I hated my job. That all changed when I did this.

I hated my job. That all changed when I did this.

It was Tuesday evening and I was driving home from work. I was overwhelmed and miserable. I tried to cry, but there were no tears.

My life was over. I lost all motivation and excitement for everything.

My life was one boring routine. I was wasting away. Or so I thought.

These were my feelings when I started working my job two years ago. I hated my job. I was bored. I felt as though I wasted five years working on a degree that I didn’t want anymore.

I was miserable, but didn’t have any reason to be. I had a great boss and supportive co-workers. However, the actual work left much to be desired.

Two years later, and I’m still here.

I’m still not fulfilled by my job. I’m a little unhappy. But I cope with my situation.

I’ve changed a lot in two years. I’m more mature. I have a completely different outlook on life.

Selfishness

When I graduated I was selfish. I didn’t want to work hard. I wanted an easy way out. An easy way to make money that would only require a few hours of work per week.

I didn’t have focus or drive. Not like I do today.

How did I overcome that initial resistance? How did I make this job manageable, even sometimes enjoyable? And how have I managed to get more out of life?

That’s what I want to share with you.

If you’re working a job you hate, this article is for you. I’m going to pass on my experience working a job I hated. Maybe you’ll get some value from it.

Become present

When you work a job you hate, you think about every other place that you’d rather be.

I was working at a remote audit site an hour from home. I remember looking out the window thinking of where I would rather be.

I wanted to be outside enjoying the warm summer air.

I wanted to be working another job.

I wanted to be researching stocks.

I wanted to be playing basketball.

I was living an imaginary existence. I was living in the past thinking of how things were. I longed for a time machine so I could change the past.

I was stressing about the future and what I wanted to be doing instead what I was doing. I was stressed about how far away and out of reach that future seemed to me.

I was living everywhere except for the present

While staring out that window, I had a moment of clarity. I forced myself to live fully in the moment and not worry about the past or the future.

I realized the mind clouds present moment with thoughts of the past or the future.

“The mind, to ensure that it remains in control, seeks continuously covering up the present moment with past and future, and so, as the vitality and infinite creative potential of Being, which is inseparable from Now, becomes covered up by time, your true nature becomes obscured by the mind. An increasingly heavy burden of time has been accumulating in the human mind.” – Eckhard Tolle, The Power of Now

I can’t go back and change the past. And I can’t run faster towards the future. So why waste brain power and energy thinking about these things?

All I can control is what I do today right now.

How has living presently changed things?

I stress less about the future and I don’t concern myself with the past. I’m happier and enjoy the little things in life.

Living present makes time go faster and makes work go faster.

When I focus on the work on hand, I’m more engaged. As long as I focus on doing one thing right now, time seems moves quicker.

This happens because you get into flow states of focus and concentration. Flow state, also known as “the zone” was coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a Hungarian psychologist.

In this mental state you perform an activity in which you are fully immersed in “a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

However, you can’t get into flow if you are thinking about the past or the future. As a matter of fact, Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identified six factors that encompass flow states, and number one on their list is “intense and focused concentration on the present moment.”

I find that the work day goes by quicker and I’m more engaged. As a result, I get more out of the day feel prouder about myself. That’s the power of living presently and engaging in one single task at a time.

If you interested about flow, check out Csíkszentmihályi’s Ted Talk on this topic. Also, Steven Kotler recently wrote a great book, The Rise of Superman, which goes in depth on flow, which I highly recommend!

Don’t focus on what you hate doing

When I started working, I thought about was how much I hated my job. I hated being cooped up in an office all day. I hated auditing people. I felt like people hated me.

My life was filled with negativity and bad energy. This brought my mood down, making me extremely pessimistic.

Instead of feeding my brain positive thought patterns, I dwelled on the negative. This made work harder and the job unbearable.

I needed a shift in thinking. So I decided to stop focusing on the negative.

But I didn’t shift into the “positive thinking” mindset. I’ve tried this before and it doesn’t work.

In the past, I would tell myself I was happy, I loved my job and there wasn’t anything else I would rather do. Instead, this actually made me more discontent. I was lying to myself. Telling these lies caused cognitive dissonance.

If you don’t focus on positive thinking, what do you focus on?

I focus on a learning and growth mindset. This can apply to any job. For me, it’s about focusing on learning as much as I can from everyone surrounding me.

My goal is to learn as much on each project I work on. I learn as much as I can from my co-workers and other individuals I come in contact with.

I commit to learning as much as I can and have a mastery outlook with what I do. If you can focus on learning one thing each day from one person around you, your life will become more productive.

If you work in retail, learn as much about your customers as possible. Do you have repeat customers? What do they tend to buy? Do people buy certain things together?

Learn as much as you can about your superiors. How did they get into the position they are in? What skills do they have that you would like to have? What faults do they have that you want to learn from?

Also, learn as much about your company as you can. Figure out why you do things the way you do. Learn about its history. Find out what makes it tick and what makes it successful.

When I shifted away from the “I hate doing…” to “I have to work 8 hours today, so what is one thing I can learn today?” my perspective of work changed. I get more out of each day because I strive to pick up skills that I can apply to other areas of my life, not just work.

Stay busy outside of work.

On that day I was driving home from work, completely miserable, I made a commitment to make the most of my time away from work.

I knew there would be many days where I would make myself miserable and unhappy if I wasn’t working towards something bigger and towards a brighter future for myself.

I started a personal finance blog. I had visions of it growing. I believed I would become the next popular personal finance blogger. But I didn’t. I failed.

I shifted gears and decided to write eBooks about personal finance. I had visions of creating a passive income stream through these books. My goal was to make $10,000 a month from eBooks. But I didn’t. I failed.

Even though I failed in both of these areas, I pursued something that I enjoyed. I pursued activities that I looked forward to at the end of the every day. I lived for the challenge of coming up with blog posts and chapters for books.

I didn’t want to come home every day, plop down in front of the TV and waste away my hours away from work.

I pursued things that interested me. I continue to pursue things that interest me. Without this drive and desire to make the most of my free time, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I lost interest in my personal finance blog and eBooks. But those activities made me a much better writer. Better than I’ve ever been at any point in my life.

I’m pursing an ecommerce business on the side. This is my next project I’m working on to become financially free.

I look forward to this every day. It serves as a reminder that my job is only temporary.

If I knew I had 30 to 40 years left working at my current job I would be miserable. But I’m not, because I know that I won’t be here forever.

I’m constantly reading, listening to podcasts, talking to people, and focusing on improving myself every day. I strive to learn as much about business and entrepreneurship every day.

What if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur? What could you do instead?

Anything!

Do you like sports? Take it up after work. Join a local rec league. Volunteer to coach your local high school team. Join a gym.

You could also volunteer. Network and meet new people. Join Toastmasters. Research other career opportunities and take the first step to getting out of your current situation.

Be productive and make the most of your time. Work towards something meaningful in your free time if you don’t derive meaning from your job. Give yourself something to look forward to.

Your situation isn’t permanent. You have options and choices in the world. You just might have to stick it out at your current job a little longer.

If you are in a volatile situation, these tips may not work for you. You may need to get out. But if you’re like me and you’re working a job to pay the bills, try out some of the tips above. I don’t know if they will work. But they work for me. Here I am today, happy and excited about the possibilities in my future.

How Meditation Improved My Monday

How Meditation Improved My Monday

I couldn’t sleep. I was tossing and turning in bed. I was stressed from work. I was anxious about life.

I called up my girlfriend who was out of town. I talked to her and explained my problem.

She has taken an interest in yoga and meditation recently. She loves doing them and finds that it lifts her spirits.

She suggested I start doing yoga and meditation to help with my anxiety. She sent me a couple of guided meditation videos to help me get started.

“Just give it a chance,” she said.

Naturally I resisted. I knew meditation had many benefits. But for some reason I could never bring myself to do it.

I’ve experimented with meditation in the past. I’ll admit, I liked the way I felt. But for some reason I resisted.

I didn’t think it would help in this situation. Besides, some of those videos were just too far out there. It was too touchy, feely for me. You know, the kind of stuff where you have to “find” yourself.

“I’ll do it later” I said.

“Okay, your loss.”

She was right. It was my loss.

I Finally Had Enough

Last Monday I got home from work feeling exhausted. I had eye strain and a headache thanks to staring at the computer all day long.

My back hurt. I was tired and grumpy. I felt lousy.

“Enough. Let me try meditating” I told myself.

I downloaded the Headspace app from Google Play and got to work.

I did the first 10 minute guided meditation session from the app. Afterwards I felt amazing.

I was relaxed throughout my body. I was awake and alert for the first time that day. I was more aware of my body and mind. I felt more present and in the moment.

My sour mood evaporated. I was no longer grumpy. I felt as if I had woken up from a blissful sleep.

I thought to myself, “I could get used to this!”

Could I Replicate This Feeling?

The next day I meditated during my lunch break. The result was the same.

I felt more productive and focused throughout the afternoon. I was energized, but relaxed, if that makes any sense. And I was more aware and mindful of what was going on.

“Why have I put this off for so long?”

Maybe you’re like me. You’ve put off meditating because it’s too touchy feely, or “woo-woo” type stuff. Trust me when I say, it has completly shifted my thinking.

When you mediate, your analytical, reasoning mind shuts down and you have an increased sense of awareness. This state of mind has been described as “Satori,” “Zanshin,” or “enlightenment” in martial arts.

Meditation Has Powerful Physiological Effects

Studies show that people who meditate recover from stressful situations quicker than those who don’t.

Science shows that skin resistance decreases in states of anxiety and stress, and increases when we are relaxed.

Researchers have found that mediators have a large skin resistance, thus allowing them to recover from stressful situations more quickly and better cope with stress.

Your Brain on Meditation

Your brain has various different brain waves, depending on your situation.

When you meditate, you encourage an increase in alpha brain waves. These wave are conducive to creativity and the assimilation of new concepts.

Some practitioners are able to achieve a more relaxed state of mind, which encourage theta brain waves. These types of brain waves are associated with deeper insights and intuition.

Not only that, but those who practice meditation consistently continue to exhibit alpha and theta brain waves after meditation sessions.

This increases relaxation, creativity, and emotional connection for a time period after meditating.

Getting into the “Right” Brain

We have a tendency to use the left hemisphere of our brains. Practicing meditation allows us to “turn off” this verbal, linear, analytic style of information and processes.

This means we become more right brained. Our sense of time and logic no longer dominate our conscious thoughts when we meditate.

Instead we become more holistic, receptive, and think beyond language and logic.

Meditation and Psychology

Finally, research literature suggests that meditation produces feelings of self-transcendence, increased meaning in the world, and more connection with the world.

Other research shows that people are more confident, have better self-control, more empathy, and become self-actualized during meditation as a result of meditation. Finally, people report a decrease in anger and better ability to control their attention thanks to meditation.

Do You Want to Give Meditation a Shot?

I started off by using the Headspace app. You can also find guided meditation videos on YouTube. Here are a few to get started:

Can’t sleep, Meditation For Insomnia, Guided Voice, Gentle Music For Sleepless Nights, Relaxation

The Five Minute Miracle – Daily Guided Meditation

10 Minute Guided Meditation to ease Anxiety, Worry, and Urgency

The benefits of meditation cannot be denied. I was ignorant and held off meditating for so long. Being a bit of a skeptic (and slightly ignorant), I can say that I was completely wrong. Don’t wait so long like I did, try out meditation for yourself and let me know how it goes.

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Delayed Gratification Doesn’t Mean Delaying Your Happiness

Delayed Gratification Doesn’t Mean Delaying Your Happiness

Imagine that you’re four years old again. You’re in some strange building that you’ve never seen before.

A researcher leads you down a long hall. Finally, you reach a door, and the researchers sits you down. In front of you is a table with a plate on it. On that plate is a single marshmallow.

The researcher looks at you and says, “I’m going to give you one marshmallow right now and leave for a few minutes. If you don’t eat that marshmallow by the time I get back, I’ll give you a second marshmallow. If you do eat that marshmallow before I get back, you won’t get a second one. Do you understand?”

You nod your head.

What would four year old you do? Would you eat the marshmallow immediately or would you wait until the researcher got back?

Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

In 1970 Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen of Stanford University conducted their now famous marshmallow test. The purpose of this study was to understand how and when children develop and control deferred gratification.

In order to conduct their experiment, they studied children from ages 4 to 6. One by one, researchers led these young children into the testing room and offered them a single marshmallow, with a caveat: if they waited, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.

Some children were unable to resist the urge and popped the marshmallow in their mouths immediately. Other children attempted to control themselves, but gave into their temptations after just a few minutes. A few children showed remarkable constraint and resisted the urge of eating the first marshmallow.

Some kids would cover their eyes with their hands. Others turned around so they couldn’t see the marshmallow staring back at them. One kicked the desk in an effort of self-control. One kid gently stroked the marshmallow, but didn’t eat it, and was rewarded for his patience.

After an excruciating 15 minutes, researchers came back and rewarded the children with a second marshmallow. Roughly one-third of the children studied were able to delay gratification long enough to receive their reward.

At the time the experiment wasn’t revolutionary. The study simply showed that some kids had a preference for delayed gratification. It wasn’t until years later that researchers really understood the circumstances of their study.

In follow-up studies, researchers found that those children who deferred eating the marshmallow ended up with better life outcomes. Using SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index, and other measures as a benchmark, researchers found that those who delayed gratification ended up being more successful 20 years later.

Is Delayed Gratification a Good Thing?

This study implies that delayed gratification is a good thing. It shows that those with patience are ultimately rewarded in the end. But I believe there are some flaws.

I am going to argue against delayed gratification. I don’t believe it’s the “great thing” that some make it out to be. As a matter of fact, I believe delayed gratification is actually a bad thing.

I have become aware that my peers, millennials, are putting off happiness today so they can achieve more success later in life. All this in an attempt to attain higher job status and receive a higher income.

What if we are only chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

We’re told at a young age to do well in school so we can get into a good college. That way we can get a respected degree which will help us land a well-paying, prestigious job. Then we can marry our soulmate, buy a home, have 2.5 children, and live the American dream.

Only after we do all of that will we feel fulfilled and have a great life. Except this isn’t true. This dream is only an illusion we’ve been fed most of our young adult lives. And many of us are only now figuring this out.

Chasing a False Dream

My friends are going to school longer and getting more degrees in order to fulfill this false dream. They’re caught chasing the carrot of finding a job they love that will (hopefully) land them a fat paycheck.

But this isn’t what happens. Here’s the truth: we’ll go to school, then we’ll get a job in our respectful fields. We’ll become unhappy with that job, so we’ll go back to school. We’ll hope that our new job pays better and is more respectable. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be happy.

When we finally achieve all this, we realize we aren’t any happier than we were before. As a matter of fact, we’re more stressed and unhappy.

We’ve been told that delaying gratification is going to make us happy. We’re going to make more money so we can buy a bigger home and send our kids to the best schools. But once we reach these predetermined goals, we’re going to find that we’re still waiting on that promised feeling of happiness and accomplishment.

The Vicious Cycle of “Success”

Many people hate their jobs or have horrible bosses. Their work doesn’t fulfill them. They’re not respected. They’re not rich and powerful like they thought they would be. They haven’t changed the world yet.

Many people try to escape this rut. How do they do this? By chasing more degrees, getting advanced certifications, and clawing for promotions at work.

Too often we end up chasing the next level of success. Nothing ends up being good enough. We become so fixated on trying to reach the next level in hopes it will bring us satisfaction.

We sacrifice today for hopes of a brighter tomorrow. We forget to take a moment to live in the here and now because we are always fixated on the future, striving for more.

Let’s look at college students. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, 80% of college students frequently or sometimes experience daily stress. 34% of students had felt depressed at some point in the past 3 months.

In addition to the stress, millennials don’t get away from work. 9 out of 10 millennials can access work info at any time. 73% are expected to be contactable by their employer at any point.

Our elders are telling us to work hard to achieve happiness. We’ve been taught that to be successful you must live out the prescribed dream, and to do so you must always be future-focused.

What happened to enjoying the ride of life? We’re pushed by our parents to do this, be that, and get this. Our parents have the best intentions, but the results are undesirable.

Students are stressed from school and finals. They are trying to get into the best medical schools or the best MBA programs. We have this drive to be the best and to make a difference. Then when we don’t make that huge impact on the world, we feel insignificant. We come to the realization that a longer journey awaits with more stress and anxiety.

What’s the solution? How do we solve this problem? If we’re constantly chasing the carrot, and happiness is always out of our reach, what should we do?

The answer is nothing novel. We need to be happy now with where and who we are.

What Really Matters?

If you were to die tomorrow, would your degrees matter? Would your job title matter? Of course not.

If you’re trying to live out some fantasy, and you’re hoping to find the light at the end of the tunnel, is it really worth it?

Quit racing to be the success that everyone wants you to be. Don’t stress yourself out on a daily basis trying to achieve a dream that somebody else planned for you.

Learn how to be happy today and enjoy the progress that you’re making. Hang on for a ride.

Continue to strive and reach for the stars. But don’t put your happiness and sanity on the line today in hopes that you’ll end up being happy tomorrow.

Learn because you enjoy learning. Don’t learn just so you can get a piece of paper that tells everyone the knowledge you’ve gained.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to try and make a difference in the world. Help someone out today. Go out of your way to be nice to others.

You don’t need to be rich to help people. You don’t need to be rich to be happy.

Live in the present. Become more mindful and conscious of what’s going on around you.

Continue to move forward and grow and make progress. Work hard and make a difference in somebody’s life, starting with your own.

Stop trying to chase the elusive dream of making a big paycheck and having your happiness hinge on your wealth and income.

You can still be successful with this new mindset. Quit delaying your life for tomorrow and enjoy today. It could be your last.

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