Permission to sing your own praises

singyourpraisesHumility is a wonderful virtue, but for the next five minutes I invite you to trade it for pride and gratitude.

Take a pen and paper and make a list of all the things you’ve enjoyed and achieved over the last few months/6 months/year. What went well? What made you smile? What boosted your self-esteem?

Write down everything that comes to mind – things that made you feel proud, fulfilled, engaged, or happy. The times you solved a difficult problem, the compliments you received, the people you enjoyed working with, the moments you stepped outside your comfort zone. Don’t stop until you can’t think of anything else.

Now, read your list. Reflect on each moment. Allow yourself to fully enjoy your accomplishments.

Notice how you feel when you focus on the good. Do you feel calm, capable, self-assured?

This exercise isn’t about fuelling the ego or indulging in narcissism. It’s about switching from a scarcity mindset to one of bounty and gratitude.

The scarcity mindset – the feeling of “not enough” – creeps up on all of us from time to time. It’s that nagging feeling that we need to do more, want more, have more, achieve more. It’s a good thing in small doses as it motivates us to strive for our goals. But it’s equally important to be grateful for everything you have right now, at this very moment.

Or, as this quote sums it up ever-so-elegantly:

“Be thankful for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.” [source unknown]

What to do while you’re waiting

rainSpring in New Zealand is beautiful. Buds on the trees and blossoms everywhere, tiny lambs and cute ducklings. And rain. This spring has arrived with more than the usual amount of rain.

It got me thinking about life’s “seasons”, the sunny and rainy times. The dull, grey times. The moments of calm and excitement.

Yet, unlike the seasons, in life it’s hard to predict whether sunshine or rain is around the corner. (To be fair, Auckland weather is pretty hard to predict too!)

Sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck in a season you’d rather escape. When this happens, it’s natural to long for sunnier times. You can spend weeks, months, or even years, waiting for change.

Despite your best intentions, sometimes it feels like you’re wading through mud – that life isn’t changing fast enough. That your dreams and aspirations keep eluding you. That you’re not getting the new job, the raise, the changes you want – no matter how hard you try.

You’re not alone. We all get stuck from time to time – it’s inevitable. So, the question should not be ‘how do I avoid the rainy season?’, but ‘how can I cope while I’m waiting for sunshine?’

I want to share several techniques I’ve learned over the years. Some require small shifts in perspective. Others require patience and time. Here is what I know.

Remember that “this too shall pass”

There is much wisdom in this old adage. Tough times won’t last forever – your situation will change. Try to cultivate patience and acceptance of the seasons of your life, while at the same time keeping your heart open to a brighter future.

Good times won’t last forever, either. Enjoy them while you have them. Relish in the special moments that will keep your spirits up when times are hard.

Use tough times as momentum for change

There is no personal growth without challenge. They go hand-in-hand. Use tough times as an opportunity to reflect, take stock, and regroup.

Tough times often help us make tough decisions. When life is mostly good, we sometimes overlook the small things that are niggling us, the quiet voice that says “something’s not right”.

When frustration or sadness is the more dominant emotion – when you can no longer say that “things are mostly okay” – it’s easier to take a clear, hard look at what’s not working in your life. Identify the things that demotivate or drain you, and use this clarity as momentum to try something different.

Do what you can with what you have

To (fully!) embrace this seasons cliché, “sometimes you have to learn to dance in the rain”. If you can’t change your circumstance, then change your attitude. Sometimes your attitude is the only thing you can control.

All situations offer a chance to learn about yourself or others, to practice patience, to build resilience, and to try different paths. Often it is these very challenges that make the sunnier times so sweet.

Be ready

My last tip is to be ready for change – to create space for it in your life, so when the time comes, you will be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

You may not be where you want to be yet, but you can start to prepare for future opportunities. For example, if you want to move into a different role, you could start researching it online, enrol in a course, or speak to others in the field. Immerse yourself in learning.

I’ve found that when you are learning about something new, it’s very hard to feel stuck – with knowledge comes momentum, no matter how slow.

And remember – it (whatever ‘it’ is for you), will be worth the wait.