Motivational Monday: Have Low Expectations

You might have heard that one key to finding happiness is to keep your expectations low. But on the other hand you are also told to keep goals and grind, hustle and work towards the life of your dreams.. How can these two attitudes exist at the same time in our heads and why is it important to do so?

Let’s start with the more obvious one which is the purpose of having goals and a vision for your life. If you don’t have a plan, you are almost certainly planing to fail. Goals allow us to focus our energy in a certain direction and know when we are progressing so that we can appreciate all that we have accomplished. A vision motivates us to continue trying when it is tempting to stop, which builds character and resilience.

With all of the benefits that are gained from keeping a lofty vision, what is meant when we are told to have low expectations or to let go of resistance? Isn’t this contradictory to the “never give up”, “keep on hustling” mindset? No. This attitude is not talking about lowering our standards for our life, it’s talking about not becoming emotionally attached to an outcome that is beyond our control. Visions are a combination of controllable efforts on our part and trust and faith that the other parts will fall into place. For example, if your goal is to get promoted to a certain position there are many controllable aspects that you will put effort into such as: discussing a career plan with your immediate manager, networking with people in that department, developing skills that will be pertinent in that position, and beefing up your resume with applicable experience and achievements.  However, there are so many pieces of this goal that are uncontrollable such as: the merits of the other candidates, whether or not the position actually comes available, or even if your interviewer actually likes you or not. Both the controllable and uncontrollable aspects combined bring you an outcome but the only expectations you should have about the process is what is within your control. It is a meaningless expense of emotional energy to attach yourself to an outcome that is ultimately not up to you. Another reason to keep yourself unattached to a result is because you never know what other, better opportunities may be given to you in the future as a result of something not going the way you envisioned. Life is unpredictable, and that includes being unpredictable in a good way!

Aiming high but having low expectations should be rephrased as aiming high but leaving options open because that’s really what it is. This sort of attitude keeps your motivation focused and attracts better opportunities even in the face of less than ideal outcomes. A healthy attitude toward life is to remain open and optimistic because you never know what’s waiting around the corner. Release yourself from unreasonable expectations and focus on your efforts and before you know it, life will be running towards you instead of you chasing after it.

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3 Ways Elegant Women Remain Collected

We all want to feel more in control when things go awry. I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed feeling nervous and helpless and I’ve also met some women who seem to defy all characteristics of normal human reactions when it hits the fan. It made me wonder what this quality was and if I could learn it too. After some study of their behavior, I realized that this quality was “elegance”.

Now, elegance is not snobbery and high tea with lace fans and finger sandwiches.

Elegance is a state of mind and therefore anyone can be elegant — strands of pearls and diamond rings are not compulsory. What elegant women share in common is their mind. They are focused, clear, and decisive in their thoughts which leaves very little room for them to feel “off”, worried or hysterical. After much study, I’ve reduced their behavior down to these three ways to that use to stay calm, cool and collected.

1. They know their priorities

If you ask most women what is important in their lives, you’ll be inundated with an avalanche of things which is no wonder most women feel like their running on steam much of time.

Elegant women are not super-human. They have the same amount of time and energy as anyone else, but they know where to focus it and not give it away to unimportant people and things.

To feel in control, you need to be able to constantly decide what is truly, deeply important to you and be at peace with your decisions. There is this phenomenon called “FOMO” today. That stands for the “fear of missing out” and that has no place in an elegant woman’s life. If you find yourself at the mercy of FOMO and afraid to cut off things and people, just remember that if everything is important to you, then nothing really is.

2. They abhor drama

In a world where vulgar, outrageous personalities are gossiped about, emulated and celebrated, elegant women take a step away from these people and prefer to acquaint themselves with those who uplift and inspire others to our highest ideals. Choose the high road all the time and soon you’ll find yourself among others who have done the same.

There’s also the drama that women create within themselves by giving away their feelings self-worth to other people. How many women do you know always think about what someone else is thinking about them and base their decisions on what someone else thinks? These women torture themselves which shows up as social anxiety by trying to know the unknowable — and frankly, the not worth knowing. Elegant women are truly confident in themselves, not confident in what others think of them. There’s a distinction there that makes all the difference.

Lastly, an elegant woman does not create negative thoughts in less than ideal situations. She understands that things will happen that are beyond her control and all she can do is remain level-headed and make the best decision with the knowledge she has. These last couple of weeks have not been the best: my husband got in a car accident (thankfully he’s fine even though the car is totaled!), my car has some sort of electrical issue that even the car shop can’t figure out so that car can’t be driven until they bring in an electrician, my husband’s job interview did not go as he wanted and they chose another candidate, and due to all of the car issues there are going to be some hefty, unexpected bills coming our way soon. With all of these events, it is very tempting to succumb to the stress and anxiety and begin to weave negative thoughts into my days, but an elegant women sees the facts for what they are.

Have these last two weeks been an anomaly? Yes.

Does that mean my life is falling apart and that nothing good will ever happen to me ever again? No.

Can I handle this with grace and not let it affect my overall happiness? Yes.

Life happens and there’s nothing that can stop that. Sometimes what seems like a bad thing can actually end up being good for you. It was time for a car upgrade anyway.

3. They are disciplined and intentional

Like I mentioned before, elegance is a state of mind and the mind is an incredible thing. It takes a lot of discipline to control your thoughts and actions, most people just let the first feeling that comes into their brain decide their actions. An elegant woman knows that life is just a series of decisions between what is right and what is easy.

On the same line, if something is important then you have to truly intend to do it. An elegant women does this by putting it down in a calendar. This can come in many different varieties and can be electronic or old-fashioned pen to paper (my preference). For example, if you decide that writing that novel is truly important to you (this is key) then you will write in your calendar the steps required to accomplish that:

  1. Write the novel
  2. Research the best publisher for you
  3. Find an illustrator

All that’s left to do is to tap into your discipline to believe in yourself and do those steps.

Of course, elegant women have their days when they feel stressed out, get angry, make some drama and commit themselves to something that they don’t truly feel is important to them. No one is perfect. But they don’t stay in that space for long, certainly not long enough to ever make a real impact on their lives, but if you are ever feeling that like, just remember these 3 methods and get back to being and living your fabulous elegant self.

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Getting Clean: Be Honest About Your Motivations

Let’s be honest.

I’d wager that more often than you think, the interactions you have with people in your life have a secret agenda behind them. Without us really being conscious of them, we make decisions based on motivations that are impure.

So what’s the big deal?

Keeping secrets has actually been proven to be harmful to our brain. Neuroscientists believe that it is better for us to either confess our secrets or not participate in keeping them at all. The reason for this involves a lot of complicated medical terminology but basically, it stresses your brain out. It puts your brain in a limbo because a part of the brain that is in charge of our emotional responses is also wired to tell the truth. Whenever you become privy to something secret, this part of the brain starts telling all the other parts of the brain to tell it and get it out so that it can do more important things like learning. When you don’t tell the secret and keep it locked in because you don’t want to hurt someone you prevent this part of the brain from working regularly and it becomes stressed. This can lead to some pretty unpleasant effects such as a low immune system, high blood pressure, memory loss, increase in the stress hormone coritsol and gastrointestinal and metabolic issues.

With that said, let’s get clean by following the steps below:

Step One

Pick something coming up in your schedule that you’ve committed to doing. Maybe you don’t have anything planned for this weekend, but you have to go to work on Monday morning. That’s fine — any commitment will do.

Step Two

Keeping this commitment in your mind, think about why you are doing it. I want you to ignore that first reason that pops up in your head — “because I have to” — and really go deep with this. Maybe you go to work because you need the money, because you want the recognition from your boss, but its mostly because you want the approval of your family. Who knows? Only you do, so think hard and find the reason that feels the most true.

Step Three

Now that you have the real motivation, think about what you let others think about why you are doing what you are doing. Using the example for going to work, if the real motivation is the paycheck, you may make your boss think that you love working for him or the company or it’s such a great opportunity to learn and grow and blah blah blah. If there is a disconnect between the reason in step two and this step, then you’re keeping a secret.

Step Four

Now that you have found a hidden disconnect — a secret — in your life, it won’t do to just sweep it under the rug. You’ve only just begun to clean up your motivations so to keep on going you have to be truthful to yourself. You can tell your boss that you love your job, but remember that you’re here for the paycheck. You can tell your friend that “No, that dress doesn’t make you look fat, but perhaps this dress will accentuate your body better”, but understand the reasons why you tell her that — because you value her friendship and companionship more than your opinions on her wardrobe choices.

Once you continue following the steps above as often as you can in your life, you will more easily live your truth and begin to attract people and interactions that bring out your pure motivations instead of people and situations that make you perpetuate a web of deception. In fact, this is the reason why therapy, whether it’s journaling or speaking with a professional doctor, is so helpful. By staying attuned to the real motivations in your own interactions,  you can quickly identify the motivations of others and their hidden agendas and intelligently make decisions to avoid involving yourself in situations that may compromise your truth. You’ll start to feel freer and lighter as you unravel the web of manipulation that tangled your brain and you’ll be able to use that boost of energy to focus on living your life the way you truly love surrounded with people who truly love you.

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5 Ways to Feel Better About Life

Sometimes we need a good pick me up to make us right again and I’m sharing with you some of my favorites that always work for me.

  1. Get up and get out

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If you’re feeling down it’s so tempting to stay in bed all day watching Netflix and vegging out. But do you ever notice how doing what you want isn’t what you need? The first thing I must do to feel better is to get up, put my make up on and a nice outfit and get out of the house. Once you take a look at your reflection and see how great you look, you’ll instantly feel your mood start to lift.

2. Get a manicure and pedicure

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While you’re sitting and relaxing you can start to unwind from whatever is on your mind. A manicure is so relaxing and afterwards you’re left with clean and pretty nails! It’s just another way to look good and therefore feel good and it never fails to lift my spirits. If you don’t like manicures you could also get a massage or a facial or maybe even a hair cut.

3. Do something for someone else

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Sometimes what you need to do is just get out of your own head. A good way to do this is to stop thinking about your own issues and help someone else with something. This weekend my grandmother was busy making kimchi and I offered to help her since it is a very arduous and time-consuming process. She was glad to have me help and it felt good to be useful for someone. I bet you have some family or friends who can use a helping hand and I bet you’ll feel better for helping them.

4. Sit in a cafe

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Sitting down and enjoying a coffee while watching people in the city walk by can really help you think through your issue. Bring along a book and the change in scenery and fresh air will do you some good.

5. Write about it and make some movement

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Whatever is bothering you — write it down. Sometimes if its something that someone did that is bothering me I will write a letter to that person, describing exactly how I feel and exactly what they did. I won’t actually send the letter because the language will probably be quite strong and hurtful, but it does help to get it out so that when I do face the person I can face them more composed and clear- headed since I’ve removed my emotions from the situation. Once the writing is done I encourage you to take the next step to righting what’s wrong. Whether it concerns another person, your work, or a personal issue, make a positive move towards the direction you want to go. It’s so easy to get complacent about a situation, so if you recognize that something isn’t how you want it to be, then take the necessary steps to make it so.

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Stop Working On All of Your Goals

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of projects and a lot of goals that you’re trying to achieve all at once. And if you find yourself in a cycle of starting, losing steam a few days in, stopping, feeling bad for stopping and then vowing you’ll finally see a project through this time, let’s do both of ourselves a favor and end this circus.

I have discovered a more effective way of finishing my goals sans the self-doubt and discouragement. It’s so simple, yet easy to overlook in a world that demands us to be bigger, faster, stronger. Here it is:

Begin only one goal at a time and focus on mastering your process

How I used to operate is, I would have a burst of enthusiasm that was probably inspired by my procrastination and start to work on a list of things that I wanted to achieve. I would start a blog, exercise everyday, learn Arabic, create a meal plan, read a book a week, and start writing a book all at once. I would have a lot of fun planning all of this out, but the longest I’ve ever gone on this sort of regime was probably 2 weeks. Not exactly a sufficient time frame to even begin to make a small dent in that list.

The reason I would inevitably give up on everything is that I had not yet mastered the different processes for each item on that list. I was being pulled in too many directions at once without firmly establishing the rhythm of even one project into my life.

What must be done instead is start with one. For example, if I was learning Arabic at the beginning of the month I would start my process by committing to study at least 10 pages from a self-guided language learning book, or 1 exercise a day, or whatever method of measurement is the right fit for me.

After I giving myself enough time to form the habit of learning Arabic, let’s say 1 month, I can add on starting a blog. I will commit myself to that new process of posting twice a week for a month before adding on another project. If at any point, I have begun to slip in my processes, I will need to remove the very last project that was added and wait another month before re-assimilating it.

It could be that I reached my mental or physical capacity for learning and working on new things, so instead of stopping all of my projects, I can sacrifice delaying one. This way I will strengthen my capability to learn and my other projects will continue moving along.

With this method of incrementally adding goals or projects to your list, I believe you will find yourself finishing them quicker. This method is really a system that helps you learn how to learn, which is an absolute necessity for success. It’s been a game changer for me and I you should try it too — I am asking you to do less after all!

Let me know what you guys think,

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