Be Inspired!

Have you ever felt blah? Unmotivated? Maybe even a little depressed? You know there are things that you want to move forward on in life, but you just don’t have the energy to push forward. A trick I have used to get going again is to be inspired.

Be Inspired

If you have read my blog for long, you know that one of the goals I am working towards is to participate in a triathlon. Between my schedule changing and my body not cooperating, the progress towards this goal has not been smooth sailing. An April triathlon was my first goal, but that did not happen. I was clearly not ready, but as luck has it, they had to postpone the tri until June. Surely I could be ready by June. Nope. As the June date approached, I was losing motivation and getting discouraged. I was close to giving up, but I knew, deep down, that I wanted to do this. Even though I was not participating, I forced myself to go. I knew my will power was low, so I volunteered for the event knowing I would have chosen sleeping in over attending. My lack of willpower was confirmed the morning of the tri when I had to get up at 4:30 AM. Was it bad of me to pray that it would keep raining so it would be cancelled and I could keep sleeping? But something really cool happened when I arrived. I got to see people of all walks of life and of all fitness levels put their heart and soul into swimming, biking, running and crossing the finish line. Every single person out there inspired me to keep training. They helped me see that I needed to keep trying, that I could do this!

What is an area in life you desperately want to move forward in? Here are a few ideas to help you gain the motivation and inspiration you need to keep going.

  • Ask yourself “what inspires me?” Do you love reading an inspirational book or article? Do you enjoy watching an inspirational documentary or movie? Events inspire me. I love when a bunch of people get together for a great cause. I get to see people who have struggled and persevered. I get to stand alongside amazing people with amazing stories. I also love a good inspirational book. I love hearing about how others have pushed through tough times. I need to hear that I can do it too! In the past, when have you felt inspired? What was it that inspired you? Whatever it is, consider adding more of that to you life to help you continue to move forward.
  • Make a commitment. I can guarantee that I would not have gone to the triathlon if I had not signed up to volunteer. I knew my will power was low and I needed to know that someone was expecting me to be there. Whatever it is that you want to move forward in, make a commitment to do it if you can. Sign up for a race, ride, class, conference, seminar, or group. Commit to meet up with a friend or co-worker. Sign up to volunteer. A great motivator is to invest money in it. Whatever works for you, making a commitment will help you get up and get going.
  • Show up and gain momentum. I have heard it quoted that “you never regret a workout when it is over.” Man, it is hard to get going at times, but when we show up, and make something happen, it feels so good. This past week I got up and went for a run. Running is not my favorite thing to do, but I know this is what I need to do to participate and finish a triathlon. It took all of my willpower to do it, but when I was done, I was pumped. I did it, and I know I can do it again. The more we show up and do what is hard, the better we get at it, and the more momentum we gain to keep going.
  • Be inspired by others who are working toward the same goal. No matter what we are trying to accomplish, someone had gone before us, someone is in the process of learning how and someone is just starting out. Be inspired by all of them. Know how hard it is for you and realize that it is just as hard for them. We are all in this together. It is easy to think that everyone else has it all together, but none of us do. We are all plugging away, trying to do our best in life. Be inspired by those who have gone before, commiserate with those who are going through it with you, and encourage those who are just starting out.

Whatever you are wanting to move forward in, remember to keep taking baby steps to move forward. Know that one of those baby steps is to gain some much-needed inspiration for your journey ahead. All of us can use fuel to keep going strong.

Here’s to being intentional about finding inspiration in our lives and living the best we possibly can!

What Does It Look Like For You?

What does living your best life look like? Does it include traveling to far off places, or staying at home and working in your garden? Is it fast paced, or slow paced? Does in include a lot of people, or time by yourself? The more we can clarify what living our best looks like, the better chance we have to live it.

best life

I am always analyzing life. It’s what I do. As part of that, I have been asking myself, again, what are the components that create a great life for me? As summer has started, I have watched those close to me fill their time with a plethora of different activities. They all look like a ton of fun, but I suddenly find myself saying to myself “I should do that” or “should John and I do that?” As I sat and analyzed these feelings, I reminded myself of what is important to John and I, what we like to do and not do, and where we are at in our lives right now. It helped me to reconnect with what living my best really looks like.

Have you ever taken the time to write down what living your best life looks like? Just like any dream or plan, it will take some time to refine it, but how do we expect to obtain it if we have not yet defined it? Here are some questions to get you started. Write down the answers to start the process of defining your best life.

  • How do you love to spend your time? It’s okay to admit you like cleaning your house…I do!
  • Who do you love to spend your time with?
  • Do you love being at home, away from home, or a little of each?
  • What kind of place would you love to call home? Big? Small? Mobile?
  • Do you enjoy spending time with people, or do you get rejuvenated by being by yourself?
  • Do you like to be active and fill your day with a lot of activity or do you like to keep it simple and enjoy rest?
  • Do you like to travel? Where do you want to go?
  • What hobbies do you like?
  • What is fun for you?
  • What gives you value and allows you to feel like you are contributing to those around you?
  • What kind of work do you like to do?
  • Are you a planner or do you like to go with the flow?

This is a small list of questions to get you started in the right direction. Take some time this summer and start to define what living your best looks like. Remember that this is your life you are living. Live it the way that is best for you. Yes, some compromise must happen when we have a significant other, but the more we live the life that is best for us, the more fulfilled we will be.

Here’s to defining our best life and living it the best we can!

We Can Make The World A Brighter Place

Life is busy, and it probably always will be. I don’t know about you, but when life gets busy, I kind of duck my head, focus on my own little world, and get done what I need to get done. There is nothing wrong with that, and sometimes that is all we can handle for that moment. I find, though, that if we stay in this mode for too long, we will start to feel something is missing. The feeling of contributing to the world around us, the desire to do what we can to make our world a brighter place. All it takes is a small gesture.

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I have found myself in the mode of focusing on myself lately. Much of it has been necessary to get though some work stuff. I have even gotten to the point where the idea of helping other people annoyed me and felt very inconvenient. I don’t like to admit that, but it’s real. I do know, deep down, that I like to help others, it makes them feel good and that good feeling comes back to me. My baby step this coming week to live my best is to get back into the attitude of contributing to other people’s lives in whatever small way I can.

This is going to require me to:

Change my attitude. My attitude has been all about me. Again, that is not all bad. It is important to prioritize ourselves. But I want to enter my day asking myself “what can I do for others today?” Asking and answering that question changes my attitude from solely being about me and brings others into the picture.

Add it to my planner. Because this is a habit that I have gotten out of, it is going to require some effort to make it a habit again. I need the reminder each day to ask “what can I do for others today?” and that reminder for me will go into my planner. This way I will not forget.

Remind myself. Once the busyness of the day starts, I can tend to forget these important things. I have to find a way to remind myself. That might be a post-it note or it might be setting a reminder on my phone. I am not sure what I am going to use yet, but I know I will need a reminder.

Do it and keep doing it. I believe contributing positively to those around us is an important component of living our best life. The more we do it, and keep doing it, the easier it will be. It will become a positive habit in our lives. We can think about it all day, but it is doing it that makes the difference.

Do you feel like you have been focused on yourself a lot lately? Is it time to refocus on the habit of contributing to others? What does that look like for you and how are you going to make it happen? Don’t forget, one small step at a time. We can all do amazing things, one baby step at a time!

Here’s to taking care of ourselves, and contributing to other to make our world a brighter place to live!

I Can’t Catch Up!

Do you ever feel like you cannot get everything done that you want to get done? There is simply not enough time in a day to fit everything in. The questions I have been asking myself is “How do I live my best when I always feel behind?”

systyems

One day this week I was feeling particularly blah. Life overall was good, so I did not understand what was making me feel so stale. I think through writing, so I decided to pick up my journal and start writing. The issue behind the way I was feeling became instantly clear. I was frustrated because even though I had done so much, I was still behind. The areas that I was behind in were nagging at me. I instantly asked myself, what can I do about this that is within my control?

Believe it or not, I started with taking a deep breath and resting for a little bit. That kind of sounds like a backward approach to getting things done, in fact you are probably thinking “Jen, you need to do less resting and more doing!” I’m sure that is true at times, but for the most part, resting a little allows me to gain more motivation and productivity in the long run.

As I thought about what I could do better to stay focused and get more done in my life, I realized I needed a new system of organization. Some areas of my life have changed, and since those changes, I had not found a good system to help me stay on task and focused. I have been jumping from here to there and finding myself getting into reactionary mode instead of being on top of things and intentional.

I needed a new system, so I bought a new planner. I have been following a blog for quite some time of a gentleman that helps people who want to write and publish books. In addition, he shares a lot about productivity and prioritizing. I knew my way of thinking fell in line with his, so I invested in purchasing his planner. I talked to a good friend about what I was doing and she said that she really needed a new system as well to help her get focused. She went out and found a planner that she loved.

A new system, or planner in my case, helps me by:

    • Listing the top three things that I want to stay focused on each day. This helps me stay focused on what is most important and not get buried in everything else.
    • Staying on top of all of the tasks that need to get done and prioritizing their importance. One nice thing about this is, if I have a few minutes, I can look at my list and take care of something small off of my list. I can take care of the things that are most pressing and feel a sense of relief when they are done.
    • Creating a realistic game plan for each day. (Don’t forget to plan a little margin in too!)
    • Writing down any notes that are important for me to take away from the day.

Implementation of any system takes a little investment of time each day, but I feel it is well worth the investment in the long run. I am excited about getting back into the routine of using a system to keep me organized and focused on what is most important. I hope I can be more intentional about my time and feel less “under the gun”  and behind each day.

If you have no idea where to start with a system or planner, take a look at your local office supply store or browse the office supply aisle at your favorite place to shop. Start with something that is visually appealing to you and go from there. Over time you will find what works for you and what does not. I have even created my own throughout the years.

Long story short, creating systems are a great way to get our most important things done, stay focused, feel less behind and work towards living our best life.

How Do We Create Margin?

Last week I started a two-part blog post on the importance of clearing “space” in our lives, a.k.a. creating margin. If you have not had a chance to read that post, I ask you to pause, jump to last week’s post, and read that before you continue. This will make much more sense if you do.

Okay, I’m glad you are back! Now to answer the question “HOW do we create margin in our lives?”

margin ideas

One thing I asked you to do at the end of last week’s post was to think about this concept of margin each day and increase your awareness of it in your life. Awareness is a vital first step in any important change we want to make in our lives. This past week I became aware of how little mental margin I had in my days. I was brain fried every single day after work. I need more mental margin. What areas did you become aware of? Where could you use more margin?

Next, we all need to ask the questions, “is margin important to me?” If it is not, having me or anyone else encourage you to prioritize it is not going to be enough. All of the changes or improvements you want to make in your life need to be done because you genuinely want to, not because others say you should. Now it might be important to then ask “should gaining margin be a priority to me?” If you find that it would benefit you and your loved ones, maybe learn more about it and it’s benefits. Learning about it may bring you to a place where it becomes important to you.

Once you have identified the areas you need more margin, and you have decided it is important to you, ask the question “What one area is most important for me to gain margin in?” This is an important question for the overachiever out there who get excited and want to change everything at once. Start with one area. Once you have gained margin in that area, you can always tackle another area. As I mentioned above, I am starting this week with trying to add more mental margin in my days. What area do you want to start with? Mental margin? Physical margin? Margin in your schedule? Margin at work? Whatever you decide, start with one.

Next ask “what is within my control to change to add margin and make the upcoming week better?” Part of the reason why I felt so overloaded mentally this past week was because I was having to juggle my job as well as learn my co-worker’s job while she is on vacation for two weeks. My hope is that this coming week will be a little bit easier since there will be less of a learning curve, but I also need to chill out a little bit more than I did last week. I allowed myself to get worked up and focused much of my attention on how HARD it was going to be. This week I am going to try to allow for more mental margin by relaxing and not worrying as much. What is within your control to change?

Another important  thing to ask ourselves is “what can I delegate?” This is hard for many of us to do, but it is worth it! You know, we do not have to delegate big major things, giving away small things can add some time and space to our lives. I had a co-worker ask if she could help me in any way. One day, as I was wrapping up my day and planning out my next day, I wrote her name by a number of tasks that I could delegate to her. One task that I gave her only took about 15 minutes, but that was 15 minutes that freed me up. It felt good to mark the item, that I did not even do, off of my ‘to do” list. Take a look around and see what you can delegate.

And finally, focus on baby steps. Ask yourself today “what small steps can I take to create margin in my day and in my life?” My small baby step for this next week is to read a particular book every morning that helps me keep a positive and “can do” attitude. For me, this helps me keep the right perspective and not sweat the small stuff. What is your baby step for this upcoming week?

Gaining and keeping margin in our lives is an ongoing process, but one that is worth every bit of effort. Yes, there are time when life gets particularly busy, but those times need to be short-term. We simply cannot live our best if we are run ragged. It’s time to prioritize yourself and gain some margin. Everyone around you will benefit, and so will you!

Here’s to taking control and clearing some space in your life!