Turn Your Challenges into a Bright Future
You have experienced increased pressure from social issues, natural disasters, and political upheavals. You’ve seen struggles between good vs. greed. You are experiencing social polarization and the challenges that change brings into your world. You have a choice: you can let it affect you and drag you down – stress you out. Or, you can choose to grow through it and, in the process, unlock your superpowers.
Life is a journey and that journey’s success is largely governed by our response to our environment.
I’m not a fan of setting ‘goals’ as a way to drive behaviour. If you are like me, you might like to make your goals a part of your lifestyle as habits. Habits are not driven by the seasons and aren’t lost when a goal is obtained. Habits shape us and define who we become.
I like to think of habits as a way to develop success-thinking to overcome challenges. For many years, I let things get to me. Traffic, other annoying people, and the woes of the world seemed to settle on my shoulder like a giant stinky albatros – too overburdened to fly.
It took a while (because I’m hard-headed) but I finally learned how to let go of things I couldn’t control and focus on what I could control: ME. Since that day, I have been on a transformational growth journey, and this is a tidbit from what I’ve learned:
1. Everything Worthwhile is Uphill
Leadership best-selling author, John Maxwell says: “Everything worthwhile is all uphill”. The truth is: you cannot evolve as a person if there are no challenges to overcome. Even so: experience isn’t the best teacher – evaluated experience is. We only gain wisdom and maturity after reflecting on our experiences. Instead of trying to bury your sorrows from the upheavals in your life – think about what you have learned and how it has changed you.
- What challenges did you meet that you feel that you couldn’t overcome but did?
- How did the experience change you and what did you learn?
- Are you better equipped to handle similar challenges in the future?
- What action items can you put in place to ensure that you are better equipped in the future?
You don’t get a map to tell how to navigate life. I’ve felt mentally and emotionally beat up while being scared of the unknown. For a long time I didn’t feel that I could achieve much in life and I allowed that false label to dictate my life. I was afraid to try. I was afraid to fail. But, I didn’t get where I am today by allowing my fear to keep me boxed in.
I finally realized that I had to move forward even if the path wasn’t clear for me. You cannot get anywhere if you are standing still. You cannot grow if you don’t take the risk of change. You cannot learn if you do not evaluate your experiences. If you set a goal and move toward it one step at a time, you will be surprised how much you can accomplish!
2. Develop a Positive Perspective
You’ve heard the over-used cliché: ‘attitude is everything’? Guess what? It is. The biggest roadblock that stops people from developing wisdom and overcoming challenges is having a bad attitude. Your personal growth depends on your perspective and it’s incredibly easy to have a negative one. Humans can be inclined to see the bad and the ugly before the good.
Reflect whatever your top inputs are. It’s been said that you become like the 5 people you are around most frequently. If you have mostly negative inputs, you will probably reflect that in your attitude. If you are intentional about including positive inputs in your life you will probably have a more balanced outlook.
- List your top common inputs during a day or week and reflect on how they might impact your perspective.
- Eliminate at least one potentially negative input and observe if you feel less stressed over the next two weeks. Then, repeat that action with things you can control until you feel less ‘weighted down’.
- Think about the people you enjoy being around. Are they Negative Nellies or Uplifters? Chances are, they are uplifters.
- Remember that happiness is a decision not a condition. Just like anger and jealousy – happiness is ultimately a choice. Don’t underestimate the value of peacefulness, quiet, and calm because these feeling are a part of happiness too.
We are a product of our inputs and that, in turn, impacts our perspective. I remember that I was a very stressed and irritable person in my early career. That stress spilled over into my personal life. I allowed my environment to manage me instead of the other way around.
Unwittingly, I gave my power away to circumstances and other people every day. When I realized what I was doing slowly took charge of my emotional well-being. It literally changed my life! Now I am very intentional (because it rarely happens naturally) about maintaining a more positive focus and including positive inputs in my life.
3. Learn to Appreciate Yourself
In my experience, a lack of self-appreciation is the single biggest hurdle that keeps people from achieving their potential. I see it in every single client I coach and I’ve had to wrestle with it as well. It’s not easy and we aren’t taught how to see the good in ourselves. It’s infinitely more common for you and I to make a mistake and let it brand us for life.
The problem is – it’s very difficult to outperform our own negative self-perceptions. To make matters worse, we are conditioned from childhood to downplay our accomplishments. There’s a difference between humility and a lack of self worth, which doesn’t allow you to affirm or empower yourself. Understanding your value and appreciating yourself is particularly important for positive personal as well as career growth.
- List everything you do well. All of your skills, abilities and expertise.
- Develop a solid practice of affirming and documenting your positive attributes and accomplishments.
- Leverage your impact. Keep a ‘Kudos’ file and make an Impact Inventory – a list of all of your accomplishments.
- Keep a Gratefulness Log or a Journal with notes about your daily positives.
Unlock Your Superpowers
If you experience yet another hurdle to overcome, remind yourself that most of the solutions to life’s challenges are inside of you. If you desire more out of your life and your future: what changes and steps can you take to make it a reality? What negative habits can you give up so you can go up?
What I want most is to help you become more self-empowered so you can defy your perceived limits and achieve your dreams. Unplug from toxic behaviors, inputs, and perspectives. Appreciate who you are so you can grow. Instead of just making short-term shallow goals: establish better thinking habits to unlock your superpowers and achieve your potential.