I didn’t intend to write another post about goals, but the Universe has sort of bopped me over the head with a certain message the past week and I thought it was worth sharing.
The first hint was when I missed my scheduled blog post on Monday.
I have a plan to post at least twice a week in one of the following categories: Magic Monday, Writing Wednesday, or Fiction Friday (with whatever else I’m inspired to blog about on other days). So this is my WW post. I’ll bring it back around to writing (sort of). With it being the first full week of January, I was also going after my other goals with gusto, like keeping up on chores, cooking all my meals, working out every day, and hitting my 12K step goal on my Jawbone. Something had to give. Isn’t that the way it goes? Especially if you have a to-do list a mile long. We all have a tendency to over-extend. A lot of people choose the New Year as a launch pad for a major lifestyle overhaul. That fails 99 times out of 100, because, well… it’s impossible. While you’re trying to change your life, life still happens, so if you take on too much, you’re probably just going to get exhausted and give up.
Cue the second hint.
Here is a wonderful post by my friend and coach Amber about how perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage. It’s true, a lot of us take imperfect circumstances as an excuse to never fully commit to change. I love how she lays it out there with no BS: quit making excuses! If you want to change something, DO IT. It will never be the perfect time or place, and you will never be perfectly prepared. Do it anyway. Yes.
Then came the third and final piece of the puzzle.
Yoga today sort of sucked. At least, my ego thought I sucked. I have been killing it the past week and feeling pretty awesome. Today, after a night of poor sleep, I had low energy, stiff muscles, and a sore throat (my body’s signal that I am pushing it too hard).
So there I was in yoga class, sucking. Pissing and moaning in my head. Berating myself for being so out of shape, when, suddenly, in a forearm plank I could not WAIT to be over, I collapsed to my mat. And then the message rained down across my body in relief:
So, I let go of all that tension and pressure I was putting on myself disguised as “drive” and “dedication” and “toughness.” I skipped any pose that gave me a hot flash, and didn’t call myself lazy or a quitter. I focused on what I could do – be gentle. I repeated in my head, “I am alive. I have a body. I have breath. Even if I just lay here, I can breathe. I am warm and comfortable. I have this hour to just relax and be.” Breathe. Move a little. Repeat.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t go 100% effort for 100% of the people who need you 100% of the time. Something’s gotta give, and that is OKAY.
At first it might seem like this is contrary to what Coach Amber said: get out of your own way, quit making excuses and get off your butt and go for it!
But being gentle is not an excuse to not try – it’s a reason to not quit. It means giving yourself permission to fall short – to fail – and to keep going. Which is essentially the same message, or at least a flip side of the same coin. I still went to yoga. I stayed the whole class. It sucked, and it was awesome.
While you have those million and a half balls in the air trying to improve your life, yourself, and your relationships, if something slips (because it will) – don’t get mired in self-criticism, regret, or disillusion. Don’t give up. Be gentle. Forgive yourself. Focus on what you HAVE accomplished and what you CAN do, and let that be ENOUGH. Like how I missed Monday and couldn’t think of a writing topic for today, so I posted this. 😉
For Writers, as promised:
Most of us have word count goals, or publishing deadlines, or task lists to check off. For many of us (myself included) that structure, whether externally- or self-imposed is a total muse-killer. When you fall behind and the words aren’t flowing, rather than trying to bring the lash down on yourself, be gentle. Do what you can – scratch something else off your list. Any progress is better than stagnation and frustration. When you’re ready to try again, first do something to fuel your creative energy. Read your favorite poem. Doodle and daydream. Soak in a hot bath. Take a walk listening to your story playlist. Have sex. Whatever floats your boat. THEN sit back down, and from a gentle place, allow the words to flow. Any words. Even a few words. Even if those few words are crap, they are still more words than you had before. Don’t criticize or overthink it. Be gentle. Be willing to fall short of expectations. Just keep writing!!!