Noise is doubt, fear and opinions created from other people’s experiences that have nothing to do with you but causes you to question yourself. Noise is chatter of mindless speech around you that prevents you from moving forward towards your dreams. Noise is propaganda that creates confusion in those who listen to it.
I spent my first summer out of high school preparing for the state exam to earn my real estate license. Being a real estate agent was my career choice because I wanted to be independent and self-employed. I jumped in head first and spent countless hours in a real estate office conference room watching videos about tenancy, easements and various other real estate concepts, which was a self-paced class back in those days. At home I drilled on practice quizzes and memorized vocabulary words.
I was only 17 years old when I completed my course and had to wait for my 18th birthday to become eligible to take the exam. I had worked hard and was confident in my preparation.
On test day, after signing in, the proctor handed me a colored piece of paper that represented the number of times I had taken the test. As I walked to the back of the line, my heart skipped as I noticed the different colored papers in the hands of the other test takers. I could tell that many of them were on their 2nd and 3rd attempts.
My ears then confirmed what my eyes had already seen, the primary discussion amongst them was about how many times they had failed the test.
The confidence that I had when I walked in, ran out the door and I wanted to run with it.
The conversations of failure grew louder and became a crippling noise. I began to panic because my perception of the people in line. Everyone was older than me. Most were white and all looked professional, in business suits and holding brief cases. I was this barely 18-year-old, young black girl, with bubble gum in my pockets and sneakers on my feet.
What chance did I have if all of these professional and older looking people could not pass the test? Who did I think I was?
After standing there paralyzed in fear and contemplating if I should leave, I realized that I had to go through with the test. I had worked too hard to prematurely quit and my mother sacrificed and paid for my courses and exam fees. There was no turning back.
I reminded myself, that those people were not me and I was not them. I declared that I was going to pass the test and silently repeated “they are not you,” “they are not you,” to myself until I calmed down.
By the time I sat down for the test, I had my game face on. I was going to do my best and hope it worked out. I don’t remember how long it took me to finish but when I was done, I looked up only to panic again.
Every seat in the room had a body in it. No one had completed their test.
I got scared because I assumed that I rushed and therefore messed up. In my panic, I started changing answers but then quickly stopped myself. I realized that if I changed all the answers that I was likely to do more harm than good. So I closed my booklet and sat until another guy turned in his test because I didn’t want to be the first one done.
After weeks of waiting, I learned that not only did I pass the state exam on the first try, but I only missed a few questions, which I’m sure were the answers that I changed during my second panic attack.
My experience taught me a few valuable lessons:
- With preparation I could do anything that I put my mind to. I spent months studying and should have been confident in myself. I learned not to doubt myself if I knew that I was ready.
- Comparing yourself to others never works and only triggers negative mindsets like doubt, worry and low self-confidence. We have different lives and different paths. I put more value in how other people looked than in my abilities, which almost caused me to quit.
- Kill the noise. Block out anything that threatens to take away your dream. Avoid any distractions when working towards something important. Had I ran out of the building because of fear, I would not have tasted the victory of passing. Fear is deceiver because it gets you to act on something that hasn’t happened.
In all, I am thankful that despite my temporary moments of “noise” induced anxiety, I found myself and confidence. As stated, I passed the exam with flying colors and went on into real estate as planned. In fact, I was the youngest at the agency that I joined but it did not stop me from reaching my goal.
The California lottery is running an ad with the slogan – “Imagine what a buck can do?”
Sure it is fun to imagine what could happen if you hit “the big one,” anything is possible, right? We can imagine away all of our problems and financial worries, and being able to buy anything our hearts desired…cars, big houses, luxury vacations, only for a dollar, which is no big deal.
It is fun until you look at the facts associated with playing the lottery. Facts like you have a 1 in 14 million chance of winning.
According to the 2012 census, 143.7 million people play the lottery every year, spending an average of $70 billion dollars.
Again, using your imagination is fun but when the odds of winning are unlikely, there are some more productive ways of using your imagination to grow that buck into tangible rewards that are far greater and have better odds of winning.
Our imaginations are the playgrounds for creating ideas to improve our lives. It is the sketch pad to develop our gifts and talents to be used to benefit our communities and contribute to the world. Let’s not forget that technologies like the cell phone, the IPad and Fitbit started in someone’s imagination.
Households that make less than $12,400 a year, spend on average 5% of that income – approx. $620 annually on the lottery (Wired, 2011). Let’s see what’s possible, if we take that $620 and imagine better and beneficial uses for it:
- Invest – For a lot of people who live from check to check, having a savings is a farfetched idea. However, if they were to hold on to their lottery dollars and invest that $620 dollars annually @ 4%, over 10 years it will grow to $8362.
- Start a Business – Starting a side business is a good way to earn extra cash. Just a quick Google search revealed tons of businesses that a person can start for less than $1000. Including a tutoring business, dog walker, professional organizer, translator, photographer and graphic designer.
- Vacation – Instead of wishing and waiting to hit the lottery so you can have a better life, how about enjoying life right now. There are several fun filled excursions that cost less than $1000. All you need to do is find a cheap flight or select a location within driving distance. Some fun trip ideas include camping, low cost cruises, going to the beach and checking out off-season destinations.
- Get an education – With today’s technology, it has never been easier to take a course online. Universities are offering professional certifications and advanced degrees online. Some of these programs are less than $1000 a year. Professional development can help you land a higher paying job, one that will pay you enough to enjoy some of the finer things in life.
Instead of gambling on the lottery that will never pay off, imagine how to make your ideas and dreams a reality. Master your gifts and talents and use them to live a better life right now.
So imagine what would happen if you gambled on yourself?
Spring is here and it is the season that represents new life and growth, with all the blooms, pollen and at my house, the baby spiders in the corners of the ceiling.
Out with the old, in with the new
Similar to how people make resolutions and create goals at the onset of the New Year, spring has its own rituals, where we deep clean our homes. We wash walls, clean out closets and tackle house hold projects that have piled up over the previous few months. We spend a good week, renewing and refreshing our environments.
New Year, New You Follow Up
If you made any resolutions or set goals at the beginning of the year, the 3 month mark is a good time to evaluate and measure progress. Also, it is still early enough in the year to make changes and in some cases, brand new goals.
I’m sure some of you have found that despite your best efforts, old habits are hard to get rid of, and have resurfaced, hindering your progress.
If so, do not worry, it is still possible to finish the year on the other side of your resolutions by doing a little spring cleaning of those habits.
It takes the right activities, done consistently over a period of time to see change. If you are just busy and not productive then you will never reach your goals. Here is a list of mental goal blockers that you may need to work on in order to see progress:
Bad habits – habits are activities that we do with little or no thought. If you are not conscious of your habits, then they can undermine your efforts to change. The process of growth requires, absolute mindfulness of your actions. The key is awareness, so if habits are the culprit – you can identify them and replace them. Some people find it helpful to keep a log of daily activities, writing down every action in 15-30 minute increments to identify patterns that impede productivity.
Fear – is a real barrier for a lot of people when it comes to goal achievement. The belief that there will be a negative consequence if they are successful, is enough to provoke self-sabotage. The best way to deal with fear is to face it and uncover how the fear was established. Then debunk it by identifying the false information at the core of the fear.
Negative Self-Image – self-image is how we REALLY see ourselves and there is a direct correlation between self-image and success. If we are trying to change or grow, our self-image has to be in alignment with that vision. Listen to your self-talk to see what you really think about yourself. You have to believe that you are worthy of that goal before your subconscious will work to achieve it.
“In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move.” Henry Rollins.
Once you identify the goal blockers, put together a plan to overcome them quickly so you can get on your way to success.
Sometimes I want to burst out in song, as if I were Little Orphan Annie, singing “It’s a hard-knock life for us, it’s a hard-knock life for us…” with the constant challenges to overcome and the non-stop obstacles that I jump over daily. I should have an Olympic gold medal for the 400 m hurdles.
But my hurdles are not little wooden fences lined up on a track, they are growing pangs and self-limiting beliefs in my mind that I must conquer as I journey towards fulfilling my life’s vision.
It is not always easy to keep a positive attitude all the time, especially when you are working to change your life for the better.
My main obstacle is doubt that shows up on those days when I feel like I have made little progress towards my dream, when it seems just as far off as the day that I started.
So how do you stay motivated and positive when the road is long and lonely? How do you achieve a peace of mind when your breakthrough has not yet come?
Achieving peace is a choice, a matter of having the right mindset for the journey. If your focus is on growth then maintaining a level of peace through the good and bad times is easier to do because you expect the challenges. However, it is not always easy.
Here are three tips to help reset your mind to keep you focused and at peace while waiting for your breakthrough.
- Wear your traveling shoes. Promise yourself that giving up on your dream is not an option and settle in your mind that you are in it for the long haul. Plan for a long journey and do not try to cut corners or look for quick fixes. If you plan for a long walk, you will not grow weary when all you see is a long road ahead. You will maintain a peace of mind because you planned for a long trip.
- Enjoy the journey – growth comes from the experiences that we gain along the way. Weight lifters go up to heavier weights when the weights that they have been working with are no longer a challenge. So new obstacles are heavier weights and a chance to graduate to the next level. Road blocks and detours are opportunities to grow strong in new areas that you have not experienced before. You achieve peace by thinking of the obstacles as a new experience and as a challenge that will build new muscle.
- Accept that you are not in control – On this journey your job is to do your very best and leave the rest in faith’s hands. You are going to work REALLY hard and believe in yourself but you also accept that you can’t control anything outside of your body. You can influence people but you can’t control what anyone does. When you give up trying to control things beyond your scope and your AUTHORITY and when you release yourself from being responsible for the outcome of situations you can be at peace. You will achieve peace because you are not putting yourself in a responsible role for things that you can’t do anything about.
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” Frederick Douglass
Enjoy the journey!
I heard something on the radio one Sunday that I thought was neat. I’m not sure if it was an intro to a song or a small excerpt of a sermon but the person on the recording said something like: “When you say the words I AM, the word that follows chases IT” (It seeks to be IT and fulfill IT).
So if you say, I am rich, the word RICH, chases – I AM and saying I am strong, the word STRONG, chases – I AM, you get the point.
It is a great way to demonstrate the power of words. When using the phrase that begins with “I AM” you are affirming a thing (the 3rd word that follows) to be true about you. You are declaring that your identity is in alignment with your statement.
I AM POWERFUL, IAM INTELLIGENT, I AM STRONG, I AM BEAUTIFUL…
You are speaking what you believe to be true about yourself, which is your self-image.
How we see ourselves directly impacts our actions and successes in life. If you believe a thing to be true about yourself, then you will act upon it. Your subconscious will work to fulfill it.
There is a scripture that says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Which means, you live your life according to how you see yourself.
If you think you are courageous, you will act courageously. If you believe yourself to be stupid, unfortunately you will walk in those shoes.
Often we unwittingly throw words around like they are meaningless but the opposite is true. Words are one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal.
There is a proverb that says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
Just think how wonderful you feel when someone express their love to you by saying “I love you,” or when they express their gratitude by saying, “Thank you, I appreciate you.” Kind words can change your bad day into a happy day.
It is important to carefully select the words that you use to describe yourself or when you are expressing what you want out of life. I’m sure we all have stated something positive like, “I want to start a business,” and then in the very next breath when doubt rolls in say something like, “I AM NOT able,” because deep inside we don’t think we can.
Whatever your dreams, aspirations and vision for your life, speak positive affirming statements. Guard your self-talk and speak life in to your vision. Even when doubt creeps in, dismiss it quickly. If we use the above example of wanting to start a business, you counter the negative thoughts by saying “I may not know how to run a business but I am capable of learning how.”
So, when you think of yourself, what words follow “I AM?” What words seek to fulfill the statement? Hopefully words that are positive and empowering. If not, I challenge you to make a list of “I AM” phrases that build you up and speak life.
Affirm yourself daily by reading those statements out loud daily until you believe it to be true.
Who are you? Fill in the blank, I AM _________.
Feel like you are missing out on life? Can’t remember what happened yesterday? Feeling detached? Maybe it is time to stop and tune in to your life. We live in a time where everything is fast paced – mobile phones, computers and microwaves. We have pressure from all ends – work, family and bills. It is really easy to get consumed with ALL of the stuff.
However, if you are fed up and frustrated with missing out on the simple things and you want to live a richer life, you can do it today. As a matter of fact, you can do it right now by learning how to LIVE IN THE PRESENT.
Tomorrow does not exist. Yesterday is gone forever but our lives are happening right here and right now. No two minutes are the same, each one represents a new experience in your life, so why not make it a point to get the most out of each moment?
If you are ready to take back your experiences and live richly, here are a few suggestions on how to get started:
- Get out of your head – If you are wrapped up in your own thoughts you are not tuned in to life happening around you. Instead you are most likely operating on autopilot and immersed in your thoughts. Get out of your head by stopping and tuning in to the world. Purposely listen to the sounds that fill up the room, the buzzing of the refrigerator, the clinking furnace, the branch tapping on the window. Go outside and listen to nature’s symphony. Focus on colors and touch the various textures that surround you. Inhale and smell the air, maybe you will detect fragrant flowers or freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Look for things that you haven’t noticed before, like your neighbor painted their fence red. The point is to experience life with all your senses.
- Listen to people when they speak. I’m sorry but many of us just do not listen to what other people have to say because we are busy listening to our own thoughts while pretending to listen (uh-huh, yeah… ). Again quiet your voice in your head, cease with your opinions and just listen to the words that are coming out of the other person’s mouth. Look at his facial expression when he talks. Look in his eyes and give your full attention. You already know what you know, so be quiet and maybe you will learn something new.
- Slow Down – In the day and age of multi-tasking, try putting down the list of to-dos and focus on doing only one thing at a time. Keep your attention on the task at hand and enjoy it. Even if it is washing the dishes, feel the warm water and the silky suds between your fingers and concentrate on getting that dish squeaky clean.
- Just Breathe – Sometimes we just have to stop all the activity and take in a few cleansing breaths. Concentrate on drawing the air in to your lungs and pushing it out. Breathing exercises are a good way to reset your mind. It also helps for you to relax.
- Find Joy – Push agendas and preoccupations out of your mind, no phone, no tablet, no headphones. Free yourself from being responsible and put down your obligations for a few minutes. If only for five minutes – don’t think about the next thing that you have to do. Don’t worry about dinner, or who needs you. Within those minutes you are not responsible for anything but just BEING.
- Be Grateful – Look around and count all that is good. If you can walk, that is good. If you can talk, that is good. If you have a place to lay your head at night, good. Your family is healthy, good. List as many things that you can. Look for the small things that we take for granted like being able to turn on the heater when it is cold. Just take your time and appreciate your blessings.
Our lives can be a lot fuller and richer if we take time to stay present and experience what it is offering. Are you ready to make the change today?
If you are committed to growth and becoming the best version on yourself, understanding why you were created is critical.
Just as a well-built house sits on a firm foundation, your purpose in life is the foundation that you stand on. Your purpose is a building block for your beliefs and a basis for your actions. It is your rudder for maintaining forward momentum and growth.
Knowing your purpose is the key to achieving your full potential in life.
It provides spiritual, mental, social and numerous other benefits.
Let’s look at some the beneficial elements of purpose:
Insight – purpose provides insight to your true nature and inner character. It is the answer to why you exist at this moment in time. It fulfills the sense of belonging and placement. It makes you feel comfortable in your being, your uniqueness and identity.
Utility – purpose directs you to do the work that fills your heart. It gives your clarity about your life’s work and divine assignment – the thing(s) that must be done by you. This is not limited to occupation, it could be a volunteer work, your familial role, or being that right person at that right place, at the right time. It is work that not only is your contribution to this world but gives you satisfaction and joy. It is the work you do in the special way that only you can do it.
Aim – purpose gives you aim or direction to move towards your life’s vision. It helps you to make intentional decisions in your daily activities and life. It helps you to use the precious resource of time, wisely and productively. You make sure that you are fruitful and what you do counts!
Confidence – purpose fosters confidence in doing the things that you were created to do. It emboldens you to develop and master your gifts, talents and abilities. You believe in yourself and your ability to carry out what you desire to accomplish in your own special way. You do not waver in your gifting. Purpose strengthens you.
Gratitude – purpose ushers in gratitude. You are grateful to become the best version of yourself. You are thankful to live in a full and rich way because you do things that matter in the lives of other people. When operating in your purpose you experience tremendous love and compassion. You open yourself and your heart to positively impact the world.
Legacy – when you live in your purpose, you leave behind your stamp on the world. Those who come behind you know that you were here because your work will live on, long after you die. You made a significant contribution that helped to change lives. You just didn’t use up resources but you gave back. You carried out the task that you were created for. You came into the world full of dreams, visions and ideas and you left empty but complete because you used them all and you shared them with the world, leaving it a better place.
Ready to firm up your foundation?
Indecision is the inability to decide.
The Perfection Gap is a form of indecision and a mistaken belief that keeps people stuck despite a great desire for growth and change. In fact, a person who has this type of belief desires success but primarily focuses on avoiding failure.
Most people who fall into this gap have extremely high standards that are hard to meet.
What are some signs of a perfection growth trap?
- When dealing with growth or an opportunity to tackle a goal, this person has to have everything figured out before starting.
- There is a strong desire to find the “best way” before starting on project, goal or venture.
- There is a need to appear perfect to the public – For example, a perfectionist building a website for business would need every minor detail worked out before publishing the site. A “coming soon” message on a webpage would never do, so the website could not launch until everything was PERFECT!
Prospective authors are notorious for taking long delays before publishing a book project because the book has to be perfect, so they revise and revise and never are satisfied.
How do you get past the Perfection Gap?
- Face the fear of appearing imperfect head-on and weigh the desire of achieving your goal vs. the fear that holds you back. Then ask yourself which is greater – your faith in yourself and your ability to achieve your goal or the fear of looking a certain way?
- Remind yourself how badly you want to achieve your goal and then jump before you can think about it any further.
- Trust that the missing pieces or the elements that you did not have figured out before jumping often present themselves AFTER you put yourself out there. Many times they are only discovered because you started moving past yourself and started taping into other resources that you would have never discovered had you not moved past Go.
I recently jumped when I published my Facebook page for my speaking and training business. I am a recovering “perfectionist” and I did not have all the page elements figured out when I published it and invited people to like it. As a matter of fact, my page was empty but I knew that if I were to meet my overall goals, I had to start putting myself out on Facebook. Time was the essence and I could not waste any of it while waiting for my page to be perfect. So, I set up the basic information and went for it. I was scared that people would judge me but shortly after I published it, that feeling went away and I have been adding to it ever since.
Ready to jump?
Your purpose is the reason that you were born. It is your “why.”
A person who lives in alignment with his purpose is enriched, fulfilled and is more likely to reach his potential than someone who does not know his purpose.
We all were created for a reason and have infinite potential to do great things.
Airplanes have wheels so they can be driven on land, but they were created to fly, and only operate at their highest and best use when soaring high above the clouds.
Just like planes, far too many people spend their lives driving on land because they don’t have purpose. They never reach their potential because they are unaware that they were created to fly.
Stuck in the spin cycle when it comes to your dreams? Does your vision allude you? Can’t get past go no matter how hard you try?
It may be time to tune into that voice inside your head and listen to what it is saying. That voice, aka your “self-image” is what you REALLY believe to be true about yourself. It is the mental picture of the kind of person you are and it dictates your actions.
In his book Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz says – “All of your actions, feelings, behaviors – even your abilities – are always consistent with this self-image.”
So if your self-image says you are valuable then you will act accordingly. If you feel worthless on the inside, your actions will mirror that belief.