Living Forward


Captured in Halifax; summer of 2015 in a park where these were all on display.


A few weeks ago I saw this quote and reminisced about the year I dove head first into Mindfulness. I’ve since scaled back but have plans to revisit all of the books that I once read because there is something powerful in meditation that is bolstered by having the right mindset. The quote was:

Only to the extent we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us. – Pema Chodron

I’ve known for the last few weeks upon reading it that I wanted to write a few words. The same battle ongoing inside; to write and to keep writing. To think about writing and somehow not allow the choice to happen.  Many of us can see the reasons happen to us; for me, it’s a combination of fear and distraction. Fear of the perceived annihilation and the work involved combined with the simplicity of finding a distraction. Everything around us is a distraction waiting to happen. Sitting here on the couch on a Sunday afternoon the hockey game plays, phones next to me, iPad and camera close by; a distraction.

This quote though. Hung in the back of my mind because it has always resonated. It came from the very first mindfulness book I picked up, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart. One of the books I’d gift to everyone for the simple reason it provides the answer that many of us fear. The opening up to whatever ails us and letting those things flow.

It is an odd case of a situation when we allow the things that ail us to continue to do so over and over. To allow the distraction to take over, seemingly easier than the work, but knowing that the work itself is, in fact, the path we need to walk. Something I often play over in my mind. Recognising my need to get things done and watching as my routines and habits take over and an hour passes by. Then the right moment strikes and the laptop is sitting here and words are flowing. It seems random at times. Perhaps my subconscious and conscious have finally had enough of the self-talk and decide to take matters into their own hands. Either way, I’m glad for it. As Pema says there is indestructible within us if we allow ourselves to open up to live and the pain we are dealing with.

One of the actions that I’ve been working on over the last few weeks is reading a couple of books important in my life at the moment.  Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy are both books worth the read for a couple of reasons. This odd sense of distraction above, in my own life, has to be caused by something. A significant career change prompted a step change in the amount of work I’m now involved in but also caused me to ask a really important question: Why.  Why do I continue to work in this industry and doing the things I do? It’s a big question; a scary question really. I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life in it and until now have never truly asked the question. I’m good at it and that has helped move my career forward over the last decade but why is something I’ve never really delved into. You won’t get an answer here other than for me to say I’m still thinking about it. Not only what I do but where and how. All questions that Simon suggests thinking about once you’ve clearly outlined your own why.

The second book came about through a random link click to Tony Robbins’ top three books he recommends; Living Forward was one of them. This book is not for the feint of heart. It is not going to provide a magic bullet or answer. In fact, it will force you to work and take the process seriously if you honestly want to see progress. The premise centres on the idea of a Life Plan drawn up in a way that you can clearly outline actions that will guide you towards the things that are most important in your life. Let’s take an example straight from my own.

Creativity is something I’ve identified as one of the nine priorities in my life (hard to imagine that three years ago; wow). So I go through many of the steps of the book including coming up with my own purpose statement and envisioned future. Essentially identifying what is important to you and why but also what your life looks like in 30-50 years having lived your life full of that very purpose. These may seem simple but there were nine priorities I identified all with a similar structure.

A quote that inspires me by Steve Jobs formed the third part. Something that puts creativity in perspective from one of the greats when it comes to living a life fulfilled and with purpose. Then the smackdown; the current reality of how things are or how I perceive them to be. Insecurities abound as you can see and yet that’s ok. Current reality does not have to equal envisioned future. We’ve learned that along the way from many great books including The Zanders’ Art of Possibility (Possibility) that we have the choice.

Throughout the book, they always push you to be honest with yourself knowing that this is a personal exercise and considering what is at stake. If you feel stuck at any point then you, as Pema notes above, must open up. Specific Commitments comes last and is really the game changer. Think of it as a to-do list for your life. Each priority comes with specific commitments that you make in order to reach that envisioned future. They should follow the principles of a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based) and align with not only your purpose but work to build on your current reality. Note the post on here once a week. A lofty goal yet clearly attainable if I work at it.

The interesting thing they’d add to this process is to ensure you read the plan daily for 90 days. I’ve found myself missing a day only to return the following day and realising that a priority had slipped my mind and there had been an opportunity to meet one of my commitments that I’d forgotten.  As you can see it’s not a simple process. If you are looking for a good self-development book and don’t want to do the work then I’d say this isn’t worth your time. The book is short and built simply for this process to develop. I can see why Tony Robbins values it so highly, however. To come up with a plan for your life seems simple enough and yet many of us don’t. As important as it is to allow life to flow by us in a mindful way it is important to ensure we are doing our best out in the world and fulfilling our own goals and objectives in life.

If you do decide to give either of these books a listen let me know. I’d like to hear from others who have gone through this process and how they benefited or if they found the process didn’t work.

Creativity     5
My purpose is to allow the creativity inside me out and share it with the world. To find my place in the world through creative endeavours.
Envisioned Future:
I’ve lived a creative life. After finding my passion later in life it has become something I’ll never look back on. I’ve accepted who I am as a creative person and simply allowed things to flow through me as I see fit. I stopped worrying so much and just let things be. That was the key to everything. To stop worrying.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. Steve Jobs
Current Reality:
  • I spend a lot of time managing mindfullifter and Books & Beers (two hobbies that I enjoy)
  • I become locked away however and don’t let the creativity come out of me
  • I isolate myself from my own hobbies due to poor thinking habits and it causes me more stress and worry.
  • I enjoy photography as a creative outlet and also writing. I wish to do more but again I’m self conscious of my abilities and don’t work hard enough at them.
Specific Commitments:
  • Commit to connecting with at least 10 people a day on both Mindfullifter and Books & Beers. It has to be both. Connecting can be as simple as a simple comment
  • Post at least 2 times a week to Mindfullifter (photography) and once a week to the blog
  • Post at least once a day to Books & Beer
  • Create Books & Beers website / blog by June 30
  • Create one podcast / Youtube video by June 30
  • Plan a creative date at least once a week with the camera. No exceptions!

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