One Focus, Seven Goals

Photo: San Sebastian, Spain

Happy New Year everyone!

I’m writing this on January 1st  which means it’s time for an obligatory New Year’s resolution post.

I don’t have a great history with New Year’s resolutions. It’s well known that the majority of people don’t stick to the resolutions they make, and I’ve been a part of that majority pretty much every year that I’ve made one.

That’s why I decided a few weeks ago that, instead of making a typical New Year’s resolution, I would pick a “focus” instead; something I can practice throughout the year without the pressure of having to accomplish anything. That focus will be mindfulness.

Still, the progress I made in 2016 left me with a drive to really push myself this year. So while mindfulness will be my top priority, there are still some concrete things I’m going to try to accomplish as well. Here are the most important ones for me:

  1. Learn HTML and design my own website
  2. Put out multiple blog posts and vlogs each week
  3. Travel to at least 5 new countries
  4. Save up to buy a new camera and video editing software
  5. Read 50 books
  6. Make meditation a consistent habit
  7. Improve my Spanish

I already know that accomplishing these will be quite the challenge. Consistency is something I’ve always struggled with, and most of them will require a lot of discipline and consistent effort. Yet, for what might be the first time in my life, I’m filled with more excitement than dread at the thought of pursuing these goals. I know that just working towards them will create a lot of positive change in my life.

Maybe it’s the momentum from this past year talking, but I truly believe I’m going to crush it in 2017.

 

 

 

 

Quote of the Week #29

without-hustle_2

“Without hustle, your talent will only get you so far.” 

– Gary Vaynerchuk

The tone of this week’s quote is a little different than what I normally post, but I think Gary Vee’s words really highlight my mindset going into 2017.

For most of my life, I’ve gotten by on my natural talents combined with a ton of support (both emotionally and financially) from my family. While I’ve put a lot of work into my mental and emotional health over the past few years, I’ve yet to really exert myself when it comes to achieving the life I want externally. I guess you could say I’ve just been skating by my whole life, never failing at anything but also never achieving the kind of success I I know I’m capable of.

Along with focusing on mindfulness, I want to make this a year of hustle and execution. And for what seems like the first time in my life, I actually have a clear purpose to work towards: building this blog and my Youtube channel.

Here’s to a year filled with both presence and productivity!

2017: The Year of NOW

20161205_175408

As we near the end of 2016, I can look back on the past 12 months with a smile. I made more progress in my personal development this year than in any year prior.

One of my main focuses throughout the year was changing the way I think. I used strategies such as repeating thought loops, positively reframing my negative thoughts, and cultivating gratitude and self-love. These efforts weren’t without reward; maintaining a positive mindset throughout the day has become much easier.

New Year, New Strategy

If I’m being truly honest with myself I have to admit that focusing on my thinking will only get me so far on my journey. No matter how many of these thought-strategies I use, trying to change my thoughts only offers me temporary relief from negativity. I may be better at editing my thoughts as they come up, but my default thoughts are still mostly negative. Plus the constant effort to think positive thoughts can be exhausting at times, and when my negative thoughts can’t be reframed or overcome by positivity, I often end up even more frustrated than before.

This doesn’t mean that becoming a significantly happier person is a pipe dream for me though. I just need to change my strategy. Fortunately, I’ve known the correct strategy for quite some time now: being present to the moment.

My most life-changing moment was reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle back in 2013. Before reading it, I had always completely identified with each and every negative thought I had. So Tolle’s assertion that “you are not your thoughts” was revolutionary for me. By following his advice to observe my thoughts and place my attention on the present moment, I was able to experience a sense of peace that was completely foreign to me at the time.

“To realize that you are not your thoughts is when you begin to awaken spiritually.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Despite experiencing the literal power of “now,” I continued to only return to it in my darkest moments. Being present to the moment was nice, but I wanted to actually change the quality of the thoughts I was having. In a way, avoiding the challenge of actually changing my thoughts almost seemed like taking the easy way out. So presence took a backseat to my focus on positive thinking.

Fast-forward three years and here I am, a lot happier but still struggling daily to change my thoughts. So I’m forced to ask myself….

Why am I exerting so much energy trying to change my thoughts when I could find peace through being present to the moment?

The irony of it all is that “the easy way out” is actually a huge challenge in itself. Living in the NOW may alleviate the need to change my thoughts, but it requires just as much effort and discipline.

“The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not “the thinker.” The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.”

– Eckhart Tolle

So as 2017 approaches, I feel it’s time to make a change. Instead of spending so much time trying to think more positively, I’m going to make being present to the moment my main focus.

Over the years I’ve noticed that I’m a more effective person when operating from a place of presence. I’m more creative, more charismatic, and more energetic. I can think more clearly and I’m better able to focus on whatever task I’m working on. More so than positive thinking, being present to the moment is starting to show itself as the key to my happiness and success.

I still plan on exploring new ways to improve my thoughts and emotions, and I’ll still pursue my goals. But I want presence to be the foundation from which all of my actions spring.