Moving Away from Self-Reflection

Ever since I started this blog my writing has been primarily focused on analyzing the contents and workings of my mind, all with the end goal of becoming a happier and more fulfilled human being. I tried to explore all manner of concepts related to self-improvement, both in an attempt to share ideas that had helped me along my journey and to increase my own understanding of those concepts.

There has been a shift inside of me recently. For the first time since I started my journey of self-improvement 4 years ago, I’m no longer preoccupied with “fixing” myself. It’s not that I’ve all of sudden become the happy and fulfilled person I want to be. I still have plenty of things I want to change about myself, but spending my time thinking and writing about those things no longer feels useful. The truth of the matter is that I spent more time during the past four years talking about different ways to become a happier person than actually doing the things that would have made me happy.

Now I find myself motivated to simply do more of the things I love. I love to read. I love to write. I love to take and edit photos. I love to travel. So those are the things I’m going to start focusing on in this blog. Those are the things I’m going to document and describe. Sure, there will still be some self-reflection in my writing, but I want that reflection to be based on my actions and experiences, not just ideas I read in a book.

A New Mantra: Think Less, Do More

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I’m an overthinker.

This wasn’t so much of a problem when my life only consisted of school or a typical 9-5 job. The predictable structure of school and work allowed me to make decisions on autopilot. My goals were clear – get good grades, provide great customer service, etc. – and I knew how to accomplish them. There was very little ambiguity back then.

Things are quite different now. I still have some routine in my job as a teaching assistant, but my goals are much grander than they used to be. For the first time in my life, I don’t know the best way to achieve them all. I don’t even know if I can achieve them.

My mind is filled with endless what-ifs and worst-case scenarios. Should I write about this topic or that topic? Should I make a video about something even though I’m not an expert on it? What’s the best way to express my point of view? What if I publish this and people hate it? What if people misinterpret what I’m trying to say?

So many questions. So many paths in front of me. But all of these thoughts leave me frozen, scared to make a decision at all.

That’s why I’ve developed a new mantra for myself:

Think less, do more. 

This mantra is both a call to action and a reminder to stay present to the moment.

The simple truth is that working towards my goals will be a long process of trial and error. No matter how much thinking I do, the only way for me to discover the right way to do things is by taking action.

Only through action will I achieve anything I desire.

Only through action will I escape the whirlwind of anxiety and doubt inside my head.

 

 

 

Two Keys to Finding Motivation

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In my last post, I mentioned some of my doubts about being able to handle my workload this year. In the two days since writing that I picked up a third private English lesson and a fourth is in the works. This extra work hasn’t eased those doubts, but my determination to crush it this year remains strong.

If I’m being honest, my newfound motivation is a little shocking to me. This time last year I was doing my best to avoid hard work, and finding any kind of lasting motivation seemed like a battle I was destined to lose. Yet now I’m  filled with a burning desire to make the most out of my life.

How did I get to this point?

Starting this blog last April was the spark that lit the fuse. Since then, my motivation and ambitions have both grown exponentially. To get more specific, though, here are two different focuses that have fueled this change.

  1. A focus on doing
  2. A focus on giving

A Focus on Doing

“Personal power is the ability to take action.”

– Tony Robbins

I’ve been a thinker for most of my life. I like to think about all the things I want to accomplish and how I might accomplish them. I make plans and imagine different scenarios. I think, and I think, and I think.

For years I wondered why I could never create any lasting change in my life. I had so many great plans and even more theories on how to accomplish them. But the plans always seemed to stay plans, never coming to fruition.

It’s obvious now, but my problem was that I never acted on those plans.

Thinking about what I wanted to accomplish was easier than actually trying to accomplish it. There was no risk of discomfort or failure. Plus, indulging in all that mental masturbation was like a dopamine hit for my brain. I could take pleasure in my potential without having to work to fulfill it.

If taking action was so difficult for me, then how did I even start this blog?

I guess I had a momentary convergence of inspiration and motivation. I was also extremely dissatisfied with my life at the time, and taking action seemed to be the only way out of that negative space. Either way, I’m really grateful that I was able to take that initial step.

Since starting this blog I’ve experienced the rewards that taking action can offer. I’d like to write a more in-depth post about them, so I’ll just talk about the biggest one for now: momentum. The most amazing thing about taking action – even if it’s something small like choosing a WordPress theme for your new blog – is that it provides the fuel for even more action.

It’s a matter of inertia. An object at rest isn’t going to move unless something makes it. But when something is moving, it’s not going to stop unless something forces it too.  So now that I’m taking action on a daily basis, I can hardly imagine stopping. Each action fills me with inspiration and motivation to take even more action.

This doesn’t mean each day has to be filled to the brim with activity, though. Some days I only get one or two important things done. But just a little bit of action on a daily basis helps me maintain my forward momentum. Plus, as the momentum builds, the amount and intensity of my actions also increase.

P.s. – Watching this video also helps get me in the “doing” mindset.

A Focus On Giving

“Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in your mind.”

– Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 3, Verse 19)

For all my talk about doing, staying motivated can still be a struggle at times. I experience this most when it comes to teaching English, probably because I’m not as passionate about teaching as I am about writing and creating. Still, it’s something I’ve committed to doing (and it gives me a paycheck), so staying motivated in this area is really important to me.

This is where a focus on giving comes into play.

I first discovered this powerful idea when I read the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu spiritual text. The Bhagavad Gita talks about selfless service, which means acting for the benefit of others without the expectation of any reward.

It’s not so much about being the next Mother Teresa or even making sure all your actions directly help someone. What it’s really about is the mindset you have while taking action.

I’ll use teaching English as an example. There are two ways I could look at it:

  1. I’m teaching because I want the opportunity to live abroad and make money while doing it, or…
  2. I’m teaching because I want to help students learn and improve their English. I want to have a positive impact on as many students as possible.

Both of these statements contain some truth. Teaching is by no means my greatest passion, and I mainly decided to do because it was the easiest way to move my life abroad. At the same time, I do genuinely want to help my students, even if I don’t feel overly qualified to do so.

My natural tendency is to approach my work with the first mindset. This means viewing each day of work as a necessary duty so that I can live in Spain. As you can imagine, this makes work feel like a chore, which then makes me less likely to stay motivated.

Things become a lot easier when I approach my job with the second mindset. Instead of viewing work as a chore, I look at it as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. This has been like finding a hidden stockpile of energy. I can now bring the same amount of passion to my teaching as I do to my more creative endeavors.

It takes discipline, but I’ve found there’s always a way to think about an activity in terms of benefiting others. Take working out consistently for example. By being in great physical shape you’ll have more energy to help others, you’ll be in a better mood which will rub off on others, and you can set a positive example for the people closest to you. This is a really basic example but you get the idea.

 

Note: I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve got this motivation thing all figured out. What I’ve written here is just what has helped me on my journey so far, and I hope it can help you with any motivational struggles you might be facing as well. Thanks for reading!