Contentment – do you have it?

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“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have” Socrates

What a powerful quote!  

We are taught to value education, excel in our studies, seek a career with a lucrative income in order to buy the four bed semi-detached house with a white garage on a tree lined road. Not to mention two long haul holidays a year – flying business class of course! 

Absolutely nothing wrong with having any of the above (I rather like the idea of two exotic holidays) but when does striving for more turn to greed?  At what point will we be satisfied with “our lot?” 

As we are informed that we can attain more, the likelihood of us reaching for this increases. It is human nature. We are survivors and generally will do what it takes – some with far more integrity than others, mind. 

I laugh when I think back to working part-time and had this wonderful idea of significantly increasing my direct debit payment to a children’s charity once I left university. Naively, I did not consider that once working full-time I would grow to enjoy using my disposable income to travel, buy clothes, eat out regularly.  Is this not the done thing though, at least with young people – spending according to what you earn?

The city banker earning, let us say £200,000p/a is striving to earn £300,000. He knows exactly how he will spend the additional income; private schooling for the children, ski-ing, holiday home in France.  His ‘brother’ earning £100,000 believes he will be so much better off if he earned £200,000. Little does he realise that he would increase his standard of living then go on to dream of earning £300,000 just as his ‘brother’ had.

I admit that being financially stable gives you one less thing to be concerned about.  Also, being in nice surroundings and free to spend as you wish (reasonably) makes one feel good about themselves.  

It will serve us well to count our blessings, most especially when we feel downcast or disappointed. It is at this time that we are more inclined to look at what we do not have and allow our hearts to be discouraged. 

Are you content with your life? If not, what would you like to change? 

Is there anything you can do to make the change possible?

Decision making – not for the faint hearted!

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I have been pondering over a number of big decisions that my husband and I will need to make in the coming weeks. Feelings of anxiety have tried to push their way into my mind as I battle not to carry this weight. Worrying will do nothing to change my circumstances but it will do a mighty great job of stealing my joy – only if I allow it.

By nature I am not a procrastinator but I do over think the repercussions that may come after I have made a decision.  I feel a great sense of responsibility whilst reluctantly accepting that I will have to live with my choices, regardless of the outcome.  

We all make decisions daily, some may well be small but they are decisions nonetheless. Even deciding which train to catch, what to eat for lunch, which client to call and so on. Our lives are panned out by the decisions that we make – quite deep when you truly give it some thought.  Perhaps this is why I do not take decision making lightly.  

I came across this quote from Elbert Hubbard;

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it takes a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”

Making key decisions, say in the corporate world requires an element of ruthlessness along with an assurity and complete ownership of your decision whether your plans come to pass or not. The proud need not apply!

If you look at top entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates, you will notice that they are determined, competitive and confident in making decisions. Sir Richard has admitted to failing a number of times and has quoted that in the world of business, one needs to lick their wounds and get back on their feet. Bill Gates takes two weeks out in every year to spend alone to focus entirely on his challenges and opportunities in order to make key decisions.

Are you decisive?

How much ownership do you take when making decisions?

What is your attitude when life does not go according to plan?

Coping strategies for the growing demands on your time!

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Let’s face it – life can be busy!

With the growing demands from your job, family, running a home and other responsibilities, one can feel overwhelmed and question how you can possibly fit everything in. 

The truth is often you cannot do everything you set out to do. You start with good intentions but then realise you have over committed yourself. How many times have you tried to squeeze in far too many tasks in one day and then panicked on realising you could not complete them?

The key is to prioritise the people that need to be attended to and the tasks that are of the most importance. This is where your focus should lay.  

To do lists are ideal for planning your day. I would advise that you list tasks in order of importance. A list will keep you on track and it feels great to tick the tasks off as you complete them!

Here are four changes that you can make to your life;

1. Switch off your television!
According to the Telegraph, people in the UK spend an average of four hours watching television every day. I used to spend around two hours an evening watching television but put a stop to it over a year ago. I now only watch particular programmes. I do not miss it and once I put my children to bed I use my evenings to catch up with my husband, work on my blog/make up business.

2. Wake up earlier to prepare for the day ahead.  Spend the first part of your day alone – read, pray (optional), reflect. Naturally I am NOT a morning person but I have adjusted to very early morning starts due to my change of working hours. I quite enjoy my brisk walk to the station – the crisp air, quiet roads and my thoughts.  

3. If you commute to work or place of study, use this time to catch up with emails, telephoning friends/family, making appointments.  The key is to make the best use of your time. I rarely spend my evenings in conversation on the phone, however I will send the odd email or text message. 

4. Be good to yourself! 
Take a few hours out of your weekly schedule to do something that you enjoy. Whether it be having a massage, a manicure, reading a book, catching up with a friend over a meal. You are more likely to cope with your ‘load’ when you step away from it all once in a while.

How do you cope with your responsibilities? 

What do you do to unwind?

Perhaps you have some tips.

A good self image or vanity at it’s best?

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With Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, there is more pressure than ever to look good. Most buy into this need for perfection while a selective few check out. A good self image is important but has vanity sneaked in through the back door?

How you see yourself matters far more than how others see you.  You are stuck with yourself for however long you are on this earth – now would be a good time to appreciate your good and not so good points.

If you know who you are, who you truly are (give or take the make up) then it will be difficult for someone or life’s circumstances to change your perception. Compliments and flattery come and go but at the end of the day you are left with just you. 

A good self image must go deeper than how one looks on the outside. Yes, you should present well at all times as it shows that you respect yourself but your confidence cannot merely rely on what others say about you.

I particularly like this saying:

” If you live by people’s acceptance, you will die by their rejection.” 
Lecrae, Christian Hip Hop artist.

If you model yourself on how others see you, you are setting yourself up for a fall or on the road to becoming conceited.  You cannot please everyone and you should not be aiming to. Learn to like yourself just as you are. You may want to work on particular areas, for example experimenting with make up, changing your diet, exercising but ultimately you should love you even whilst being a work in progress.

Having a good self image ultimately requires positive thinking and speaking positive words. You need to work on this daily in order to overcome your battle. It can be hard going especially if you have spent years being negative – believe me, I should know! I began by writing positive affirmations about myself and spoke them aloud each day. I spoke them into being. I printed a copy to hang on the inside of my wardrobe. I saw this every time I opened the wardrobe – a great reminder which left me beaming! 

Has the world gone ‘vanity’ mad?

How much do you rely on the compliments of others? 

What does success mean to you?

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To me, success is fulfilling the goals and plans you set for yourself. Granted, these will change over the course of the years; financial stability for your family, a nice home, good health care and can extend to creating a multi-million dollar company or leaving a legacy for your generations to come.

Our view on success is heavily impacted by the environment we grew up in, the encouragement we received from our parents/guardians, our education, the people we spend time with and so on.

Dictionary.com gives the following definition of success;

1. Prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours; the accomplishment of one’s goals.

2. The attainment of wealth, position, honour or the like.

Despite the two definitions given above and the information we are constantly fed by the media, I do not believe success can only be equated with money and fame. If this was so, when would one stop striving for more?  At what point does contentment stop and greed start? It is a thin line.

If I wrote a book that for some reason I decide not to publish, it would still be a success. You may ask “a success to who?” as no-one will read it but I would have read it. I would have put in the hours and stretched my writing skills to beyond and back. 

Another example is if an individual excels in church ministry or within a charity (both voluntary positions), would their contributions to society be overlooked due to the lack of monetary gain and status?

So, to wrap this up, success holds something entirely different for each of us. Whatever we are aiming for should be guarded and valued. Our hope for success is no better or worse than others, it is just ours. 

What does success mean to you?

How much did your upbringing contribute to your thinking?

Who do you serve; yourself or others?

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I came across this quote by George H. W. Bush;

“There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people.”

If I were to ask you, who do you serve, what would your immediate thought be?  You may think of the obvious; your spouse/partner, children, your employer or if you run a business, your clients. As a Christian I serve all of the examples given above plus God. 

To serve means a life of sacrifice; 

As a parent you put your child’s needs before your own. You ensure they are fed and warm before you are as it is your responsibility to nurture and care for them. 

As a wife or husband you put the needs of your spouse first; you give them their favourite piece of meat even if you also like it, you do what you can to make their life more comfortable and secure.

As an employee, you arrive to work early to start on time and put in the hours for which you are paid. You bring your ideas to the table and work with colleagues to meet the goals of the organisation. 

As a business owner you place your clients needs as high priority. If they are unhappy with your product/service you apologise profusely, fix the issue or reimburse them even if it is at a cost to you.

As a Christian, you serve God by serving others in and outside of the church; practically, emotionally and financially. Quite simply – you see a need and meet it. If you cannot, you help in any which way you can.

Society encourages the ‘me, me, me’ attitude and it is unfortunate that many have bought into it. More and more people live for themselves first and others later. Some may pretend to put others before themselves but if you delve deep under the surface, there is something in it for them. 

When you notice selfishness creeping in (it happens to the best of us), you should immediately reign it in. You should also keep your heart in check to endure you are serving out of love, not obligation or with resentment. 

Yes, at times you will feel hard done by when serving. If you find yourself in this place, remember why you are doing it.

Who do you serve?
Do you serve with a good heart? 

What are your key achievements?

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Throughout life, we work towards achieving; by way of studying, going for promotion, running a business, participating in a charity run and so on. 

Achievement brings a great sense of satisfaction. One is elated that they have moved to new heights.  It will give you the confidence to aim higher – to head for the top!

From a young age, children are encouraged to work to the best of their ability. In the classroom, children are praised when excelling and encouraged to develop skills when struggling in a subject area. 

I recall leaving secondary school (many years ago!) with a National Record of Achievement (NRA). This folder displays certificates of my achievements throughout the five years. I cannot help but smile when I occasionally browse through my college and university certificates. The five years of post school education impacted on my life greatly. It gave me a sense of hope for my future.  

Your “hoped for” achievements may well be personal, therefore only the people closest to you will know of them.  It is not always advisable to discuss your dreams and goals with all and sundry. Allow your achievements to do all the talking!

Questions to consider when planning towards your lifetime achievements;

1. What are you passionate about? 
What makes you tick? 

2. What have you always wanted to do but were hindered from doing so due to your age, finances or responsibilities?

3. What is your planned retirement age? Do your current pensions/savings plans support this?

4. What adjustments will you need to make to your personal life? 

To round up, working towards your achievements will keep you focused in a world so full of distractions. Nobody can take or own your achievements – they are yours to do as you please. 

What is your key achievement?

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!