You drag yourself out of bed in the morning to get ready for work. You dodge in and out of traffic as if you're playing Frogger on your way to work. You slog your way through the day, Frogger your way back home, and plop down on the couch because you're too tired to do anything else. Late into the evening you drag yourself to bed, set your alarm and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow.
That's called a life of surviving not a life of living.
You decide you want to make changes, you go at them with gusto, and then you crash and burn.
More than likely you took on way too much at once.
I know this all too well...because I've done it and I'm here to tell you, friend, that crashing and burning is not pretty. I imagine you're shaking your head in agreement because you have been there too.
As I have gotten older, I feel like I'm doing a better job of learning from my mistakes rather than being doomed to repeat them over and over. The best lesson I've learned is the power of ONE, as in ONE new challenge ONLY.
Depending on what season of life I happen to be in, I look at my categories of relationships, health and wellness, and career to determine where I'm in dire need of a shift.
Sometimes it's challenging because I feel like all three areas need an overhaul, but if I attempt to tackle all three areas at once then I fail at all three. Crash and burn, need I say more?
To eliminate crashing and burning, these are the steps I take to have a better success rate.
#1: Pros and Cons
It sounds easy enough but we don't often sit down and really sort through the pros and cons. We get excited and think an area of our lives is deficient, but then we realize it's something that has happened recently that has put us in a panic rather than taking a step back to see the entire picture.
To combat panic mode, make a pros and cons list. Write down all that is going well in an area and then all that is maybe not so great. Do that for each of the areas in your life that you are categorizing.
Like I said earlier, I have three general areas: relationships, health and wellness, and career. However, I break each area down into their subcategories. For examples, under relationships the three subcategories are family, friends, and colleagues. Under health and wellness I have spiritual, mental, and physical. Under career I have primary (9-5 job) and secondary (writing side hustle).
Is doing this time consuming? It absolutely is the first time through, but once you've completed the pros and cons once then you tweak the list the next time you find yourself in a rough spot.
Once you have completed a pros and cons list for each of your sub categories, look to see which one has the most cons. Usually there will be one that pops out at your overwhelmingly even though you initially thought it was three or four.
That area becomes your priority.
I do have two areas that popped out, both in the category of health and wellness in the sub category of physical. My husband and I have agreed that since we have downsized to an apartment and are currently adjusting to my new work schedule that we haven't been exercising or eating as well as we could be.
Both are very important in our physical health but after completing the pros and cons list and taking a step back, exercise came out on top.
#3: Determine a plan of action and then execute.
After determining exercise was our plan of action, we came up with a plan for improving our physical health in this area. We are going to walk 30 minutes daily and I am going to add lifting weights back in 2-3 days a week.
Our walks will take place as soon as I get home from work on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. We will walk before I go to work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then our flex days will be Sundays and Mondays since we are both off on those days.
As for weights, I will do them on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
Although I am just putting the plan into place this week, the keys will be execution (obviously) and reflection (maybe not so obvious).
I'm a big believer in reflecting on what I am doing. It gives me a chance to determine what is going well and how I can improve on a plan of action I'm currently engaged in. I don't change my goal if it isn't going well. I simply change my plan of action or tweak it to give myself a higher chance of being successful.
What happens when I achieve my current goal? Only when I have successfully made one goal a habit will I move on to a new one.
And then the process begins once more.
As it should.
I’m quite often a thinker.
I ponder doing amazing things and then I find myself going down a rabbit hole thinking about all the possibilities and outcomes. I come up with ideas and make a plan but I don’t always hit the action button.
I’m really good at giving advice, but I need to do a better job of following my own.
Stop getting in the way of living your lifemedium.com
How often have you thought about doing something but didn’t act on it?
I think it happens to us more than we want to admit. We get paralyzed with thinking so much that we forget about the doing. I mean, it’s scary putting ourselves out there, because we might fail.
For two years I had several stops and starts with independently publishing my first book. I made one excuse after another that seemed pretty legit at the time, but when it came right down to it there was one reason that held me back: Fear.
I feared failing with it. What if it didn’t resonate with anyone? What if no one bought it? What if it was completely awful?
Many times in our lives, we have those ‘aha’ moments. We can recall the exact moment we finally decide to put thought into action.
I wish I could tell you I had that kind of a moment, but I didn’t. One day I just finally started completing the revisions and putting my book into the format it needed to be in for publishing. When I had gone through the manuscript three times (after an editor had also been through it twice), I hit the submit button for publishing.
And while it was scary, it was also exhilarating. I finally stopped thinking about what it would be like to be a published writer of a book, and now I am one.
I think that’s the way it is a lot when it comes to putting thought into action. There isn’t an ‘aha’ moment. It’s more like one day you just decide to do something, and you do it. You just finally tell yourself it’s “go time” and you go.
Think right now about what might be holding you back. What is something you’ve been thinking about doing but haven’t put into action?
While I could give you a step-by-step checklist on action steps, quite honestly, sometimes it’s bullshit. Sometimes you just have to step on the pedal, ride, and see where you end up.
That’s what I finally decided to do with my book. I sat down and did the work of revising and publishing it. Now I’m doing the work of marketing it. While I have no idea where I’m going to ultimately end up at the end of this particular ride, I’m no longer paralyzed by inaction.
My wish for you is to take that leap of courage and not look back. You’ll be satisfied you did, because you will no longer think about the ‘what ifs.’ You will finally know.
And it will be a thrilling ride one way or another.
**Submitted for publication to The Startup on 6/3/19.
Do you want to be safe and good, or do you want to take a chance and be great? --Jimmy Johnson
I've always been more of a safe and be good kind of person. As much as I like to say I'm not, I think I have taken fewer risks in the name of security.
Almost five and a half years ago, I started this website and decided to try my hand at life coaching as a side hustle to my full-time job in education. Although I had some wonderful clients, I wasn't building it as well as I had hoped and I let it go a couple of years ago.
I always wanted to write a book and so I worked on revising and editing essays I wrote for various online publications. It took me two years to put together my book because I continually started and stopped.
I finally got serious when (with the complete support and encouragement of my awesome husband) I walked away from education in December 2018. It was time for me to pursue this writing bug once and for all.
I finished and indie published my book on May 1. You can buy it HERE. I'm writing more consistently and submitting pieces to more online publications. Today, one of my pieces was accepted into The Startup (an online publication of 455,000+ followers). You can read it HERE.
While I'm not writing full-time, I am giving myself more opportunities to be both accepted and rejected.
I'm giving myself a chance to be great!
While I'm the type of person who sometimes is motivated by the carrot dangling in front of me, it is fleeting. It comes and goes. When I get the carrot, there is the momentary rush of accomplishment and then the letdown. I sit here and wonder if that is all there is or ask myself, "What's next?"
I have felt it each time I have prepared for and run a half-marathon. I train and then run it. When I finish, there is that moment of elation. That sense of accomplishment. And then I feel a little lost.
Anyone else out there feel that way?
If so, it's because we are motivated by something extrinsically. Although I was excited about being in great shape to run a half-marathon, the real rush for me came from the medal at the end and the attention of friends and family for completing it.
This probably explains why after running seven half-marathons, I suddenly stopped running. The rush of the accomplishment was no longer new and shiny. The extrinsic motivation had worn off and I was left with a shallow and empty feeling.
Who wants to feel that way?
I certainly didn't and so I stopped running. For three years.
And now I have started again, but this time my perspective has shifted. I'm looking within for motivation rather than the extrinsic rewards.
I'm doing it for me now. I'm doing it for my health. I want to feel better on the inside, because I know it will do so much for my physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Srini Rao, Unmistakeable Creative Podcast Host and author says, "On the other hand, if the work feels like a privilege, it's a lot easier to show up day after day."
I feel privileged that at 51-years-old I have overall solid health, but I know I can do better for myself. I haven't always looked at it that way, but I am now and it feels a lot better. It makes training easier, and I want to work out rather than telling myself I have to work out.
It's all in the perspective. When we remove the outside factors and look solely within, we find more motivation. In the big picture, that's what counts.
Wowza! The last three weeks have been an incredible whirlwind with the launch of my book, which explains why I've been MIA on my blog lately.
I'm so excited that Slices of Life from the Little Blue Desk has finally made its appearance into the world. And, I've made it easy for you to order your own copy. Just click on the title. ;)
The last three weeks have been filled with edits and revisions, finalizing the format, and putting the marketing plan into action.
On top of all that, I started a new job!
And I started training for another half-marathon after a three year layoff.
Needless to say, I'm juggling quite a bit but I'm equally excited to get back to writing here more consistently.
So, I'm hoping you'll forgive me. :)
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.