Monday Jan 22, 2007

More Reflections on Life : Our Journey.. Goals, Success, Confidence...


\*Caution\* : This should probably be multiple blogs.. but.. If someone wants "food for thought" in the interim.. well here you go ! Be prepared, since a few verbose tangents are surely to follow. :)

This posting is a collection of : thoughts.. self help (success..setting goals, Confidence/failure cycles), science, psychology, philosophy, some lessons learned.. all Reflections on Life... 

Also note.. this blog is a follow-on to my early Nov '06 blog.. "Lessons Learned.."   So, if you haven't yet read that one recently.. you probably should do so as a Part 1 of this Blog (I apologize if there's any overlap).  Together, you'll get a good grasp of who I am.. and what I represent.  Though this one is a bit more fragmented than I had hoped for (lots of notes put together here).. it's a starting point for future editing to come.. when I get the time. (in most of my blogs.. clicking on the highlited words will bring you to other links for that topic..give it a try)

Please don't be shy and Comment openly. With that said.. buckle your seat belts.. OPEN your minds... turn off your cell phones.. and away we go ... the wisdom of the elders is awaiting you..(sounds good at least .. lol).

The most Valuable things in life take Time, Planning, .. and Effort..

Each of us should ALWAYS have a list of priorities in our lives. This includes
some definition of Goals... WHAT we want to get out of life.. and the steps we need
to take to get there. Together.. all this gives us guidance and STRUCTURE that we
can lean on and strive towards. It allows us to maintain FOCUS on what's important,
at the same time, allowing us to block out what's just a distraction.. simply taking us
farther from achieving our goals.. or wasting our time. Almost, if not more importantly, clearly defined objectives allow us to gain a "sense of Accomplishment" and/or recognition that we all need to fuel our motivation.. a core need that boosts our energy through self esteem and the resulting confidence that we all need to succeed in life.

Make up your Mind & Decide... then ACT on your Decisions...

If you don't have any set goals / objectives.. or even if there's no clear purpose in your life.. then CREATE IT !

Realize that virtually NOTHING is PreDestined !! The end result --> the Outcome of
situations is usually a complex combination of MANY variables (all the entities, actions, and reactions..). Unfortunately, the ones that are unpredictable are the ones that involve People (indecisive buggers!). However, the remaining aspects are reasonably predictable through common probability, statistics (the 1 in 2 a..50-50 chance of tossing tails with a coin.. or rolling a die with 1/6 probability of any side) and laws of Physics (outcomes based on laws of motion, energy, matter, mechanics, etc..).

We can sabotage our own lives.. just as easily as we can etch paths to success that will bring us closer to our end Goals.. one step at a time. Our probability of success goes down with fewer opportunities, with less confidence, or by not defining or acting towards our end goals. We can increase our probability of success by increasing the number of "predictable" steps (attempts / tries..) that we take... not giving up, but instead learning from our failures.

Although there are few clearly delineated "true" Black or White Decisions in life.. we can always "narrow down" the alternatives to a handful of choices by taking a look at the big picture around us.. to reflect on ourselves, our actions.. our OPTIONS... and those around us.

To make the best decisions possible, write down all possible alternatives.. and then associate advantages (pros) and disadvantages (cons) with each... and the consequences (End Result) of each alternative. If one path brings you closer to your end objectives (the positives outweighing the negatives..), then that's the choice to make.

Although at times we feel as limited as "Pawns in the game of Life" .. if we carefully plan and weigh out our decisions.. the road to goals (along with happiness) can be etched out in front of us (play a game of chess once in a while at to brush up on your desicsion making skills).

Not Acting on our decisions is actually worse than not Deciding .. in that we end up perpetuating the same scenario .. reinforcing the negative aspects of our lives.

EVERYTHING is RELATIVE to the scenario !! Take 10+ steps back and don't act rashly.. Make Decisions based up on facts and Goals.. not just emotions (though they help act as our compass and guide us).

If something is important to you.. then it's definitely worth planning for.. most likely even Fighting for.. so Make up your mind (DECIDE) .. and ACT NOW !!

No more .. Should Have, Could Have... Would Have...
Don't be a bystander in your life... TAKE CHARGE and Make A Difference !

Among the simple concepts of Goals and the importance of Structure and a sense of Accomplishment, I've outlined the following cycles that I've experienced or witnessed countless times in life.. to explain the dynamics and semantics (along with common pitfalls) of succeeding in life.

The Goal Cycle :

  • Outline Priorities in your life and create a List of GOALS and Objectives
  • Envision the END POINT of Success for each Goal (where you want to be)
  • Sell yourself on the purpose and Course of action (plan) for Each Goal.
  • Decide what steps are need to get you from here to there.
Without clearly defined goals.. our life wanders aimlessly. There's little hope since there are no targets for accomplishment or achievement. Don't be afraid to Decide and change your life for the best ! (people do typically resist change.. as it touches on the fears of not being able to control what is unknown.. vs. what is familiar.. see the Failure Cycle below)

RULE: Every time you achieve a Milestone along the way (the critical path), or reach your end GOAL(s)... make sure that you take steps back and Re-Assess the big picture to ensure that your plans are still in alignment with your overall Goals and Objectives. Personally, I do just that.. making sure that the direction I'm heading is where I want to be.. and if so, raising the bar every time I reach my endpoints.

When you achieve a major milestone (might not even be the end Goal) need to TREAT yourself (embrace the sense of accomplishment and bask in it's glow). A common pitfall along the path to success is "BURN out".. so don't fall victim. PACE yourself so you still have time to enjoy the fruit of your labors !! (take the occational break to smell the roses along the path to success !! .. and be PROUD of yourself and what you have accomplished !)

In life.. there's always room for continuous improvement.

The Success Cycle :

  • Get Motivated.. Inspire yourself by envisioning a sense of Accomplishment
  • Surround yourself with POSITIVE, Motivated, Successfull individuals
  • Learn from and emulate those that have succeeded in these endeavours
  • Commit to and believe in yourself and your viability of Success.
  • Visualize yourself achieving ("at") the end point.. successfully reinforcing a positive outlook.
  • Sell yourself on the course of action (plan) and ACT on it !
  • Stay Focused... block out any external distractions.
  • Use all the resources at your disposal.. delegate if possible.
  • Commit to doing whatever it takes to reach our Milestones along the critical path to success.
  • Maintain and grow the confidence within yourself with each accomplishment.
  • Time is one of your most precious assets.. use it wisely.

It only takes one success to build upon.
Success "BREEDS" Success !

Generally, the more effort that you put in.. the more you will get out. However,
it's best to work SMARTER.. than to BLINDLY work HARDER.
(couch potatoes .. usually result in rotten home fries)

Failures can slow us down.. but need to be looked upon as ONLY temporary
setbacks to be learned from.... The successful don't quit easily.. learn from your mistakes !

The Failure Cycle :

Within each of us.. much of success and failure hinge upon our past failures and resulting LOW self esteem and confidence.

Ultimately at our core, we equate nearly everything as either positive (good) or negative (bad). With this in mind we associate good outcomes as pleasant.. or PLEASURABLE.. and bad outcomes with PAIN. Hence.. the pleasure / pain principle.. (avoid pain at all costs.. and seek pleasure whenever possible). [I could digress into a tangent on how this also has formed a basic tenant of most mythology in cultures.. Yin/Yang, etc.. as well as how good and bad have progressed to the opposite forces of GOOD (GOD) and EVIL (dEVIL) .. simplifying the balance of harmony in the world around us & our understanding of how it works.. but I think I just did].

Self Esteem and Confidence.. are psychological mechanisms common in all animals... Allowing for those behaviors that succeed to embolden us and be repeated. However, those actions that result in failure (or lack of control --> Fear) ratchet back our confidence and underlying self esteem, as they did more than a million+ years ago in our ancestors.. resulting as innate DNA etched fears passed down from those that survived to have children...[eg. not to go out at night (we couldn't see our foe..and predators were lurking -> fear of the dark), not to stand at the edge of a cliff (fear of heights), snakes, etc..].   Those that had these primal fears survived in much greater #'s.. growing the populous over time to dominate with those genes and behaviors].

Vestiges of our past ancestors... the ones that had "fears" survived.. and the ones with no fear.. ended up dead and unable to pass on their DNA. Success and Failure play on these primal fears and underlying instincts to curb our behavior. However, many of us get to a point where the fear seems to overtake our ability to "TRY AGAIN".. resulting in .. "middle of the road" (aka "Safe") lifestyles..rituals and habits that are less than fulfilling. Others experience scenario's that etch within us.. intense fears.. that manifest as panic attacks and phobia's that keep us from encountering those scenarios.

Take Responsibility for our actions... Live like your not affraid.. but be prepared for any side effects or consequences.. (hence plan accordingly).

Not all plans end up as expected.. but the
difference between those that end up successful is that they don't give up and quit ! Don't be a QUITTER !!

Understand that the Human Brain has an underlying "Primitive" subsystem as part of the brain stem (common in ALL animals from Fish onward..) which produces the same fearful (fight or flight) reactions.. (in mammals also the Amygdala, etc..). However, within humans.. we have a special differentiation.. (a HUGE prefrontal cortex) that allows our brain to "short circuit" and override these impulses / emotions..and/or fears by deep analytical (NON-EMOTIONAL) thought.  It is a fact that you can set your mind to FOCUS and concentrate on OTHER activities that do not open the door to emotions...  not allowing those thoughts of failure and FEAR to creep into your mind...  and that anyone can move past these points of failure and retrain their brain in the process (the same way that we each get beyond basic fears such as public speaking).

Much in Life is a Self Fulfilling Prophecy .... You Think it.. and so Shall it Be ! (maintain that optimistic edge with a positive attitude !!) .. Don't fall victim of self-doubt.. Be Confidently Determined !!

The old adage.. "Idle minds breed gossip and fear" .. is not far from the mark. By keeping yourself busy (in a positive way) you keep the mind from manifesting itself with perceptions of negativity and failure. We can each convince ourselves of nearly ANYTHING. Our likes and/or dislikes come about this way throughout our lives.. what we deem "fact" and believe.. becomes our own REALITY.. ending up as the "truth" to us. (eg. If we have a horrible elementary school teacher that doesn't teach us the basics of math.. and we develop a feeling of "not being good at" math since we're lost .. playing catch-up.. from that point on.. then we will associate a dislike with math.. resulting in our reality being "I'm not good at math" .. ensuring that I'll never excel in Math .. since I've given up before I've even started. This can be applied to ANY area of our life.. and is how most of us evaluate and judge the world around us.. via past experiences).

Hence... we are each the sum of our past experiences.. both the decisions that we've made or not made.. and the actions that we've taken or not taken.

The Confidence Cycle :

Success "breeds" Confidence.. which ultimately Breeds Success. Without Confidence, Success is unlikely. If you think you can't accomplish the task at hand, then you won't try hard enough.. or long enough.. or persevere through obstacles. Self sabotage will result in a self fulfilling prophecy.

Confidence allows us to block out the basic probabilities that govern reality (chances of failure), which normally inhibit or restrict our behavior (remaining focused and trying harder if we first don't succeed).

One interesting paradigm within human psychology is that Over-Confidence generally has other associated detrimental affects, such as arrogance, where those shielded from failure (or in denial of it) exude an aura of perfection.. to the point of invincibility that ultimately ends in it's own form of demise (failure, social acceptance, lost friendships..). Remember, modesty goes a long way .. so eat some humble pie on occasion and give yourself a reality check !

Unless you Understand it, you probably can't Control it ...

Most problems in Life are trivial in nature. Before you get upset.. look at the overall
scheme of the "big picture".... is it a life/death situation ?.. does it involve major health concerns that can't be overcome in time ? ... Just about ANY other scenario can be overcome and worked around. For those situations that can't be changed, we unfortunately must accept the cards that we're dealt and the responsibilities and impacts that come with them.. along with the help of others (true friends, family, faith, prayer, meditation, etc..).

Fear and Uncertainty : It's the "Not Knowing" that will eat you up inside !

The Fear of the Unknown is the Greatest fear that ALL humans have.  For humans, not Knowing (aka. not Understanding) .. means that we can't predict what will happen in the future.. showing us a glimpse of how large the world around us is.. and that we are not in Control of it all.  It's the underlying primal fear that drives us all to create explanations and ways for coping with those difficult moments in our lives that we can not understand or explain. It's why the ages have had a continuing progression of formal systems to explain the unknowns around us .. hence.. Mythology.. Many gods for many unknowns (Sun, Moon, Rain, etc.. etc..), Superstitions (the #13, .. umbrellas, etc.. to the Pope law for preventing the Plague from spreading during the Dark Ages.. the origin of our saying "God Bless You" when someone sneezes), or Astrology (through the movement of the gods.. aka planets or constellations.. though the alignment of planets that "supposedly" corresponds to our birth compatibilities.. hasn't been aligned in the same way for thousands of years, and is ever changing. Even though the premise that everyone born within the same month has the same personality and emotional compatibility attributes is one that has no factual basis.. fortune telling.. is still with cultures around the globe.. and horoscopes are read by hundreds of millions of less scientific and generally less educated people every day around the globe to try and feel comforted and somewhat in "control" of their lives). 


We have the Critical Thinkers and Non-Conformists to thank for nearly all the major advances of History

Luckily, over the years, the foundation of explaining the world around us and how everything works.. (with proof.. causes and effects.. scientific deduction,..) has progressed even through centuries of restrictions during the dark ages. From the first critical thinkers.. not afraid to as WHY?.. to the period of enlightenment and the "Age of Reason" when science was finally embraced and became an accepted discipline.  It took bravery and inspired devotion to a cause to say the TRUTH and endure the inevitable condemnation by the masses, during times when most "deviants" became social outcasts, of those not killed or imprisoned.   Freedom of the mind and speech has and still is resisted by the masses that would rather be "accepted" (ignorance is bliss) than exercise free thought and question what their parents grandparents might have taught them.  Unfortunately, speaking out against a culture's dominant religion is still today an issue, just as it was for Socrates, Coppernicus, Galileo,  and Darwin...  Never forget however, that we have those oringinal inquisitive minds that voiced the TRUTH (in light of the mythology, superstitions, and BLIND Faith before them), to thank for the productivity gains, technical revolutions, and basic UNDERSTANDING that we have today.   The quality and longevity of life that we all expect complacently.. is all a result of science.

People will GRASP at and fight tooth and nail to justify their belief systems.. no matter how much evidence is put in front of them, they will latch onto coincidence as fact, allowing for HOPE that their beliefs (and the intricate web of understanding that we create to support those beliefs) will not be dismantled. It's human nature to be in Denial and "protect" our underlying belief systems.. so that our foundation of Confidence and Self Esteem are protected. What's WISE, however.. is to look at our beliefs with an open mind.. allowing for us to grow ourselves in a positive direction, whenever possible not seeing life through a false veil that only clouds are judgments.

We manifest our own fears by dwelling on what we're unable to control, predict, or understand. Being in control of your life means that through better understanding and planning (reducing the number of unknowns) ..also comes better management and acceptance of those things outside your control.

Each time we make a decision based upon "intuition".. we're subconsciously letting our brain make the best choice from all possible options.. factoring in our knowledge of past experiences. Even though intuition creates a guiding emotional "feeling" within us.. it's basis is to help us avoid failure using logic and past outcomes.

Searching first within ourselves is the first step to inner peace and happiness.

This same understanding.. (or Misunderstanding) taken "within" ourselves.. can allow each of us to see those moments when we are in a state of denial.. simply to stubbornly protect our "stance" .. whether it's regarding a belief or a position in an argument... An open mind and the ability to self-reflect.. will enlighten each and every one of us. Even though the truth can sting.. at least initially... it's an essential step in that can resolve or avoid many common pitfalls in life.

\* Until we see and admit our own flaws, we will never change or grow. \*

Living with a Clean conscience comes from having Integrity, Admitting to our mistakes, and taking Responsibility for our Actions (even the ones that don't go as we had planned..).

Having HOPE and maintaining FAITH are the common elements that we each need in some shape or form (whether it's in ourselves, our mission, our goals, those around us, or in our own definition of God..).

Hope, Faith, and Focused Determination.. together, they allow us to escape the clutches of defeat.. when we might otherwise give up in the eyes of adversity. (..when we might otherwise not try that one last time that results in success !)    HAVING FAITH IN YOURSELF is the starting point !!

Big Ripples make Waves ...
(\* Skip if you aren't in for a Tangent on science \*)

Life is full of waves... of all forms, shapes, and dimensions.. each with their own set of laws, characteristics, and Patterns.  From sound ... (music to language), to light ... (fireworks to Movies).. and on.   Taking this concept further, to that of patterns in the real world, some of these "ripples" in our daily lives can be "detractors" (detours, tangents, distractions...) that we encounter along the path of life.. hopefully capable of being hurdled or sidestepped, so that we don't become derailed from our target destintation(s). Ultimately, we should be growing ourselves along the path, enriching and fueling our curiosities, savoring the simple pleasures along with the major milestones... hopefully working ourselves in a positive direction.. towards our goals.

.. Little Ripples show us that each and Every one of us can have an effect on our surroundings
(the world around us) !! By taking the events that life throws at us.. and comparing them to "waves" that propigate all around us (radio waves, sound waves, water, ...) we can see that each wave has a repeating cycle of oscillation (frequency).. just as life ebbs and flows with highs and lows (crests and troughs), so does the typical sine wave.. transferring energy in the process (contributing to or eroding from the end result).

The complete spectrum of energy around us is composed and differentiated by specific characteristics (for waves.. it is the wavelength). The visible spectrum of light that we are familiar with (as represented by ROY_G_BIV) is a subset of the complete electromagnetic spectrum of waves that exist.. (the invisible InfraRed, UltraViolet, x-rays, Gamma Ray's, radio waves, etc..), .. JUST Like in every day life, events within our circle of influence are but a subset of those external events that are outside of our visibility (or control)Identifying the "Patterns" and recognizing ways to "flatten" out and minimize the troughs is a key to maximizing our highs (happiness, success, etc..).

For EVERY system there's a point of equilibrium...or "balance" (Yin / yang) governed by the dynamics of the system itself (physical,
environmental, ethical, .. laws). Whether it's room temperature, a
stock price, or the number of fish that can live in a tank
.. there will always be an average that is influenced by the chaos and entropy of the world.

All interactions.. have the potential to Transfer Energy.. either TO.. or FROM us.. as described in Newton's Law's, as well as the Law's of Thermodynamics :

First law of thermodynamics

In any process, the total energy of the universe remains constant.
It can be seen as simply as we can measure the overall change in temperature in a room, that
when a new object or air is introduced or removed... (Unless Everything remains constant).. the overall Energy (based upon.. heat / temperature, light, humidity, etc..) will change to factor in the differences.. either having a Positive or Negative overall affect (.. add cold air.. or remove a the hottest object.. and the overall temp/energy of the room will go down). The same can be said relating to the impact that Events and/or people have on our every day lives.. either contributing to or taking away from the Positive aspects of our life. Our choices and actions can help us filter out the negatives.. and when they can't be avoided.. we must learn from them.. to better manage and limit our exposure to these eroding / corrosive entities that will have a cumulative effect over time.

In the "clean" world of Physics, ALL actions cause equal and opposite reactions (see Newton's Third Law of Motion). However, Newton's Law's of Motion didn't have to account for interpersonal unpredictability that we need to account for in the real world. You push.. either they push back.. something falls down.. ???... OR.. a door opens up ! .. it ALL depends on the Situation at hand .. take those 10 steps back and look at the big picture to make your choices wisely (once you make your bed.. you will need to sleep in it .. and live with those decisions !) !!

... they key is in harnessing the "ripples" and "waves" .. using them to your advantage !! In EVERY scenario.. avoid the detractors (distractions) and look for the openings (the doors) ... and Ride the WAVEs to your advantage !! (many events are a blessing in disguise.. inspect what you have at your disposal.. and don't be affraid to examine things from many vantage points.. step out of your shoes and see the world from other perspectives.. you might be surprised to see what you've been missing out on !!).

Grow Faith and Confidence in Yourself, Define Purpose and Goals within your Life.. and Act on them !!

EVERY Moment that passes.. becomes History.. out of our reach.. that can not be rewound. Embrace the past and learn from it.. but be careful not to repeat the mistakes... learning instead from the lessons already learned. Break from those unjustified fears of the past and extend your reach into the world of fulfilling happiness and Love.

Life begins by "Finding (understanding) Ourselves", but LIVING... starts when we allow ourselves to GROW.. "Defining Ourselves" in the process (not simply allowing others and the world around.. to define US).

Hopefully, this posting has made a few of us reflect on our own scenario's... allowing us to move one step closer to establishing and/or achieving something beyond what we have today. :)

Feel free to post comments.

My Best Wishes to you all.. :)
Todd J.

( Copyright 01/22/2007  Todd A. Jobson )

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This blog does not reflect the viewpoint or opinions of Oracle. All comments are personal reflections and responsibility of Todd A. Jobson, Sr. and are implicitly copyrighted from the posted year to current year, to that effect.


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