Reflect on the past to move forward
With the holiday season coming to a close for most people, now is a great time to reflect on the year that was and plan for the twelve months ahead. Over the Christmas break every year I go through my journal for the year and write up a summary of what went on in all the key areas of my life – things achieved, love life, work, fitness, business, self-development, friends won, friends lost, that kind of thing. I find this is a great way to track my progress over time and make sure I’m taking note of the lessons I’m learning over time. I then put together a list of things to achieve by the end of January, which becomes my de facto resolution list. This year I got to do it at a week-long meditation retreat in Mexico – no alcohol, caffeine or internet for a whole week! It was a great super charging experience to kick start the year and has me inspired to share the benefits of meditation with as many of you as I can in 2018.
How I learned resourcefulness from meditation
Back in 2014, my to-do list included one item that has profoundly changed how I look at many aspects of my life since: learning to meditate. Through 2013 I’d already been making changes. In Oct 2012 I turned 35 and took this milestone as a reason to switch things up. On the day after my birthday bash – an illegal warehouse rave we threw in a disused building in Camperdown – I made the decision to retire from DJing and give up smoking, two pastimes I associated with my hedonistic 20s that I was ready to move on from. That week I also took up running and although I wasn’t able to go for more than five minutes before my legs gave up, within 12 months I’d run a marathon and made fitness a regular fixture in my life. I then read a book through a work book group – The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer – which sparked my spiritual interest. A mentor I had at work recommended The Power of Now and in early 2014 I ltook the plunge and earned to meditate. Straight away I found that by using a simple technique to divert my awareness away from the swirling, repetitive thought patterns in my head, I could achieve a sense of calm and self possession. Things that used to rile me up or send me running for cover – the classic fight or flight response – were now just events I could calmly evaluate before choosing my course of action. I soon had an opportunity to try out my new-found calm. There were big changes at work and my boss, who ran the editorial division of the company, assumed control over the product management team. I took a long shot and applied to run that team, even though on paper I had no experience. My mentor helped create a strategy – canvas the support and advice of the people I’d be working with in the new role and instead of sitting back and answering questions in a traditional interview, an approach that would likely focus on my lack of experience, I would instead take control and present my vision for the product team. On the eve of giving the presentation, I overheard something that confirmed the job would go to someone else in the company, a much more qualified candidate. Rather than brooding over this turn of events, as I would have done in the past, and delivering a lacklustre presentation, knowing it was a lost cause, I was able to access a new-found resourcefulness. There is an idea in The Power of Now that I’d paraphrased and re-worked until it summed up this resourcefulness.
“Take every situation as if you planned it that way”
With the knowledge that the role was going to someone else, instead of giving up, I started to examine the situation until I found a positive perspective. Rather than seeing the defeat of my original plan, what if I regarded this new set of circumstances as favourable? What aspects could I turn to my advantage? Yes, I wouldn’t be managing the team, but how about if I tried to position myself as the ideal second-in-command to this highly qualified person who would lead the team. Only one role was advertised, but instead of presenting my vision for leading the team, I would tweak it so it would show the extent of work that lay ahead and instead push for an expansion of the team to include more people, namely me, in an apprentice-like role where I could learn a new craft. With this new attitude I went into the interview confidently. At the end of it I could see two interviewers wondering how they could let me down gently. Now was the time to make my case for team expansion with a new role for me. Imagine my surprise when they welcomed the suggestion and by the next morning had found the budget for the head count, drawn up the contract and given me a big pay rise to boot.