No need for external validation

You are enough. External validation not required.

I wanted to write a post about the pitfalls of external validation, about how crippling it can be to feel like you’re not good enough unless other people say you are.

But when I started writing, the message got jumbled.

I got into a whole bunch of tangents about the difference between seeking feedback and craving approval from others. About how people can have their own agenda and think nothing of offering harsh criticism only to claim they’re “just being honest.”

But as I grappled with the idea of external validation, I realized that the real message is much more simple.

While all critique may have its truth, it’s not as important as the more positive, life-changing truth:

You are enough. 

I truly believe we all have gifts as varied and unique as we are. Each of us is in charge of our gifts and has a responsiblity to use them.

It may not seem like it, but you are enough.

You don’t need external validation, for someone else to say you’re good enough or to give her approval before you embrace your gift.

When we doubt we’re good enough and let someone else’s opinion drive our actions, we shirk our responsibility to our gifts. 

You are enough.

Sure, you’re a work in progress. We all are.

Learn all you can. Develop your gifts. Build yourself up by trying new things. Be okay with failing. Live fearless. 

You’ll need to be strong and determined to keep moving toward your dreams no matter what people say.

I’ll just say it again in case you forgot: You are enough

Live fearless.

They say the opposite of love is indifference and maybe in some forms of love that’s true. But when it comes to self-love and living your best life, I believe the opposite of love is fear.

Move past your fear and believe that you are enough.

Tuck the thought in your mind and in your heart and keep moving in the direction of your dreams.

For more reading on this idea, read How to ignore naysayers and other well-meaning people

Listen more, get more

What can you gain when you listen better?

As someone a long time ago once said, We have 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. (According to Goodreads.com, Greek philosopher Epictetus said it about two-thousand years ago.)

2 ears, 1 mouth. Listen better. Sure. Sounds good.

Makes sense, even, but I’m afraid it’s not working out that way. Not for me, anyway.

I used to think I was a pretty good listener and included listening as one of my strenghts. I’m not sure what happened to my listening skills. 

I’ll give you an example of what I mean.

This is an actual conversation I’ve had with my husband:

Me: How was your day?

Mark: It was good. Busy, but good. 

5 minutes later

Me: How was your day?

Mark: You just asked me that.

Me: (deer in headlights look) I did?

Mark: Yes

Me: Really?

Mark: Yes

Me: What did you say?

Mark: (Long pause) It was fine.

Whoa. That’s pretty crappy. The problem was not that I forgot what he’d said.

No, the problem was I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t fully present even as I stood right there with him?

Why not? Was I asking a question because I felt the need to speak, to fill the silent space? I don’t know. 

But I know I can do better. I want to do better. 

The thing is I believe listening is one of the most fundatmental ways of showing love. It’s pretty basic really.

When we truly listen to another person, we’re fully present, body and mind, engaged in what that person is saying.

But why is it so hard to do sometimes?

There are many possible reasons.

Maybe we’re

  • thinking about something that happened earlier
  • formulating a response to what is being said
  • wondering when this person will stop talking
  • dying to check our weather app
  • itching to check new posts on Instagram (or Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

When petty stuff distracts me so much that I can’t listen well to someone I love, that’s a problem.

And it’s not just hearing their words that’s important. It’s giving them my full attention. Listening, yes, but also seeing, feeling, and being completely present in the moments that make up my life.

I realize, for example, how quick I am to pull out my phone or think about pulling it out for no good reason. Major distraction.

Shifting focus

The other day, I held my 2-month old granddaughter in my arms while she slept. It was just us and the house was quiet, except for the faint squeak of the rocking chair I sat in.

I thought, Hey, there are tons of movies I’ve been wanting to watch. Maybe I can watch a movie. Or maybe I can listen to an audiobook.

But because I’ve been thinking about this whole idea of “listening” and what it means to listen and be fully present, I stopped myself, didn’t pick up my phone or turn on the TV.

It was so quiet. 

I just sat there and listened. To the quiet, to her breath, to her sigh. And the listening caused me to feel her more, her presence, the weight of her in my arms.

In that moment, I found myself overcome with immense gratitude for the amazing miracle I held in my arms. I prayed for angels to watch over her and for her protection, now and always. 

No movie or book could ever compare to the magnitude of that moment for me. I’ll always remember it as a gift, made possible by the power of listening. 

I know this to be true. And you know what? As wonderful and awesome as it was, I still struggle. It’s still hard for me to listen. 

This is something I have to practice every day, for myself as much as for anyone else.

Listening is an act of love. It connects us to the world, life, people, our surroundings. The Universe has something to say and if we don’t listen we could miss it forever.

Do you struggle to listen? What keeps you from being a better listener? I’d love to hear from you in the comments : ) 

Read more about listening (to yourself) on this post: Discover the value of your intuition

Create your vision and dare to dream big.

Create your vision and dare to dream big.

You’ve probably seen the saying on a t-shirt or maybe a coffee cup: dare to dream.

It’s a directive meant to inspire each of us to imagine what is possible, to visualize the thing that, if it weren’t for lack of money or abundance of fear, would keep us excited about getting up every morning. It’s that thing that would give your life purpose and drive you forward.

Does your big dream get you in the gut? Almost make you want to cry when you envision how incredible it is?

If it doesn’t, it’s probably not big enough.

What’s your vision?

I’m reading a book right now called The 12 Week Year. The subtitle is Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months. It’s a book designed to help you reach your goals by having shorter deadlines for yourself and coming up with a plan of action toward your goals.

The entire program begins with setting your vision. And this is where I got stuck. I thought I knew what I wanted and have been very fortunate to have accomplished some big personal goals in the past few years, like writing a book, one of my lifelong dreams I wouldn’t have thought possible five years ago. Now I’ve written two novels and publshed them myself.

While I feel good about that accomplishment, The 12 Week Year has helped me see that my vision was incomplete.

The truth, I realized, is that I’m holding myself back from bigger dreams.

Because writing and publishing is not enough. I want to connect with people through my writing. That’s something entirely different.

But how can I make that happen?

The problem is when I think about what I have to do to take the next step toward my goal, I feel Resistance pulling me down. I mentally whine and come up with all kinds of reasons it’s going to be awful.

The truth is I don’t know much about it but I know I probably won’t be good at it. It’s too much to learn and I hate it. (Can you tell I have a teensy bit of negativity about it?)

But I realized (thanks Coach Kathleen!) that in order to get what I really want and do what I really want to do, I have to change my mindset about this thing I feel I don’t know anything about, don’t want to do, and it’s gross and I hate it. It begins with an “M” and ends with “keting.”

This realization was kind of a breakthrough.

My big dream requires I do something I’ve been avoiding….commit to connecting with more people by putting myself and my work out in the world, otherwise known as “Marketing.” My own limited beliefs about this thing are blocking me from moving toward my big goals.

In a recent coaching session, my coach helped me see that I am holding myself back. I had a major lightbulb moment (even though people, including my husband, have tried to tell me this for a long time) and saw how my negative attitude was keeping me from moving any closer to my goals.

“Marketing” is a powerful tool I can use to help connect with people.

That was a major mindshift.

Because my big dream, what I really want to do in this life, is to encourage people, to help people realize their dreams matter. To offer an encouraging word, to be a glimmer of light through inevitable dark days. To be a voice of kindness and encouragement, a voice that urges, Don’t give up.

When I was writing my first novel I had days when I was so full of self-doubt I wanted to quit. My husband encouraged me every day to stick with it. His encouragement made all the difference.

On page 1 of the 12 Week Year the author says, “I agree with Stephen Pressfield, author of the War of Art, that most of us have two lives: the lives we live and the lives we are capable of living.” (Click here for a link to my thoughts on The War of Art.)

It starts with a dream.

So dare to dream big.

Don’t wait. Set aside some time (no kidding) to visualize the life you’re capable of living without thinking of reasons it could never happen. Because it’s important.

What could you do? Who could you help? What impact could you make on the world, your community, people you know, people you may not know and may never meet?

Dare to dream. And don’t hold back. Dare to dream big.

Can you relate? Or would you like to share your vision/dream? It’s scary, I know, but I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments : )

Why you can’t seem to get started (and what to do about it)

Why you can’t seem to get started (and what to do about it)

When you know you want to do something and you’re not sure exactly what that something is, how you would do it, or if it would work, it can be really easy to think it to death.

This amazing thing you want to do might be the best idea ever. You may be talking about it, and even planning it out in your head, but you’re never quite ready to take action, never ready to do like Nike says and “just do it.”

I get it. It’s hard to take action when one minute you think it’s the best idea ever and the next minute you’re thinking: Maybe it won’t work; people will think it’s stupid; Yeah, right. Me?.

That’s resistance holding you back.

And at the heart of resistance is fear … fear of rejection, ridicule, failure. (“Resistance” is wonderfully addressed in Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. Click here for book review.)

Fear plays a tremendous role in what we do and a huge role in what we don’t do. Instead of getting started and taking action we think about it and consider it over and think about it more and in all that time of thinking, we do nothing.

Here’s an example. I’ve had this blog for a few years. It’s changed a lot in that time, especially as I’ve shifted my focus to writing novels. In the Spring of this year I got very involved with my second book, A Song for Love and was in the revise/edit mode for a while, wrestling with the manuscript. I felt like I really needed to focus on that, which I did.

Maybe that was an excuse, but I stopped blogging and focused on the rewrite and publishing. I published the book and then, instead of getting back to the blog, I started another project.

It’s hard to admit this, but I’ve been thinking about this for months and every time I started writing a blogpost, even if it was in my head, Resistance shut me down. I’d think, I don’t have anything important to say. And besides, who cares what I say? Do my thoughts even matter?

I wanted to get back to it and I thought about it a lot, but no idea was good enough, so I did nothing.

I’ve thought about my inaction a lot (too much actually. That’s one of the pitfalls of being an analytical person.) and thought maybe what I’ve learned from this most recent experience can help someone else.

These are a few lessons that helped me and may help you, too.

Get started already!

I often wonder which is harder–starting or finishing? It depends, I suppose. But I do know that you’ll never finish if you don’t start. And you have to start from where you are. It’s okay if you have to start small. Little by little adds up to a lot.

Aim for progress over perfection.

Most first attempts are awkward and far from perfect, but don’t let that stop you from working to improve. Celebrate your victories and all you’re learning along the way.

Nothing says commitment like action.

Thinking about and planning your way toward your huge, audacious goal is important and necessary, of course. But at some point, you have to stop talking about it and DO IT!

Give yourself a chance.

This idea is a little harder to communicate, so please bear with me, but it relates to the notion that whatever it is that you feel like you want to do was put in your heart for some other purpose. In other words it’s not really about you. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about resistance and how something flashes in your head, you get an idea, and then you get a surge of resistance that just makes you think, Oh that’s a stupid idea and you kill it before it has a chance to come alive. He gives the example of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, those first four notes, Duh, duh, duh, dah. Three of those notes were the same. That must have seemed silly on some level. He could’ve said, That doesn’t even make sense. But he didn’t do that.

Not convinced?

I was watching a story about the creation of the soundtrack to the movie, Jaws. When John Williams first presented his idea to for the soundtrack, Steven Spielberg thought he must have been joking. It was only two notes … Duunn, nuh, Duuun, nuh. It wasn’t until they matched those same two notes with the film of the circling, man-eating shark, that they were like, Holy cow! It’s perfect!

The Jaws soundtrack became iconic. It still is. You hear those two notes in that sequence, Duunn, nuh. Duunn, nuh, and you know that means something bad’s about to go down.

So the point here is that even though you may not think you could create something as amazing as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or the soundtrack to Jaws, no doubt, neither did they.

So what are you waiting for?

Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Identify what is holding you up and keeping you from taking action. Then please put those reasons, excuses, and obstacles aside and start were ever you are. Take the first step because that is the only way to gain momentum, to move forward. You never know where it will go and what you can do.

Time is relentless. It just goes and goes. Think about this: If you take action toward your goal today and do a little something every day toward your goal, how far would you get in a week? A month? A year? Crazy, right?

Now, think about not acting and what it will be like a year from now when you look back and think about today, this very moment as you’re reading this. Will you be saying, If only I would’ve started. Where could I be now?

Cue “Jaws” soundtrack and get moving.

Photo by Mark Montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

If not now, when?

If there’s something you want to do in this life, something you think you’re meant to do but just haven’t gotten around to doing for some reason, I encourage you to start.

You may have had reasons, really good, legit reasons for not doing the thing(s) you know you’ve always wanted to do, the 2 most all-encompassing reasons are: not enough time or not enough money.

I was reading a “Dear Heloise” column recently in which a reader wrote to say that Heloise suggests that people should travel to different countries but how can he do that when it’s so expensive and he doesn’t have the money?

Heloise proceeded to make suggestions about how the reader could save and/or earn more money for his trip. She ended her advice with, “Make your next trip your priority.”

And that’s the most important advice: Make your (insert word or phrase for the thing you want to do) your priority.

That’s the only way to make it happen.

Which leads me back to the question: “If not now, when?”

Will you start now? And if not now, when will you make those things you’ve always wanted to do your priority?

No one’s saying you have to forget your commitments and responsibilities. Not at all. But how can your goals and dreams become a reality if you don’t put those goals and dreams in the forefront of your mind and make them your priority?

Start now. It’s okay to start small, but don’t wait.

Working at my desk.

Time goes and goes.

Where has the beginning of 2019 gone? I’m amazed that April is just days away. I have a lot on my goals list this year. Time to re-focus and prioritize.

And I have to ask myself these questions:

  • What do I really want to do?
  • What am I doing to work toward that goal?
  • If nothing, why not? When will it be a priority?

The point is the same as what Heloise explained to her reader.

People can offer numerous creative solutions to help us overcome obstacles in order to reach our goals, but unless we make them a priority they’ll continue to be a thing that will happen “someday”.

If we wait for the perfect moment the path is clear and no obstacles stand in our way, we’ll be waiting for a long time.

Until we make our goals a priority and take steps to make them a reality, those obstacles sound a lot like excuses.

So what is it you want to do? What are you doing now to work toward your goal?

If not now, when?

Read Waiting for “someday” puts dreams out of reach for my own “If not now, when?” moment.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo publshed on rubymontalov.com

It’s the in-between stuff that can kick your butt


Starting a project is hard. Finishing is hard. But it’s the in-between stuff that can kick your butt. That’s what I’m going through right now as I’m writing the sequel to my first novel, A Song for Jessica.

But the struggle to get to “The End” isn’t unique to writing.

Think of a remodeling project.

I love those home improvement commercials that start by showing the outdated, dull room, then the guy/woman/couple decide it’s time for a change.

Next scene, they’re at the store picking out their new products for the remodel. The guy/woman/couple smile, the sales clerk smiles (they actually find someone to help them!).

Next scene, the remodel happens. They tape a door frame and stir the paint. Simple and clean.

And then the very next scene, the work’s all done! The guy/woman/couple straighten a picture they’ve just hung on the wall as a finishing touch.

Now they stand back and admire their work. It’s beautiful and perfect.

If only it were that easy.

What they don’t show is the back and forth “disussion” about design, colors, materials, and cost. “Discussion” about the best way to do it, the unexpected kinks in the plan, then what to have for dinner because there’s dust and/or paint everywhere, and that goes on for days or weeks and maybe the project is never totally finished.

The struggle is real.

Getting to “The End” of a project can be exhausting and frustrating, but it’s do-able.

It helps to:

  • Be patient. Expect your project to take time and effort. You have to want it bad enough to believe the time and effort will be worth it in the end. (Remember the remodeling scenario.)
  • Pace yourself. If it’s a long road to the finish, slow and steady is more likely to get you there, especially if it feels like the work is an unpleasant grind. I was working on revisions to a first draft I finished months before and every time I worked on it I wanted to give it up, just abandon the project. But one page at a time, that’s the only way to do it. Slow progress is still progress, right?
  • Be open to getting help if you can. It’s hard to trust another person with a project that’s your baby, but the right person can make a big difference in the end result. Another set of eyes, an extra hand can be the boost you need.
  • Set up an accountability partner who can give you a gentle push to the end. It’s like having someone cheering you on to the finish line.
  • Set a schedule–break down what needs to be done and pace it out to an end date. For me, it’s a way to help visualize the end of the project. But be flexible. Remember, stuff happens and some days you’ll be more productive than others.

If you’re struggling to get the “The End” of a project, you’re not alone. It’s not easy.

But don’t let that stop you from getting started, whatever it is you want to do.

For more tips on Why it’s so hard to finish what you start and what you can do about it, click here.

Photo by Mark Montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

A small victory outside my comfort zone


I had a Book Signing at the Barnes and Noble store in Corpus Christi a few weeks ago and it was a big deal for me for a couple of reasons.

First, it was my 1st ever Barnes and Noble event and, to me, brick and mortar stores are still really important. (See my post 4 Ways in person shopping is good for your health). There’s nothing like talking to other people who love books. (Somehow I hadn’t realized what a major book-nerd I am!)

Second, I would be among strangers. I was not in my hometown and my friends and family wouldn’t be there. I would be talking to people I’d just met. Except for my husband, Mark, who patiently sat and listened to me read from my book  : ) I’d be meeting all new people.

Here are my top 5 takeaways:

Opportunity lies past your comfort zone.

Maybe it helped that my husband was with me and I knew I’d have at least one person in the audience. I loved being there and seeing my book among a bunch of other books. It didn’t matter that I was in the Cookbook section and near the toys and games.

It was a great reminder about why I write and what that’s all about.

I sold 2 books (yay!) and the 2 women who bought them could relate to my novel’s plot for different reasons. It was a really great reminder that even though my story’s not for everyone, it’s for some people. I have to get out of my own way and just tell the story. Then I have to work to help people find it.

Practice, practice, practice.

Only 3 people stopped at my table and I was there 2 hours, so I read from my book and did a Q & A session. That’s right, my husband asked me questions like, “How do you come up with names for the characters of your book?” and “Do you know what’s going to happen when you write? Do you know how your story will end?” I used a small sound system and read random chapters of my book, which was great practice for my audiobook recording.

Here’s the thing that’s really interesting about that: My husband, Mark, knows this story, A Song for Jessica, and my process better than anyone else. But he asked questions he was genuinely curious about.

I learned that it’s very different to know something in my head and another thing entirely to talk about them. Speaking to an audience of one was very good practice.

Nothing’s wasted.

A writer commented on Twitter the other day about coming across a story she’d written years ago and had never developed but then fell in love with it again. And she said, “Nothing’s ever wasted.” That’s kind of how I feel about the Q & A and reading to my husband.

Everyone has a story.

When I first decided to self-publish my book and started learning about marketing, one of the people I follow said, get out of your office and meet people. She said authors tend to do great online and in ads and marketing, but we struggle to get in front of people. I’ve been the opposite. I love meeting and talking to people, even if they don’t want to buy my book. I’m always amazed by the compelling and fascinating stories of regular people and the choices that determine outcomes. I’m reminded that I’m still writing mine.

A small victory

When it seems like you’re not making much progress and your efforts feel pointless, remember that small victories can be hugely satisfying.

And bear in mind:

  • Opportunity lies past your comfort zone.
  • Practice is good.
  • It’s okay if your work isn’t for everyone.
  • Nothing’s wasted.
  • Everyone has a story.

Thanks to Jessica and the Barnes and Noble Corpus Christi staff for welcoming me to their beautiful store. I’m grateful for the opportunity. 

photo by rubymontalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

The uncertainty of life and preparing for the inevitable


I’m trying something new and including an audio version of the post here:


Life is so uncertain. I know this, but don’t always remember.

When I heard the shocking news of the sudden passing of a healthy, well-loved man in the prime of his life, I immediately thought of his family and friends and the shock and grief they must be feeling at losing him so unexpectedly.

And it reminded me of an important truth:

There’s no guarantee of another day, of another year.

I, too, will die one day. Hopefully later than sooner, but who knows?

Preparing for the inevitable.

Years ago my dad was diagnosed with bone cancer. At the time, I was a single mom doing my best to manage a household and raise two young children while working full-time. Those days were physically and emotionally taxing.

I lived next door to The Murray’s, a retired couple and would chat with Mr. Murray about the weather, the kids, and the goings-on in the neighborhood.

One day I was in the front yard talking to Mr. Murray and somehow and for some reason I told him that my dad had just been diagnosed with bone cancer.

Mr. Murray listened and said, “Well, prepare yourself.”

His response surprised me and got my attention. My dad and I had issues (I’ve written about some of them here), but I always thought my dad was one of those people who would always survive. He’d survived seizures and comas and I thought he’d survive this too. I wasn’t ready.

I’d lost my 27 year-old sister two years before. Though she was ill, her death was sudden and unexpected. I had not been prepared to lose her, to live with the fact that when I said good-bye to her on a cold, clear Christmas night in 1994 that that would be the last time I saw her alive.

But this was different. My dad had bone cancer. This would inevitably kill him. And I was not prepared.

I took Mr. Murray’s advice to heart and mentally and emotionally prepared myself for my dad’s death. It made a big difference in our relationship.

Life and death.

None of this is meant to be morbid or depressing. Really!

I don’t obsess about death, but I am cognizant of the one thing I know for sure: I will die. Some day.

Hopefully not for a long time. If I live to life expectancy, I figure I have about 25 years left.

I consider that ample time to prepare myself. (As it gets closer I may change my mind about how prepared I can be for my own death.)

But for me all this talk about death is not really about death. It’s about life. Time in this life is a finite resource.

It makes me think of my life and what I’ve done and what I still want to do.

I don’t want to obsess about the ticking clock, but I do want to keep it in mind so I remember I’m on a deadline.

We all are, even if we don’t want to think about it.

“Someday” never comes

Read Waiting for “someday” puts dreams out of reach

So if there’s some idea burned in your soul or some passion you hope to pursue someday, there’s no time like the present to get on it.

Right now is all any of us have. Life is uncertain and nothing is guaranteed.

Get over yourself, your fear, your insecurities, your excuses. It can be scary to venture out and do something you’ve never done. But don’t wait for the perfect time when you’re 100% ready.

There’s no time like now to move in the direction of your dreams.


photo courtesy of pixabay published on rubymontalvo.com

How to ignore naysayers and other well-meaning people


Are you up to the challenge of ignoring naysayers and other well-meaning people?

Here’s the scenario. You’re finally ready to face your fears and move in the direction of your dreams. It’s time. No more screwing around. You have a plan and a goal and you know there’ll be challenges, but you’re ready.

You’re so excited that you tell a friend (or relative or teacher) about your goals and dreams. And with just one discouraging word or look or question from them, you walk away full of doubt.

When you decide to follow your dreams there will be challenges, maybe the most difficult is ignoring people who mean well but who really just seem like they’re trying to keep you with all the other crabs in the bucket. (The story goes that several crabs in a bucket keep them all in because if one of them tries to get out, the others will pull him back in.)

But crabs will be crabs.

Be ready for people to be honest without any sugarcoating when they tell you what they don’t understand or see in your vision. “How much will that cost? How can you do that? Is that going to work?” they might say.

And the truth is you don’t really know how it’s going to work. You don’t have all the answers, but you’re determined to figure it out. They may say, “I’m just being honest,” when they tell you they don’t think you should do it without realizing it’s not just what they say but how they say it that can be the most discouraging.

When you’re not 100% sure of yourself and your abilities it’s hard to ignore even the slightest opposition.

But that person who bashed your dreams may be oblivious to his or her power and may not have meant to discourage you. It may not be personal. It’s not that they dislike you and they might even feel like they’re giving you “tough love.”

They mean well and are just trying to give it to you straight. (I know I’ve been that well-meaning parent and I cringe thinking about how “honest” I was.)

So how do you get past it? What can you do to make sure you don’t give up on your dreams because someone says you can’t do it?

Here are a few things to consider to get you past the naysayers and other well-meaning people (Including yourself!).

Have courage. You may know the story of the young Joan of Arc who was ready to lead a revolution and said, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” You may not feel that level of courage and commitment, but you have to be able to have courage to press on when others say you can’t or shouldn’t. 

Take heart. You’re not alone. Every successful person who’s done what you want to do has faced the same type of challenges and doubt. Seek out people who have overcome the kinds of challenges you’re facing. Their insights may help you.

Remember the seed was planted in you. I truly believe that the thing you want to do, your goal or aspiration, is not “of you.” It’s a spiritual thing that calls you to take action toward it. You may end up someplace totally unexpected that would have never happened if you hadn’t taken that first step. You may not even be able to explain why you want to do it. Somehow that makes it easier to ignore people who say you can’t do it. 

Show up and work. One of the things about following your dream is that it takes a lot of work. It’s easy to say what you’re going to do and a whole different thing to do it. Track your progress so when it seems like you’re getting nowhere and the naysayers were right, you can look at how far you’ve come even if you still have a long way to go.

Don’t expect people to be as excited as you are. There may be nothing worse than sharing the thrill of a victory (even a small one) and getting no response. Not even crickets. Or worse, instead of no response they say something negative. Don’t let it get you down. You know what you’ve done and what you’ve learned from it. Sometimes that has to be enough.

Don’t overthink it. Your work won’t be for everyone. Don’t waste your energy trying to bring people around to believing in your dream. They may not understand what you’re trying to do. It’s okay. Stay focused, set your goals, and work one day at a time.

Stay strong while you’re moving in the direction of your dreams. Be prepared to ignore people who say you can’t or shouldn’t. They may love you and mean well, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them decide your path.

Read more about overcoming obstacles, read What are you waiting for?

photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on rubymontalvo.com

Start strong, finish stronger


I’ve often thought about the idea of “starting” and whether it’s easier to start or finish. (I think I must’ve been a deep thinking philosopher in another life.)

It’s a little like the chicken and egg question and doesn’t seem answer-able because you can’t finish if you don’t start, but that doesn’t make it any easier to start.

And for the sake of discussion here, I’m talking about starting and finishing things you want to do for your own personal fulfillment.

Possibly to improve your life, possibly just for the joy of doing it, possibly for the satisfaction of checking off your bucket list, anything that requires you to get out of your regular routine, kind of get away from “Auto-Pilot” mode to disrupt your regular routine.

You’ll have to commit time, energy, and maybe even money.

The challenge of starting

For the purpose of simplifying the discussion, let’s pick a project. Let’s say we want to run a marathon.

A marathon is 26.2 miles. Let’s say the furthest you’ve ever run in your life is a 5k, 3.1 miles.

Here are some things people might say when you tell them you’re thinking about running a marathon:

Why would you want to do that?

Do you know anything about it?

You’re crazy.

Why the hell would you do that?

You’re not a runner.

That’ll be cool. You can cross the finish line like “Rocky”!

That’s awesome!

The only good reason to run is if something’s chasing you.

Why?

You start to doubt whether you can really do it. You consider the investment of time and money and think, “Why do I want to do this?”

You list your reasons to go ahead with it:

for the physical challenge

I’ve always wanted to

for the satisfaction of starting and finishing.

Then you think,“Wow, all this figuring and mental ping-pong is exhausting!” And you haven’t even done anything yet! But, in a way, you have.

When you undertake a marathon-like project you have to know that there’ll be obstacles. And you’re sure to encounter some you hadn’t considered.

photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on rubymontalvo.com

It won’t be easy. The road will be long. Some people will doubt you can do it.

If you’ve considered all those things and gone back and forth about whether you should or not before commiting 100% and you want to do it anyway, and you decide you’re going to do it, that’s what will get you to the start. And you can’t get to the finish unless you get to the start.

It’s impossible to finish unless you start.

In our scenario, our enthusiastic but inexperienced runner goes out on her first training run and struggles to do 3 miles. In her mind she thinks, “How in the world am I going to run 26 when I feel like I’m dying after 3?”

Doubt creeps in, but she’s ready for it. She shakes it off and tells herself, “It’s okay. At least I got out there and did it. I have to start somewhere so I might as well start at the beginning.” (For more on this, see Believe in yourself when doubt creeps in)

That’s the spirit!

You have to start somewhere. Don’t shut yourself down before you’ve even started.

You have to trust the process (See Be patient and trust the process) and believe you can do it.

It’s okay if it’s a rough start. You knew there’d be obstacles.

Have a beginner’s mindset and be open to learning all you can. You may be surprised to learn of ways to make the experience more pleasant and maybe even fun. (See Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset)

Keep moving in the direction of your goal and you’ll gain momentum toward it.

Remember why you started. You may have had more reasons not to do it than to do it, but none of that matters because you’re committed. You knew it wouldn’t be easy going in.

I don’t know if it’s harder to start or finish. But logic tells us it’s impossible to finish what you never start.

When you start, knowing there’ll be challenges ahead and that it won’t be easy, but you’re ready to do it anyway, you’re more likely to finish what you’ve started. 

So how about you?

What marathon-like goal do you have? How close are you to starting?

When you’re ready to commit, remember, you have to start somewhere. Forget about wanting to be perfect and always keep in mind why you started. That’s your why and your why will move you forward when you feel you can’t go another step.