What’s Your WHY? (January 1, 2018)

You’ve Got to Know Your “WHY” to do your “WHAT”.

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Welcome to 2018!  I’m moving a tad bit slowly this morning after having a busy day and late night last night.  You might be feeling the same way. 

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So, here we are, Day 1 of this brand new New Year! 

How are you this morning?  Excited, tired, purposeful, determined, unimpressed, thoughtful, or meh…

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People feel a lot of different emotions on this 1st day of a new year.

Many of us have made some resolutions, or challenges, or goals for the New Year.  Call them what you will, but many of us like to look at the New Year as a time to refocus, re-balance, and recommit our thoughts and actions to specific efforts that take us closer to where we want to be at this point a year from now.

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People have been making goals and resolutions for a very long time, but we are notoriously terrible at actually accomplishing those goals!

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We usually have our “WHAT” firmly in mind – WHAT it is that we want to do. 

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Some common examples:  lose weight, eat healthy, stop smoking, learn something new, travel more – the WHATs are as diverse and creative as the people who commit to them.

But in order to accomplish your WHAT, you also have to know your WHY: 

WHY you are committing to this WHAT. 

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Because if you don’t have a clear view of your WHY, it will be much harder to stay the course when actually trying to accomplish your WHAT gets challenging. 

And the WHAT always gets challenging. 

Unless your WHAT is to “sit around and do nothing more often in 2018”.  That one is pretty easy to do without a WHY!

IT'S HARD

Shout-out here to Audrey Russell, my fitness coach, whose first question to me was, “OK, what is your WHY?”  At that point, my answer was mostly, “I don’t know… just BECAUSE!”   Audrey is awesome and friendly and never once said, “That’s a stupid non-answer, Rebecca!  You have to have a WHY!”  She just encouraged me to think about it and then went on her way being awesome and stuff.

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But, dang it, I did think about it, and found that knowing my WHY made a huge difference in setting goals and being committed to accomplishing them. 

I discovered that I do a lot of WHATs, and love taking on challenges.  So many interests, so little time!  But I have been less successful in completing them because I didn’t focus enough on my WHYs.

So, “what’s a WHY”, you ask

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Let’s start out really basic and ask, why are you setting a goal (any goal) in the first place? 

Is it because that’s what people do on New Year’s Day?  Is it because you are a “goal setter”, and you HAVE to have goals or you feel weird?  Or is it to accomplish something specific?

Let’s use a specific example.  One common resolution is “I want to lose weight”.  It’s a lovely goal – we Americans are becoming more obese as a nation with each passing day.  So, good on you for wanting to do this! 

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So, if losing weight is one of your goals, ask yourself WHY you want to do that.

  • To look “good” at your high school reunion this summer?
  • To get your A1C levels down and get off the diabetes meds or the insulin shots or the threat of those being part of your life very soon unless you make some changes NOW?
  • Because you’re feeling and seeing the “middle aged spread” that is so hard to get rid of?
  • To feel better, stronger, less sluggish?
  • Because everyone tells you you need to lose weight?
  • Because society says you need to be a certain size to be ok?
  • Because you think Gal Gadot is awesome and you want to be a warrior like Wonder Woman?

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What is your WHY? 

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I’ll make it personal now. 

I would like to make healthier lifestyle choices this year, which will, in turn, include weight loss as a result of the healthier choices.  I would love to weigh less, but more than that, I’d like to just be healthier, more fit, stronger.

I’ve had that goal since Jr. High school, when that whole self-image thing really gets out of control.  I have always been athletic and active.  But my German heritage also came through strongly in my physique and body type (“short and stout”).  Back then, I wanted to be skinny because the skinny girls were more popular.  Because then the boys would like me more. 

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Very 12 year old sorts of reasons.

The problem is, we carry many of those deep feelings of insecurity into our ADULT WHYs, and those aren’t reasons that will encourage you to stay the course in meeting your goals.  Being popular isn’t something you can control.  Having the right boy like you takes cooperation from another human. 

A successful goal has to be something you can control.  Otherwise, the likelihood of failure goes up, because you can’t control anyone but yourself.  And sometimes you can’t even control yourself. 

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I’ve mostly moved past those types of WHYs (I hope anyway). 

But I needed to figure out my adult-version WHYs.

And the good news is, there ARE adult WHYs!

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My WHY now is not just one thing.  Mostly because I like words and analysis and can’t say anything without taking it deeper and using lots of words.  But that’s just me.

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My WHYs for making healthier choices which will lead to a leaner, thinner, stronger me:

  1. I FEEL better – physically, mentally, and emotionally – when I eat healthy, clean food and exercise most days. When I feel better, I DO better. When I feel better, I am kinder to myself and those around me.
  2. I am less tired, less sluggish, feel less heavy on the INSIDE when I make healthy choices
  3. I want to do what I can to ward off the negative health effects of unhealthy lifestyle choices that are at epidemic proportions in our country during this generation. The life expectancy in the US has been going DOWN for years now, which is an alarming new trend after years of our life expectancy averages increasing.  And most of the reasons are lifestyle choice related.  I can’t prevent every illness and disease, or accidents, and I know that someday my body will get old and wear out, but there are ways I CAN make my odds better.  And feel better more of the time for as long as I live.
  4. I want to set a good example for family and friends.
  5. I want to be a good steward of this body and the things I can do and experience in this life if I take care of it.

this is why

These WHYs are important to me.  They matter a whole lot more than being skinny so that I’ll be popular.  These WHYs get to the core of who I am and what is important to me.

Do you get the idea of a WHY now?

You can accomplish a WHAT without a WHY, sure.  But the WHY takes it deeper, makes it more meaningful and personal. 

remember why you started

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So on those days when I’d rather do anything other than exercise, when I would rather have a bowl full of hot, buttered, cheesy rice instead of a (delicious) and healthy salad – I need to remind myself of WHY I choose to exercise and eat clean and healthy.  If that doesn’t work to get me motivated, then I need to switch over to the FIGHT THRU I was talking about in my post a few days ago, and just DO THE THING that I need to do in my quest for good health.

Some people will tell you that once you know your WHY, the HOW is easy.  That sounds good, doesn’t it?  I want to do it THAT WAY, because they are telling me it’ll be easy once I figure out why I’m doing it.

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But the HOW is NOT easy – or you would have done it already. 

And we already KNOW THIS…

life is not easy

The WHAT and HOW will be challenging, and having your WHY clear doesn’t make those things easy peasy. 

It just makes them MORE POSSIBLE because you found a real reason, a deep reason, a meaningful reason, to do those things.

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But easy?  Nah, not easy.  Just worth it.

Your WHY is just as important as, and maybe MORE important than, your WHAT. 

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So today, as you watch some bowl games, and eat those black eyed peas (I’m a Southern gal; one MUST consume black eyed peas on New Year’s Day!), give some thought to your WHY.

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I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!

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Three (4) Things About… Feeling Overwhelmed

overwhelmed 2Feeling overwhelmed?  If so, you aren’t alone.  Even though many of us have just had some vacation time during the holidays, and only 11 days ago started a New Year full of optimism and commitment, a bunch of us are feeling anything but encouraged and rested.  It’s common – and really frustrating – to find yourself feeling tired, discouraged, and overwhelmed this time of the year, when you really thought you’d be feeling energized and hopeful. 

Today we’ll take a look at Three (4) Things you can do when you feel overwhelmed:

 1.  Take a Breath and Slow Down

Remember, you don’t have to figure everything out today (usually), so hold up a minute. 

And even if you DO have to figure it out today, you need to calm down a little bit first.  So sit down, close your eyes, take some deep cleansing breaths, and clear your mind. 

Maybe say a prayer while you sit there relaxing. 

breathe be still and knowDo your best to stop thinking about all the things you are worried about and just BE.  You need to calm your body and mind down so that you can think clearly and productively. 

If your first thought is, “I don’t have time to sit down and relax,” then you really need to sit down and relax…

2.  Break It Down

We often get overwhelmed when we have so many things demanding our time and attention that we feel the weight of everything all at once, and we panic.  We become paralyzed with the sheer mass of all the things on our plate. 

do all the things 2And of course, everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW! 

So we feel the pressure of time in addition to the seemingly unreasonable number of items on our to-do list. 

Maybe you only have one task in front of you, but it is so big and confusing and seemingly impossible to do that it might as well be 1000 tasks.

elephantYou know the joke that says, “How do you eat an elephant”?  The answer is, “One bite at a time!”  I’m not suggesting that you eat an elephant to help you not feel overwhelmed, but the concept and process is the same.

When you have a BIG TASK (or tasks) facing you, and you are overwhelmed and too paralyzed to even know where to start, you have to break the big thing down into smaller and smaller chunks until you have a “to do” list that doesn’t freak you out. 

For example, let’s say your task is to “take over the world”.  Pretty big, no matter who you are, right?  So here’s the process I would go through to break that down into manageable chunks:

take over the world pinky and brain 2Task:  Take over the World

Preliminary Steps

  1. Define “world”
  2. Come up with a “take over plan”
  3. Put the plan into action
  4. Celebrate

Detailed Steps:

1.  Define “world”

a.  Look “world” up in dictionary

b.  Run the definition by people I trust

2.  Come up with a “take over” plan

a.  Pick a date to do this thing

b.  Appoint a team of helpers

– Make a list

– Ask them to help

– Have a “take over the world” meeting

c.  Decide how to take over the world with my team

– List all our options

– Pick one

– Make sure everyone knows what the plan is

d.  Get Supplies

– Pay with my credit card

– Give everybody their supplies

e.  Make sure we’ve thought of everything

f.  Have one more meeting to make sure we’re all on the same page

3.  Put the plan into action

a.  Set a meeting place and time for “before” and “after”

b.  Do the thing

c.  Meet back at the meeting place

d.  Set up new office

4.  Celebrate

a.  Invite the whole world

b.  Send thank you notes

This was kind of a silly (or maybe not…) scenario, but you get the idea.  Keep breaking down each step until you can read the “to dos” without feeling panicked.  Then start there.

bite sized tasksWhen you’re feeling overwhelmed, the idea is to find a way to get you unstuck and get started.  Once you’re started and less panicked, everything will start to go better.

3.  Make Sure the Tasks Are Reasonable

If you’ve got too much on your plate, it may be that you are taking on tasks that don’t belong to you.  Those of us who are doers seem to collect tasks that others should actually be tending to themselves.  So take a good look at your list and make sure the tasks belong to you. 

overwhelmed 3Also, make sure the tasks that do belong to you are reasonable.  My “take over the world” task?  Not really reasonable.  And if I keep trying to do that task, one of several things will happen, none of them good.  Even if I managed to take over the world, THAT in itself would not be good!

4. BONUS: Stay in the Present

You will have to fight against the tendency to become overwhelmed again and again, even after you’ve followed these steps and settled yourself down.  It’s so easy to look at THE WHOLE THING ALL AT ONCE again and get terrified, paralyzed, and shut down.  So if you find that happening, go back to step one above. you are her

Take a breath, stop worrying, and just start on one of your low level tasks.

Keep bringing yourself back to the present:

  • Don’t allow yourself to dwell on past mistakes/hurts.
  • Plan for the future, but don’t park there and worry about it constantly.
  • What is your focus for TODAY? What do you need to pay attention to RIGHT NOW?

don't worry about tomorrow

Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  NIV

Until next time, be purposeful, and keep your eyes looking forward.

Rebecca