Starting out strong: face meets brick wall

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The title of this post pretty much describes how 2021 started out in my world. Running (okay, power walking) on a full tank and starting out strong. And then face planting. Nothing says “new year” like a boatload of resolutions, goals and aspirations, right? Herein lies the struggle: tackling #allthethings and maintaining momentum. I remember my excitement while planning out my goals for the year—divided into quarters, broken down into months and weeks—with each month comprising categories, such as personal growth, work/vocation, health & fitness, etc. But here’s where face meets brick wall: expecting (and doing) too much (too soon!). Once again, that requires taking my own advice. As listed in goal-setting tips + trips, a good rule of thumb can be found by practicing SMART planning. However, it also means setting no more than 1-3 important goals each morning—and then tackling the task(s) likely to have the biggest positive impact on your life—or “eating the frog.”

How does your year look thus far?

Image courtesy of gubgib at freedigitalphotos.net.

Mid-year check-and-balance: planning for the road ahead

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Mid-year: we meet again. Although vastly different than I would guess most of us envisioned at the start of 2020, I still think it’s important to review our aspirations and perform a check-and-balance; in other words, What goals need to stay, pivot (e.g., change) or go? For instance, I learned if I plan to remain in alignment with my vision, I must begin treating my passion for all-things fairytale like a second (albeit part-time) job by sacrificing the necessary time to hone my craft—from participating in writing courses, planning workshops and online readers’ and writers’ groups, to subscribing to craft-related blog pages and podcasts. But I also realized I’ve neglected other areas essential to my vocation. By taking stock, we can better see the big picture, break it down into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle our intentions over the remaining two quarters. And sometimes, we simply need to pencil in “white space” to dream about those happily-ever-afters.

How has the first half of 2020 informed your second half?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Walk the talk: conditioning your mind, body for success

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This past Sunday, I woke up conflicted: workout, yoga or hike? My response: When in doubt, hike it out. The moderate-to-difficult trail proved to be exactly what I needed as endurance training for an upcoming trek of mine categorized as “hard.” And, it afforded me three hours of solitude in which I mentally sketched out revisions for a book I wrote earlier this year, as well as prefaced my next work of fiction. The time I spent strategizing in the mountains served as an effective tool to condition myself for this approaching season jam-packed with writing commitments—including two back-to-back online workshops, as well as NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month)—carrying me well into the new year. Because whether it’s a hike, or a writing workshop, training and planning go hand in hand. If I’m willing to condition and equip myself on the trail, then I should do the same for my vocational aspirations. In other words: walk—or hike—the talk.

How do you “train” for success?

Where the magic happens

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magic

 

During a recent yoga practice, the instructor said (and I paraphrase) that when we give a final push at the end [of a posture]—rather than give up—this is where the magic happens. I believe this concept is applicable to life off the mat, too. When we feel like we’re at the “end,” it’s more important than ever to persevere. For example, countless times I’ve considered shoving my writing aspirations to the back burner. But then I contemplate my characters, run through plot ideas and dabble with scene. I pick up the latest Poets & Writers and discover the perfect contest. And a pitch I submitted to a magazine a month ago was accepted so what can I do? It’s that final push, the one where the magic happens. Whether it ends up published online, in print, makes it to my blog or gets no further than my hard drive—I have to write. Now, where was I?

Where could you stand to give a final push?

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

It’s all a process: enjoy it

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Enjoy the process

[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

With one more day to go of my “change your life in 14-days” challenge, I wish I would’ve seen more of an outward transformation. Actually, I’m kind of stressed out almost more than when I began. I’m at a point in my life—that mid-life point—where I’m questioning my destination. I have all these aspirations and dreams and feel like I’m getting no closer. Yet I also recently celebrated three years at my publishing position, the job that supports these aspirations and is in a field I’m passionate about. My boss treated me to lunch and we discussed my workload, education plans, career goals, etc. Over a balsamic spinach salad and lemon ice water, he advised me to give myself a break and, as much as I want to “get somewhere,” to remember to enjoy the process. As a yogi who knows living in the present is where peace is found (see “Practicing patience, perseverance”), it was a much-needed wake-up call.

How’s the process going for you?

The changing face of our dreams

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As a little girl, I longed for more than anything to be a writer.  Over the years, my aspirations have jumped from nurse to secretary and from teacher to beach bum.  While I’ve written in past posts about spending my first 26 odd working years in various administrative roles, being a writer has always been a dream tucked in the recesses of my heart — a desire which has finally taken flight within the past few years.  Since I’m a romantic, my fantasies have also consisted of the happily-ever-after variety where I’m walking hand-in-hand along the ocean coast, toes swallowed up in the warm sand and salty surf.  Over time, however, my hopes for Someday have begun to take on a new face for Today.  So whether I’m surrounded by a view of endless beaches, or perhaps the rugged beauty of the desert, the staying power of my dreams remains.  Even when those dreams change moment by moment.

Are your dreams in need of a facelift?

Shedding the old for the new

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[Image credit: wyiangya]

Continuing my thoughts from yesterday’s post entitled Practice what you preach, I think the concept of discarding aspirations or life lessons that don’t fit into the scheme of things makes a lot of sense.  After all, isn’t that simply a normal part of life?  If something holds us back from getting ahead, doesn’t edify or build us up, then shedding whatever it may be — an unhealthy relationship, a hopeless dream, a self-defeating attitude, etc. — allows us the room required for new growth (which brings me back to the topic of butterflies outgrowing their cocoons).  We have to understand that hanging on to the old will only obfuscate (conceal or obscure) our ability to soar, limiting our full potential.  Either way, there are no guarantees.  So maybe the question isn’t if I practice what I preach, but rather: Will I discard that which keeps me from being all that I can be?  In other words, will I remain a cocoon, or emerge the butterfly?  Stay tuned, there’s still a half year left.

Are you trapped in a cocoon, or have you shed that which holds you back?

Practice what you preach

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[Image credit: Savatore Vuono]

I was recently asked if I practice everything I blog about.  Immediately I was reminded of the mantra my parents (and then I) used to repeat without fail: “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Although my answer to my friend was a quick no, after considering it, I realized many of the concepts I ramble about are either improvements I’m in the process of making — or desire to implement.  Each day is a journey in which I seek to understand myself and the world around me a little better, while striving toward Someday and the fruition of my dreams.  For me, this takes the form of thinking out loud (or on paper) and contemplating different scenarios and outcomes.  So to revise my answer to the original question, while I try the concepts I write about on for size, I also discard those that aren’t a good fit.  In the case of aspirations, lessons learned, etc., one size doesn’t fit all.

Is lip service your typical MO, or do you practice what you preach?

Explore, dream, discover

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[Image credit: taoty]

20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do
than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain

One of my friends was told she was crazy to pursue her dreams.  That her aspirations would likely fail as so many who have gone before her.  She posted this on Facebook and received an outpouring of support in response, several mirroring the words of Mark Twain.  As for me, I don’t want to look back Someday and regret not: losing my heart, taking a chance, following my goals.  Because Someday, it will be too late.  A few months ago, I was faced with a choice between one of two things.  Before making the decision,  I asked myself which one I would regret.  I didn’t have to think twice, made my commitment and never looked back.  Thanks to another friend, I’ve heard this is the key: once the choice has been made, no second-guessing or disappointments are allowed.  Sometimes this philosophy is hard to stick to.  But as life continues to move forward at warp speed, I realize more and more that I would rather take the risk of falling, than never leave the starter’s box.  I figure that skinned knees are a lot easier to fix than unrealized dreams.

How are you going to explore, dream and discover today?

An attitude of gratitude

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[Image credit: KROMKRATHOG]

In more than one past post, I’ve talked about revisiting dreams, putting others on the back burner until the time is right and/or shelving the ones we’ve outgrown or that just don’t make sense any longer.  I’m more than familiar with the first two strategies, but this week I’ve come to the realization that a couple of my dreams fall into the latter category.  Unfortunately, the ankle I injured several weeks ago and some other issues with my hips and knees (drat, how old am I?) mean my aspirations to run in my first race this month, as well as compete in a future sprint triathlon, need to be removed from my list of goals.  For the last few days, I’ve been working through my disappointment, and in lieu of a swift yet loving (according to an amazing GF) kick in the rear-end, I’ve decided this setback is simply another opportunity to replace one (or two) dream(s) with another.  And I’m happy to say the possibilities are endless.  Stay tuned.

How do you handle a setback, with attitude or with gratitude?