You don’t have to Feel Selfish to Live on your Own Terms

Have you ever set a goal and tried to work on it with a friend or family member? Only to find yourself frustrated, unmotivated and ready to throw in the towel? The way they work towards accomplishing the same goal simply does not work for you. In fact, it feels like the other person’s way of moving forward is foreign and from another planet. This happens when individuals come together with very different personalities, priorities, and different mindsets. Whether we decide to continue to move forward on our goals together or go at it alone, we have to figure out what works best for us and be true to it. In order to find success we need to establish our own terms.

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My husband, John, and I have been working on eating better over the past few years. Through trial and error I have found what works best for me regarding what to eat and when to eat it. It works so great for me, that I thought it would obviously work great for John! As we moved forward, it was obvious that he thought I was the alien from another planet because what works for me DOES NOT WORK FOR HIM! Expecting one way to work for both of us brought stress and frustration. For us to succeed, we had to figure out what worked for each of us individually. Once we did, we each moved forward on our own terms.

Here are five steps that will help you accomplish goals on your own “terms.”

  1. Figure out what your “terms” are. This may take some time and effort, but everything worth doing, usually does. Pay attention to what works well for you, and ask yourself what it is that makes it so enjoyable? Pay attention to times of stress and discomfort, and ask yourself what it is about that situation that brings you stress? Your “terms” may be different depending on what you are working towards; however, you will find that many of your “terms” apply in a number of different situations.
  2. Communicate your “terms” with those closest to you. Once you start to get a grasp on what works best for you, share it with those close to you. It will help them understand you better and enable them to help you however they can.
  3. Apply your “terms” to every possible situation. When you move towards accomplishing something important to you, be sure to remember what you have already learned about yourself and how that will help you pursue your new goals. Do everything you can to be true to yourself.
  4. Serve other people on their “terms.” I love things to be organized. If I know I am working with someone or going into a situation that may lack organization, I acknowledge it and figure out how I can succeed while respecting and serving the other individual in the process. Serving others is a big part of living our best.
  5. Live with less stress. The more we can identify what works best for us, and live according to our “terms,” the greater potential we have to lower our stress level. Today, I know what makes me tick. I know what works best for me and I fill my life with those things. I want the same for you!

As you have moved forward in the areas you want to improve, have you found things that work and things that don’t? Focus on what you have learned and see how it applies as you move forward in all areas of your life.

Here’s to living true to who we are!

How to Stop Getting Knocked Off Course and Start Taking Control of Our Lives

Bumper cars are one of those rides that I loved when I was young. There is nothing better than flooring the pedal and ramming into something or someone. It is less fun when our day turns into a game of bumper cars and we are the one being rammed. But that is life sometimes, isn’t it? We wake up to a fresh new day, with fresh possibilities and suddenly feel run over. How can we keep moving in the right direction and take back control of our day?

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I was pooped on this morning. Literally pooped on! If you are a parent, you have been in my shoes. I am a parent to an eleven year old Shih Tzu who has decided to become a nervous pooper in her old age. We now have a ritual on the way to the groomer each month. She pops out a little turd before we even leave our subdivision. Yes, I have tried to get her to “take care of business” before we leave the house, but she is a stubborn pooper too. Nope, she is going to wait until she is in the car. Once the realization hits that she is headed to the groomer…Pop! There it is! On top of that this morning, she decided to take it one step farther. She not only stepped on it, she proceeded to mash it into my pants before I could stop the car and allow her to finish her business. This is a silly example, but this was only one of many things that hit me this morning before 8 a.m. I felt like I was in a bumper car looking around to see what was going to hit me next.

There are a lot of “things” that can knock us off course in our day-to-day lives. Here are some things to focus on to help us stay on course.

  1. We must know what we want. What do you want your life to look like? What areas do you want to spend your time and attention? What is most important to you? It is essential to have a firm direction decided on in life, a firm picture of what you want. It is that picture you keep in your mind every day, and move towards no matter what hits. Envision a bumper car race to the opposite end of the rink. What do we do? We deal with those trying to bump us off course, but we ultimately keep our eyes focused on the finish line. It is important for us to do the same in life.
  2. Don’t give life’s detours and distraction much attention. Yes, we have to deal with what comes our way, but they only get bigger and bigger in our minds the more we focus on them. They can become less significant if we “acknowledge and move on.” Do what you need to do to deal with the issues that come your way, but then focus back on the good, important, positive things in life.
  3. Ask yourself “what is within my control to change?” If we come down with the flu bug, we have to allow it to run its course. We cannot tell the flu bug to go away. But when you are dealing with back pain, for example, there are usually things you can do like stretching, exercise, or physical therapy, to take control and get better. Many times we default to “there’s nothing I can do” when in reality, there is some way we can take control, make a change, and get back on track.
  4. Find something to learn. Focusing on constantly learning is a great way to live life. When we have this focus we see life as one big experiment. Sometimes things work great, sometimes they do not. But we end each “experiment” with two questions “What did I learn?” and “How can I apply that to move forward in the direction I want?” I also find a great way to keep my mind focused on good stuff is to read or listen to recording while I am being hit by life’s “stuff”. It keeps me focused on the good and not on potential negative things.
  5. Just GO! Sometimes we can feel beat up. It is during those times that we sit slumped over in our chairs and don’t feel like doing anything. I have been there! But let’s try not to stay there for too long. Sometimes we have to muster up that last bit of energy, put the pedal to the floor and GO! Get up and go.

Are you ready to take control of your life’s game of bumper cars? We can do it! Let’s stay focused on good stuff, be life learners, chart a course and keep going! We’ve got this!

Here’s to putting the pedal to the metal and living strong, amazing lives!

 

Do You Make This Mistake When Stress Hits?

None of us strive, day in and day out, towards our goals only to end up backsliding and have them fall apart. That is what happens many times when an unplanned stressor hits our lives. These stressors can come through personal or family illnesses, job changes, moves, and even happy occasions such as weddings. The reality is that each of these, and so many not listed here, require an extra amount of energy. If we do not make adjustments to divvy out our energy appropriately, we can find our goals and most important areas of our lives placed on the back-burner. What can we do during these times of increased stress to stay focused on what is most important?

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I have realized that I only have a certain amount of energy to use up each day. I have a limited amount of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. Much like allocating the 24 hours in each day, we also make decisions on how we disperse our energy. I feel the easiest of these to manage is our physical energy. I know that if I go on a long bike ride, I am not going to have much physical energy left to tackle my landscape project later that same day. I think as we learn more about ourselves, we naturally learn to manage our energies, but it is when stress hits, that it can become more challenging.

A mistake we can all make during these stressful times, is to think we can keep going at our current pace in all areas of our lives. Stress consumes energy, and a lot of it. Here are some things to keep in mind to help us make adjustments needed in order to stay focused on what is most important.

  1. Keep your “most important things” in front of you. I would recommend making a list and read it every day, if not more often. There is something powerful about starting your day reminding yourself of these good things.
  2. Be intentional about who and what gets your focus and energy. If you don’t take time to think about this, the things that scream the loudest will get your attention, and the quiet “most important things” will not. My friend, who has two boys in elementary school, said that her shower time is her thinking time. I give you permission to take a little bit longer shower to reflect on what areas are most important, what should get your attention that day and what areas you can cut back on until the stress subsides.
  3. Watch out for unhealthy comforts. We all have a default “comfort” we go to when stress hits. It may be food, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc. For me it is sleep. When stress hits, I get extremely tired because I can ignore the stress when I sleep. The problem with comfort is that it’s hard to stop once we have started. I get into the mindset that “I deserve” this comfort because of all the stress I am dealing with. Give yourself some grace, but realize that many times these comforts cause us to backslide. Allocate some energy towards resisting unhealthy comfort because it does take energy to say “no” to the unhealthy stuff and “yes” to what’s most important.
  4. Guard against unnecessary stress. There are two stressors that I have to watch out for. The first one is self-imposed deadlines or overcommitting. I love setting goals, and good goals, in my opinion, have associated deadlines. This is great until it creates unnecessary stress. There are times we have to take a step back and realize we are not going to meet our original deadline. It’s okay to adjust and extend the deadline for our own sanity. The second unnecessary stressor is taking on someone else’s problems. It is my desire to help other people and I do on a regular basis. I simply have to recognize that when I give my energy to someone else, it take energy away from something or someone else. I reference back to what is most important to me and decide from there.
  5. Prioritize yourself. I put this last because I knew that if I put this first, many of you would immediately stop reading. Am I right? This is one of those truths we all know, but struggle with. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of others and stressful situations. When you prepare your “most important” list as recommended in #1, please put yourself as MOST IMPORTANT. We are stronger and better able to handle stress when we are rested, eating well, getting some exercise and taking time to think and plan.

How have you kept moving forward on your “most important” areas when stress has hit?  I, along with my other readers, would love to hear what has worked for you. We are all in this together, trying to do the best we can. I would love to hear from you!

Here’s to staying focused on what is most important, even when life gets stressful!

What Everybody Ought to Know – We are doing Great!

I spend a lot of time talking about how we can keep moving forward, and it is incredibly important in the pursuit of living our best. Today, I want to stop and remind you that you are wonderful and doing so much in your life that you should be proud of. Many of you are parents who pour love into your children every day. We all work hard at our house to make it a place where we, and our loved ones, can call home. We keep it running smoothly. Many of you work outside of your home meeting deadlines, working with challenging individuals, and providing financially. We volunteer at church, school, take care of loved ones, and continue to take baby steps towards our dreams. We are doing GREAT!

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Just this week a dear friend of mine lovingly suggested that I should recognize all that I do and how far I have come. This same friend is one of the individuals in my life who holds me accountable. As part of our accountability, we keep a log of what we are working on how we want to move forward. It was in these logs where I spent some time reviewing my past year. I found some interesting insights.

  • I realized that over the past year I have had the privilege of spending wonderful times with my parents, who are now in their 80’s. I would not trade that time for anything!
  • I realized last year this time, my husband was changing jobs. There was a lot of uncertainty, and we knew that the year was going to be a year of transition. It has been filled with personal challenges, but we are making it through, and opportunities are unfolding.
  • I have grown leaps and bounds! Things that I used to avoid like the plague, I am moving forward on. I have not let my fears hold me back! For that I am immensely proud!
  • I have stayed steady and strong in the areas that are most important to me. My love for God, myself, and my husband has never been stronger. I have more energy than I have ever had physically because I have stuck with eating well and pushing myself with exercise. I love the people I spend my life with. Strong and steady!

I want you to celebrate what you have accomplished! Will you take time over the next few days to look back over your past year to see how far you have come? If you do not journal, take a look back on your calendar to see what you have accomplished. Look back on all of the pictures you have taken, remembering those important times in your life. You have done and accomplished so much!

You are an amazing person, having an impact on many lives for good. I am proud of you and your heart to live your best! Let’s celebrate what we have accomplished!

Here’s to US and how GREAT WE ARE!

Special note: It is my heart to encourage as many individuals as possible through my blog! If you know someone who could use a little bit of encouragement, would you invite them to subscribe? I would love to send an encouraging post straight to their email inbox each week! – Jen

How Four Reminders Can Boost Your Spirits and Keep You on Track

Have you ever had a period of time in your life that was what you would consider not fun…great…enjoyable? In fact that period of time was down right HARD! I am having a day today that feels really HARD. I feel like other people are succeeding, yet I have so far to go. My future “baby steps” do not look like much fun. I am tired, and I ask myself, “Where do I go from here?”

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I am having a hard day, but I have gone through long periods of time that were very challenging as well. Someone once questioned me about my philosophy on Life Planning and Goal Setting. They wondered if it really worked because in their mind, they thought life should be perfect once you have gone through the Life Planning process. I was set back for a moment, but was able to share that I am absolutely living my best life. But living my best, and focusing on what’s most important to me, required more intentionality, more focus, and was very challenging at times. But the hard work was worth it!

Where we are today may not be a fun place to be. But we have to keep moving forward, reminding ourselves that we are moving towards something great! Here are some important reminders.

  1. Don’t compare. There is always someone “ahead” of us on our journey. In my life, there is always someone farther along than me at the gym, in my writing career, in my business development, in my bass playing, etc. They have each worked very hard for what they have accomplished. We can look to them for inspiration, but comparison will only get us into trouble. It will drain us of the motivation and positive energy we need to keep going.
  2. Savor the moment. I have to remind myself that life is a journey. I visualize myself driving across the United States, looking out the window of my car, taking in all there is to see. It is important for us to savor the moments in each day. Savor the moments when you have your little baby cuddled in your arms. Savor the moment when your kids discover new things. Savor the sweet moments with your significant other. Savor the rain falling and the cooler air as fall approaches. There are opportunities to savor the moment every day. We just have to open our eyes to them.
  3. Allow yourself to rest. I realized today that I was tired and it jaded my outlook. I know, because of life circumstances, it is easier at times than others, to get a good night’s rest. But being well rested can be a difference maker in our attitude, in our response to issues, in our decision-making, and our overall outlook. If we want to live and feel our best, we must get some rest!
  4. Do it afraid. I also realized today that part of my “down” feeling was the realization that my next steps in moving forward, are going to be hard. Honestly, I’m a little bit afraid of them. When we move forward, one baby step at a time, we eventually enter new territory. It is exciting territory, but scary too. I first heard the phrase “do it afraid” from Joyce Meyers, and she is right on! Let’s take a deep breath and keep moving in the direction we know we need to go.

Do any of these reminders strike a chord for you? Is there one that seems to rear its head more often than the others? Recognizing it is important, and making adjustments along the way is vital as we strive to live our best!

Here’s to saying goodbye to the blues and hello to brighter days ahead!