For my birthday Tim treated us to dinner and a night at the movies. We decided to go and see The Hunger Games, even though I had really wanted to read the book by Suzanne Collins beforehand - it's just a general life policy I have to try to read the book before the film! However, this wasn't going to happen, and I did really want to see The Hunger Games; I had heard so many good things about it.
We both loved it. We found it quite confronting and thought-provoking, and are both now reading the books. In summary, the book is set in our future, and children from different districts are selected every year to go on reality TV and fight until the death. This premise initially stopped me from picking up the book, despite amazing reviews. I'm now glad I am finally reading them.
There was a lot to take in, with many themes woven throughout - the importance of family and community, playing the game vs living your principles, the power of adults and children......
However, one of the main themes we spoke about afterwards was the idea that everything in their life was being manipulated and controlled by someone else. The tributes (the children) had no real control over their destiny; they simply had to deal with life as it was (literally) thrown at them.
How many of you feel there is a greater power lighting a blazing fire in your path, or chasing you down with wild dogs, stopping you from living life how you'd like to?
Many things happen in our lives and it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that we have no control of them. Here are some of the traps I have fallen into, where I let other people or the world at large manipulate my life. I wonder how many of these manipulate your life also?
The Should Suckers
I am often caught up in the trap of the Should Suckers. These are all the things in your life that you are doing because you feel you should be doing them, whether you want or need to do them, or not. I find these types of things, a social occasion you've been invited to, a job you should be doing, a favour you've been asked, which drain you and suck both your energy and your time. It all comes down to saying no, and feeling we can't without an excuse. We shouldn't need an excuse and we shouldn't feel guilty if the 'other thing' you've got going on is simply watching a DVD on the couch or reading a book or washing your hair.
Weapon Of Choice: 'No' Training.
Saying no takes practice, so you need to put yourself through a serious 'No' training regime. Practice on some small task or request, and pretty soon it will become easier. However, using the 'Too Busy Beast' as an excuse isn't the best idea, because it's just going to slam you down, as you shall see below.
They Too Busy Beasts
We all have goals. If you have read this post you will know that I have quite a few, including some crazy life goals that I am striving for. Yet I often fall into the trap set up by the Too Busy Beasts. Those are the creatures that throw urgent, dramatic, or often simply easier tasks in your path so you focus on those, instead of your big and crazy goals. The Too Busy Beasts lead us off down a path that may be in the opposite direction to the goal we think we are working towards. However, often we have diverged off path for quite a while before, we walk into a sunlit clearing and realise we have arrived somewhere we never intended to be in the first place.
Weapon Of Choice: Top Three Tasks
I am a believer that no experiences are a waste of time, and that there is always something you can learn from them. Perhaps it might be that you have allowed yourself to be corralled by the Too Busy Beasts and need to step into the sunlight more often, just to check that you are actually still on the right path. If that is the case, then perhaps the Top Three Tasks will be come your weapon of choice. With this weapon, you need to write down your top three tasks for each and every day and do nothing else until these are ticked off. You will be amazed how much greater your sense of achievement, as well as a reduction in your tendancy to stray off path.
The Blame Barricades
There are two types of Blame Barricades. The first are those Blame Barricades that have been set in place for years and years. They have vines growing over them, their pain has faded, and often you have become so used to them you no longer see them. Yet you still, consistently run into them, forgetting they are there as you tread over the same path, and then frustatedly kick them before clutching your throbbing toe and crying "Why does this always happens to me?"
The other type is the one thrown in front of you, right at the last-minute, usually just before you make an important breakthrough. These Blame Barricades always seem to hit you when you are reaching the end of your tether and provide you with the impetus to give up, to stop, and the crumple into a heap, moaning "It's no use!"
Weapon Of Choice: Keep The End In Mind
It's at times like these that you need to remember why you are doing what you are doing. Not the "I need to get this done because my boss asked me to" reason. It is the big reason, the why you are in the job you are in, or why you have started your own business, or why you put your hand up to organise your parent's anniversary party. The big why's are what is needed here. This way you can refocus your energies, move past the barricades in your way, and keep going.
The Too Tired Tranquilizers
How often have you been shot down by a Too Tired Tranquilizer? More often than not you are shot down by not one, but multiple, less strong tranquilizers. They may come in the form of an unexpected early wake up, late night studying, jet lag or a night out. The steady build up of tiredness can go unnoticed until you realise that you forgot to take something to the dry cleaners, rolled over instead of going to the gym, or lost your temper when normally you wouldn't. When you have been shot by a Too Tired Tranquilizer, it is easy to become disoriented or to make decisions which aren't ultimately in your best interest. The main focus is resting or sleeping.
Weapon Of Choice: Sleep as a Priority
Many of us fail to get our 8 hours of sleep a night. It is easy to eat into this time when you have work to do or when you just want to watch the end of a movie. It also doesn't help when people like Donald Trump tell us they only sleep 5 hours a night. If you want to ensure you are making the best decisions for your life, then the first decision you need to make is to ensure sleep is a priority in your life. The unexpected can also happen, but if you have at least avoided building up too many sleep debits, then you should be able to handle this and catch up quickly.
What Is Manipulating Your Life?
If you find time is getting away from you, if you are running from one thing to the next and fear what might crop up next, perhaps you need to review what is manipulating your life and select your weapon of choice. Is it the 'No' Training? Is it the Top Three Tasks? Or is it Sleep as a Priority?
Identify your life manipulators, and then put yourself into some serious training, because it may just be the way to ensure you get through this game we call life, with more than just the shirt on your back.
What are your life manipulators? Please share in the comments below, along with your weapon of choice if you have one.