We all have goals we want to achieve.
Get into a nurturing relationship, get a better job, be fit, start or grow the business or find meaning among the chaos of life these days.
Setting resolutions, goals or dreams over these years I've learned that the hardest part is the battle I have with myself.
It's not the outside world that destroys our momentum forward created by the New Year or the lack of time or lack of resources. It is our psychology.
It is the inner conflict holding us back that results in the loss of energy in pursuit of a life of prosperity and meaning. I've analyzed this deep within myself. What I have learned is that this internal dialogue often rests upon the shoulders of our inability to accept.
We wish for the world to conform to our notions and expectations and when it doesn't, we have a tough time handling it.
So we stop.
We 'take a break' from trying to lose weight.
We 'take a break' from that relationship.
We come up with some excuse to not pursue a new career or start a business.
It's too hard. Too much time is required. Too this. Too that.
I believe that in order for us to pursue our goals, live our lives to the fullest potential, we must learn to accept life on life's terms, not our own.
I've narrowed it down to five things that we must accept in order for us to move forward in times of profound change, uncertainty and complexity. By accepting, we arm ourselves to move forward more quickly despite the often complicated nature of life.
1. Accept that you will encounter surprises, challenges, shocks, obstacles, problems, hardships and disappointments.
We're not living in the real world if we're not encountering problems.
Often we think, "why me?" but the fact is we are not alone. Everyone encounters the ups and downs, the setbacks, the heartaches and obstacles.
Accepting that there will be hiccups when we're pursuing our goals and living our life will help us deal with them faster. We won't be shocked by them. Sure, they might slow us down from time to time but accepting that every life is full of challenges and obstacles arms us with the experience to deal with them faster and better.
Starting a new business? Getting into a new relationship? You'll be tested each and everyday. Be prepared because it's full of surprises and challenges each day.
I've run my family's Dairy Queen store and worked on million dollar business projects in a large company - it's all about how much pain you can take because the surprises don't end.
The good news is that because the problems and shocks keep coming, after a while you get used to it. And pretty soon, we might be able to get a tiny bit ahead of them.
As I grow with time, I realize that instead of overthinking and ruminating on the change and challenges caused by the imperfections of life, time is better spent focusing on how to handle it. One moment at a time.
Acceptance helps us to focus on how we move forward instead of being stuck trying to understand why.
"Accept the things to which fate binds you and love the people to whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart." -Marcus Aurelius
2. Accept that it's not anyone's fault.
The universe is not out to get us.
Sure some people don't make our lives easy but blaming others is a waste of time. Other people are not responsible for our life. We are. We are responsible for our own life.
Accepting responsibility for our life and our circumstance does not mean that we have control over everything because 'stuff' happens sometimes.
It does mean that we accept responsibility for the things we can control: our attitude, our ability to dig deep within to get ourselves out of a hole, our will to forge ahead in setbacks and our ability to learn new skills to adapt in any environment.
Early on in my career many years ago, I got a job that I wasn't really prepared for. I was blaming my boss for not giving me opportunities to grow. A lot of number crunching was expected and I had no idea how to use any of the latest software tools. It wasn't his fault. It was lack of skill on my part. I stopped blaming and started learning. I was afraid but not deterred.
I came into work every Saturday and Sunday for 6 months from 11am to about 2pm. With a coffee and bagel in hand, I learned how to use Excel and other software tools for conducting analysis. I got a book or two to help me in the process. I taught myself quietly and efficiently with no fanfare. A year or so later, I was more proficient at crunching numbers than the other colleagues in my department.
Through acceptance, anything can be learned and made possible.
"Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go." -Les Brown
3. Accept that it is possible to improve your life
We must accept that we can improve our life, grow our business, elevate our career and boost the joy and happiness we want in our life.
Despite the turbulent times of chaos we live in these days - it is possible to achieve good health, more success and meaning in our work and reach any goal we set.
Improvements come not in huge leaps but in tiny increments over time.
I lived in Flushing, Queens in 1979 having come to the U.S. with only $75. We were poor. Filled with despair, crime and hopelessness, New York City was a dangerous place to live in those days. Year by year, decade by decade, New York City became a better place along with it improving the prospects of many of us who grew up there.
Through hard work, saving every penny and slogging through the difficult cold winters, we improved our life. My parents were able to put my sisters and I through college and start a business.
Today, more people are becoming aware of their own health bursting with new found spirituality and cultivating new found relationships and connections than ever before. Others are launching new businesses, growing their careers and achieving good health and joy in their lives. If they can do it, so can we.
No one has a monopoly on success and happiness.
During times of great stress and financial hardship in my life, I always looked to the future with hope. I had no money, no job or prospect. But I had this faith that my life would improve. Perhaps it was blind faith of youth. But I don't think so. It was a faith in the notion that if others can improve their condition, than so can I.
I had started reading biographies at the public library. From Mandela to Frankl, I read about people who had suffered far worse than I but fought on and moved forward to lead better lives.
Their stories reminded me that the possibility of hope lies not in my circumstances of today but the circumstances created by my own mind.
4. Accept that without action, there is no change
Without focused, concentrated and thoughtful action compelled forward by a will to prove something to ourselves, there is no change.
The law of cause and effect states that for any effect or change we wish to have in our life - we must do something about our situation.
We will not lose weight, meet our significant other or grow our career by going through the motions of our default lifestyle.
We must take action. We must execute on our ideas. We must put ourselves out there doing something different risking pain, disappointment and possible failure. It isn't easy but it's worthwhile.
Taking action gives us certainty in an uncertain world because we get to see a result - whether it's good or bad. With no action - we get nada.
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." -Dale Carnegie
5. Accept that a clear and compelling purpose will give rise to a strong will
When you know the reason why you are working hard at something, nothing can stop you.
Know that we possess grit, determination and will inside each of us that can power us through any obstacle.
When problems cannot be avoided, we have to move through them or figure out a new way around them. And moving forward through them we will.
While these traits can be enhanced inside each of us, these are not skills that we need to learn. Rather these are inborn traits that emerge when called upon when the need arises. It's part of our survival instinct that allows athletes to perform successfully under time pressure, moms to get through the night without sleeping in order to nurture a newborn baby and kids to get up after they fall of the bicycle.
Having a focused, clear and compelling reason to pursue a goal will give rise to a rush of energy or a burst of passion to prove yourself.
Want to be more fit? Get mad, become passionate and rediscover why you wish to be fit. Maybe it's because good health means better quality of life.
When I was ill with herniated discs in my neck, the one thing that compelled me to get up to do the grueling physical therapy was that I hated looking up at the ceilings in doctor's office. What a dreadful view. "Lying down sucks", I would say to myself.
I hated that feeling. So I got up and got to physical therapy.
Pushed through the pain and at the other end of a year, I found my pleasure. Pain free and no view of ceiling tiles. I was able to give my youngest daughter a horsey ride without feeling pain. I was able to wake up in the morning without flinching about my neck.
Want something bad enough? Get clear on why and focus on it. Rediscover the reason why you want it. And use your drive and will to get you up to fight on another day.
"Either I will find a way or I will make one." -Philip Sidney
I believe in the power of our mind to move our hands and feet towards a positive purpose that can improve our life. Let's get busy in 2015.
Best wishes for a great New Year!