By, Keith Rosen
Rapid change surrounds us as we approach the next millennium, making it difficult to assimilate all the advances in our society, in technology and in business. The rise in business failures, consumer dissatisfaction, unsatisfying careers as well as unfulfilling relationships, demonstrates that hard work and minor alterations in what we do in order to produce desired results is no longer the answer to achieve what we truly want for ourselves. To strengthen and enhance every area in our lives, the next step is to EVOLVE.
Growth and progress is not only measured through the evolution of technology, but through the evolution of thought. Humanity is again going through an evolutionary progression. Therefore, to create what we truly want, we must transcend our current beliefs and amplify our vision of what we think is possible for ourselves
To evolve your life, embrace the following:
- Deepen Your Learning. Many of us consider learning the act of acquiring new information. The fact is, learning happens every moment of our lives. It isn't just about assimilating knowledge but recognizing the lesson in every experience, even the value in every message that each person shares with us, growing from it and moving onto a more productive path. While we draw into our life that which we need to learn, we often resist the lessons in front of us, since we may associate "learning the lesson" either as a result of doing something wrong as a child or a chore we have to finish. (If you touch a hot stove you'll get burned. Do your homework, or you'll be punished.) As adults, this feeling fostered in our youth perpetuates, often blinding us to the valuable lessons that show up. Ask yourself, "When handling a problem, is it permanently eliminated or does it reappear?" If so, you didn't get the lesson the fist time around or you missed out on a subtle, new opportunity/solution presented to you by someone that you didn't allow to contribute to you. Consider every person you draw into your life has something, some message to share. Become more sensitized to the value in the message, without discounting the messenger. To evolve, allow each experience, even every person you come in contact with, to leave you with a gift and teach you a lesson that brings value into your life.
- Transcend Your Beliefs: The Korean memorial says, "Freedom is not free." This holds true for our thoughts as well. Old limiting and confining beliefs often keep us prisoner, preventing us from creating better opportunities. We all have a set of rules formed through our upbringing, education and experiences that influence our decisions and shape our attitude towards life. The belief system we have in place may seem to work for us, since it's what we have operated from in order to produce certain results throughout our entire life. It is a safe place for us to reside, since these rules or beliefs predict our probable reactions to experiences that create a somewhat familiar outcome. Unfortunately, it also stalls personal growth and slows down the evolutionary progression. Your outlook determines your outcome. So, if you believe, "The past is responsible for the quality of my life today," "Success requires sacrifice," "This is as good as it gets," or to "Expect the worst," consider challenging these assumptions and replacing them with healthier ones that would better serve you. Upgrade and direct your thoughts without them controlling you. (Otherwise, we would still believe that our flat Earth is the center of the universe.). Freedom is what you experience when you detach yourself from you current thinking, including the "That's just how it is" mentality. When you transcend your current beliefs and what you think is possible, you evolve your life.
- Fear-Less. Much of our decisions are governed by fear. We want more, but avoid risks, so we continually produce similar results over again. We fear change, for we may lose some degree of control over the outcome. We fear expressing how we feel or what matters most to us, in fear that it would make us vulnerable. We fear leaving what's predictable and comfortable, although it may not be best for us. We fear not having and not getting, having what we want and losing it, even getting what we want and no longer wanting it! We fear failure, because of the negative perception society has placed around it. (Realize that you cannot fail, you can only produce unexpected results that you can grow from to create new possibilities.) We resist what we don't understand, preventing growth by staying within what's familiar and safe. Resisting the fear of the unknown paralyzes our efforts to create greater opportunities for ourselves. The fact is, most of our fears are not based on logic or reality. They are an expectation or assumption of what MAY happen in the future and not what is happening in the present. Therefore, if we are pushed to avoid consequences or what we don't want to happen, conversely we are pulled towards what we do want; pleasure. Since fear is the negative assumption of the outcome, try shifting your focus on the positive or what you do want to manifest, instead of what you are looking to avoid. If you can stay in the moment as opposed to worrying about the negative assumptions of the future, the fears won't get to you. Embrace the belief that fear is trying to teach you something and allow yourself to experience the feeling of fear. Responding to fear in a healthier way will provide you with an opportunity to grow and learn, which leads to wisdom and greater results.
- Expand Your Vision. What does your ideal life look like? Although we may have a greater vision for ourselves, we immediately place a self-imposed limitation on our success saying, "But that's not being realistic." We never grow past what we feel is possible. Expand your peripheral sight by broadening your personal vision of what you think is possible. Alexander Calder once said, "A great artist is a great artist because they perceive the world as if it was observed for the very first time." Let go of your current perceptions that are inhibiting your ability to explore greater possibilities and achieve more. It's not enough to say I want to be happier, richer or healthier. Clarify what success looks like in every area of your life (career, relationships, well being, finances, environment, happiness, etc.) and WRITE IT DOWN. Without a clear vision of what you are working for, how will you know when you get it? After all, it's a lot easier to find something when you know what you're looking for. It's your canvass. What masterpiece do you want to create? Dream BIG!
- Express Your Authenticity: The two fundamental parts to each person, the Self and Ego battle for the drivers seat in our life. The ego makes choices concerned with the outside world and achievements, defining who we are by what we have or do. The self makes choices based on our values, strengths, and passions. The ego can be the elusive thief of your true identity. Being driven by the need to prove self-worth to seek approval or recognition is the ego's game that has no end in sight. The self is the authentic reflection of who we are and what we really want. It is the self that is satisfied in the present, without being attached to future accomplishments the ego needs to make their life worthwhile or held back by past events/regrets in our life. When we authentically express who we are, (not who we think we are) we can share ourselves with others, without the fear of being vulnerable. You'll notice how much deeper your connection with other people becomes when you shift the focus away from yourself and onto others. And you'll add value to people's lives naturally, without effort or sacrifice, often a result of the ego's self- serving agenda. To evolve and live a richer, more fulfilling life, focus more on who you who you are, rather than what you do.
- Align Your Life. Like a car, people don't optimally perform when out of alignment, resulting in rapidly deflated levels of energy or accelerated wear and tear on the components of our life, such as our health and relationships. This imbalance may result from not truly knowing what we really want out of our lives. So, we drive ourselves to perform and accomplish, only to experience a fleeting sense of satisfaction until the next achievement. Both your personal and professional vision and objectives need to be aligned with each other. To do so, identify and connect them to your passions and that which brings you the most fulfillment and pleasure on a continuous basis. To evolve, create a mutually rewarding balance between your personal and professional life.
- Become An Explorer: The most brilliant thinkers, innovators and explorers of our time emphasized questions more than answers, a characteristic of all highly evolved individuals. Note the root of the word question, Quest; the act of seeking or pursuing something. This desire to search and journey beyond what is already known and seek that which would enhance the quality of our lives or broaden our wisdom is what has enabled humanity to continually evolve over time. Curiosity stimulates questions, and questions then evoke change and new discoveries, arousing our desire to create/find more. All the answers we ever get are responses to questions. However, since our society has become answer oriented, we often wind up with ineffective solutions because we fail to construct the right questions that generate greater results or possibilities, focusing more on the solution, than on the question. Questions precede change and evolution. They are the foundation of creating that which we want or that which we want to avoid, thus shaping our reality. For example, "Why do bad things keep happening?" or "Why can't I do this?" are problem focused questions supporting why we can't succeed or confirm negative beliefs about others, or ourselves. It is both the internal, as well as external questions, which shape our reality. To evolve, transform your questions to become solution oriented and forward moving as opposed to ones that keep you stuck in the past. (Ex: "How can I learn/grow from this?" "How can I respond to this in a better way?" "What's needed to succeed here?" "What new possibility can be created here?").
- Accelerate Your Response-ABILITY. If you find yourself in reaction mode, it's a result of not having adequate resources to handle situations (or you're an adrenaline junkie and you love the rush/energy charge). Continually reacting to the events that we draw towards us (stress, upsets, problems) often creates the drama in our lives, keeping us stuck where we are, preventing us from moving forward, even deriving energy from keeping certain challenges alive. Responding means staying in action to continually identify and tap into the resources and tools we need to create more of what we want or to eliminate the trigger points of contention in our lives. Being responsive allows for the creation of space in our life, providing a buffer to handle challenges before they arise. Reacting to situations only keeps us caught up in survival mode. Responding creates space and space creates choice. The ability to respond instantly accelerates the evolutionary process, eventually creating enough space to actually prevent problems from even surfacing in our lives. This enables us to tap into a healthier energy source, as we discover a deeper purpose that fills our lives with that which we want most. Evolve by anticipating the lessons before they show up in order to shorten your response time to change.
- Strengthen Your Communication. It's fascinating that the very thing that occupies approximately 70% of our waking hours is the very thing we have difficulty with most. We want to be heard and listened to, yet don't always concentrate on the quality of our message (complaining, criticism) or give the gift of our own listening. We want to be understood, yet often fail to check if our communication was successful. We want acceptance and agreement from others, so much that we become attached and consumed with having to be right or to prove our point, instead of co-creating a greater outcome together. We want some kind of action or response from the other person, without letting them know what we really want, or how to achieve it. We want to understand the message the other person is communicating to us, yet our ability to listen is tainted by our perceptions of the person speaking or the outcome we are looking to achieve. So, we pass judgment on the speaker, evaluating the messenger rather than fully accepting the entire message. Most of us were never taught how to communicate in a way that produces consistent results, so we continue to experience frustration, resistance, conflicts, or breakdowns. Because we all listen and process information differently, it is crucial to uncover and become sensitized to the other person's style of communication in order to align it with your own. Evolving your communication requires taking full responsibility for the outcome of each conversation; not only for what is being said but for the message the other person is hearing.
- Play Your Game. The best game to play is the one where you make up your own rules. Often, we collapse having the ability to choose with what we feel we "Should" do or worse, we forget what we are even playing for. We are no longer choosing to put up with unsatisfying relationships or situations that are costing us more grief than the pleasure we derive from them. We are becoming less willing to make personal sacrifices for our careers at the expense of our families and leisure time. Having fun is no longer simply the byproduct of hard work or something we reward ourselves with after financial gain, but something we can derive from our careers on a daily basis. More and more, we are putting our well being and ourselves first, paying more attention to the quality of life we want today as opposed to giving up the things we cherish most in pursuit of something that may be better tomorrow. Time is the most precious, non-negotiable commodity, and we are choosing to invest it in those activities that produce the greatest personal dividends, even if that means rediscovering how to play all over again. If you're encountering resistance in reaching some or your goals or feel constrained, it may be an old goal or you're operating from someone else's agenda. To tap into your fullest potential, exercise choice. Otherwise, you'll feel confined or powerless to make changes, allowing situations, circumstances or other people to influence you. Choosing to become fully accountable for what we draw into and manifest in our lives creates the space for evolution to occur.
- Become A Systems-Oriented Thinker. No amount of travel along the wrong path will bring you to where you want to be. Therefore, you must navigate a path that takes you to your desired destination. If you are making sacrifices and errors, it may be the result of poor planning. Businesses, communication, (even how we argue with people) learning, relationships, technology, even our quality of life (both internal and external) all operate from a certain system. Every system contains identifiable components. For example, when you flick on a light switch, you expect the light to go on. If it doesn't, it's a result of a malfunction in one of the identifiable components, (blown fuse, faulty wiring, no power, bad outlet, etc.) Uncover and evaluate your current systems. Identify the components you need that comprise and fuel your system. Are they producing the results you want? Do they simply need an adjustment or an upgrade, or require a total overhaul? An evolved system produces consistent results with the least resistance, operates without conscious attention, is self-correcting, supports change, and is aligned with your vision. Evolve your thinking to become systems oriented.
- Embrace Contradictions: Latin for "beyond opinion," a paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may be true. They are a way to test and challenge reality or the limiting or general assumptions we have made that stall our evolution. "The more we try to maintain control in our lives, the less freedom we create for ourselves," illustrates one of the many paradoxes in life. While we may strive to maintain control over our lives, our careers, even over other people in order to produce certain outcomes, this desire to control creates rigidity or resistance to change. This lack of flexibility creates friction in our lives, especially in the face of adversity. The result? As we continue to put our energy into preventing change, control becomes the very thing that limits the evolutionary progression, inhibiting the ability to create or recognize even better opportunities. As we let go of the need to control, greater possibilities unfold naturally (Human evolution). Paradoxes such as this illustrate how the very actions we take to generate desired results, often slow us down and diminish the quality of the outcome we want to achieve. (Another paradox!) In other words, consider what would happen if you responded to the events in your life, both in action and opinion, in the exact opposite manner in which you would normally respond to them? Once explored, these contradictions open up new possibilities and directions by challenging certain beliefs that we may have initially thought of as true. This inquiry into contradiction is evolutionary, since is immediately creates alternative paths to travel upon. Evolution's paradox; embracing what we resist or try to avoid (chaos, change, conflict, failure, vulnerability) is our greatest source of progress.
- Amplify Your Awareness: Watching a child play, you can see their youthful exuberance, their unlimited supply of energy, their passion to explore. As we grow older we often become desensitized to the beauty life offers, shelving our dreams of youth, losing sight of what was important, replacing them with structure, rules and limitations. The protective wall we construct around ourselves, guarding us from the negative influences of the outside world towers over us. Unfortunately, it has obstructed our view the world, of new possibilities, even our purpose in life; to the point where we forget why we ever got involved in the activities that consume us on a daily basis in the first place. Our society is recognizing more and more that there is greater pleasure in simplifying one's life, as opposed to filling it with chaos, to-do lists, goal setting, or trying to keep up with overloaded schedules that result in keeping us buried in trivial tasks. We want less clutter and more clarity to see the magnificence life offers right front of us. To become more, desire less in your life. Awareness is evolutionary since it's derived from a deeper connection to truth and our authentic self, and truth is the gateway to inner peace. When you have the ability to tap into this higher level of awareness, then and only then can you live a richer and rewarding life without struggle, resistance or sacrifice. Growing back to where we came, to a more simplistic form, (a child) will re- ignite and amplify our senses and our passion to explore the wonders within our lives.
Copyright Â© 1998, Keith Rosen