by Lori Milner: author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
Dandapani is a Hindu priest, speaker on self-development and an entrepreneur. He lived as a monk for 10 years and then moved to New York City to pass on his teachings to the West. He made a profound statement saying we shouldn’t pursue happiness. What we need to do is create a lifestyle where the bi-product is happiness. For example, when you spend time with people who energize you, you feel happy. On the contrast, when you spend time with people or on work that drains you, then naturally you will tend to feel miserable.
For me, the first step in creating this lifestyle for yourself is to reflect on your calendar for the last month or 2 months. How many entries contained activities that energized you – projects, people, me time, personal development, hobbies, time with loved ones? This is an important question because how we schedule our days is how we spend our lives. If you aren’t appearing and showing up for yourself than the bi-product will be anxiety, resentment and stress.
If you suddenly realize that you don’t feature at all or you are constantly surrounded by energy vampires than you need to make a decision to make some serious changes. No one will give you the permission to put yourself into a dedicated slot into the calendar. The only way to achieve happiness is to become the architect of your life. Create the meaningful opportunities that results in special memories and experiences and surround yourself with supportive people.
Now consider your professional life – are there clients you need to contemplate firing because they give you more grief than its worth and you land up sacrificing your peace of mind and probably sleep more than you should?
Happiness is a choice, it is not something we can download.
Dandepani goes on to say that ‘the way to create the lifestyle you want is to firstly be clear on what you want. People don’t know because they don’t spend time with themselves’.
Think about it- you will always make time for other people but never for yourself. If you want to get to know someone a bit better, you reach out to them and invite them to coffee. In the same way, you need to make time daily to check in with yourself. I recently did a PechaKucha talk (20 slides for 20 seconds format) talk on the art and science of journaling. This is a brilliant way to check in and really dive deep down into the areas of ourselves we tend to avoid. For example, refocus on your goals, values, pain points, challenges and what ideally you want for yourself. Meditation is another incredible tool to turn inwards.
We get caught up in the day to day grind and don’t even think twice about checking in. I ended my talk by saying that just 15 minutes a day of focused attention is the path to creating a lifelong friendship with yourself.
I know you are thinking that you can’t possibly make time for this but 15 minutes of focused attention on yourself will give you greater clarity on where to spend your valuable time and energy. The ROI is invaluable.
Dandepani stresses that walking your dog or going for a jog does not constitute alone time because half the time you are thinking about something job related or a personal problem. Now it’s a great way to work through something mentally but doesn’t provide the environment for deeper introspection.
Spending time with yourself is sitting down with yourself and having a conversation the same way you would someone else. Because when you don’t know what you want, you can’t focus the finite amount of energy you have and you don’t live a lifestyle that brings happiness.
Having clarity on what you want helps you make progress on where you are going. If I asked you to sit down and visualize your ideal work situation – something that would really excite you, could you do it now? Visualization is about seeing the ideal picture in your mind fuelled with a positive emotion behind it. For example, could it be winning a huge pitch on a client you have wanted for ages? Would it be taking your family on a lovely holiday? The power of visualization only works when we know what we want. Naturally, this picture will change but the starting point of knowing is crucial.
Take charge of your calendar today to create the lifestyle you want where the ultimate reward is choosing happiness.
Here’s to owning your happiness,
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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