Today I’m Awesome. So Why Do I Have To Change Tomorrow? – Looking Toward 2013

Double Rainbow

Once again, a new year is upon us. It seems we’ve survived the Mayan Apocalypse, every possible parody of Gangnam Style, a very contentious US Presidential election, lots of bad fashion fads (is neon finally gone?), a few bad movies and more than our fair share of “look at me, I’m better than you” social network status updates. And how do we celebrate such survival? By getting another chance at doing it again!

January 1st marks the start of so many “new” things. People go on diets, take up exercising, make plenty of life-altering resolutions. All on this one day. That’s a lot to ask for one day of the year. I also think it’s a lot to ask of ourselves. How do we go to bed one night, perfectly content that we’ve “made it”, yet wake up with an urgent need to revamp our entire life?

I’m not exactly sure how the brain works, and I know it’s an absolutely amazing organ. But, why the complete 180 while we’re catching the last few ZZZZs of the year? Is there something in the name January? Sure, it’s derived from the Roman god Janus who not only had to faces and could see both the past and the future, and was thought to be the god of beginnings. Makes sense that Julius Caesar would chose Janus as the origin of the first month of the year when the new (Julian) calendar was created in the early 5th Century. Beginnings. Looking back, while at the same time looking forward. Reflecting but also taking action.

For as much as we are independent and individualistic, this idea of starting anew on January 1st is so strong we’re unable to break away and “Just Do It” whenever we want. Marketers are on to us. They’ve already started with the “new year, new you” ads and sales on diet programs, exercise equipment, stop-smoking medication, and deals on every way we can “fix” ourselves. So much so, it makes me wonder how any of us pulled through December in the sorry state we were in.

Luckily, though, January 1st will be here soon enough and we can finally start on that path to being “new” again. Although, I’m wondering if any of these marketers have ever been on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Foursquare or, better-yet, Pinterest? From all of these social networks, it seems we’re all pretty darn AWE-SOME! Just look at all the cool places we’re visiting. The many fabulous foods we’re eating. The celebs we’re rubbing elbows with. All the free stuff being thrown our way. The holiday gift pics and videos, alone, are enough to demonstrate that our lives don’t need to be changed.

Seriously, when was the last time you logged on to Facebook to see that your friends were anything but seeing, doing, saying, sharing, liking, thinking, planning or experiencing something better than you. Does this whole idea of “new you” seem to be some crazy marketing scheme aimed solely at you and your mundane life of laundry, school drop-off, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, errand-running and “work”? Or is it just me?

I’m totally conflicted. For the last few months of 2012 there were daily affirmations that I was enough, my life is full, my every effort more than sufficient. So what the heck happened? Who flipped the switch to this message that I need to change, do more, “feel better”? I was doing fine with the idea that every day was a new opportunity to be the best I could be. Now, all of a sudden, we get a new month and year and I’m transported back to the days of self-conscious teenager where how much I weigh is how I’m judged. To being in my 30s and seeing those first laugh lines and needing to take control of getting old. To turning 40 and all the “over the hill” type jokes. January 1st seems more like an apocalypse of how crappy my life really is as compared to the one I was living just one day ago.

To this whole idea that January 1st means the light bulb is switched on and who I am is no longer enough, I laugh. A loud, over-the-top, in-your-face, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me, do-you-really-think-I-am-that-stupid kind of laugh! I was enough when today began, and tomorrow, next year, I will still be enough. Actually, I’ll be even more than just enough because I will be with people who love me, appreciate me and will choose to communicate, both in person and virtually, with people who help me to see myself as someone who doesn’t need to change for the sake of change.

January 1st, 2013 is yet another day. For some, believe it or not, it’s not even a very significant day. Sure, it marks the transition from 2012 to 2013. But for almost half the world population, it’s nothing but a random designation of time and space. Instead, for many of the most enlightened, they see each day as an opportunity to fine tune their life. Why wait until you’re so far off the path to stop and ask for directions?

Sure, the new year is a good time to reflect and think about changes we want to make. So, too, is any Monday or the 10th of each month or the 18th or every full moon or the beginning of basketball season or change of season. We decide! Not a marketing campaign. We’re not all of a sudden in need of losing weight. We needed to lose a few pounds just as urgently last week as we will need this week, next week or even 3 weeks from now.

Like you, change in my life is a constant. There’s always some way to improve. Probably the first way to improve is to realize that I’m never going to have perfect nails like all those nail polish pics on Pinterest, my craft projects will never look like Martha Stewart’s, my food will never be worthy of being the next food/cooking/chef star, and my life will never be as good as some people if based on social network status updates. But then again, that’s not how we measure our worth.

Yes, tomorrow, January 1st 2013, marks a new year. It is also just another day. It is a Tuesday. And on that Tuesday, just like today, I will be enough. You will be enough. We will still be our smart, witty, kind, generous, over-extended selves. I like myself. I hope you like yourself, too. I don’t need to be new. I want to change and evolve and develop on my own terms.

If anything, the new year should be more of a time to reflect and evaluate rather than set unrealistic goals solely for the sake of setting goals. No other time of year do we jolt ourselves and give a hard yank on the steering wheel of our life. We all know how well that worked for the Titanic, don’t we.

So on this New Year’s Eve, I say to you “Thank YOU”, for reading my blog, for supporting me in this journey, for being kind and generous and thoughtful. I wish you all the best in 2013 and hope that right now you realize how fantastic you really are! That you are enough. That you are amazing. That you are beautiful and wonderful and worthy. January 1st marks a new day. Just as December 31st did. Change is possible every day. But you don’t need to change just because a new day has dawned.

Sara

Happy 2011! How Will You Measure This Year?

New Year 2011 - Greetings
photo credit: valcanno

Today begins a new year. Last year on 1/1/10 I started this blog. My first post was my welcome to all who would come. A new year brings about a time to reflect on the past year, which we just did when we identified all the hats we wear, the roses and thorns, and of course looking at how to put those into actionable ways to improve 2011.

I thank all of you for your support, sharing and encouragement. 2010 brought a lot of changes, most positive. I’ve laughed with friends, new and old. I’ve cried with total strangers who would become friends. I’ve struggled and I’ve soared. 2010 was challenging. But I kept going. We all did. No matter what.

I started 2010 reading a series of Og Mandino‘s book. Always enjoy reading his books. If you’ve never read any of his books, I highly recommend The Greatest Salesman in the World. It’s a book you really need to buy. It’s a thin book and will take you almost the entire year to read it, but it’s totally worth it.

What do I want for me from 2011?

Confidence – I want to be confident in who I am, what I write, what I say, what I do. I want it to be how I roll!

Gratefulness – I want to believe that the good and positive things that I have are mine because I deserve them.

Calm – The past few years have been rough emotionally. This year, I’m ready for calm to kick in and anxiety to be a thing of the past.

And while I want these things, being the big Rent fan, Seasons Of Love plays daily in my life. 2011 will have those five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. For me. For you.

How will I measure this year? Not in material things. This year will be measured in experiences with my family and friends. It will be measured in laughter and joy. Hugs and high-fives, real and virtual. This year will be different than years past, because I choose it to be!

Now, how will YOU measure this year?

Sara

Reflecting on 2010: Part 4 – Action for 2011

Pure Joy
photo credit: terrabellastudios

It’s all fine and dandy to reflect on events of the past year and look at those things that brought us joy as well as those things that are not our shining moments. How else can we take stock in our lives? But what to do with all this information we’ve gathered?

Just to review:

We’ve identified all the hats we wore, all the roles we played in 2010.

We’ve assessed all the Roses we’ve happily been given and have seen all the great things in 2010.

And yesterday, we tackled the difficulty of identifying the Thorns undoubtedly been stuck with as we’ve acknowledged the difficulties faced in 2010.

But what good is all this if we file it away and do nothing with it? How can 2011 be a better year if we don’t learn where we need to make changes in ourselves, our lives, our dealings with others?

So, yes, there is a Part 4. This is the step where we look over these Roses and Thorns as well as all the hats we’ve worn. This is the step when we determine which of these things will come forward with us into the new year. There are some relationships, both personal and professional, that I won’t be taking into 2011. I’ve decided that the roses I get from these relationships have too many and too large thorns and I’m tired of getting hurt. I had questions about continuing these relationships but I’d never stepped back to really see what I get from them. And while relationships are both a give and take, if we feel dragged down by it then it’s probably a good idea to assess whether it’s worth it.

Today I had a late breakfast with my friend Shannon (she’s @EpicSkin on Twitter and she’s super nice and is an expert on skincare and all things beauty!) and we got to talking about those people in our lives that rarely give but always take. It wasn’t a bashing session or anything like that. It was one of those conversations where we both recognized that there are people who inject themselves into our lives not to bring joy and light but to try and squash our happiness. It doesn’t matter if it’s intentional or not, the fact is we don’t need people in our lives who are going to bring us down.

Same thing, we don’t need commitments in our lives that we can’t muster a smile when we think of it. The things we do should multiply the joy, love, excitement, fun and all that good stuff we seek. Of course, no everything will be all rosey (sorry for the pun!). But we don’t have to agree to things that we can’t do with love. Sure, some things we have to do out of obligation. But if you hate doing it, hate the person, hate the reason, or filled with negativity then definitely reconsider why it’s part of your life.

Take a look at that very long list you created. Look it over closely for a few days. Make notes, mental or in writing. What do you want to change? What do you want to do again?

2011 will be here in less than 48 hours, whether we want it to be or not. We’re in a position to truly make it a universal Year of Awesome. So join me in my Year of Awesome, there’s plenty of room!

Sara

Reflecting on 2010 – Identify The Thorns (Part 3 of a Series)

yin yang
photo credit: macrophile

On Monday, for Part 1, I wrote about identifying all the roles you have. In reflecting on 2010, were you able to come up with a list of all the roles and responsibilities pertaining to you and your life? Was it a long list? Longer than you expected to create?

Tuesday brought lots of Roses, I hope. Part 2 was to take each of these roles you have and identify all the beautiful, wonderful, positive things you experience because you have that role. I called these your roses. Were you amazed at all the good things in your life? I sure hope so!

Today I want us to look at the roles we have, the hats we wear, and identify the things that didn’t go so well. The thorns.

Thorns aren’t necessarily bad. As with roses, they serve a vital purpose. Sometimes thorns are there to protect us. To keep people away, to harm predators. OK, so we probably don’t have predators in the scary vulture-ish kind of way. But, these thorns that often we see as negative may bring out lessons for us to learn.

Sometimes we’re the one hurt because of the thorns. We get pricked, injured, scraped, and hurt by these thorns. Roses are so beautiful, but we can’t forget that many times beautiful things come with hidden obstacles. But these thorns, these hidden obstacles, these negative aspects are not given enough attention. We gloss over them hoping they won’t injure or hurt us again. Rather, if only we identified them, recognized them and took time to give them their due then, and only then, will we recognize them should they happen again.

For me, as a blogger, there are plenty of roses, but often I didn’t anticipate the thorns. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to leave a negative or hurtful comment on my blog. When that happend, though, it was devastating. I was so hurt. After talking to others though, I quickly found out that there are some people that just like to do that. To see if they can get a rise out of you. That there are people who like to tear other people down because they think it builds them up. That huge thorn no longer hurts me. I don’t let it. I recognized that it’s part of being  blogger, but that I have the control in determining if it hurts me.

One of the hats I wear, that of mom, has what seems like a briar patch full of thorns. Of course I can’t just write that role off. Motherhood has a myriad of negative experiences. Sure, we may jokingly refer to ourselves as ‘Mother of the Year’ when one of these thorns presents itself. Truthfully, though, it’s no laughing matter. Those thorns hurt! They hurt a lot!  And many times they keep poking at us time and again, as if we’re blink to the hurt they cause. For each of us they are different. But we’ve all said or done something that we wish we could take back.  This is one of those roles we have that we can’t walk away from so the more we can identify the thorns, the negative things, the better we can be as a parent. Sometimes recognizing our own selfishness is an important part of this.

Yesterday, identifying the Roses, was it easy? Maybe yes for some things, no for others. It’s not easy to find the good things or give ourselves the recognition we deserve, is it? We discount the beautiful things sometimes, because we don’t think we deserve it. Maybe that’s just me?

Yesterday, CycleGuy and BabyGirl will be dropped off at Disneyland. We all went yesterday and while it was crowded beyond your wildest imagination, I tried really hard to focus on the roses. Both literally and figuratively. I tried to find the beauty in being with my family in a place that makes all of us so happy. I tried to acknowledge the kind and polite people and tune out the others. What could have been a day full of thorns was, instead, a fun experience. No, it wasn’t perfect. But I learned a lot. And I know that because I was actively focusing on finding the good in things that my experience was more positive. Even though it was hard.

Today, though, may be equally as challenging. We don’t want to admit to failure or hurt or difficulties. This step, identify the thorns, is probably even more essential. By knowing those things that exist to make our lives, our experiences, our days, ourselves, less than optimal we can take the steps to either correct them or find ways to avoid or lessen their impact upon us.

What are your thorns? How will you use this knowledge to improve these roles in 2011?  Will knowing what these negative things are help you to make better or different choices in the coming year?

Sara

Reflecting on 2010 – How to Take This Year and Make the Next Better (Part 1)

Photo 89/365 - Vivid
photo credit: Aerokev

As 2010 begins to wind down, it’s perfect time to reflect on the year. What were the highs and the lows? What are things that could have been better? There are various aspects of our lives this pertains to, so it might not be as easy as it sounds.

It’s easy to look at the big picture and say ‘In general, ….’ However, I’m talking about breaking down the different roles we all play and do a roses/thorns analysis on them. What is a roses/thorns analysis you ask?

A roses/thorns analysis is a time to reflect on what was sweet and beautiful, like a rose, and also those things that pricked and poked and stung like the thorn. The most beautiful roses in the world have thorns. It’s just part of the rose’s unique way of adding color and beauty to our lives. But you have to be aware of the thorns or the beauty can be overtaken by pain and injury.

Today I challenge you to write down all the roles you play. I’m sure you’ll come up with a long list. It will probably even surprise you all the hats you wear. Just write down the roles. Don’t start thinking about the highs and lows or goods and bads. There will be plenty of time for that. Knowing all the demands on your live and your time will help you better determine all the things that went on this year. We’re more than just moms/dads, spouses, siblings, co-workers.

So let me get started, in no particular order:

Entrepreneur
Blogger
Mom
Wife
Friend
Sister
Best Friend
Virtual Friend
Lawyer
Consultant
Moderator
Educator
Volunteer
Board Member
Cheerleader
Reader
Writer

That’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll come up with a few others. These are the roles I have. Not every day, but each of these is a part of what makes me unique.  You have yours too, and together they make you the amazing person you are.

So write down your list. Reflect on all the things you do throughout the year. Be proud of those titles and take pride in the joy that fills you as you look over the list. Don’t dwell on the ‘I shoulda’, remember there is time to evaluate each of these. But for now, breathe in that great feeling you have about you!

Tomorrow we’ll take Step 2: What do my roses look like?

For Today, answer the question in Step 1:  What roles do I have in life?

This post is linked with Robin’s Mingle Monday at Add A Pinch.

Sara

Setting Goals for 2010

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about what you want in your ideal future.  It is also used for motivating yourself to make this vision of the future a reality for you.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life.  By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts.  You’ll also quickly spot the things that can distract you and take you off course.

A great acronym for setting your goals is SMART.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Specific

Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.

WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By…)

Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 10 pounds or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.

Measurable

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, the is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.

Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measure. “I want to be a good reader” is not as measurable.

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.

Attainable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.

A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.

The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.

Realistic

This is not a synonym for “easy.”  Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.”   It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization.  A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.

Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.

For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.

Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Timely

Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, beginning of summer. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work toward.

If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.

Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART.   SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.

[Thank you Goal Setting Guide]