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

Advertisements

How to Reduce Anxiety and Ease the Pressure of Making Choices

Connecting two worlds

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing in a shallow sea just as the sun is about to set and the tide about to rise. Although I may feel content and happy where I am, I’m merely moments away from a bad situation and if I don’t do something soon, I’ll be stuck here wishing I had made the choice to move sooner.

When we feel content and safe in a situation, it’s easy to overlook our pursuit for fulfillment. We begin to struggle with the choices we need to and/or want to make, that progress our lives towards betterment and actualization. This complacency feeds anxiety.

The longer we do hold onto a comfortable situation, the closer we become to losing sight of who we truly are and what we truly want. We can lose sight of our aspirations and motivations, as our complacent ways consume and become our identity.

Our true desires eventually catch up to us, for complacency can only repress our inner intentions for so long. There’s no running away from who we truly are and what we truly want from life, as it only takes a tiny spark of inspiration to reignite our true identities. And when we are reminded of who we actually are and what we actually want from life, we’re confronted with many choices that cause anxiety.

I’m working with several clients that are realizing this burden of complacency in life and are now facing a great deal of anxiety, because they’re facing the “pressures of freedom of choice.”

A wise connection of mine known as ‘Dilly Dave, recently published a video on anxiety and he describes it very well. He talks about how we need to take action in order to limit worry and overcome “the dizziness, of freedom of choice.” I think it’s a compelling video that sums up anxiety and worry brilliantly, check it out below:

To ease this pressure, I want to share something we all already know but easily forget, it’s the importance of engaging in trial and error.

I came to this re-realization when I began delving into both spiritual and scientific practices that help people reduce anxiety. Personally, I’ve noticed a huge impact on my life since adopting yoga and meditation, but what really intrigued me was how these practices actually developed.

Breakthroughs and discoveries in both Science and Spirituality are the result of trial and error, and I hadn’t noticed this primary link that connected the two together. Both, on the same mission towards solving problems and seeking answers, only progressed and discovered results because of regular trial and error.

Ironically, anxiety causes complications as we’re overrun by choices, yet a proven method towards solving problems and seeking answers, thrives on the many choices we’re presented with. Therefore it’s very important to understand that making the wrong choice shouldn’t really be the thing we should concern our lives with, failing to try is what we  really should be focusing on.

Motivation is triggered by thoughts that access our potential. If our thoughts are focused on making the wrong choice, then we’re only feeding an anxious spirit. However, if we mindfully focus our thoughts towards the outcome of not trying, we begin to awaken a motivated spirit.

There’s a wonderful bliss that one can experience when engaged in seeking answers. We can enter an active flow state and steady our minds just by engaging in life’s most simple and most effective learning tools. To sum up, we can begin to reduce anxiety by embracing the pleasure of discovery.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

If I Had All the Money in the World…

Money

If I posed the question, “What would you be doing right now, if money was no object?” You’d probably be able to answer it quite easily. Some of you may even have several different answers, each one just as fantastical and glamorous as the last, but how truthful would your answer be?

To be honest, the answers you construct wouldn’t matter anyway, the detail you should be focusing on, is how different your life is now to that of your fantasy? Or rather, why is a fantasy so appealing?

When you find that life isn’t quite shaping out the way you had hoped, where life just isn’t exciting and that it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi, questions like these tend to arise simply because you desire something better.

The problem with this particular question, is that it never really forces you to face your true desires. Having more money just gives you the option to escape into a belief of fulfillment. You’ll probably base your answers on what you’ve seen on the telly or what’s been covered in those shiny magazines, because those people look so happy.

If you truly seek change and you really want to build a better life for yourself, you should start by asking yourself “What decisions would you make right now, if you could make them without any consequences?”

You live your everyday life chained to responsibility and ideology without giving yourself the opportunity to really explore the depth of your identity. If you had the ability to make a consequence-free decision right now, what would it be? If you could leave it all behind where would you take your life? What purpose would you fulfill/discover?

Ask yourself these questions and face the honesty that you probably live with but never ponder. Really get to grips with a reality where you are in full control of your life. Where life is dictated by the very traits of who you are, rather than what you can do with how much you’re worth. For once just think about doing something for yourself that probably only you would understand.

Until you face what it is you truly want from life, you’re never going to live. Life is way too valuable to live idly.

I know there’s definitely some work ahead of me to attain the life I want to live, but I know with each word I write, each person I coach and each effort I make to build a more fulfilled life for myself, I’ll never need to find comfort in escapism, for I’m already on a road to where I want to be.

Allowing myself to think freely in this way, has allowed me to configure my goals independently and tap into the heartbeat of my own desires.

Even for just a moment, take consequences out of the equation and it’s remarkable what you may learn about yourself and/or what it is you actually want. Face some truths so that you can navigate your life towards something more fulfilling

Don’t become just another irritated soul trying to fit into this world, become a liberated one and claim your place in it.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

Why We Secretly Enjoy Getting Pissed Off

anger

When we find ourselves in moments of anger, there’s usually an element of control that’s missing. We fear what we’re not in control of, which is why I think this primitive aggression takes over. It’s a way for us to reassert ourselves and regain control.

I reckon we secretly enjoy these moments of rage because they make us feel powerful; they allow us to vent our frustrations without facing our inner truths. However, to move forward happily in our lives, we must learn to overcome fits of anger by being honest with ourselves and what it is we truly want.

It’s no secret that several years ago I used to hold onto a lot of anger. Easily triggered, I would quickly go from a state of calm to an overpowering rage in any situation that didn’t present an outcome I desired. Unleashing my wrath, I would cause emotional harm to those around me and emotional torment upon myself. I hated this part of myself as it did not represent my identity.

My frustrations were fuelled by up keeping outdated cultural traditions, and maintaining and meeting everyone else’s expectations. I was frustrated that I was working very hard to build a life that I was not happy with at all. I felt like the world and everyone in it seeped into my consciousness and controlled me from within. Moulding my identity to fit into ideologies I did not agree with and trends I did not want to follow.

I think flipping the switch and flying off the handle gave me a sense of freedom; it was the ultimate f*** you. I suppose it felt good because it was inadvertently honest. It was a moment where I was unconcerned about anything or anyone else but myself and what I wanted.

Getting Over It

The very day life turned around for me was the day I decided to venture into a life of my own design. When I realized that if I want things to go my own way, I have to go my own way. There was no one to blame anymore, nor was there anything in my way.

One thing that I had to work on though, was my ability to be honest and accept the reasons for my frustrations. It’s difficult to admit when we’re not happy, even more so if others will be affected by this honesty. Being honest is learning to express emotion, its learning to admit challenges and asking for help when needed. Consider anger an indicator of hiding from the truth.

I’ve learned that the more we repress honesty the more we feed our ego, until eventually we build lives where an ego is all we’re left with.

Experience more of that secret enjoyment everyday by regularly expressing yourself in ways others wouldn’t expect; be more honest. At first you may experience feelings of displacement, judgment and perhaps even mockery, but once you put yourself out there for the world to see, there’s no need go back. Once you confront and then begin to share your truth, feelings of frustration become far and fewer and experiences of joy become more frequent.

Fight frustration with truth and notice day by day, how much less the world pisses you off.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

How to Avoid Giving Up: A Formula Tried and Tested

wheel-of-fortune_2011_a_l

Facing a crisis

My life began to get pulled into different directions as my mind kept pacing from one aspect of it to another. I was trying to balance day-to-day motions and emotions, while constructing the next chapter of my life. I found myself losing control because I was motivated by fear.

I had built up a level of success that I feared losing. Rather than deal with these feelings, I sped passed them and missed certain cues telling me to slowdown and evaluate. If I had just taken the time to understand what this new area of success meant and what I should’ve been focusing on, I could’ve re-organized my life and continued on attentively. I would’ve done what I did much sooner…

My priorities were mixed up, my mind couldn’t sit still and it all became overwhelming. It was like my life was stuck in a game of Wheel of Fortune: blogging, completing my book proposal, ‘Feeding the Lion’ videos, consulting, running a home, finances, family, friends, me time? Exercise, meditation, reading, dating, query letters, researching agents/publishers, writing, more errands to run and so on. I was never certain where the wheel would stop, I needed an indication of what I should be working on in order to keep progressing successfully. I just felt compelled to always “spin the wheel” because I was afraid of losing momentum. I just kept on going and did a bit of everything; unfocused and unsure, my aspirations were beginning to get blurry.

I became hesitant of what goals I had to accomplish and what aspects of my life I was supposed to be focusing on. I remember trying to write a blog post but kept trailing off topic because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I felt like an actor playing many roles at once; I became disordered and almost went on stage wearing the wrong costume.

Life was unclear because I was motivated by the fear of losing success, rather than the reasons for pursuing it. I firmly believe that fear is a response to the lack of control, and that’s exactly how I felt. That loss of control caused me to crash. It caused a lot of anxiety as one deadline loomed after another, and if I’m being completely honest, the thought of giving all this up crossed my mind.


Taking my own advice

When you find yourself stuck in a theme of uncertainty and insecurity, you find yourself in an identity crisis. You’re lost between two worlds, between you recurrent reality and the life of your aspirations. Comfort ZoneYou end up swaying between motivation and procrastination. You’re either sitting around procrastinating, waiting for motivation to come along, or your motivated to work just so you can feel better about procrastinating. Your mind faces an aggressive wrecking ball of doubt, as it breaks down the confident spirit you were once plugged into.

…I started to read through my own blog posts and it was like I was talking to myself. Evidently I was reading my own journal. My aspirations were communicating to me right there on the screen, but my conscious thoughts were not relating. For the very first time I started to question my own advice to the point of disbelief.

It was a very threatening thought process but it was that exact eye opener I needed. I’ve been blogging for some time now and these lessons that I had already learned and shared, lessons that led me to my current accomplishments in life, needed to be retested. The answer was right there in front of my own eyes.

I needed to prove myself, to myself. There was no way I could continue guiding others if I was struggling to guide myself. It was time to take my own advice and rebuild my spirit back to the level I had maintained for so long.

I turned to my aspirations and reminded myself of where I was aiming to be in the next few years. Almost instantly, I noticed how taking the time out to evaluate and reflect allowed me to focus on where I was going wrong.

I was entering a new chapter in my life and I had forgotten what it took to get me here. I needed to remind myself of my identity. I needed to reaffirm my aspirations and listen to that little voice inside my head. I needed to re-align my responsibilities with my dream. The list kept on building as I read through my blog, I realized how many cues I missed out on.

With the intention to uphold the lessons I had shared through this blog, I constructed a plan that resonated with this new chapter I started. As I plan to move to Los Angeles, CA in the next four years, everything I was trying to complete contributed towards this next major goal in my life.

So I flew out to L.A. and connected to my goal emotionally to face what I had almost turned away from.

Alone

I went alone to escape any zones of comfort I had nestled into. I rebooted my identity as I was forced to speak to people about myself and my aspirations. I connected to my environment and completed the goals I had set myself. I networked, I motivated people, and I helped a couple out in their relationship. Then others started to approach me for guidance and motivation. I knew there and then that I was on the right path, because I felt fulfilled doing it, I naturally felt like myself as I was in my element.

I worked and I had fun too, I even did things I felt I never had time for. Not only had I rebuilt my spirit, I raised it. I returned home having accomplished several goals that I had struggled to focus on and complete. More importantly, I returned home having strengthened my identity, with a rediscovered sense of self-assurance.


The Formula

Identity and DreamRemember success is a series of different levels, when you reach one level it doesn’t grant you access to the next. You need to re-establish yourself and familiarize yourself with the new platform from which you’re working from. Once you become aware, you will discover what you need to do to make it to that higher tier and avoid giving up. You declutter your mind and refocus your energy.

The best thing is that the formula for this is quite simple because your identity and your aspirations are forever interconnected, they can help each other out.

If you ever find yourself at a loss of identity, remind yourself of your aspirations and allow yourself to psychically connect with a small piece of it. Whether like me you book a short trip to somewhere you aspire to be, or something totally random. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s doable and that it connects directly to your aspirations.

On the other hand, if it’s your aspirations you’re struggling to remember, do something that makes you feel like yourself and connect with your identity. There’s nothing better to remind yourself of what you want from life, than to immerse yourself within your own identity.

Good luck on your ventures and never let fear lead you astray.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

How a Premonition Awoke Me to My Present

Premonition

Life is constructed on expectation and emotion, after all it’s what motivates us to act on our goals. So is the reliance/notion of premonition so ludicrous? After all, we do often turn to the prospects of our future to pull ourselves out of despair.

Recently I was caught off-guard by a wave of insecurity and uncertainty, it washed over me suddenly and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of desolation. I couldn’t avoid it, but I pulled myself out of it. To save myself from drowning I triggered some sort of ‘premonition’ to counteract my present uncertainty. What I saw allowed me to navigate my way back to shore, back to my identity. I knew that if I continued to float around surrounded by these emotions, I would drift further away from myself and my aspirations– I needed a reminder of who I was (the past) to rediscover what I wanted (the future).

Now I’m not talking about a supernatural power gifted by Gods. I’m referring to an ability that’s contained within all of us, a way we can construct an image of our future to save ourselves from the negative emotions that we suffer from today. We all have the opportunity to foresee our future, but we must first delve into the past.

Now imagine that I’m literally floating in a cold ocean of despair, the longer I bask in uncertainty the further I drift away from who I am and what I want from life. The longer I stay still the less I feel. I become more and more numb to the identity I worked so hard to build. I needed a reminder of who I am, quickly.

Our minds have the power to relive any emotion just by delving into our past. I can literally think of anything from my past and relive the emotions associated with a memory. For others there’s a trigger, a song perhaps, a picture or a smell even, we all have it.

These emotions dictate our future; we construct our future by wanting to feel more of, or in some cases less of  what we have felt and experienced in our past. This is how we trigger a “premonition” – we get in touch with our emotions. If we have the ability to feel and relive the past, then we should be able to feel and get a glimpse of our future.

The more you feel from your past the more you understand about your future. I remembered achievements, I remembered positive comments and words of encouragement, I remembered great times in my life that I wanted more of.

The more I remembered the more I re-constructed my future. I used these emotions to re-build the vision of a future I wanted – so clear that it felt like a premonition. Action was almost instantaneous as I awoke to my present, I knew there and then what I needed to do to make that future a certainty.

Turning to certain emotions in our past can highlight our aspirations, and it was by generating this premonition that alerted me to my current actions. One thing we must understand is that we cannot control the past nor the future, we can only manage them by taking control over our present.

Having re-envisioned what I wanted for my future, I was then faced with a choice in my present: to either sink or swim. I could either continue to remain still and sink into the sea of desolation, or swim my way back to my identity and manage the future I envisioned – no waiting around for rescue, no waiting for the current to change, just me and my own spirit with my future in sight.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach

Cheers to That Little Voice Inside My Head

unknown-913570_1920
Ever had that little voice inside your head whisper the truth about the things you really want, but have the perception of risk and expectation silence it? That voice that wants you to explore opportunities and encourage you to take action, is the voice that may just guide you to the life you really want. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense on paper nor to everyone around, but that little voice could very well be your potential talking.

I remember back when life never felt exciting, I would spend more times talking about the things I would change rather than changing them. I often found something to complain about and I’d let a lot of things irritate me.

I would literally have to schedule time to enjoy my life, for instance holidays and moments with friends and family. I remember thinking to myself, “happiness can’t be limited to small increments of time.” I felt like I was failing at life.

Initially I thought money was the answer so I worked harder and made more money. That didn’t work; I was still unfulfilled, I just had nicer things around me. I tried getting into a relationship, but I think companionship back then made it worse, because it placed me onto someone else’s idea of fulfillment because I hadn’t figured out my own. Each attempt at finding happiness and fulfillment through expectation and ideology, that little whisper  in my head became more frequent. The more I ignored it the more depressed I got, the more I listened to it the more fear I held on to.

That persistent nag kept insisting that there is something better for me to pursue, that there is something genuine out there for me to connect to. Small everyday frustrations would lead to huge outbursts of anger, quiet moments of contemplation would lead to distraction and procrastination. It became evident that I could no longer ignore that little voice inside my head, the one telling me the truth, because I was no longer feeling nor acting like myself. I was not happy with the life I had built.

When I first quit my “secure job” to move abroad everyone thought I was crazy and at some point even I thought I had lost my mind. I can’t even tell you how much I doubted myself when I had actually made the commitment to change my life. To make a better life for myself and face the truth I was battling was difficult, because overtime I learned to ignore it. When you get good at a indulging a certain behavior, undoing what you’ve learned is a vulnerable process. I’ve since learned to trust my own instincts and have become more confident as a result, because today I’m more open and honest about what I want.

Whatever risk, whatever doubt I had in my mind, listening to that little voice brought to light the stuff I was really unhappy with. Listening to what I really wanted from life has brought me more success and has made my life easy to live. Life feels full and I actually enjoy waking up in the morning, I’ve even been led to a career I’m passionate about, something I thought I’d never discover.

Every challenge I came across taught me more about myself than I have ever knew before, because I was forced to rely on truth. When I gave everything else up that’s all I had left. I built confidence and self-belief from the ground up I feel and I know why it’s a journey people must take alone. When you liken it to running a race, it’s the runner that has to jump over the hurdle, no one else.

I’m not suggesting that you need to make drastic choices, but allow yourself to be curious and discover possibilities. Don’t let your spirit give up just because you think there is no hope for something better. Try listening to that little whisper more often and you might be surprised by how much of your life your missing out on.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach