It feels like I’m forever playing catch-up on this blog. It’s a good thing I don’t blog for a living.
This past week has been rough. I’ve had abdominal and back cramps on and off nearly every day. (I’d call them menstrual cramps, but I had surgery a few years ago that ended my menstruation, so I’m not sure what they are.) I’ve also had a lot of stomach issues, including a particular kind of stomach ache that felt like a chest tightness.
In fact, one particular episode Thursday evening was so bad that for several frightening minutes, I actually wondered if I was having a heart attack. (That feeling subsided after those frightening minutes, after Eric gave me some antacids. I think I was just suffering a particularly painful bout of heartburn. I can really tell now why it’s called heartburn!)
By the way, have I told you, my faithful blog readers, lately that I love you? Just thought I’d bring that up. Not for any particular reason.
Anyway, my productivity has definitely suffered over this past week, but I have been trying very hard to stay with my morning routine anyway. Have I been completely successful? Well, no. I’ve done very little laundry; I think I might have done two or three loads all week. I didn’t do my planks and yoga every day either. And on Friday, I didn’t do dishes all day long.
But, I think the important thing is that I have been thinking about it. I’ve been trying my best even though I haven’t felt well. I have definitely been more intentional. And I did not only quite a bit of writing this week, but I also did quite a bit of knitting. And those are important to me.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about authenticity. It all started with a quote from an interview that Graham Colton did with Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ragogna/conversations-with-the-fr_b_4634723.html). The writer asked Graham what advice he would give new musicians.
His response: “Stop being so precious with your music. People don’t want perfection. They want honesty.”
Wow. That hit me hard. Those two lines — people don’t want perfection. They want honesty — instantly became my new favorite quote. I loved it so much that I kind of want to make a needlepoint wall hanging out of it and put it in my office. Or my bedroom.
Why did this hit me so hard? Because I have lived most of my life as a perfectionist. When you’re a perfectionist, everything you do that isn’t perfect often feels like failure. And you can spend a lot of hard hours fighting off the voices inside your head telling you that because you aren’t perfect, you’re worthless. You have nothing to offer to anyone when you’re not perfect.
But when I read “People don’t want perfection, they want honesty,” a light bulb went on over my head.
A blog post I read from my morning routine guru, Crystal Paine, made me think even more about this whole perfection-versus-honesty dichotomy. It was called The Beauty of Being Authentic. (http://moneysavingmom.com/2014/01/beauty-being-authentic.html)
This part really spoke to me:
Life is messy, our dreams don’t always pan out, our hopes are sometimes dashed, and we often falter and fail. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t hide behind a facade hoping that if you look more impressive people will like you.
There is beauty in being our real authentic selves. Because it’s only when we are our true selves, that others can love us for who we really are — messes, struggles, and all.
And then there was a recent e-mail from good ol’ Fearless Leader Jon Acuff, from Day 22:
I would like to think that you and I are going to go a perfect 30 for 30 this month! That we will hit every task, accomplish every challenge and walk away for a 100% rate of completion.
Unfortunately, 38 years of life discourage me from believing that.
Odds are, we won’t be perfect this month. Try as we might, we will make mistakes, have some moments where we drop the ball or get busy and focus on other things. When that happens, and it will, I want you to remember these three things:
1. Perfection is not the goal. Never was, never will be. We’re not aiming for a perfect month, we’re aiming for a month more awesome than last month.
2. You can’t cram for goals that really matter. Maybe in college you could wait all semester and then pull an all nighter, but most of life doesn’t work that way. If you missed three days of challenges, don’t try to do them all in one day.
3. We have 11 more rolls of the dice in 2014. This isn’t the last month of the year, it’s the first.
We’re just getting started.
Don’t let perfection cripple you before you’ve even taken a month’s worth of steps forward. (Even if you missed some days.)
Perfection is not the goal.
Life is messy.
People don’t want perfection. They want honesty.
It’s almost as if someone was trying to tell me something?
The message I keep hearing repeatedly is this: I’m not perfect. I’m never going to be perfect. There’s no reason to hang my head when I don’t hit every part of my morning routine. There’s no reason to feel discouraged because I’m not doing the dishes every day or hitting my planking and yoga or letting the laundry pile up occasionally. None of that makes me a failure. (Especially when the reason I’m struggling is because I’m struggling physically.)
All I can do, all anyone can do, is keep trying.
And I’m not going to pretend this whole morning-routine thing isn’t still a struggle for me. It is, definitely. I want to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off in the morning, and I often want to start reading Twitter or Facebook rather than my devotional book. Living intentionally does not come easy to me. I’m a space cadet. Space cadets like to live in the space between their ears.
But I know that living intentionally is worth it, so I’m going to keep trying.
I’m going to quickly run down Jon’s e-mails and my responses to them, just to continue chronicling this challenge (especially since it’s almost over — I can’t believe there are only 6 days left!)
I left off with Day 21, so here we go.
Chasing a dream often involves getting comfortable with tension. If things were black and white all the time it would be easy. But it’s not, accomplishing goals is usually kind of grey.
For example, one of the biggest tensions is between hustle and rest.
I hate rest. It doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not something I’m good at.
When I had a traditional job, it was hard for me to unwind on a week’s vacation. I usually wasn’t really relaxed until day 6 or 7 and by then I had to go back to work. I needed a week just to unplug. Our culture feeds this belief that rest is foolish every time someone brags about how busy they are or how many emails they have in their inbox.
We fail to see that a nap contributes to success or that goofing off is a valuable part of the creative process.
Today’s goal is to rest. Maybe for you that means taking a 15-minute break to walk around the building at work. Maybe that means going to a movie tonight. My counselor once suggested I read novels because I was reading too many non fiction books.
I don’t know what shape rest takes for you, but I know you need it.
So what’s it going to be today? How will you rest?
I was so with Jon in this one. I hate rest, too. Well, actually I should say I have a love-hate relationship with rest. I love the actual act of resting, it feels goooood. But I hate stopping what I’m doing and taking a break, especially when things are going well. Sometimes, when you’re on a roll, resting feels unforgivable.
Now, as it turns out, Jon’s exhortation to rest came on a day when I felt absolutely like-a-train-hit-me awful. So for once, I appreciated being told to rest. I pretty much rested all day long. It felt wonderful.
I already quoted Day 22 above, so I’ll skip to Day 23 now.
You might not be writing your book because you’re eating too much queso. (That pained me to say.)
Your business might not be succeeding because you’re not sleeping enough.
Your relationships might be suffering because your finances are crazy.
Those examples might not feel related, but they are. We are one person, and when one area of our lives gets out of whack, the rest suffer.
Today’s challenge is to do a quick diagnostic on your life. Take a look at what are the most commonly categorized sections of life:
Is there one or more of those that is wildly out of balance? If so, you might need to tweak that before you can accomplish a goal, even if the two feel unrelated.
Scan the list and go!
Another obvious one. This week showed that my physical self is seriously messed up. I really need to see a doctor soon. I don’t want the weird physical issues to take over, especially if what’s causing them is something totally treatable.
“I just made excuses until my dream came true!” Said no one ever.
It’s true, excuses never move us forward. They only drive us backward, but we still make so many of them, don’t we?
If ideas came as easily as excuses, we’d all be geniuses.
Today’s task is to drag a few of your excuses into the bright light of day.
I want you to write down three excuses that you tend to make. And then I want you to write the truth beneath them. I’ll go first:
1. It’s hard to work out because I travel so much.
Not true. I won’t start speaking a lot and traveling a lot until April. It’s very easy right now to work out.
2. It’s hard to eat healthy because I have so many lunch meetings.
Not true. Nashville is full of healthy restaurants.
3. The workout my trainer gave me takes too long.
Not true. I just don’t give myself enough time at the gym.
The funny thing is that once you do this exercise, it’s harder to listen to those same excuses next time.
Get your pen, get your paper, get your Facebook group.
Let’s eliminate a few excuses.
One problem I sometimes have is trying to differentiate between genuine reasons and excuses. But I went ahead and wrote these down anyway:
1) I’m too tired – not really. I’m wide awake once I’ve had coffee, even if my brain doesn’t get into gear immediately.
2) I’m not feeling well – my routine isn’t that strenuous, especially part 1. And I’ve built in allowances for myself if I’m really feeling poorly.
3) Eric’s still sleeping, I can’t turn on the light and wake him (to read my devotional book), and I can’t read in the dark: good thing we have a living room.
4) My children interrupt too much: plenty of time to get everything done even with their interruptions. (I found during the first couple of days of my routine that I have allowed plenty of time for everything from 5:15 to 10 a.m.!)
On to Day 25:
I’ve already written about it once, but the book, “Change Anything” is brilliant. I could probable write about it a dozen times.
One of the tactics they share to accomplishing life change is to “Make it a game.”
They dare you to gamify your challenge.
To do this, the say you only need three things:
1. Limited time.
2. A small challenge.
3. A score.
The first one we already have. This is called “30 Days of Hustle,” not “365 days of hustle.”
The second one we have too. Early on, I encouraged you to cut your goal in half.
That third one though, it can be tricky. How will you score yourself? It gets back to that data question we talked about earlier.
One of the ways I use this process is with the challenges I wrote for this adventure. I wrote the post you’re reading back on Tuesday, January 14.
I have a physical calendar that I cross days off on. Every day I finish writing one, I mark it off on my calendar. It’s become a little game for me.
Is that silly? Maybe, but unlike other times in my life I’ve actually produced the content faithfully. Games work.
Today’s challenge is to think about your goal in terms of a game.
Take your goal and apply it to the three aspects of a game.
I gamified my goal when I first started by trying to get everything done within a certain time frame. I haven’t done that in a while, and I really should get back to it.
One thing I have started doing is planking and yoga while listening to music. It gives me an extra bit of motivation and enjoyment. I don’t know if it’s necessarily “gamifying,” but it does make things more enjoyable.
There we go. All caught up with my 30 Days challenge. Now, let’s hope that I’ll manage to blog again before my 30 Days are over!
(You know what just occurred to me? This challenge is called “30 Days of Hustle,” but I just realized there are 31 days in the month. What are we going to do with the extra day? I guess we’ll find out soon enough!)