Growth Opportunities (Alt. Title: F*CKING UP)

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Last week was a WEEK.  I had a mix-up with my car servicing on Tuesday, my car got broken into on Wednesday AND I got a parking ticket that same night, and to top it off I got a talking-to at work on Thursday.  Needless to say, I was pretty much a mess by the time Friday rolled around.

However, even though almost everything that happened to me cost me quite a bit of money, the thing that upset me the most was getting talked to at work.

A bit of backstory:  I transferred to my current school this year because I wanted to move up to a high school and I wanted to get IB trained.  I ended up getting assigned 7th, 8th, and 9th grade (not really the high school grade levels I was envisioning) and getting misinformation that I WAS going to be trained, but then ultimately being told that I was not.  While I have fallen in love with my kids, I have been pretty grumpy about not being trained in IB since I had made up my mind that that’s what I wanted to do, had asked (and been told yes) several times, and was watching one of my friends prepare to go to training even though I had asked to be put in her position initially.

Needless to say, I am not a quiet person, and so whenever the subject came up I tended to voice my disappointment.  This came across as negative to a member of my department, who discussed it with my AP, who then came and discussed it with me.

Now, I am the first to get pissed off when I am approached about something that I don’t feel is right.  However, the reason I got so upset is because I knew that this person was actually correct.  I HAD been negative.  I HAD been dwelling.  I HAD made my friend feel bad (who had had no hand in assigning training).  I was in the wrong.

This, my friends, is the absolute worst realization ever.  I was wrong.  I fucked up.  I deserved to get a talking-to.

I was a wreck for the rest of the day after that discussion.  The silver lining that came out of it was my kids were super concerned about me, and I even got a note from one of them telling me how awesome I was and how sorry she was that I was “in pain” (#thesweetest).

Unfortunately, I can’t go back in the past and unsay everything I said.  I can’t go into people’s brains and change whatever impression they may have of me now.  I can, however, look at this whole experience as a growth opportunity, and take steps to learn and apply as much as I can.

First, I need to change what I can change.  I cannot change the already spoken words, but I can definitely change my attitude and my words that I choose to release in the future.  I also already made sure that I apologized to my friend so that I could undo some of the damage my careless words caused.  Realizing when you’re wrong sucks SO BAD, but the more important thing is making sure that you go forward armed with the new knowledge and not burdened by it.

Second, I need to apply the lesson to other areas of my life.  In this particular instance, I was dwelling on something that I couldn’t change.  Are there other areas of my life in which I’m dwelling?  Do I know that something is hopeless or not really in the cards and yet I am still ruminating on it and keeping it in my mind?  If so, I know that the potential results of that are at the least not promising and the most, disastrous.

Finally, I need to be thankful for the fuckup.  This, for me, is the absolute hardest one out of the three.  I pride myself on my ability to navigate life with grace and wisdom.  And most of the time, I do a fairly decent job.  However, this means that rather than a myriad of little stumblings, I have a handful of epic whoppers that bring me to my knees.  And yet, these catastrophic episodes of tumbling to the ground teach me so. freaking. much.  I can’t waste too much time crying about them, because they are a virtual goldmine of information that I can use to twirl my way through the next span of time (until I once again crash to the ground).

In reality, not one of us will get through life without some sort of fuck-up.  And truthfully, the bigger the fuck-up, the more valuable the lesson AND the more likely it is that you are trying to do something great.  If you stay in your comfort zone, you will not make mistakes that often.  Which feels great-who doesn’t like to be the master of something?  But the longer you stay in your area of expertise, the less likely it is that you will keep accomplishing at the rate that you had been previously.

Now, I’m not advocating for you to go try to screw up royally on purpose.  But I AM encouraging you to spread your wings and take a risk or two.  Don’t beat yourself up when you fail–that is my lesson that I’m still learning.  I tell my students all the time that “It’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok not to try”.  Honestly, I need to take my own advice.

Try something difficult.  Try something new.  Try SOMETHING.  And when you fail (and you will fail), be grateful for the lesson that it brings.  Adjust.  Grow.  And then, TRY AGAIN.

Taking Back the Spirit of Halloween

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Tonight is, for the majority of ‘of-age’ America, the night where the Halloween celebrations go down.  Parties, bar crawls, shenanigans, pranks, all performed with the extra spice of some creative, hilarious, and/or slutty costume.

From the outside, Halloween is simply another excuse for adults to get drunk and for kids to get hyper.  Let’s be honest, pretty much every American holiday looks that way from the outside.  But for me as an adult, growing up in a family that didn’t celebrate Halloween, it has always been about getting to show off my creative side both in ideas and in manifestation.

While most of my friends are quite content to be sexy cops, sexy maids, or the infamous sexy cat, I refuse to touch such cliches with a ten-foot pole.  Not that there is anything wrong with sexy cat, I just have thus far fiercely clung to my ideals of originality and home-made ensembles, and I don’t see myself changing that anytime soon.

Last year, I was quite proud of my American Beauty idea, and made a costume that was simple yet pretty awesome in my humble opinion (pictured above).

This year, I sit with 12 hours between me and the time when I step out into the world to display my creation, and I have nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

Considering that I was always ready for Halloween pretty early in the past, I find myself wondering what the change is.  Why am I not ready for this?

Part of it is the fact that I don’t feel like my body is something to show off right now, and sexy female costumes are the bread and butter of this holiday, which certainly puts a damper on things.  But mostly, as I look back on the past weeks and months, I have simply not been putting a priority on creativity.

Instead, I’ve been focusing on work, working out, sloooowwwwly reading my real estate books along with other self-improvement literature, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off to this appointment or that scheduled event.  Creating a Halloween costume has not been on the top list of my priorities.

All of this focus on productivity has been good, but it also has taken a toll.  My face has decided to sprout some ‘friends’, my extra lbs are stubbornly clinging to the areas I most certainly do not want them to cling, and to top everything off I caught a cold last week (getting sick is a rare, sad occasion for me).

What would happen, I wonder, if I simply embraced the spirit of Halloween more in everyday life?  What if, instead of worrying about spending ALL of my time in productive mode, I allowed myself a bit of creative time, just because?

Maybe taking some time to stop and paint the roses wouldn’t actually be holding me back.  Maybe, just maybe, it might actually spur more of the productivity that I want to see.

Let me give you some examples.

I have been wanting to make a vision board for quite a while, but because it’s not immediately productive, I keep putting it off.  Yet, whenever I hear successful people talk, they always refer to their vision board and how it keeps them on track.

What if I allowed myself an afternoon of unfettered cutting and gluing, of humming along to some Lana Del Rey or Angels and Airwaves, and really thinking about what I want to put on my vision board and how I want the final product to look.  How powerful would it be to have my dreams be on display in color every single day?

When you look at it that way, it seems incredibly silly to have waited this long.

Or how about the fact that I want to write several different books and perhaps even some screenplays, yet I never allow myself to indulge in a good fiction book binge-sesh, opting instead for more non-fiction reading that encourages self-reflection and hopefully spurs mental growth.  All great reads, by the way.

Yet, what if I picked up a book at the bookstore, gave myself an evening to dig in, and discovered that the way that author writes is amazing, and it turbo-charges my desire to create my own kick-ass protagonist?  AKA, actually push my ideas into fruition. Why the hell haven’t I been doing this on a regular basis?

Creativity is literally the fountain of life.  We as humans are created out of two people’s love for one another (or should be in an ideal world).  We are born of creation, and therefore we are born to create.

Why, then, do I and so many others inadvertently spurn the soft fields of creativity and hail the cold concrete of production?  We are in essence cutting off our nose to spite our face.

When it comes to Christmas time, everyone agrees that we should have more of the spirit of Christmas in our hearts year round—giving, loving, caring about our fellow man.  And I agree.  But I also vote that we should have the spirit of Halloween year-round, too—fun and creativity.

If we embraced those traits in our daily lives, all of us would be happier.  And just think of everything cool that would come from those hours embodying fun and creativity!  All things amazing and awe-inspiring and and epic originally came from an idea-an idea that was given the space and light to germinate, unfurl, and finally blossom.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I now have 11 hours left to put together the perfect blend of innovation and sex appeal…and I now know just what I’m going to do.

I’m putting creativity back on the priority list.  I suggest you do the same.

Happy innovating!

Energy is Everything

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Today I woke up with a full-blown cold.  Stuffy nose, throat slightly scratchy, coughing-the whole nine.  Ironically, today is also the day that I determined that I would revamp my entire life and mindset and become extremely productive,  stop fucking around with my diet, and basically become Hannah 2.0: Awesome Edition.

While I still fully intend to get all of my things on my Win the Day list done, it is proving to be substantially more difficult because I. Am. Drained.  I have thus far completed one task (meal prep) and all I want to do is take a nap.

This got me thinking about how energy is KEY to living our lives as our best selves.  I have no idea how people who are chronically sick, always tired, or perpetually mowing down fast food every day of the week do it.

Your energy is the pilot light of your life.  And as such it needs to be your top priority.  So, how do you ensure that you are always running on a full tank of gas?  How do you avoid the gas light coming on when you’re still 40 miles away from your next destination?

Be Proactive.  I could feel the inklings of this cold on Friday night.  Yet I still chose to go out drinking and stay up late.  Granted, it was a friend’s birthday party so I would have been a bit of a rat if I had skipped out last minute, but I could have chosen not to drink, headed back to the hotel early, or made sure that I was consuming good, healthy food before heading out.  Instead, I chose to ignore the signs and carry on as if all was well.  And now, here we are, 12 kleenexes deep before noon.

Being proactive about your health is the best way to ensure that your energy reserves are always replenished and you are constantly running on all cylinders.  Our mind may be the tool that is responsible for getting most things done, but it is housed in our bodies; it can only do so much if its living space is constantly drained.

Even before the hint of a cold, I could feel myself getting run down by all of the things going on in my life.  School, sports leagues, working out, diet, birthdays, friend hangouts…everything seemed to happen at once and without a break, constantly keeping me moving, and I went along on the rapids, not realizing how much all of the perpetual motion was really affecting me.

You need to be able to recognize when you are on the verge of cracking, and somehow ease off the pressure for a little bit.  Giving yourself a night off from your responsibilities, taking a slow walk with no heart rate goal in mind, indulging in a mid-week glass of wine.  All of the things that we may not allow ourselves to do because we have too many other responsibilities to handle; those are the things that become the most critical tasks when we approach the breaking point.

Practice Prevention.  Taking the time to slow down can be difficult, because I am a firm believer in the fact that productivity and accomplishments are what give us our sense of self-worth.  No one should feel good about wasting their days away just doing things they feel like doing in that moment on a consistent basis.

But there is the other side of the coin where if you don’t take the time to indulge your inner whims, you will lose sight of what you enjoy about life and wind yourself tighter and tighter until you eventually have no choice but to explode.

In order to live your best life, you have to be productive, accomplish things, grow from one week to the next.  Yet to achieve this constant growth, you must have an abundance of energy, which comes from your ability to take a step back from the grindstone and admire your progress, drink some water, wipe off the sweat, and then get back to it.

Use the energy you have.  In my experience, the more you use your energy, the more energy you will have available to you.  If I go to the gym after work and spend a good hour on strength expenditure, I will have exponentially more energy for the rest of the evening than if I skip the gym altogether.  This logically should not make sense.  Yet I have experienced it time and time again.

Likewise, when I get quite a few things done on my list for that day, I am a lot more motivated to get even more things done.  Contrarily, when I wake up, plant my ass in front of the TV, and don’t move for an hour or so, I want nothing more than to not move for the rest of the day.

Know yourself.  Sometimes, when you’re feeling like you can’t get anything done and you are dead tired, all you need to do is push past the mental barrier and you will be whipping through your stuff in record time.  Other times, you can try as hard as you want to push through, but you simply cannot because you are running on empty.

You need to be able to tell those times apart.  If you know in the back of your mind that you tend to feel overwhelmed and shut down at a certain point yet you still have some reserve left, push yourself past that mental block.  If you know, however, that you are seriously approaching your breaking point, ease off the gas and allow yourself to have a break for a day.

Overall, balancing your energy is one of the most effective tools for owning your life.  No one wants to gather their grandchildren about them and regal them with tales of the time you sat and watched TV every weekend for 20 years straight and how you always felt sick and run-down.  Taking control of how you feel and really taking the time to know your body and safely push your limits is the best way to get the most out of this gift we have been given.

Take the time to give yourself a break, but only enough to gather your force for the next breakthrough.  Everything, much like the tides of the ocean, is a cycle, and you can either have it work for you or against you.  Learn to read the waves, and you will find yourself surfing with ease rather than tumbling along the break-line gasping for air.

Mistakes=Knowledge

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Last night, my friend and I were discussing the disease of perfection that permeates how women feel they need to be perceived.  As a gender, especially with social media, we are made to feel that we should have the perfect ass, perfect hair, perfect face; be able to have an amazing career while being amazing mothers/partners; be sexy but not slutty; be feminine but not too girly; the list goes on.

As a man, the pressure is no less intense.  You need to be a perfectly suave career man, steadily climbing the ladder; casually show off the abs that come from a little light sweat in the gym; be tough but not too tough; embrace sports; simultaneously be able to kill a spider and fix a faucet while tearing through a giant steak.  Anything a woman could want all in one chiseled package.

This portrayal of superiority  in every way possible is completely unrealistic and completely unhealthy.

Yet so many people have bought into this representation completely and live lives fraught with miserable comparison after miserable comparison.  There is no room for widely deviating personalities.  There is seemingly no forgiveness for error.  In short, there is no relaxation into or even celebration of the fact that we are freakin’ human.

I cannot tell you how many times I have beaten myself up for making a mistake.  I slipped up and ate something while dieting?  I restrict even more out of frustration.  I said something wrong to a friend?  I flush with shame at every remembrance.  I handled a situation wrong at work?  I replay the scene over and over again.  If I want to become the person that I hold up in my mind as the gold standard, there is simply no room for error.

I put a lot of pressure on myself as it is, and with the added vision of becoming a woman that has it all, I find myself shying away from things that might lead to error.  Yet I have come to realize that this is the complete opposite of what I should be doing.  If I really want to strive towards greatness, I need to embrace mistakes.

Love your mistakes.

How cringy does that sound?  Love my mistakes?  Hell no!  Mistakes are what keep me from awesomeness!

Yet what we need to realize is, mistakes are what make UP our awesomeness.

I made a mistake when I was 19 years old and got married.  This wasn’t a little “oops, I spilled a little Pinot Noir on the couch” mistake.  No, this was a “shit, I just murdered 5 years of my life and I can never get them back” mistake.  Talk about something you don’t want to blast all over social media.

And yet, that mistake has shaped me to be a better person.  I am more empathetic.  I can relate to people in their poisonous comfort zone.  I have extremely high standards for who I even allow to take me on a second date.  That fuck-up has given me invaluable knowledge.

Overall, the problem does not come when we make the mistake.  The problem comes when we refuse to acknowledge that mistake and therefore deny ourselves the opportunity to ruminate on it, examine it, dissect it for the valuable information that it holds.

If you analyze the big, juicy, terrible mistakes that you have made over the years, you will undoubtedly find that you are now the proud possessor of subsequent clumps of education directly stemming from your deepest pools of shame IF you have taken the time to work through everything.  If you have simply ignored the error and moved on, you are highly likely to make that same blunder again.

Sweeping the mistake under the rug will not cause the snafu to be unsnaffed.  Everyone wants to be smarter, to have a broader base of knowledge, to know what to do in every situation.  The irony of it is, you almost always have to do the wrong things before you figure out the right things.

Of course, one of the greatest tools we have as human beings is to learn from other people’s examples (and we don’t even have to actually know the person to do so!).  Books, podcasts, articles—they all offer valuable information that will cut our learning time down in droves if we actually take advantage of them.

There is no escaping making miscalculations of our own, sometimes with catastrophic results (yet with a silver lining of incomparable knowledge if we choose to take advantage of it).  But if we can glean the knowledge that other people have gained and graciously decided to share with us, we will be so much further ahead.

Holding back from living your life in order to minimize your mistakes is the shittiest way to live that I can think of.  Our one life that we get to live deserves to be fiercely embraced, relentlessly experienced, and openly analyzed.

And lets be honest, mistakes are where the good stories come from.  If nothing else, that moment that sends you sobbing into your pillow every night for a year will end up being the time that you eagerly share the most often IF you take the time to glean the wisdom that such an event presents.

Go out and be gloriously flawed.  Strive for perfection whenever you can, but take advantage of the times that you fall.  Seize every opportunity life sees fit to offer you, and continuously utilize every opportunity to improve in one way or another.

No one, and I mean no one, is perfect.  We all have fuck ups.  If you really want to be be a cut above, though, actually glean the knowledge from yours.

Don’t Let Your Focus Override Your Purpose

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Last weekend, I decided to go get a drink for a couple of hours on Monday to celebrate Labor Day and to get out of the house.  I was planning on two, maybe three hours max since I was by myself and I still wanted to complete some extra things back at the house before the week started.

As it turns out, my friend decided to come meet me and we ended up heading home around 8:30, sliiiiightly over the mental time limit I had set for myself.  I got nothing done that I wanted to, but I wasn’t upset, and not just because I had had a good time.

The reason that I wasn’t upset was because that day resulted in a much better friendship between that friend and me.  We both had misconceptions and slight mistrust towards each other before, since this was a “friends through a mutual friend” situation, and having fun together ultimately lead to a really, really good conversation where we were able to clear things up and open up to one another in a way that allowed true friendship to blossom.

Just think, though: what if I had gone against my instincts and allowed my focus on getting stuff done to prevent that from happening?  What if I had been so bent on what I felt SHOULD get done that I missed what NEEDED to get done?  I can guarantee our relationship would still be strained and we would both be trying to pretend that it wasn’t.

Focus and drive are invaluable.  However, sometimes we get tunnel vision and neglect to see the opportunities around us that would enhance our lives and purpose dramatically if only we would slow down and take advantage of them.

As much as we need that inner fire, and at times we do need to block out the outside world if we want to get anything accomplished, if we do that all the time sometimes we will miss the fact that perhaps our purpose is changing, or should change.  A lot of times we settle on a goal and do our darndest to reach that goal without actually stopping to analyze if that target is actually within the scope of where we want our life to end up.

Our purpose should drive our focus, not the other way around.  If something isn’t serving you or serving your objective, why are you still focusing on it?  There is no shame in quitting something if you realize that it is actually not helping you get to where you want to be.

This concept that I just mentioned-of quitting for lack of purpose-is one that I have struggled with in the past.  When I commit to something, I like to go all in.  I don’t back down.  I get. shit. done.  But really, how dumb is it to keep doggedly trying to accomplish something after discovering that it just isn’t for you, or that your desires have changed, or that it actually won’t help you get to where you need to be?

Quitting because you’re a pussy is one thing.  That should never be an option.  But quitting because it’s not longer the right fit should never be something to be ashamed of.  It’s hard, though, especially if you’ve held a certain purpose in your mind for so long.  Those deeply ingrained targets can be hard to let go of, but sometimes it’s necessary to take inventory and clear out all the clutter.

But if we’ve been focused on one point for so long, how can we remove ourselves enough to know if it’s really the not right thing or if we’re just going through a momentary inner struggle?

Honestly, most of the time you already kind of know.  There’s a big difference between little dips in the road (i.e. man, this is really hard, I wonder if I have what it takes) and giant stop signs (i.e. every single step I take towards this goal is making me miserable, this target doesn’t actually align with my end game).

On the other hand, there are times when quitting isn’t the answer.  Those are the moments when you just have to step back, take a breather, and realize that the reason the wagon isn’t moving is because there is a stick stuck in the spokes and all you have to do it pull it out and you’ll be moving merrily along.

The point is, tunnel vision can be both a blessing and a curse.  Don’t begrudge the times when your focus gets shaken and your purpose gets solidified.  There will (hopefully) always be more time you can dedicate to your goals, but sometimes moments that remind us of the scope of our existence happen only once in a while; don’t miss out on those opportunities because you are worried about throwing off your game.  I promise you, if you want it badly enough, your game will be even better for taking that moment to soak in the reason why you are working so hard.

Feed your focus.  Starve your distractions.  But never, ever forget your purpose.

 

Inspiration Must be Sought

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This morning (a Saturday), I woke up around 6am and hopped on my bike to take a lap around the Back Bay area, which is a beautiful lake-like bay that I just discovered a couple of weeks ago right by my house.

As per usual for my morning rides, I popped in my headphones and scrolled through my podcast list to choose a title that caught my eye.  The past week, I’ve been listening to either The MFCEO Project by Andy Frisella and his cohosts Vaughn and Tyler or The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes.  I absolutely love the former podcast because you can feel 100% that the information given is valuable, and that the people giving it are authentic.  The latter is great as well because Lewis brings on pretty cool guests.

The point is, my four AM bike rides this week means that I have listened to four different podcasts, all with varying messages and main points.  The one common factor, however, is that starting off the morning listening to people who want to make a difference in the world and who are very successful has motivated me each day to start getting my shit together again, and to focus on the different areas of my life that I want to improve.

During the past couple of months, I haven’t been as motivated as I have been in the past to get working on all of my side goals that I have for myself.  My real estate books have fallen by the wayside, snacks have made their way into my tummy way more often than I’d like, and my book ideas have remained just that….ideas.

This is partly due to the fact that I am starting out a new school year with a heavier workload than I’ve ever had before, but it’s also because I have neglected to feed my mind with inspiration in order to keep my vision at the forefront of my mind.

Successful people always say that you will not be motivated 100% of the time, and you have to be able to simply put in the work anyway regardless of how fired up you feel in the given moment.  I completely agree.  However, I think that the hard work will eventually peter out without periodic bursts of oxygen to get the fire roaring again.

However, there sometimes is this idea that inspiration is something that must hit you like a strike of lightening, and it will come out of the middle of nowhere and BAM, you will be triggered to throw yourself wholeheartedly into your passions once again.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes inspiration DOES happen like that.  However, most of the time those who get re-inspired get that way because they are constantly seeking out people, stories, and actions that motivate them.  And it is only when they can’t find that outside galvanization that their work ethic kicks in, and they do what they need to do anyways.

So how do people find such motivation on a regular basis?

Follow people who have done the work.  While social media sometimes gets a bad rap for being a time suck and perpetuating images that simply aren’t true, there are people who put out a lot of really valuable content and give inside looks into their day to day routines that lay out the blueprint for how to emulate their success.

If your feed is filled with people who are constantly hustling and improving themselves, you cannot help but feel obligated to catch up.  If your feed is filled with memes glorifying laziness and constant partying, you will feel pretty great about where you’re sitting and feel completely unmotivated to change.

Expand your knowledge.  There are so many smart, life-experienced people who have taken the time to write about what they know to be true.  We can cut our learning curve by quite a bit if we take the time to take advantage of each perspective of life that has been offered to us.  There is nothing more motivating that reading the life story of someone who has overcome obstacle after obstacle and finally came out on top (and stayed there).

Even if you read something that you don’t agree with or that don’t resonate with you, you can still use the pieces that do make sense to fuel your fire or to add more to the picture of your life and where you want to go. Gathering information that you end up discarding is not a waste of time if it solidifies the direction that you’re going.

Motivation doesn’t have to come in a glittery, splashy package; sometimes it simply is a phrase that you come across or a small conversation with a friend, or a quote that grabs your attention as you scroll through Instagram.  But the thing about inspiration is that it is not a constant, and it is not the end game.

No one wants to tell stories about how they spent their life being motivated.  You need to use that impetus that you find on a daily or weekly basis to actually work toward something tangible.  A spark is necessary for the flame to start, but the labor of cutting down the trees, hauling them to the fire pit, and physically putting them in the ring is what creates the fire that is usable.

The bottom line is inspiration isn’t necessary to do hard work, but the hard work comes much more quickly and easily if you have the inspiration.  Seek out ways to become motivated, but then don’t let that motivation go to waste.  A horse that is spurred to run but is chained to a wheel will only be trotting in circles.  Don’t place inspiration above putting in the work, but recognize the advantages of the extra fuel.  What you focus on grows, so make sure that spotlight is shining on the right things.

In other words, set your intention, seek out those above you, and go get inspired to actually do the work!

Dedication Becomes Habit

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Today I started my routine of waking up at 5am and doing cardio before heading to work.  I had stopped doing it a month before the last school year ended, and didn’t pick it up again during the summer.  However, because I have certain Halloween goals (Spandex suit, anyone?), I am dusting off ye olde alarm clock (or the earlier alarm clock setting, anyways), and utilizing my brand-spankin’ new hybrid bike and exploring the roadways around my house.

When I mention that I get up at 5am, most people are surprised and feel sorry for me.  When I mention WHY I get up at 5am, people make comments like “wow, really?” and “you’re really dedicated!”

Which is funny because to me, dedication sometimes seems like a chore.  Something that you have to slog through and mentally grit your teeth about and put your head down and just.get.it.done.

Yet for me, because I’ve done a 5am wakeup call for so long (minus my three month haitus, of course) I was able to slip into the routine this morning without a problem.

Of course, in the beginning, my routine was nothing but a problem.  I mean, waking up at 5am when it’s still dark as pitch out and only the hard-core commuters are there to share your misery is not anyone’s definition of a good time.

And yet, as I groggily opened my eyes morning after morning, it become something that I simply did.  Engrained.  Part of the daily grind.  A habit.

In order for the hard things to reach the point where they are no longer hard, you have to struggle through the beginning stages.  When you pick up your first weight at the gym, it has to give you a little bit of pain in order for your muscles to actually get stronger and be able to handle heavier weights.

Obviously, if you pick up a heavy weight one day, and then two weeks later pick it up again, that won’t do anything.  That’s where the grinding comes in (and not the fun grinding on the dance floor).  Pushing yourself to go headfirst into the suck day in and day out until eventually, it starts to suck a little less and pretty soon, it’s not sucking at all!  In fact, you might actually find yourself enjoying it.

So, how do you find it in yourself to actually make it past the daunting gauntlet of suckage to get to the enticing, seemingly unreal goal of actually liking this thing you once hated?

Mental fortitude.  You simply cannot reach this point if you don’t have the mental balls to tell yourself that you are GOING TO DO THIS, DAMMIT!  Having the discipline and strength to get through the terrible times is invaluable and indeed, 100% necessary to turn your desires into a habit.

Many people let themselves have the easy way out.  Catch yourself in the act, and force yourself to follow the harder (yet more satisfying) path.  This will be a major bummer the first couple (or more) times, but it eventually that dedication will pay off in great habits.

Start small.  If metal toughness and going all in on a goal is something that you’ve always struggled with, start small!  Sometimes the easy goals to hit are overlooked.

If you eventually want to become the top salesperson at your job and know that your skills are sub-par, but just can’t make yourself concentrate on the classes or practice that will get you what you need, start with one thing.  Find one small tweak that you can make that is so small it seems laughable, and challenge yourself to do that for one week.

Once you’ve accomplished this small, insignificant goal, you will feel a small ego boost.  This will carry you through your next round of attainable mini-goals, and eventually, you’ll find that the target that seemed so far off before now seems, well, actually attainable!

Sometimes, we may look at someone and feel like they have their shit 100% together and they don’t struggle with anything because they are always following through with what they set out to do.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  There are some days where I go to the gym and my ENTIRE BRAIN is screaming at me to turn around and hightail it back home.  Hell, even tonight I didn’t want to write a blog post, but because I try to post every Tuesday and Saturday (barring anything unforeseen), I opened my laptop and started typing.

You will never be at your peak in all areas of your life (unless you are super human).  However, with time, you will be able to build up the different aspects of your life after a period of dedication to each one, and then you will be at a point where you are able to start optimizing rather than playing catch-up.

Plowing into the dedication stage does really pay off.  You will mostly likely want to tear your hair out and quit, but if you stick with it for a while, you will be so, so glad you did.  Building up to a habit is like building a house-the foundation is the dirty part, the framing is a little easier, but once you get to the point where you can decorate it, live in it, and show it off, all the blood, sweat, and tears WILL be worth it.

Just know, you CAN do it.  All it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of commitment dust. Then, friends, you are ready to fly!