To Be Still…

A photo by Mathias Reed. unsplash.com/photos/wEoRDzrgmT8

We are all on the move. The pace of life seems to be forever increasing. Life is fast, work is busy. Too much to do in too little time.

Our lives are a frenetic ball of activities bouncing from day to week, week to month, month to year. And it doesn’t ever seem to stop.

When was the last time you had a moment of pure stillness? A time when you didn’t need to be somewhere, do something, speak to someone? When you could just be still? Is it even possible to be truly still?

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Time: Capital or Income?

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“How are you spending your time?”

“Has it been a valuable use of your time?”

“Time is money, you know.”

We use economic terms to describe our use of time, so why not extend the economic terms to our definition of time, not just our usage? Do you consider time to be capital or income?

How you view your time can impact significantly how you spend it. If you view time as income, then it is in essence never ending. Yes, we all know that eventually our time “comes to an end”, but that point is hopefully far off in the distance. And we don’t want to morbidly spend our time considering our demise. But if you view time as income, it gets refreshed, every minute, every hour, every day, week and month. There’s always more time, in the same way that our income gets refreshed each month (hopefully!).

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Mind Monopoly

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Nearly all businesses wish they had a monopoly in their field, to be the only provider. To not just lead the market, to be the market. It would provide a business with limitless profit potential, even if it didn’t generate advocacy from the customers it extracted profit from.

Because whilst businesses want to monopolise, customers generally hate it when they do. Customers want choice, and choice is good for price. Different providers in the same market create variations to meet individual needs, which generally drives prices down.

And businesses today have to fight harder than ever to catch the customer’s attention, to be heard above the competition, to engage them in “why choose us?”

So perhaps the goal now is to hold a monopoly of the consumer’s mind, rather than on the market. If you think about it, some businesses may have already achieved this with you…

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The Hardest Part of An Easy Life

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Not doing something is often all too easy. Like not making a difficult decision. Or postponing a difficult conversation.

Or not writing a new blog post in six weeks. That’s easy; I just don’t do it.

Not exercising is easy. Not dieting is easy. Not prioritising your goals and dreams is easy. Being a passenger in your own life is easy – sit back and just enjoy the ride. See where life takes you.

Anything for an easy life!

The problem is that it isn’t easy, in fact it’s hard. The weight of your inaction presses down more and more on your mind, and it can become unbearable. Because you do have dreams, you do have goals, you do want more…

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The Attraction of The Highly Unlikely

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Last year the UK’s National Lottery organisers changed how the game worked and, in doing so, they decreased the odds of winning from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 49 million. They took this decision as, over the course of some years, ticket sales had been on a constant decline.

But the decision to increase ticket sales by decreasing the odds of winning seems counter intuitive to most. After all, why would people be more inclined to buy a ticket if they knew their chances of winning had significantly decreased?

The truth – one that the National Lottery’s organisers factored into their decision – is that we tend to be more attracted to bigger wins, even if the odds of winning are increasingly unlikely. As the odds of winning decreased significantly the amount of “no win” jackpots leads to bigger roll-over draws and much bigger prizes.

It seems that the attraction of winning 1 or 2 million pounds is not as big a draw as winning 30 or 50 million pounds, regardless of the odds. Perhaps these days people dream more of being a billionaire than a millionaire!

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The “Five Ones”

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If you’re like most people, you’ll probably have a lot of things going on in your life and work right now. As a result you’ll doubtless be facing a variety of priorities. I’ve written before about how challenging (and ridiculous) it is to have more than one priority at any given time.  Nonetheless, the reality is that you will likely have more than one important thing to do right now.

It can be difficult knowing where to start; how do you focus in on the most important priority and move forward?

The first thing to do is to get all your priorities, and the ‘things’ you have to do, or want to do, and reduce the list down to five items. That may seem impossible to those who have a list of priorities that might run to hundreds of items, all of which MUST be done. But trust me, it can be done…

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The Ground Beneath Your Feet

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Consider the ground beneath your feet – is it supporting you, or holding you down?

When you think about it, it’s really doing both. You are supported by the ground beneath you, the Earth.  But it’s also holding you down through the force of gravity.

Jobs can be like that too. They can support you by providing you with an income and paying your bills. They can also hold you down: they can tie you to a particular role, a position, a desk.

We can easily grow accustomed to the support a job gives. Perhaps we also start to believe that they’re our only option. After all, to listen to our heart – to follow a calling – well, that’s for someone else to do. Someone who doesn’t have your life, your commitments, your excuses. We don’t want to put the house, the car and the holidays at risk. But are those things supporting you, or holding you down?

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Out Of The Fire

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Fire is an amazing resource. I find it amazing that the contradictory potential to provide necessary, life-giving heat and the capacity for raging destruction, are bound up within the same element. It can both support and destroy life.

One place you don’t want a fire is in a forest. Unless you happen to be a Giant Redwood or Giant Sequoia tree. These huge, sky-scraping trees can now only be found in a few locations across California and are the world’s largest single living organisms. If you’ve been fortunate to see one up close I’m sure you’ll agree that they are truly something to behold. I say from experience that no picture can capture the awesome and humbling experience of standing in front of one of these remarkable trees.

I find it fascinating that scientists have discovered that these majestic trees, thousands of years old, actually benefit from forest fires. Scientific tests of the bark has determined that these trees have been in many forest fires during their lifetimes. And, not only did they survive, they thrived. We’ve learned that the ash from forest fires had provided nourishment, and it was from amongst the ashes that new saplings of these giants would emerge.

It’s why forest rangers now have controlled fires around these trees. They recognise that the fire, whilst destructive in it’s ability to burn so many things, provides the Redwoods and Sequoias with important nutrients.

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This Is Not A Number

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I love numbers. They’ve always fascinated me. I don’t know why, but there it is.

I enjoy using numbers to understand things differently and play around with different concepts, For example, the life span for a great many animals is somewhere between two and three billion heart beats. Whilst this is a broad range (for an average human heart beat it puts life expectancy between 53 and 79 years), it underpins the point that the slower heart rate equates to a longer life.

For me, numbers have really interesting qualities: they are so important to all of us in so many ways and they integrate their way into our lives without us even knowing it. Some numbers mean more to us than others, such as the number of years we’ve been alive, the number we see when we step on the weighing scales, the number that arrives in our bank every month (and then quickly leaves our bank!). When talking about almost every aspect of our lives, I find it’s almost impossible to avoid numbers.

Some numbers are so huge that you don’t see them often; some calculators can’t display numbers over a billion. Whilst computers can display far larger numbers than the humble calculator, I’ve been fascinated on more than one occasion with finding the largest number I can get a computer to display using the built-in calculator app. I did this the other week and, as I multiplied incredibly large random numbers by other incredibly large random numbers, the computer continued to display dizzyingly larger numbers… until something happened that I’d never seen before.

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Happy ‘Now’, Not Happy ‘When’

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It’s that time of year again, that ‘back to reality’ moment after the Christmas and New Year holiday break. Many people around the world are making resolutions for the new year, and a great many of them will be about getting healthier, losing weight, finding a new job…

A lot of the time we make these resolutions because we’re not happy; we’re unhappy with our weight or body shape, we’re unhappy with our job, we’re unhappy with the amount of food and drink consumed over the holidays.

Unfortunately many of these resolutions fail. There are many reasons for this, but one of the key ones is that we believe we will be happy when we achieve our resolution. We believe we will be happy when we hit our weight target, or when we get a new job, or when we’ve got through a month without drinking or eating to excess.

To give yourself the best chance of achieving your goal it is important to be happy now, not happy when.

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