As I was pondering what to write in my first blog, it occurred to me that I often use the same same phrases in chats, discussions or other advice situations. It could be said that these are clichés, but clichés become clichés for the same reason that stereotypes are developed – because there’s a lot of truth in them. With this in mind, I thought I’d have a list of many of my sayings and mottos and what they mean to me. If you like them, feel free to adopt them. I think life is made overly complicated when we really need to keep our thought processes as simple as possible so we can bring them to mind as quickly as possible.
- Accept the things you cannot control and focus on changing the things you can: I think I evolved this from the Serenity Prayer as I’ve never been keen on religious connotations. But the distilled message is a strong and essential one. There are things in your life that you have control over and these things are not worth worrying about as there is nothing you can do about them. Focus instead on what, within a given issue, you can have an impact on – then you’re using your energy in a constructive way.
- The Sh*t Is What The Sh*t Is: In a similar vein, it is always worth remembering that right in this present moment, ignoring what has gone before, that things are just what they are. I guess another way of thinking about it, is that you have to deal with things as they are and play the hand you’re dealt – complaining and worrying won’t help – you just roll with things and get on with it.
- Motivation does not come before Action, Action comes before Motivation: I don’t remember where I heard this, but I’ve noticed how accurate it is so have added it to my mental toolkit. So often, and I am as guilty of this as anyone, I hear: ‘I haven’t got the motivation to do it’. But what I’ve found is, the more you do, the more you want to do. I find making lists helps and the feeling of ticking something off a list is a good one. If a particular target or goal feels too big or unmanageable, then break it down further – use SMART targets if you can because they are a useful tool.
- Gentle Hammering Breaks The Stone: This comes from my grandfather, the great Brinley John, and really sums up the idea of ‘little and often’ whereby the combined effect of many small attempts can lead to big achievements. For me, it also emphasises the importance of not giving up and sticking at something because the end justifies the means.
- Celebrate the Small Victories: Make sure you notice your achievements, regardless how minor they may seem. These are YOUR benchmarks, ticks on the To Do list or anything you feel proud of yourself for. I tend to isolate myself, so sometimes even leaving the house is an achievement and I should rightly feel proud of that because no one else knows the amount of effort it takes for me to do that – I know so I need to feel a sense of achievement for doing it. It is these senses of achievement that push us to achieve more ( as suggested in number 3 above) because, in simple terms, it feels good.
- Peel it apart like an onion: Anyone who has ever cut open an onion knows that the slippery, slimy little buggers are made up of layers upon layers. I usually liken all of life’s problems, issues and goals to onions because they’re usually made up of different layers. For example, ‘money problems’ is an umbrella term that can be split into different debts, obligations and sources of income. Rather than trying to address the ‘money issues’ you can peel it apart into its component pieces and address those – one at a time if you need to. It took a long time for your problems to get to where they are so it’s only sensible that it will take time to address them but every journey starts with the first step and every step takes you further from where you are/were and closer to where you want to be.
- We Don’t Complain, We Problem Solve: I have two wonderful children, Niamh and Zachary, and this is a phrase I always say to them. Rather than focussing energy on getting upset, having a tantrum or otherwise thinking about how unfair life is – take a step back, look at the problem and think about what you can do to rectify it, fix it or make it better.
I think that pretty much summarises the majority of my personal adages. What do you think? Do you have any I might like? Let me know here.