Lessons I’ve learnt from not having a Plan!

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I’ve been a bit quite in the past months, while I’ve wanted to write, I instead took time to be a bit introspective. For the past 2 years I’ve been single, and have decided to be a bit more intentional about getting a better understanding of my personality. I’ve learnt so much, and I’m also very excited to see what comes next. I’ve always been the type of person who has a plan (5 yr, 10 yr, 15 yr…). Despite my best plans my life hasn’t worked out how I thought it would. With a bit of a mix of frustration and wanting to change things, I decided to forgo any new plans, and just live and see what happens. In the past that would have scared me to death, not having a plan is going against every fiber of my being. What’s remarkable is that first of all I’m still here, I haven’t succumbed to failure, and I’ve also learnt a lot more about myself and have rediscovered my faith along the way.

What is SUCCESS!

Everyone talks about being successful, yet we all have varying meanings for what success looks like to us. At it’s root success is a kind of a Social Agreement, in order for you to be successful, it doesn’t just depend on your definition; others have to agree with you. For me my success is tied to my childhood, and family upbringing. Although I consider myself as someone who follows his own decisions. My past also determines what I see as success, the messages I’ve heard as a child back home in Guyana play a big role in my definition. Despite what I may say, having a family of my own, having a stable career, are all tied into what I consider successful. For the past several years it’s been a bit of cognitive dissonance, I know what I want, but despite my best efforts I can’t seem to quite get there. For the first time in a long time, I feel as though I may finally have the tools and drive I need to push ahead.

Fear of Failure my Nemesis

I’ve been recently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In one of the chapters Brene talks about how shame and fear can hijack us. Sometimes it seems that my greatest enemy isn’t others, but how I think of myself. In my mind sometimes I ask “what will others think if…” That shame of letting others seem ME is sometimes paralyzing. Of course the other thought is “will they like or approve of what I have to say?” There’s a hidden danger to that type of thinking. For example when I first started this blog, it was because I saw how my words could encourage those close to me. So I thought that if I reach a larger audience, I can help and impact more people. Somewhere along the way I became more focused on whether I received any likes, or if anyone read or commented to my posts. So I stopped writing for a bit, at least until I can write based on my initial motive. I will admit that I’m not immune to other’s impression of me. I’m learning to not attach my self-worth to what others think, that seems a quick way to end up down the negative self-talk and depression roads. Sharing something that is special to me with others without regard for whether they like it is a way to be more authentic. I have to learn how to not let my worth be dictated by how others perceive me.

Not everyone will like or agree with you!

I tend to be a bit more logical in my thinking, I’m an INTJ on the Myers/Briggs if you follow those types of Personality Inventories. Making decisions based on emotional appeals doesn’t usually work on me. As a result I can seem a bit stubborn to most people, where others may have a strong emotional connection to a decision; I tend to be more logical and practical. With each passing moment and day, I think carefully about decisions I make. I decide what is best for me, and I know that others will disagree with me. I’m ok with that, afterall I’m making the best decisions for my life, while they’re doing what’s best for them. Of course the hope is that with those close to you those decisions will overlap.

(It was a few weeks since I originally started writing this post) I’d like to end with another quote from Daring Greatly

Perfection is the enemy of done.”

For me that means that regardless of whether I think this post is good enough, I should post it. I got the opportunity to visit New York for my lil sister’s Graduation, it’s funny that I still think of her as a little kid, but she’s a grown woman. Being back in New York, served several purposes. Of course the most important was to see my sister Graduate College. I also had a few brief moments where I was able to relish in the thought that, I’m at a stage in my life where I can take off for a few weeks to go to New York. Despite what I may think of myself, or my lack of career progress, I still have the time, energy, and resources to take trips like that. For that I’m grateful and feel blessed.

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I’m over you, now what! 4 Things to consider before your next Relationship

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“There’s plenty of fish in the sea” “you deserve better” “you’ll find someone else better” “you were never right for each other” Who has not heard these quotes, while they’re well intentioned, why do they not make anything actually better? I’m not sure if this is the season for it, or why, but I keep seeing posts about people going through heart break. While I’m currently not in a relationship, and it’s been several years since my last one, there are a few things that I’ve noticed that seem to help people around me get over their loss. “Get Over” their break-up isn’t the best way to phrase it either, deal with it in a healthy way is probably a better way to look at it. The truth is a break-up will always hurt, even years after, we learn how to not let it affect us the same way. I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, or even a novice for that matter, these are just a few tools that I’d like for you to consider.

Love yourself first

A friend of my told me this a few months back and it has stuck with me since. “You want to understand yourself, not know yourself.” Meaning that knowing something is more as if you’re accomplished all that you can, while understanding is more of a evolutionary process. Loving yourself first is important because of the EGO. When I say your ego, I don’t mean the small voice that convinces you that you can lift that large obstacle, or that you can overcome anything that get’s put in your way, or that you’re more beautiful than others think you are. I’m talking about that voice that tells you “you’re not good enough” “you’re not beautiful enough” “you will NEVER accomplish that goal you set out to do.” This life as we know it is filled with both positive and negative, and when it comes to the EGO, people generally think of the positive side and forget the negative. If you’re constantly having negative self-talk, there isn’t a person in the world that will make this magically stop. Additionally if you’re looking for someone to “complete you” or “make you better” you typically aren’t confident about yourself. Loving yourself first means that you don’t let negative self-talk dictate your day. We all have those negative feelings, some people learn how not to take it seriously. Loving yourself first means that you put your well-being first, by putting yourself first you ensure that your needs are also met. What I’m not saying is to not be loving and kind to others, but imagine a scale if you will. If helping someone is going to come at a far greater negative impact to you, perhaps you should reconsider helping them. Loving yourself first means that you set realistic boundaries, that you are open and honest about your well-being, and that you don’t let others take advantage of you.

What’s your Compass

“I believe in honesty, even when no one is looking”

“I want to have 2 kids, a boy and a girl”

“I believe that my wife should have a choice whether she wants to work or not”

“I want a partner that shares my faith”

“I want a partner that will help me be a better version of MYSELF, and me HER”

My list is much longer, but those are some of the things that are important to me, and I’m looking for someone who has a similar list. Then together we can help each other accomplish our life goals, being together is mutually beneficial. I’m well aware that some couples might not have the same exact goals, but lets’ look at an example for comparison. Lets say the husband wants to be a Doctor, and he wants to help impoverished people, his wife in turn wants to be a Lawyer, who also helps impoverished people. While they don’t have the same career goals, can you see how they can still accomplish their overall goal together? He can provide medical services, while she helps with legal and equality issues for the same group of people. The two of them together can form an organization that helps people.  While this is a hypothetical couple, it illustrates the point well, they don’t have the same specific career goals, but by partnering they can help actualize their full potentials. Simply put, that person helps you accomplish YOUR goals, without diverting you from your path. By knowing where it is you want to go, you can help identify the person that will be the right co-pilot for you, given your goals.

WHY matters more than WHO

You meet someone, they’re attractive, you share a few things in common, and you also feel sexual chemistry. “Wow we have so much in common, would you like to go on a date?” While this is ok for a first date, having a long term relationship should be way more complicated than that. What are their life goals, what are their core values? Do they want to have children, how many do they want to have? How are they going to help me accomplish the things I’ve already set for my life? Have you ever broken up with someone, and then think to yourself “Wow they were totally wrong for me!” If that was the case, why were you together for months, why together for 5 years; worse yet why were you about to marry that person? Psychologist have coined the term “limerence” or “the honeymoon phase.” They both refer to the stage where you’re infatuated with someone, and it’s partly because of the chemical reactions taking place in your body. You find them highly attractive, even though you don’t share everything in common, you feel as though you do. While somethings should be red-flags, you’re willing to overlook their flaws. Scientists have said that this could last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of a new relationship. While I’m not saying that those feelings aren’t real, what I am saying is that your body is having a chemical reaction, one in which you don’t have much control over. Forming a life together isn’t a small step, but if it’s based on only your physical attraction and sexual chemistry, you’re in for a huge surprise! At some point in your relationship, that insatiable attraction you felt in the beginning will fade, your animalistic sex drive will also fade. That is why it’s important to base you decisions on “the why” you’re with that person, that’s why your compass and life goals matter. That way your relationship won’t be based on just physical attraction and sexual chemistry.

Golden Rule of Relationships

I’m sure everyone is familiar with “Do unto others as you would like them do to you!” For simplicity, lets say that you like your coffee black, with no sugar or cream. Let’s say that your friend likes their’s with some honey, 2 sugars, and 5 creamers. If you’re getting your friend coffee, would you get it the way you like, or the way they like? If you bring them a straight black coffee with nothing in it, they’d probably spit it out in disgust. So why is it that when you’re doing something “nice” for someone you are more likely to bring them a black coffee, after-all that’s the way YOU like it, why can’t they be more thankful. While that’s a very basic example, it’s the way we tend to view our relationships. When you give someone something , you tend to give them something you’d like, and then you wonder why they never used your gift again. When it comes to relationships, I think the Platinum rule should apply, “Do unto others as they would like done to them.” Should you treat everyone with honesty, respect and love, of course you should. At the same time there are times where you have to consider their preference before you do something. This is why I believe that open and honest communication goes a long way, and why we should spend time actually getting to KNOW people. This is especially important if we’re going to be in a committed long-term relationship with them. A great resource I’ve found is learning about The 5 Love Languagesif you find that you don’t agree with anything I’ve said so far, I hope you’ll at least consider this resource. This is probably one of the biggest obstacles facing most everyday relationship, those that aren’t somehow dysfunctional.

While these are just a few snapshots of things to consider, realistically your list will be much longer. You have to consider aside from your physical attraction and a few things in common, why are they in your life? How is this person helping or deterring you from YOUR goals. If you’re planning to be in it for the Long-haul, there are soo many things to consider. The point is that you have to base your decisions on some intangible goals also. By loving yourself first you will have room and energy to devote to loving someone else, rather than learning to love two people at the same time. By looking at what’s below the surface, their values, beliefs, and life goals, you can make a better choice of who will be best for YOU. Why that person specifically, what do you have to gain by having them in YOUR life? Finally having open and honest communication about the things that matter most to you is essential, how will you communicate what’s important to you? It’s a scary thought, but do you have the courage to walk away if that is not the wisest relationship choice for you. Better yet, what if you can know this relatively soon in the relationship, so that you don’t have to experience more pain and heart break after a life together for years.

Just a few thing to consider, I’d love to hear some feedback. What’s on your list, what will you do differently to ensure that your next relationship lasts for the long-haul? Do you have the courage to ask the tough questions? Are you heading into your relationships with all your wits about you?

Has becoming a Man become an Unreachable Goal!!!

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post about what it means to be a Strong Man. As my 34th Birthday came and went, I find that the topic had not faded away, but instead become a bigger part of my consciousness. As it has been in the past, many of the thoughts I have are either addressed in other posts, or is the topic of discussion in Church.

What proceeds isn’t meant to chastise anyone, I’m hoping that this topic can be a prompt for a conversation; a conversation between men and the women in our lives. All I ask is that you keep an open mind, and hear what I say with a voice of Love. Thought it’s important to start with this disclaimer, didn’t want my words to spark anger or any kind of resentment!

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that my struggle isn’t unique, as males we face constant pressure to be a Man (not quite sure what that even means). Although we face pressure to provide, to show strength but still be passive, to NEVER fail (failure is a sign of weakness). We are told these Stories that we eventually believe, and they become our mantras; but we’re never thought how to cope. I seem to be a bit of a tri-fecta unmarried, no children, and no substantive financial successes (money, nice car) to show for myself. But how has my manhood become about that? I’d like to point out that those things I listed aren’t everything, and although it’s not verbalized, EVERY man knows that he’s measured by those things.

Living with Bad Role Models!

Whether you’re religious or not there seems to be a scarcity of good role models. In the Media we see Athletes who are strong and great at their physical accomplishments, but we also hear of stories of infidelity or rampant divorce. In the movies we see the Man who can get multiple women in bed, idolized as “The Man” What about the stories about the many who’s a father, a husband, a lover, a friend, life long companion all wrapped up into one person? Why are those men not idolized? Even in the Biblical times, we read stories of Men like David, who was a great Leader, but who was also plagued with depression and feelings of inferiority.

Talking about problems is seen as a Weakness!

I saw a story about the recent recession and how families were dealing with it. One of the men made a statement that has stayed with me, he said “They would rather see me die trying to stay on my White Horse, than to see me fall” What he meant was that to maintain the facade of having it together, even though it’s obvious he doesn’t. He said that his wife and daughters don’t talk to him about the struggles he’s going through to to maintain the view that he has it together. The truth is we don’t have it together, we men face immense pressure to “Be a Man” We’re expected and in most cases required to be a provider, safety and security are our main priorities. I challenge you though, sure men don’t generally talk about their problems, but in many cases part of the problem is that others aren’t willing to have the conversation.

The R Word feels like the Kiss of Death!

Yes I’m talking about that “R” word, responsibility. While being able to provide and care for those around you with financial support is important. It has become the defacto response when not wanting to face fear. As Jim Carrey said To find peace you first have to let the Armour go and stop worrying about what will happen if people see you without your armor. I’d replace the “R” word, with the “V” word. No not that “V” word, I’m talking about vulnerability. We all have weaknesses, we all fall short, but the great thing about vulnerability, is that it frees us from fear. Without Fear we can have hope and faith instead. Fear keeps us in a state of inaction, it prevents us from moving and bettering ourselves. Faith and hope on the other hand are action oriented, they entice us to do better, to not take the status-quo as an acceptable pathway.

Keys to become an Agent of Change

Now that I’ve painted a picture of doom and bad role models, how can you possibly change. My Pastor Steve suggested a few specific things you could do, his were really great so there’s no need for me to invent something new.

Use your Strength for Good

Reject Passivity- As males we possess a kind of strength, and we should lead that way. When a problem arises don’t default our responsibility, don’t use “Ask your mom” or “I don’t do that kind of stuff, why don’t you plan that honey” We must be an active participant in decisions, the women around us are counting on us to make decisions, don’t become complacent. Now what I’m not saying is “I’m a man and I need to make all the decisions (while pounding my chest like a cave-man)” There’s a difference between compromising on a decision and making all the decisions. Compromise fosters harmony, and allows both people to have a stake in the decision making process.

Take Responsibility- Not the same one from earlier, but take responsibility for your actions, don’t blame others’ for what you do. Take full ownership of your action, and leave it up to others for theirs. Something I learnt this year I think is helpful here, “Always do my Best.” Each day I will do the best that I’m capable of, the caviat here is that if I can only do 50% then that’s what I’ll do, I won’t beat myself up for not being able to accomplish 150%.

Lead Courageously- We’re expected to lead our families, so lead with confidence and courage. If you feel you lack those skills then pray for them, and actively seek out opportunities to improve. For single person like myself, it doesn’t take a family to lead, and I can still lead in my everyday relationships, whether work, friendship, or others.

“A wise person hears the Truth, and adjusts his behavior to the truth. A foolish person hears the truth, and adjusts the truth to his behavior” – Unknown (well I hear my Pastor Steve say it on numerous occasions)

The Truth is constant, it shouldn’t change, therefore you should change to the truth rather than the other way around. For example, we know that smoking is bad for your health. A wise person will say, smoking is bad for my health and since I would like to live longer, I will have to stop smoking. In contrast a foolish person will say, well I don’t smoke that often, and I probably won’t get cancer for awhile anyway, so I’ll smoke till I die. Sorry smokers, it’s the first example I could think of, and there is Scientific evidence to back it up so it seemed a great illustration. As the truth becomes exposed to us, do we change our behavior to reflect the new truth, or do we find a way to maintain our current behavior, and model a truth that reflects our behavior. As we navigate our lives as males, which are we living, as a wise person or a foolish person?


As I stated in the beginning, this isn’t meant to chastise anyone, but it’s more about starting a conversation. As a man I face immense pressures to be a certain way, and while it may not be entirely true, I feel that women around me expect those things of me too. You may argue that it’s not true, that you do not expect those things from your men, but have you ever talked to them about it? If you ask what is a Man, whether it’s from a man or a woman, you’d probably get very similar answers. This pressure has lead to depression, suicide, and men are literally killing themselves to maintain this persona. I hope you use your words to build up and strengthen rather than tear down and humiliate, do it with and for Love. Men speak to the women in your life, let them see the real you, let them see what you’re actually struggling with. For the women, talk to your men, and be willing to get rid of the “Knight in Shining Armor” persona, I’m not saying that your guy isn’t going to save the day. But this is real life, no one rides a white horse, maybe a white Prius!

The Meaning of Living- According to Jim Carrey

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One of my favorite Comedians has always been Jim Carrey, and Dumb and Dumber has been one of my all time favorite movies. I had previously heard that Jim Carrey is brilliant, and I had thought it was one of those things people say about someone. Today I had the privilege of listening to a Speech he gave at a University this year. I think it’s the most succinct compilation of thoughts I’ve ever heard that gives a glimpse of what Life is about. I took down a few of the ones that touched me, because they reflected the path that my life is on currently.  I highly recommend that you look at the video: Full Speech: Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation

(The following is a few of the Quotes he gave in the speech, along with a few of my thoughts and why I think what he said is noteworthy)

  • You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you Love (For me I see people living life according to what they think society and others want them to do, and many of them seem soo unhappy. So why not do something that you’re passionate about, something that makes you feel alive and vibrant at your core)
  • Live your life asking how can I have an effect on the world while I’m here?
  • Ask how can my gift change the world, not what can the world do for me.
  • What if people see me without my mask! (The lesson here is to not let fear and the EGO stop you from being your authentic self)
  • To find peace you first have to let the Armour go. (Instead of fighting against who you are, your authentic self, stop worrying about what the world thinks. The masks we wear prevent us from achieving full happiness. To find peace within ourselves, we must let go of all of these things)
  • Our need for acceptance, can also make you invisible. (We’re constantly striving to feel wanted and accepted, but as we continue to look to others to bring us satisfaction, we find that the goal is always moving. We continue to try, but can never accomplish what we set out to do. This race makes us loose our uniqueness, and we become invisible, we’re no longer our true selves)
  • To find Peace we must let our Light shine through, and take the risk to let ourselves be seen. (Remembering that we all have a gift, something unique that we bring to the world, that is our light, our beacon. Be must be willing to be seen with our flaws, our shortcoming. While recognizing that we bring a talent, a gift to share with the Universe. As Brene Brown would say, we must be willing to be vulnerable)
  • Don’t let Wealth, Fame, Prestige … distract you from your true purpose in life, which is to let your Light shine through!!
  • There should be nothing more important in this world than you. (Learn to embrace and invest time into perfecting your gift)
  • Don’t let your EGO(the voice that tells you that you’re not good enough) fool you, know that you already possess everything you want, believe it and it will come to pass.
  • Stop worrying about how your dreams will come through, just believe, and don’t get caught up on what the vessel looks like. If you miss your chance, the Universe will find a way to bring it back around again.

With each passing day, it’s ammazing what we can find that helps define our path. I’m happy that I’m at a stage in my life that I’m able to learn about these things. After all in the end I’d like to know that I’ve lived my life, and that I’ll be satisfied with what I’ve done. This is just one small stem towards that future. Thank you Kathleen for first posting this, and for guiding others to find their light.

 

 

 

Time to get my MOJO back!!!

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It seems funny, but in an attempt to get motivated, I asked a friend if she can yell at me like a Drill Sergeant; I think she took me seriously too. I don’t talk about my Undergraduate Degree much, but I have a B.S. in Business Psychology. One of the things I’m most proud of with that degree, is that I got a chance to complete an Academic Paper. I interviewed participants, conducted my own original research, and stoped just short of the getting published part. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that my topic was on Motivation, specifically Workplace Motivation. I’ve written in previous posts that I feel like my life is in slow motion right now, I feel stuck and I’m not sure how to get out. I know that I’m moving in the right direction, but I feel like I’m getting passed my a snail right now. In my effort to get out and get some sunshine on this first day of spring, I thought about my research paper, since it’s on motivation, perhaps there’s something in there I can use.

In my research leading up to my paper, the first question I looked to answer is what is motivation. In their research Eccles and Wigfield (Motivational Beliefs, Values, and Goals, 2002), described motivation this way: “The Latin root of the word “motivation” means “to move”; hence, in this basic sense the study of motivation is the study of action”. In other words, motivation is what drives us to action. So one of the first things I thought of was that in order to not feel stuck, I will have to be moving, to act, to not sit on the sidelines. In another article Sinha and Sinha (Personal Growth and Training and Development, 2009) thought that the best way to become motivated, is by proper training. They believed that learning and practicing effective strategies was a good way to find and maintain motivation. So motivation is not something static, it takes practice, and it requires continued effort to maintain. The first topics ALL pointed to one outcome, in order to be motivated, it will require ACTION.

So action and practice is the outward manifestation of motivation, but what’s the source. In their research Cameron and Pierce (Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation: Resolving the Controversy, 2002) believed that motivation originates from within. They believe that the most effective tool for motivation is it’s intrinsic value, meaning that the real effort comes from within you. Whether its a coincidence or not, it seems that no study on motivation doesn’t find a correlation with Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Nair (Organizational Behaviour, 2010) conducted a study involving large corporations, and found that there were several indicators to high motivation, and they were comprised of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory which are: psychological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization. Nair’s research concluded that as we accomplish the lower needs on Maslow’s pyramid, we gain higher levels of satisfaction. For me I feel as though I’m still working on my safety and social needs; I’m still looking for job and financial security. Therefore until I’m able to accomplish those needs, I will continue to feel as though I’ve more to accomplish. For me I find that I’ve always had a pull to find meaning in my life, and to be able to feels as though I’ve somehow contributed to humanity, or at least those close to me. Seems that I’m seeking to accomplish my esteem and self-actualization needs. One thing this last researcher has shown me is that at the bottom of the pyramid, it takes a lot more of those needs to feel satisfied, than it does with the ones at the top. Thinking back to my time in the Marines, I’ve always felt as though I was doing something that made humanity, or at the lest my country better. Now that I’m out of the Military, I find myself wondering “what now? how do I maintain that feeling?”

Knowing where you want your life to go is a good first step, but how do you get there. Setting goals for themselves was one of theMotivation key factors for motivation described by my participants. A good way to set goals would be by using S.M.A.R.T (S-pecific, M-easurable, A-ttainable, R-ealistic, T-ime sensitive) goals. Sorry I don’t have a specific reference for that one, learnt it in one of my Communication classes. For example making $1 million in the next year when you only make $12/hr is not a good goal. In contrast saving $1200 in the next year, by putting away $100 each month, because you have $500 left over each month is a great goal to set. Additionally my research found that having a strong support system also was very instrumental to accomplishing goals. It’s key to surround yourself with people who will encourage rather than criticize you, and help you when you fall down. A strong support system lead to higher levels of satisfaction with my participants. It’s important to emphasize that a strong support system means people who are capable of helping you, it’s pointless and frustrating to have people around you that you lean on who can’t help you.

Ok so what does all this research mean? First of all, motivation is action oriented, to be motivated you must be moving towards something. It requires good proven strategies. There are some lower level needs that you must accomplish first, you need to have certain safety and physiological needs met before you feel satisfied about social or esteem needs. In order to get to the end, you should have specific goals set. Although I have my work cut out for me, I’m confident that I’ll make it. The next chapter of my life isn’t going to be easy, but I have some good strategies to follow. Now comes the hard part, getting off my butt and actually doing something, you know the ACTION  part. I’ve learnt a valuable lesson this year, and that is you will always have people around you who are capable of helping you, you simply need to ask for help. I can’t do this all on my own, it will require dedication, specific goals, and accountability.

What about you, what helps you when you feel in a rut? What strategies have you found to be effective? I’d like to hear about them.

P.S. Oh by the way if you’re thinking that my references weren’t formatted correctly, you can’t dock me points for that, I wanted to show that I didn’t pull info from space!!!