Words are powerful, but actions seem to speak louder sometimes. The key is to make them match. ‘Walking the talk’ is how the saying goes.
Not only does being consistent give you a level of credibility and trustworthiness among the people you deal with, but it can help you stay on track with your own goals and give you a way to self-evaluate and plan.
If you’re truly interested in where you stand on this important measure, try this. Sit down with a pen, paper (or computer) and someone you know can be completely honest with you, and have a frank discussion about different areas of your life. In one column, list some of the things you commonly say or promise to other people. In the other column, with the help of your task-partner’s honesty, discuss and list the behaviours that tend to follow the words. Do they match?
If you’re seeing a mismatch, brainstorm more desired outcomes. How would you hope someone would engage with you? What are others actually expecting of you?
With time, you’ll be able to do this more easily and automatically on your own and in real time. Before long, your walk will be looking as good as your talk sounds.
Some people find promising something to someone else is more powerful or effective than promising oneself something. I think it depends on your orientation. Those who like to please other people, or feel a responsibilty to account for their behaviour publicly, or who need to have their decisions given a seal of approval or a go-ahead might find the former more effective. Those who are superstitious (“I don’t want to jynx this.”) or who are able to encourage themselves, or who like to have something tangible to show when they announce something might find the latter strategy more helpful.
I used to announce my intentions to do something – at least to those in my inner circle. I do like to live up to my promises. But I started to find, as someone with a healthy imagination and lots of interests, that many of my plans never even got off the ground. I didn’t enjoy feeling like I was just full of hot air or a dreamer.
Having developed a better understanding of myself, I decided to no longer announce all my intentions to people in advance of starting them. I would get a project (of whatever nature) underway and wait for achievement of the first milestone. At that point, I would announce both my progress/achievement as well as the general plan or direction of the project.
But I have a question. Might having a life coach make a difference, regardless of your approach to making commitments to plans? Admittedly, in the past, when I’ve announced plans, no one has asked me about my commitment to the plan, and no one has held me responsible for carrying out the intention. And the only person truly being let down by any failure to act has been me. Would having had a proper ‘accountability expert’, so to speak, have helped me plan and act on my commitment? Likely.
Life coaches are there as supports. They help you articulate your plans, encourage you when begin to flag, and hold you responsible for what you say you want to do while at the same time withholding any kind of judgment.
“Are you happy?” is among the most common questions you hear asked these days in Western countries. We’re obsessed with happiness and obtaining it, yet at the same time, we’re often at a complete loss as to how to define it. Elusive in nature, happiness can mean anything from being financially well off, to having a dream job/career, to having a fairy-tale romance. It can manifest as something tangible and material equally as often as it can describe a state of emotional or spiritual well-being. Even within the realm of the emotional, it can range in intensity from a state of ‘being in balance’ or contentment all the way to absolute joy or ecstasy. There seem to be as many definitions of happiness as there are people pursuing it.
Happiness is studied within several different disciplines, the goals being how to define it, measure it, and help or tell people how to obtain it. The following is an example of a simple metric looking at “Satisfaction with Life“:
Using a 7-point Likert scale, indicate your agreement with the following 5 questions. (Feel free to try this out here – answers are anonymous. Note also that this test is free to use as the content lies in the public domain.)
1. ____ In most ways, my life is close to my ideal.
2. ____ The conditions of my life are excellent.
3. ____ I am satisfied with my life.
4. ____ So far, I have gotten the important things I want in life.
5. ____ If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
Note some of the words that become associated with the pursuit and attainment of happiness: ‘ideal’, ‘life conditions’, ‘satisfaction’, ‘get important things’.
There are many critiques of both the seemingly unique North American obsession with the pursuit of happiness, and the quality of happiness research being done. With the former, arguments often revolved around the fact that happiness is too often linked with material possessions and that despite the obsession of happiness and positive attitude, the US especially, is actually quite an unhappy place, according to polls. With the latter, the major critique is that happiness measures are predominantly self-report and that these reports can vary widely from day to day.
Myself, having lived in China a few times for significant periods, I can attest to the fact that the Chinese have a similar obsession with happiness. Happiness, according to the few thousand teenagers I encountered over the course of my most recent stay of 13 months, is equated to making money, most often. There is a sort of obsessive ‘fake it ’til you make it’ attitude. There are a number of mantras, perpetuated in the high school system, including one often-chanted Chinglish (Chinese influenced English) saying, “Happy every day!” Interestingly, I found no more or less happiness in China than I’ve found in various parts of North America.
Does happiness exist and is it worth pursuing? Absolutely! The key to attaining it, though, is doing a thoughtful and honest analysis of what you believe you need to find satisfaction. Once you can articulate your goals in this regard, you can then commit yourself to pursuing them in a concrete, logical, and effective way.
As I’ve adopted ‘Choosing Life’ as my theme or defining handle, then I suppose it would make sense to have a little discussion about what ‘life’ actually is. I do list a few of the many possible meanings of ‘choosing life’ on my About page. But what do I mean by ‘life’, and can you even choose it?
First, I will clarify here that I am not referring to, nor to I intend to get into any discussion of abortion or pro-choice issues. Choosing Life, in this context, has nothing to do with that topic.
If you think about life, generally speaking, it refers to animate objects that possess the ability to do a variety of things, including, but not limited to, growing, reproducing, and adapting to the environment. If an object does these things, we can say that they are living.
But as humans, more complex than other organisms in a variety of ways, we might be able to define life and living in a complex way as well. We can ‘live’ simply by growing and reproducing and adapting, but we might also be able to say that simply doing those things is not really ‘living’. In this case, life and living refer to making choices and being active players in the world. For example, my body might function on a day to day basis, and I might do all the things that the average human might do without putting much thought or deliberation into these things, but I could say that I am not truly ‘living’. I suggest that actively committing to making the most of the simple state of being alive by way of maximizing our personal potential, regardless of where our talents may lie, is truly living. Or, in other words, choosing life.
Yes, one definition of life is objective, the other is subjective, but that is the beauty of being human. We don’t live in a black and white world. Only we can decide whether we are choosing life and whether our actions reflect this commitment. I suppose that one way to tell whether we are on the right track is to take note of how our choices make us feel. Choosing life should feel good.
Welcome to Choosing Life. This is a blog and web site devoted to personal development and committing to becoming one’s best self. A number of topics will be explored here, including, but not limited to:
I look forward to exploring a host of issues with you. Stay tuned.