The Mindset behind Creating a Healthier Planet: Routes of Change

Routes of Change

“I’d like to see our species come together and use our amazing potential to live in harmony with all life on this planet. If I had to leave an impression, I’d like it to be a smile.”

 – Markus Pukonen, Founder of Routes of Change

On 3rd Ave. and Main St. Vancouver B.C. is where I last saw Markus Pukonen; a man on a mission to “circumnavigate the planet without a motor.”Markus Pukonen

Founder of Routes of Change; a registered non-profit organization, with the intention of raising support for organizations that are creating a healthier planet, Markus began his adventure around the world on foot. Since then, he has already hiked, skipped and danced his way through the first few kilometres and according to his live, online GPS, he currently appears to be canoeing down Lake Ontario towards Prince Edward, ON.

I first got introduced to Markus when I gate-crashed his fundraiser during my recent visit to Tofino, BC. An intimate event, I spoke to several people who knew Markus personally and from what I had learnt, I was eager to understand the mindset of this man with an ambitious goal, derived from noble motives.

Markus loves our planet and “all of the beings on it.” He found himself burdened by the unfortunate state of our planet six years ago, when he lost his beloved father to Leukemia. Around the same time, his sister was pregnant with his niece. This cycle of death and new life caused Markus to wonder what type of future his niece would have, if we continue to pollute and ruin our planet. It also caused him to question the legacy he’d leave behind, if he were to face the same fate as his father. “It was time for change” and it was during this poignant time in Markus’ life, which jolted him to act upon one of his ultimate aspirations.

Over the last six years, Markus has been carefully planning, fundraising and generating awareness and support for his organization. Now that ‘Routes of Change’ has officially launched, he’s beginning to feel both the positive and negative impacts of this mission.  The pressure is definitely on and as deadlines loom, the reality of his aspiration is settling in.

To keep himself motivated and focused, Markus doesn’t overlook his emotions. He realizes that they are a key component towards navigating himself towards success. He also practises communicating openly for others to understand him better, especially during moments of high stress and anxiety.

“I’m planning on dancing every day to make things happy and positive and keep the silliness of everything in focus. I practice belly breathing, moving meditation, and yoga as well.”

Also, Markus occasionally finds himself “nervous and stressed.” On top of raising funds to support himself throughout this 5 year mission, he’s set himself a “huge goal” of raising 10 million dollars towards supporting positive change. So naturally, he’s finding himself questioning how it’ll all “come together.” Furthermore, Markus has been pretty independent his entire life and for the first time, he’s asked for support from his community in a “big way,” causing further thoughts of concern and uncertainty as he doesn’t want to let anyone down.

“I overcome these concerns and doubts by focusing on the positive, on the fact that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. I know that things have a way of working themselves out if you move confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

Markus has also become mindful of the fact that not everyone understands his mission, nor can everyone empathise with his passion. He’s learnt that staying true to himself and standing by his own identity, will guide him towards the success and fulfillment he desires. He adds:

“I also remind myself that I was willing to do this trip without any money.”

His strength and encouragement also comes from gratitude, he genuinely values community, oneness and family. Even though he’ll be without his nearest and dearest for some time, he only has to think about them to trigger motivation.

“I think about the love they have for me. I think about doing my best in order to make them proud. I don’t focus on the fact that they aren’t with me, I focus on the fact that they ARE with me. I feel their love and support and I gain inspiration and strength from it. I focus on that overwhelming feeling of gratitude.”

Markus sets a great example of how to use your identity towards bigger aspirations. He’s combined what he loves to do (his passion), with what he has to do (his purpose) and as a result, he’s well on his way towards reaching levels of self-actualization.

There are many lessons to be learnt from Markus and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to meet with him. He’s confirmed that staying true to our own identities, engaging in what we’re passionate about and maintaining gratitude for the very things many of us take for granted, will steer us towards a life of bliss and fulfillment.

Have a great time Markus and thank you for raising awareness to make our home a better place to live.

To learn more about Markus Pukonen and ‘Routes of Change’ check-out Routesofchange.org. You can also support Markus along the way, by sponsoring a ‘penny per kilometer’, joining him during a leg of his trip or simply by offering him words of encouragement, advice and support.

Routes of Change

VanCity

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The Importance of Maintaining Intention

Tofino

I’d recently took a trip away to Tofino, British Columbia, to complete some work and escape the distractions of everyday life. When I arrived I was ready to churn out pure productivity, I could already feel my ego withering away as my inner-desires activated, engaged by thoughts of freedom, fun and accomplishment.

It was late, dark and very quiet. I immediately felt a slight anxiety as I entered this small town as lone outsider. I pulled up and greeted my AirBnB host with very quick hello and was given a 2 minute tour of the property, not even 10 minutes had passed by and beers were already being poured. I could already tell that this town had adopted a ‘live-in-the-moment’ mentality and any thoughts of anxiety were soon forgotten.

My host was an energetic character originally from Alberta, Canada. He’d given up his lucrative career working on an oil rig, to pursue his passions. He became an artist and had moved to Tofino to seek liberation and to freely create. I had told him about my initial anxiety and how quickly it was dispelled, I mentioned my work and my writing and my reason for visiting. He talked about how many of the people living in Tofino weren’t really from there, many of the people he had met and many of the people I had interacted with, seemed to have similar reasons for being there.

My first day though was pretty amazing, normally when I wake up my first thoughts are to check my Blackberry for any new emails from potential clients, and to check my blog-stats. The internet connectivity was awful so right way I was forced into mindfulness. I got up early, caught the sun rise, meditated, went for a run and had my first Vegan breakfast (it was delicious) all before 7am.

After I had showered and changed, I took my laptop down to a waterfront restaurant and within minutes I was tranced into a flow state. Usually I would check all sorts of social media platforms and spend the first hour catching up with the rest of the world. This time was very different.

Later that day, I explored the neighbourhood and struck up conversations with random people. It became apparent that many people who come along to Tofino, although initially motivated by escape, were really there to just be themselves. To engage the capabilities of their identities in order to discover bliss. Nobody seemed too focused on status, money, popularity or anything else that bound people to lives that lacked fulfillment.

Nobody really cared about anything else other than making the most of every moment and that didn’t really mean partying and having fun in the traditional sense. It meant making the most of one’s passions, perfecting skills and becoming the best individual one can be. Investing every spare moment engaging an inner spirit and tapping into a self-confidence that came with true independence. Many people had visited from bigger towns and cities, only to remain there after experiencing some sort of detachment. Towards the end of my trip, even I was contemplating the thought of calling it home.

I couldn’t help feeling empathy for those that sought freedom and liberation there. Many people seemed to have detached from their old lives, only to attach themselves to Tofino. I wondered how many will learn to carry this experience with them as they re-enter the lives they’d left behind.

My mum had incidentally given me a book called “why —– mind matters.” It explored Buddhist philosophies concerning the mind. It was an easy book and within the first ten minutes I came across this quote:

“Man is essentially the manifestation of his thought forces.”

I thought I went to Tofino to work, to finish some writing as I embark on yet another goal. I thought I had to be there to bring back the inspiration and motivation I sought, to complete my book. Truth is, Tofino just allowed me to calm my mind and had given me time to think. It reminded me of the importance of focusing internally.

Prior to this trip, my mind seemed to be in several different places at once, I couldn’t focus on writing and output seemed to lack passion. I had all the same ideas, but at home I couldn’t bring them alive because I kept trying to focus with an external intention.

In other words, I was focusing on an outcome of a task rather than the purpose of carrying the task out. So when I would attempt to write at home, I was driven more by thoughts of getting my book published and the possibility of new opportunities and travelling more. When writing in Tofino, I reconnected with the internal intention; I wrote because I enjoyed it and because I’m passionate about what I want to share.

Now that I’m back on the ferry heading back home to familiarity, I’m returning with my intentions intact. I feel I understand what it means to put my mind to something now. We can be anywhere in the world physically, but what truly matters as we embark on ambitious goals, is where we allow our minds to travel and where we can take the world.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

5 Things We Tend To Neglect When Pursuing Our Goals

Neglect

Sometimes when we’re focused on attaining success, crucial parts of our lives get neglected. We also justify the things we neglect, by telling ourselves that we’ll place priority on them once we have achieved what we have set out to achieve. One thing I’ve learnt, is that if we don’t make these things a priority in our lives today, we’ll soon realize the burden of our actions.

Here’s 5 things that we must maintain in our lives to ensure that we attain success in a healthy and fulfilling manner.

  1. Health and Wellness

Health and wellness is the single most important thing in our lives. We must ensure that we make time for ourselves and that we look after our bodies. After all, we can attain all the success in the world, but it’ll mean nothing if we’re not healthy enough to enjoy it. The more success we build the more indestructible we feel, but that illusion will wear off the moment our bodies are overwhelmed and overrun by neglect.

I’m currently trialing an all organic diet and already I feel more energetic and awake. I also used to schedule exercise around my work, now I’ve shifted my schedule to work around my yogic goals.

  1. Home/Work Space

Whatever stage of success we’re at, our spaces are a reflection of our journey. The cleaner and organised our personal spaces are, the more productive we’re going to be. We’ll want to work in these spaces and spend less time wanting to get away or escape.

I once spent an entire day printing pictures and putting them up in frames around my house. At first I felt like I was wasting a day, but now my space serves a motivational gallery of things I’m grateful for and the aspirations I hold.

  1. People

Family, friends and partners are our immediate support network, they encourage us and support us when we need it. It’s easy to forget how much influence these people have on our success, without them we wouldn’t have anyone to share success with.

One of my most popular posts to date is on success and loneliness, it has climbed the search engine ranks and continues to get more hits day by day. Nurture your relationships and make time for them, don’t end up successful and isolated.

  1. Social and Recreational activities

Make time to have fun and socialize with others. Social and recreational activities lift our spirits and help us relieve stress. They are a crucial component towards maintaining a positive mindset.

When I’m writing I have to be alone, but I must balance all this alone time by connecting with others. Making time to have fun and gathering with others keeps our identities engaged and our lives fulfilled. You’ve heard of the saying ‘work hard, play hard’ to me it connotes balance. Don’t let all your hard work end up in vain because you’ve made no time to enjoy life.

  1. Emotions

The most fulfilled people I’ve come across tend to be the most expressive.

Our emotions are our guide towards fulfillment. If we fall into a habit of focusing on our success and repressing our emotions, we can be led astray from where we actually want to be in life. When we deal with an emotion, we spend time evaluating and reflecting, it’s a process that helps keep us aligned with our aspirations.

Your emotions are the rawest form of honesty, so listen to them they’ll guide you where you need to go. Process your emotions as and when they arise so you don’t end up building a life you’re not fulfilled by.

It’s easy to forget the significance of these things in our lives and if we don’t start making these things a priority now, we’ll end up losing touch with them later.

VanCity

3 Things To Remember When Doubters Cast Their Discouraging Shadow

shadowI often wonder why some people seem to be surprised when they hear about my aspirations and the pursuit of my goals.

Now I know I’m not exactly there yet, but I am on my way. I see my life shaping out exactly how I wanted it to, right before my eyes and I still find myself engaging with people that are still unconvinced.

So, forget them. Right? Wrong, understand them.

One thing I learned about pursuing my dream, is that I’m pursuing my dream. I would often get discouraged or offended when people would speak to me in that tone of voice, you know the one where what they’re saying isn’t what they’re thinking.

Well, what I understand now, is that people can only agree with you to a certain extent and this is with anything. Most people can, and only will agree with you to the extent of their understanding, which is why you will always be hit with so many different reactions.

People place the probability of your dream becoming a reality based on the facts that they have or haven’t acquired.  So long as you continue to learn and grow, develop your skills and talents, and are making the most out of every opportunity, you’ll get to where you want to be.

Remember, it’s a difficult task to get everyone on the same page as you, so don’t let what people assume affect your ambition and focus on making your dream a reality.

So long as you give it your all and don’t give up, you will succeed.

The 3 things you need to remember:

1. You’re pursuing your dream for yourself, whether others benefit or not. Your dream is catered to you and your passions, so some people may not understand it or will have a hard time believing it.

2. You determine your own level of success, so do not let others influence that. Your results are dependent on your efforts, but be prepared to fight off negative influences.

3. Doubters will always exist, because so many others give up. So many people try their hand at pursuing their lifelong ambitions but the moment they give up they pour energy into doubters.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

Live Your Dream: If You Have Time To Think, You Have Time To Act.

Clapper

If I had the power, I would remove the need to require sleep, because just before bed my mind is always racing from all the ideas that I want to plan and put into action. I want to start researching and gathering information to make all my ideas a reality. If it weren’t for knowing that I have to sleep, I’d probably be up every single night taking action, making plans and igniting powerful energy towards a promising outcome. Nevertheless, I keep a pen and paper handy or my trusty Smartphone to jot down every idea that comes to mind, just so that my thoughts won’t run into a web of randomness and unorganized nonsense and so that I can get some much-needed shut-eye and look into my notes as soon as possible.

I overheard a conversation the other day, it was a couple of guys talking about a small business idea they had. It was just a simple idea that if researched enough, it could have proved successful for them. Here’s the thing, although spending all this time during their coffee break discussing an idea, they never spent one moment to act upon it. In that very short space of time they could have researched so much about their idea and they could have answered many of the questions they had. They could have looked into the feasibility of making their dream a reality; all it would have taken was a couple of Google searches to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, like many others out there, they decided to pay for their coffee and return to work and ended off their conversation “if only we had the money” and walked away feeling intimidated by the very thought of making things happen.

I’m calling bullshit on this excuse. If they had 30 minutes to talk about an idea, dreaming up the potential lifestyles they could be living, they could have spent a good chunk of that 30 minutes looking into viable options towards making their dream a reality. Always remember, small actions that you take today can impact heavily on your future. If I had never opened up my laptop and wrote my first blog post, I wouldn’t be working on my book today. My excuse was always “I don’t have the time and I don’t know how to write.” Look at me now, I’m definitely a better writer now than I was then and now I can officially say to people “I’m a blogger!” I always anticipated that I’d be in this position today but never really expected it to happen and it all started out by taking small actions.

Many people forget that the most successful people they admire started off by taking small actions towards their dreams. Evidence can be found in the story behind any person you consider successful. Sir Allen Sugar started out selling products from the back of a van, Mark Zuckerberg started coding in his spare time, heck, even Beyoncé started out by singing in her back garden – look at where they are now and when the day comes to tell my story: I’ll say I started writing to kill time on a graveyard shift.

The examples are endless but the key to living any dream is to take action. Small steps towards success can lead to giant leaps towards your dreams. If you have the time to think about it you have the time to act on it! Remember, a vital component towards achieving anything in life is taking the steps to make things happen.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

Live Your Dream: Invest Your Time Wisely

Make a Splash!

Remember when we were kids and we used to aimlessly jump into puddles, I remember I used to go out my way to find these shallow patches of water to make the biggest splash that I could. I’d get so carried away until I had completely drenched my socks misjudging the depth, but I didn’t care. I remember it being so thrilling because I was doing what I wanted to do, regardless of being told otherwise and each time it felt like some sort of accomplishment. Recently this random thought had stuck with me for a while and I noticed how differently many of us live our lives today. How many of us can honestly say we seek that thrill and want to make that impact? Don’t get me wrong I understand that we have responsibilities now and commitments that we never had before, but surely there’s still enough time to jump into a puddle now and then; investing time into shaping the life we want to lead will positively impact on our lives.

Do we invest enough time towards building the life we want to live and the way we want to live it? We continue to follow the same routine daily only to realize how much time we could have spent investing into our true goals. Things had recently settled down for me and I began to feel incredibly uncomfortable; surely working everyday and paying bills on time every month isn’t what people have evolved to. I know there is so much more I want from life because there’s so much more that life has to offer. I’m at a point now where I’ve met a lot of goals and now I’m ready to aim higher. I’m ready to jump into even bigger puddles.

I find it absolutely frustrating when I come across people who are willing to invest more time deciding on what type of partner they want before carving out an identity of their own. I find it disheartening when I see parents spend more time in a furniture store deciding on which coffee table to purchase rather than nurturing the minds of their offspring. I also find it bizarre how people can tell me more about other individuals, but can hardly piece two sentences together about themselves. At what point did this change, we start lives off so care-free and so individual to only have our identities consumed by the routines we follow. Somehow we decide to be a little more careful and take fewer risks; we find more time for the most insignificant decisions over investing time in shaping our own lives because we’re either afraid of failure or just learn that we simply can’t.

I turn to the people I admire today and am in awe of what they have achieved because it all started with a risk. Looking into a bold move and diving into a new challenge, they never allow themselves to become complacent and always aim higher. Never feeling they’ve hit their peak and investing their time wisely by seeking opportunity and focusing on goals by drowning out the pollution around them. My sister is probably one of the strongest willed people I know; a description of hell would probably sound like a vacation compared to the ups and downs she has faced in life, but nothing has stopped her from aiming higher to prove to herself, not to anybody else, that she can create a life that she is truly satisfied with.

Had a random conversation about the universe today and the topic lead to how minute our lives are in comparison to time and space, I thought to myself, f*** that! That notion doesn’t work for me, I may be only one out of about 7 billion people on this planet but I’m going to make pretty damn sure that this “one” makes an impact on himself and actually lives. There’s already too many irritated souls filling this planet with doubt and negativity not realizing that the benefits of today came from the ones who made a big splash yesterday.  I’m not saying I want my name to go down in the history books and I don’t adopt this mind-set purely for others to know who I am and what I’m about. I simply know what I can achieve for myself. Prove to myself that this life is worth more than a routine. Life shouldn’t be wasted walking around puddles taking the safer route, just jump right in and make that splash!

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

Be Successful: Nurture Your Goals

Having traveled back to the UK for the first time after a couple of years, I never felt more motivated to really nurture the goals I had set myself. I sat at my old desk, the very same desk I sat at to research and plan my way out of frustration and the mind-numbing life I had been living. I had a flashback to when I booked my first ticket out of the UK and it woke me up to realize how far I had really come. I also came to understand the potential of how much further I can go if I continued to nurture my goals. Even when there was that small crumb of doubt that things wouldn’t quite work out the way I wanted, my focused attention helped brush it off.

I met with old friends and past colleagues and many of them had set goals for themselves but had failed to reach them. They had set goals, but that was the easy part. Goals are the final result you want, you need to nurture a goal to make things happen. When I set a goal I look at hundreds of options before discovering how to do it, working on a goal regularly allows me to achieve it.

Research: probably the most important part of any goal set. Researching every aspect of your goal will start you off in the right direction. Research gives you options; it gives you ideas and will eventually open the door to a new opportunity. It may close the door on some ideas you thought would have worked, but upon further investigation you may realize that it isn’t what you want. Research allows you fine tune your goals and allows your objectives to fall into place.

Act Now or Never: the time to start is now, that doesn’t mean your end goal will be achieved right now, It means taking the first step: booking the ticket, starting the course, viewing the house…whatever the goal is you have many actions you can take right now that relate directly to it. If you don’t act now you delay the life you want to live. People often need reminding that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and determination to get there and it won’t be easy! But the more you throw yourself into the world if your goal the easier it’ll get.

Adopt the right attitude: the biggest threat to you is yourself. Only you determine your failures and successes, I know this from firsthand experience. A lot of failures come from a weak state of mind, allowing yourself to follow the shadow of someone else’s success, allowing the first hurdle overwhelm your ambition and the fear of loss are common traits that can infiltrate an opportunists mind. One thing I can tell you is, no matter what level of success you achieve, hurdles are always going to be in your path, challenges will become more often than you think, but the thing that will distinguish those who succeed and will continue to do so, over those who won’t, are how challenges are met. Welcome them.

Repeat: as you progress to success remember to always go back to research and consider following through this advice over and over again. Each time set your sights higher and continue to build on your success, don’t get complacent. You can’t just stop at one achievement! I see my successes as stepping-stones, one just leads to the other. Your knowledge and understanding will develop, you’ll notice that you will want more and crave more. You’ll figure out a formula that works for you and before you know your life can surpass your dreams as you set more ambitious goals.

Wanting success is like a drug, I understand why many people say that once you’ve had a small taste you’ll want more and more. Its hunger, my drive and passion is practically linked to a physiological response because it’s just as important to me as eating. We only have this life right now and if we don’t live it we won’t have lived.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach