goals · letting go · self

Simplify The Task Of Living

We hear it all of the time: Life is a journey, not a destination.

Sometimes we have a detailed map to mark the way but more often there is no set course. Throughout our journey, we will have many different paths from which to choose. No perfect route exists for everyone nor is there an easy shortcut to get where we hope to be.

Expect roadblocks or unwelcome surprises around every corner. Assume the road will be littered with unwanted detours and wrong turns. Learn to adjust the direction and adapt as you go.

Blaze your own trail.

And when the travel leaves you weary, stop and rest. Feeling stuck and unable to move is an ideal time to pause and reflect.

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING FROM?

What has been is a vital part of who we are in the present moment. There is the good (childhood memories, milestones achieved), the bad (disappointments, failures), and the ugly (extreme heartache, loss). We cannot (and should not) discount what has happened to us before today, because it is necessary for creating our current circumstances.

Dwelling in a painful past, however, can foster discontent and self-doubt. And such negativity often leads to disruptive behavior as an attempt to escape or cope. Substance abuse, food addiction, self-harm, dysfunctional relationships, excessive spending, depression, or anger may mask a deeper problem.

If we continue to pick at a wound, it will never heal. And what does not heal, does not change. A lack of learning from what hurt us along with the inability to let go means we cannot truly enjoy the life we deserve. It taints everything, even the happy moments.

It is important to address the discomfort head on – whether on your own or with the support of others (family, friend, professional). By acknowledging the hold the past has on your present, you can begin to overcome whatever has hurt you and live the life you always imagined.

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING TO?

What might be is an equally vital part of who we are in the present moment. The future shapes our current actions. It influences the people we allow into our lives. Knowing where want to go and who we wish to be defines our choices and decisions, directly and indirectly.

Our personal hopes, dreams, and goals are worthy of our thoughts, but they are also deserving of our time. There is nothing wrong with seeking a different or better life, and we do not owe explanations to anyone other than ourselves. It is ours to live and as long as we do not hurt another, we have every right to pursue it.

The key is to find a balance, a way to manage our wants and desires with the people and things we value. Do not sacrifice the present or precious time with those who matter most for the sole sake of succeeding or reaching some idealized end.

When you look back, look back with pride. Pride that your dedication, hard work, and determination paid off. And while you bask in the glory of your accomplishment, see the people around you who helped make it possible. Those who supported, cheered, listened, advised, lifted you up. For that will be the true measure of your success.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AT ALL?

If the challenges of the past, future, and present day are overwhelming, look for ways to lessen the load. Find your voice. Release the guilt. Follow your heart. Practice self-care. Prioritize your time. Say no to non-essential activities. Organize your space. Seek solutions to your problems. Fix what might be broken, once and for all.

Simplify the task of living.

Work towards understanding how the past has affected you and accepting it will always be part of your today. Just be careful of letting it have too much influence over your tomorrow. Life moves fast enough. Slow down and be in the right now. And if there are times you feel the need to run, run toward something worth celebrating rather than from something you cannot change.

Do not fear the journey, live it.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Lucas Favre on Unsplash

goals · letting go · obstacles

Giving In vs. Giving It Your All

With two major projects hanging over my head, I am in that all-important stage where I ask: IS IT WORTH IT?

There are countless moments in life when we are put to the test, pushed beyond our limits, and simply overwhelmed. Some of these moments are unavoidable and not meant to be easy. Others can be difficult but are placed in our path for enrichment and purpose. Regardless of the source, these moments challenge and propel us to another level. They show us who we are.

But what about those times when we are not obligated to do something? What about the things we can quit without anyone knowing or without repercussions? ARE THEY WORTH IT?

The answer can be a tricky one. Yes, there are things we waste time and energy on. But on the flip side, there are things we surrender too easily.

Deciding when to give in or give it my all is not something I like to do. Personally, I am not a quitter. I love the idea of crossing something off my list. Accomplishment and productivity provide wonderful warm fuzzies, and I try to get the sensation whenever I can.

However, with these current projects, I am taxed more than I like. I have limits and often those limits show their ugly head in the way of impatience, frustration, procrastination, and indifference. I could let these two tasks go and no one else would ever know or care. Yet, just when I am ready to release them, something pulls me back. Fresh ideas, a new approach, renewed purpose – they all motivate me to stay with them.

So … how do we know when to GIVE IN or GIVE IT OUR ALL? Ask:

WHY are you doing it?
WHAT is the end goal?
WHO are you doing it for?
HOW does it make you feel?
ARE the sacrifices worth the reward?
WHAT does your gut tell you?

Depending on the answers, it may be time to …

  • REST. Every major undertaking has roadblocks. Be careful of using them as an excuse to quit. The desire to step away could simply mean you are overworked. Take a break and see how it feels. You may experience freedom and relief, but there also might be renewed focus, a sense of determination, or a new idea of how to overcome an obstacle.
  • PAUSE. Making a hasty decision to completely drop something can backfire. Redoing everything and getting back into the task may prove difficult, and the time and money involved can never be recovered. Seek a thoughtful balance in your consideration, but be wary of over-thinking as it can lead to indecision and inaction.
  • LET GO. Letting go is not the same as giving up. Too often we hold onto things we should have released and carry the excess weight, baggage, pressure, and stress until it overwhelms. Saying “no more” when something does not fit into your life is a sign of emotional strength. If your heart is not in it, let go.

Still unsure of what to do? Try these tricks:

1) List the Pros and Cons. Seeing the positives and negatives on paper puts things into visual perspective and provides a better view of the whole picture.
2) Live with the Idea. Before making a decision, pretend you have already made it. It is an easy way to determine if a choice is the correct one without actually committing.

If you find your answers lead in the direction of letting go, remember this: giving in does not equal giving up! It simply means you have chosen to follow a different path, one better suited to your current situation and life. But if you discover you really want something and are willing to manage the bumps and bruises along the way, then go for it with everything you’ve got. Give it your all.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo credit: Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

change · goals · renewal · self

10 Signs A Change Is Not For You

I have been thinking a lot about change.

In today’s world, it is impossible to ignore or deny the idea of change. Buildings are demolished only to be replaced by new ones, fashions are redesigned, homes are renovated, jobs are redefined, products are re-branded, processes are improved. We are bombarded daily with messages geared toward becoming someone different, someone better, someone more than the person we are now.

Even this blog is dedicated to approaching life differently – perhaps better – than before.

Change is inevitable in many areas – births, deaths, relationships, and yes, even people. Everything around us is in a constant state of movement and much is out of our control. We cannot escape change. But when it comes to the changes within us, we do have the power to decide what goes and what stays.

Are you unsure of when to change and when to stay the same? Think self-improvement vs. self-love.

Self-improvement is when you choose to alter something about yourself to make you feel better. Changing the way you live is a very personal decision. If you feel compelled to transform your appearance or behavior or path or dream in order to pursue a more satisfying life then by all means do it. This may be a time to change.

Self-love is when you value yourself and your beliefs so much that you are unwilling to bend. Changing who you are to please someone else rarely ends well. If another person makes you feel lacking or inferior or suggests you alter a part of yourself to suit their needs, pause before taking action. This may be a time to stay the same.

Self-improvement is easy to recognize. It is often met with a sense of anticipation, excitement, and motivation. And it is accompanied by fierce determination – on a personal level – to reach a goal or succeed. The need for self-love, however, can be much harder to detect.

When we care deeply about someone, it is common to forgo our own needs to make them happy. And in truth, there is nothing wrong with doing something to please a family member or friend. If the intent and desire are shared, it may be a good thing.

The key is to pay attention. Who wants the change? What benefit comes from the change? Why are you considering the change? How does the change affect you?

If you are questioning a change, watch for these signs:

  1. PROCRASTINATION: you make constant excuses in an effort to avoid action or progress
  2. INSTINCT: something deep within your gut screams ‘this is wrong and not for you’
  3. PRESSURE: someone gives you an ultimatum or makes unfair demands
  4. GUILT: you are manipulated into believing something is dependent on the modification of your behavior
  5. FEAR: you must conform to avoid physical or emotional abuse (if true, please SEEK HELP NOW)
  6. INADEQUACY: you feel less-than because someone bases your worth upon your current actions
  7. SHAME: someone diminishes your self-image by criticizing your current behavior
  8. EMOTION: attempts to change leave you melancholy, angry, unhappy, or depressed
  9. RESENTMENT: your attitude and view of another shifts in a negative direction
  10. ACKNOWLEDGMENT: you feel left out and believe changing yourself will lead to acceptance

Real and effective change can be difficult and challenging, but it should also be pursued with purpose and for the right reasons. Forcing change in your life or within yourself is rarely rewarding. So whenever you consider taking a major step in a different direction, determine if your heart is truly invested in the outcome. If it is something you – and you alone – really want, go for it with all you have and do not give up. But if outside influences are making you question the person you are, it might be best to just stay the same.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

family · goals · parenting · self

The World I Want For My Son

My son starts school today. There is little fanfare when you are “middle school, been-there-done-that.” And yet, we still had an exciting morning of early alarms, first day photos, hurried breakfasts, good-luck hugs, and rushing to the bus stop. There will be old friends and teachers to see, new friends and teachers to meet. Familiar hallways, different classrooms.

It is a time when anything – and everything – seems possible.

In reality, it is the calm before the storm. Within days, we will rush through homework and dinner to attend sports practices. Weekends will be filled with more practices and games. There will be deadlines to meet, schedules to follow, and stress to bear. But within the chaos, all will seem predictable and safe.

At least I hope so.

More and more as a parent, I find myself wishing for an easier time. When I was my son’s age, life seemed simpler. Yes, there were problems. After all, it was the early eighties. The war on drugs was beginning. Jobs were lost. The Cold War was in full swing. People were abused, abducted, and killed in senseless crimes. Families were broken. Yet the troubles then did not seem so great compared to what we face now.

Maybe it is because I was just a kid myself. Maybe it is our globalized worldview or the pervasive 24/7 news cycle. Perhaps the blame can be put on technology and social media.

Maybe, just maybe, it is the same as it ever was.

All I know is this: I worry more. About human trafficking, opioid overdoses, nuclear war, economic instability, cyberbullying, hate groups, terrorist attacks. Everything seems so intense right now. And though I am typically optimistic, I feel stuck in a never-ending state of frustration. Frustrated the fear of what might never happen is taking over the joy of what is actually right in front of me.

I wish my son could experience a world free of heartache or pain. One void of ideological division and without violence or war. But in truth the world has never been like that.

As parents, we are tasked with so much it is easy to become trapped in the sheer overwhelmingness of it all. Advice comes from every side, as does the criticism. We want to be informed, do everything “right” so we might avoid mistakes and judgment. That, of course, is impossible. We will never know everything. We will fail (a lot) and sometimes be judged. That is parenting.

In the end, our sole purpose is to raise compassionate, self-sufficient, productive adults. And while we do that, we are to provide a soft spot to fall.

And so, this school year I will focus on bringing peace to my own little world. I will allow my son to be a kid awhile longer, to linger in the innocence of a life where the only worry is whether his baseball game gets rained out. There will be plenty of time to fear things when he is an adult, a parent.

For now, I will simply continue to …
-provide a haven, a safe place where he can freely discover who he is and who he hopes to be.
-encourage him to open his wings and spread them as wide as they go so he can explore.
-show him there is more good in this world than evil even when others try to convince us otherwise.
-set an example by treating people with patience and respect regardless of what they do or believe.
-remind him to be kind, embrace differences, and lift others up.

I will continue to tell my son … 
-when everything seems wrong, seek what is right.
-if something bad happens, counter it with good.
-when someone else runs from a challenge, walk toward it.
-if others are selfish, give of yourself.
-when seeking direction, be the leader.

Show this world that you will not give up. You will not give up on yourself. You will not give up on others. You will not give up on happiness. You will not give up on peace. You will never give up. Because even though life outside may seem cruel and unfair, the world you create inside – for yourself – can be one of joy.

CREATE YOUR OWN WORLD. One where you feel …

SAFE. Surround yourself with people who care about you.
LOVE. Give your heart to those who cherish you.
CONFIDENCE. Spend time with people who encourage you.
VALUE. Be with those who appreciate you.
PRIDE. Find the people who support you.
WORTH. Determine your own standard.
CONNECTION. Share your time and energy with people who deserve it.
ACCEPTANCE. Befriend those who respect you.

In the quiet moments, when I wonder if I am doing too little or making the wrong choice, I will be sure of one thing. I loved my son more than enough. I loved him without question or condition. I loved him with my whole heart and beyond. I loved him so much that I wanted him to thrive in an imperfect world so he might one day be the change and the light to drive out darkness whenever it came.

The world I want for my son is the one he creates.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

change · confidence · goals · renewal

Dream Big And Work Small

Too often when we want something, we do not want to wait for it.

Instant messages, fast food, quick loans, overnight delivery, one hour glasses. The world has been wired to coddle and appease on-demand tastes. And with the increasing speed of everything, our desire to want experiences now has not only become commonplace but expected.

It is human nature to focus on the destination rather than the journey. But while a hurried approach might be fine for the service industry or technology, the rapid-fire tempo of life does not work everywhere, especially when it comes to far-reaching dreams or goals.

Change – real and meaningful change – does not happen quickly. It requires determination, organization, and extreme patience. And this is often the very reason why many people do not pursue their true dreams. They think big but do not work small. They want the reward without taking an honest look at the steps necessary to get there.

We cannot always get what we want simply by wanting it. We must work, then wait, work, and then wait again. Rushing toward satisfaction in certain areas will only lead to 1) disappointment with the result 2) lack of appreciation for the result 3) lackluster result or 4) complete failure.

Life is a project. Treat it that way.

Whether it be physical or mental, a career path, school, relationships, home improvement, or a major life change, mapping out the ideal end and expectation is the key. And the best place to start? At the beginning.

  1. Where do you hope to be? What exactly do you want? I mean truly want. Focus on the overall picture, aim high and dream big but be sure you are specific in your goal. Envision the intricate details of your final reward. Imagine the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Having a clear visual along with the anticipation of a successful end will help propel you forward when times get tough and all seems impossible.
  2. How will you get there? What is your simple plan? And I do mean simple. Create a few manageable steps. Again, you have to start somewhere so start at the beginning. Decide what must be done and go in order – do not jump to an easier, more appealing task if others must be completed first. Work diligently and once done, move onto the next. And do not forget to take pride in the smallest of victories and celebrate along the way.

And for those times when you feel stuck, defeated, or in need of a reality check:

BE DETERMINED Short term pain for long-term gain. If you made a decision, stay committed and resolve to see it through. There will be times when it all seems too much and overwhelming. With any large undertaking it is inevitable. You will question whether it is worth the time, energy, or emotional and physical effort. But if you obsess and get caught up in the amount of work involved, you will never get anywhere. When it all seems too much…

GET ORGANIZED Work small for big results. Think about it: a bridge is not built road first – it needs a stable, strong foundation, a base to rest upon. Even this article is not published immediately, it goes through stages of content creation, research, editing, proofreading, etc. Work in an organized manner and find a way to overcome every step, no matter how involved or consuming. If that way does not work, seek another. Simply crossing one thing off the list and moving onto the next can be a great motivator to…

HAVE PATIENCE Stay the course. Be sympathetic to the process and your journey. If you need to reassess and alter the course, do it. If you got through a rough spot, treat yourself. When you need a break, take it. And if all becomes too much, show some compassion. Just do not forget what you are working toward and the hurdles you are willing to overcome to get there. Baby steps can turn into long distance marathons and crossing that proverbial finish line will feel unbelievable.

If there is something on your wish list that seems unattainable, do not fret. It can be yours.  Just don’t expect to get it overnight.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

change · confidence · goals · self

What To Do When No One Has Your Back

Face it, there will be times when no one supports your decision, when you are on your own, and when it is all on you.

We like to believe we achieve goals or succeed because someone helped us along the way. And to be honest, the majority of the time that is the case. Many of us would never overcome the bumps and bruises of life or exceed our own expectations without the aid of a spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, school, church, or community.

While it is true we pull our strength and motivation from those around us, there will come a time when we have no one to lean on – when no one has our back.

If you find yourself adrift in a sea of doubt and alone in your dream, it might be time to look inward rather than out for the validation and support you need.

3 WAYS TO BE THERE FOR YOURSELF

Become your loudest cheerleader –
When the crowd around you quiets to barely a whisper, that is the perfect time to unleash your inner voice and speak up loud and clear. In the most difficult and darkest of moments, seek whatever is good. Positive affirmations, celebrations for small victories, and personal rewards or incentives can all be the driving catalyst to keep you moving forward. Telling yourself “you got this!” or shouting out an “atta-girl!” (even if you do not completely believe it) may seem silly or insignificant but it can make an incredible difference when it matters most.

Do not give up on yourself (even if others have) –
A goal, particularly a far-reaching one, may take a toll over time. People will come and go and possibly tire of your journey, but that is to be expected. It is not their desire, it is yours. Dreams are tricky things. They can seem awesome and attainable at one moment and then ridiculous and out of reach the next. If living with it 24/7 pushes you beyond your limits, it might be time to reset. When at your lowest, focus your mind and heart on the end game and try to remember how great it will feel to reach the highest point. The ability to say you did it when no one thought you could can be an amazing motivator.

Remember the impossible is possible –
At some point someone will tell you it is a waste time and you should let it go. That is okay, especially if it is something you really want and believe in. A personal passion does not always need to be understood by an outsider. If you want and believe it that should be the key motivator. Some of the greatest inventors, doctors, musicians, artists, leaders, etc. were told they were crazy and wasting their time. But they had a vision, something no one else could understand in its beginning stages because it seemed too abstract and unreal. Even when others may not see it, keep your eyes wide open. Fight for what you know to be true and when you are done, share it in all of its entirety and beauty for the rest of the world to see.

In a world where we gain affirmation from virtual thumbs-up, social likes, and shares, it can be difficult to find and place value on our own thoughts and actions. Support comes from a variety of sources and whatever is given should definitely be appreciated. Just do not forget that sometimes, the most important person to have your back is you.


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