Allow me to put my cards on the table. I never signed up for the Get It Done in 30 challenge. I thought I did, so it wasn’t a complete lie, but it didn’t happen. I was under the impression that I had signed up for their trial run and that I would be part of an experimental group. Well, that was not the case. I realized that I had signed up for notifications and that trials had already happened. I decided that I did not want to pay the $97 or however many dollars it was to participate for August. “Go it alone!” I said. Again. I can tell you right now, I am failing miserably. I doubt I have lost a single pound (probably gained a few after the drinking this weekend), but the lack of a scale and benchmarks are clear signs that I’m not managing or measuring anything! I’ve had several intense conversations about weight and the psychology behind our bodies, but we all know that talk doesn’t make shit happen. I told myself that I would be strict Paleo this month. Can you hear me laughing? If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how much I love to quote Stevo: “We are all Paleo, BUT…” I’m a big butt. I have had my Paleo days this month, but it’s been a pretty weak attempt. The Get It Done in 30 is a great idea because it sets you up with one focus and a support buddy. Trying to accomplish a goal motivated largely by guilt and shame, and accomplish it alone, seems foolish. Fail. Epic fail.
So far, I’ve been unsuccessful because I lied, I didn’t do what I said I would, I didn’t ask for support, and I didn’t measure anything.
This weekend, I watched a video on Marie Farleo’s blog. It is an interview with Steven Pressfield of Turning Pro. The take away is fairly simple, if you are passionate about something, treat it as though you are a professional. If you are serious about something and are committed to improving yourself in that arena then treat it with the same amount of respect and dedication you would your career. The example the author uses is a friend who was determined to become a better golf player. Apparently, she was truly awful. Instead of giving up, she bought herself a nice golf outfit, fancy shoes, some golf clubs and scheduled regular lessons. Dedicated to the cause, she announced that she was going to treat golf as though she were a professional. With consistent practice she worked her way to becoming a skilled golfer.
I would like to start applying this mindset more thoroughly to areas in my own life. It’s a process and I like the idea of growing into this attitude. Specifically, I feel that this has been happening naturally in regards to my writing. Since last September, I have become more dedicated to writing posts at specific times and have treated it as homework and a scheduled activity rather than something that will happen whenever. I even invested in a new computer earlier this year. I have spent many mornings getting up at 5:30am to make sure that I have at least 20 minutes of writing time before going to work. I’ve experimented with posting to this blog once or twice a week. I’ve researched different blog planning tools and have organized writing files on Google Drive. I am learning about social media and blog management tools. On top of that, I am receiving regular emails from some of my favorite blogs and podcasts to keep me in the loop of what is happening in the blogging world. I am hoping that by writing regularly and creating a consistent posting schedule, I will step more into the professional mindset of being a writer.
I tend to see the glass half full, however, I am using this post to illustrate how to recognize failure or where you are falling short and not give up entirely. I have been unsuccessful in behaving like a pro in regards to my blog by not posting yesterday (Monday). For August I told myself I would post twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays. Yesterday came and went. My excuse? I am exhausted. I spent Sunday in Ukiah with some friends after their wedding. This involved going to bed at 1am followed by a 5am wake up time and a 3 hour drive. After work I could barely think straight, so I crawled into bed and passed out at 8. Then I woke up at 2am to pee and haven’t been able to fall back asleep since. FAIL. So here I am, trying to catch up on writing and post some shit before another day passes and I feel even worse. Perhaps the early wake up is a blessing in disguise? Nothing like the wee hours of the morning to get things done.
If I had of acted like a pro, I would have gotten myself to a cafe with free wifi yesterday evening and posted to the blog, come hell or high water. In my mind, professionals don’t dwell on “I don’t feel like it” for very long. I am honestly OK with all the choices I made this weekend, despite exhaustion and crabbiness. I want to be real with myself and recognize where and when I succeed versus when I don’t. There are several goals now that I am certain will not be accomplished by my birthday. I would like to think that opens up the opportunity to focus on one thing and hopefully that one thing makes me feel awesome. Today, that one thing is writing this and publishing it right here.
Ka-POW! So it came, so it went. So it goes. What a month! How did I do goal-wise? This is when it’s a good time to know what your measure of success is. If I hit my target 1 out of 2 times, do I feel successful? This month, I feel like a failure as far as measuring certain actions: days at Crossfit, mobilization, eating well/paleo, writing, hours at work, reading and counseling.
How do I feel like I failed? I only did “serious” mobilizing 10 out of 30 days this month. In the same way that I feel I need to focus more on diet and nutrition to improve my overall health (versus exercising more), I believe that I need to focus on mobilizing effectively to improve my athletic performance. My knee needs targeted help, so do my shoulders. They aren’t going to magically get better all on their own, so I need to show them some love. More than 10 days of love per month.
I have not been writing everyday. I have barely been writing at all. I wrote 14 out of 30 days. Not terrible, but not good. It sucks, actually. I feel so disappointed. It’s physically more difficult to sit and write. Not writing for 20 minutes a day, letting it slip for multiple days at a time, makes it infinitely more challenging to get ideas out in a way that flows. Writing for smaller chunks of time on a regular basis allows me to review what I have written recently and begin to play with ideas that intrigue me. The process of work and play come out. The editing process begins to unfold, structure and substance begin to arise and that feels awesome. Saying to myself that I will post to It’s All in the Blanket only twice a month is a terrible idea. It is nowhere near enough to motivate me to write everyday. However, maybe what I was posting would be well crafted and “deep” if I did write everyday in between those posts… That being said, I have a huge list of topics I would love to write about, so posting twice a month really doesn’t cut it.
Bottom line: I feel like I’ve failed as far as writing throughout April. SOoooo, I signed up for Leo Babauta’s Sea of Change program this month! May = Writing Month! I’m getting back on the horse. Leo is sending out accountability emails and writing prompts for the month of May. Let’s start fucking shit up! It’s also Bike to Work Month and National Masturbation and Radical Self-Love Month. I have BIG goals surrounding all of these things! May is going to be very exciting! Are you ready!?
Mobilizing and writing are where I can feel the disappointment most acutely. Overall, I feel like I haven’t measured things as much as I was aiming to. It makes me feel like a failure, not being able to fill out my measurable goals sheet for April. My conclusion is that I took on too much. I bit off more than I could chew. I have more specific measurements, I can get numbers for almost every category, but I’m not particularly impressed in my level of involvement in any of them.
The way I am trying to change my attitude towards jeans is similar to how I want to rephrase my attitude towards goals this month. In the last month, I have found every single pair of pants that I own are ripped. I have had most of them for over 3 years. Finding new jeans is hardly ever an enjoyable experience. Since beginning CrossFit, my body has changed a lot and I am still adjusting. I find that most jeans are made for skinny people or people without muscles. Pants tend to be too tight in the thighs and butt. I have endless ideas for making sexy clothes for fit and curvy people, just another business idea kicking around. So during my quest to find new jeans, I realized I would feel really shitty about myself and my brain would get stuck on repeat “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my body? Why don’t these pants fit perfectly!?” This is bullshit.
I hit the pause button as much as I can. I hit pause, take a breath, and then say to myself “Bitch, please! What the fuck is wrong with these jeans?!” The therapist I have talked to since 2004, Tonja, has told me that I should practice thought-stopping. A practice that I am not very good at. So, here I am, practicing. Notice that son-of-a-bitch thought that makes you feel bad → stop it. Then replace it with positive one. It’s good to have a go-to thought to replace any negative thought with. The Jeans Quest auto-replacement thought is: What is wrong with these jeans?
To bring this analogy full circle, what I am trying to accomplish is the following: instead of asking myself “what is wrong with me? Why did I not accomplish all 54 million goals on my list this month?” I am attempting to reframe my thinking with thoughts such as “What stopped me from accomplishing my goals this month? What’s wrong with the goal? How can I take a step back and set myself up for success next time? What’s wrong with this system?” This is the only way I can stay motivated for the coming month. I can approach new goals today because I know the weakness was lack of focus and making goals that were too big. How will I do better in May? I am going to focus on writing.
And guess what? I found AWESOME jeans. They don’t only fit, they feel and look amazing. People tell me so. I love them. Here’s a major plug: CrossFit girls, drop the $$$, Lucky Brand has jeans that are bangin’! They fit and flatter my curvy muscles and are delicious feeling. Try on a pair of these pants and then celebrate your bad self with a mimosa. Jeans aren’t worth crying over (which I have done). Thank You Lucky Brand, Thank You Tonja – cheers to living boldly! Love, Strength, and Vigor, Baby Cakes.
I recently read a short and sweet article on how to solve issues surrounding purpose and motivation by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. His solution is simple: help other people. Since I am one of many who struggles with finding my purpose (actively struggling here), I believe I would benefit from this advice. Being in my mid-20’s, I can see how self-centered my life currently is and I would like to shift my focus from self-serving to providing a service. I am enjoying this phase and doing self-improvement has always been a passion of mine, but I definitely strive to create connections with my community and I feel powerful when I help others. Babauta explains that the most important element of this concept is the shift in focus, from being concerned about one’s own hurdles or blocks, to asking “where can I contribute?”
In order to shift from self-analyzation to community-contributor mode, Babauta lists some excellent questions. “What can I do to help people in need?” or “What problems are out there that strangers might have, that my particular skill set could solve?” I think that this is a brilliant way to reframe our approach to finding purpose in our daily lives. Though simple, this is tricky because it is a significant change in mindset.
I am experimenting with a 14-day challenge based on this article because getting into the habit of shifting focus is one I would like to cultivate. In my last Interchange weekend we engaged in a practice where we laughed for 20 minutes, cried for 20 minutes, and then sat in silence for 20 minutes. This is the ultra-mini version of the Osho Mystic Rose meditation. The goal of this practice is to “bring out all the poison of your being”. It calls upon us to fully engage in the practice of laughter, tears, and observation in order to clear away generations of pain. The connection for me here is that these things are not so easy, but with regular practice we can make monumental shifts within ourselves. Babauta’s suggestion of lending your focus to others requires you to become more aware of your thought processes and be committed to changing the way you pose questions. The 14 day challenge that I am currently engaged with is just a baby step: I am noticing where and how I contribute to others and my community everyday. I do not push myself to take it past observation, but sometimes it occurs to me “how can I help today?”
Babauta then adds a couple of other steps that are generally great rules to live by. They echo “have the courage to start small.” I have about 20 different 14 day challenges kicking around in my head, but I have to remind myself: Keep It Simple! It is best to focus on one thing. When Stevo and I are analyzing a goal or a task, he asks me what the likelyhood is that I will accomplish it, on a scale of 1-10. If my answer is not a confident 9 or a 10, we back up and come up with a smaller step. In reality, like here and now, of course we all have a bajillion things going on in our lives. But if you can come up with one 14 day challenge, or one intention for your day, your chance of success is much higher. And that’s what we want to do, we want to set ourselves up for success. Why? Because as Babauta writes:
“It’s quite nice.”