Today’s episode 26. “If you don’t know where you are going you’ll end up somewhere else.”
And in my family every minute had to be accounted for. There was no idle time and therefore no mental health problems. It is a long bow that connects mental health with time accountability, but it is not a long though that says idle time is the devils playground.
Because my father worked and my stepmother was AWOL, my dad always asked where I was going to be. But his interest was not in order to control my destination but rather to check that I was going to be somewhere and that I had a plan. If I did not have a plan we were given chores to do. And so, inadvertently and somewhat accidentally we were taught to know where we were going and always have a plan.
And there are three things every human requires in order to have good strong mental health.
- Someone to love.
- Something to do.
- Something to look forward to.
Let’s talk about the first one First: Someone to Love
Are it is conspicuous that outside of the workplace, people gravitate toward relationships. Someone to love is really important outside the workplace. For most people someone to love is someone to depend on, someone to take a level of responsibility for their own life, someone to ease the struggle of bringing up children, someone to be affectionate with. But this someone to love can be also family members, pets, children and friends. The demand on the word love can be quite soft and gentle and therefore doesn’t need always to be a relationship with a significant other. One of the reasons that solitary confinement is a punishment is that we do not necessarily like to be in love with ourselves and therefore we find it much easier to love something or someone else.
one of the hardest things I have experienced in my life is spending time alone. This is the learning one gets in practices such as meditation and Zen when, in remote places, we are taught to meditate in isolation from all other human contact. We begin to go crazy. My friend in Nepal was an American scientist and decided to become a nun in the Buddhist tradition and fought very hard to live in the Himalayas with a permit and learn meditation. She built her own house out of rocks and worked tirelessly every day helping other local and Tibetan nuns to establish their monastery. Eventually she was given permission to spend three years, three months, three weeks, three days, three hours in meditation. I suspect from knowing her well that she was a little crazy in the first place and so she came out of that three year experience more sane. But she did have her computer and a few other modern conveniences to prevent her going completely nuts. Many of the monks in the Himalayas are studying to get permission to go into this practice. It is considered a great blessing to do it. Most of them don’t go nuts. The reason they don’t go nuts is because they’ve spent 30 years learning to like themselves. It’s harder than you think.
Now Let’s Talk about The second One: Something to DO.
Right now I’m sitting at my computer it’s 5:30 am and I am doing something. The fact that I am not in bed asleep is a conscious choice. I want to feel like I am doing something early in the morning that is highly productive and creative. My partner however is at the gym. Today it is raining and so normally she would be out running by 5:15 am. She likes to start the day doing something for herself and her house because she has a busy work schedule that prevents her doing exercise during the day. In contrast, I have coaching sessions and in an average day have three cancellations. When those cancellations come they are for me opportunities to exercise down at the beach. In my work schedule a cancellation, especially at the last minute, can be a frustration, but if I use that opportunity to do something great then it has no impact, in fact it has a positive impact on my health. Something to do is really important.
but something to do can go really wrong if the first thing that comes to mind is something that somebody else wants you to do or something that is a really low priority when considering your personal goals. My neighbour is a yoga teacher and she leaves for work at the yoga school at 4 am every day. Her day is basically finished by 10 am. She does some paperwork but has the whole afternoon to fill. Often I see her in our garden raking leaves. Sometimes she’s even pruning bushes. For me this would be an extremely bad use of my time unless one of my objectives was to be a yogi and learn the art of stillness. For my neighbour raking the leaves is not a duty it is a practice in stillness and love. For her raking the leaves is a high priority for me it is a low priority but if you look at it it is something to do. We can easily make the mistake of thinking that because she rakes leaves I should rake leaves and that would be a really big mistake. Conversely, I walk every day along Bondi Beach doing podcasts which for me as a professional speaker and coach is really important but for her, my neighbour, would be a complete waste of her time and energy. So she could look at me and emulate what I do but then she would be working on her lowest priority doing exactly what I do which is my highest priority. So it is not just something to do it is something we value to do. This is why I am not a big fan of going on holidays working on lowest priorities thinking that we are actually doing ourselves a favour by doing low priority things. It is also why on holidays people get very very grumpy when they do what other people value and yet they themselves do not. I believe family holiday is an oxymoron.
NOW LETS TALK ABOUT THE THIRD ONE: SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO.
Everybody on earth has their eyes turned to the future. This includes animals. The shorter that viewpoint is, the more trouble a person makes for themselves. Narcissism is continually worried about the next feeling that a person is going to have. And there are many hybrid versions of narcissism that we see in our workplace every single day. Narcissism is woven into the very fabric of business culture. People walk around the office asking themselves how can I feel good?
Are this is a radical difference between being self-employed and employed. I’m now in my 45th year of self-employment. In self employment how you feel cannot influence what you do. In self-employment how you feel is supported to what do you are building. For example if I feel tired, and I don’t feel like working all and creating new material, then in three months time I will have a vacuum in the knowledge I deliver that I cannot repair. And so when you run your own business you learn very quickly that narcissism must be reserved for certain periods of the day when you take a break from work and dive into a little fun and freedom. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the day is awful. I have learnt to get a lot of short-term pleasure out of doing long-term things because I have the freedom to design the way I do what I do. As an example, since 2006 my office has been in my home. Before that my office and my home were very separate. The inconvenience of spending time travelling to an office to sit behind the desk was far less valuable use of time and given that my employees became remote in different parts of the world meant that I didn’t need to provide accommodation in the form of an office for them either. It wasn’t a conscious decision to not have an office it was a decision to make working for the long-term as enjoyable as possible. Just the removal of another obstacle.
and a person who does not have a long-term view, and by long-term I mean 2 to 3 years, even 10, will make a lot of trouble for themselves. Firstly, we cannot live without something to look forward to and so when there is no long-term view a person starts to create things to occupy the future so there is something to look forward to. But because those things to look forward to our built on the absence of a real motivating and inspiring dream, the things to look forward to become either trivial or disruptive for no good reason. During Covid, and the lockdowns that we all experienced, many people became disenchanted with the future and their dreams of career and family were put on hold. As a result and with the absence of a long-term view people became obsessed with the short-term and a boom in home renovation began at the worst possible time. People started investing in bitcoin. Some people started selling their house. People started to do things that were short-term but filled the future with a sense of excitement. And as I’ve mentioned already in this article, when we replaced narcissism, which is a sense of excitement, for the genuine sense of life trajectory and vision we begin to make enormous mistakes.
and as a self employed individual this difference between the long-term something to do and something to look forward to becomes the crucial difference between success and failure. However as an employee it can become the single most important thing in a day. And employee might become disenchanted with the long-term because they don’t control it all the company they’re working for, and with the long-term something to look forward to erased from their work day they replace that with narcissism, the me me me me me me me me me me me me is important paradox. When dad me me me me me me me me paradox is not satisfied at work it goes home and infect their Homelife as well. The secret to avoiding this is a genuine sense of purpose, a holistic seven areas of life vision, a continual revision of the vision to keep it active and relevant end, most importantly to link the short-term to the long-term and make sure that whatever is been done is linked to vision or purpose.
I vision, inspiration and purpose. These are probably the three most important words you’ll ever hear about mental health and your own personal well-being. Vision means something to look forward to. Inspiration is something to do and purpose is someone to love that doesn’t necessarily fluctuate with expectations. These three words are the distillation of thousands of years of wisdom, distilled mainly through trial and error, and stand proud above all other language in Innerwealth. Something to do, something to look forward to, someone to love, vision, inspiration and purpose. This is the process of stabilising your life with both short-term enjoyment and gratification as Wellers long-term satisfaction. Remembering what we’ve spoken about before that the pain of regret always outweighs the pain of discipline. Without the long-term the short-term becomes our greatest enemy. But with clarity in the long-term, well presented well understood vision, documented and stamped on the wall of the house, noted on the bathroom Mira, recited daily with affirmations and visualisations, the short-term becomes spectacular.
sometimes people work very very hard on a daily basis thinking that they are building the long-term. They have confused the concept of martyrdom with the long-term manifestation of success. Long-term success does not come from working very very hard. A person who is burning the candle at both ends, who is proud to tell everybody how busy they are and how much suffering they are in during in order to build the family or bye school fees, has made a very big miscalculation. Long-term success and achievement is not built by very very hard work. Long-term success is built by the joy of living in the moment inspired by what we do which no longer makes it hard, in love with the link of what we are doing in that inspired moment to a purpose greater than ourselves and steppingstones of reward we call visions. Getting these three elements of life aligned and breaking traditional and antiquated notions of martyrdom in the workplace is the secret to a full happy life but it is also the secret to making the lives of those we lead and influence at home healthy. NZ and that must be the result of any purpose we have greater than ourselves, to make the world around us a better place, not worse, not more stressed, not more distressed or confused. But it all starts with us linking vision, inspiration and purpose.
“If you don’t know where you are going you’ll end up somewhere else.” I think my dad did a great job of teaching me this one but I wasn’t a really good student and had to learn, through trial and error, what I now teach. That’s it for today. Please share this around or add a like to the Spotify recording to attract others who might benefit from a little respite from the mundane and archaic processes of personal development.