Kill the noise in your life and find out what you truly wish to accomplish
Anyone can create an amazing life! I am fully convinced of that. A satisfying life, full of meaningful relations. No one has to settle for a life that isn’t great. To convince yourself of this is a matter of allowing yourself to experience that. And of course, that costs time! Time for a journey to find out what you really want and what you’re capable of. To do this, you have to be prepared to develop yourself. A magnificent challenge: truly focusing on discovering yourself is one of the most amazing journeys you can undertake.
The times in which your life consists of doing what your father did (before the Second World War) are over. Gone are the days in which you simply do what you’re good at (from the reconstruction after the Second World War until now). We now live in a time in which you can do what you’re good at and in which you get to do that which you feel you want to do. In other words: you get to do what you are. And whether you start doing what you are and start leading an amazing life is a choice (I exclude, of course, those whose lives have been affected by extremely severe circumstances). The question you should be asking yourself is whether you are prepared to take responsibility for yourself and your life.
By the way, it isn’t strange if you don’t really know what you want to do or what you’re capable of. I daresay the vast majority of people doesn’t actually know and just plods along. Even many people who appear successful (and I know quite a few) discover fairly late in life that they actually haven’t done what they wish they had done. In hindsight, they conclude they would’ve done things differently. They haven’t really listened to their intuition or, even more frequently, they haven’t been able to properly feel what they wanted.
The largest obstacle during your journey ‘finding out what you want to do or what you’re capable of’ is the amount of background noise. With a lot of background noise, it becomes difficult to truly experience and/or to gain insights about yourself. Take, for instance, the daily endless stream of messages coming in through WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Studies have shown that the younger generations check their smartphones for messages about 150 times a day. We can safely say that there’s a true smartphone addiction. Background noise can also mean all sorts of opinions we hear, which consciously or unconsciously influence us. Take, for instance, the things said by guests in a talk show, the opinions you read in the newspapers, the things colleagues say and the expectations friends and family have of you. And if you are completely honest, you have to admit that there’s quite a bit of garbage between there that pollutes your mind.
In addition to the endless chatter we hear from others, we also have a voice in our own head that talks to us. In other words: all day long we have to deal with voices from the outside and voices from within. The voice in our head does this in the form of thoughts. An average person has about fifty thousand thoughts a day. Did you know that 98 % of those thoughts keep repeating themselves? As if your mind is constantly on a loop. Nearly all thoughts stem from all sorts of convictions which you have unconsciously formed during your life and which have fixed your mind in a certain way. Convictions about yourself, about other people and about the world. Especially the experiences you gain in the first seven years of your life determine your convictions and your personality (you can read more about this in the article: You are not your personality, you just have a personality). What’s interesting is that in our life we are mainly governed by prevailing thoughts which are based on experiences from back when we had just stopped wearing diapers. Many of those thoughts have long stopped being true! If that is the case, then the ensuing question is of course: how do you kill all that noise?
Finding out what you want
Have you ever had an aha experience? The feeling of suddenly gaining an insight into that which you want, or into the solution of a problem? Some people experience this sensation during a hike in the countryside, or underneath the shower, others experience it suddenly whilst receiving a massage, or meditating on a cushion or sitting on a patio in the sunlight. Most of those experiences come only when you’re truly alone with your thoughts.
Looking back on my own aha experiences, the insights came to me, they happened to me. The insight or answer was already there. There was not a ‘mind’ busy fabricating an insight. The answer already existed inside.
You can also see this in MRI scans of the brain. The prefrontal cortex, which is used to make analyses and calculations, is most active during active thought and becomes completely inactive when one relaxes. In that relaxation, the brain enters a mode in which thoughts can arise without being immediately checked, assessed or censored. The inner chatter in the prefrontal cortex then disappears in the background. That mental silence allows your intuition and creative intelligence to grow.
In other words: you can choose to improve your inner feeling and to have insights aplenty by simply making it a ritual of being alone and present during the day or week. I personally have a ‘being alone’ discipline myself. Every year I spend one week by myself in the mountains. In addition, I spend at least one day a month and half a day a week offline, making sure I talk to no one. Usually, I spend this time in nature, to go hiking. It is bizarre how many insights and ideas I get during those times. The last time I did, I had to prematurely cancel my hike, since I had forgotten a pen and paper to write down the many personal and business insights that came to me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to remember them if I’d hike on. By the way, for those of you who think that spending time alone can’t be fun, this perception is quite untrue! To be completely frank: as soon as I go offline and know that I won’t speak to anyone, I usually have to cross an initial threshold. I have learned from experience, however, that being alone offers me one of the best moments in the week or month. And after that, it becomes even more fun to be among others.
Of course, giving your intuition free rein should not be a one-time activity. Also, because your deepest desires change overtime. And truly feeling what you want happens by having a constant dialogue with yourself. I see in myself that this inner dialogue never stops. For those of you who have a busy life and a corresponding agenda: take time off and consciously schedule time with yourself. If you don’t, you’ll never get around to it. Take it from me that it’s very valuable to do this.
Finding out what you’re capable of
Starting at birth, you learn all kinds of skills. Among those skills there may be a few skills which are perhaps rather underdeveloped. This becomes clear as you progress along your path. Because life is a big ‘feedback loop’ of everything you have or haven’t developed well. We usually do something more and more if we receive positive feedback about this from our environment. Conversely, we’ll do that about which we receive negative feedback less and less. It is important to realise that in the case of both negative and positive feedback, the voice in your head causes a lot of noise. That voice in your head tells you all sorts of things about what you can and cannot do well. An outsider who sees you at work might draw entirely different conclusions. That’s why it’s important, when you discover and perceive your own talents, to discuss them with family, friends and business relations. Truly, others can provide a magnificent mirror. They often have a much clearer view on your abilities and powers than yourself.
My own experiences
I can safely say that I have quite a powerful drive, meaning a lot of ambition. Because of that boundless ambition, I find it difficult to filter out that which truly matters. My tendency to bite into a project increases the chances of success, but when I attain it, the feeling is so addictive that it becomes even harder to discover if this is what I truly want.
A couple of years ago I started my own company, a network organisation for CEOs. The two-year starting period cost blood, sweat, and tears. When it became successful, I felt on a personal level that I was not on the right track. I decided to ponder on the questions that drove me: What do I truly find important in this life? What do I truly want deep inside? What am I truly good at? I also started spending more time by myself, in order to learn to feel at ease with myself. This also allowed me to more consciously look at the feedback loop of my life: what am I really good at? This has given me so much (and it still continues to do so). Something which proved decisive to me were the results of the Project Insides Scan (which bore a different name at the time) and the coaching sessions that followed. Even though I am originally a psychologist, I do not have a very high opinion of personality tests, but this scan was a different matter altogether, and worked surprisingly well. Both the scan and the coaching sessions helped me see my deepest motivations, my personal desires and my true qualities. I looked into a bizarrely accurate mirror full of insights. It would have taken me years to discover these insights, if I had discovered them at all. Ever since, my life has become more beautiful and magical. As if I’m drifting on the current, instead of swimming into it. What I’m meaning to say is: finding out who you are deeply inside, what you wish to achieve and what you’re capable of, is a journey you don’t have to undertake by yourself!
Written by: Joel aan ’t Goor