Life Doesn’t Play Out As Scripted

I walked resignedly down the hallway away from the closed door.

I stopped in my tracks.

The unresolved was with me, another presence hanging in the empty space.

I stood for a moment listening to my heart beat and my breath coming in and out. Most of all, I listened to my thoughts as they circled upon each other. It was a cycle I know all too well. Some inner voice finally whispered, “basta.” Enough.

Door Detail“Wouldn’t you rather know?”

Yes… but… I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the “what if”s. I’m afraid to be the one to put myself out there. I’m afraid it will end badly.

“Yes. Yes. But wouldn’t you rather know?!”

I sighed deeply.

I drew deep on my courage and turned on my heel. I walked up to the door with a hand poised to knock.

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Support Finds Us

Often we seek out support in various forms. If we are really self-aware and willing to be vulnerable we will even ask for the help we need.

We strive for connection, to be understood, to be told “no, you’re not crazy.”

Sometimes support and encouragement, validation and assistance, comes from the least expected corners.

Light over WaterIt is the long-lost buddy sending a simple hello.
It is the random FB acquaintance donating to a campaign.
It is the former coworker encouraging travel with her ideas and example.
It is the long conversation that reaches into realms of intimacy and self-discovery that had long been missing.
It is the smile and compliment of a stranger.
It is the accountability partner asking for advice and help.
It is the comment on the blog saying our words have resonance.
It is the impressed words of a coach and mentor.
It is that article from Twitter that seems to speak to our soul.
It is the deadline and expectations of someone we respect.
It is the friend saying “no” when I really want a bite of his gelato – his way of supporting my goals.

It is the reminders that there is more in life and it is not only ok, but absolutely right to reach for it.

It is even easy to get wrapped in the minutia of life and fixate on what we don’t have. It is even easier to let the perceived ignoring and judgement of others hold too much sway in our lives — preventing us from pursuing our dreams.

Tumblr Photo Posted November 03, 2012 at 10:16PM It can be lonely out there. Yet, if we allow ourselves to look for the good and tune into it, we can also see just-as-little signs that we are “daring greatly” and on the right path. These little glimmers of affirmation, of promise, of hope, can be the support we didn’t know we needed.

My friend Dani has shared wonderful prose recently about knowing yourself and chasing your desires. When we are daring and brave enough to start following those passions that feed us, working to create the life that we want for ourselves, we need all the help we can get.

We find for ourselves the inspiration and the information. These little-big moments of support we can choose to intentionally enjoy and can keep us going.

The important part is to take the small kudos and affirmations and not just rest upon them or fixate on getting more of them, but use them to spur us onward towards our true goals. The Universe, via the people around us, provides these successes not as stopping points, but breaths of renewed energy to fuel our progress.

Clasp tightly, be IN your journey and continue chasing down your dreams.

Sempre Avanti,
Jo

PS If my words today spoke to you would you do me a solid and buy me a virtual beer visa-vis my Pencils of Promise campaign? See, I needed to write this to myself as I am nearing the end of my Abs Challenge. I’ve often felt crazy for doing it and, while I am close to success on the abs front, the fundraising has fallen short of my expectations. I’m bucking myself up for a renewed push and a little show of support by helping some kids in need — would go a long way.

PPS Did you know I write other places? Check out my newest Versaletter, this one from Vienna, or my Hack Library School post on switching my degree program to a Masters of Information Technology.

Finding the Right Trip

Last year I quite unexpectedly won a biking trip across Thailand.

Red Bike LightIt pains me that I won’t be taking it.

I donated to Room to Read through Passports with Purpose. The 2012 effort is now underway. I would encourage all to support building wells in Haiti by bidding on one of the great prizes.

You might even win like I did. I was certainly shocked and excited about taking the trip.

Yet now there is something in my gut telling me it isn’t the right choice to make.

Power of Perception

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Using the Sunset to Restart

I pushed “publish” and walked out the door. I felt lighter, more buoyant than I have in a week as my boots merrily go click-click on the cobblestone street.

I had just announced that I failed.

I felt — feel — free. [Read more...]

5 Steps to Challenge Success

This goes in the “easy in theory, hard in practice” bin. Just like constantly attempting to be IN it is a constant practice.

Daily, consistent work is not my strong suit.

Are you the same?

I’ve had need over the last few weeks to focus on achieving a goal. Thinking about what helps us to achieve, makes those tricks repeatable and breeds more success.

So to remind myself as much as anything, here are my 5 tips to pushing through and staying the course that I think are applicable to any agenda:
Steps

1. Start
2. Focus
3. Challenge
4. Flex
5. Share

Easy right?

Well if you’re like me, perhaps a little more depth and explanation is needed. So let’s take each part in turn.

Note: A physical challenge variation on those themes appears today over at my side-project Tredecem — the halfway point of my 6-pack abs challenge to raise funds for Pencils of Promise.

Starting

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu

This should be the most straightforward, easiest, simplest, accomplishable step. “Just do it” right?

How often do we just not?

We know we should do the work. We ruminate on the work. We want to do the work. We plan the work.

We find crazy ways to delay and postpone just simply starting the work.

Starting often poses the biggest obstacle.

We procrastinate. “Oh but I work better under deadline.” Right? While that might be true, it doesn’t get the good work done.

What of projects with no deadline? Those big life projects we really want to achieve? Or ones that actually take consistent practice?

We have to start. Not do laundry, wash the dishes, rearrange our desks, check Twitter one last time, make a list, work on that one little quick thing… No.

Stop it.

What are you delaying?

Now start it.

Focus

Ok, we’ve — however begrudgingly — started. Kudos to us.

But now the reason we didn’t want to start (it is hard, mundane, boring, challenging, outside our comfort zone…) rears it’s ugly head and we want to quit.

1 – Don’t.

2 – Refocus.

I’m not just talking about truly focusing on the task at hand here though that of course is important. What I mean by “focus” is concentrating on the right part of what we are doing to insure that it is we continue doing it.

If we fixate on how much we don’t want to be doing the task at hand — be it making phone calls, entering data in a spreadsheet or holding a seemingly endless plank — the more it is going to suck. Finishing is going to be that much harder and likely we aren’t going to do a good job.

If we shift our focus to a positive horizon, breathe deep and relax into it, then the task becomes easier and we manage it much more effectively. If we embrace the suckage and then tuck it away, we are freed to focus on the good and right.

And more (seemingly) quickly will complete the assignment and move on.

Challenge

This is another variation on the delay tactic that prevent us from starting. Don’t put your sweat into the small stuff.

If the task or achievement is too small, likely we won’t do it.

I know the reciprocal is true — that the big is daunting so we shy away from undertaking it — but that is the important work. It is supposed to be hard. The difficulty reminds us that it is important.

We must challenge ourselves big so we accomplish big.

This can take the form of setting ourselves to a daily practice (hello “I will work on Italian 20 minutes a day for the next month”) or giving ourselves some big life goal that requires consistent work to achieve. Once we are started and working — if the ideal big enough — it is that much easier to set ourselves to the work to continue.

Once we get going, we don’t want to break the string of successes. It isn’t worth it.

Seeing how far we have come, how much time and effort we have already put in towards the large or consistient, helps us stay the course to completion.

Flex

Every great plan needs some degree of flexibility and room to adapt… we just can’t get carried away and derailed.

It is important to take breaks when we need them and be kind to ourselves when we slip but we have to avoid allowing that to slippery slope into breaking faith entirely.

We are really, really, exceptionally good at talking ourselves into and out of doing what we ought. (see #1-3) So we must keep our deviations constrained. We have to be honest with ourselves and call ourselves on our own BS.

I find it is helpful to thus call the delays-slips-misses-self-convinced-breaks what they are: cheats.

We can and should allow ourselves to splurge. But we must keep it in mind that we are indeed splurging and we will refocus and rededicate back to the real work. For the rule is more important than the exception.

Share

Social Pressure. Again, we are admiringly good at creating for ourselves the most flimsy of reasons for not doing what we know we ought to do. Peer pressure can work towards our advantage.

If we share our goals with others, with the reasons behind them, we self obligate into achieving them.

It also makes it easier when social pressures are working the other way and on the side of our splurgy gremlins.

How many times do we hear: “Oh just take a break for a night and come out.” or “You don’t want to miss this one opportunity right?” In those moments, if we have laid the groundwork previously, instead of trying to explain or — worse — giving in, is easy and quite effective to say:

“I wish I could but you know that goal I am working on that I told you about that is super important to me? I really got to do that.”

This is actually a win, win, win, win: We are more likely to start because we just said we are going to (Start). We have rededicated ourselves to the purpose, concentrating on the positive (Focus). We feel more obligated to do the work because we are giving up something to do it (Challenge). And we saw the splurge for way it was but — this time — chose to not take it (Flex).
"actions speak louder than blogs" #realitycheck #travel
Sweet!

Start.

Repeat.

Oh and through it all…

Always Be IN,

Jo

 

PS – Did I mention I am halfway through my abs challenge? Public Accountability right? I’m raising money for Pencils of Promise and you can help! If you are short on $, a click and a share are free and help me for my Social Media Class. Feel good of the day.

NOW START!