Over two years ago I posted Stop Competing, Start Caring which focused on the rampant issue of women putting each other down through mean-spirited acts of unspoken competition. From the gym to work environments I see women continuing to combat jealousy via negativity and attempts to feel superior. Sadly, I suspect if my gender was more supportive of each other on the whole, if we’d have a woman as president today instead of the misogynist we’re stuck with. But I digress…
I recently joined a new gym, the kind of gym where everyone is very fit and focused on hard core workouts. This is no meat-market pick up joint, or Planet Fitness where you cannot grunt or show too much skin. Despite being a fitness professional I found clientele on the workout floor a bit intimidating, so I decided the best counter-action was to smile sincerely at everyone, especially the women. Not surprisingly, but too my renewed dismay, only one out of every ten women smiled back. Even with deliberate eye contact and my broad and welcoming smile, they looked away with down-turned mouths. I even attempted to strike up a conversation with one woman in-between sets and she answered me quite curtly and sauntered off.
So here is the post again, with slight updates, in my hopes to remind all women that we do not need to compete or be jealous of each other. The grass is NEVER greener on the other side, and only if we work together can we continue the improvements to our role in society that the Suffragettes’s started and the 60’s feminist movement continued.
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Since I was a young girl I’ve been aware of the serious nature of girls competing against each other for just about everything from friends to grades to boys. It gets worse and uglier as we grow into women. I see it at the gym, the mall, restaurants – women sizing up the competition. You can see it in their expressions, a defensive once-over seeking some flaw or registering uncalled-for disapproval.
I’ve mentioned this before, living in Las Vegas I regularly see parades of girls, each more scantily clad than the next, perched in ridiculously high heels, all glaring at the gaggle next to theirs to see if there is anyone they can put down to make themselves feel better. Belittle the competition and they’re no longer a threat, right? Yet despite girls’ intentions, the message men take away from this contest of looks is that we’re offering your bodies and not our brains, and thus they don’t really care which girl they get.
The question is why are we so quick to condemn or ridicule? The answer is competition. We compete to be prettier, smarter, slimmer, or funnier. But the true concern really comes down our fear that someone is “better than me.” Girls are constantly worried that another girl will get more attention, steal a mate, or even get a better mate. We regularly match our own worth against the next girl – which only serves to chronically undermine one’s self-esteem – and we usually know nothing about this other girl’s character and/or life other than her “cover” which we judge.
It’s sad that we are driven to such levels of insecurity that we view our fellow “sisters” as potential threats to our happiness. I suspect this is also a part of the reason that women are still undervalued and underpaid in the workforce. It’s bad enough that we have to compete with men for jobs, but when women consistently treat each other with distrust and resentment in a work environment, it’s easy for employers to offer us less money knowing that we’ll accept it just to get ahead of the next woman.
I know in my youth I did my share of mocking another or feeling envious of another girl’s achievements or looks, but I’ve worked hard in this second half of my adult life to remind myself that the grass is rarely greener on the other side, and that we all have strengths and weaknesses, gifts and limitations, and the only person I should compete with is myself – to constantly grow and improve.
So I suggest that all women take stock of their attributes and stop beating yourselves up about your detriments. If there’s a negative aspect of yourself that you can actually change, DO IT and move on. Otherwise, be proud of who you are what you’ve achieved and never stop trying to be more. Consider the woman next to you your equal and always be there for each other.
If we can teach our daughters through this example, we just might have a generation of women that work together to boost each other up, improve the world at large, and show men that we are not only equal, but in some areas might even be superior? Just food for thought.
Two years ago I posted The Children Are Listening and lately I feel strongly that it needs repeating. It is evident that how we talk about our bodies, how we talk about other people’s bodies, and how we handle our nutrition directly impacts how our children – the girls in particular – view themselves. They are listening to what we say and how we still idolize thin, plastic or enhanced women and super buff men.
We MUST make it a priority to teach the latest and future generations to view nutrition and exercise as equal priorities along with the standards like good dental hygiene and a good education. Then, and only then, will we see an entirety of young adults having healthy fat levels, and healthy self-esteems, which in turn will benefit us all (especially as health insurance issues are far from being resolved). So read and remember, the children are listening.
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I overheard two nine year old girls talking the other day at a friend’s home. One tall, one short, neither thin, neither overweight – but clearly built very differently. The taller one was urging the shorter one to get on the scale to see what she weighed. Finally, reluctantly, she obliged and weighed in four pounds heavier than the taller girl. Said tall girl then replied “ooh, maybe we should run around more at recess.”
What does this tell me? It tells me that the tall girl has been overhearing her mother lament about her weight. It tells me that by third grade, she’s already decided that what the scale shows defines how you’re seen. It also shows me how much our kids are listening society’s obsession with weight.
It’s not just the girls mind you, I’ve caught many a group of elementary school boys quickly dismissing a girl based upon her weight, having learned early on that thinner is more attractive. All it takes is one tossed away comment “wow she’s hot” by a Dad watching a Victoria Secret’s commercial to take root his son’s head.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I do not own a scale, and berate my clients who use one to gauge their fitness. You should also know that I am trying to raise awareness with the world at large, as well as in my own home, that body fat vs. scale weight vs. internal health are three different things and should not be lumped together.
Clearly, being a personal trainer, there’s a lot of discussion in our home about nutrition, body fat, body acceptance, etc. My daughter is built on the short and stocky side, yet she is strong and healthy – not fat. But put her next to her taller and leaner best friends, sure she seems thicker – a perception that to the ignorant child/adult could be referred to as fat.
I work diligently to maintain her healthy self-esteem so that she will not suffer in middle-school, high- school and beyond. Young girls and boys’ feelings of inadequacy because society has deemed them inferior if they’re not built like models, starts in the home whether you’re aware of it or not.
My hope today for those of you who read this – and hopefully you’ll pass it on to reach more – is that everyone who worries about their “weight” should stop verbalizing their issues in front of their children. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends – we all need to realize that one little innocuous sentence (“I can’t lose the last ten pounds, I hate the way I look”) can plant a very destructive seed in a little person’s brain. They’ll either see themselves as flawed, or they’ll deem other’s as flawed if they don’t match up to that perfect body expectation.
So think about what you say around your kids, and what they might internalize about themselves from it. Engage in open discussions about health, nutrition, the differences in body types, and most importantly, that ultimately we must not judge books by their covers – beauty is not just skin deep – and any other words of positive reaffirmation to remind them that life is about being a good person – not being perfect.
In the last couple of weeks, at least three people (ranging from acquaintances to friends) have shared their frustrations with me about still “being fat” despite strictness of diets and/or hours of cardio and resistance-based workouts, wearing Fitbits, parking further away, taking the stairs, etc.
I too would be frustrated if I was that diligent with my nutrition and exercise and didn’t see a difference. But (no pun intended) what I know that they do not is that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to successful reduction of body fat. Further, there’s more to it in many cases than just restricting and/or burning more calories. One must factor in emotional stress, sleep-deprivation, physical stress, illnesses, food allergies (that you may not be aware of), thyroid malfunctions, etc. etc. etc.
A more important concept to me is that our society on the whole needs to look at fat differently. The World, and especially America, considers FAT unattractive. However, a huge majority of our population is visually fat and many have successful careers, happy marriages, are physically active, and live long lives despite their physical condition so what does that tell us?
Fat in foods is still widely misunderstood by most people – if avocado and peanut butter is okay, what’s wrong with butter and cheese? Sugar is still not really acknowledged as being one of the largest culprits in epidemic obesity, yet it is. Carbs are considered evil, yet I challenge you to get through a workout without them.
Internally, there are obese people who do not have high blood pressure or diabetes. Conversely there are “skinny” people who have dangerously high cholesterol or digestive issues that cause them to not absorb essential vitamins and minerals from their nutrition.
So in answer to everyone who has ever lamented why am I still fat I say look at your life as a whole entity, one in which every nuance plays a part in your physical health and body composition. There are so many negative “life” aspects that can affect your body:
- High stress levels at work
- Emotional stress at home
- Illnesses, injuries, digestive or auto-immune disorders, cancer
- Lack of sleep
- Eating too fast
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Not drinking enough water
- Over-exercising (yes that’s a thing)
- Not exercising enough or effectively
- Eating out too much
- Yo-yo dieting
- Worries about money
and the list goes on! Take stock of what’s going on in your life that might truly be sabotaging your efforts to be healthy inside and out. Then try to improve as many of these aspects as you can, or at least improve your perspective.
What ultimately should be your focus is: (1) are you able to do what you want physically (strength and endurance)? and (2) are you surrounded by people who love you and find you beautiful from the inside out? If the answer to both is yes, then who gives a hoot about the fat?! If they’re no, then work on fixing that (i.e., focus on building strength and endurance, not fat loss, and surround yourself with more appreciative and quality people).
In the end you’ll either successfully reduce your fat levels because your life isn’t fighting you on that goal, or at least you’ll realize that you’re healthy and happy so who cares about the rest.
As the year winds down and the holidays rear their busy, caloric, stressful heads I want to take a moment to remind you to be accepting and compassionate – OF YOURSELF! Clearly all of us should be accepting and compassionate of others, but I find that so many people can give love and compassion to others but NOT to themselves. Therefore, this time of year that type of person is even tougher on themselves which leads to more stress and less enjoyment of what should be a wonderful time of year. Is that you?
The most typical topics that we you might beat yourself up about are:
- I didn’t reach my goals
- I didn’t get in shape
- I’m still at the same dead-end job or relationship
- I have to buy so many gifts and have no money
So listen what I am yelling at you right now: STOP IT!
If you didn’t reach your goals because you didn’t try, okay, so now you must see that inactivity and/or indecisiveness clearly doesn’t work. So find stronger motivation and perhaps an easier goal to reach (i.e., the first step towards the total end goal) and come January, get off your ass and start moving towards that goal!
If you didn’t get in shape because you didn’t stick with healthier nutrition and an exercise regiment, again, nothing will change until you do. But you are human and not alone in this – so stop beating yourself up about it. Just follow this blog, join a gym, find a trainer, or whatever it is that will MOVE you (pun intended) toward your fitness goals in the new year.
If your job still sucks the life out of you, and/or a relationship has run itself into the ground with no hope of revival, then decide if you’d rather be exactly where you are NOW one year from now, or somewhere else. If you can’t bear the thought of still being STUCK this time next year, then again, get off your ass and do something about it. There’s ALWAYS a choice that can be made and implemented.
Lastly, as for the dreaded cost and stress of holiday shopping – I know for a fact that most of us would really rather spend quality time with our friends just sitting around being together, drinking wine, playing cards, watching a movie, having a meal, etc. Same goes for fun or funny homemade or gag gifts that break no one’s bank. A token present or little joke gift to remind someone that they’ve got a friend who cares is really the best gift of all. No one wants a gift when the giver has stressed themselves out over it or incurred debt. The only person who truly demands a certain amount of money spent or certain high quality of gift is usually YOU, the giver. Otherwise, they’re not a person you should be hanging with anyway.
So do what you can to be happy and not bah-humbug this holiday season, and get your ducks in a row to hit the ground running come January. Remember, you’ve got me in your corner – I’m always happy to help keep you motivated!
As a life coach I find that my most used strategy in helping a client create a better and happier situation for themselves (whether relationships, career, or their emotional health) is to guide them to see a problem from a different perspective. We tend to approach all problems from the same angle with the same emotional perspective that is our “go to view” based upon our baggage and inherent personality traits. Quite often, that approach results in a failure to change the situation for the better.
Although it’s difficult to see a situation through foreign eyes, it is essential to breaking patterns that are detrimental to your life. I call the strategy “neutral perspective.” In a sense it’s about seeing the FACTS (factual evidence is generally indisputable) from an unemotional viewpoint. Once you look at the issues that are tangible and real and remove your own issues from the equation, a clear solution always presents itself.
A long time ago I heard a psychologist on the radio share a wonderful modern-day fable that perfectly demonstrates neutral perspective. It is the story of Three Men and a Naked Lady (bet you didn’t see that coming)! It goes like this:
Three men are sitting in a car at a stop light. Suddenly a completely naked woman walks in front of their car through the cross walk.
The driver views her with contempt for so brazenly taunting him and deems her a sinner and whore.
The front passenger views her with lust and admiration, knowing with certainty that she would welcome his advances and that perhaps he should follow her.
The back passenger though at first quite shocked, realizes that something is amiss and this poor woman needs help. He jumps out of the car, drapes his coat around her, and offers her a ride. She is beyond grateful. Turns out she was a kind and very wealthy woman who after being kidnaped and robbed, managed a daring escape albeit without her clothes. After accompanying her to the police and seeing to her safe return home, a week later the woman repays the man’s kindness with a lovely dinner and within a year they are married and live happily ever after.
This is a perfect example of emotional vs. neutral perspective. The first man felt inadequate in his relationships and had a negative view on women in general. The second man had learned to cover up his insecurities with arrogance and false bravado. The last man was emotionally balanced enough to look at the tangible facts in a situation and act accordingly. He saw a naked woman with bruises on her arms, crying and looking quite scared. He knew this had nothing to do with him.
So whatever it is in your life that is bringing you strife, stress, and/or heartache, perhaps it’s time you viewed the situation with neutral perspective. Once you can see clearly what the problem truly is (through factual evidence), a solution will clearly present itself. Then you just have to face implementing that solution – which is very often not easy but if the stakes are high enough to you, anything can be made better!
If you are interested in some life coaching help, http://www.danelifefitness.com.
In April of this year I posted to this blog What’s Stopping You (https://lifefitnessbydane.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/whats-stopping-you/) where I addressed many of the reasons that people do not achieve their dreams and goals, with the biggest culprit to non-achievement being procrastination. Since that published that post, I have received many comments either defending or attacking procrastination as either a valid stumbling block or an overused excuse. Mostly, I have been asked to offer a bit more help to those stuck in the vortex of I’ll do it tomorrow. So here is my reponse:
Motivation: something that provides a reason for a person to act a certain way.
Procrastination: the act or habit of putting off or delaying.
Depending upon your personality, you might not need profound motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations. Simply the desire to be or have what you seek is enough to drive you from step A to Z. Whether it’s weight loss, a change of career or home, or the ending of a dysfunctional relationship, some of us can stand up, make plans (or not), and manifest a change.
However, if you are a procrastinator, making changes to your body or life can be difficult, if not painful. Planning may not be the problem, you may easily cogitate on ideas and pros and cons lists all day long, but if you maintain a state of reluctance to actually take action (i.e., procrastination), then changes never occur. Even if it there’s urgent motivation (your health, your finances, the needs of your family), to a procrastinator, obvious needs are often not strong enough to overcome a lifetime of chronic deferment.
Start by facing your fears. More often than not it’s fear that keeps you from action, rather than laziness. Cut to the core of the problem. Fears boil down to one of these four: Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of pain, or fear of the unknown. Once you name the fear, then acknowledge what limits these fears truly contain (i.e., it will be difficult, but it won’t kill you).
Next, pick the hardest task first. We all tend to number our steps starting with easy (baby steps), progressing to the big and more scary steps. Reverse this. Tackle that which seems like it will take the most of your energy right off the bat. It’s all down hill from there (in a good way).
Now keep your steps simple and brief. The longer things take the more likely you’ll loose motivation. Keep intermediary goals to something achievable in a short period of time (a few days or a week). Once you have several successes under your belt, you’re more likely to continue plodding towards your main goal.
Lastly, seek support. Find family, friends, or co-workers who understand the cycle of procrastination. You may think having a go-getter in your corner will keep you accountable and focused. For a habitual procrastinator a cheerleader is often a deterrent. But if you can find an ally who, like you, moves slowly and over-analyzes everything, you might find that while they’re stuck in their situation, they are great and helping you get unstuck. Then you can repay the favor.
In the end, remember that procrastination is a choice. If something in your life isn’t changing and you’re unhappy about that – make a new choice!
When was the last time you drove in your car in complete silence? No radio. No cell phone conversations. Just the ambient noise of the world around you. Do you ever sit in silence in your own home (and being asleep does not count)? Stop and think about how much noise surrounds you, surrounds us all, all the time.
I am amazed how often friends of mine leave their TV’s blaring while we try to converse in person or on the phone. I believe they are truly oblivious to it, unaware that the noise is a distraction, unaware too, that they are talking louder to overcome it. Likewise, in the car: having background music is one thing, but commercials that air louder than the last song, are frequently not turned down. The driver seems indifferent to the intrusion of the radio into our conversation.
Are you guilty of any of these examples? Worse yet, do you find comfort in having noise around you when you are alone? Do you need the TV to be on when you are home – just to give the illusion that you are not alone? Remember, being alone does not equate to loneliness.
Recently I took a long hard look (or should I say, listen) to how much noise assaults us on a daily basis. It is one thing to volunteer for this noise abuse. We control our radios, televisions, and streaming internet. But how about those gas stations with video screens blasting commercials at you while standing at the pump? The gas station in my neighborhood has the same commercial loudly playing from one screen for both sides of the pump island. The problem is that these commercials are not in sync so there is a 1-2 second delay from one side of the screen to the other. This results in a confusing barrage of unintelligible noise that no one pays attention to. So what is the purpose? Surely this method of advertising does not result in sales!
Why is a Life Coach addressing this, you may ask? Because how on Earth can we sort through the jumble of questions, worries, and responsibilities slam-dancing inside our heads, with so much grenade-like noise disorienting us on the outside? With so much to get done, both individually and globally, how can we focus with the volume (pun intended) of chaos that constantly bombards us.
When I was studying acting, a director assigned us to memorize lines and rehearse scenes while standing between a television and radio (with both electronics turned on, of course). The goal was to maintain keen focus while surrounded by distractions. That is a great tool for an actor. But most people are not trained with this skill, and furthermore, this is not a skill to employ when you need to reduce stress, relax your body and mind, and think clearly!
In the next week I challenge you to make some quiet time for yourself. If you live with one or more people, especially those with children, you cannot imagine how therapeutic a brief period of time spent in silence can be. Find a time when you can be alone, or at least a room where you can isolate yourself from distracting sights and sounds, and just BE. You don’t need to do this for long – I’m not suggesting a meditation session (although that is a rewarding experience). Just a few minutes where you can feel yourself breathe. Listen to the “softer” sounds around you, the noise of your home or yard.
Also perform this silence test while driving in your car. Do not be surprised if you start talking or singing to yourself. We are so conditioned, addicted if you will, to having noise around us, that when forced into a situation of silence, we fill in that space without even thinking about it.
For a real challenge, take a walk in the wilderness, or in the still of the early morning. Do not wear an iPod, do not engage in conversation if you have a walking partner. Just walk, observe the sights and sounds of nature around you.
My attack on noise may seem trivial to you, but I assure you on a global level noise pollution is staggering and its impact is hugely detrimental. On an individual level it is just one more way for you to get distracted and lost from achieving your goals and being happy. If one person at a time can make their world a little quieter, then soon the entire world will be a little quieter. Then maybe we can all get more positive changes done!
For those of you who have read Dickens’ quintessential novel Great Expectations you should understand, as the Hero Pip learned repeatedly, that having expectations leaves you open to disappointment. Yet I repeatedly encounter clients who suffer from angry or hurt feelings because they had imposed expectations upon a loved one, or made assumptions about a situation, only to experience a completely different end than anticipated.
To me, having expectations is akin to hoping, dreaming, imagining – more fantasy than reality. Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in the positive power of hoping, dreaming, and imagining, but only for the purposes of motivating, inspiring and planning. Once a solid dream or hope has been focused into proactive action, then you are truly on your way to achievement. However, you still cannot expect that these plans will turn out exactly as you planned. There are too many variables out of your control. But a solid plan (which in a way carries within it’s structure an “expectation,” albeit as a minor role) has contingencies built in, so ultimately you can, and will, succeed in achieving that which you had hoped, dreamed or imagined.
The most rampant misuse of expectation is assuming a specific reaction (or action) from another person. This is where you set yourself up to fail and suffer emotional distress. Raise your hand if you have ever said or did something nice for someone with the expectation that they would return the favor. Okay, now raise your other hand if you were disappointed by their response. Did they react less enthusiastically than you expected? Did they not treat you or comfort you as wonderfully as you had them? Did you feel ignored or underappreciated? Now the bigger question: has this happed to you repeatedly and/or frequently?
Look at any situation where you felt hurt, angry, or betrayed. Did you possibly place expectations upon an individual that in reality were contrary to how they operate? Think about this – there are two types of “inherent personalities” in this world (the two extremes, that is): selfish personalities and generous personalities. Some types wake up in the morning and immediately think about what they can do for their family and friends to make them happy. Others’ first thoughts are what they can do this day to make themselves happy. This does not mean that inherently selfish types cannot learn to balance their tendencies with acts of selfless consideration and thoughtfulness. Likewise, inherently generous martyring types can temper their selfless habits and learn to pay equal attention to their own needs.
Where your understanding of these two types is important is knowing that if your spouse is inherently selfish and you are inherently generous, then an expectation that he/she will treat you (or respond to you) exactly as you would treat or respond to them is a recipe for serious disappointment. Conversely, the inherently selfish type may often suffer from feelings of chronic guilt because he/she never seems to satisfy their inherently generous loved ones.
The solution is two-fold. First, look at the person you are dealing with and honestly examine how they operate. For example if you are dealing with someone who is overly-excitable and tends towards short-fused, emotional outbursts, then expecting a calm and rational response to certain situations would be foolish on your part. If you are hoping to elicit a strong emotional reaction or instant decision from a loved one who is slow-pondering and indecisive, be prepared for serious frustration.
Next, and most importantly, whenever possible, examine your expectations and see if your intentions are less about what you are giving and more about what you are hoping to receive. Sometimes we operate on “auto-pilot,” acting and reacting out of what seems like a need to help or give to another, when in reality, we are really wanting to receiving something we need (emotionally). If you can resign yourself to either (a) focusing strictly on the “giving” and not expecting a specific (desired) reaction or result, or (b) be more straight-forward and ask for what it is you truly need, then you will may indeed sidestep this “great expectations” vicious circle.
As a Life Strategies Coach, I work with clients to clean up the clutter in their lives, literally and figuratively. The “literal clutter” cleanup is easy: figure out your goals, come up with a systematic and achievable plan, get organized, and go for it! Clearing away the “figurative” mind and emotional clutter takes a bit more work. This type of clutter is usually the result of feelings not shared with a spouse, friend, co-worker, or family member. Holding on to these hurt, angry, frustrated, or confused feelings often results in low self-esteem, self-doubt, reluctance to take action, and even physical illness or pain.
The typical reason that most of us do not vent these vitriolic emotions is due to fear of the dreaded . . . confrontation. What’s so bad about confrontation? Isn’t it, after all, simply communication? Communication: good. Confrontation: bad! (Said the grunting monster.)
The problem is that most of us associate confrontation with aggression, anger, attack, sometimes even violence. According to the dictionary, the root of confrontation – confront – means: “to face in hostility or defiance, to oppose.” This is clearly what most of us wish to avoid. But it also states the following: “to stand in front of or meet facing; to present for acknowledgment.” That doesn’t sound so bad, to present for acknowledgment. To present your feelings so that they can be acknowledged. Surely that is the real core response we all seek, when “confronting.” An acknowledgment of our feelings. If you think hard about it, you’ll admit an appreciation of our feelings is far more important than who was right and who was wrong. (Do not forget, that there are two sides to every story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle!)
But where we get stuck when trying to communicate our feelings – where it turns into the negative aspects of a confrontation – is in our delivery and our recipient’s response. With attention spans so short, and everything else moving so fast in our society (from food to entertainment to cars), is it any wonder that we are predisposed to offensive and defensive modes of communication? Throw your words out there…feel attacked…respond defensively with an assault (or insult). Rapid fire words to hit where they hurt, then duck and cover. Muscles tighten, the body fills with tension.
That’s how I perceive many attempts at communication where hurt or frustrated feelings are concerned. This is not communication, it is confrontation in the “face in hostility or defiance” definition. I, too, would do all I could to avoid confrontations if that is how it would always result.
But what would happen if we all changed our delivery when a confrontation was needed? If we calmly articulated the facts of how we feel (for the facts about how you feel cannot be disputed), and did so from a perspective of understanding that the other person may well have felt their own levels of hurt or frustration.
We must let go of the battle over which came first (the proverbial chicken or the egg), and just acknowledge that both parties used poor communication or thoughtless actions. Promise to do our best to think before we speak or act in the future, and more importantly, acknowledge the other’s feelings in this situation.
Confrontation would loose its intimidating factor if it were nothing more than an intense communication between parties in which they stated their feelings, acknowledged each other, and moved on with a new awareness.
So if you have been avoiding confronting someone (in the old negative definition), try this new approach. You have nothing to lose, and plenty to gain. I can feel my muscles just relaxing thinking about it. How about you?
Change is scary. Change is inevitable. Change is good – when we make it happen. Nothing ever stays the same. Change is a fact of life that starts the minute we’re born. The question is, do we fight it, do we become victim to it, or do we grow and learn? There are three basic types of life changes that we deal with at any given time.
Change that is thrust upon us;
Change that happens around us which we then evolve with; and
Changes that we actively create or pursue.
It is this third type that I wish to address. Changes that we make happen.
Creating a major life change is simultaneously the most intimidating and rewarding experience. To dream of a goal, set on out the daunting path towards it, and then, often against many odds, achieve it – there’s nothing more satisfying. Unfortunately, more often than not, nothing comes of those dreams. Why? In a word, fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Those fears manifest in excuses such as not enough time, not enough money, or lack of confidence.
As a Mom there’s an even bigger reason why you have not achieved certain dreams and goals. There’s already too much on your plate! Between caring for the kids, possibly working an additional full or part-time job (the kids are already a full time job), cooking, cleaning, running errands – Mom’s needs always come last.
But no matter how packed your world of responsibilities is, you must make time for yourself. Not only because you deserve it, but because actions speak louder than words. Showing your children that Mom’s time and needs are just as valuable as theirs, teaches them to do likewise when they are parents. (I’m not saying that it should become “all about you,” I’m simply advocating the personal growth and health of every individual in the household.)
Now, while you may know you need to make a change, you may not know what to change, or how to change. The what and how are easier than you might think. It starts with defining the what and then detailing the stops of the how. Then all you have to do is take baby steps of action!
1. Write down your top three goals or dreams. Don’t judge them, or label them impossible. Just word them simply, make sure they are a true goal you have passion for. Be sure to always state them with a positive outcome (i.e., I want to run my own business instead of I want to stop working for someone else, or I want to run a 10k race instead of I wish I had more time to exercise).
2. Now focus on one goal at a time. Choose the one you feel is the easiest achieve at this time, or the one that you currently have the most passion for. Then list the pros and cons of that goal. The obstacles in your way are the cons, and the enrichments/rewards to you and your life are the pros.
3. Next, place the pros list in a prominent location where you can see it on a daily basis when you need motivation. Visualize these stated “rewards” happening to you. Visualization is a powerful tool toward achievement, don’t underestimate it!
4. Finally, take the cons list and tackle one obstacle at a time. Baby steps. One obstacle, fear, or uncertainty, at a time. Just commit to that one little change until it’s no longer in your way. Then move on to the next. Might take a few days, or months. But it’s movement vs. stagnation, and it’s a positive approach to being in charge of your destiny.
Whether your goals are weight loss, improved relationships, or a change of job or career, attainment is within your grasp. There is no failure in the attempt. Failure is only in lack of trying.
If one thing that holds you back is money (or lack thereof), at the risk of sounding trite: where there’s a will there’s a way. Being cash poor is not an acceptable excuse to keep you from your dreams. Goals definitely take longer to accomplish without money, but it can be done. Just look at millionaires like Oprah Winfrey or J.K. Rowling (author Harry Potter) who all started with nary a penny.
Lastly, to all you Moms out there, be sure to involve your family in this. If your children and spouse understand your motivation behind this desired change, and see your conviction and passion, they will support you whole-heartedly. Family and friends will rally to your corner if you just reach out and communicate.
If you need more specific help, find a mentor. Someone who’s been there and done that. Or take a class at the local rec center or community college. Educate yourself. One class in your goal subject can do a lot towards boosting self-confidence and progressing you down that list of cons.
Do not be intimidated. This is your life, and it is yours to change. Just one step at a time. Make plans, set goals, take action. Remember, change is inevitable. Change is scary. But change – that we make happen – is good!