Only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions.
When it comes to discipline, there are those that seem to gravitate towards it and those that resist. I’ve held a bias for as long as I can remember for doing life in a disciplined way – heavily anchored in habits and routines.
Now habits and routines can be a powerful thing if they are the right habits and routines. They can also become a burdensome if you let them.
When it comes to shifting to a more free way of doing life, discipline is important and so your mindset. Lately I’ve been asking myself some new questions that have made a radical change in how I approach work, life – just about everything! It has surprised me just how free I’ve felt from this simple change!
Curious about what kinds of questions I am asking myself? I can’t wait to let you in on my secret! Here are five questions I hope you will start asking too!
1. What CAN I do?
Life is frantic and full for just about everyone I know. You can face the never ending list of tasks to be done by pretending you don’t have things to do and frittering your time away, or you can work at a frantic pace and wear yourself out attempting to get it all done. Either way, it’s overwhelming and the chances of you operating at your best are pretty slim.
I tend to lean towards being a person who dutifully makes a “to do” list and diligently works through my list. Tasks get crossed off, but the list never seems to shrink. The weight of a never ending list often bogs me down and begins to affect the quality of my work.
Lately I’ve been taking a different approach by asking myself, “What CAN I do?” I may not be able to do a particular task in my preferred way, but what can I do today and within the time I have. This simple adjustment has forced me to let go of my rigid ideals, infuse my tasks with fresh creativity, and expand the way I view the various tasks I need to get done. Rather than feeling like I am perpetually behind, it has freed me up embrace better ways of completing the tasks on my list.
Don’t stop with applying this question to your tasks. Why not apply this question to your relationships, developing your leadership skills, cleaning, self-care – the opportunities are endless!
What CAN you do today?
2. What do I “get to” do?
It’s easy for me to start my day by thinking through all the things I “have to” do. Words are powerful so the idea that I “have to” do anything naturally makes it less inviting. However when I start thinking about what I “get to” do there’s an internal shift in my thinking that takes place making what’s on my list more appealing.
That presentation you are scheduled to do – you get to do that! That blog you need to write – you get to do that. That meal you are about to make – you get to do that.
A “get to” mindset is grateful for the opportunity; grateful that you have the health, skill, etc. to be able to complete the task. Believe me, as someone who was seriously under the weather while battling Lyme disease, having the energy and strength to be able to do a task is something I don’t take lightly!
What do you “get to” do?
3. What’s the blessing in this?
One thing you can count on: things not going according to plan! There will always be challenges, problems, unfortunate events, surprises, and interruptions. You can fight them – that’s exhausting. You can let them throw you off center – that’s debilitating. Or you can focus on the blessing in the situation. Whatever you face, there is always a blessing to be found if you look for it.
When your plan is not panning out, what kinds of questions are you asking yourself? Perhaps things like “Why is this happening?” or “How could this happen?” “How will this ever work out?”
Those kinds of questions keep you focused on the negative. When you switch up your questions and focus on the positive you will be amazed at how that shift automatically opens you up to fresh possibilities!
As you face detours to your plans, what’s the blessing; the positive?
4. What’s the best use of my energy?
As much as I don’t like to admit it, my energy is limited. Oh, there are things I can do to maximize my energy – taking breaks, resting, limiting my time around negative folks, etc. yet at some point my energy will be exhausted. In light of that, I must make sure that I am investing my energy in the tasks and activities that are most effective in helping me reach my goals and the results I’m after and that are in alignment with my values.
In the past, the temptation was for me to tackle the easy stuff first, allowing me to check off a number of things on my list. If you are one of those people that get a rush out of checking things off your list – I know you can relate. I have learned that that this is not always the best use of my energy.
These days, I tackle the most challenging task first which has enabled me to discover two things. First, that the task is rarely as challenging as I had anticipated. Second, once I have the task that has loomed large in my head done, I have more energy and confidence to tackle all the other things on my list. In the end, I am far more productive.
Embracing my limited energy has also helped me to prioritize more, forcing me to make some hard choices. In light of my only being able to do so much, what can I eliminate, what can I delegate, and what can only I do? Those are important considerations!
What’s the best use of your (limited) energy?
5. What’s the world of tomorrow asking me to step up to?
Not only has the pace of life stepped up, but so has the pace of change! Did you know ten years ago…
• E readers didn’t exist
• Google Maps wasn’t around
• Hashtags meant something completely different
• Selfies – that didn’t become an official word until 2013 when the Oxford English Dictionary made it the word of the year
• Digital Marketing Specialist, Blogger, App Developer or Millennial Generational Expert were jobs that didn’t exist
Now these are just a mere handful of the many, many changes that have radically altered our world. And life will continue to evolve at an ever increasing pace. Without intentional effort, the older you get the less nimble you become making adjusting to all the many changes increasingly difficult.
In light of that, what’s the world of tomorrow asking you to step up to? How will you embrace the inevitable changes coming your way to your advantage – in a way that will enable you to more effectively serve the world?
No doubt you’d like to experience more freedom! However, be realistic – attempting to incorporate all five of these questions into your life today might be an overwhelming ask! But what if you were to focus on integrating one question a month into your life in a way that allowed it to transform your way of thinking – imagine the possibilities that would lead to!
The question is…which of the five questions will you start with?
© Can Stock Photo / Violka08