GREAT Inspiration from The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite inspirational books. Here are some excerpts to encourage you think about your “dream journey” and to inspire you to keep moving toward that dream:

“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone when they are young. knows what their Personal Legend is […] They are not afraid to DREAM, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend […] It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

“Don’t think about what you’ve left behind[…] If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil.”

“[But] they were looking only for gold […] They were seeking treasure of their Personal Legend without wanting actually to live out the Personal Legend. […] The Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way[…] So that we can in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward the dream. That’s the point at which most people GIVE UP. It’s the point at which as we say in the language of the desert, ‘one dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’

Keep dreaming. You are destined to find it. It’s up to you to start and keep walking. 

Compromise Health… Compromised Life

In my pursuit of what I perceive to be a “good” goal, I sometimes catch myself neglecting a critical building block of life – physical health. Logically, I know better. Being an former athlete, I should know even better than that. When I finally come to my senses, I look back at the fact that if stupidity were a person, even it would have more common sense than me. The hustle, the bustle, the “grind,” work deadlines, appointments, life, these factors create a world in which “time” and I start running together, but by the end of some days, “time” ends before I’m even halfway done with my daily tasks.

Interestingly enough, in my mind all areas of health are always at the top of the list, but in reality, I look up from time to time to see them drifting down to the middle. For the first time in my life, inconsistent workouts due to the demands of work/life, and roller-coaster-like energy levels (because mental stress and even “positively” focused energy and productivity demand my waking attention) have become the more common experience. And obviously, as a result (no surprises here) more health ailments decided that despite my plans of exercise, health, productivity, and purpose, it needed to sideline me for days or even weeks.

Recently, a visit to the doctor for chronic pain ended with a diagnosis of a degenerative condition that will require obsessive-like action and attention in order to avoid surgery in the near future. Say what? I know, that’s how I felt. After processing the diagnosis, here is my conclusion: You can chase a life dream, but you will not obtain or sustain it, if you run out of energy (or good health) along the way.

I’ve had to quickly refocus my attention back on health, not in words only, but in action. Whether it is a stressful emotional, occupational, or physical experience, or significant school, work, or personal time constraints, sometimes you just have to decide that you cannot compromise on mental, physical, or emotional health. Literally, your life and happiness depends on it. There is no point in chasing a dream and deteriorating your health or emotions so much in the process that you cannot enjoy the fruits of your labor once the goal is accomplished.

When I was younger, older people told me that as you get older it becomes harder to balance life and easier to neglect your needs. Well, I’m not that old yet, and I’m certainly not dead yet, so although I lost focus for a little while, I’ve dusted myself off, looked in the mirror, said “oops,” walked away saying “ouch,” forgave myself for it all, and am back on the wagon! Anyone care to join me?

A Few Words on Stress

Stress Test: An exam life makes you retake regardless of the grade you earned on it before.

Why is it that in the times when we are stressed we inadvertently neglect our health, sleep, sanity, and nutrition, the very things we need to combat stress? Go figure! There exist an overwhelming feeling that there is not enough time to take care of ourselves, eat healthy, sleep, exercise, read, meditate, or complete tasks.

The one factor that separates the times in which I pass Life’s Stress Test from those times in which I become overwhelmed is my thought pattern and attitude toward stress itself. An essential aspect of coping with stress is having the unwavering thought that no matter what the stress is you are capable of working through it while maintaining your commitments, health, and personal goals. I am learning to embrace that there will be stress in life, but that stress does not have to overtake my life.

A successful person is one that can continue pursuing success even when the added weight of stress creates resistance.  So, don’t forsake your health and mental sanity when stress comes because you are going to need them to power your way forward in this life. Find ways to recharge (baths, music, laughter, exercise, etc), get some rest, and try it all over again tomorrow.

Oh, I guess I should mention that different variations of Life’s Stress Test might be administered everyday so we better be ready at all times to conquer it before it conquers us…

Action.

Today, I was reminded that action may be an important noun that separates successful from unsuccessful people. In a recent blog post entitled “Simple Steps for Success: Words from a Brick Wall,” I highlighted true belief in one’s ability, creating a clearly defined plan, and taking the steps outlined in that plan as the stripped down blueprint for success. Seemingly an easy plan to follow, I’ve discovered that in various ways, at various times, all three present quite a ridiculous self-induced mental challenge for me. Having an analytic, creative, imaginative mind can be advantageous ammunition in the life wars, but along with those qualities can come fear, worry, anxiety and the need to become my own risk assessment expert. Sometimes, I have to restrain my own mind, insert logic, strip things down, and refocus on the action portion of the “simple” blueprint.

In order to help myself in that endeavor, I will restate this equation:

Action ≥ Words = Trait of the Successful

I chose to use “action” and not “plan” because it is very easy to get stuck drafting and perfecting the plan without taking many, or any, steps forward. If we “talk about it” (or think about it), more than we “be about it,” success will ultimately elude us. Instead of complicating, doubting, or analyzing the plan, focus on balancing your analysis with actual steps toward the realization of the plan.