the most in you over the years?
How did they spend their time, energy, and resources to help you become the person you are today?
In what ways did you repay them for their invaluable contributions?
When I examine my own list, I sometime feel unsettled.
A good number of my teachers, mentors, advisors, and family members are no longer with us. Simply sending my prayers and feelings of gratitude into the domain of spirit doesn’t seem to be enough.
Upon deeper review, I realized that these special individuals probably never expected anything in return. They would probably be very pleased to see me paying many of their lessons forward to others in my communities.
Where and with whom would a pay it forward strategy help you balance the ledger of your life for all that you have received from others over the years?
“We are the gatekeepers of our expectations.”
Image from Unsplash by Georg Eiermann
Earlier this month a good friend asked me to help launch his boat and take it to his dock about an hour away from where it was stored for the winter.
During this process, we traveled through various bays and canals that required bridges to be raised for us to pass. As an inexperienced land lubber, I found the gatekeeping process that allowed our passage fascinating.
When we repeat the process in October, I’ve been promised to be promoted to co-captain for an hour with a short stint of steering the boat in open water, of course.
Where do your experience various types of gatekeepers in your life?
How would being more mindful of your personal and professional expectations help you avoid some of the stormy seas of life?
“Do my expectations match the level of effort I’m giving?”
Image from Unsplash by Product School
What are your thoughts about the statement You get what you expect? How do your own personal and professional results align with your expectations?
I am all about the power of positivity when and only when our efforts are consistent with our thinking.
In my observations and in lots of social science studies there seems to be a strong correlation between the harder we work, and the luckier we get.
How and where is it necessary to up your level of effort to match the expectations you have for yourself?
Where would raising your expectations and your level of effort be in order?
It is good to have a compass to point the way. Hold your expectation lightly and be prepared for unexpected roadblocks and detours.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Jamie Street-
Throughout the Christmas holidays, many young children pointed their compasses toward the north pole and Santa. With high expectations for what they hoped to find under the tree, they have been pointing their recent efforts to both good decisions and behaviors.
Most of us have been disappointed by things not always turning out as we’d hoped. To navigate around various setbacks and point the way, it is helpful to keep our visions and values in mind.
Regardless of the direction we are headed, we can almost always “course correct” and find ways to give ourselves the gift of a more rewarding life.
What internal compass do you use to point the way?
How can you hold your expectations lightly and be more prepared for life’s unexpected roadblocks and detours?
“So many conditions of happiness are available. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.”
—Thích Nhất Hạnh, late Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk
Image from Amazon
As part of my coaching process, I introduce my clients to a concept called “creative tension” coined by Robert Frisk in his book, The Path of Least Resistance from the early 90’s.
The idea that an envisioned or expected future has the power to excite and pull us toward it has been a classic and useful tool in leadership training and enrolling people in new opportunities for millennia. It turns out that people tend to be pretty happy and engaged when their efforts lead to progress toward a desired future.
This means of generating a sense of happiness is, however, not the only condition available to us.
How can you use your amazing memory as well as your mindfulness capacities to examine the past and present to bolster your ability to seek and find more happiness?
“For those who expect everything, there are many curses. For those who appreciate everything, there are many blessings.”
—James Clear, Writer, Entrepreneur and Behavior Science Expert
Image from Unsplash by Yasin Yusuf
As we get older and hopefully wiser, many people come to learn that the myth of “having it all” is a lie. At some or many points in their lives, they learn that life forces us to choose and make many difficult tradeoffs.
If I say Yes to this it often means saying No to that. If I grasp this, I will likely need to let go of something else.
What have you discovered over the years regarding expecting everything versus appreciating everything? In what ways have your blessings outnumbered your curses with this added wisdom?
“If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there.”
Image from Unsplash by Anne Nygård
What is your relationship with reality? How often do you find yourself upset by the fact that your expectations of things go unfulfilled? Many of us often resist aspects of our lives only to notice during times of “heel digging” that these things seem to become even more persistent.
My meditation practice over the past several years has increased my capacity to accept and allow more things to be as they are, and appreciate the law of impermanence. Looking harder for things that aren’t actually there prevents us from seeing what it is that we can actually work with and influence.
Where is it time to take off your rose-colored glasses and see things as they are? How can and will you work with and influence your reality to improve the things you can, and accept the things you can’t?
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour. You don’t have to do it all today. Just lay a brick.”
—James Clear, author, entrepreneur, and photographer
Image from Unsplash by Joe Dudeck
What does being highly productive look like? How do things go when you are at your best? How have the last few days, weeks, or even the past year compared to the benchmarks and standards you hold for yourself?
Let’s face it — our best each day can vary widely due to internal motivators and capacities as well as a host of external constraints and limitations. How do you feel at these times, when your expectations of yourself and your world are not met?
Our lives are constantly under construction. What we get done with each day is simply what we get done — that’s it.
What cornerstones and foundational bricks can and will you lay today to build upon with each new day?
“Do something about it!”
Image from Unsplash by Clark Van Der Beken
How often do you experience the feeling of being upset? Examine your world and note things that are not where they should be, based on your beliefs and expectations. How often do you point your finger and blame others for the situations and events that are not proceeding as you wish?
The act of observing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, can be troubling. Practicing our capacity for equanimity and accepting things as they are rarely satisfies us for long. We simply revert to seeing far too many things out of place.
Consider a recent day in which everything seemed right in your world. Think back to your levels of intentionality and efforts to move things forward. How many T’s did you cross? How many I’s did you dot?
Where is your world showing you a puzzle with some pieces missing? Where is it time to do something about it, bringing a better picture of your world into view?