How it’s Going: End Week 2

This new year I have been trying something different. I made resolutions that would feel my heart more so than my ego and committed to living those resolutions a little everyday rather than pushing hard for two months and giving up.

  • To keep a daily journal where I will write and doodle in it everyday.
  • Add one post a week to my new blog. 
  • Add one finished digital art every week.
  • Read at least a little bit of fiction everyday.

It looks like I am off to a rough start but I feel amazing about what I have done, not so bummed about what I haven’t done; Which is different from every year before this one. 

We are taught to highlight our shortcomings and told it is to help us improve. Having my flaws shoved in my face everyday made it impossible for me to feel like anything but a failure everyday of my life. I have never been able to find the words for this nagging feeling I’ve always had, but there is it and so simple it looks now. Through everything that I have accomplished, I’ve always felt like a failure. 

Writing really does help me be honest with myself and find clarity in what I need. This is not a failure. We will call it a half win, and that is all it took for me to feel confident in my abilities and comfortable in my skin. Is this why people have hobbies!? 

It is so satisfying to be working towards something just because I want to. Do you know what keeps me motivated to reach long term goals? Results! Seeing that what I am doing is working makes me want to do it more. Writing, even for this short time, is definitely feeding my heart. I feel more like I belong to this world and like this life is being built for me.

And that is how it’s going so far. I feel like a million bucks, in just two weeks of showing up for myself. I should probably reflect on how I could meet the two others goals but, seeing as I am high on myself right now we will save that for next week!

Let me know how it’s going for you!

Commit to a Plan

Hopefully last week’s post got you thinking of more personal goals that will feed your heart. This week we will explore how to turn those goals into a plan.

Step 1 – Sacrifice

Before we begin to make a plan we need to be honest about how much work we will be willing and able to commit. If you have fitness goals that will require you to never have another cookie again, you are likely to fail or succeed and be miserable. Remember, we are working on goals that feed our hearts and make us happy. I am not saying don’t be ambitious. I am saying work on goals that bring you closer to what you need.

Look over your goal, and write down some things that you will need to give up to achieve them. If you have to put in the time, decide where that time will come from, sleep, leisure, work, etc. If you have to put in mental effort, decide how you are going to psych yourself up, watch a rocky movie, make a playlist and sing along as loud as you can etc. 

It is a great thing to know what you are working towards, but in a journey like this you will not be able to carry everything into this new life we are building. Some of these things you will be glad to leave behind, just be prepared for the things that will be hard to let go.

Step 2 – A new day

You know where you are going and what you are leaving behind. But everything in the middle is not clear. To pursue your goals you will need to live everyday differently. 

“You are what you do everyday not what you plan to do on the weekend”

Right now we only leave two days a week (if that) to fit in anything we want to do. And it is not enough. I make it to the weekend and I am so exhausted from the week that I still can’t fit in anything for me. Yet, somehow I manage to muster up enough effort to show up for friends and family when they need it. Now it’s time to show up for yourself. 

Start with everyday. Why do you think you are able to get up and go to work 5 days a week and hate it? Because you were trained that way. 5 days a week since kindergarten or before, we were all trained to follow a routine, so I know you can do it. It does not have to be a lot. “Learn to rest, not to quit” is awesome advice but for me, I sit down for a second, my momentum is gone and it takes weeks to get back up. A body at rest and all. Better advice is to pace yourself.

Create a routine you can do everyday. The whole point of this is to live the dream… everyday. So you have to do it everyday.

Step 3 – Small wins

What is the best part of any new journey? The results! When you lose that weight or finish that book or buy that house, it is going to be the best feeling of your life. You know what else? You don’t have to wait until the end to get results. You can see change immediately. 

The first time you say no to fast food and mean it, the first day you sit down to write and inspiration strikes, or the first time you put money in your savings and don’t spend it. Imagine that! And imagine, some people let these moments pass them by without so much as a pat on the back. How sad…

That will not be you. I want you to map out smaller targets on the way to your main goal and how you are going to celebrate when you hit those targets. 

Assuming progress is linear (it’s not but who got time for math) you can set targets at specific points in your timeline. If you want to be at 50 push ups in a year at 0 now. You need to be at 25 in 6months, 13 in 3 months, 4 in one month. That is adding one push up every week. If 10000 hours makes an expert that’s about 3 hours a day for 10 years. And if you want to rate your overall life happiness at 9 out of 10 by the end of the year, can you add 1 out of 10 every month? Try a mood tracker to help you track if what you are doing is working for you. I use Remente: Self Care, Wellbeing is a free app with in-app purchases that will help you track your happiness.

Can you spend 2 hours a day not getting better but doing things you enjoy, feeding your heart? How happy would you be in a year? Is being a little happier worth it?  Even if you know you cannot be who you want to be, because the world (gestures to everything) join a drama club where for two hours twice a week you can. No money? Start a free drama club. Don’t know how? Neither do I and I’m doing it. If you allow others to be beginners the world might become more accepting. Where do you want to be in 3 months?

The most important part of tracking your progress is to know when to celebrate. Romanticize this new life. Take yourself to dinner, get cute, or not, whatever makes you enjoy this life the most. Put as much thought into this as you did with your goals and making this plan. Recognizing your small wins and planning small celebrations for yourself will motivate you to keep going. The journey is just as important as the destination.

Step 4 – Contingency plan

We have planned for wins but what happens when we don’t quite make our targets?As I mentioned, progress is not linear so be kind to yourself. The most important thing is that you keep going. Even if you think this isn’t helping, you can change course and still keep moving. The long road is better than staying where you are. Left is better than backwards. 

Are you checking your boxes (at this point just to do)? Where are you failing and excelling? It may seem counterintuitive but it may help to adjust the parts of your plan that are going well. If you are reading every morning without fail but not managing to try a new recipe like you planned, it could be the timing. Is it that writing is easier or more enjoyable to cooking or is it that the mornings are a better time for you? You can always go back to your original routine.

If your plan turned out to not be perfect (most likely not, first time and all) you can adjust. Whenever I think I am making a mistake and lose motivation, I remember I can always begin again. That is the key to how I live my life. You can always begin again. 

Step 5 – Believe

Look back at your plan.

  1. Sacrifice – Picture you achieving your goals and think of everything you left behind. Are you happy?
  2. A new day – Imagine a day in the life of the new you. Start living it everyday. 
  3. Small wins – Make a timeline to stay on track and celebrate every win.
  4. Contingency plan – Embrace that you are not perfect and keep going anyway.

Look at everything you want and the plan you made to get there. Do you believe it? It may be the hardest thing in the world to stay motivated to stick to your plan if you don’t believe it will get you where you’re going. You can have it all, if you believe in your plan.

Next week I will share with you how it’s been trying to follow my own advice for the first 2 weeks of the New Year!

Episode 1 – Make it Yours

Episode 1 – Make Your Goals Yours

Too much of my life is being driven by other people’s choices; My job, my parents (when do you become too old for your parents to tell you what to do?), and general societal pressures to dress appropriately for every occasion and clean the bathroom before you have company. I look around and there is not enough of me in my life. I used to want things, just for me and not because I felt like I was supposed to want it. This is a great time of year to commit to change. But this year, I don’t want to recreate myself to fit this life, I want to recreate this life to fit me.

The first step to make this life more ours is to reflect on the past year. Each year we make the same superficial resolutions only to abandon them three months later. Why? We all know the “standard” reasons. The key is to prioritize consistency over intensity, plan for setbacks, and always get back on track after a set back. As a project manager with a type A personality, I always make a plan with the binders and the charts and the contingency plans. Still I cannot for the life of me keep my New Year’s resolutions. So again, why?

To create a life that fits me, I can’t just set a resolution and go through the motions. I have to be intentional and personal. There are two parts of a resolution, the goal and the process. If my process is solid it must be the resolutions themselves that just don’t resonate with me.

I remember one year, I decided that if I were a nicer person I could get more opportunities at work and a raise. I took all the shifts no one else wanted. I drove miles out of my way to keep coworkers from having to take the bus in the rain. I connected with so many clients we were exchanging birthday gifts. I even got a small raise. This may sound like an achievement, but it didn’t feel like it. I could not keep it up. I was exhausted everyday. Not even the pay increase could make it worth it to me.

Reasons my goals didn’t work:

1. I never actually believed I could achieve my goals. We all know dedicating your life to work only gives a tiny increased chance of your boss recognizing that dedication and an even smaller chance they will actually give you more money in appreciation, earned or not. To be fit is also defined by other people. There are so many fat bodies that are healthy and strong that the world still sees as fat only. There was no way I was ever going to check these things off my list without acceptance from strangers. I was not the one in control.

2. My resolutions weren’t based on what I wanted. How crazy right? But I think a lot of people do this. How to be a nicer person? I don’t want to be nicer, I want to be around people who don’t give me a reason to be mean. How to establish better boundaries would have been more for me. How to be more interesting? I am interesting without having to pretend to be into a bunch of things I don’t like. How to not be shy about my interests might work better for me.

What did I learn?

Working towards goals that are out of your control will only leave you exhausted, especially if the reward is not something you ever really wanted. There are a lot of resolutions you could make that could “improve” your. But those resolutions may not be the ones that will make you happy. 

Now that I know what was not working, I can set a different intention for this year. I already know I want to create a life around me. I have things I like to do, not for money, or success, or appearances; Just for me. I used to love drawing until I was told it was a worthless hobby and I used to read so much until I didn’t have the time. And within the last few years I’ve been getting into the idea of writing. 

I am going to take these interests, give them structure, and build them into my life. My goals are:

  1. To keep a daily journal where I will write and doodle in it everyday.
  2. Add one post a week to my new blog.
  3. Add one finished digital art every week.
  4. Read at least a little bit of fiction everyday.

The reason I decided to pursue my goals in the form of a blog is because deadlines make me more motivated and having somewhere to” turn in” my work will force me to submit it whether or not I think it’s good enough.

Your Turn

If you are anything like me, it’s time for you to do something that’s just for you. Make more resolutions that don’t care about being productive, or making money, or even getting better at something. Just do, and do it poorly if you have to. I want all of you to do one thing for yourselves.

  1. Find your goals
    1. Are you in control of the outcome?
    2. Will the result make you happy? Really?
  2. If not, find better goals

If you really want to change yourself, you can. It will be difficult and take a lifetime of making the hard choice over and over, but if you really want it, you can. The question is… do you really want it? I actually really like me, I’m frikin’ awesome! I think you are too, you just need more space to be you.

What’s next?

Come back next week for my “Commit to a Plan” post which is next in the series and will help you build a plan that works for you.

Hopefully you enjoyed my first post! Leave a comment with your thoughts below.