You Mean There Is No Finish Line?

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote in her book Mindset, “once a problem improves, people often stop doing what caused it to improve.Once you feel better, you stop taking your medicine.” She continues, “But change doesn’t work that way. When you’ve lost weight, the issue doesn’t go away.” “These changes have to be supported or they can go away faster than they appeared.”I AM DOING EXACTLY WHAT DR. DWECK DESCRIBED!!!…and I have done it so many times before. Wow this one is challenging!

My real life example right now is exercise. As many of you know, I have been training hard for the past year. It was challenging, but, it felt so good to be strong and vibrant. In my mind, I was determined to keep up that same level of exercise after I crossed the finish line at a recent event, but the past two weeks have not played out that way at all.

After achieving a goal, I have faced a big challenge and I wonder if you have dealt with this as well?

It has been my desire to stay “fit” after I cross the finish line, but I also want to move forward on other plans as well. Suddenly though, I realize I do not have the time or energy for both, so the fitness level I had just reached has started to slip. Another example is losing weight. Losing weight is tough stuff, but as the pounds come off, we feel better and better. Losing weight requires a tremendous amount of energy and focus. It is easy once we reach our goal to think we can move on to other things and not give our eating the same amount of attention. Unfortunately, when it does not get our focus, the scale starts creeping back up again. Yes, I think we can get into some level of “maintenance mode” with our goals, but I am having to face the fact that they will still require a lot of my energy.

This makes me sad, I’m not going to lie. Because I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and I want them all to happen NOW! But reality reminds me that I only have so much time in a day, and I only have so much energy I can put forth. Therefore, I am grappling with a truth that I do not like. If I want to put forth time and energy to stay healthy, and reach other goals in life:

  • First I have to choose which areas are most important.
  • Second, I have to limit the number of them that I pursue at one time.

It’s giving the most of my energy to a few big, important things, instead of spreading myself out trying to do a lot of little things. I still plan on accomplishing my goals, but it might just take a little bit longer to accomplish all of them. I guess it’s the bucket list concept.

Wow, the paring back continues. In the past I have talked about removing non-essentials, but I never imagined I would need to cut back this much. I will have to be honest with you, this process of paring back also brings me hope, hope that I can accomplish some things that are big and important to me. Trying to move forward on so many things at once in the past has drained some of the hope out of me. I do have a lot of great things to look forward to in life, they will simply take time and focus.

Please share with me your thoughts on this cutting back stuff. Feel free to comment below or send me an email. It is not easy stuff, and I am still trying to figure it out too. I would love to hear your thoughts, even if you do not agree. There is so much I can learn from each of you!

Here’s to a great week ahead trying to figure out this BEST life stuff!

And…..ACTION!

Is there any area of your life where you feel fear? Is there a situation at work? Do you have a big decision to make? Have you committed to something, but feel fear as the deadline approaches? Fear is a part of our everyday lives. The question then, is how do we live with fear and still live our best?

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Fear is a part of our makeup as humans. Fear keeps us aware of things that might harm us and allows us to respond to find safety. There are a lot of things that are out of our control in the world we live in, but there is a lot of fearful things that are within our control to change. That is what I want to focus on in this post. What fear is within our control to change and what is the best strategy? I believe it is ACTION!

Conquering fear with action is not a Jen Regan original idea. I have read this concept in countless books and articles. The concept has been around and taught for so long because it works. All you have to do is try it once to experience its positive effects.

Recently I needed to discuss an issue and a potential solution with someone in my life. The person I needed to talk to is a wonderful person, but, because she is a person of authority in my life, I was not sure how she was going to respond.  I became very nervous about the discussion. Because she was very busy, I wanted to wait until the time was right, but as the time passed, I became more nervous. It seems silly, but as she became available, I knew the time had come to approach her and my heart started pounding out of my chest. As with fear, I wanted to run the other way, but I told myself “just do it, NOW!” So I called her and asked if she had a few minutes to discuss something. I was still nervous, but I dealt with my fear with action. The outcome of the conversation is not relevant here. What is relevant is that I felt a huge amount of relief when I took action. The fear was gone and I know that I took control of it instead of allowing it to take control of me.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful with regards to taking action against fear.

Take action as quickly as possible. The longer I hold off, the more stress I fee and there is a greater chance of me giving in to the fear and not taking action at all. Now, I do believe in taking time to think through things and not rushing into them, but once I have made a decision on how to proceed, I try to take action as soon as possible.

Don’t allow the fearful thoughts to take control. Take control of your mind and remind yourself that you are very capable of handling the situation. I feel fear frequently because I am trying to stretch myself in a lot of areas of my life. As you continue to take baby steps towards your goals and dreams, fears will crop up as well. Many times we question ourselves and our abilities. If I am confident in the direction I want to take, even though I may not know completely what the future holds, I have to fill my mind with motivating thoughts. I have to remind myself that I can do what I need to do. I have to take action in my mind to fill it with good thoughts, and in turn, push out the fearful thoughts.

I acknowledge the great feeling that action against my fears brings. After I had the nervous discussion mentioned above, I walked away, caught my breath, smiled and said “Good job Jen!” Celebrate your successes! Give yourself some positive reinforcement. It takes a lot of courage to take action against our fears. We deserve some kudos! Taking action against our fears is not easy. I do believe that the more successes we rack up, the more our mind remembers that we will make it out the other side. Regardless of the outcome, we can and should be proud of taking control and taking action.

Fear is a part of life, even our BEST life. Here’s to taking action, taking control, and being proud of ourselves as we continue to move forward in the areas that are most important to us.

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!

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?”

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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 Stay Encouraged When Change Takes Time?

You have probably heard the saying that “the best things in life are never free!” Well, I am going to change it up a little and share an additional truth.  “The best things in life take time.” Healthy relationships are grown and enriched over time. The health of our bodies requires a lifelong commitment. Financial investments take time to mature. The question is, how can we keep going for the long haul, and how can we stay encouraged?

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I am shaking my head at myself as I think back to something that happened yesterday. Last week I shared in my blog that I was starting the process of looking for a full-time job in addition to my Life Coaching and writing. Over the weekend, I put my job search plan together and hit the ground running on Monday. I felt like I had a pretty productive day, both on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday arrived with a cloud looming over my head. I woke up that morning starting to get discouraged and dead-end after dead-end that same day brought me spiraling down hill. At one point in the day, I just started to laugh at myself. I was on DAY THREE of my job search and I was already discouraged. DAY THREE!

After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked myself, what am I going to have to do to keep myself going for the long haul? How am I going to stay encouraged when the process is so long? Here are some of the things I thought about.

I had to adjust my expectation of the time it was going to take me. Going into this job search I was told that if I worked hard I might have a job in five months. Why then did I expect immediate results? Why is it that I thought it should go faster for me? I think we all fall into this trap, don’t we? We think we should be able to lose weight faster, save up money faster, quit smoking faster. Part of this comes from the fast paced and instant gratification culture that we live in. We are used to having everything right now. I had to adjust my expectation by:

  • Stepping back to reset my thinking.
  • Removing the thought that this was going to happen fast and be at peace with the fact that the process is going to take time.
  • I will have to re-commit and remind myself of this every single day.

I fell into the trap of “I will be happy when…” I don’t know how it happened, but my mind shifted to “I will be happy when I get this new job.” On day number three when I felt down in the dumps, I remembered that I want to be happy right now. Yes, I am really excited about going back to work outside of my work at home, but the only thing that was stopping me from enjoying life right now was me. That night I picked up one of my craft projects and enjoyed my evening. I guess it also goes back to my blog on the Hokey Pokey. I want to keep pushing forward with one foot out of my comfort zone, but also enjoy life while keeping one foot in my comfort zone. Have you ever fallen over while trying to dance the Hokey Pokey? Well I figuratively got off-balance this week and toppled over.

I have to do what it takes to keep myself focused on the positives. I just got off the phone with a loved one and they said to me “I am just trying to stay positive.” This is extremely important because our lives are filled with negative things. It is unfortunate that positive feedback or a complement is a rare thing in our lives. Why is it that it is so easy for coworkers, and even loved ones, to point out everything we are not getting done or not doing things in the way they want us to. I have always said that I love to encourage others because it is so rare in our world today. Let’s ask ourselves “what do I need to do to keep myself positive?”

These are just a few things to keep in mind as we tackle the big, long changes in our lives. Remember, you and I are doing great! We are running a marathon and we will get to the point where we will win the prize as we make our desired change a reality in our life. Let’s keep taking one baby step at a time, take our eyes off the road, look up to enjoy the sunshine and keep going. You can not begin to imagine how proud I am of each of you!

Here’s to the long haul!

Don’t forget this month’s Something To Look Forward To Planning Calendar! Click the image below to get your copy.

April 2017 STLFT Planning Calendar

Life Can Be Blurry

Do you have any areas in your life that you simply don’t know where they are headed? One of the exercises I go through when I am trying to set a goal is to think about what I want that area of my life to look like in the future. It’s very helpful to have a picture or a vision of my future. But sometimes that picture is not clear. Sometimes we have to make one move, assess our situation, then make another move. Sometimes the roadmap of the future is not clear.

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My life is in a state of “weird” right now. I am someone who usually knows exactly where I want to go and has a 10 page plan on how to get there. That is not the case for me so far this year. I knew there were a few areas of uncertainty, but one area that I felt like I had a set goal and a plan is not working out that way. Every area that I want to move forward in this year is blurry and down right weird for me. So here is my plan, since I don’t have a plan! Hee Hee, that even made me giggle!

Take one step. Assess. Take another step. Assess. Take another step. Assess. Take another step….

At the beginning of the year I provided some resources to help us move forward one baby step at a time. Holy Cow! I never imagined the level I was going to have to depend on that philosophy. Quite frankly though, if it were not for the concept of baby steps, I would be stopped in my tracks at this point.

Here are a few things that I have to do to find success in this weird, new and unorganized stage of life.

  • I have to be more disciplined than ever before. It is really easy to get up in the morning and do nothing to move forward. I continually have to ask myself what do I feel the next step should be? I then have to be disciplined to do it, and that’s not easy.
  • I have to hush the fears that crop up in my mind. The fear of failure is ever-present when the future is uncertain.
  • I have to take care of myself. Moving forward into uncharted territory takes a lot of mental, emotional and physical energy. I have to do all I can to feel good and stay sharp.
  • I need to stay connected to people. It is very easy to pull in and isolate myself. I’ll be honest with you, it is hard to talk to my friends right now.  I don’t even know what to talk about, but spending time with those most important to me is vital.
  • I need to push through the pain and never stop asking “what can I do to move forward?” All change has it’s challenges. I have to push through those challenges and keep moving forward.

If the future is not clear for you right now, hang in there and keep moving forward. You have so much to offer this world, even when the road is a little bit blurry. Keep taking one small step at a time. I’m right here alongside of you!

Here’s to moving forward, no matter what!

Are You Ever Stopped Before You Get Started?

Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Do you believe that the power of your thoughts dictates your actions, and therefore the outcome? Do you believe that if you think you can, then you can? And do you believe that if you have the mindset that you can’t, then that mindset will sabotage your success and you will not succeed?

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This is a deep concept to grasp, at least it was for me. I have Mr. Ford’s quote in my office and I had to chew on that quote for quite some time. It took me a while to buy into his words, but I now understand them to be very true. When I believe I can, I start to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. When I think, deep down in my soul, that there is no way I can accomplish something, it stops me in my tracks. Action is key in this. If we believe we can, we start to move forward. When we believe something is impossible, we stay put in our current reality.  

It was a process for me to get to the point of believing I could succeed, specifically with my writing. I have struggled with grammar, vocabulary, spelling and writing all my life. I have felt like a failure many times. I have been told that my writing was not good and that my thoughts did not flow well. But I know I can do this and I know that I want to help you live your best life, so I keep going.

Remember, I am walking through this journey with you in real-time. I write about things that I have learned through the years, but I also continue to work through these concepts myself, literally,  as you read about them. Just this morning I was reading a book that was originally published in 1959 called The Magic Of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. He was talking about his experiences with individuals who found success when they believed that “they could.” I instantly asked myself, “do I believe that I can do what it takes to make my desired changes a reality in 2017?”  I really had to chew on that for a while and I got fearful that I don’t have what it takes to succeed.

Do you feel that way sometimes when it comes to the area of change you want to make in your life? Fears start to crop up and memories of past failures rear their head. It is a normal feeling, but we have to put those fears in their place, stand tall and believe with everything we can muster, that WE CAN! Once we are in the mindset of “we can!” we start to put one foot in front of the other and move forward towards success!

I believe that I can make the desired changes that I want to make in 2017! Do you believe you can? Let’s do it together, one step at a time!

 

Learn How To Put Fear In Its Place, and Embark on New Territory

As you work towards living your best life, do you suddenly experience fears that seem to come out of nowhere? Fear is something we all face to one degree or another. Some of us fear disappointing others, some fear looking foolish, and some fear financial uncertainty. The list of fears goes on and on.  No one is immune to fear, the difference is how we deal with it. It can be the difference between moving forward or staying still.

pexels-photo-30546-croppedStaying still is not an option for me. I always have to be doing something or working towards a goal. It is who I am. Because of this, I continue to travel roads that I have never traveled before, embarking on new territory. I wonder at times if I can really reach my goals. I wonder if I have it in me to keep going. I look into the future and wonder how I’m going to climb the mountains that are ahead. But I also see the sunrise over that mountain and I know there are great things for me on the other side. So how do I keep going? How do I persevere not knowing what lies ahead?

Here are some things I am trying to focus on. I hope they help you on your life’s adventures and goals as well.

  • I’m finding individuals who have found success and I am learning as much I can from them. I have no desire to reinvent the wheel. Most people who have gone before us would love to know that their hard work is helping someone else succeed. We live in a day and age where the information we have access to seems endless. There are YouTube videos for every possible project you can think of. I am reading a ton, watching tutorial videos and spending time with people who have experience that I do not. An added bonus is these people bring much needed encouragement as well!
  • I’m talking to myself, A LOT!  I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of unsolicited thoughts that enter my mind that are negative. These uninvited thoughts tell me that I am silly to think I could accomplish such big goals. These thoughts try to coax me to stay inside my comfort zone. These thoughts tell me that I cannot make a difference in the world. These thoughts are WRONG, and I need to constantly remind them of it. So I tell myself, sometimes in my mind, sometimes out loud, that I can accomplish big things! Other have persevered before me, and so can I. I read myself a quote by Neale Donald Walsch that I have on my refrigerator that says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” It is true! I remind myself that I am making a difference in the world. The negative thought will never stop invading my mind, but I am going to do all I can to stop them and refute them as quickly as possible.
  • I’m creating a plan. This is challenging when we don’t know exactly what lies ahead, but I at least know what needs to happen in the foreseeable future. I take what I know, I create a plan, then I work my plan. As I move forward and crest the next hill, I suddenly see what the road ahead looks like. I add to my plan and keep moving forward one step at a time.
  • I’m doing it afraid. This is no lie. I see things coming up in my near future that I need to tackle that are out of my comfort zone. But doing it afraid is the greatest way to move past my fears. I have done it before, I can do it again!
  • I’m trying to remember to celebrate the victories, big and small. If I look back, I can see that I have come so far, and so have you! Isn’t it easy to jump right back on the road and keep moving forward? I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy the view. Look back and enjoy the view of the road I have already conquered. I have to celebrate how far I have come!

I want you to know that I am pushing forward in my dreams and goals right alongside of you. You are not alone. Moving forward can be hard at times, but don’t give up. We got this! 

Here’s to putting fear in it’s place and conquering new territory!