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.

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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.

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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?

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This is Your Ride

I’ve seen this message pop up on the stationary bike at the gym dozens of times. It was there again today, reminding me…

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This ride is yours, and yours alone. Sure, there are plenty of people riding along with you, but what happens in your head is yours. What you chase, the effort you put in, the thrill of the accomplishment or the weight of defeat when you come up short is yours.

Some rides may look a lot alike, others may vary in intensity, view and vehicle. The prize is not necessarily the same for all, although we all have our eye on one. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor, your mother, your brother, your sister, your best friend, your competitor or your boss are on the same track; you have to get through your course, on your time, on your own ambition and your own determination. You have to conquer your skill before you can move on to the next level, and that only comes with the work that you’re willing to put in to get there. You have to stay true to the rider that you are, and push towards the one that you want to become.

You’ve got to want to take off the training wheels.

What does the ride look like to you? Are you pushing yourself, getting the most you can out of it, or are you coasting along, not really working at digging any deeper, developing or growing any further? Are you taking the time to listen to your thoughts along the way, or are you consistently drowning them out with the noise? Do you ride the same ride every time you get on the seat, or are you challenging yourself with new and more difficult levels every once in awhile? Are you confident in your awareness of when to push yourself, and when to take the scenic route when you need to? Are you taking the actions necessary to get to the place those riders who are better than you are at? Are you surrounding yourself with riders who will support you, ride along with you and push you to get to that place? And when they’re not looking, are you working just as hard?

Are you taking rides that scare you?

When you fall, do you stay down, or do you hop right back up again? Do you use the scars you earn along the way as fuel, or as a weight that you carry, reminding you of your failures?

Life is just like learning how to ride a bike. And this is your ride.

Hello, 35

“Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five times and call it a life.” – Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

Today, I turn 35.

It’s a bit stark and unyielding to see that laid out there. 35 feels like a mile marker of sorts. I’m not someone who holds negative energy for aging, minus my ongoing battle with unruly gray hairs, but it feels as though there is something more commemorative about this year than say 32 or 33.

A tip of the hat, though, to my 34th year.

34 was the year I decided I didn’t want to drown any longer; it was the year I decided I needed to get intentional and to put myself first. I set out to find things that set my soul on fire. 34 was the year I really started digging in; I chased development and growth. I challenged myself. I went after things I didn’t know I wanted – this blog for instance. And I walked away from things – commitments, attitudes, and behaviors, that didn’t benefit me in getting to where I was hoping to get to.

I have the opportunity this week to create some space in a beautiful piece of this country to spend some time with myself. I’m traveling solo for the first time ever, and am spending this birthday, also for the first time ever, away from my family. This trip has forced me to step out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, but there is always something to be gained from discomfort. I spent Sunday wandering through airports and driving west on I70 in Colorado with just the thoughts in my head. I have a cozy hotel room with access to walking trails that follow a beautiful mountain creek that are postcard perfect for wandering and reflecting. I’m attending a conference and have had to overcome my fear of introducing myself to and holding conversation with strangers. I’ve had to reinforce positive thoughts and show the confidence that I’m trying to build, none of which comes easily to me just yet.

The timing of this solo travel, the space to connect introspectively, the arrival of this significant year and even the simple fact that this birthday falls on a Tuesday where I get to reach out and connect with you all are not lost on me.

I’m working on working out what I want in my 35th year, which means that I have to decide what small things I am going to commit to in order to build the bigger things upon. I am continuing to work through conscious decisions around who I am and the woman I want to be; how I spend my time and energy in the ways that are the most beneficial regardless of comparison, self-doubt, fear, self-consciousness or perfectionism. I have a long way to go to achieve “regardless”; it’s a daily, if not hourly, practice.

There are goals that I want to achieve this year. Hell, there are things that I want to set up that I want to achieve by my 40th year that need to be started now in order to ensure success. And, I’m getting comfortable with knowing that it’s entirely possible that these things might change, evolve or become irrelevant at 36, 37, or even in the next 6 months. It’s all a part of the process and none of that can be achieved without applying selectivity and curating on a consistent basis.

I embrace 34 as it quietly exits stage left and welcome in 35; I’m anxious and ready to write the most unique chapter yet.

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