This Isn’t How You Planned It

Is your life going the way you planned it?  Are you living out your dreams?  Or are you on the verge of giving up? Are you working at a job which seems fruitless?  Is your relationship hitting a brick wall?   Do you get a little extra money, and then an unexpected expense saps the money as quickly as you got it?

I’ve been there and some days I’m still there.  Sometimes life is all about moving ahead when the road is long and hard. When you’re exhausted and weary, it’s essential you take charge before you burn out or give up.

Like you, I’ve been there, done that!  I never planned to reconnect with the love of my life 16 years ago. I never planned on leaving my dream job.  I never planned on being diagnosed with MS.  Life happens and the plan changes.

The best skill you can gain in life is the ability to navigate unexpected turns and setbacks life throws your way. NEWS FLASH!!!! Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. The truth is, it rarely does.  So, let your challenges build character and perseverance to empower you to stay the course and win your race.

Here are some tips from the amazing Valerie Burton on just how to do this:

1. Stop expecting things to be easy.

The quickest way to become discouraged is to expect life to unfold just the way you planned it, with few or no obstacles or opposition. Raise your hand if this is you?  I know I’m not alone here.  Life is so much easier when the expected challenges appear –  you know, the ones you planned for.   Don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself when hard times come.  This is the perfect opportunity to tap into your strengths, character, and faith to courageously face whatever life throws your way.

2. Get some fresh air.

When your inner gremlins get the best of you, and you start traveling down that dark tunnel, it might mean you need a break.  Have you been focusing on your problems, rehashing them over and over in your mind? Remember, focusing on the negative brings us more negative.  Take a walk. Do something different. Get out of your normal environment. It can energize you and redirect your thoughts.

3. Get some perspective.

Fresh air will give you perspective and clear out some of the cobwebs or maybe even blow away the inner gremlins.  The greatest difference comes when we focus on someone else’s life. When you start focusing too much on what’s wrong in your life, force yourself to notice what’s right. STOP and think of three things you’re grateful for. Believe me, you probably can’t stop at three! Now, open your eyes to others’ stories about determination and strength.  Despite what we may think, we are not the first person to face our challenges.  Look for someone who has gone through them with strength and grace? When you realize you are not alone, you will feel the rush of power. In face, you may discover someone who has triumphed through far greater challenges and can be a source of inspiration.

4. Commit to running your race to the best of your ability.

Who knows why you are going through what you are going through? It may not even be worth the energy of attempting to figure it out. What is worth your energy is expanding your character and capacity in the process.  Think about the ways will you become a better person by persevering through this? What growth do you intend to glean through it all?

5. Be an inspiration.

Yes, you can be an inspiration for someone else.  Your story may be just the thing someone else needs to hear to overcome their obstacle.  Every person who has faced a challenge has overcome them with their attitude, determination, and faith. Tackle your challenges in a way your children, friends, family, and coworkers will be inspired by your example. You can give others hope by simply acting with the courage to live and love fully in the face of fear and disappointment.

The first time I was told I was an inspiration, I laughed because the truth is, I never believed I could inspire anyone.  My life was my life full of challenges and obstacles.  Some I have overcome and some inner gremlins I still do battle with.  About 2 years ago, when the diagnosis of MS was “unofficially” given, I made a decision to allow my setbacks to build character and perseverance. Truth was my life’s journey had brought me to where I was today.  The challenges were actually a blessing in disguise.  Do I always understand it? NO!  Do I always like it? NO!

If you are struggling, I challenge you to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  It is time to gain  some perspective which will inspire and empower you.   When you get discouraged, what thought will lift you up?  Share it with us, maybe you can inspire someone else…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Toothpaste and Clean Underwear

Have I got your attention?  Every since Thirty One’s National Conference two years ago, I have been trying to focus on the fact

“Success is a journey, not a destination.”

I have heard it forever BUT I usually think of it as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I loved a recent blog post by Dana Phillips of Team Connections.  She shared about the various things we need when we pack for a journey and translated it into the journey we take in our business.  Here is the packing list she shared:

So what do we need for the journey?  Is there a packing list for the journey of success?  I came up with some “essentials”.

Knowledge:  the toothpaste.  All the knowledge you have and all the ability you have to obtain more knowledge is a valuable asset on your journey.

Resourcefulness the toothbrush of success.  You have it packed with you every day.  Just remember to use it and use it with knowledge.  Every day we need to practice figuring out ways to make our lives and the lives of others, better, easier, more fulfilling.

Self-Awareness:  don’t forget to floss!  Think about it.  Being self-aware is getting down to the nitty-gritty of your strengths and weaknesses; discovering actions you can take to improve.

Positive Attitude:  This is like underwear.  Most of us wear it, but clean is more comfortable.  All of us have an attitude, but positive is more comfortable.

Planning:  We need a few changes of clothes in case the weather changes.  We all need to be ready to adapt to change.  Being prepared to be adaptable can make our journey more successful.

There may be more things you need on the journey, but I think it is safe to say that you have everything you need to succeed inside of you.

I believe you have all that you need to pack for the journey right now.  Just make sure you pack for success every day.

So, what do you think?  The truth is we have everything we need for success, it is just a matter of unpacking it and using it!  Which one do you struggle with most?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

What Lesson is Your Life Offering Now?

I want you to take a minute and think about what lessons your life is offering you right now.  The truth is when we change the way we look at situations, good and bad, we can actually learn from them.

God offers lessons everyday and it is up to us to learn from them.  If you are anything like me, you are hard headed (a typical Taurus trait) and may need to go through things multiple times before you actually learn the lesson. As a result, the same lessons are offered over and over again. Whether you are going through a frustrating or exciting time, there is something to learn which will prepare you for greater opportunities on your horizon.

Today, I want you to be intentional about looking for those lessons and finding ways to apply them to the daily challenges you face.  Here are five lessons you may have learned on your journey. If so, consider these a reminder today:

1. Nothing is permanent.

Believe it or not, change is good.  The first change I remember was moving from my childhood home to a new neighborhood at the age of 11.  It took me awhile but I adjusted.  Over the years of going to college, and changing jobs, I quickly learned to adapt to new circumstances, new people, and new surroundings. Nothing in life is permanent.  This fact should encourage you to revel in the joy your life is bringing right now.  It will help lessen your frustration when you encounter circumstances you don’t like. For some change is not easy, for others they have learned to roll with the punches.  Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a new job, or a chronic illness, there is a lesson to be learned.  If there is something or someone you love, in what ways could you embrace and enjoy them more? If it is something you don’t think you can handle, just hold on a little longer. This too shall pass.

2. You are either living on purpose or living by accident.

Too many people wander through life haphazardly, for the last few years I have been one of them.  I latched onto acquaintances, jobs, and life situations just because they crossed my path. I lived by accident.  It wasn’t my plan nor did I actually think I was.  I struggled to find my purpose.  A course called “Fit Within” is helping me to create a fulfilling life where I am purposeful in my decisions. Don’t make a decision without reflecting on what long-term impact it will have on you and the people you love. Pursue the things which empower you to express your values and talents. Choose to be around people you feel good being around—inspiring, supportive people who are moving in the same direction you are. Know your purpose and live in it every day in your work, relationships, health, finances, and spiritual life. Strive not to end up anywhere by accident—just because it was convenient.

3. Fear does not necessarily mean stop.

Does FEAR cripple you?  Do you want to run away or are you ready to roar like a lion and face it head on?  Fear is as powerful as you allow it to be. Most of us feel fear and take it as a warning to stop moving forward. Been there, done that and have more t-shirts then I can count!  We should see fear as a natural emotion which pops up every time we venture outside of our comfort zone. When you feel fear, keep moving. Step out of your comfort zone.  It will help you to grow AND get you closer to your goals. What are you afraid of right now which is keeping you from living your best life? Will you make a decision to move forward despite your fear?

4. Less is more.

Are you someone who shows their worth through money and material possessions?  Are you all about keeping up with the Jones’?  Do you play the comparison game?  The simple truth about self-empowerment is it comes from knowing nothing material will ever prove your worth. This is a lesson I need to be reminded of periodically.  Your worth comes from your identity as a child of God and the impact you make in the lives of others. Don’t worry about impressing everyone else. If you are a people pleaser, this might be a tough pill to swallow.  Focus on impressing God (or your Higher Power) by living the purpose for which He created you—serving and blessing others in the way only you can.

5. The power to change your life is in the choices you make.

SMACK!  This is perhaps the most powerful and toughest of lessons. Better choices create better circumstances. It’s not what happens to you which most impacts your life; it is how you respond to it. Your choices create your future. What kind of future are you creating with the choices you are making today? You can choose to enjoy your life or to be miserable. You can choose to be flexible or keep hitting a brick wall at work or in a relationship. You can choose to pursue your dreams or keep making excuses for why you can’t achieve them. The choice is yours.

What is the most important lesson your life is offering you right now? How will you apply this lesson in your future?

Today I challenge you to take an action in the next 48 hours which will enrich your life in a positive, meaningful way.  Share it with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Difficult or Burdensome?

Letting Go…. not something most of us do easily.  This time of year is filled with so many things – work, holiday shopping, visiting family/ friends, cooking, baking, wrapping presents, decorating, cleaning… What if you could LET GO of just one or two of those things?

I start MS injections tomorrow (at least give them a try), I am finding there are things I need to let go of.  Some things may fe letting go for a season, while others are for good.  I have to embrace my journey and NOT get wrapped up in the picture of the “perfect XXX” (fill in the blank).

I was struggling this morning trying to decide about an upcoming leadership training – should/could I travel, what would people think if I don’t go or does it mean I don’t care about my business if I don’t go – the comparison game inner gremlins were hard at work – actually working overtime.  This scripture popped up.  I’ve seen it many times but for some reason, today the words took on new meaning:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Maybe you are working on a project (business, job, etc), and to be blunt, you dread it.  It isn’t hard and someone else might love it BUT you don’t.  Maybe it isn’t purposeful.  Maybe is won’t lead to a better opportunity.  Maybe it is sucking up a lot of time you could better spend elsewhere.  The worst is, it  doesn’t use your strengths well. Bottom line – it has become a burden.  I have heard this lately from consultants in direct sales.  Their passion has turned to only an occasional spark and it has become more work than anything else. They are sticking with the business because of fear, need for an income, a big following… the list goes on AND none of the reasons include a passion for the work they are doing.

I know direct sales (or any job) can be “difficult”.  There are peaks and valleys in everything but when something becomes “burdensome” it may be time to let it go.  Here are the key distinctions between activities which are difficult versus ones which are burdensome:

1. You’re working hard and you’re tired, but deep down, you’re energized by the work.

When something is difficult, but you are energized by it, it can be a sign you are right in the midst of your sweet spot. There is a certain gratification which comes with your purpose. You can give everything you have and yet still have the energy to keep going.

2. You feel stretched, but not broken.

Difficult tasks and situations stretch you. They empower you to learn and grow and become more of the person you are meant to be. Growth, by its very definition, expands you into a bigger version of yourself.

3. You are at peace even in the midst of the chaos.

There are seasons of life which are very difficult and even chaotic. You look forward to getting through them, even when you feel uniquely equipped to handle them. Chaos can swirl around you and yet you are calm. You are at peace.

4. There is purpose in the pain.

Difficult tasks and situations lead to purpose. Burdensome ones distract you from your purpose. Difficult, but purposeful situations can transform you, give clarity, strengthen relationships, and mature you so you are better prepared for the future. They lead you towards your purpose.

5. It is worth the effort.

Difficult tasks and situations are purposeful. Burdensome ones are not. If you can see by persevering, the reward will be worth it, stick with it. Difficulties are about making sacrifices for a greater purpose.

So, which situations in your life are burdensome and which ones are difficult?  Will you make a change, removing the burden or persevere through a difficult time?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Progress Not Perfection?

Did you know….Perfectionism is mostly a women’s issue?  I can’t say I am surprised.  Think about it.  How often have you hesitated to move forward worried about everything being just right?

We want our ducks all lined up in a row…

Let’s be honest, they seldom line up in just the right way or the way we think they should be.  As a result we obsess over how we are doing at work, at home, in our relationships, with our weight, our hair, our kids. The end result is all of our JOY is gone.  There is no time to relax because we are busy putting those ducks in a row. Which means there’s always more work to do to make things just right.

Do you wear perfectionism like a badge of honor?  If you aren’t the one saying it, then I’m sure you know someone who has said it.  When you (or someone you know) want to embrace the “I’m a perfectionist.” badge, consider this:

Perfectionism is self-sabotage. It’s fear.

For many of us, perfectionism means we are motivated by hard-working, high quality and conscientiousness BUT the truth is our real motivator is FEAR!

Do you also consider yourself a procrastinator?  Do you claim to work better under pressure or you hesitate when trying to move forward? BINGO! Perfectionism is the reason why we procrastinate.  WHY?  We are trying to get all of those ducks in a row.  We keep moving forward fearing whatever we’ve done, will never be good enough.

So what is the worse thing that could happen?  Rejection. Disapproval. The disappointment of ‘failure.’  None of us like the thought of those words right?

What if you were to change the word “perfection” to “excellence”?  There is really a HUGE difference between the two words.  Excellence sets a high standard, but not so high it keeps you from moving forward. Perfectionism sets an improbable and often unobtainable standard which usually slows progress or brings it to a stop.  Excellence is a value, a way of life. Perfectionism is a judgement from a critical spirit which rarely, if ever, is satisfied.

How do you know whether you are in a  perfectionism or excellence mode?  It is an energy which you feel.  The energy of perfectionism is criticism, doubt, and discontentment. The energy of excellence is hope, possibility and growth. Excellence is about the journey to your destination – what you discover, how you grow, and who takes the journey with you.

Have you played the comparison game?  I have been there, done it and gotten (multiple) t-shirts.  So, if you’re comparing yourself to others, you’re operating in perfectionism. If you’re focused on being the best version of YOU, you’re operating in excellence.

You need to flip the switch when you feel the anxiety of perfectionism creeping in.  Flip from perfectionism to excellence with these questions:

  • What have I done well I can acknowledge and celebrate even if I feel like I’m “not ready yet” or “not done yet”?
  • What good thing could happen if I decided what I’ve done already is enough and move on to the next step?
  • What is my definition of “good enough”?
  • What would happen if instead of fearing my efforts are not good enough, I had the courage to believe I am good enough right now, today?
  • How could I have more fun while doing this?
  • How do I want to grow as a result of this task?

I challenge you this weekend to pick excellence over perfection so you can make progress.

I have found the weekends are tougher for me then during the week to flip the switch.  Crazy, right?  During the week, we have a routine (work, kids, etc) but on the weekend there is less structure.  Less structure usually means I am playing the woulda, shoulda, coulda game.  What about you?

Take a few minutes today so you can identify at least one way perfectionism has you stuck.  Flip the switch!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!