The "C" Branch

Jaded commentary on random shit, with an extra helping of cynicism, satire and general contempt for society & Western culture, religion, politics, celebrities, technology, business & more.

Jan 09

What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like This Year? – Part 3

Previously, we learned why most resolutions people make don’t end successfully as well as the two key factors that will help you actually keep your New Year’s resolution. If you missed them, you can catch the first part of this series here and the second part here.

Lastly, we’re looking at how the compromises we all inevitably make can prevent us from getting what we really want out of life – or worse, giving up on ever being able to have it – and take us further and further away from having the life we really want.

Deep down, we all long for a life we want to have – a “dream,” if you will. Remember your “why” from Part 2? Hopefully it encompasses every single aspect of the life you want – down to the time you’ll wake up in the morning and what you’ll eat for breakfast. But, chances are, you don’t currently have everything you want out of life, or else you wouldn’t be reading this! Of course, it’s not likely that you can have every single detail of everything you want all at the same time, but the things you want most – the things you won’t settle without – often turn out to be the things that are settled without.

So what happens between the amazing dreams we want to fulfill in our lives and the reality we’re actually living on a daily basis?

What happens is that we make compromises. We settle for less than what we want, or accept it thinking that we can’t really have what we want. And unfortunately, compromising turns our dream of the life we long for into an abstract fantasy instead.

It could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps you want to move to a warm climate but are staying where you are (compromising) for the sake of your job. It could be a relationship that’s holding you back. It could be the fear of failure, or any number of other possibilities. Regardless of the reason, the truth is that at times we all let something hold us back from everything we want – and end up “settling” with something less. And to really achieve the life of fulfillment we really desire, we have to look at where we’re compromising and make a decision of what it is that we really want most.

Here’s the part where I have (get) to be honest. I hate cold weather, and have dreamed of moving to a warm climate for years now. Yet, this winter, I’m still looking at icicles and snow-covered ground out the window. Why?

The truth is, I’ve made compromises as well. In my case, I’m not afraid of packing up and leaving…in fact, I’d be happy to! But I have let two things pin me down: my work and my relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some times where compromising can be perfectly healthy and even necessary, especially in relationships. Two people may want to live in different places, in which case a compromise would be absolutely necessary. Remember, sometimes you can’t have every single aspect of your “why” be reality at the same time. In this sort of situation, however, the “why” itself changes to accommodate the situation, so it really isn’t “settling.” In this example, wanting to be with that person matters more than where you live, so your “why” – what you want most – adapts to prioritize being together with that person rather than living where you want.

The problem is when you do feel like you’re “settling.” If you’re counting on that person to change, of if you’re really not happy with them – it isn’t the thing you want more than anything else – then being with them is probably not the thing you want most. If you feel “pinned down” in a situation and are not happy to make the compromise, then it’s most likely not a healthy one. Chances are, just like myself, you can already think of a handful of “unhealthy compromises” that are keeping you from the life you really want.

Unhealthy compromising prevents us from being happy or fulfilled. In fact, it can often make us depressed and miserable. It makes us feel “stuck” and “helpless.” This leads to a downward spiral that only gets worse.

In the first part of this series, we learned how attempts to stop unwanted behaviors often fail because of an underlying condition that must be corrected first. This is one of the biggest! If you’re not living the life you want to live, why would you even bother trying to lose weight or stop smoking? You probably wouldn’t even want to get up in the morning!

If you want your life to really change this year, forget silly resolutions to lose weight or stop smoking, because barely anybody actually keeps those anyways!

Instead, focus on what you really want your life to look like. Take your “why” and your detailed picture of how you want your desired life to look, and compare it to reality. Discover every single aspect where you’ve made compromises and evaluate whether they are healthy or unhealthy. Then, decide what you really want most and update your “why” accordingly. Even though it’s very difficult, it’s always better to take back commitments, end relationships, or make other hard decisions than to remain “stuck” in a life you don’t even want to be living.

So here’s to you, for a great, prosperous year filled with all the things you want most!

Jan 02

What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like This Year? – Part 2

Previously, we learned why most resolutions people make don’t end successfully. If you missed it, you can catch the first part of this series here.

Now, we’ll look into two key factors that work hand in hand to help you transform the successful and lasting life change you want from an abstract concept into a reality.

My friend Tony, an incredibly successful businessman, spends his life helping and mentoring others achieve success with their businesses. He has a favorite saying he often shares: “If your why doesn’t make you cry, it’s probably not good enough.” He uses that saying because it’s very true about the people he helps – those who are not determined, or resolved, enough to succeed most likely will not. The reason compelling them to succeed must be powerful enough to drive them all the way to the finish line. They must be most committed to making their “why” happen over anything and everything else in their life.

The first – and single most important – factor in achieving real change is your “why” – or how resolved you are to really change. In fact, the world resolve is defined “to decide: bring to an end; settle conclusively.” It’s nothing less than an absolute – a final, affirmative decision that will not falter or change. In other words, “You’ve got to want it” – and nothing is going to stop you from making it happen. Nothing.

Your “why” should be powerfully emotional – the more, the better – and it should be directly associated with the kind of life you want to have. For example, if you want to lose weight, there’s a reason for it. Get as real and emotional as possible about why you want to lose weight. You don’t want people to stare any more. You don’t want to have to avoid looking at yourself walking by mirrors. You don’t want to get a lecture from your doctor whenever you have an appointment. You’re tired of being overlooked by that hot guy or girl you’re after. You don’t want to be alone for the rest of your life.

Come up with every single reason that you can – and with as much emotional pain that your weight is causing you – as possible. Then, make your decision – resolve to settle for nothing less than what you want.

And this is essential: you must want your “why” more than anything else, no matter what. Then, no matter how hard it is, no matter how badly you might want to give up, your “why” will always be the most powerful emotion that you feel. Most people give up on resolutions because they don’t have a powerful enough reason to make them follow through once they start getting tired or bored with it.

So if you don’t have a good enough “why” for what you want to change, come up with one immediately!

Now that you have your “why,” you’re one step closer to solving the puzzle. However, simply having a “why” will not be enough. You’ll also need a practical way to use your “why” to end up with the reality you want. That’s why the second key factor is important: to get really detailed. And your “why” will point you directly towards these details.

You must paint a very specific picture of what your life – having your “why” – must (and will) look like. In other words, what must you do in order to have your “why?” What sort of foods would you have to eat? What sort of relationships would you have to be in? How would you have to spend your time?

Come up with and answer as many questions like the ones above as you can think of. Again, be as specific and detailed as possible. The picture you are painting will serve as a “game plan” or map for you, and it will help you focus directly on what you need in order to achieve your “why” – and nothing else. If you don’t have a good picture, you’ll be lost and easily distracted, and will end up drifting back to your old ways before you even know what happened. This step is an absolute must.

Let’s look at an example of how these two factors work together towards your success.

If you want to lose weight, you obviously want to lose weight for a reason. And, by brainstorming and getting very specific about your “why,” you have now gathered up the most emotionally-charged reason possible – that you can now repeat to yourself and remind yourself of what you are most committed to every day, especially whenever things get hard. Having Your why then ties directly into the lifestyle you want – and you create a picture to map out exactly the type of life you will need to have in order to achieve what you want. You can focus (only) on exactly how you want your new “optimal” life to look like as the new, thin you: the types of foods that requires eating, the types of activities it requires…absolutely every aspect of the life you want is right in your map.

Now, you finally have what you need to take a “wish” of being thin or a desperate “resolution” to lose a bunch of weight, and turn it into a practical game plan to really end up where you want.

Don’t let another day go by without getting specific about what your life must look like to get to where you want to be. Formulate the most powerful “why” you can, and then begin mapping out all the details of what you’ll need to do to turn your dreams into reality.

In our last section, we’ll take a look at some of the devastating effects compromise can have on dreams. We all do it, so it’s important to be aware of how we’re holding ourselves back from what we really want so that we can achieve our full potential.

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Jan 01

What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like This Year?

New Year’s resolutions rarely cut it. Here’s why, and how to really change this time.

At the end of every year, millions of people decide to set “resolutions” for themselves to achieve in the new year – typically some sort of behavioral change such as quitting an addiction. Unfortunately, the reality is that most of these resolutions go unfulfilled. So, rather than continue a less-than-successful pattern for another year, let’s take a look at some successful principles for achieving true life change. In the next few sections, we’ll explore why most resolutions fail and discover a more practical approach, learn the determining factor of success and begin painting a detailed picture of a “changed” life, and then learn how to see the change through from start to finish.

One of the biggest reasons most resolutions are not achieved is that they are almost always focused on a behavioral change. Most experts agree that attempts to change behavior are rarely successful – because the underlying conditions causing the behavior are left unchanged. Therefore, the undesired process is extremely difficult to stop because it is simply the result of these larger controlling factors. Even if someone is able to stop a certain behavior for a while, if the underlying conditions stay the same, that person is very likely to relapse.

It’s really quite a simple concept. If your car leaks oil, and you just keep replacing the lost oil, you really aren’t accomplishing anything constructive. The oil will be low again soon enough, and all you’ll be doing will be just wasting oil throughout the process. The reason for this is that the problem you’re trying to fix (the low oil) is the result of an underlying condition (the leak).

These “underlying conditions” or core issues, with regards to life change, can be a number of things and of varying severity. One could be something as simple as a lack of healthy stress management skills – resulting in overeating or substance abuse. Or it could be more severe, like depression or a life of compromised dreams and goals.

Regardless of what the underlying condition may be, success with any sort of “resolution” will always come from making substantial improvements to the quality of one’s life (core issues) and rarely from trying to “force quit” some sort of behavior or addiction (passive results). Real change will come best from asking the question “What do I really want my life to look like?” and then taking responsibility for pursuing the life of fulfillment you desire.

For example, some of the most popular “New Year’s Resolutions” are to lose weight, quit smoking or drinking, and get out of debt. These are all behaviorally-related changes. However, there is almost always a larger core condition resulting in all of these particular behaviors – whether it be poor stress management, inadequate self-worth or esteem, a lack of motivation or self-control, or some other factor.

If someone who is in debt resolves to pay off all his/her bills in the new year but has poor financial management skills, even if they do manage to pay off their bills, they will just end up in debt all over again soon enough. Likewise, if someone who drinks because he/she is depressed manages to quit drinking, it doesn’t accomplish much. That person will still be depressed, and will most likely find another destructive outlet to cope with their issues, or just start drinking again down the road.

And I say “if they manage to pay off their bills” and “manages to quit drinking” because more often than not, people making these resolutions are unable to even achieve them in the first place rather than succeeding and then relapsing.

Rather, it is more constructive and much more effective to focus on the core underlying conditions resulting in the specific things you would normally resolve to change. So, this year, I would challenge you to start by simply begin asking yourself “What do I really want my life to look like?”

In the next section, we’ll explore the factor that will make or break your success and begin painting a picture of the change you want to see in your life.

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