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Small progress is still progress. Keep moving forward.

You know that feeling when you wish things would move faster?

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

When you’ve had a plan and stuck with the plan and you’re making progress, but it’s going SO slow. It’s taking way longer than you thought it would and sometimes it feels like you’ll never make it to your end goal.

“Be patient,” people say.

“It won’t happen overnight,” they say.

Of course, you know all that.

But how can you stay motivated to keep going when some days it feels like you’re walking through the mud in your boots? Progress is difficult and slow and sometimes it doesn’t seem worth your effort.

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Photo courtesy of Geograph

But wait! Stop, take a step back (in your muddy boots), and think about this:

Look at how far you’ve come. Big goals don’t happen all at once and sometimes progress happens in such small increments that it seems like nothing’s happening. But take a step back and look at the big picture. How much has changed in a month? In six months? You’ve probably accomplished a lot more than you thought.

Visualize your end goal. What does success look like? Imagine it. If it’s possible to keep a picture of what success looks like, put it up and look at it as often as you can. Let that motivate you to keep at it and not give up.

Remember why you started. It’s not easy to take the first step on a long road. What got you to the starting line? Was it something you’ve wanted for a while and finally decided you were ready? Or was it a “Lightbulb” moment when everything changed for you? Call it your “Why”. Keep it in your heart and mind. Remember your “Why” when the going feels painfully slow and let that motivate you to keep moving forward.

So,

  • Look at how far you’ve come
  • Visualize your end goal
  • Remember why you started

Then continue moving in the direction of your dreams.

Don’t give up. Slow progress is still progress. Keep moving forward.

That’s the only way you’ll get there.

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Stay hopeful when facing problems with no easy solution

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Photo courtesy of Symphony of Love Public Domain Pictures

My intention when writing Mindset Monday is to offer encouragement and positivity, but this past week I struggled coming up with an encouraging message.

The news of yet another school shooting weighed heavy on my mind. I thought, “This is terrible. But what can I do to help stop such senseless and violent acts?”

I felt overwhelmed and hopeless, powerless to do anything except feel sick about it. And it’s one of many difficult problems in the world for which there is no simple solution. 

Some people on social media felt compelled to share memes/images supporting their particular stance about religion, the Second Amendment, law enforcement, etc. in a kind of “Drop the mic” attitude.

But that’s a one-sided conversation.

In order to make things better we have to work through the issues and differing opinions and face the problem with one goal – improving the situation long-term.

It doesn’t happen overnight. 

Complex, deep-seated, emotionally charged issues do not have simple solutions. 

We have to work through these issues, to have honest, civil, and open conversations. It’s not simple and it’s not easy.

That’s true even when trying to solve problems in our personal lives.

As difficult as it is, we have to be willing to “work through” our problems if we are to come up with solutions.

We may choose to ignore the problem rather than trying to work it out.

But problems do not go away.

Whether you’re considering global issues or personal issues, stay hopeful.

Believe that there’s a workable solution. Have the courage to do what you can to improve the situation.

And when you do:

  • Remember that not everyone thinks as you do.
  • Be more focused on solutions than on proving you’re “right”.
  • Listen. (Not possible when speaking or planning rebuttal.)
  • Be respectful.

There are rarely easy solutions to life’s problems, but change is only possible when we choose to “work through” them.

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Photo courtesy of Jen Knoedl via Flickr

For more on this topic, read What to do when current events make you feel awful.

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Love Is The Answer

Valentine’s Day has me thinking about love.

Not just romance, chocolate and Valentine’s cards, but Love.

How would our lives be improved if we could love better, if we could love people as they are and where they are. Instead of analyzing them and wondering, “Why are they like that?” and “Why would they say that?”

We want them to be different so they’ll be more to our liking and easier for us to love. If only they weren’t so: negative, full of themselves, bubbly, quiet, distracted, etc.

Why do people have to be so annoying?

I was talking to a friend who had an awful time talking to a particular close relative. She loved this person, but would get highly annoyed at every encounter – what her relative said or the way they said it. She’d wonder, “Why is she like that?”

After much frustration, my friend finally gave it up. She realized it’s not her job to analyze the situation or to change anyone but herself. The best she can do is love people as they are. 

And when she changed her attitude she was happier. When she accepted that she can’t control what others say or do, but she can choose to love better, she was way happier with the relationship.

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It’s a heavy burden to try to change another person. And you can’t do it anyway.

But you can strive to love them better.

Isn’t that what we all want?

We don’t want our loved ones to only love us if we change more to their liking. Or to focus on our flaws and the selfish things we do or say sometimes. And don’t we all do and say things we wish we could take back?

But our cup overflows when they love us despite our flaws. That’s something to be humbly grateful for. 

On this Valentine’s Day celebrate Love. It is the answer.

And when we can love better and accept our loved ones as they are, we will be better for it.

Simple, but not always easy. Practice, practice, practice.

Wonder why we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Read Valentine’s Day: Why Do We Celebrate It? on nationalgeographic.com

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Let your intuition lead you to your best course of action

Have you ever had to make an important life choice but didn’t feel 100% confident about what you should do? Your head says go one way but something about it doesn’t feel right.

That happened to a friend of mine recently. She had (still has) a chance to do something she always thought she’d do one day, but she had doubts about whether she should do it. 

So she reached out to her Facebook friends. She kept it simple and said she had an opportunity to pursue a PhD and asked for thoughts on the matter. I figured, She wants to know if it’s a good idea. Should she do it?

I wanted to show my support and tell her that if she wants to do it, go do it. Yes! Absolutely!

But that sounded too simple.

It got me thinking: Is she sure this is what she really wants to do? I know from experience that we can talk ourselves into (or out of) things by coming up with “reasons” we should (or shouldn’t) do them. And sometimes we willingly go against what we know at our core.

Was she going through something similar?

I wanted to tell her about this one time (there have been a few biggees) I talked myself into doing something I knew I didn’t really want to do. But my story was too long to type out, so I didn’t go into it. Instead, I left a comment that said (essentially): Follow your intuition.

That seemed very Kumbaya of me, so I decided to call her to talk it out.

My story

About 5 years ago I was a classroom teacher and felt restless, like there was something else I should be doing. A friend told me about an 18-month Masters in Library Science program that offered grant money to help pay for tuition. She and I could complete the program together and it was almost entirely online.

Even though there were good reasons for me to do it, I knew it wasn’t the right path for me. I knew I shouldn’t do it, that I should say no. But I talked myself into it and…

Before I knew it I had finished my first semester.

Intuition vs. Validation

My point to my friend who was considering the PhD program was this: You know what you should do. No amount of reasoning for or against the program will change that. It’s up to you to listen to that voice inside that says either:

You’re all in without reservation or it sounds good but something about it doesn’t feel quite right and that means I shouldn’t do it. Not now, at least.

She knew exactly what I was talking about. And as we talked it out, we both wondered why we don’t trust our own intuition to do what we know is best for us.

We agreed that even though we know what’s best, we tend to want validation from others. We want to make sure that what we’ve decided is okay with everyone. Certainly men do it too, don’t they?

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Wanting that validation (or in some cases permission) makes it difficult to follow your intuition and do what you know you need to do.

We can talk ourselves out of things, and we can talk ourselves into things – relationships, jobs, marriages, career paths, masters programs – That we know aren’t right for us.

Is it a lack of courage that causes us to ignore our intuition? Maybe lack of confidence?

Maybe it’s that we don’t know if or when we’ll get another chance. The future is uncertain. 

But what is possible when we’re willing to do what we know we should do and act on our intuition.

How do you know for sure what you should do?

  • Journaling about your options can help clarify confusion.
  • Talking it out can help too, not to get validation or permission to act one way or another, but to help you tune in to your best next step.

Even when you know for sure what you must do, it can be difficult to do it. 

Do your due diligence, complete your research, and explore your options, then let your intuition lead you to your best course of action.

Trust what you already know. You’re your best expert. 

Thanks to my friend N. P. for allowing me to share our conversation in this post.