on life, ambitions, and dreams


Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Imbalance, Burnout & Change: 2011 Year in Review

head, shoulder, knees and toes, knees and toes - aye_shamus

There are two kinds of end of the year/New Year blog posts to write. The first is a reflection of the previous year – everything you did, everything you didn’t, what you’re proud of, and what you’re not. And the second is a laundry list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for how to make the next year rock much harder than the last.

And then there’s a third, which doesn’t reveal anything about the writer but gives you, the reader, a map of how you can stick to your resolutions for the first time ever.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work Out

New Year’s Resolutions are like plans – you write them for how you’re feeling (usually fat) at that time (post-holidays) for the future (that has yet to be written) – and they never work out. They look great on paper, but horrible in execution because they all lack one thing – foresight and the understanding that you have to sacrifice something to accomplish what you need (and the ability to adjust to continue the momentum).

Instead of resolutions or plans, I make goals. I did this unknowingly as I entered 2010 and consciously as I entered 2011. I met the three goals I set in 2010 but not all of the goals I set for myself in 2011. While all of this past year’s goals looked great in December 2010, by mid-2011, an imbalance between work and life happened and parts of those goals were prioritized while others were not. Plus I set too many goals.

I don’t feel like 2011 was a failure, but just plain weird. In the Christmas letter John and I sent to our family, I summarized the year as one of “change,” and by God, if that isn’t true.

2011 started with a lot of oomph, passion, and excitement as things were set in place that I had been working hard towards achieving in the previous year and a half. But I got burnt out early, outgrew that opportunity faster than I imagined, and a new opportunity revealed itself and I jumped on it. If 2011 was a shape it would look like a giant “U” with a big, deep dip in the middle.

A New Template for Plotting World Domination in 2012

Earlier this week, my husband and I spent the evening working through Benny Hsu of Get Busy Living’s 2011 Year in Review Worksheet. What I like about his template is it focuses on how the previous year ended so you can reflect on what you’re proud of, what you accomplished, what you learned, what didn’t work, and where you’d like to see yourself in the future.

Benny’s worksheet helps you see where you want to go by reviewing where you came. It’s similar to racing a car – they say that you should look at where you want the car to go, not at the wall that you don’t want to run into.

Goals, plans, and strategies are the same way – look at where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go. (more…)

American Wisdom

sticks and stones, may break my bones

Never eat alone. Do one thing every day that scares you.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Every expert was a beginner once.
Learn one new thing every day.
Take time to smell the roses.
Leave while the party is still going.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Figures of speech. Metaphors. Words to live by. Idioms. Quotes of the day.

Sarah Peck shared 52 lessons she wrote down in the year before turning 28, and I can’t get a few of those out of my head.

I want to try them. I want to learn from them.

What is it about her list of wisdom she shared, in little fortune-cookie-sized bites, that is leaving an impression on me and makes me want to listen? What is it about, literally, fortune cookies and their abstract bit of knowledge that makes every single one us want to find a way to adapt it towards into what’s true for our own life?

What is it about those completely random, fictional fortunes that make us believe that it is revealing a flicker of our future and our fate?

Photo Credit: ashley rose

When is it okay to quit?

quitter by jen collins (hellojenuine)

Two years ago in June, I walked into a CrossFit gym and started a workout with barely enough strength to lift the bar. This was embarrassing. I was not a newbie at all, but a nine-month veteran just home from three weeks away from the gym due to business travel. I was very familiar with the fact that I would not be as strong as when I left, but I wasn’t lifting any weight at all, I was just trying to lift the goddamn 35-pound bar.

Something was wrong. Something in my life beyond the gym was affecting my workout. And something needed to change.

That time I quit CrossFit

That summer my life was a mess – I was working for a manager who said I needed to do some “soul searching” to see if the job that I was doing was what I wanted to do, my husband and I were buying our first house, and I was discovering what it meant to be an “adult.”

They say that one of the main reasons why people work out is to relieve stress. But CrossFit is different; it requires concentration of your mind, body, and soul to push your body to do things that you never imagined it could. And as a friend put it, at CrossFit, you are very vulnerable. And those three things consumed all of my thoughts to the point that I could not put them aside so I could use my brain to focus on the work out at hand.

It was scary. And if you aren’t on solid ground mentally, emotionally, or physically, it makes it even worse.

And it can turn something you love into something that isn’t worth it anymore.

So I quit. I decided that I needed time away from this thing that I was growing to love. This activity that was the first and only form of working out that I ever “got.” This hobby that showed me I have damn good form and kick ass at lifting. This sport that was causing more stress that it was relieving.

The difference between quitting and failure

It’s okay to say enough is enough and put a stop to what’s not working. For me, quitting CrossFit allowed me to take one responsibility off the table so I could spend my energy on working through some really big milestones in my life. It allowed me to preserve the sanctity of CrossFit so that it would still be fresh when, or if, I decided to return.

The idea of quitting is romantic. It’s an action that many of us would like to do, but rarely act upon. And I’m not talking give-the-man-the-finger type of quitting; I’m talking about the “it’s not good for me anymore” type of quitting. The kind that slips out of your mouth over wine with a friend when you tell her about the job that you’re not into anymore or the man you’re seeing who doesn’t fulfill your life the way he used to; the kind that she’ll encourage you to get over and promise that that feeling will come back and that you’ll come out stronger than when you started.

Or, if she’s a good friend, she will tell you to listen to that feeling and just fucking do it.

I like how John Falchetto says it, quitting is a choice:

I chose to quit when there is no progress. When no matter the effort I am exerting, in whichever direction I am pushing no progress is made whatsoever. Sometimes it is easier to walk around the wall than try to push through it.

Quitting is not the same thing as failure. Failure is the act of something not working in the way that you intended it to work. Failure is an outcome, quitting is a choice. Failure is something that happens to you (or something you direct), quitting is you putting a screeching halt to something. And sometimes to prevent being run over by the train, you have to change the tracks and put up the stop sign.

And it’s okay.

Whether it’s a hobby, how you workout, your job, your lover, and even your best friend – quitting, when you know why you’re doing it, is okay.

Learning from the past

Technically this isn’t a story about quitting; it’s a story about hitting pause. Four months after I quit CrossFit, I found my way back. I resolved two of the three issues that got in my way during the summer and found a new gym. This new gym invited me to join their community and I fell back in love with CrossFit.

It wasn’t the same kind of love. This time, I know that I will have an “off” night and that things will happen at work and at home that will affect how I perform at the gym. There are nights when I will fight back tears because emotionally, I can’t find the strength to start or even finish a work out, but I will find the strength to show up. And that’s okay.

This time, the relationship is different because I am approaching it differently.

What have you quit? What did it teach you?

Photo credit: Jen Collins (hellojenuine)

What I Learned: When Creativity Flows, Don’t Turn Off the Faucet

      It’s November 30th and I soon as I hit “publish” I will have posted at least one blog post each day for the month of November as part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Holly [expletive], Batman! If you been here with me all the way, I thank you. If you’re just tuning in, you can read all of the posts starting here.

      So now that I’ve kicked out 30+ posts, what have I learned from all of this?

      How to be committed to my writing & my blog

      Even after creating a content calendar to keep myself on track, writing 7-days a week is hard. Pretty much every day night I sat down, cranked out the post, and published it all in one sitting. This is not a sustainable process. As with any kind of content production and publishing model, heed the advice—plan ahead and have a couple of posts written well in advance of publication (for example, this post was started on Sunday, even though I’m editing the post and it’s quickly approaching 11:59pm Pacific time on November 30th).

      Stick to the damn editorial calendar. There’s a reason why you spent time planning and outlining posts in the beginning, don’t make that a wasted effort. Unless you’re extremely lucky, the muse will not strike every day for 30-days straight without a break; she or he is a person too and creativity has a limit.

      Life happens and sometimes you need to be offline, not attached to the computer. There were evenings when I was not in the mood to write or had other things going on, but when it doubt, I threw something up and actually surprised myself by the feedback and results.

      Keep writing, you will surprise yourself with what you create and who’s reading it.

      Throughout the month I received some great comments on my blog, in private and public messages on Twitter and Facebook, and even offline in person about what I’ve been writing about. And there were a few times when I stepped back and had a moment when I realized that people are actually reading my blog.

      When the flow is going, don’t turn off the faucet

      For me, the prime time of day to write is around 9 or 10pm after my day has wound down. That’s not the problem, the midnight deadline was and the fact that I was sitting down to write epic blog posts on topics that I have a lot to say about and therefore take more than two-to-three hours to write, edit, format, find a photo, and publish.

      So I reviewed my NaBloPoMo goal and reassessed my blog posting strategy: when in doubt, keep it short and sweet; the epic blog posts can come in December. (more…)