It has been a long week. I was out of town in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington over the weekend and, of course, traveling doesn’t make keeping a routine any easier. I wrote a bit while I was away, but the trip made it challenging. I will blame the changing seasons and the nostalgia overload for my resistance in the past several days. Returning to the Bay Area, stepping out of the Oakland airport, I was immediately relieved by how warm it is here. Yes. The Fall I had been waiting for. Such a relief after the nipping cold that has already struck the Pacific Northwest.
I have returned to early alarms in the morning followed by 20 minutes of writing, but I have been dragging my feet. I got out of work today and was walking through the late afternoon sun across the parking lot thinking about writing and the resistance that is relentless inside of me at the moment. I’ve had trouble keeping my eyes open, my mind wanders, and I write things that don’t make any sense (not even to me). I am even having trouble revisiting anything I’ve written already long enough to edit. Soaking up the suns warmth, it dawned on me that I continuously have thoughts that I should be writing, I should be posting.
We all have a long list of “should’s” in our lives and it’s a fascinating thing that happens when you look at the difference between things that we are somehow obligated to do (or think we are) and those that we reward ourselves with. For me, writing is fun. I started without anyone asking me to and I continue to do so without any outside obligation. So why do I keep telling myself that I should write? That I should be posting to this blog?
I feel that I should because I want to be committed and act like a professional. You do not get proficient or good at a skill without dedication. If you practice any skill long enough, there comes a time when you feel resistance towards it. The number one reason most people do not master a skill is that they give up shortly after they have began.
This is a common theme for me, as well. I have a lot of interests and ideas, many of which I am excited about right out of the gate. However, give me a couple of days and it is possible I’ve forgotten about it completely. Or I’ll pretend I have to mask the embarrassment from lack of follow through. That being said, there are several things I am quite passionate about and have spent countless hours working on. A few of these would be bicycle touring and bike maintenance, reading and writing, painting and drawing, business and personal development. These passions have taken me on a cross-country bicycle tour, overseas to study art, and to multiple conferences to meet authors and entrepreneurs. This is to name a few benefits of follow through.
The experiences that I consider amongst my greatest accomplishments are the results of longer term projects where I endured the ebb and flow of inspiration and interest. Then comes the nagging “should”. I wish I could eliminate this word from my brain. It sucks the fun out of an activity like a vacuum pack seal. I’m annoyed just typing about it. We do not pursue things like surfing or painting or music because we should. We pursue our passions because we are inspired to do so, because we have no other choice, because it connects and flows out of us, when it wills it to be so.
So I feel forced to ask, but really it’s a simple question that surfaces in my mind: are there things we should do? I don’t really believe so. I would like to answer that we should be kind and we should take care of ourselves. However, I can’t help think of Byron Katie and follow up my answer with another question: is that true? Can we know it to be true that we should be kind? A question for another time and blog post.
Walking through the parking lot I realized that my resistance grows when I feel like I should be doing something. I am passionate about writing and about treating it like a professional practice. I want to be a proficient writer, therefore I want to work on writing everyday. Should I write? I do not know the answer to that question. I know only that when I say the inverse – I should not write – that my mind flips a little and reverts to thinking “What?! But I MUST write!” The thought of losing the practice, of foregoing the blog, of abandoning writing, is more painful than the irritation of the “should”. That being said, I tire of thinking I should anything and hope to slowly eradicate it from my mind.
Are there things you feel people are obligated to do? When do you tell yourself you should be doing something? How does it feel to have the opposite thought – that you should not be doing that thing? Would love to hear it: Lara@LaraBuelow.com
Writing is going absolutely terrible this week. I blame the lack of sleep. I arrived back in San Francisco from LA (CrossFit Games 2013) at 4:30AM after driving through the night. It completely screwed my sleep schedule and has left me a little cross-eyed. That being said, it’s the lack of planning and commitment on my end that is really holding me back. I have written multiple paragraphs about the definition of strength (somewhat in line with the theme of the Games), but can’t bring myself to post it. It feels like trying on a dress that doesn’t fit right and not wanting to go into the hallway of the dressing room to look in the mirror. I hate that feeling.
But where did this blog start anyway? I am defaulting to writing about the goals that I have left before my birthday, in order to sort out where I need to focus in the next 60 days. Though I may not have written about each specifically, it has become a goal of mine to write more consistently and publish these rants and raves as a way of getting my voice out into the world. So with 60 days left, I have a list of 8 things that are important to me that I am going to attempt to accomplish:
Visit Friends in WA
Time my Handstand
Get a massage.
Take a Vacation.
Lose 10 lbs. Explore your ideal weight.
Purge your Crap.
Blog your 27 X 27.
I am a strong believer in the rule of 1. I should pick 1 thing to focus on at a time. That’s it. If I choose more than one thing, my rate of success will plummet drastically. The beauty of a few of these things is that if I attempt it once, I can cross it off the list: get a massage, go surfing, and time my handstand. The other items take more planning and daily practice. As I mentioned in my last post, this August I am focusing on my diet to lose weight. For support in accomplishing this goal, I have signed up for the Get It Done In 30 Challenge with Maneesh Sethi and James Swanick and I am planning a Paleo Challenge with a friend at San Francisco CrossFit (interested? Details coming soon)!
Though I could easily write on and on about all the components of this goal and the others, I’m leaving it at that. Focus. Simplicity. August: Diet/lose weight. If more happens, awesome, if not, c’est la vie. Tomorrow is August 1st and I am already overwhelmed. August 2013, here we go.
You have done it before and you will do it again.
What the hell am I talking about? Success. You’ve been successful before in your lifetime, if you’ve made it this far. Maybe you would consider that your only win, but either way, it’s something. And you will be successful again. Have you heard that lately? It feels oddly good to say it: You WILL be successful again. The purpose of this post is to review the context of some of my goals to see where I have been successful so we can recreate that context down the line.
I have completed many of my 27 x 27 goals. 17 to be exact. There is a sense of completion, of follow through, a feeling of “done-ness” with these items. It is immensely satisfying to review it and say “Yea, I did that!” (High Five). Check. Goal setting builds a system for resolution and habit creation by breaking a larger value into measurable and attainable steps. Stevo, the sport psychologists’ mantra echoes in my ears: “Have the courage to start small”. Hell yes. One step at a time, next thing you know, you’re holding a handstand, kicking it at your new job, and attending the CrossFit Games for free.
I have 10 goals left to accomplish in 2 months. The other day I signed up for Maneesh Sethi and James Swanwick’s Get It Done in 30 challenge. I wasn’t going to sign up, but once I watched their videos and realized there was still space I decided “What the hell! This is exactly what I have been experimenting with all year!” Get your ass in gear for 21 to 30 day challenges to explore habit change. I am hoping that the Get It Done in 30 challenge will help me accomplish something on this list, specifically, losing weight. This is a goal I seem to really struggle with. As I have explored in the past with Stevo, I have some trouble asking for help. Well: “I NEED HELP!” I need some sort of support.
Another reason for this review is to see where I have been successful and where I have failed. In Maneesh Sethi’s Hack the System Ebook, he explains that recreating the context in which you have been successful before sets you up for success in the future. He also shares a graph demonstrating morale and enthusiasm over the course of a project showing the importance of expecting failure. Applying these concepts is an important step in recognizing my blind spots and how I can accomplish the rest of my list (or at least the goals that are most important to me).
While Maneesh writes about setting yourself up for success and how to accomplish your goals, Danielle LaPorte explores the difference between motivation and inspiration. She explains that motivation is often driven by fear of consequences, whereas inspiration is a deep desire to accomplish something regardless of the cost. Thinking about these concepts has really put a new spin on some of my goals. So let’s get started.
Starting with my new tradition: My new annual ritual is to do some kind of activity (5 mile run/CrossFit WOD/get sweaty) and then get into a body of water on my birthday. These are 2 definable activities that don’t require much in the way of habit change throughout the year to accomplish. It was basically an accident that this became my new tradition. I was visiting Netarts Bay in Oregon with some of my best friends and we decided to do a run on the beach on the morning of my birthday. We ran for a long time and despite the frigid water conditions, knew that it was a special opportunity to get into the ocean. In we went! Year 2 of this ritual approaches. I was successful here because I had a friend who joined me for the activity and we were having fun. I doubt I would have gone on the run or jumped into the ocean solo. Either way I wouldn’t have done them for as long as I did. This September: I would like to do another workout on the beach and go for a swim. Care to join me?
My goal of making a reading list is about inspiring myself to read. Getting myself back into the habit of reading is super challenging. It comes and goes in spurts all the time. I have been getting better, but I hardly ever read at the same time of day, which seems to be a major component to creating this habit. I am successful if I read before I go to bed, take public transportation, or take a break at work and sit at a cafe. I was extremely successful with The Fire Starter Sessions because Maria and I had a book club and would meet to discuss the chapters. AH! Maneesh Sethi is right again! Accountability always wins!
I completed Interchange, the counseling program. Paying money and attending an organized class where other people care about your attendance is a strong motivator. I know people cared about whether I showed up or not because when I arrived, we took attendance in our home group and talked about where the people who were not present were. How did we know where the missing people were? Well, the first couple of times people didn’t show, members of the group got upset and made it known! After that we hardly ever had an unexplained absence. Group accountability strikes again! Note: Your action or inaction in a group always speaks. Your participation in life or lack thereof does not go unnoticed, so do things with intention.
Goals that I accomplished because I had support and/or accountability:
- A new tradition
- Read a book
- CrossFit Open
- Armory Tour
- New Jobs
I submitted mail art to people around the world. I work well with deadlines. Having a final date and knowing that it is quickly approaching gets me going. I often leave things till the last minute because then I get nervy about them and set aside the time to accomplish the task. Sure, it can feel like poor planning, but otherwise the urgency just isn’t there. Having a finite timeline in the near future is by far the best way to get me to do something. Accountability to the clock!
Goals that I accomplished because they were time-bound:
- Job Applications/Interviews
- CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
- Submitted mail to mail art show
My sharable “explore something sexy” goal is that I read an erotic novel and attended a book talk by the author of the Boudoir Bible. Lightning struck on this one. I had a conversation with a friend about the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and was so intrigued by the premise of the book that I went out and bought it. Reading erotic fiction was exciting, as you can imagine, so I got through it in a reasonable time frame. However, there was no accountability here, only fodder for my own ideas. Reading the novel inspired me to look up erotic literature events in San Francisco, which lead me to Betony Vernon’s talk about the Boudoir Bible that was being hosted the day after I discovered it. I blindly jumped at the opportunity (having no idea who she was) and showed up. Lightning and the magical cosmos inspired action? I’m so glad I attended.
Goals I accomplished because I was inspired/magic happened:
- Reading/Book List
- Expressing my feelings
- Writing my 12 commandments
- New Jobs
- Went to yoga for a week after not having been in 1 year
- CrossFit Gear
- Attending Betony Vernon’s Boudoir Bible talk
These are all the goals that I have completed and that make me feel successful. What context have I been most successful in? By far, the things that I am most proud of and seem to have influenced me the most are where I have community involved. I am super inspired to accomplish all the things on my list, so combining it with a defined time line and the support of others makes for a potent combination. Any goal that I have not yet accomplished is directly related to not having a buddy and/or a due date. Of course my birthday is a deadline, in theory, but that is not enough for all goals.
In short, I intend to quickly weed out the things that I am not inspired by out of my life and replace them with things that do. The goals that have not yet been completed, I am rededicating myself to them and enlisting support for the next 2 months. What the fuck is this list for if not for fun and a little challenge? GSD.
I found a blog the other night that I find interesting. Hack the System with Maneesh Sethi. What a crazy dude. When you subscribe to his email list he asks that you write to him about your number one goal. I found myself thinking that I should have a number one goal because I have so many of them. When I read his email requesting to hear what is it, I thought “Shit, man!” And then my brain came to a stuttering halt.
I have a lot of goals. Too many, actually. How do I know it’s too many? From Stevo, the sport psychologists perspective, if it feels like too many, it is. Well, it feels like too many. From Byron Katie’s perspective, it’s not too many, it just IS and it’s only my thoughts in relation to the number of goals that is causing any stress. Byron Katie is the author of Loving What Is. She is the creator of “The Work”, which is a series of four questions about our thoughts and then a turn around that aims to transform our relationship to ourselves. Here is an example.
The Work on Having Too Many Goals.
Statement and/or judgments: I have too many goals.
Is that true? No. (If no, you can move to #3)
Can I absolutely know that to be true? I can not know it to be 100% fact.
How do I react when I think that thought? How do I treat myself and/or others when I think that thought? Stressed out! I am irritable and frustrated. I hate on myself. I feel like I am scattered and unfocused. I feel like I can’t see progress clearly and that I am a failure. I get panicky and anxious.
Who would I be without that thought? Who would I be without believing that I have too many goals? I would feel peaceful and calm. Life would feel more harmonious and I would celebrate the small victories.
Turn it around: I do not have too many goals. I do not have enough goals. I have the right amount of goals. I have the perfect number of goals.
Perhaps this is another step in dismantling the 27 x 27. I am happy to have so many goals. They can just hang there in space, the letters typed neatly out on the page. The list will grow, wilt, and stagnate at times. I want to cultivate a compassionate relationship to the goal list. It is, afterall, my list of dreams. They each symbolize a process through which I get to know myself a little better and that lead me down my path a little further.
Looking at what I would like to focus on for April and reflecting on what I worked on in March, I am seeing that not much has changed. I am trying to start small and continue slowly. For March I had a fatty list: Interchange counseling sessions, write everyday, handstand practice, mobility, read, work on the Fire Starter Sessions, and attend the CrossFit certification course.
How did I do?
Interchange: I had a couple of Interchange sessions. I have surpassed my 20 hours of counseling now.
Write: I have a check mark for everyday that I wrote on my calendar and made it a practice to write every morning. It increased the amount I post to my blog based on working with more material. This has been a very enjoyable process for me.
Handstands: I have had many 20 minute sessions in the park and practiced at CrossFit. I have seen a lot of improvement and have had a lot of fun!
Mobility: This is another item I have on the daily checklist. I have struggled with this because sometimes it is enjoyable and other times it is just a pain in the ass. Literally. But I am committed to working on my knee and the rest of my body.
Read: I have been reading more! I read the entire CrossFit training guide and I am in the process of finishing Loving What Is. I have also read a TON of blogs and information online. I also bought a GOOD magazine.
The Fire Starter Sessions (FSS): I love this book. Danielle LaPorte is awesome and the book is beautiful. Maria and I have been meeting about FSS and it is amazingly therapeutic and motivating. We’re lighting shit up!
CrossFit Certification: done and done! I attended the weekend course, which was great, and I past the test! BAM! PLUS, I applied for a job at San Francisco CrossFit and guess what?! I GOT THE JOB! The cert has already paid off.
Writing this has been so satisfying. Earlier I felt like the March list was way too long. However looking at all the progress that I have made for each item, I can see that I have actually been quite successful! WhatWhat!!! I think that one thing that would allow me to see progress more is by recording small measurable benchmarks or each. That would look like this:
Goal: Record daily check marks, record time spent on activity and other detailed notes.
I am halfway there. I have recorded most of this stuff, but I could get into the details if I wanted to see more numerical results.
So let’s circle back to the beginning. What is my #1 goal?
My number one goal is to feel awesome. I’ve been able to pin-point four core feelings that are important to me and I want to connect to those feelings in all that I do. Those four core feelings are: Connection, Clarity, Creative, and Powerful. I don’t have to feel all four of the feelings all the time, but I want clarity in my activities because I think it makes for more harmonious living.
You can read about my twenty-seven #1 goals and how they tap into my core feelings here. If you think that this post is a bunch of bull and that my goal is way too vague, then here are some specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive (S.M.A.R.T.) goals to feast on:
- Write 2 blog posts every month until September.
- Write at least 20 minutes everyday in April.
- Mobilize for 20 minutes everyday in April.
- Finish Loving What Is and start a new book. (Achieved! April 14, 2013)
- Have at least 1 Interchange counseling session. (Achieved! April 13, 2013)
- Workout at CrossFit at least 3 times each week.
Wild Success! Things that were not on the goal list but make me feel ON FIRE:
- Getting hired at San Francisco CrossFit! I will be working as the part-time Office Manager for 25-30 hours a week. I’m pumped! (Victory dance.)
- Leo Babauta sharing a link to one of my blog posts! I wrote about attending the Mindful + Entrepreneur event Leo hosted with Jesse Jacobs of Samovar Tea Lounge. I sent him the link and he shared it on Tumblr. Feeling pretty awesome about that.
Thanks to Maneesh Sethi for pushing my thoughts about goals a little further.