I like to think of myself as a patient person, most of the time.
Okay, maybe some of the time.
Or, maybe it depends on the situation. That's probably more like it.
I just read Gary Vanerchuk's piece on Medium, "Why 1 View is Everything". It was a big time reality check for me. We all start from zero, and we build gradually over time IF we are willing to put in the time and effort every single day. No one becomes an overnight success. That is, they don't if they want sustained success over a long period of time.
We have to be willing to pay our dues by working at it and by cultivating our craft. It can't just be lip service. That will never get it done. I keep being reassured by those who I consider my mentors to keep going and that you're never too old to get started.
And there are days when I think I'm working super hard and that I'm on the cusp of getting to where I want to be, but it's not sustained effort. I'm not working hard at it everyday. That's all on me. That's me not making this my priority.
Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of The Minimalists, talks about how a priority is the one thing that is at the top of the list. However, many of us talk about the "priorities" in our lives. As Joshua said, it's like having 10 priorities that are all at the top. That just isn't realistic or logical. We can only have one true priority.
If we're going to make a commitment to our priority, we need to answer the following questions as I have with writing my first book:
1. What is my priority?
My priority is writing my first book.
2. What is your number one goal with regard to your priority right now?
Self-publishing my first book of essays on living more intentionally.
3. What deadlines have you established for achieving this goal?
My rough draft is due to my editor in two weeks. A second draft and cover art will be finished by the end of August. The final draft and finished product will be published by October 20 (my 50th birthday).
4. How are you going to work toward achieving this goal each day?
I will spend 1-2 hours daily working on various aspects of the book...writing, putting together intentional reflections, editing on my own, formatting, marketing, and publicity.
5. At what time will this take place each day?
I will spend time on my book from 9-11 each morning. On days I cannot work on it in the morning (due to commitments for my day job), I will work from 7-9 in the evening.
While it's all well and good to have a plan in place, it all comes down to execution. We can map everything out, but if we don't actually do it then the plans weren't worth much. Once again, it comes down to having a compelling enough WHY, the reason to do what we say we're going to do.
In my example above for writing my first book, my "why" is that publishing this first book of essays is one way I feel I can add value to others' lives by getting them to think about how they can live more intentionally. Each essay I'm including is from my own life experiences and the intentional reflections after each one are questions I thought about as well.
Secondly, this book will also allow me and others who buy the book to help different causes. Whenever someone buys one of my books, they will have the option of having a portion donated to one of four causes that go from local to global in scope.
Finally, this book will be the first step in writing additional books (I already have the outline for my next book and a sketch for an all-encompassing journal) and lend more credibility to my consulting services. When others see something tangible in front of them, they get a better grasp on who I am and for what I stand.
A person really only needs one compelling reason, but all three of my reasons intertwine with one another. What it really comes down to though is just that for each of us, the WHY.
So, what are you waiting for? If you're going to get better, it starts now and continues every single day. Make a plan and then do it.
I had another, "Duh!" moment this morning.
As in, "Duh, why didn't I think of this sooner?"
I had just finished reading John Zeratsky's article, "Eight Health Habits You Can Use to Build Energy and Get More Done Every Day." (You can read the full article here.)
One of the habits he talked about was having a standing desk. I've read articles all over the place about how sitting is the new smoking. Sitting too much is a health hazard, and I agree. Most of the time I don't have to worry at all about sitting. As an elementary school counselor by day, I get a lot of exercise and not a lot of sit down time. It's the nature of the job.
However, now that summer break has arrived and I can spend a lot more time with cultivating Get To It, there is the danger of sitting too much. I do a tremendous amount of work on my computer. I'm participating in the Tribe Writers course with Jeff Goins, (check out his blog and podcast if you're into creating) and he suggests having a space where you work each day.
I have that space. It's my little blue desk and it's where I do all of my writing, editing, and creating for Get To It. Even though I have the space for my writing endeavors, I'm sitting down a lot. And then it hit me as I read Zeratsky's article.
I looked at the top of my desk and thought to myself, "Hmmm, that's about the right height for me to stand and type. I wonder if it will work." I closed the drop down desk door, put my laptop on top and started typing. Low and behold, it worked! (Picture proof above!)
Now, here's the rub. I've had this desk for eight months. I've read many articles about standing desks and the health benefits. And, yet, today was when the solution to sitting hit me front and center.
It hit me today, because today I was ready to see the answer. The answer has been here the entire time I've been working on my writing, but I was absorbed in what I was doing. I wasn't pondering the need for a stand up desk.
The answer comes when we're ready for it, and today I was ready.
I think that's a lot of what life is about. When we're ready the answer comes. Have you heard the saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears? Well, it's the same idea. I could berate myself for not thinking of this easy solution earlier, but what good would it do? I can't go back in time. I can only move forward.
The next time you have a "duh" moment, don't sweat it. Just know that when it happens, it's a sign that you were ready for it.
I've always been a bed maker first thing in the morning. Even as a kid, I always made my bed without being told to. It's something about the tidiness and sense of accomplishment that I like first thing in the morning. It makes the room more complete when the bed is made.
In fact, Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Admiral William H. McRaven shared in a 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin why making your bed everyday may be the best way to start off your day in this snippet of his speech:
It's the little things that count. We've heard it all before and we'll hear it again, but accomplishing small tasks each day can add up to big wins. I thought about my house when I got up this morning. It wasn't a disaster area, but it needed to be tidied.
The kitchen especially.
I took 10 minutes to clear the counter tops, put dishes in the dishwasher, and put items in the recycling bin. I went through the mail and tossed what we didn't need and gave Jack what belonged to him. After a week of sitting in the same spot, I finally took the scrapbook my dad and stepmom gave me down to the basement. When I came back upstairs to the kitchen, it was as if I was walking into a new room.
A few small tasks equalled a much tidier kitchen space.
And so it goes with so much in our lives. If we do the small things, eventually they will add up for us. However, we often quit before they become habits. I have no idea how or when making my bed became a habit, but it did. I don't even think about it anymore. It's simply something I do automatically everyday.
It goes back to the "why," our reason for doing something. If it's compelling enough, we will follow through with it. Although I didn't realize it at the time, my compelling reason was my desire for a win early in the day and a sense that I got something accomplished. As Admiral McRaven points out in the video, even if nothing else goes right in the day, at least the bed got made.
And sometimes that's all we need.
This is Dan. He's the lead singer for the British indie pop band Bastille. My husband Jack and I went to their concert. On a Tuesday. It was basically a two-hour dance party.
As a result of that concert, the following happened the rest of the week:
1. This is only my second blog post of the week. I usually write three or four.
2. I'm already behind in my Tribe Writers writing course by three days.
3. I went to the gym exactly zero times this week.
4. The laundry is out of control.
5. I did very little reading when I average 30-45 minutes a day.
6. I barely kept my head above water at school.
7. I'm behind on writing my newsletters.
8. I'm still tired.
I blame it all on Bastille!
If only it was that easy. As we all know though, it isn't, but how often do we lay down excuses and blame others for things that we need to own? Many times we like to blame people, things, or situations that are completely irrational. Like my lame attempt at blaming Bastille for my lack of productivity the rest of the week.
I know what happened in my case is that the week simply got away from me. I had a commitment almost everyday after school, and I didn't come up with alternatives. Since I knew I had places to go after school, I should have at least gone for a walk or hopped on the elliptical for 20-30 minutes in the morning. Instead of trying to do all the laundry in one evening, I should have done one load each night. I could have used my lunch time to do some writing or reading if I wasn't going to be able to do it later.
The key is making the adjustments instead of letting them stack up on us. There will always be things that pop up spontaneously, but we that doesn't mean we get to let everything slide. Instead, we need to take a step back and look at what we missed out on and then readjust for the rest of the week.
I'm a big proponent of having three MITs (Most Important Tasks) each day. If two don't get done, then they get bumped to the next day and only one more can be added. We need to write them down where we will see them to remind us.
The most important thing to remember is to not get overwhelmed. When things slide as they sometimes do, take a deep breath, jump back in, and know that everything will be okay.
Oh, and don't blame Bastille.
It probably seems counterproductive to drive 35 minutes one way to get groceries rather than 15 minutes to get them.
But it was so worth it.
Admittedly, I'm a Trader Joe's junkie, but the closest one to me is 35 minutes away. I told myself that it wasn't reasonable to add that much time to get groceries, a task that I'm not fond of anyway.
However, I hit the last straw with my closest grocery options, and so I decided to see what it would be like to make the longer trip.
It was amazing!
I saved $9.40 in like items. And, yes, you could certainly argue that I used more gas, which is absolutely true. I figured I used approximately two gallons at a total of $4.09, so I was still $5.31 ahead. Plus, it was an easier drive than I anticipated.
However, there were more takeaways than saving money.
One is I just flat out like the vibe there. No one is over the top cheery, like they are getting paid to be friendly to you. There are a lot of conversations happening all over the store between patrons and employees. It has an easy-going feel to it.
I also like that when I have a question about where an item is located that it isn't an imposition to either tell me or take me to it.
When I check out, the conversation isn't forced and they are observant. The girl today mentioned my shirt, because she liked that it says, "Take a hike." We discussed how it could be taken depending upon one's mood.
It feels genuinely authentic when I'm at Trader Joe's. I don't know what their business model is, but I like it.
I like it so much I'm willing to drive 35 minutes for it.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.