Direction

Compass, wood, direction, path

There are times when I feel a bit lost in the pursuit of growth. The more podcasts, articles and books I consume, the more ideas I am given.

Note that I did not say, “the more ideas I have.” There is a difference.

There are times when the waters that seemed so clear become muddied.

Seeking inspiration, knowledge or education is not in any way a bad thing, but without a solid foundation you can lose your voice when you’re relying too heavily on external direction. By listening to every message, trying to apply what works for each person that inspires you, and following the path that this woman took or that man followed can lead you to a junction at the intersection of lost and confused.

To help mitigate the noise, I have been journaling more lately; sometimes I write around a certain topic or idea, and sometimes it is more a capture of a stream of thoughts. One of the more clarifying topics I’ve been focusing on is who I want to be in five years, when I turn 40. Envisioning that woman – who she is, what she values – holds power and importance to me. It has helped to identify the goals I want to pursue and how I want to pursue them.

A step in the journaling process that has helped me define the woman that I am becoming is in defining my core values.

In order to know what you want to chase, you have to know what is important to you; you have to have a good handle on what you value.

You might think, “Well, that’s easy, I know what’s important to me.”

But do you, really?

If you don’t know your values, you are more apt to vacillate between options, to become torn between decisions. You’re more apt to make decisions that don’t align with the direction of your growth.

For example: You’re invited to go out Saturday night with a group of friends. You know that you want to get up early and have a productive Sunday. The arranged time to meet is later than you’d like. You know the invitation comes from a good place, and you’d actually like to get together with the group.

If you don’t have your personal principles in place, you’re more likely to fold.

And then, when Sunday morning rolls around, you sleep in. You crawl out of bed with a headache. You got in much later than you would have liked to, you had one or two more drinks than you would have normally, and as a result you have zero ambition.

Worse yet, the guilt creeps in. You start beating yourself up for being weak, having no resolve, not being as productive as you could have been. The inner critic starts chirping.

Having solid values established allows you to gauge your response to any situation to align with what you ultimately believe is most important. Making time for your friends can be important; building community and connection could be a core value you honor. Does it, however, come before a promise or commitment you have made to yourself? That depends on your hierarchy of values.

For instance, in the example above, weighing your decision against your core values would have better aligned your response to the invitation. If your higher core value is connection, community and friendship, you wouldn’t necessarily have felt so guilty the next morning. Or, you might have recognized that, while there is importance in those values, committing to yourself is of utmost importance; you might have suggested an alternate time or plan. You might have agreed to go out, but not been swayed from leaving early or having only one drink. Or, you might simply have said no.

I have a friend who does this admiringly well; she communicates her values, and those closest to her respect this. Those that don’t she has had to learn to give less energy to; ultimately, they don’t have her best interests at heart.

Creating core values creates a hierarchy of decision-making and refining tools, and depending on what your core values are, every decision you make is either working towards or against who you want to be. Basing your decision-making process on your core values allows you to create goals that resonate with who you are.

Defining your core values can be more complicated than it may seem on the surface; they may be buried under years of conditioning, of upholding the values of others, of trying to meet certain standards or fitting into a certain mold.

Distinctly defining your core values can help you focus, cut through the noise, and ultimately choose the voices that definitively align with helping you grow and be successful in your pursuits.

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Right

We like to be right. Our rigidity in our perspective varies from person to person, but we’re all attached to it in some way or another.

I used to fiercely believe in the fact that I was not a morning person. I very much believed that I needed to hit snooze five times. Or more. I also believed that I needed coffee before I could speak to anyone; I have witnesses that can attest to this. I couldn’t possibly even entertain the idea of productive work in the earlier hours, much less physical exertion.

I didn’t believe that I could be a morning person. I believed very strongly that I could not.

And, I was right.

There are parts of ourselves that we know we can improve upon, but most of us ignore them, or chalk them up to “who we are”. Status quo doesn’t require any work, of course.

As my interest in self-development has progressed and I have explored a bit further, I have had to take inventory of my habits and my patterns.

Somewhere along the way, a shift began. This has not been an instantaneous change, and I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment it started; it has been an increase in awareness that has developed over time and is still developing.

At first, I tried – and failed – to change everything at once. What you inherently identify with, characteristics that you have owned for months and years, are not easily challenged.

Less than a year ago, if you had told me that I would be the type of person who was getting up and getting a work out in (a barbell workout, no less) BEFORE 6am, BEFORE having a sip of coffee, I would have laughed. Hard. I also never believed that I could find the time to get two or three workouts in a week, so I didn’t even try.

However, for the last three months of this year, I am focusing solely on my health and wellness. I joined a gym that offers a range of classes, a few being 5am classes; that means I have to be out of bed at 4:20am to make class. And I have done so multiple times. I’m committed to showing up, and it’s becoming a habit.

Here’s what changed: I believe I can. I believe strongly that I can. I broke down the self-imposed limitation that I built up about myself.

And, I am right.

This is not about fitness or motivation to exercise or even about getting up in the morning.

This is about what we identify with, and how we create our reality. It’s about being right, but also about aligning ourselves with the things we want to be right about.

For years, I was a smoker. Until I wasn’t. For years, I believed that I couldn’t get through a social evening or event without drinking alcohol. Until I could.

If you identify with those things, you are right. If you don’t, you are also right.

I’m a blogger; even after I started this blog I didn’t identify with that title, however after week upon week of commitment that is now habit, I do. It doesn’t matter what stage I am in, whether I have an audience or not. I believe I am a blogger and therefore I do things that bloggers identify with doing.

And, I am right.

Other people don’t get a say in what we are or aren’t, what we do or don’t do. They don’t get to play that role in your life unless you allow it, unless you accept that they are right.

I’ve written about the stories that we tell ourselves; that we are this, we are that, we do or don’t do this because of that and the other thing. We believe we are inherently right in our beliefs. We have become attached to them; they were given to us years ago, they were never our beliefs to begin with, but we took them on because someone whom we viewed as admirable, more influential, more intelligent, more authoritative than we were at the time passed them along and asked us to pack them up and carry them. We believe that they have become pieces of who we are.

belinda-fewings-977695-unsplash

The problem with many of the beliefs we have picked up along the way is that they are not beneficial to us. They are not positive, productive, aspirational, or particularly enjoyable.

Who we inherently believe we are, the identifiers we use to define ourselves, is built upon years and years of habit, of thinking in ways that support those beliefs. They have become ours, we have groomed them, we value them, and we identify with them.

You can continue to allow these beliefs to hold value. You can believe that they are what make you who you are.

Or, you can believe that you can be something else, and you can practice at that until it becomes a habit, until it becomes inherent.

Either way, you’re right.

 

 

 

Choosing

We often feel at odds with where we are in life because it’s not where we want to be. It’s not what we envisioned, it’s not what we planned, we’re stuck doing something that we don’t want to do when we want to be doing something else.

We might feel that way, and yet, we don’t do anything about it.

Somewhere along the line, we made a choice; several, in fact. We chose the easier path, where we were met with less challenge, less resistance, less fear. It might not have been a stepping stone to what we wanted, but it was less work to get there. We can think of a number of points to justify it, but we’re here just the same.

woman, cornfield, choice, paths, choosing, direction

 

You might instantly react to that. You didn’t make this choice. You’ll accept any challenge, and you’re certainly not afraid. You’re here because of some outside influence, some reason existed or force was applied. Someone else made the choice for you, circumstances arose, you didn’t have the right status, you experienced love, you experienced loss. Other things were to blame.

Or, perhaps you didn’t know where you wanted to be, and were simply on cruise control. Maybe, thinking five, ten, or twenty years down the road, you see only vague shadows.

That’s a choice too. It’s a strategy you’ll succeed at for sure; you’ll successfully end up exactly where you are at, with a few year less to lose.

Clearly defining who and where you want to be often feels wistful; fear and the inner critic step in at this point and have a good laugh. Self-doubt knows you can’t be serious. Confidence has run off at the first sign of doubt, and is curled up with its blanket, hiding somewhere.

Soon enough, you’re so busy wrapped up with these characters that you’ve lost sight of what you envisioned.

You’ve chosen to let them cast a vote in your story.

You have to choose to stop chasing what you saw before fear, the inner critic, self-doubt and lack of confidence showed up. You have to decide to chase it knowing that they’re there; they’re the companions of anyone with any sort of meaningful goals.

You have to be judicious with the energy and attention you give them. Acknowledge them, tip your hat and continue to move along towards what you want.

Continue to define that version of yourself and choose to move towards it. Over time, you might define multiple versions before you decide which you want to pursue.

That’s a choice you have, too. But, first you have to make the choice to try.

Narrowing the Focus

hallway, blurry, tunnel, vision

When I first heard the term “vision board”, I definitely did not have an instant connection with the term; bear with me if you – like I once was – are a bit of a cynic when it comes to these sorts of things.

The term vision board feels uncomfortable to use, but I’m ignoring that part of me that still identifies with cynicism and pushing forward with this post because as uncomfortable as I am, I know there is value in this tool.

What we focus on expands.

There’s plenty of research to prove it, just ask Google.

I’ve just recently completed my second vision board, which is focused on what I will be working toward for the last ninety days of 2018. It holds visual cues that speak to me. This board is my action plan. It emphasizes those areas of my goals that I want to keep in highest priority right now, and every time I look at it, I’m reminded of these goals. Each time I am distracted by outliers and peripheral topics that could pull my attention away, I can reflect on this board. Each morning, I will see this board and have these things in my consciousness.

I feel it’s important to note that neither of the times that I have built out a vision board were solo endeavors. The first was an informal gathering with close friends. This most recent was, while still relaxed, led by a life coach among a mixed group of women that I knew well, as well as women I knew peripherally. The event left me drained in all the best ways possible; doing this sort of work with a group of like-minded women leads to inspiration and self-discovery that can’t be replicated in an individual setting. While I did a bit of work on the front-end of attending, there was also work that happened in the space with those women that grew from sharing and connection.

My first board was a bit haphazard in its organization; because I am narrowing my focus specifically for this board, I laid out the images here a bit more intentionally:

  • Space for things that make me feel calm, slow me down, and make me appreciate my environments more like textures, art, cut flowers and citrus scents. Activities that enhance my daily life such as yoga, expressing myself creatively, reading, and getting a massage.
  • Gratitude and presence, and defining my goals with early morning journaling.
  • Travel.
  • Growing in my expression and passion for yoga, where I find both self-care and stillness of mind. And finally achieving the headstand I have been chasing.
  • My marriage and my relationship with my children. An exceptional marriage is an attainable goal, it is the foundation of the family pulse, and I want to create habits around quality time and communication.
  • My writing. I want to continue to inspire women, so I have added quotes and images that instill inspiration in me to do just that.

vision board, goals, progress, focus

To cover off a bit on the logistics, for those of you who might be interested in pursuing the creation of a board of your own, I picked out a linen push pin board for my project (shout out to HomeGoods), but you could use anything from poster board and glue to a cork board and pins to a wall and some tape. Photos and quotes can be found nearly anywhere, however my favorite way to develop my thoughts are to use photos. Photo stock holds its structure, and it is more aesthetically pleasing to me. I use Pinterest, Google Images and Unsplash to search out quotes or images; I simply screenshot them, upload the images to Walmart’s Photo Center and have prints within an hour. You can add any sort of embellishment or paper to dress up your board. It’s yours – make it speak to you.

Our goals and our dreams are not concrete, finite things. They can simply be ideas that we are drawn to, that speak to us louder than most. They are seeds. We choose which to water, not knowing necessarily what they might grow into, only knowing that there is something there.

You can have one or multiple boards. You could build a work board, a home project board, a goals board, a family board, a happiness board. This specific board, for me, signifies checking off the last couple of boxes for 2018, while simultaneously building for 2019. To use an analogy I heard recently, I want to start on the 20th Floor on January 1st, not in the basement. I want to come into next year knowing where my focus is, creating energy around the things I am working towards, and having habits established that support bigger and braver action.

PS If you’re local and interested in either attending or pulling together your own vision board workshop with some friends or colleagues but need someone to guide you through, True Edge Coaching can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Through

Less than two years ago, I had no goals. There was not one thing I was working towards for myself.

Reading this, there are definitely those of you who are thinking, “How could she not have a single goal?”

However, I know that there are those of you who are also thinking, “Goals? How about just getting through today? That’s my goal.”

That was once my goal too. So maybe I had a few, but they weren’t the type I’m talking about now.

It’s only in hindsight that I realize how important it is to have defined personal objectives. It was a revelation for me, as someone who had unconsciously resigned herself to being the champion of her family’s goals, that as a mother I could chase things other than my career, my marriage and motherhood.

Not that these are unworthy goals. In fact, two of my biggest goals now center around being the best partner I can be in my marriage and being the best mother I can be to my children.

That’s how growth works. It works in all of the places. It affects who you are and the vision of who you want to become. Goals help us define our self-worth and value. They force us to grow. They give us something to work towards. In the absence of growth, life rolls over us like a wave, and we become more like a boulder in the tide, being worn down by the currents.

Goals can be challenging to define. You have to go where your joy takes you; it can take you a number of places before you figure out where you gain the highest sense of fulfillment. There’s a period of discovery involved. Sometimes, you have to throw a number of things at the wall before one or two stick, and curate your way through this process. You’ll likely have to ask for help, and build a community of support.

Growth is challenging. Growth is hard. Growth makes us question our beliefs and our values.

But, we can do hard things.

So many of us choose the comfort of discomfort because we know it, rather than working towards something better, because it is unknown.

And then, when we figure out what might be missing in our lives, this desire to reach for something more despite the fear of the unknown, we’re met with the likes of the inner critic and self-sabotage; fears, worries and doubts crowd in on us, making us question our drive, our determination to step out of our safety zone. We can get stuck.

Having goals is almost more terrifying than not. Because we could fail. We will have setbacks. We might embarrass ourselves. We could be the only beginners in a field of experts.

I have days where I falter; days where I don’t believe in myself, where I question why I’m still pursuing this blog, when there are thousands of better writers out there than me. There are days where I fall back into old patterns, and let the negative inner voices echo around my mind.

But, I also have days where I am successful, where I can see just how far I have come since I began, since I made a choice to start, as imperfect as it was. Days where my words impact someone enough that they feel compelled to reach out and share that with me, which fuels me more than I can say.

And, on the days where I have those setbacks, it’s that much easier to get back to even. My mindset shifts are becoming habit, and the muscle memory is becoming stronger.

This is a journey. There is no quick fix or cure-all. There is no over or under, no around. No short cut. There is only one way, if you want to get somewhere different than here, and it’s through.

Direction, Road Sign, Traveling, Driving, Road, Mountain

 

 

Harnessing

There is a special energy that arrives in September.

The kids are back in school, routine is re-established, and there is a seasonal shift in the air that marks a season of change.

I started to think about tackling several goals I haven’t gotten around to in my Year Compass, but that was making me feel a bit overwhelmed. So, I took a step back and asked myself, “If there was one thing that I could accomplish that would make me feel great about closing out this year, what would that be?”

Of course, more than one thing that came to mind, however, I forced myself to commit to focusing on one in particular. Doing three things half-assed, or even three-quarter-assed, doesn’t allow me to do any of those things at 100%. So, I’m committing to one thing, to ensure that I am not wasting reserves of willpower or spreading that willpower too thin.

I’m harnessing my energy.

I’m harnessing that renewal of energy I have felt since the start of September and focusing it in one area because although the pull to spread out my energy to accomplish multiple goals is strong, I know that it is not sustainable.

There is just over a quarter of 2018 left. What one thing could you look back on in December, and be fulfilled by committing to now?

camera, lens, focus

False Starts

What was the last thing that you did in pursuit of your goals? Did it get you any closer to where or who you want to be?

You can follow blogs, read books, pin motivating quotes, listen to podcasts, register for courses, and react with heart emojis to every post an influencer in any particular field puts out on social media.

By doing these things, we can trick ourselves into thinking we are taking action. At times they can create forward momentum, however if there is no proceeding action, we are left only with false starts.

While finding sources of motivation and inspiration is important, ultimately, it is what you do with the information, knowledge and insight that you gain that is the pivotal piece.

track, racing, starting, running, sprint, forward, momentum, action

Things only change with action. Not simply by consumption.

You can consume and wish, or you can go, and do and be.