Nothing Lasts Forever

It’s a phrase you have no doubt heard many times – and it’s nearly always said in a negative way – used to describe how some great feeling or situation is only temporary.

It usually signals the end of something good. The end of a relationship, the end of a winning run, broken things.

But while that is true, it’s important to always remember that the opposite is also true.

Bad things will come to an end. Life continues.

The end of one thing is the beginning of another.

If you’re going through tough times – if life is a struggle right now – just remember, nothing lasts forever.

Walking Faster Than An Aeroplane

If you want to get somewhere there are many options open to you.

You could…

Fly in an plane,

Catch a train,

Take a boat,

Ride a bike,

Drive a car,

Walk.

The first thing to consider is where are you right now, and where are you trying to get to? Are you just popping somewhere local, or travelling halfway around the world? A plane is faster than a car, but if you haven’t got far to go, or you don’t live anywhere near the airport then that extra speed is meaningless.

Then you have to consider the price vs convenience. Do you have the time to spare to take the slower but cheaper route, or are you in a hurry, so speed is the most important factor?

A family road trip across America would be an amazing experience – almost certainly better to do it in a camper van or RV, than in a much faster, more expensive Ferrari.

A hot air balloon is a very inefficient way to get from A-B, but if you want beautiful views on a nice clear day there aren’t many better options.

The final decision will come down to a variety of choices. You run into trouble when you consider only a single factor, like price or speed – because that could well lead you to make the wrong decision. If you’re running late for a job interview then I wouldn’t advise taking the cheapest option and being late. It will likely cost you more in the long run.

Point is, the best option on the surface isn’t always the best option once you consider all your requirements – and the right choice won’t be the same one every time. You could well be paying extra for things that just don’t benefit you in that scenario.

Zooming In

When you zoom in on a high definition image, suddenly the smallest details come sharp into focus, and you’re able to see things that would have otherwise remained hidden.

If on the other hand you try zooming in on a lower resolution image, all you’ll see is a blurry, out-of-focus blob – and you lose sight of what you’re looking at.

It’s easy to get caught up on the small details in life when we don’t have enough information to see as clearly as we need to. When you’re faced with a lack of detail, it’s important to understand that the best thing you can do is to zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

Just One More Episode

It used to be that major TV shows were treated like proper events. The nation would tune in together at the same time, creating these water-cooler moments that dominated the conversation the next day. The excitement would build as the week went on until we could enjoy the next episode. Television, when done right, has the power to connect people like few other mediums are able to do.

Since the likes of Netflix came along with box set bingeing these moments are increasingly rare. Now we expect a series to be released in its entirety, for us to feast on when and however we like. A seemingly endless list of programmes to watch makes it almost impossible to get through before the plot twist in the finale is thoughtlessly revealed by Jeff from Finance.

While it is so much easier for us now, we’ve lost that shared experience, that connection. Witnessing a cliffhanger ending, knowing that you have a whole week to wait before you find out what happens creates a powerful link to the viewer. Now you don’t even have to watch the whole end credits before you’re nudged to watch the next episode right now! Very few of us have the willpower to say no, and before you know it you’ve finished the series – on to the next one.

This opens the door to a lot of very mediocre shows, as they can be watched before you even realise you just wasted 15 hours of your life on something rubbish. Time is our most precious resource, yet we are all guilty of giving it away to things that don’t deserve it. I still love TV and I always will. But by being more conscious in my choices and not mindlessly consuming it means I really appreciate the few shows that I do still watch, and I have more time to spend on other activities that bring value to my life. Are there any shows that you know aren’t doing anything for you, but you keep watching anyway? If so, maybe it’s time to make a change.

It’s The Little Things.

We get caught up with trying to add value to other people’s lives. It’s a great ambition to have, but sometimes trying to focus on the big changes, means that we end up not doing much of anything.

A little gesture can go a very long way- a sincere thank you when someone does something nice, a friendly smile or a word of encouragement at the right moment- these little things add up to make a huge impact.

Bringing positivity into the world, one small step at a time, will make the biggest difference.

Too Busy Or Too Distracted?

We always feel the need to be ‘doing something’, as our lives are seemingly too busy. Next time you have the TV on in the background, catching up on some show that isn’t entertaining enough to give your full attention, while scrolling through various apps/articles/feeds on your phone, think about why. Would you rather be doing a few things that don’t warrant your full attention, or would you rather just do one thing, but do it right, and do nothing else at the same time?

Digital Detox

I don’t like social media. It annoys me, it stresses me out, it makes me feel worthless, and it wastes countless hours of my time. I used to think it was a great way of staying in touch with friends and family when they are far away, that I could keep up to date with everything where previously I would be in the dark, but it doesn’t really work out like that, not for me anyway. I’m not sure if it’s just the way I am, but I actually feel further away from these people than I ever was before. Liking a picture, or commenting on a status has replaced real communication. No need to phone or email to find out how everything is going now, I just saw that status update, and ‘liked’ it. Job done.

I’ve decided to have a digital detox. It started a few months ago with me getting rid of my shiny iPhone 6s, a device it seems which exists only to waste time, and make you buy things. I became convinced that everything needs to have an app now, simply going to the website isn’t enough anymore. So I sold it and replaced it with a Blackberry Passport – certainly not the phone for everyone. It’s massive, with a square screen, actual keyboard and most importantly for me, less apps! Now if I had strong willpower then I would simply delete the extra apps, or not download them in the first place, but I’m not that strong (yet) so I needed to take it that step further and take the choice away entirely. A few years ago I tried switching back to a ‘dumbphone’, but this didn’t last me too long, there were just too many things that I was losing out on, from music and podcasts (which i LOVE!), to travel information and maps I lasted about 4 days before making the switch back. But this I can do. I still have all of those things, but I’m getting rid of the distractions. No more games, and a serious adjustment to the social media platforms that I use.

First up, Facebook- with nearly 2bn users every person I know is on it (except my dad who staunchly refuses to step into the digital world wherever possible, though mainly because he doesn’t understand any of it), which makes for some serious FOMO – the main weapon these sites have in the battle against our free time. I made the decision to ‘unfriend’ anyone who isn’t a very close friend, current colleague (because that would be awkward), or family member. If I wouldn’t go for a drink with them, then they were gone. Lots of very nice people, but when going through the list I realized that many of them I hadn’t spoken to in years, and some I hadn’t had any interaction with at all, since we became FB friends. Some were easier than others, but eventually the list was complete and I now have a much smaller list. At the same time I also turned off all the notifications (except birthdays). The little nudges throughout the day, designed to keep your mind tied in, even when you’re not using it. Now, I go on there once a day, and have a quick scroll through and see what my nearest and dearest have been up to, and so far I’m feeling a lot less need or desire to constantly go on there.

Next, Twitter, which is probably my favourite social media platform. Like religion it seems to bring out both the best and worst in people. So many accounts on there exist purely to be spiteful and negative to anyone (everyone) else, but there are also a lot of really great accounts on there too, providing a daily dose of interesting thoughts, inspiring quotes, new words and bitesize current affairs. I swept through my ‘following’ list and got rid of any that no longer add value to me. Gone are the mindless celebs, timewasters like Buzzfeed and entertainment news. Now my timeline feels like it really enriches my life, rather than just something to read through when I’m bored and can’t think of anything else to do.

Last up, I had Instagram and Snapchat accounts, though didn’t really use them much anyway. I disabled my accounts for both (because it’s practically impossible to actually delete a social media account) and haven’t missed them at all since I’ve been without them. Instagram I enjoyed for a while when I first got it, and initially it encouraged me to take more photos, but I soon realised it made me a lazy photographer, using filters to cover up poor shots.

It would be great to hear from you about your experiences with social media. Do you feel overloaded by it all? Which platforms do you use, and which ones do you find can add value to your life?

Patience

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

My writing isn’t very good at the moment but I’m OK with that. The start of any journey is always the hardest part, but it does get easier. The key is not to get frustrated and give up. It takes time to get better- that is true of everything in life- relationships, hobbies, work. The real pleasure in life comes from knowing you are growing, really seeing and appreciating every breakthrough that you make and enjoying every step of the way. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself straight away to be the best you can be. Sometimes that internal pressure can be useful – it separates the good from the great but if life is a journey then it doesn’t always have to be a sprint.

I enjoy writing, and I will get better at it the more I practice. I don’t need to be the best writer in the world, and I won’t get annoyed that I struggle to put the right words on the page sometimes. But I will enjoy the journey.

Multitasking

“You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once.”
Gary Keller

I’ve never been one for multitasking, in fact most of the time I struggle with doing one thing at a time. We’re told constantly how this is the key to achieving maximum productivity, but I don’t buy it. How can dividing your attention between things possibly help improve either task?

I think it comes down to time, and our perceived lack of it. What I would say is that if something is really worth doing, and is important to you then it really deserves your full attention. Have you ever tried having a meaningful conversation with someone while they’re looking at their phone? Looking up occasionally, giving a nod and then getting back to whatever it is that’s clearly more interesting and important than what you’re saying. It’s very annoying.

We’ve somehow convinced ourselves as a society that we are a lot busier than we actually are. “I don’t have time to take a lunch break today, so I’ll just grab a snack and eat at my desk”. “Sorry Mum, no time to talk. I’ll call you in a few days when I’ve finished this project.” We never seem to have enough time… Yet we have seen that funny cat video that’s gone viral on YouTube, and read that BuzzFeed article about the 200 most amazing things from reality TV, and caught the latest ep of Game of Thrones, and played Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s not that we don’t have enough time, but that we get pulled into all these distractions – our attention is constantly being taken by all these things that don’t matter. Next time you’re on a train, look at how many people are on their phones. How many are playing Candy Crush? My guess is quite a few. Or scrolling mindlessly through a social media feed – not really taking anything in but just endlessly scrolling.

Some of these ‘distractions’ might bring you joy, they may really add value to your life and that’s fine, but you need to ask, am I missing out on something more important? Is my attention being taken away from something else that is far more deserving of my time? The next time you feel like you’re too busy have a think about what has been taking your time away from you, and if it has really been worth it.

Find something you love, focus on it above all else, and see whether or not that brings you more joy. I bet it will.