Nobody Cares if You’re Motivated

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The past couple of weeks, I have been mentally out of the discipline game.  I haven’t gone off the deep end where I’m running around eating, drinking, and doing whatever I want, but I feel like I definitely have allowed myself a lot more slack than I normally do.

This might not be the end of the world, but for me, who is used to carrying things out in a timely and orderly fashion, I can completely tell that I am not at the top of my game, and I hate it.  I have so many things that I want to accomplish, yet I seem to keep sliding backwards when I should be striding forward.

I desperately want all of my goals to be accomplished.  So why is my motivation not propelling me forward in the way that a burning desire should?

Motivation isn’t the catalyst.

I read or heard something recently that you don’t need more motivation, you need more discipline.  This could not be more true in my experience: I am completely motivated to get my real estate license and to lose the last 5-8 lbs that I need to lose in order to be completely happy with my bikini bod, but the last couple weeks with discipline being completely thrown out the window, I can tell that my body is a little softer than it was 4 weeks ago, and I’m still on my first real estate book when I had planned to be on my second by now.

And so, here I sit, no real estate license in hand and jeans a bit more snug that I would like.  Nobody wants to hear about the time you were motivated to almost finish a race or almost start your own business.  We love stories about actual results.

Why, then, are people so quick to blame lack of motivation or claim they need to do all these things to get motivated to do something?  Why don’t they simply put their nose to the grindstone and start to see results?

 

Sadly, the truth isn’t exciting.

Quite frankly, discipline sucks.  No one WANTS to constantly resist all of the tempting foods that are constantly being shoved in our face.  It’s definitely not FUN to stay home on a Friday night once again so that you can pop out of bed bright and early on Saturday morning.  It’s BORING to sit down to the table to read a chapter for the 17th day in a row rather than flip on the TV to the latest hit show.

Motivation, on the other hand, is addicting.  It’s highly enjoyable to get all hyped up about something, especially if you are getting pumped up in a crowd.  You see people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish.  You hear about how they achieved this body or that amount of customers or traveled to this many places, and their story inspires you to make more of a push for your goals.

But the thing is, most goals are not going to be accomplished in the hour or two where your motivation is at peak levels.  If motivation is the only that that is fueling your fire, than you will be shivering in the cold long before the end game is in sight.

It takes discipline to go the long haul.  You are going to have to go out to the woods, chop a tree, bring it back piece by piece, and do this over and over again to keep that fire burning.

Simply put, discipline is the ONLY THING that guarantees your results.  The very nature of discipline implies consistency, and if you are consistent with anything long enough, you will eventually achieve your desire in one form or another.

Any time that I look at what I have or don’t have and try to mentally complain about how it’s not fair that I’m not at this or that level, I can always force myself to look back and see the lack of consistency that led me to where I am at that moment.

Discipline is hard.  But eventually, discipline leads to habit, and once you’ve reached habitual levels of consistent effort, your progress will speed up tremendously.

However, life still likes to throw roadblocks at you in the form of unexpected events.  When I have a week where my routine is uninterrupted, my food consumption, gym attendance, and learning schedule are unchallenged and go off without a hitch.

But throw in a random meeting or two, life responsibilities that take a lot of time in my otherwise normal day, and people who are visiting or who want to hang out, and my discipline goes out the window.

So, in reality, I’m actually not that disciplined.  If I was, I would be able to navigate those stumbling blocks with ease, and keep my eyes on what it is that I want long-term.

This is a sucky thing to admit to oneself, especially if you have an image in your mind that encompasses all you WANT to be, versus where you really are.  And once again, I have all the motivation in the world to want to be fit and advance my learning in general, but when it comes down to it, desire doesn’t matter.

Your body doesn’t react to what you WANT it to look like-it shapes itself based on what you do to it and how you feed it.  Your business doesn’t grow based on what you WANT your revenues to be, it yields tantamount to the consistent effort that is put forth by you and your employees.  When it comes down to the wire, your efforts will show, no matter how much you will them to be different than they are.

There is no shortcut to any success.  Motivation may cause an initial burst of energy that will get you past the breakers, but it is the slow, steady strokes, hand over hand, that will get you across the channel.

So sit down with yourself.  Acknowledge where you want to end up, and how far you are away from it.  Steel yourself for the long haul ahead.  Write out a specific plan for your days, and how you will handle routine interruptions.  Settle into the reality that it’s not going to be a high-energy, full speed ahead race where the finish line is reached in mere seconds.

The journey is long.  It’s arduous.  It’s full of moments that suck.  But in the end, the steady turtle of discipline will outpace the bounding rabbit of motivation every. single. time.

Quilting Happiness

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Recently I had a conversation with someone where they helplessly said “I don’t know…I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m just not happy with anything in my life.” ¬†Hearing that broke my heart; living unhappily is such a terrible existence. ¬†And yet, so many people live the majority of their lives in a permanent state of misery.

Sometimes, this misery becomes so ingrained that it doesn’t even feel like misery. ¬†I had no idea that I was living such a wretched existence until I separated from my ex-husband and felt little inklings of happiness stretch like tentative rays of sunshine after a storm. ¬†While I certainly knew I wasn’t ecstatic, I had no idea how bad that life really was while I was in it.

In this moment, if you were to ask me if I was happy with my life, I would unequivocally answer “yes.” ¬†This may seem strange if you know my present circumstances: recently laid off, freshly single, one million minor crisis’ happening at work on a daily basis. ¬†And yet, overall, I am joyful.

This got me thinking: WHY am I so happy? ¬†What is it that I, or anyone with a constantly positive state of mind, do or don’t do that contributes to this feeling of joyful contentment? ¬†After some contemplation, I settled on several key factors:

Have a reliable, positive, and multi-leveled network.  This is such a big component because we as humans are wired to interact with others.  However, you cannot have all surface acquaintances or all deep bosom buddies; our connections need to be varied.  I have a couple of extremely close friends, several good friends, and lots and lots of positive shallower connections.  Going through my recent breakup, I lost one of the major keystone connections in my life, and had he been all that I had, I would have been completely at a loss.  However, with the help of my close and good friends as well as my continued positive interactions with everyone else, I have been able to stay afloat and keep my spirits up.

Putting in the time and effort to create and maintain these relationships may seem like a burden, but I firmly believe that if you do not have quality relationships in your life, it is impossible to be truly happy.  However, these relationships must be reciprocal; you cannot simply mooch off of someone else, and you should never allow someone to mooch off of you.  When both parties put in the same level of effort, that is when this piece of happiness falls into place.

Exercise. ¬†As much as we like to deny the hard science of how our minds work, putting in some sweat equity on a daily basis is a serious piece of the happiness puzzle. ¬†Although starting a workout is pretty much the worst thing ever, finishing it is one of the best feelings in the world. ¬†Your endorphin’s are kicking, and anything that negatively effected you throughout the day simply fades away into a haze of “ahhhhhh that was awesome”.

And lets face it, it’s hard to be happy when you don’t like what you see in the mirror. ¬†Presenting the best version of ourselves physically primes us to be the best version of ourselves mentally. ¬†It’s difficult to be miserable when you reach for something and notice a little baby bicep flexing as you bring it back. ¬†Hard work is hard freakin’ work, but it seriously boosts your mood to see results.

Work towards something specific.  Throughout my entire life, I have always had something to work towards.  First, it was my degree.  Then it was finding a job.  Then it was my Masters.  Now, I am working on getting my real estate license and have plans for an admin credential and possibly a life coach certification within the next ten years.  The point is, I am never resting on my laurels.

If you are working towards a specific goal, it is obvious if you have achieved it or not.  And working to get that accomplishment tucked under your belt gives you a sense of purpose, which contributes to happiness.  If you know you are on the road to achievement, you feel excited about getting up each day and have the gumption to persevere through the rocky patches.

Actively seek improvement.  I am constantly looking for ways to make myself a better person and teacher.  If I hear of an awesome teaching strategy, I try to implement it in my classroom.  Outside the confines of my work, I am constantly reading all different types of books and online articles as well as listening to podcasts on various topics.  I love getting into deep conversations about the world.  All in all, I am always trying to be better than I was before.

Truly desiring to make yourself better requires a humble acceptance of yourself as you are right now. ¬†However, acceptance does not mean stagnation. ¬†Just because you have accepted that you have slid into the ditch does not mean that you stay in the ditch. ¬†Seeing yourself grow and looking back to see how much you’ve changed for the better is a big piece of long-term happiness.

Love the majority of your day. ¬†There are very few parts of my day that I dislike. ¬†I love breakfast. ¬†I love jamming to my tunes as I drive to work. ¬†I love getting organized for the day. ¬†I love interacting with my students. ¬†I (usually) love the gym. ¬†I love writing blog posts. ¬† I’m ok with learning new real estate things (although I’m not going to lie, I’ll be pumped when it’s over). ¬†The only things that I truly hate about my day are when I have some students act like a-holes, or when something goes awry that I did not forsee (usually traffic-traffic puts me in a TERRIBLE mood).

If you genuinely LIKE/LOVE 80% or more of your day, it is highly unlikely that you will be unhappy. ¬†So many people tie themselves to jobs, people, or circumstances that they hate, and then wonder why they are miserable. ¬†If you find yourself unhappy with something, make moves to change it. ¬†Money, “security”, and comfort are NOT worth a constant state of misery.

Be ok with YOU. ¬†You have to be ok with who you are as a person before you can truly settle into a state of contentment with your life. ¬†I recently went through a period of time where I thought that my career goals and life aspirations were not good enough because I saw other people passionately pursuing other things that seemed ‘better’ or that might bring in more money. ¬†My happiness severely diminished during that time. ¬†When I mentally slapped myself and replanted my foot firmly on the soil of MY dreams, my joy returned.

You are a unique person.  It is impossible to accomplish the exact same thing that someone else has accomplished, so it is silly to even try.  You know what gives you joy, you know how you want to live your life, and you know what gives you a sense of purpose.  When you fully embrace what YOU want, not what the yoga masters, hardcore businessmen, or spiritual gurus tell you to want, THEN you can embrace your personal happiness.

Overall, your happiness is like an old, hand-pieced multicolored quilt that has been in your family for generations. ¬†It blankets everything. ¬†It is handmade. ¬†No one else has one just like it. ¬†Sometimes, a square or two might come loose, but if it’s a quality quilt, those squares aren’t completely lost and there are still enough squares to cover up with until the damage gets repaired.

If you find that you are unhappy with your life, take stock of all of the pieces. ¬†Magnify those squares that give you joy. ¬†Mend the squares that let in the draft. ¬†Sometimes, an entire square might have to be replaced, and that’s ok. ¬†Happiness IS something that you have complete control over, no matter how much we lie to ourselves and argue that we do not. ¬†Take charge now; in the end, our money will be spent or given away and our possessions will break or change hands. ¬†It is only the intangible-our relationships, our integrity, and our happiness-that we will get to keep for all time.

Choosing the First Domino

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For the last couple of days, I’ve been in mild panic mode over something most people would consider glorious: I have an interview every day for the next three days.

Now, most people in the California teaching world would be excited to get one interview, let alone three. ¬†And don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon that three schools consider me a strong enough candidate to want to meet me in person.

So why am I not JUST excited?

If all goes spectacularly, having three interviews means three potential job offers.  However, I can only take one.  Which means I have to make a choice.

Having choices is slightly immobilizing. ¬†Now granted, I don’t have the actual choice yet between these three schools, but I COULD, potentially. ¬†And that makes me nervous because I want to choose the right one.

Many times, we are faced with choices that are not really choices. ¬†For example, should I take this job 10 miles south that pays $X, or ten miles north that also pays $X. ¬†Either way, it’s pretty clear that either choice is going to have the same outcome.

However, my three jobs prospects are in LA, Irvine, and Encinitas. ¬†For those of you not in California, these jobs are essentially perfectly placed along the coast in a 150 mile radius from Los Angelos to San Diego. ¬†Which means I have to decide where I want to live. ¬†I also have to decide how much money weighs in versus location since all three schools have varying salaries. ¬†To top it off, I may not even have to take a new job at all if my RIF notice is recalled, so I’d have to decide between the known and the unknown.

In a word….AHHH!

But before you mark this post off as simply a self-indulgent, woe-is-me, first world problems post, let me get to the meat of what I’ve been thinking.

There is no right choice.

Each time you are faced with a decision, all of the options will lead you in a specific direction.  It does not necessarily mean that any of the choices will bring you to a better or worse place, it simply means that the destination will be slightly different.

Of course, there is always the exception, which is why this truth only applies to comparable options; if you are choosing between McDonalds and a corporate company with benefits, that really isn’t a choice.

So, then, what exactly IS a choice?

A choice is a decision between two or more outcomes that are equally valid. ¬†This is what makes them so hard. ¬†I’ve made decisions to move across the country and/or across state lines more than once in my life, but the option of staying seemed so ludicrous that I didn’t really ‘choose’ to leave; it was simply the way my life went.

You can only make decisions based on the information that you have now. ¬†This is where really knowing what you want comes into play. ¬†There are many stories of people who settled into the family life at 22, only to regret it in their 30’s and 40’s. ¬†There are an equal amount of stories of people who put off relationships to become successful, only to end up jaded and lonely. ¬†Of course, if you find the right person, you really can do both.

It all boils down to how you see your life going on a macro scale.  If you envision yourself traveling the world, why would you NOT accept a job offer where travel is a major component?  If you see yourself raising a family and cannot picture your life without children, why would you take a time-consuming, highly demanding job?  If you picture yourself enjoying fresh breezes all winter, why would you agree to take a long-term management position in your company in Iowa?

And honestly, once you figure out what you really want, the choice becomes as simple as the one between McDonalds and Goldman-Sachs.  Once you have lasered in on your true vision, you will gravitate towards the options that lead you closer to your end goal.

Our lives are simply a series of different elaborate domino set-ups. ¬†One decision leads to the next, to the next, to the next. ¬†When you take a step back, you can see the awesome pattern laid out before you, but when you’re in the trenches, straining to push over that first domino, it can feel like the most confusing and random scene ever.

And yet, if you don’t push that first domino, you will get none of the awe-inspiring affects that come with perfectly placed events cascading one after the other. ¬†So if you are faced with a true, difficult choice in your life, take a step back. Breathe. Realize that either domino represents an adventure. ¬†Take some time to get to the root of what you want your life to look like. ¬†And when you figure that out? ¬†Simply put your finger out and push.

 

Do YOU

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I have a million things on my mind that I want to blog about today.  And of course, knowing me, I am choosing the hardest one. But as I feel it is the most important one, here I go.

Last weekend it was pointed out to me that I have become less authentic to myself.  Not personality-wise; I am still the same positive, goofy, spontaneous, organizational freak that I always was, but I am in danger of applying other people’s ideas and life goals verbatim onto my own.  In other words, I am failing to take a step back and truly think about what I want for my life and unapologetically issue my personal stamp of approval.

Now, I feel that this happens quite a bit in life.  Parents are a big offender: Sarah wants to try to be an actress, but Mom and Dad want her to have a more stable life, so eventually Sarah takes on their thoughts and ideas as her own the more and more they preach about it, forgetting that she actually has a passion for the arts and not for inputting data.

I think the hardest culprit to discern, however, is the one that is the most subtle: the people around us whom we admire, with strong personalities and goals for their own lives who are charging full steam ahead.  Oftentimes, their belief in their personal project or path is so strong that they come across as looking down upon anyone not on that path without meaning to.

When you admire someone, you naturally want them to think highly of you.  And as the saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  But the thing is, if you are truly admiring the right people, they will want you to become the best version of yourself, not the second-best version of them.

It is only the secretly insincere individuals who crave followers; leaders want to surround themselves with leaders.

This realization that I had moved into fangirl territory was upsetting to me.  I pride myself on my strong personality, and I have always thought of myself as independent and able to carry my own torch.  The fact that I am in danger of losing my own personal vision for my life is heartbreaking.

This problem could be easily solved if I got rid of everyone in my life and had no outside people influencing me.  But that solution sucks, obviously.  No one wants to go through life alone, and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid outside forces unless you live out in the woods eating roots and berries and communing with nature.

So how do you keep those strong, admirable individuals in your life yet still stay true to your personal vision?

You have to have a personal vision.  Lately I have come to realize that thus far, I have had a vague sense of direction of where I want to go, but I have not taken the time to sit down and specifically map out what I want out of life.  As I have discussed in other posts, this is dangerous; a ship without a compass is pretty much just a bathroom toy subject to the whims of any giant two-year old splashing around in the tub.  You need to have a sense of direction, and a sense of direction only comes when you have a sense of purpose.

You need to be in tune with yourself.  People avoid actually getting to know themselves.  Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Orange is the New Black, and millions of other ways to entertain ourselves are waiting to be utilized at the snap of a finger.  Entertainment in and of itself is hardly a bad thing, but when it is used to avoid introspection and examining your life, it becomes a convenient set of blinders rather than a small moment of fun.  It is critical that you spend some time alone; not alone with your music or your books, but really, truly alone with nothing but your thoughts.  Who is this person you only slightly know as yourself?

You need to stop living in fear.  We are social beings.  We want to be liked.  And that makes us shy away from anything that may potentially end up in us being put in the outer circle of society.  But in all honesty, if you are true to YOU, people who are really true to themselves will recognize that and appreciate it, even if it is different from their truth.  If someone doesn’t care for your vision, fuck ’em.  People who don’t value an honest and true expression of intent aren’t the type of people who are worth keeping.  And it all honesty, it becomes so much easier to shed people you don’t want and attract people you do when you simply commit to your truth.

When we are not fully focused and committed to what WE want to do, we project other people’s judgement onto our lives before they even have a chance to, and for some reason allow this mythical judgement to influence us.

The cliche of ‘dancing in the mirror’ has come to represent freedom, self-expression, and self-acceptance.  It sounds hokey, but when you try it, you realize how much of yourself you are hiding from yourself.  Back in the day, I couldn’t even watch myself dancing for two seconds without being embarrassed and thinking omg, I look SO dumb and stopping–and I was alone.  There was no one to judge but me.  Why the hell did I care how dumb I looked?  I was looking at myself from an outside perspective, and I found lack because I had not embraced my inner truth that I just wanted to freakin’ dance.

When you take the time to get to know who YOU are, you become dissatisfied with becoming anything that doesn’t align with your desires for your life.  Take  the time to get to know yourself; at the end of the day, you go to your grave wrapped in solitude, and eternity is a hell of a long time to spend with a stranger.

 

My Eye of the Storm

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Right now, it feels like my life is one giant chaotic hurricane. ¬†I am in the process of looking for another ‘just-in-case’ job. ¬†I am trying to find a temporary place to live. ¬†I have massive amounts of grading to do. ¬†I myself have to write several letters of recommendation for teachers in my department that are possible laid off as well. ¬†I am in charge of a million different things at my school, all of which seemed to have events this month. ¬†GAH!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to write my usual two posts a week. ¬†Sitting down now, I was just about to start in on my work when I took a pause, and reminded myself:

It will get done.

It doesn’t matter if I take an hour or two to write this post. ¬†I know myself, and I will handle my responsibilities like I always do. ¬†However, if I don’t take time to do things for myself during periods of high demand, that’s when the possibility of failure becomes real.

Humans are tricky beings.  Sometimes, the very thing that seems to create the most productivity (grind grind grind!) is the very act that leads to our downfall.

We are not meant to push ourselves to the absolute limit each and every day.  We can do it for a period of time, but eventually, progress crashes to a halt.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way with working out. ¬†I thought that if I worked out three times a day and ate next to nothing, I would drop weight like a player drops an old fling. ¬†Lies. ¬†The scale would not budge, and it actuall shot up whenever I didn’t stick to my iron regimen. ¬†Now that I’m eating a normal amount of food and working out once a day, I am actually seeing results.

That’s not to say that there can’t be periods of time where you need to hit the gas over a longer span of time. ¬†However, if we make that our go to MO, it will catch up to us eventually.

When our life becomes highly chaotic, that is when we most need to take the time to center ourselves and take the steps necessary to clear the cobwebs from our head.

But, these also have to be purposeful moments.  A lot of the time we push ourselves so hard that our recovery is sitting on the couch watching TV or going out and binge-drinking.  This is not actual recovery time, because it does nothing to re-energize you.  Every time I waste an entire night watching TV, I feel annoyed with myself for not getting SOMETHING done.

The goal of taking time off should be to advance something that you and only you will benefit from (which will lead into peripheral benefits for others). ¬†This is proven time and time again by mothers who ‘selfishly’ take an hour for themselves to work out, and instantly see the positive impact this purposeful time makes in their day to day lives.

Many people might say that taking time off to be productive defeats the purpose of taking time off.  However, the end goal of time off should be an increase in enjoyment and re-solidification of your purpose.

Think back to the times when you were the most happy.  For me, those times include being with the people I love and care about, reading a great book, or working out.  All of those things, besides giving me contentment, move me towards a personal goal.

There is also a flip side to this coin. ¬†If you are a person who doesn’t push themselves at all, in any capacity, or for any purpose, you are failing yourself. ¬†If your whole life is simply floating in a giant inner-tube being pulled every which way by the current, this is a waste.

Every person is given the chance to make their life purposeful.  The awesome and intimidating reality of this is that you get to choose your purpose.  And the scarier part is, it might not be the same as the people next to you.

Humans are not solitary creatures by nature, and it is very easy to look to someone stronger than you and emulate their life and projected purpose.  It gives us a feeling of safety when we see other people doing the same thing.

However, the beautiful thing about life is that there are no two people who are on the same journey.  If you have truly solidified where you want to go, and actively work towards that goal on a day to day basis, there is an inner sense of contentment that no one can take away from you.

Passionately be at the helm of your own ship. ¬†The entire world is lounging before us, and no matter where you intend to end up, it’s always more rewarding if you earnestly battled the storms and Kraken’s to get there. ¬†You are not a message in a bottle waiting to be drifted to a foreign land. ¬†An epic journey awaits you if you simply pull out your sword and bravely unfurl the sails.

 

 

 

Patience

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These past few days have been, for reasons unknown, more difficult than usual for me.  Not in the sense that I have an overwhelming amount of work or my relationships are falling apart or any other major life catastrophe, but simply the unnerving reality of not having a solid goal to work towards.

Now that I have decided that I want to expand my horizons beyond teaching, I am anxious for my new journey to start RIGHTNOW.  I know that I want to accomplish….something.  The rub, however, is what,exactly I want to achieve.

I have always had a definite, purposeful goal in mind.  Finish high school.  Graduate from college.  Find a well-paying job.  Find a suitable place to live.  Complete my master’s degree.  Check, check, check.  And now, I have these big dreams with no practical objective in sight.

This drives. me. crazy.  I want my ambition epiphany, and I want it yesterday.  The fact that I have no real, tangible target to meet is extremely hard for someone with a goal-oriented life perspective.

And yet, somehow, I feel like this phase is something that needs to happen before I can move on to the next big step in my journey.  Even with little things, on a day to day basis, it feels like the universe has been giving me one solid, clear message in every way possible: BE PATIENT.

Patience is not something I come by easily.  If I know what I want, I want it to happen NOW.  If I have something to do, I try to do it as soon as possible.  I am not a fan of waiting around.

This, however, is a problem.  If I truly want to accomplish something of magnitude, this will not happen overnight.  Logically, I know this.  Emotionally, however, I am clinging to the idea that once I decide what I want to work towards, everything will magically fall into place and badabing, badaboom, I will be an overnight success!

(Yes, you’re allowed to laugh).

In part, I think that this mentality springs from my high school days where I was able to perform in every subject quite passably with minimal effort.  This was not conducive to cultivating a growth mindset, and instead led me to believe that I shouldn’t have to work very hard at things; they should just fall together with a light wave of my hand.

Obviously, this thinking causes quite a bit of misery once you put on big girl pants and realize that life delivers proportionately to the amount of work you put in.  Many times I have avoided trying or continuing with something simply because I know that I won’t be good at it at the first try.  It has taken me 27 years on the planet to realize that patience is indeed a virtue.

But what, exactly, makes patience so desirable?

Anything that is worth possessing requires patience, and so many things, from relationships to weight loss to food preparation, can be ruined by trying to speed things up.  I learn this lesson the hard way every morning I try to speed-cook my eggs and end up with brown crusts rather than yellow fluff.

Patience makes the end result that much sweeter.  If you have ever had homemade ice cream, you know the long, arduous process that it takes; multiple salt and ice additions, endless checking, and seemingly hours of stirring.  But, the moment that creamy sweet vanilla coldness melts in your mouth, you know it was worth it.

Being patient is a trait that is admirable.  Whenever I tell people that I am a middle school teacher, 4/5 people will immediately comment on how much patience I must have to deal with hormonal pre-teens.  If you see someone losing their patience, your immediate reaction is to grimace or turn away; flying off the handle does not lend itself towards inviting people into your inner circle.

Having fortitude in all of the different situations that require patience is really, really hard.  Those people who are able to maintain their composure in every life situation are truly referred to as saints for a reason.

Most importantly, patience yields the best results.  If you had a choice between a chicken that was slow roasted for hours versus a chicken that was hastily boiled, I’m pretty sure the latter would be gracing the circular storage in less than 30 seconds.   If you follow the fitness level of someone who lost immense amounts of weight in a year versus someone who lost the same amount over three years, the person who took longer to shed the extra pounds will be the one who can actually keep it off.

Being able to delay your gratification for the purpose of getting something right is incredibly rewarding once the fruits of your labor ripen.  In nearly every situation, the wow factor of the outcome is proportionate to the amount of patience that was sprinkled in along the way.

With all of these stellar qualities on its resume, patience should be the top candidate of choice in everyone’s various life situations.

As far as my personal journey goes, I feel that the sheer maddening nature of not being clear about what I want to do is preparing me for the long road ahead.  I am allowed to let the end game be unclear (for now).  I am completely authorized to give myself time to ponder and sift through all of the exciting possibilities.  I am released from all the self-imposed pressures to have everything immediately set in stone.

It takes patience to build a life that is worth living.  Time goes by only so fast, and while most of the time we feel like we are already running behind, sometimes it’s ok to slow down so that more of our moments in life are quality moments.  Finding the perfect balance between coming to a complete standstill and rushing so much you perpetually spill your coffee all over your desk and have to start over again and again is a tough challenge to tackle, but one that is well worth it.

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau states, “Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.”  In the end, whatever we place our awareness on grows.  If we take the time to actually focus our energy, we will reap the benefits.

And so, with deep calming breaths, I embrace the wait.  Because I know it’s temporary.  And once I decide where I’m going?  That, my friends, is where the REAL fun begins.

Creating Steam

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This weekend was a three day weekend for me and an amazing one at that. ¬†I felt incredibly happy the majority of the time, yet looking back, I’m dissatisfied with how some of my time was spent.

On Friday night, I chilled out with my roommate and watched ‘our show’. ¬†This isn’t a problem, but the fact that I didn’t do ANYTHING else is.

On Monday, my extra day off, I cleaned in the morning, but napped in the afternoon and fell asleep really early that night.  I was going to do some life errands, but I put them off until today.  Uncool.

While this may seem like a typical weekend for most people, ¬†I know that I don’t want to be most people. ¬†I want to accomplish a lot in life. ¬†Like, a LOT a lot. ¬†Like, an insane amount. ¬†And that requires that my extra time be utilized to its maximum capacity.

Most weekends, I find it incredibly easy to work on the things that I am building in my life. ¬†It feels exciting and fun. ¬†But this past weekend, I lost my momentum. ¬†I wasn’t feeling inspired on Friday and Monday, and I simply didn’t care that much.

So what does this reveal? ¬†Does this imply that I shouldn’t be working as hard as I have been? ¬†Does this suggest I should lower my expectations of myself because they are clearly a bit unrealistic? ¬†Does this foreshadow the impending doom of my lofty ideals?

Hell no.

Upon reflection, I realized that I am never going to be gung-ho, balls out, 2 year old who just got a sucker excited about reaching my goals 100% of the time. ¬†That’s just not possible. ¬†I’m going to get tired. ¬†I’m going to get discouraged. ¬†I’m going to get lazy. ¬†This is normal.

But, I don’t want to be normal. ¬†The difference between ordinary and extraordinary lies in pushing through those moments where you feel like you’ve hit a wall. ¬†Ordinary stops and shrugs its shoulders. ¬†Extraordinary picks up a sledgehammer and starts swinging. ¬†Ordinary makes excuses. ¬†Extraordinary refuses to give in to stumbling blocks. ¬†Ordinary settles. ¬†Extraordinary achieves.

Creating the incredible requires that you just. keep. going.  Everything is so easy when you have that inner desire.  Sometimes, though, you can lose your steam.  Its disheartening when you can observe this happening in yourself.    If you feel like your fire is dimming, take steps to fan your own flames.

In order to create steam you need fire and water, much like creating progress takes motivation and effort. ¬†You’re going to have to add fuel in order to keep the flames alive. ¬†Most of the time, the wood is conveniently plopped in the stockpile close at hand. ¬†Sometimes, it’s still going to be in tree form and require an ax and some muscle. ¬†¬†Other times, you’re going to have more than enough wood, but adding more water becomes necessary so the pot doesn’t boil dry. ¬†It could be as simple as turning on a tap, or as consuming as grabbing a pail, hiking a couple miles, and filling that sucker up.

Regardless of what you need to do in order to keep the momentum, it is going to take mental determination.  Being willing to put in the extra effort creates the difference between achieving awesomeness and settling for humdrum and mainstream.

Sometimes, putting in the effort is easy because the flames of motivation are hot. ¬†Other times, it’s simply a matter of principle that keeps you going.

When it comes to promises made to other people, are you a man or woman of your word?  If you are, how much more important is a promise to yourself?  Know what you want to achieve, and make yourself a promise that you will get there.

And then?

Keep your promise.