Prior to her guest appearance at Green Is The New Black in Singapore on 22 October, Solonia Teodros from The Change School offers some motivational advice on how to make better decisions in life
It’s your road and yours alone – Rumi
One of the hardest things to do in life is to make choices that are aligned to who we are. Part of the difficulty each of us endures is decision fatigue in the face of abundant information, options and possibilities. How do we make sense of it all, and discern which advice to take in, and when to shut out the noise? How do we ensure that our choices reflect who we really are, and what we believe is important?
This is at the heart of The Change School – helping people align values with life choices – because the truth is, all the answers we seek are already within us. The challenge is knowing how to listen to our inner voice, trusting the pointing direction of our inner compass, and being authentic in following through with action.
In today’s world of go-go-go, our minds are continuously preoccupied with doing (more), (looming) deadlines, and (making/attending) dates. The resurgence of Mindfulness shows that there is a backlash to all the action and a growing need to pause, listen and proceed more thoughtfully. Today’s motivational ‘self-improvement’ market is estimated to be worth $9.6 billion (PR Newswire 2015), owing to the rise and popularity of personal coaches, organisational mentoring, on-/off-line self-help resources, holistic institutes and training organisations.
External support offers tremendous value in lending guidance, tools, techniques and a sounding board to work through the challenges, choices and concerns we face. However, these are simply mechanisms to help prompt your thinking to excavate the knowledge you already possess. Through guided reflection, learning and discussions, these systems can help you to apply what you know, in ways you might not have thought of before.
The other part of the equation, and the more important one, is self-work. This is the tough stuff because it is a process that takes time, hard work, and a lifelong commitment. At The Change School GYM (Gym for Your Mind), we explain to our students that the same principle applies to staying physically fit – be it through regular workouts or group classes, eating healthy or working with fitness trainers. Training instructions, meal plans and motivational support go a long way, but in order to see real results, we must learn to ‘listen’ to our bodies when we need more rest / water / nutrition, and commit to doing the work and making better choices every step of the way.
The same can be said of how we self-direct ourselves – intellectually, emotionally and psychologically. When we listen to our inner voice, we harness who we are, understand what we need/seek, and register the clues/cues to take decisions that propel us forward.
Here are five tips to help you listen to your inner compass.
1. Make time for reflection
Create a ritual for daily reflection. Ask yourself simple questions about your day – How are you feeling? What did you love about today? How did today challenge you? What did you learn? What new insights have you gained – about yourself, someone else, or the world? Write it down (thinkers / head-dwellers, take note!) – this is so important, even if it’s only a few sentences. No matter how much time you may spend introspecting, the process of jotting down your thoughts helps to consolidate, capture and confront your self-insight.
2. Take advice with a grain of salt
We’re so quick to ask, and people love to give advice – family members, co-workers, your boss, friends and peers. Asking is never wrong, but there is always a risk of falling victim to ‘shoulda-woulda-coulda’ instead of opting to stop, think and try, and focus on the learnings gained from that process. Even when advice is well-intentioned, oftentimes, it erodes our ability to think independently, to take risks, and to rely on our own devices to find solutions to challenges / problems we face. It’s not about rejecting the opinions or inputs of others, but remembering that the only person who can give advice that is best suited to you, is YOU.
3. Challenge your beliefs
Fear is our greatest barrier. One of the underlying reasons we may doubt our ability to make the best choices for ourselves is fear – of being wrong, messing up, not being good enough, or worse, facing the ‘told ya so’ music. Rather than accepting defeat, go out and challenge those assumptions that hinder you from stepping up. Accept a public speaking opportunity or enrol in that creative writing course you’ve been fantasising about. Stop guessing and start challenging your assumptions. Remember that there are no mistakes, only valuable lessons.
4. Be clear about your values
Personal values are what matter most to you. Our values shape our identity, beliefs, attitudes and thinking. Many of us share certain values, but they are entirely personal and can change over time. Particularly at times of change / transition, having clarity of our own values is essential for any decision-making process because it ensures that our choices are based on our true desires and most important goals.
5. Learn to let go
We get hung up on how things ‘should be’. Or worse, we stop ourselves from establishing our own truth. Whether it is your experiences, upbringing, socialisation or cultural belief systems that influence your perception of right/wrong, remember that the only thing constant in life is change. Creativity, innovation and disruption are born not from thinking outside the box, but getting rid of the box altogether. It means challenging our beliefs, releasing ourselves from the shackles of what we know, and cultivating a mindset of possibility.
Know that the answers you seek are hidden within you, waiting for your invitation to surface. Commit to listening, trusting and following your inner compass in order to uncover the wisdom you already have and to lead your life with intention. At the end of the day, that is all any of us really needs.
If you’d like to master your inner compass, join me at Green Is The New Black in Singapore on 22nd October.
Register for the TALKS on the website and enter the promo code “HONEYCOMBERS” to enjoy 15% off TALKS passes!
This feature was a guest post by Solonia Teodros, co-founder of The Change School
Born to Taiwanese and Ethiopian parents, with life chapters spanning the US and Asia, Solonia considers herself a citizen of the world. A true embracer of change, Solonia strives to gain deep human insights from her life journey, providing the impetus to create meaningful connections that bridge minds and worlds.
About The Change School
The Change School helps people align values and life choices at every stage of their lives. We are a positivity institute for transformational learning, intersecting personal development, entrepreneurial grit and competence development. We offer programs that enable you to connect the dots and move forward with clarity, confidence and emotional intelligence.
This October, Honeycombers is focusing on all things green in collaboration with the festival Green is the New Black, and Honeycombers is having its first Green Week. Our aim is to raise awareness of the impact of environmental issues and how consumers can make conscious choices, that in turn makes a significant impact on the world we live in. We want to champion brands and people working to help us all live in a more conscious way, and working towards a more sustainable and thoughtful future. If you would like to share your story, email email@example.com.