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Find a process that’s a good fit for you then take action

Have you ever felt like you were fumbling along just trying to figure things out and hoping for the best? Like you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Parenting is a lot like that, or taking a leap of faith without a net.

In a previous blogpost, What to do when you feel stuck in the weeds I covered some tips to help get you through those times when you feel unfocused, overwhelmed, or unsure you’re on the right track.

That’s what I call being in the weeds. The tips:

  1. Stay flexible
  2. Connect with people who’ve been where you are
  3. Find a process that works for you
  4. Trust the process

If you missed the post about being flexible, click hereOr the 2nd post about connecting with people who’ve been where you are, click here.

Getting input from others is great, but there comes a time when you have to decide for yourself your plan of action. Ask yourself: What do you want, what will you do, and how will you do it? You have to decide come up with a plan of action.

But how do you decide?

If you ask five different people how to do something – write a book, lose weight, get in shape, plan a trip, find a new job – you’re bound to get five different answers. Some writers outline every scene before writing a single word. Others start writing with a simple idea. Do your research to help you find a process that works for you.

Do your research to help you find a process that might work for you.

One of the things I did when I started writing my novel and had committed to writing my novel was to look for people who had successfully navigated through the shaky period of getting started, who had been where I was. I wanted to learn from their experience. (See previous blogpost on Connecting with people who’ve been where you are

You know it’s possible, but it’s hard to know what that would look like if you’ve never done it.

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Consider your starting point

If you want to start running but you have no idea what to do, you’ll need to find a program that starts with the basics. Or if you know you’ll have to start with walk-run intervals, find a training program that starts there.

Know yourself

Are you the type of person who learns by watching? A video might be the best resource for you. Do you prefer having a reference guide? Look for a book that gives you a step-by-step to follow.

If you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed by lots of detailed and technical information, look for resources that seem to understand you want to incorporate this new thing (running, cooking, writing, etc.)

Maybe you like a more personalized approach. Look for a personal trainer or coach who can give you 1-1 attention and hold you accountable.

Tailor the process

In the training scenario, if you mix running days with cross-training days because otherwise you get bored and will nix the whole thing, then mix it up.

Or let’s say you’re getting tips from a friend about how to de-clutter your home. Some particular things she recommends or would day a particular way may not work for you because of circumstances, resources, tools, etc.

Adjust her recommendations to fit your needs instead of making excuses and saying, “Oh no. That’ll never work.”

There’s rarely a cookie cutter solution that works for everyone.

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Adjust accordingly

Be open to making adjustments if what you planned isn’t working like you thought it would. Remember that a little flexibility goes a long way. Stick with it and don’t give up.

When I say process, it really means the way you approach a task. It doesn’t happen all at once. We have to be patient and take it a little at a time. A baby doesn’t normally run before he can walk.

If we want to get stuff done it helps to be open to being patient, learning all we can, following the steps, and adjusting accordingly.

That’s the key to finding a process that works for you and that’ll help you stay on your path to success.

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Time to Re-Shift and Re-Focus – Changes ahead

Have you ever felt like you’re on someone else’s path? Like you’ve bought tickets to a movie and gone into the dark theatre only to find out you’re in the wrong movie.

Wonderful. Now what do you do?

You have a choice:

  1. Stay where you are and watch a movie you didn’t intend to watch.
  2. Gather your things, and go look for where you belong.

For a while now, I’ve felt that way about this blog.

It’s taken me a while to realize I’m watching someone else’s movie.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How it started

I started blogging to share a message: getting older doesn’t mean you have to stand by and watch your body fall apart, that staying active and eating nutritious food can help keep you strong and feeling good. I wanted to  encourage women to take care of themselves in body, mind, and spirit.

Mindset Monday started when I realized that a lot of what keeps us from staying healthy and taking care of ourselves is our attitude. We get bogged down in our own fear and negativity. So, to help people get started on the right track for the week and toward a more positive mindset, Mindset Monday was born.

And then I veered off track by making the message too broad as if I was writing for everyone instead of women who want to age well.

I thought I needed to get back to my original focus — To speak to women who struggle with aging and all that goes with that, encouraging women to age well, to embrace life’s changes, to find the joy in new roles, to help build each other up.

And I’ve tried doing that for the past few months.

But that doesn’t feel quite right either and I couldn’t quite figure out why and what to do about it.

After much deliberation, I think I finally understand the root cause of my difficulty:

I’ve tried to deliver a message that I think people want to hear rather than simply saying what’s on my heart and letting the message speak for itself.

It’s like not allowing yourself to answer a question because you’re trying to say what you think the other person wants to hear. It doesn’t work and it’s exhausting.

So, it’s time for a re-shift and re-focus.

For starters, due mostly to some admin issues, starting in May I’ll no longer be using strong-woman.com.

Instead, I’ll be transitioning from strong-woman.com back to my original domain rubymontalvo.com.

Next, after much thought and deliberation, I’ve decided I’ll blog about my own story (I wanted to help women get healthy so I started a business, quit my school librarian job, but then realized what I really want to do is write so that’s what I’m doing.) and what I’m learning along the way. If you don’t know my story, you can read a more complete version here.

I hope you’ll find the stories interesting. And maybe some of what I learn can help you too.

If my story resonates with you and you still glean value from the message, I hope you continue reading.

My path isn’t crystal clear, but I’ll stick with it until I figure it out. For now, I’m planning on self-publishing my first novel, A Song for Jessica, in June 2018. You can read what it’s about here.

I have a few more steps before I get to that point so I’ll keep you posted. If any of it can encourage you on your journey then I’ll count it as a success.

So the Mindset Monday message for today is:

  • When you realize you’re on a different path than you intended, you have to make a choice to stay where you are or look for where you belong.
  • You may have to try different things before finding what’s just right, like Goldilocks.
  • Nothing worth doing is easy. There will still be struggles, but you can figure it out. Don’t give up. 
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Make everyday better with an attitude of gratitude

Gratitude is a small and simple thing that can have a powerful effect on every moment of every day.

It can take you from grumbling about traffic to be thankful that you have a car, from being angry about something annoying thing your friend/spouse/relative did to feeling sincere joy that they’re part of your life.

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It’s like magic.

And even though gratitude works like magic, adopting an attitude of gratitude can take practice.

A few daily strategies to try are:

Write it out. Keep a gratitude journal. List 1 – 3 things/people/circumstances for which you are thankful.
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Count your blessings. Literally count 10 things you’re grateful for.

Be mindful. Bring to mind the people and things you’re grateful for when you feel frustrated, stressed, or anxious.

Give it a try. See what a difference it can make. And then keep doing it.

Do it for your own good.

It can be good for your health. (Read WebMd Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude)

It can be good for your wealth. (Read Being Grateful for what you have now could make you richer in the future on BusinessInsider.com)

Getting in the habit of bringing to mind, letting your loved ones know, and/or writing down the people and things for which you’re grateful puts them at the forefront of your mind. And that changes everything.

Have a grateful attitude especially when you feel anxious and discouraged. You’ll feel better about your day, better about your life.

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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. 

Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com

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?