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How to know when it’s time to change your course

Life is a series of things running their course. Nothing stays the same forever. Things change. We accept that.

But what about when the change is coming from you? When what you’re doing doesn’t feel quite right for you anymore?

How do you know when it’s time to change your course?

When your mind is set on one thing, you may not want to give it up and start something new, especially when you’ve put loads of time, effort, money, and emotional stock toward that goal. But still, something about it doesn’t feel right. 

And it’s more than working through those daysphoto courtesy of public domain pictures accessed on google commons published on strong-woman.com when you have to do the crappy stuff. Nothing is fun all the time. Every job, relationship, venture has those times when it feels like you’re walking through the mud in the rain. You work through those times and the sun eventually shines again.

This is different.

Now, it no longer feels right to keep the course. It’s time to make a change.

How do you make the switch to something new when the future is uncertain?

First of all, know that it’s okay to change course. This is no small point. It can feel like you’re quitting, like you’re giving up. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

It takes courage to make a switch.

It’s normal to be nervous and even fearful when you venture into the unknown. And it may get worse before it gets better. Follow your gut. Once you’ve decided, keep moving forward. Have a plan if you can, but be flexible.

Once you’ve made a decision and changed course, don’t look back. It’s tempting to doubt and wonder if you made the right choice, especially when a new course of action isn’t working out like you hoped it would. You can’t go back. Remember what got you to where you are, go with your gut, and then keep moving forward.

Staying on a course that’s no longer meant for you keeps you from better things, from doing what you’re meant to do. It takes courage to make a change, to take a leap. Believe you can and you will.

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Pick a challenge, any challenge

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Committing to a 30-day challenge is a great way of getting you on course to meet a personal goal. It can help you form new habits.

Accepting a challenge changes your level of accountability, so instead of saying, “I’m gonna try to do _______________,” you make a more specific commitment.

For example:

I’m going to do 20 pushups or walk 20 sit-ups a day for 30 days.

Or I’m going to eat out no more than one meal a week for a month.

You can:

  • make it official and sign up for an online or in-person challenge
  • put your word or money on the line
  • tell friends and family
  • get a buddy to join you
  • or you can keep it to yourself

So what is something you want to accomplish?  Would you like to be more organized, dependable, kind, considerate, happy, relaxed, or frugal?

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Maybe you want to drink more water, eat healthier food, exercise, read more, or save money. 

Committing to a short-term challenge is a great place to start.

When I first started working out, I had a hard time being consistent. Life always seemed to get in the way.

Signing up for an event, like a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or obstacle course race, helped me stay more committed. And signing up and training with a friend really helped too.

If there’s something you want, something you struggle doing consistently, a short term challenge can help you improve your habits.


We are what we repeatedly do. ~ Aristotle


What will it be? A mental challenge? Physical? Financial?

Pick one. Then set yourself up to rise to the occasion.

Make it something you’re willing to work for.

(See What do you want an how bad do you want it? to help you decide what you want.)

Need some ideas? Click here for 100 30 day challenge ideas to turn your life around.

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I’ve signed up for a challenge: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

People from all over the world participate in this focused effort to write a novel of at least 50,000 words (a short novel, but still a novel.) in the month of November. That’s an average of 1,667 words a day.

That’s what I’m doing. 

I invite you to pick a challenge and post it in the comments.

It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be something you’re willing to focus on the change.

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Why bother trying so hard when no one notices?

What’s the point in trying so hard when no one seems to notice?

It can be discouraging when it feels like your work and effort don’t seem to matter to anyone. When you make sacrifices and work hard, but no one seems to notice or care.

I tend to look for distractions. Facebook, Yahoo and CNN headlines, dog videos.Graphic courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org published on strong-woman.com

Why? Not for inspiration.

Distraction.

That is all. A quick fix of something other than focusing on what I’ve committed to do. No other reason.

Can’t I just skip it?

Who’ll notice if I don’t do it?

Will anyone care?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. What gets me back on track is to remember what I know.

What I know is:

There’s value in the process.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Getting dressed for a workout means I’m physically preparing to work out even when I don’t feel like it. Sitting down at my computer to write means I’m more likely to write. The value is in the practice, learning, experience.

Deadlines motivate. 

A deadline is a commitment. For me, meeting a deadline (even an arbitrary one) is a commitment I make to myself. If I blow off a deadline once, I’m more likely to blow it off next time and the time after that. It’s true with other things too, like exercise. 

It’s the law of physics: a body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

Getting it done is its own reward. 

Getting my work done gives me the satisfaction of completing the task. I can check it off my list. When it’s done, it counts. The reward is a sense of accomplishment rather than regret or dread for not getting it done.

(Sometimes you need to rest and there’s no reason for guilt or remorse at having opted to “be lazy”.)

But if you always want to get out of it, you may need an attitude check. Remind yourself why you started. Stay motivated. Or it might be time for a change in direction. You may need to do something different.Photo courtesy of pixabay commons published on strong-woman.com

External gratification can’t be the goal.

Decide that you don’t need anyone else to tell you what a good job you’re doing or how wonderful you are. Sure, it’s nice to hear positive comments from people, especially when you go out of your way to do something special for someone you love and they don’t acknowledge your effort. Do it because you want to, without expecting anything in return.

Once you’ve figured out what you want, (See “What do you want and how bad do you want it” if you’re having trouble figuring out what you want.) stay motivated to keep working toward your goals even when it feels like no one cares whether you do or not.

I have to remind myself of these things all the time.

 

Strive for progress, not perfection

journal posted on strong-woman.comIs it really okay to be less than perfect when you’re working toward a goal? Like when you’re ready to take better care of yourself and improve your confidence and overall happiness. You may commit to eating more nutritious food, exercising more consistently, practicing daily gratitude, journaling, or any number of other healthy activities.

They’re simple, but not easy.

So many distractions, it’s hard to stay committed. Why bother trying?

This is when it’s most important to strive for progress, not perfection. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself that:

You must act. You can’t make progress without taking action. Even if you’re not sure you can reach your goal, do what you can and start small if you have to.  It’s harder to get started when you expect yourself to be perfect.

No one’s perfect. What you don’t want to do is say, “Well, I already blew it today because I was ‘bad’ this morning, so what the heck? I might as well eat this pint of ice cream.” Moderation is the key. Every moment’s a chance to re-commit to make healthy choices. 

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Keep moving forward. No one’s perfect. Small changes made consistently add up to results. Even the most disciplined people skip a workout sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and keep at it.

Be okay with good enough. Aspiring for perfection has a way of keeping us from taking action, of getting started. If your goal is to work out 4 times this week and you only get in 2 workouts because “life got in the way”, it’s okay. 2 workouts is better than 0 workouts. Tomorrow’s another day to get back at it!

Be patient. Progress will come as long as you’re taking steps in the direction of what you desire. Focus on progress and it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

Laughing baby.

Remember why you started. When you’re striving for progress, the end goal can get buried under disappointing setbacks. Keep your goal in mind and do it for yourself and your own health and happiness. Re-commit and repeat as needed.

Lighten up. Have fun along the way. Don’t be so serious. (Ahem.) When nothing short of perfection is acceptable, it’s hard to have fun.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Do what you can every day, even if it’s something very small, to improve your health and happiness.

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Mindset Monday – Be empowered by the truth of this simple statement

Have you ever had a teacher make a life-long impression on you?

My 3rd grade teacher at St. Paul’s Catholic School, Mrs. Stehling, I think was her name, was a tough lady – old, shaky, and a little scary.

She didn’t sugarcoat anything.

Whenever a classmate asked for clarification on an assignment, for example, “Do we have to write 2 pages?”, Mrs. Stehling would say, “You don’t have to do anything but die.”

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We all sat there shocked, looking at each other wide-eyed, with that “Did you hear what she said?” expression.

I’m sure none of us had any idea what she meant, but I’ve thought about her response many times since I was 8. (How’s that for having words stick with you?)

All these years later – her response, though harsh, rings true.

And it’s solid.

Sure, there are consequences, possible ramifications of action or inaction.

“You don’t have to do anything but die.”

Yes, it’s stern, but empowering too. You don’t have to do anything.

Everything you do is by choice. And understanding that you have a choice can shift your perspective.

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It changes “having” to do something to “wanting” to do something.

 And how do you choose?

How do you decide what to do especially when you don’t feel like you have much of a choice?

Choose to act out of love, instead of obligation. Act with joy in your heart, instead of resentment.

Peace, instead of anger.

Acceptance, instead of judgement.

Sometimes circumstances demand courage to act, stand up for yourself, or fight for a cause you believe in.

Or to take a leap of faith even though the outcome is uncertain.

Let the truth of Mrs. Stehling’s statement empower you to be courageous, strong, and happy.

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The Hardest Part of a Workout is Showing Up

When it come to exercising, sometimes the hardest part is showing up.

You may know exercise is good for you.  Maybe you really want to start exercising, but something always comes up and you can’t seem to get started.

You know you really should do it. And that it takes a commitment to do it. (Read more at Exercise – The First Step is the Hardest)

Still, you can’t quite figure out why you can’t get going.

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It’s hard to get moving.

It’s tempting to compare yourself to others, such as some one who seems committed to his or her exercise routines and think, “I could never be that disciplined.”

Or to compare yourself to some one who you think has no other commitments and think, “It’s easy for them because they have lots of time. I have so much stuff going on.”

No matter how it seems, the truth is that most people have to work at staying committed. Simply knowing the benefits of exercise doesn’t make it easy to show up to a work out.

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Showing up is the hardest part.

My friend Alice, who has made tremendous progress by staying consistent with her workouts, showed up to a group workout and said, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t feel like working out. I sat in my car thinking about going home.”

“And here you are, Alice! The hardest part is done!” I said.

Alice shifted her attitude and made the choice to get out of her car and join the workout instead of going home. She had worked a full day and she was tired, but she chose to show up.

Why do some people show up and others don’t?

I’ve thought about this a lot. For myself as much as anyone.

These days, I work out consistently, but several years ago I completely quit my gym workouts. I decided they were boring and that life is too short to do something I really didn’t enjoy, so I quit.

It didn’t take long for me to lose my muscle definition and to start feeling like a slug, just kind of blah.

I decided I didn’t like that either. So I had to make a choice. Either find something I like to do and then do it or don’t do it and accept the consequences that brings.

I gradually came around and got moving again.

Now, I work out with my very motivated husband who actually likes working out. He tolerates my grumbling and mad mugs when I feel like I just don’t want to do it.

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Looking at workout board

I can’t think about it too much. I just get my workout clothes on, show up, listen to my body, and stay mindful of my movements.

And then, the workout’s done and I’m almost always glad I did it.

Why do some people show up and others don’t?

It’s physics. A body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Unless acted upon by an equal or greater force.

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It’s physics.

What greater or equal force will get you to show up? What will get you in motion and keep you in motion?

Whatever that force is, it has to be bigger than your excuses.

It could be your:

  • why
  • desire to realize the benefits of exercise, such as improved mental clarity
  • commitment you’ve made to some one else to be there
  • commitment you’ve made to yourself to be there
  • some inner driving force
  • knowledge that you’ll feel better once it’s done
  • desire to burn off excess calories you’ve consumed
  • desire to burn off calories you plan to consume

Don’t think about it too much, just start moving and then don’t stop. Take baby steps if you have to and, even when you’re full of excuses, keep showing up. That’s the hardest part.

What is the force that will move you? Or stop you?