A wise man once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Or perhaps it was Ferris Bueller...
Regardless of who said it, the sentiment proves true. Life comes at you pretty quickly and seemingly at an exponentially faster pace the older you get. It's easy to get caught up in the inertia of things, bouncing between work and home, friends and colleagues, errands and appointments, victories and failures. The consequence of all these roles and all these responsibilities is that we rarely have the time to appreciate our successes or properly mourn our losses. Things happen – good or bad – we celebrate or commiserate but then inevitably have to move on. It's the feeling the day after your birthday or trying to make it through a work day when all you can think about is a sick family member. The world doesn't wait – and unless we carve out that time ourselves, we often just keep hurdling through this experience of life from one emotion to another.
Take for example setting goals. I'm a huge proponent of goal lists and constantly trying to set new bars for yourself. However, there is something funny about goals - each achievement only brings forth a greater goal. Achieving a goal only produces inspiration if you stop to reflect on your progress. For example, I'm working to lose some weight this year. At the moment I am 194 pounds. This is the lightest I've weighed in years. At the start of this year I was up to 215 pounds, so that means I've lost 20 pounds so far. Do you think I'm sitting here at 194 pounds super psyched about where I'm at. NO! I'm thinking how great it will be to break 185 (my 20-somethings weight). I'm visualizing how insane it will be to go beyond even that as I continue to run and exercise each day. That's the thing with goals - each ring only brings forth a new ring to reach for. The happiness comes from stopping for a moment and reflecting on what you've accomplished. Only in that light can you stay inspired and working towards those new goals.
When negative things come your way, it's equally easy to get consumed by that momentum. A series of unfortunate circumstances can trigger a negative spiral of epic proportions. Suddenly you've got the anti-Midas touch and everything you interact with turns to shit! We've all been there. Every traffic light is red, every interaction is a confrontation – even the weather seems out to get you. In those moments you can continue to flail through the experiences of life like a bull in a china shop – or you can again take a time out to pause and reflect and let go.
Recently my good friend and business partner found herself in a whirlwind of negativity – her employee quit, her relationship ended... a literal hurricane of negative energy. Most folks would have to attend to these matters within the hours allotted to them between work and the inevitable sleepless nights and then do their best to immediately move on, carrying the mental baggage for months if not years. However, my friend being wiser than most and having the foresight of the freedom that working for herself would someday provide, was able to come out to Maui for a month to stay with yours truly, and reconnect with her true nature, take the time to truly absorb and release the experiences she'd had, regain a focus on how extraordinary this experience and her role in it truly is, and find the inspiration within to reimagine the new life that awaits her.
It was inspiring to watch this transformation – and it reminded me of my first few months here on Maui. I too had needed a break from the pace of life, and originally escaped here for the winter to reflect and appreciate all the experiences I'd had. Of course, three months have turned into many more now – but taking the time each day to appreciate this experience of life is still the core to living an inspired life. Part of the beauty of Maui is that it slows you down.
Of course, we can't always take a month off to reconnect with ourselves and become fully inspired – but luckily we don't have to. Just as small, consistent deposits into a savings account is a far greater strategy for growing wealth than hoping for a windfall of cash – taking a short amount of time each day to stay connected is a far better approach to staying inspired than dreaming of a sabbatical in Bali. There are various ways that you could carve out time to stay inspired, but a method that I personally enjoy is called "The Envisioning Method" which was developed by Vishen Lakhiani, the founder and CEO of MindValley.
I first heard of Vishen during a TED Talk in which he discussed Happiness in the workplace. Being quite interested in the concept of "happiness" myself, I read more about his work, the amazing company he created, his AwesomenessFests and more. Vishen is an inspired individual and a great business leader – when you discover someone who has traits that you desire in yourself, it's best to learn what drives them. For Vishen, each day starts off with this Envisioning Method. As he jokes, he'd rather miss breakfast than this morning meditation. The meditation, which takes between 10-20 minutes consists of six phases: Compassion, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Envisioning Your Perfect Life Three Years From Now, Envisioning Your Perfect Day Now, Blessing.
The process takes you through various emotions, connects you with your higher goals and sets you up for an inspired day. Most importantly it gives you the time needed to process the experiences of your life and grow a genuine appreciation for all that you have, all that you have accomplished as well as enthusiasm for all that's to come.
I think back to how many years I rolled out of bed, got dressed, commuted to work, served my time in the office, headed home (or to a bar then home), ate dinner, fell asleep and then did it again. It's easy to forget that life is a gift. It's easy to forget that you won't get to do this forever. It's easy to forget how many blessings you've been given and how much you've accomplished. Stop forgetting... stop ignoring... and take the time to truly appreciate this experience of life. Acknowledge your progress, envision your future, and know what the day will bring you! It's amazing how great a day unfolds when you're already certain of what's coming.
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."
- Eckhart Tolle