What did you dream of becoming when you were young?
When I was about 4 years old, I remember sitting around the breakfast table with my older sister and two older brothers.
My mum was telling us that we could be anything we wanted to be when we grew up and asked us what we dreamt of becoming.
My oldest brother wanted to be a soldier and my other brother a pilot. My sister said she wanted to be a nurse and when they turned around and asked me, I replied;
“I want to be a dolphin”.
They howled with laughter and even today, they still remind me of it from time to time, but at that age, I didn’t understand what the joke was! Mum said I could be whatever I wanted, and that’s what I wanted to be! The dream of being a dolphin made me happy. And so for a while after I kept on dreaming about it ……
In this modern day and age, most of us are too busy to take time out to dream anymore.
There is always too much to do and too much entertainment around for us to have happy thoughts and dreams. No wonder so many people suffer from anxiety these days and worry so much about the future.
And as a result, one beautiful and simple tool we can use to manage stress anytime, anywhere has been forgotten about…. DREAMING.
Taking some time out every day to daydream is good for you for so many reasons.
Firstly, it releases stress. When you start to have happy and positive daydreams, your body automatically starts to relax. Your breathing slows down and as a result, so does your heart rate which reduces your blood pressure. Your muscles also relax and your hormonal system returns to its natural state which calms the mind and strengthens the immune system.
In other words, happy daydreaming is very good for your physical health.
Now, when you are not paying attention to your thoughts, any memories or thoughts that contain strong emotions will surface in your mind automatically.
So the more time you spend dreaming happy thoughts, the more positive thoughts naturally arise in your mind when you are not really thinking of anything. As a result, you will find yourself in a good mood most of the time.
And when you are in a positive mood, you not only deal with difficulties and challenges far more easily, you may even find that you actually enjoy them.
But if you are in a negative frame of mind, any difficulties will be met with resistance, worry and irritability.
Not only that but dreaming about your perfect life starts to give you a clearer picture of what it is that you want to achieve during your short stay on this planet. This then allows you to make better decisions and choices today to take you to where you want to go in the future.
Daydreaming also gives us greater focus so we can more easily seek out the things we need to make our dreams come true.
It also makes us more creative and better at problem-solving.
The best thing about dreaming is that you don’t need any instructions to do it, you can do it anytime, anywhere and it will make you feel good.
So, daydream more!
One last thing about dreaming…
I am working in the Maldives at the moment and on my day off went on a snorkelling trip.
The boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and I couldn’t believe it.
We were surrounded by about 100 dolphins!!!
I jumped into the water and for the next hour saw dolphins swim below me, next to me and at one point even above me.
One slow pod of about 8 dolphins swam so slowly, I actually swam with them for about 4 minutes.
For those four minutes, my dream finally came true. I completely lost myself with them. For a brief period of time, I was no longer Toby the Man, I really was Toby the Dolphin.
Even your wildest dreams will come true if you focus hard enough.
It is not an easy world in which we live.
I have so many clients coming to see me telling me of the long hours and stressful jobs that they have. And I sympathise because I was the same once upon a time.
Today I will tell you a bit about my story, not to gloat, not to tell you how great my life is, but in the hope that in the same way I managed to change my life around, maybe you can too. And so if this is something that you are experiencing in life, I hope that this blog will give you the confidence to do the same.
When we are born, we need our parents to take care of us and teach us how to survive. This is the same in every culture and every animal species.
So we copy them and do as we are told.
Then we go to school and we are told we have to obey the school rules, work hard and get to the top of the class.
If we do we are praised and told how good we are. It makes us feel good.
If we don’t we are chastised and made to feel bad.
And this goes on throughout our lives, constantly being told what to do and pressurized into doing things that we probably don’t even like.
But ‘hey ho’, we tell ourselves. This is life and we have to do what we are told which also means sacrificing our happiness if we are told to do so.
But one day we will be adults and be free, we think to ourselves.
But we are wrong!
We get a job. We sign a contract which says that we will do a certain job and we will receive a salary in return for doing so. And as we need money to live, we sign that contract and then we are back to the same scenario, someone telling us once again what to do!
And this is fine if you absolutely love your job and you have a good employer who respects your time and doesn’t burden you with excessive work, but many employers know that you are desperate for the money and will squeeze every penny out of you that they can.
So many people are made to work long hours under stressful conditions, where budgets and targets are put into place that you need to reach.And if you don’t reach them, you are chastised once again, just like you were at school and praised if you reach them.
And because we still have this ingrained mentality of doing what we are told by those above us, we continue to do it.
A part of us still hasn’t realized that we are adults now and we are free to think and do whatever we please. And so we continue to let other people dictate our lives.
And so many people wake up on Monday mornings thinking the weekend was simply not long enough. They dread the week ahead of them and only look forward to the next weekend or their next vacation. This means that they are wishing away most of the precious time they have on this planet. Is this really a healthy way to think?
If this resonates with some of you, I know what it feels like. I have been there myself.
But I have always had a problem with people telling me what to do. It annoys me and it is the reason I never did very well at school. Tell me to do something nowadays I won’t. Ask me kindly, however, and I will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you.
So when I found myself working 10 hour days in a stressful city job and having little control over my life, I decided to get out, drop my career and take back some sort of control.
I became an English teacher. Why? Because I knew that I would just get a schedule, walk into a classroom and wouldn’t really have to take orders from anyone. Also, I wouldn’t have to work more than 25 hours a week, (or so I thought until I realised I had to do lesson plans before each class!!)
When I started to teach English, I enjoyed it because I had a lot more freedom. I was also living in Thailand where they were screaming out for English teachers and desperate to keep good ones, so I never had to worry about job security. I could leave my job anytime and comfortably walk into a new job the following week if I wanted. So I knew if ever my employers gave me a hard time and piled on the hours I could just walk out of there and get a better job with ease.
I enjoyed the work, but I didn’t love it and because of the term times and the salary, it meant it was difficult to return back to the UK to see my family every year. I needed to earn more and be able to take more time off if I wanted to have more freedom and spend more time back home..
So I started to formulate a plan on how I could do this.
I sat down one day and imagined my dream job.
Travelling the world, working 4-5 hours a day, doing a job I loved, staying in the best hotels in the world and being able to choose when and where I worked. I would be able to take breaks whenever I wished and spend quality time with my family whenever I wanted to.
Before, I was always terrified of being self-employed. I needed the security of a monthly salary and didn’t think I could ever work for myself.
But one day I had an idea to set up a spa and hotel training company and the more I thought about it the more excited I became. I threw caution to the wind and did it.
For the first time ever, I became my own boss. I doubled my income immediately and found myself working 2 full days a week instead of 5.
The sense of freedom I had from that, being my own boss, making my own teaching schedule and telling managers at hotels what hours I would be working rather than them telling me, was ‘heaven’.
It was that taste of freedom which made me realise I could never work for anyone else again.
It was a huge boost to my confidence and happiness and it made me realise I could do anything I wanted to if I tried.
It was this confidence in myself that allowed me to put my master plan into operation and start to carve out my dream life. And that’s what I did.
These days, I do the job that was once an impossible dream 12 years ago. I am my boss, I decide where and when I work, when I take time out to go home and spend it with my family, which hotel I will stay at and for how long. I am happy with the money that I earn and I get to travel and stay in some of the best hotels in the world for free. In fact, I don’t stay for free…they pay me!! 🙂
I love my life, most of all the fact that I am the one who calls the shots. I work alongside hotel and spa managers, not under them or above them. Yes, there are certain common sense rules that apply and I am happy to follow them, but that’s about it as far as being told what to do.
What I am trying to say is this. You don’t have to do what other people tell you to do. You can make your own rules up in life and live by them rather than doing what other people tell you. You don’t have to be a slave to the corporate wheel that would replace you in a week if you dropped down dead tomorrow.
You don’t have to be particularly bright or brave to go off on your own and start up your own business, but you do have to be persistent, have a dream and never give up. And most of all, understand that living your life by your own rules and on your own terms is a choice. You can do it if you chose to.
So if you are tired of people telling you what to do, take off the shackles of your childhood and take control of the reigns. Your life can be full of so much freedom and happiness when you do. Change your focus and you can change your whole life.
…food for thought 😊
With people working longer hours under more stressful conditions than ever before, it is easy to forget about our health and well-being and settle for a life of “just surviving”. But by taking a step back, re-assessing your priorities, planning your life and taking action, you can live the life you always dreamed of. Here are three steps to take in order to really experience a happy and healthy working environment.
First of all, if you want to experience true well-being at work, the most important thing is to love what you do! Only when you love what you do can you truly experience fulfillment and happiness at work. On average, more than 50% of our waking lives are spent at work, so whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever it is you love to do, make a career out of it.
If you are not sure what you dream job would be, then just think about all the things you love to do with your life, your hobbies, your passions, your dreams or things you love to do in your free time. If you are still unsure, then think about your current job and the things you like about it, what your strengths are or what your perfect role within your company would be. The more time you spend thinking about it and writing your thoughts down, the quicker and easier it will be to work out what your dream job is. Seek and you will find.
The second thing is to plan your working life. Statistics show that less than 3% of people ever write down their goals in life and if you don’t know what you want out of life, then how are you going to achieve it?
When setting goals, think about what your dream life would be like. Imagine that if you woke up tomorrow morning and you were working in your dream job, what would it be like? What job would you do? How many hours a week would you work? What salary would you have? Would you be working for a company or self-employed? How much free time would you have? How many days a week would you work? How many holidays would you take a year etc.
When you create a clear picture about what you want out of life, you will tune your mind into receiving information that is relevant to your goals that previously would have passed you by. We only see the things in life that are relevant to our needs and survival. Everything else goes unnoticed. So spend a couple of times a week sitting in silence and really give some serious thought until you fine tune exactly how you want your life to be. When you know what it is that you want, then start making yearly plans on how to achieve it and ACT ON IT!
The third thing is make sure you have a work/life balance. Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they spent more time at the office, but they often wished they spent more time cultivating friendships, looking after their health or spending time with their families. So think about what really is important in your life and adjust your priorities accordingly.
In life, you can create your own destiny or be a slave to the circumstances that surround you. It’s your choice. What will you choose?
Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the word ‘work’ is now synonymous with the word ‘stress’ these days?
Let me explain a little bit my theory as to why.
My mum handed me some of my old school reports a few months ago that she has stashed away in the loft somewhere.
I had to laugh when I read them. I didn’t enjoy studying so chose to entertain myself and my classmates instead.
“Toby didn’t seem to care much about his poor exam result and is obviously bored to tears by this subject” (Maths)
“He is disruptive in class and will only do the bare minimum to scrape by” (Geography)
“If he spent as much time studying as he does acting the classroom clown he might do well in this subject” (History).
“Imaginative and creative, but only when he chooses to be” English Literature.
“He has a great sense of humour, but unfortunately at inappropriate times” (Headmaster’s summary).
I hated the day that report came through the post. My mum would go mad, telling me how lazy and stupid I was, what a failure I will be in life and would then finish it off with the old “Do you know how hard I have to work to pay for your school fees??”
It was bad enough being chastised and put down by the teachers every day, let alone her as well!
I had to put with this from the age of 6 to 18 and for one simple reason; I wanted to enjoy life and have fun. And listening to adults talking about boring subjects in a classroom was not my idea of fun!!
Is that really such a bad thing?
I wasn’t stupid. I was an ‘independent thinker’.
But “independent thinkers’ do not fit in with social conditioning and how to ‘enjoying life’ is not taught in schools.
Do as you are told and we will praise you, put an A+ on your school report so your parents can be proud of you. If you don’t do as we say, we will do everything we can to put you down and crush your spirit.
But despite this opposition that I faced all my life, I am glad I rebelled. I am glad I lived my life by my own rules and didn’t conform. But it wasn’t easy when the people you love, admire and respect put you down for doing so.
Although we don’t realise it, social condition determines 99% of the way we think and live. You may think you are a free person and you can make your own mind up about things, but you can’t and you don’t.
Everything from the work you do, your political beliefs, the way you treat others, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the food you eat, the place you live, the relationships you have, your family life, your religious beliefs and most predominantly the person you believe yourself to be are all conditioned by the society in which you were brought up in.
Social conditioning is a way in which we learn to live harmoniously with one another by creating certain acceptable or non-acceptable boundaries so that we can all ‘live on the same page’ so to speak. This can be a very good thing, as we all have guidelines on how we should act in social situations, such as standing and waiting in queues, opening doors for people or saying please and thank you when it is appropriate. But there is also a negative side.
And that is, we end up living our lives like a herd of lost sheep. We lose our ability to think independently and end up doing whatever everyone else does just because we think it is the norm. We fail to notice things in society that are changing for the worse, but because everyone around us is going along with it, we do the same and just follow. Nazi Germany is a prime example of how social conditioning can override our rational thoughts and make us act in the cruellest, heartless and most inhumane manner.
The reason why I bring this to your attention today is related to the modern work ethic which I see as completely out of control and utter madness.
Most people I know who regard themselves as “successful” are now working about 10-12 hours a day and often without a proper lunch break.
Not only that, but many of them then take their work home with them in the evenings and also spend time working at the weekends. These days it is not unusual for people to be in contact with the office during their annual vacations which I can just about understand if you run your own business, but if you are an employee…. really?
Many of my friends, especially those in the corporate world also tell me how they feel pressured by their work colleagues to put in extra unpaid hours every week and are made to feel guilty if they don’t.
Not only that but being overworked and having a stressful job is regarded as being normal these days and that if you aren’t stressed, then obviously you aren’t working hard enough. It is almost as though people are proud to say they are stressed like they are some sort of brave hero who should be commended for the sacrifices that they are making.
“Hey, I’m working really hard everyone! Look at me! I’m sacrificing my happiness, health and family life so that some idiot above me who is even more unhappy and unhealthy than I am might pat me on the back and say “well done”.
That’s what it boils down to! There is no difference here to a needy child at school desperate to get attention, praise and gold star from the teacher. We are socially conditioned from our school days to accept this and then carry it on into our adult working life.
As a result, many people are sacrificing their health, their happiness, their friends and their families for companies that would replace them in a week if they dropped down dead tomorrow.
Doctors estimate that more than 70% of GP visits are now stress related. It affects both your physical and psychological health, leads to alcohol addiction, prescription and recreational drug addiction, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, insomnia, depression, cancer, arthritis, headaches, migraines, digestive disorders….and a thousand and one other serious illnesses that I don’t have the space to write about in this short article.
Listen. Work to live, to eat, to have a roof over your head and to live a simple and happy life. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, because if you ever visit their house and open up their bathroom cabinet you will find it filled with anti-depressants.
Your career is NOT important. Let me repeat that because you have been socially conditioned to believe it is. YOUR CAREER IS NOT IMPORTANT AND NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT HOW HIGH YOU CLIMB UP THE CAREER LADDER EXCEPT YOU!!
So do not waste your life working all the hours God sends just for a pat on the back form your boss and to ‘fit in’ with the people you work with.
This is not my message, but one from every single victim of “burn out” that I have worked with who has struggled to return to a normal state of health and psychological well-being after years of pushing themselves to the limit.
Think, question, analyse. Think independently. If something in your life is causing you stress and strain, then don’t just sweep it under the carpet and accept it as being ‘the norm’. Ask yourself why and take action to change it. Your life, your physical and psychological health is your responsibility.
If you would like to wake up every morning, excited about going to work and getting a salary that makes you happy, then you can. But first, you have to be clear about what you want and decide how you are going to achieve it.
Now, think about your job. Unless you work on a factory floor, your job actually consists of about 50 or 60 little jobs that you do each day. In order to define your perfect job, you need to sit down and think about which of those jobs you enjoy doing and which ones you don’t. Take some time out and write them down in two columns, like and dislike. This will help you to clarify where your strengths are because the things you enjoy in life are also the things you are good at! If you are good at something, you will be successful. If you are bad at something, you won’t.
Once you start to gain more clarity about what you are good at and what you enjoy, you will get a clearer understanding of what position you should be aiming for within your company. And when you align your passions, skills and talents, you enjoy your work, more, master it more quickly, become a greater asset to the company and earn a higher salary.
But, you have to do the work on yourself because no one will do it for you!
It is up to you to recognise your skills, strengths and passions and decide how best to utilise them. No one else can do this for you. Not your boss, your HR Manager, your friends or your family. They may think they know what is best for you, but the truth is that what they really want, is for you to fit in with their plans!
If you do not take time out to analyse yourself, you are handing the steering wheel of your life to someone else.
Sit in the driving seat and take control. Go where you want to go and only then will you experience the full beauty of what life has to offer.
For those of you who don’t know me very well and wonder why I spend so much abroad, I work as something called a visiting practitioner. Hotels and Wellness resorts worldwide invite me to stay as a kind of guest/employee at their resort and treat the guests. I have a number of skills, including hypnotherapy, massage, acupuncture that I can offer to the guests in addition to their regular spa treatments. With so many people these days suffering from stress and physical ailments, having a specialist to help them whilst they are on holiday can really enhance their stay.
It’s a great job. I get to travel around the world and stay at some of the most exclusive and expensive hotels in the world for free.
However, when there are not many guests, then I have to make my stay at the hotel worthwhile, so I do have to speak and sell myself to the guests.
When I first started this line of work it was something that I absolutely hated doing; approaching guests when they were having breakfast or in the spa and feeling as though I had to sell them something. I have always hated salesman, as I am sure most people do, and having to be one made me cringe.
I used to feel so uncomfortable and could sometimes feel myself going redder and redder, almost panicking as I tried to think of ways to sell myself to the guests without sounding desperate.
That was 8 years ago.
Today, I feel very comfortable at walking up to almost anyone in the resorts and striking up a conversation with them. I don’t even sell myself anymore, I just chat with the guests and usually, they then ask me what I do and I tell them. If they think I can help them, great. If not, that’s absolutely fine.
But the only way I managed to get to this state of feeling comfortable striking up a conversation with complete strangers was through constantly stepping out of my comfort zone so that I eventually became comfortable with doing it.
Now, you may have heard of the expression ‘comfort zone’ before. But have you ever thought about what it is and how it can either entrap you or make you grow as an individual?
The comfort zone is an imagined boundary which we have created around ourselves. When we live in the comfort zone, we do not feel threatened. We feel relaxed, we feel calm and at ease with our environment. This is a great place to be …….. for most of the time.
The only thing about the comfort zone which can be regarded as negative is that after a while, it just gets boring.
In fact, the more we step out of the comfort zone, not only do we learn more, but we also make our comfort zone bigger, so in fact, we feel more confident in doing things that previously made us feel uncomfortable.
The first time we try anything new we feel uncomfortable, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. But it does become an issue when we spend too much time out of comfort zone because then we start to feel overwhelmed with the feeling of being uncomfortable, which then results in stress.
However, the opposite extreme of not stepping out of our comfort zone from time to time also becomes stressful. Why? Because we become bored, we don’t feel challenged, we feel like we are not moving forward or learning anything new. In other words, we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t!
What is important to know is that it is OK to feel uncomfortable at times and that in the long term it is extremely beneficial for us. The more we do it, the more we grow in confidence and the more we feel as though we can take on anything new.
So if you are feeling a little bored with life, or you want to become better at something or there is something that you want out of life, step out of your comfort zone. It may be painful at times, you may feel awkward, but if you want to improve yourself, boost your confidence and move forward in life, there is no other way.
So go for it!
It’s official. Your career is not important, so you can stop worrying about it. If you don’t like your career or your job, you can leave – today.
If you are reading this at work, you can just pick up your things, walk out and never return…and it won’t matter one bit! You can be polite and hand in your notice or even better, if you have had enough of your boss, FIRE HIM! I would encourage you to tell him exactly why first, (constructive feedback is always important), and then just walk out (unless, of course, he calls security and beats you to it!).
If this sounds an exciting prospect to you, read on, because I have 100% proof that your career is not important.
I recently asked this question on Facebook and received over 130 replies.
Can you take 10 seconds to fill in the blank with one word without being influenced by what others have written. Thanks.
“The truth of the matter is, the most important thing I want out of life is _________ .”
What is the first thing that springs to your mind?
Here are the results that I got:
Other 3% (wisdom, relationships, reality, security, no regrets, live it fully, desires)
NOT A SINGLE PERSON MENTIONED MONEY OR CAREER.
And ask yourself this question. Do you really think anyone, ANYONE, has ever wished on their deathbed that they spent more time at the office?
And yet so many people put their careers before their family, children, partners, friends, health, relationships, happiness and their purpose in life.
Why is this?
Simple – Because we are so busy on the hamster wheel of life that we forget to step off and ask ourselves why we are there in the first place.
We don’t stop, think or question, but blindly follow what everyone else is doing without believing for some reason that they have the answers.
When we were young, we were told what to do, by our parents, peers, teachers, religious leaders, community and society and have blindly accepted what they tell us as truth. As we grow older, we then blindly follow what our friends do or what our managers at work encourage us to do. Be successful, work your way up the career ladder and usually we just blindly follow their advice without thinking, believing they must know better than us because they are older and more experienced about life”.
And then we wonder why life is so difficult, we are stressed or unhappy – (as are most of the people we blindly follow!)
And if you are reading this article becoming angry, thinking that I am being patronising and that you do think, ask yourself this.
How much time in the past week have you sat down, in silence, without a phone, TV, tablet, music etc and spent some time deeply contemplating who you are, what you are and why you are here?
This week? This month? OK, the Last year? Ever….?
The reason I put this message up on Facebook was to get people to think, independently and question what is important in life to them. The results speak for themselves.
You need money to live, to eat and put a roof over your head for you and your family… absolutely you do, and I am not suggesting you give up everything and live a life of poverty – that would also be a result of not thinking! But the most important things in life are your happiness, love, health, purpose, peace of mind and freedom.
If your career is restricting you from achieving any of these things, you have got some serious thinking to do!!!
And please…do not blindly believe what I am telling you, THINK. Ask yourself if what I am saying is true? If it is, then make the appropriate changes in your life. If you think what I am saying is not true, then fine, reject it. But please, teach yourself to think, independently and stop following.