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.

Appreciation is a Powerful Drug

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Last weekend, all of my friends got together and had an amazingly fun girls night-without me. ¬†Whomp Whomp. I had prior obligations, and while I was sad that I couldn’t be there, I know it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.

What made this event stick out to me, however, wasn’t the fact that I was missed out, but the fact that they all took the time to tell me that they wished I was with them and to make sure I knew that they would have rather had me join in the fun.

Now, having a group of girlfriends is probably old hat to most women my age, but I haven’t yet had this experience: I grew up fast, working all the time, and I was married throughout college, the time when most people are forming solid friend groups for life. ¬†This show of appreciation for, well, just being¬†me made me feel amazing.

This got me thinking: how often do we take the time to let people know that they are appreciated simply just for existing in our lives? ¬†When do we take the time out of our day to write a text, drop a note, take advantage of a pause in conversation just to say hey…you’re awesome. ¬†Thanks for being in my life.

Polite habits are ingrained (or should be ingrained) in us from childhood.  Say please and thank you.  Write a thank you letter when you receive a gift.  Make sure that if someone does you a favor you pay them back somehow, someway.

Yet we rarely take the time to appreciate people just for being them. ¬†And let me tell you from one who has received an abundance of ‘just because’ recognition lately: it feels damn good.

When it comes down to it, appreciation is simply showing that you notice and you are grateful. ¬†Writing a thank you note for that brand-new wedding crock pot is a formalized way of saying Hey! ¬†I liked this thing you picked out for me. ¬†I am really happy that I don’t have to go get one myself. ¬†Thank you!

When you tell someone ‘thank you’, or ‘miss you’, or ‘wish you were here’, it’s saying that you notice them and you’re grateful for what they bring into your life. ¬†You observe what they do when you’re around, and you care when they are not around.

There are so many people in your world that deserve appreciation.  

That barista that makes you coffee every morning?  It would make her day to hear a heartfelt greeting and sincere words of acknowledgment on how much she kicks ass every morning.

That office lady who always greets you with a smile, no matter what?  It would mean the world to hear even the smallest affirmation of  how well she does her job.

That coworker who keeps his head down and just does his job-but does it well?  He would love to hear that people notice his dedication.

No matter how much we tell ourselves that we can give ourselves our own props and it doesn’t matter how other people notice, when push comes to shove, this is complete and total bullshit. ¬†While we can, of course, keep going without cheerleaders and can accomplish anything we want sans pats on the back, the truth is, receiving that acknowledgment and recognition from others around us can act as high-octane gas in our fuel tank.

Sometimes, our encouragement just serves as as a touchstone for others on their journey, a sign that they are doing what they need to do.  Other times, our confirmation can be the push that sends them soaring beyond anything they dreamed they were capable of, that little rev on the engine that sent them shooting beyond the mark they made for themselves.

We never know where anyone is in their life journey. ¬†So seek out opportunities to appreciate others. ¬†These opportunities can be as big as letting someone know that you think they’re doing such a great job that you’re going to recommend them for a promotion, or as small as saying thank you to the random stranger who holds open the door for you.

There are so many situations that we fail to take advantage of; appreciation opportunities are actually quite frequent; you simply have to pay attention:

Tell your friend that you miss them when they aren’t there.

Tell your spouse that you feel lucky to be married to them, just because.

Tell your coworker that they are doing amazing, especially when you can see they’re having a tough day.

Tell your boss that you appreciate his communication.

Tell your mailman that you appreciate his service.

Many times we tend to think “well, it’s just so-and-so’s JOB to do that. ¬†I don’t need to acknowledge anything”. ¬†Who the hell cares? ¬†It’s MY job to teach, and guess what my favorite thing in the world is: hearing ‘thank you’ from a student. ¬†People may be getting paid to do something, but money exchanging hands should not be a determining factor for with-holding gratitude. ¬†Besides the light that you will bring to others, it also serves to make YOU feel amazing.

Take the time to reflect on who actually is a help to you, who makes you feel amazing, who is there for you when shit hits the fan, who makes you laugh, who knows you inside and out, and who is doggedly keeping your life running in the background. ¬†After you’ve realized all the amazing people that you know and who is true gold in your life, take the time to sincerely tell them ‘thank you’. ¬†And then, every once in a while, just so they don’t forget…tell them again.

Best Foot Forward

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I just ended a week full of presenting my best self.  Interviews are no joke: dressing to impress, trying to recall all of your vast work experience to fit into one perfectly worded response to the rapid-fire questions coming across the conference table, and anxiously waiting to hear back from the one job you really want (and, of course, hearing back from the job you’re only so-so about two hours after you leave).

Finding a job is serious business.  If you’re good at the initial first impression game, you have lots of offers, even if your qualifications are sub-par.  If you can’t interview well, sometimes you are passed by for someone with more flair.  Knowing how to play the game is crucial if you really want to get ahead.

These observations instantly reminded me of dating.  Finding a partner is one big interview process that can be intriguing and exciting but also exhausting and disheartening.  And the exact same parameters for success apply.

When you’re dating, you make sure you make up your face perfectly and wear the top that shows off just enough cleavage to be interesting, but not enough to be slutty.  You try to come up with clever and witty responses to their questions, and you anxiously wait by the phone for them to text (but sadly, usually only getting 5 in a row from that one guy from that one bar who won’t leave you the hell alone).

This begs the question:  what’s the difference between someone who gets the job, and someone who is sent the polite “thank you but no thanks” e-mail?  What differentiates between someone whose call is eagerly awaited and someone whose very name on the screen initiates an eyeroll and a screenshot?

Marketing matters.  The candidate who comes across as knowledgeable, friendly, and confident, even if she is shaking in her proverbial boots, is the person who will receive the offer.  Likewise, the guy who goes after what they want without any hesitation and puts out the vibe that they know the other person will like them will usually get the giggle, sideways glances, and beaming smiles from the girl they are pursuing.

However, this is a double-edge sword in both scenarios.  Sometimes confidence can cross the line into arrogance.  No one, either in the professional and dating worlds, wants to be around an egomaniac.  Trying to downplay things, though, can be equally as off-putting.  While reaching the Goldilocks sweet spot can be tough, it is the attitude that wins the offer letter AND the 2 second text response.

Authenticity matters.  Even if people aren’t  as in tune with their inner psyche as they should be, we usually can tell when something is off.  As humans, we want to know that we are surrounded by trustworthy human beings both on the job and in our romantic relationships.  Authenticity means being true to your likes and dislikes, what you need, and not being afraid to show your whole self.

Nonetheless, this again needs to be tempered with common sense.  Just because you prefer casual dress at the workplace doesn’t mean you should show up to an interview in jeans.  Likewise, just because you enjoy frozen TV dinners more than fine dining doesn’t mean you should take your date to Chipotle the first time around.  Our BEST authentic self should be what we present, not our ’20 years in the same job’ self or ‘thrifty, cutting corners’ self.

Preparation Matters.  Believe it or not, there are some people who show up to an interview with no idea of what the company stands for or what makes it unique.  Likewise, there are people who ask for a first ‘date’, only to end up dilly-dallying around because they made no plans beforehand.  Interviewers want to know that you have done your homework and that you actually want to work THERE versus ANYWHERE.  Girls want to know that you care enough about the date to take the time to set up a dinner reservation.  Doing your homework may not guarantee an A on the test, but it will give you a hell of a better shot than just winging it.

Ultimately, you can market yourself impeccably, be true to yourself, prepare to the Nth degree, and still not get a callback or a second date.  Sometimes, there was a superior candidate.  Other times, it just wasn’t the right fit.  While either scenario sucks, it’s also a relief to know that you are still free to find the perfect fit for YOU, whether it be a job with more flexibility or a partner who just gets you.

Opportunities in life are just that: opportunities.  Just because one doesn’t take off the way you imagined or hoped doesn’t mean that you are forever doomed.  In most cases, people looking back on their lives at chances that didn’t work out for some reason (OTHER than lack of effort) feel that they were the recipient of something much better later on.

And so, whether you are searching for a job or searching for a soulmate, don’t tie yourself to one image of what you *think* you want.  Give your all and take every chance that you think might pan out, but don’t spiral into despair over a rejection letter or a flopped date.  In the end, if you play your cards right, the best things in the world will fall into your lap, and you will thank the stars for every experience that led you to that point.

LIVE for Something

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Yesterday I was listening to a song, and one of the lyrics stood out to me: “Why isn’t anyone willing to die for anything anymore?” (paraphrased).

At first glance, being willing to die for something is the ultimate commitment.  You are willing to lay down your LIFE for this thing, which means you are willing to give up your existence in order to show your dedication to this cause you feel so strongly about.

But when I was pondering this lyric and internally agreeing that the willingness to die for something really IS lacking in today’s world, I came to the realization that dying for something is hard, but living for it is harder.

When you die for something, it is over in an instant.  You declare your unending dedication by a short, albeit dramatic demonstration, and then it is over.  People remember your act for a while, but it usually fades shortly thereafter.

If you LIVE for something, however, that takes substantially more commitment.  It means that all of your time is dedicated towards that goal.  All of your choices are geared towards furthering your cause.  There are constant sacrifices that need to be made, and you are consistently having to rededicate your mind to the prize and remind yourself of why you are so devoted in the first place.

This is the reason why people who LIVE for something are remembered.  People like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony, and many more are individuals who are commemorated for their fierce commitment to causes that were near and dear to their heart.

Each of these people were living for things greater than themselves.  Which, in my belief, is the key to true success.  When you focus on causes that impact people outside of just you, you will get increasingly more momentum as others appreciate, acknowledge, and even join your purpose rather than simply putting your head down and bulldozing through your own personal agenda.

So, what does it mean to actually live for something versus simply existing?

It means that you are actively involved in the direction your life is going.  So many people allow their lives to be dictated by life events or people close to them.  They lose out on opportunities because they don’t want to leave their current job or the people around them, or they settle down with someone and give up their life long dream of traveling to Europe because that person doesn’t like to travel.

Using a personal example, I could choose to take my layoff as a sign to leave California, or bend to the pressure to move back to Minnesota, or simply apply anywhere there is a job and take what I can get.  However, I know that I want to stay near the coast, so I am only applying to jobs that fit that location criteria.  I refuse to let being laid off dictate where I live, and I am completely confident in my abilities to make it happen.

It means you have put thought into what is important to you, and you have decided what you can compromise on and what you cannot.  If you don’t forcefully put aside time for yourself to figure out what you want, there is no way that you can keep a steady course.  Living FOR something means that you have given substantial thought to this goal or cause, and have laid out the steps you need to take to get there.

I have seen this firsthand in the life of someone close to me.  He has decided what he wants to live for, and he refuses to let anything get in his way.  The reason he can be so absolute, however, is because he has devoted a good portion of his time to figuring out what is important to him and why.

It means you have character.  It is hard to stick to something with so many obstacles constantly being placed in your path.  People who have character stick to their guns no matter what because they have gone through the mental work necessary to solidify how important their goals or their cause is to them.

The best example I can think of for character is my father.  He has beliefs that he considers absolutes, and there is absolutely nothing that will sway him to compromise those beliefs.  Even if it would be immensely easier to give into to those around him, he still unwavering acts upon his own convictions.

Overall, living FOR something versus simply existing is the optimal way to live your life.  Think of your life as a giant puzzle: it is infinitely easier to put together the picture if you have the box to go off of.  It’s just that in life, you get to create the image yourself.  If you don’t take the time to create that image and set it up so that it is constantly in your field of vision, who knows what Kindergarden-like image you will end up with at the end of your life.

Masterpieces take time, planning, and dedication.  Don’t waste your life floating from one experience to the next; decide what you want to accomplish with this one life we are given, and then take the steps to make it happen.  Live FOR something, and your life will be one worth living. 

 

Awesome Begats Awesome

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At this moment, I am sitting on my couch, basking in the memory of an incredible birthday weekend spent with people that mean the world to me, gallivanting around the southern half of California, and dancing the night away.  *sigh of contentment*

My birthday was amazing.  And if you know me, you know that I planned it out approximately 5 months in advance, invited everyone I cared about, and sent out hourly reminders until the day of.  There was no room for error, and I loved every single second.

On Sunday, I was discussing how awesome my birthday Friday was with someone, and I made the comment that it turned out great because I made sure that it turned out great, leaving no detail left to chance.

He offhandedly remarked “well yeah, but it probably had a lot more to do with being an awesome person.” *cue blush*

After my initial flattered response (sadly, it wasn’t just a compliment for me), we discussed how the people who are generally wonderful have positive and amazing things happen to them, while the people who are generally terrible have shitty and negative things happen to them.

In a phrase, you attract what you radiate.

This concept is nothing new. ¬†I have read multiple articles on the topic, sayings like “your vibe attracts your tribe” are everywhere, and people are always quick to point out how someone caused their own downfall in one way or another due to their mindset.

And yet, it is rare that people actually take this truth into consideration in their daily lives.  There are so many times that individuals see something that they want and are flabbergasted when they cannot seem to obtain it or when it does not fit into their life.  If you want something out of life, first you must become attractive to that thing.

The biggest example I can think of to illustrate this concept is our relationships with other people, both romantic and platonic.  If you as a female are attracted to strong, intellectual men yet you are a party girl who just wants to get some dranks every weekend, you will not appeal to that type of man.  If you are a male attracted to feisty, independent women, you cannot be living with your parents and crumbling to their every desire.

If you want friends who are ride or die and will be there for you no matter what happens, you have to give that to them first. ¬†If you want friends who can travel the world with you, don’t limit yourself to your high school bestie who has never left the hometown except for the occasional Christmas at Grandma’s the next state over.

People who are awesome want nothing but the highest quality out of their relationships, careers, and daily life.  They also tend to have universal traits: Kindness, passion, drive, consideration, and zest for life rarely are possessed by subpar individuals.

There are also things that could make someone extra amazing to one person, and be a total turnoff to another.  One random example of this is geekiness.  In my view, going crazy for ComicCon or the latest Star Trek movie is not my idea of impressive, and if I met a man who was obsessed with these things, I would not give him a second glance.  Yet for other women, this same trait would be their kryptonite.

Our life is created not by what we desire, but by what we offer.  There is a reason that I am not attracted to comic book nerds: I am the furthest thing from that myself.  However, if I want to attract the strong, confident, successful, fit man that I want to end up with, I have to make sure that I am embodying those things.

Now, people constantly change, and there is nothing wrong with desiring more than what we can give at the time, but if you are not making strides towards closing the gap, that opportunity or relationship will drift away.

If an opportunity or a person shows potential, it’s worth it to explore it to the fullest. ¬†However, nothing will come to you with its potential fully realized, gracefully draping its fully bloomed self across your lap. ¬†Anything that seems like it could lead to the Realm of Awesome will take effort.

 

This is why potential without action is useless.  There is everything right with seeing true potential inside or outside of yourself.  There is everything wrong with simply sitting back and expecting great things to happen with no effort.

If I had not taken the time to plan out my birthday to the tiniest minute details, who knows what could have gone wrong or what expectations might have been crushed.  However, because I acknowledged my own desires and took action to make it happen, I got to enjoy a magnificent day.

Every single person has the potential to be someone AWESOME.  But just as a medieval fire would not start without the action of striking flint to stone, your potential for awesome will not alight without you taking strides to make it happen.

Take time to cultivate the impressive parts of yourself. ¬†Devote energy into investing in you. ¬†And when you decide to fully hit the road to Awesome, you’ll find it’s quite easy to link up with others on that same journey on your way. ¬†And once that happens, who knows what other amazing, breathtaking, wondrous things are waiting to transpire?

 

 

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.