Life Hacks

Life Hacks

Life hack: Steer where you want to go.

Sometimes I find myself in front of the TV and I’m not even really sure what I am watching. Sometimes that turns into a great discovery. A few years ago, I was watching the show ‘Canadas Worst Driver’ and got my best tip for life, and for driving.

Steer where you want to go.

It was interesting to watch the show describe and then prove, that you need to steer in the direction you want to go. Seems obvious right? But the real interesting part for me, was the advice that, if you are trying to avoid a crash that is occurring directly in front of you, or if you need to pull your car out of a skid, you should focus your eyes on the place you want to go – not the tragedy that is opening up in front of you; not the impact zone you are in immediate danger of hitting.  Don’t look at the potential risk; look for the path through it. When you are driving, as your eyes go, so go your hands and your steering wheel.

In life, we need to steer where we can to go.

Two decades ago,  I was young, I was single, I had no skills, I was poor, I had two kids.  These aren’t the ingredients we look at for a typical road to success, and yet despite my opening hand, I have enjoyed a life well beyond my wildest dreams.  I had to learn to steer where I wanted to go.

In life, we are all in a constant state of motion. We are either progressing, moving ahead or regressing, falling behind or moving away.  If you have read this far you are probably a person who wants to move ahead or move in the direction of a goal. If you don’t know what your goal is, you are still heading somewhere… it just might be that you arrive a destination that is not where you want to be.

My first job after university was in a large oil and gas firm where I worked as a word-processor; my whole job was to type documents. I was university educated, but the job market was tight and the only position open to me was an entry level clerical job. I was struggling financially, I didn’t have a car and had to take 2 buses to get to work and drop my kids off at daycare. One day I was on a coffee break and watching a group of engineers make plans for the weekend. They were planning a weekend skiing at Banff, something that was certainly out of my reach. I envied them and desperately wanted to enjoy the lives they all seemed to have. In my heart I was actually embarrassed by my situation. In that moment I decided something critical. I decided that If I was going to be a word processor, then I would be the BEST word processor this firm had ever seen. Instead of focusing on how dismal my situation was, (which would have taken me to the spot of a confirming a dismal situation) I focused on, and steered in the direction of, being the best.

We need to start by defining a destination, a goal. Goals must have personal meaning. Goals should not be based on how other people will react or how you will be stationed in comparison with other people. When we set goals defined by an income level, or acquiring specific goods, cars, homes etc which will increase our “importance” in the world around us, the goal can become an unachievable ever-moving target.  This type of goal setting is like chasing a beach ball across the water. As a kid I was  taught about the dangers of swimming after something that was being blown across the water away from shore. The moment we get close to the object, it moves, and we can never catch it. We will exhaust ourselves swimming after that beach ball until we are completely underwater. Setting goals that are comparative or based on how other-people respond are like chasing a beachball across the lake; exhausting and rarely achievable.

Daydream for a moment about your future life. Where do you want to go?  Maybe you’ve been in this so long that you can’t even imagine your future life; if that’s the case I bet you can imagine your childs best possible future.  Do you see your beautiful daughter growing up to be a healthy, active adult?  Do you see yourself as the cool grandparent who can still play soccer in the backyard with the grandkids?  If that is the direction you want to go; then look to that and go there now. Give yourself permission to dream good things, big things, for yourself. If you would love to see your future-self or your adult child with a healthy active lifestyle, then take step one today. Go for a walk, and then go again tomorrow.  If you can’t find the motivation to get active today or to stay active remember this good advice I was got from a care aide… have enough strength to push yourself off the toilet.. if you can’t do it, someone else will have to help you…say no more…

Do you see yourself with fun, positive, people around you?  Do you see yourself with friends who are enjoying their best life?  If that’s not the case for you today, consider who you choose to spend your time with.

Maybe you see yourself in a job you love.  What steps will it take to get there?  Maybe there are  million steps to get there and maybe it feels like its too far away, but steer where you want to go. Take one step at a time and you will get there. If you take one positive step forward today, that is one fewer steps forward you will have in front of you for tomorrow.

What else does that daydream future-you or your childs future look like?  What are the key pillars to the future you?  Are you steering in that direction? When I was young and working as a word processor, nobody ever cared that I became the best word processor the firm had (okay, I was the only word processor the firm had, but I was still the BEST) – but it motivated me to see a better me, and propel my future forward.

Steer where you want to go .

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P.S– Today I was reminded about the importance of steering where I want to go. A person close to me said something really hurtful – so I focused on that comment ALL day. I told other people close to me about the comment and I researched why people need to hurt other people… ALL day I was focused on that comment. I was steering in the direction of bitterness and unhappiness. AND I ARRIVED. Do I want to be bitter and unhappy? NO! I want to write a blog post, because I think it will be fun. So I changed course, choose to move my focus off that comment and moved my focus to WHERE I WANT TO GO.

Focusing on the hurtful comment DID NOT CHANGE the comment, or the person who made it. IT ONLY CHANGED ME. Focusing on the hurtful comment left me doubting myself and my self-esteem dropping. Did releasing that focus on the hurt let the person “get away with it”? Who cares. I’m not focused on that. I know where I want to go, and I’m steering in that direction.

 

-Melanie

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