For the past few years I have been driven to improve myself everyday because that is how I decided to reach my life goals. Not a day goes by without me thinking – ‘I must quit this, or I must start that’. Today I sighed to myself and for a split second I wondered if it is all worth it or would I be better off tucked away in a nice safe comfort zone.
In that split second much of what I have worked towards and achieved in my life so far flashed through my mind. My health, my fitness, my family, my career, my writing, my relationship, and of course the lofty goals of my future. Does this quest for personal greatness make me happy. The answer is of course a resounding YES – but nevertheless the thoughts of giving-in to an easier, more comfortable life does creep into my mind from time to time. Whenever I am striving to reach a goal and the goal is in the distance, I tend to sometimes forget how much I have achieved so far. As I said, my goals are lofty but it is the same goal we all harbour inside – my goal is to be the best I can be in all aspects of myself and to live a happy and contented life where I enjoy each day for the unique opportunities it brings. I constantly challenge myself to improve in all areas, physically and mentally, and I consciously avoid situations and people that can poison my progress. So little by little, day by day I remind myself to make small improvements and visualise the person that I want to be and experience the feelings that I want to feel. Even when sometimes I am tempted to fall back into old ways and old habits and the longing for those creature comforts that let me connect to the person I used to be – I still move forward with passion and purpose.
It’s funny looking back, because as the years have been passing I have often felt like I haven’t done enough, or I could be farther along when I think about the journey left to travel. Almost like, I shouldn’t have taken that pit-stop on a long car journey, I’d be there by now if I hadn’t. But realistically we need to enjoy the journey and not race to the destination. It is not that easy to change the habits of a lifetime. We are programmed from birth to accept certain ways of living as ‘normal’ and those behaviours are reinforced by our peers and elders until it becomes very difficult to change direction and develop new habits and new beliefs. The road is not long but it meanders, twists and turns all the way and there are many breaks to be had and experiences to learn from. There is no switch that flicks and you can say ‘that’s it, no more old me, I am 100% changing the very fibre of my being’. Slow and steady wins the race, there is no short cut to being the best you can be, especially when you have spent the majority of your life going in the opposite direction. More often than not it is journey just to get back to zero, not to mind excelling further and progressing to a level of achievement that is fulfilling. Reaching the level where you can say I am the best version of myself that I aspire to be.
Take a snapshot of my life three years ago. Looking back (even as I write this now I am actually thinking – ‘whoa, I am a very different animal now’) I have improved exceptionally and three years is not really that much time. That short time ago I smoked cigarettes, ate plenty of processed foods, plenty of sugar, a few beers once a week, and didn’t drink much water. I did exercise sporadically on off for a few years up to then, practised some yoga here and there and I did know a lot about health but wasn’t really living a healthy life. I was ready for a change and that change came three years ago, almost to the day when I made a life-changing decision.
Change of Direction & Focus
I decided that after 6 years of working for myself it was time to get a secure job, with a secure wage. I had enjoyed (for the most part) being my own boss, master of my days, answering to no one except myself. The freedom is wonderful when you work for yourself, but the money is not always as wonderful. Many nights I worried about paying rent and bills until the time came where I understood that if I wanted to be the person I knew I could be it was essential to change directions and remove myself from what was essentially a ‘survival situation’producing survival responses. The opportunity to evolve and progress was limited and all my energy, my time and my thoughts were constantly dealing with making it from day to day, struggling to maintain balance and rarely moving forward. Whilst this may be fine for a single man with no children and no responsibilities, I had a wife and 2 children to support so my immediate priority became the security of my family, without this I could never reach my destination. As such, I took the detour and got a job – it was the best decision I ever made.
I say ‘best decision’, not because I love my job (it’s pretty okay as jobs go – I sell computer software and make good money) but because it has allowed me to pursue all the things that were not reachable before that. My money worries immediately evaporated, I had more money than I ever had before. My tax worries disappeared. My lust for life accelerated and my passions began to strongly bubble up to the surface and suddenly and immediately became realisable. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the things I am doing now are a direct result of where I have come from already and how I could allocate my time. So the six years of self-employment were more than necessary to enable the past three years of improvement not to mention the total future of progression of what is yet to come. Since I made this move though, I transformed my habits, not overnight but bit by bit….this time always moving forward on what has become a very enlightening and enjoyable journey.
I have highlighted below the changes and incremental improvements that I made year by year for the past three years. I did this with a family and two (then three) young children, from a place in my life where at one point it was nothing but a dream for me to live this way. It was my dream. I always knew it would happen because I was going to make it happen. It is challenging and it takes planning and preparation with a strong commitment to improve something about yourself always, even when it becomes tough. It is possible and it can be done.
Year 1 – was about getting comfortable with the idea that I could now start to follow this dream of a healthy body and mind. Looking back, there was a lot of mental baggage to be shed and I began to build more self-belief in myself and my dreams. I really made the effort to drink 2 litres of water a day; I quit smoking, I got back to the gym a few days a week because there was a gym in work, I started running again; I restarted my daily affirmations, began practising yoga again regularly and I finally began to see the path opening up in front of me.
Year 2 – this is where things really took off. I invested in filtering my water to remove toxins and impurities; I did some natural flushes and cleanses for my body; I started drinking 2 pints of fresh organic fruit and veg juices 5 days a week; I introduced organic nuts into my diet and I quit smoking cigarettes (again!). All this progress added to Year 1 and I was now feeling like I finally am getting places.
Year 3 – this was a year of fine tuning and optimisation from a health perspective coupled with a growth in my own desire to follow my passions a bit more. I continued everything I mentioned above, at this stage I am a healthy machine. I feel great, I look great and my outlook on life is super-positive. One of my affirmations up to then had been ‘I am happier, healthier and wiser than ever’ – this most certainly was the reality. I had indeed transformed myself and my habits in the preceding two years. This year was also the year where I began to seriously look at where I was going with my career and how I could follow my passions. At the end of the day, my job is fine, but it is not what I want long-term. It serves a purpose for now, but long-term, when you have worked for yourself, you can never be truly fulfilled and contented working for somebody else.
My passion in life for a long time has been to understand what it is to be happy and healthy and to take that understanding and apply it to life. How to do it for myself and how I can share what I know with others. I had began to follow this passion a few years earlier. During the unhealthy years when I learned a lot about health I wrote an ebook called Health Now. The book was essentially a motivational guide to health that gave the reader different avenues of research so that they could empower themselves to understand their health in simple terms and thereby have a chance of improving it, boost their immunity and prevent or improve disease. The catalyst for putting it all on paper was that my Dad had cancer and I wanted to give him a few tools to help himself. He wasn’t that interested in this approach to health at the time, being a bit old-school that way, but for me I had at least shared the knowledge (in the end he had chemo and a few bits removed, he survived, recovered exceptionally and has since improved his lifestyle significantly). Happy endings all round thankfully. Anyway, this book was sitting on the laptop in an unfinished, unpolished state for a few years and I had always wanted to get it professionally finished and put it out there for others to read. Year 3 was the year I did it. Motivated by the fact that a new baby girl was on the way, I knew it was time to tick this off the list while I had the time. I did it last year and it is now available for anyone interested to download for free download for free here. There is plenty of new information I have come across since then which is not included but I must say that there is some real gold in there for anyone looking to have a quick-start, simple guide to better health and happiness.
Year 4 – has just begun (as of April) and the next leg of the journey surprised me. The vegetarian/vegan question pushed to the front of my mind and the understanding that I should be limiting and removing animal-based foods from my diet. The reason for this initially was as a way to maximise my nutrition in a more healthy way. The truth of the matter is that these foods are more harmful than beneficial, especially considering the circumstances of their production and the rubbish they are being fed and vaccines they’re pumped with. Then, quite quickly, as I let myself learn more about how these animal products made their way onto my plate I really started to feel sympathy and empathy for the plight of these animals. It no longer feels right for me to support the mass killing and enslavement of animals and the thieving of milk from their new-born off-spring. I can’t justify eating these foods any longer so I am compelled to cut a lot of them out completely. Bit by bit, I will replace these animal-based foods by creating new meals to eat based on nutritional content and keeping it simple. It’s certainly not a change to be making overnight and not one to be taken lightly when accounting for how to maintain the correct amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Just one example of this new direction is my post workout meal – what was once processed packets of meat in year 3 or worse yet, the whey protein shake of year 2, is now a nutritionally-loaded quinoa and lentil salad – recipe here.
On the other side of the coin then, I am even more motivated to remove all things poisonous and toxic from my life (bye bye sugars, trans-fats, artificial flavourings and stress) and really get to living clean. I can’t even eat these foods anymore without getting stomach cramps! Add to that the goal of sharing my passion with those who need it and this year will shape up to being quite the momentum-builder.
That is my story so far to demonstrate the remarkable impact that daily improvements have had on my success. All those small regular improvements add up and one day you find yourself living out your dreams and loving it.