Want A Better Life?


Last night while talking with my wife, she shared a comment that someone she knows often makes. The fellow said, “I’ve had a lot happen in my life.” This, apparently is what he says as a way of both explaining why his life isn’t that good and why it won’t get better either. Like people all over the world, this fellow has had his share of challenges, but it’s like he wears his as a badge of honour not choosing to actually make some changes and do things in the here and now that will alter his future for the better.

It struck me then as it does now, that it might be useful to talk about how to go about improving the future; your future. After all, it’s a safe bet you’d like yours to get better whether your past and present have been a series of disasters or quite good. There are some, many I suppose who actually like chaos and disappointment but let’s look to focus on making life a better one in the future for you.

So here’s some ideas to get you started. Share these with anyone you feel might benefit from reading them with my thanks.

  1. Change has to happen. If you want a different future than your past or present change must occur so see making changes as a good thing. This will take some getting use to and it may be uncomfortable at times when you do things differently. However, expecting a better future when you keep doing what you’ve always done hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. Welcome changes.
  2. Make better decisions. Those changes I spoke of in point 1 can only happen if you make different decisions than you’ve typically made. The key is not only to make different decisions but better decisions. Again, these better decisions won’t always be easy or comfortable but you want a better life right?
  3. Take responsibility. This is your life, and it’s made up of your decisions in the past, the present and the future. Stop blaming your parents, family and friends, former bosses and co-workers for what life has ‘done’ to you. Stop giving them power over you and admit this is your life to live and yours to make. That’s empowering and with that power comes responsibility and accountability.
  4. Get help. If you had the necessary skills to make better decisions, it’s highly likely that you would have done so right? Yet, here you are wanting things better than they are which indicates you need some guidance and advice when it comes to both making those choices and support on the follow through.
  5. Move on. The thing about the past is that it is…well…the past. You can’t go back there, you can’t live there. Move on. Try walking forward down a sidewalk with your head facing backwards and you’ll run into a lot of obstacles. Turn your eyes forward and you can avoid those collisions. Look forward in life and move on.
  6. Learn and not re-live. Making the same mistakes over and over and re-living the errors of your ways isn’t productive. When things go wrong – and they will – learn what you can from the experience with the goal of making better decisions in the future when you find yourself in similar situations.
  7. Eliminate temptations. You might have good intentions but fall to temptations if you don’t remove yourself from what’s caused you problems up to now. So it could mean dropping friends who are bad influences, moving from a bad neighbourhood, clearing the house of the alcohol or the chocolate and fatty foods. You have to want your end goal more than your temporary fix.
  8. Set Goals. Know what you want in this better future you imagine. Picture that job, the ideal partner, a better apartment or condo, a clear complexion, a new set of teeth, no criminal record. Whatever it is, set a goal; maybe several that are meaningful to you personally.
  9. Develop plans. Goals don’t turn into reality without some planning. Again, get some help from someone you trust. Start with one of your long-term goals and come up with a plan that will eventually cut the things getting in your way of having this better future. Big problems will take time and a lot of effort. Small problems are easier addressed. Both big and small need attention.
  10. Commit to yourself. You’re going to have setbacks, make some spur of the moment decisions you regret but don’t pack in the, “I want a better future”, plan. When you have a setback, re-commit to yourself what you’re working towards and focus on what you’ve accomplished so far.
  11. Forgive. A big one. Don’t carry hate, anger and bitterness around with you because it’s not attractive, certainly doesn’t help you and always hinders you. Let it go and forgive those who harmed you, set you back, let you down and disappointed you. This is your life not theirs; you’re forgiving them because YOU’VE moved on.

Look it’s not going to be easy and few things in life that are worth having are. In fact, ‘easy’ hasn’t been your past life has it? Nor your current life? So, ‘easy’ has nothing to do with it. Yep, you’re going to have to work for what you want and all that’s going to do is make you proud of yourself when you get it. It’s your call.

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Forgive Yourself And Keep Going


As I’ve said time and time again, being out of work and looking for employment is a roller coaster ride of emotions. You’re energetic and productive one day, lethargic  and unproductive the next. On the days you make progress you feel good and on the days little is accomplished it’s so easy to get down on yourself.

My advice to you however is to watch those big emotional swings so you can anticipate and deal better with the self-blame which may rear its head from time-to-time. Depending on your individual situation, you may have noticed yourself becoming short with others or repeatedly asking yourself, “What’s wrong with me?”

What’s wrong of course is that you’re not comfortable with your unemployment and your lack of success so far in getting that next job. Sometimes it’s a lack of jobs to apply to in your field or only entry-level positions when you’ve been gainfully employed for 15 or more years and you’re overqualified for entry jobs but not getting anywhere when looking for mid-level or senior positions. Your reality and your assumption of where you’d be at this point in life don’t match up; that lack of balance is playing havoc with your self-image and that’s bringing on these feelings of inadequacy. Where you want to be vs where you are; someone should be held responsible and in your solitude you turn the finger and blame yourself.

Taking responsibility for your situation is commendable; so good for you. However coming around to the point where you can forgive yourself for those unproductive days is healthy and will eventually lead to more of the productive ones which is far healthier.

At the end of a day in which you didn’t accomplish anything of significance, you can opt to be down on yourself or not. Now you might ask, “How on earth can I find a positive in a day when I’ve been so unmotivated I go to bed having accomplished nothing?”

Well think back on life when you were working. I’m willing to bet you enjoyed your downtime; time when you turned to a book, a hobby, enjoyed a television show, puttered around the garden or organized the garage for the umpteenth time. No matter how you spent that persona time, it was time spent of your own choosing; doing whatever you wanted. Sometimes you’d feel very productive and stand back at the end of the day and see what you’d accomplished. The garage was all tidy, the grass was cut and the garden beds weeded, 7 chapters of a book you’ve been meaning to read covered..

There were times too when you lazed around the house and read the paper, had a prolonged Sunday morning breakfast 2 hours later than normal, maybe just kicked back lounging on your patio and soaked up some sun. At the end of those days you didn’t beat yourself up over being non-productive; you told yourself you’d earned those days, you’d needed them to recharge and then you went back to work focused, not having really done much on the weekend but still feeling good about those two days off just the same.

Looking for work is much the same as working in that both require effort and stamina. There’s no boss to hold you to account and certainly no cheque at the end of the week when you’re unemployed, but you’re use to one thing and that’s being accountable for how you spend your time. It’s this accountability that’s got you feeling the way you do; accountability not to a boss but to yourself. You my friend, unlike the boss at work, know exactly how much you’ve given the job at hand at each and every moment throughout your day. So it’s only natural then that you know all the times you got distracted, weren’t motivated, sat and stared at a blank monitor, feared picking up the phone for fear of calling someone and being rejected yet again.

Forgive yourself. This is the key. You’re under stress my friend and giving yourself the grace of having off days is healthy at this time. In fact, while maintaining a regular routine of getting up and getting showered, shaved, dressed and bearing down on getting your next job is commendable and excellent advice, it’s not always going to happen. If at the end of a day you’ve done things you’ve found pleasure in; reading, repairing something you’ve meant to do for some time, watching a movie etc. that could be just the stimulation your brain needed. Your psyche might improve having fed your self-indulgence.

Of importance is to acknowledge your feelings and then return to engage back in your job search. Be it the next day, later this afternoon, or even after a 2 hour break to watch a movie you could have watched in the evening but watched mid-morning instead, get back at it free of the guilt.

Prolonged unemployment will have these ups and downs and it’s best to understand you can’t maintain 100% focus on employment 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for months on end without some periods of low productivity. That little voice in your head that makes you feel guilty whenever you find your mind wandering? Knock it off your shoulder and stop playing the blame game.

You’ve got a lot to offer the right employer. Your self-confidence hasn’t gone for good. Forgive yourself and keep going.