Featured Friday with Bernard Swart: 9 Useful Ideas About Life…


In the grand scheme of things, I have relatively little figured out about life. In fact, I do not make any secret of the fact that each day I am learning about life and figuring out my role in this world. 

Throughout this learning experience I have stumbled upon some useful ideas for living a meaningful life that I would like to share with you today.

1. If you intend to change the course of your life, then change your identity.

“All behaviour is belief driven.” – Jim Kwik

The type of person you believe you are and the type of things you believe you are capable of – in other words, your identity – will determine your actions in everyday life.

The limitations in your life are framed by the box of your mind. If you intending changing the course of your life, start by building a new identity.

Start small. Prove your new identity to yourself in a thousand tiny ways. Soon it will become real in a thousand big ways.

Let’s say you choose to assume the identity of someone living a healthy lifestyle then this identity will manifest itself in various ways.

You might start by jogging around your block each day, progressively running further. You might start by cutting out sweets and sugar out of your diet. You might even decide to join your local CrossFit affiliate and attend classes three times a week.

Eventually all of these small changes will compound and the people around you will start associating your identity with that of someone living a healthy and active lifestyle.

2. Ultimately it is your responsibility to determine the direction of your life.

“You have brains in your head and feet in your  shoes.Yocan steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

Should have. Could have. Would have. 

Many smart people waste years thinking, “If I just work hard, then things will work out for me.” Maybe. Maybe not.

It is your job to determine the direction of your life. The world is filled with good people who want good things for you, but they are busy with their own lives. It is not their responsibility to find opportunities for you. In fact, they will not assist you unless you tap them on the shoulder and say, “I would like to get there. Do you know how I can make it happen?”

The impact of purpose is often understated. If you know what you want in life, then people will either assist you to obtain it or get out of your way. Both of these are useful. However, I cannot over-emphasize that any change of direction in your life will have to be done by you. No one is going to ask you to do it.

3. Focus on your average speed, not your maximum speed.

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” – Chuck Close 

Slow and steady wins the race. 

The reality is that the majority of people only work hard every now and then. You can blow past them by simply showing up each day and being consistent. 

While everyone else is waiting to get inspired and motivated, you get to work. This is because you know that it does not take a monumental effort to achieve incredible results, just a consistent one. 

Professionals set a schedule for their work. Amateurs work when it is convenient.

4. Give yourself permission.

“Give yourself permission to enjoy life, it is unlikely anyone else will do so.” – Colin Wright 

You do not need permission to make yourself better. The general standard does not necessarily have to be your standard.

You do not need permission to love someone or something. If you love them, you love them. If you love it, you love it. Be unconditional in sharing your love. It always seems pretentious if it is shared with provisos.

You do not need permission to create something you are excited about, to quit your job and travel the world, to pursue a dream, to give up on a dream, or do just about anything.

If you want to do it, do it. You do not need to be tapped, appointed, chosen, or nominated to live a good life. You do not need to be selected for greatness, simply start living it. 

5. Start before you feel ready.

“Don’t wait until you are ready to take action. Instead, take action to be ready.” – Jensen Siaw

If you have a goal, the most important thing is to start. Do not wait for motivation. If it is not there yet, it will come after starting. 

The majority of us start at the same place with no money, no contacts and no experience. The difference is that some people –the winners – choose to start anyway. 

Having the initiative and courage to start is more important than succeeding because the people who consistently get started are the only ones who can end up finishing anything. If you are unable to find anyone to support you, choose to start anyway. You will soon find supporters along the way.

6. Push yourself physically.

“One finds his limits by pushing them” – Herbert Simon

Challenging your own body is the greatest method for discovering the strength of your mind. This is most evident in strength training. There will be days where you do not feel like going to the gym. There will be workouts that you do not feel like finishing. There will even be times when other members in the gym will see you fail. 

But the reality is that if you keep up showing anyway and put in the work even if you do not feel like it, you will develop the mental fortitude to push past failure. More importantly, you will become aware of what you are really made of physically and mentally.

Many people never grasp that they are soft mentally because they are soft physically.

7. Create something and share it.

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

We often spend our lives visiting the world instead of shaping it. Yet it is through the act of creating new experiences that we discover who we are and what is important to us.

Cook a meal instead of buying one. Write a paragraph instead of reading one. Get on the playing field instead of observing from the stands. Instead of consuming, start creating. Give a compliment and not expect one. Greet a stranger without expecting any reaction.

Say thank you for the small things.

8. Live authentically.

“You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood up for something, sometime in your life” – Winston Churchill 

You do not have any responsibility to live up to someone else’s expectations of you. Don’t spend your life chasing what someone else says you should want or do instead of doing what is right for you.

Take a stand for something you believe in. Sometimes you need to look society in the eye and decide not to follow the herd. Never compromise your values or your dreams. It is not the easy decision, but it is the right decision. 

It is important to assess what you perceive as the good life and the difficulty we have in this regard is that (1) we tend to relate a good life with material issues and (2) we tend to view the happiness of others as the guideline for our own life.

Your personal good life is a very personal issue. You have to think hard about what makes you happy and follow your plan to fulfil that happiness. It might, many a time, be in total contrast to those ideas heralded by friends and family. You see, friends and family can be a part of your happiness in general but your inner happiness is a very personal issue.

9. Share your ideas and victories. Take no credit.

“Share ownership of your ideas. The more people who lie awake in bed thinking about your idea, the better” – Scott Belsky

For those who have been fortunate to experience it will testify that team accomplishment is far greater than individual achievement. To make your efforts matter, share it with someone. The greatest joy in life is that of giving. 

There is no sense in making claims or demanding recognition. Pretty much every idea you have ever had is not yours – it is the result of something you read, something you were taught, or something that happened to you.

Embrace the learning experience we call life and share the knowledge you stumble across freely with others. Ideas that are horded up will help no one. 

Always remember that success follows generosity.

Bernard Swart is a registered industrial psychologist and co-owner of Swart & Associates Human Resource Management. The business provides various HRM services including recruitment and selection initiatives, labour relations consulting as well as career guidance and psychometric assessments.

To find out more, follow Bernard on: https://goo.gl/x5pz6i

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