Progress vs. Perfection

Apparently the universe didn’t get the memo that I’m trying to get my life in order!  My intention was to do an update on my progress that I’ve made toward my goals for my 40th birthday but then Tuesday happened.  Tuesday was just not the best day.  I don’t even remember what all happened to make it a “bad” day but I was in a mood.  So instead of writing an update that would have just put a negative spin on any progress that had been made, I just took a step back at laid low.

I’m a person that’s comfortable with working through a process.  Unfortunately, there seem to be few people around that are comfortable with processes.  But, when you feel like things need to change majorly for not only your happiness, but your sanity/survival, the daily circumstances that surround you can often feel too daunting to overcome and you might feel like giving up.  The most important thing to remember is DON’T GIVE UP!!!  You can never give up on yourself or what you truly want out of your life.

So instead of giving up, I look at what I’ve been doing and reflect on what’s going well and what I can improve.  Acknowledging what has gone well is a far better motivator than casting a critical eye on everything and magnifying what we deem to be a failure.

With 24 days until my birthday, here’s where I stand:

Goal 1: Simplify-I’ve collected 3 boxes of stuff from our house to donate.  (There’ll be MANY more boxes to come!)  I found an old file box that I’ve had since I first started teaching that was SUPPOSED to be my filing system.  There were bank statements from banks that no longer exist and so many other things that were just completely unnecessary and I can’t even tell you the last time I looked in that box!  I consolidated it down to 2 file folders and the rest was shredded.  And to think that I have carried that box with me for 4 moves!

My goal today is to make sure that our living areas are free of extraneous things and to take the boxes to be donated.  We still have cabinets to go through and purge.  We have an entire extra bedroom that is currently serving as a storage room that needs to be purged, but that is a long term project and I’ll have to break that down into smaller pieces.  The more daunting challenge (and the most needed) is tackling my classroom.  I might have to recruit a team to take care of that!

Goal 2: Schedule-I’ve been consistent with my morning routines and making sure that I have everything ready the night before.  Bedtime for baby has been consistent but I need to move my time to work my business to the morning because my brain does not function after baby goes to bed which effects productivity, but it’s still has be an improvement.

Goal 3: Health- I’m pretty sure that I haven’t hit 120 oz of water a day but I’m consistently hitting the 60-90 oz  a day so that’s progress. Being consistent with my bedtime has certainly NOT been consistent, but I think moving my business time to the morning will help with that as well.

Goal 4: Mental Well-Being- I need to go back to my old school days of marking my activity on a calendar.  This is definitely something that I have to make visible to myself.  I’m going to put my jogger stroller in my car and pack workout clothes to go to the park after work and hit the trails with baby because that would do us both some good, but of course that means I have to leave work before it gets dark!

This week I will make a checklist of my Steps for Success so that I can make it visible to myself and hold myself accountable.  I SEE great things happening this week. 🙂

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So Long, 2014!!!

I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am glad to see 2014 go bye-bye!  Not to say that it didn’t have it’s high points.  After all, I did get married and got to enjoy many special moments with some of the most important people in my life.  My husband finished school and we are looking forward to him starting his career.  Many of my close friends gave birth to beautiful babies whom I get to rock, get my baby rocking fix, and return to their proud parents.  (I am a sucker for rocking babies!)  Every year has it’s ups and downs, which I try my best to appreciate both.   However, it seems that this has been a very challenging year for everyone!  Or am I imagining this?

It seems that all of our instant-gratification, social-media, “looks over substance” obsession may be getting the better of our society.  The victim mentality seems to be more commonplace than those heart warming stories where you hear of people overcoming extreme obstacles, and actually appreciating those obstacles.  After all, if you never face adversity, how else do you learn how strong you are?  I had once considered myself a very resilient person, but have lately felt like a big wimp, who is often brought to my knees by the seemingly never-ending obstacles.

You can locate a never ending list of articles stating the importance of expressing gratitude, focusing on the positive, etc.  After running for and visiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the last 5 years, I have often felt very guilty for even thinking that my challenges amounted to a hill of beans.  How quickly we can realign our perspective when we think about children staring cancer in the face on a daily basis, or parents watching their child fight through treatment, or worse, losing their battle.  We berate ourselves thinking how people facing cancer would “be glad to tolerate (insert daily inconvenience here)” so we should just get over it and “be happy.”  Expressing gratitude and appreciating the positives in life is essential but that does not mean the same as allowing ourselves to succumb to negative situations.

After losing two friends to breast cancer, in a little over a year, I feel we must revisit the thought of tolerating any and every circumstance we find ourselves.  I can’t help but feel that we would be cautioned to stop taking life for granted.  Life is too precious to continue in any situation that creates prolonged, unnecessary stress.  Does this mean shying away from every challenge in life?  Nope.  Does this mean just quitting every single time the going gets rough?  Not at all!  I am simply suggesting that while in those challenging circumstances, we step back and analyze the situation.  Notice I never said play the victim and complain endlessly about the situation.  Do your best to learn from the situation (because there is a lesson to be learned in EVERY situation), find a way to contribute to possible solutions, do your part to  maintain your dignity, and if the situation still only contributes more negative than positive, PLAN YOUR ESCAPE!  Some things may be escaped immediately, dead-end relationships, toxic friendships, etc., while other things may require more preparation.  You don’t want to ruin your future by skipping out on a job when you have bills to pay, insurance and retirement to consider, not to mention what that looks like to future employers if you decide to just cut and run.  Plus, it would do little to your self-esteem to bail on something you committed to!

Looking ahead to 2015, I am keeping in mind those things that have challenged me in 2014, and doing an inventory of what needs to be changed or eliminated so that I can make the most of my time here on Earth.  By not taking life for granted, I am honoring those whose time was cut short, and hopefully creating a better me, who is there for all of those important people in my life.

Taking the Fear Out of Change

 

Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!