One thing: Gritting it out

If you remember nothing else, remember this: the game is won—or lost—not by the infrequent big changes, but by the frequent, deliberate, and repeatable small ones. This is where grit comes in.”–Peter Attia

Gritting it out. Day after day. Then more day after day. Yep, those changes you want to see in your life require the grit of doing what you’ve determined to do even when you don’t want to do it. Most especially then.

Choosing one thing to pursue in 2014, the entirety of 2014, can be fear inducing for me. So much to choose from and so often fear creeps in about choosing “wrong.” I see this in others when I work with them on writing out their top five passions. You? Do you have fear thoughts, too?

I know me. Sticking to a plan, sticking it out, when it gets harder hasn’t been my best suit. My observations and experiences show me that I am not alone in this behavior. That is only slightly comforting.

This isn’t only about deciding what “one thing” is for 2014. Most of us experience this fear thing. Sure, sure, you’ve probably seen False Events Appearing Real. If we get in the grip of it, this “I can’t do that because…” thing, we are stuck in our comfort zone.

Comfort zones are too small. It keeps us from ways of being that are hidden in our hearts. We may not want a do-over in every area of our life and I am sure there are areas where we do want those do-overs. Or perhaps do-better would be more apropos.

I’ve been mulling this one thing for weeks. I made my decision over the weekend and have ignored the fear associated with it. Notice I didn’t say I didn’t have any fear. Most times when we stretch out our comfort zone there is that fear or we wouldn’t view that thing as outside our comfort zone, eh?

My one thing is to do purposely and thoughtfully and write-downingly one thing a week that scares me; one thing that brings fear thoughts. I am not speaking of jumping out of airplanes which I think is crazy. No, I am speaking about more mundane and more impactful ignoring-fear actions.

I feared leaving my full-time employ to start my own business. I feared committing to writing a weekly email to subscribers, I feared adjusting my schedule to accommodate my mom’s health.

In the main, this is usually about having hard conversations, asking questions, asking for business, going to networking events. I can easily talk myself into not doing these things. You know, I have more important stuff to do. Or I am merely frozen in not taking action.

I am committing with grit, then, to taking 52 fear-inducing actions through 2014. One a week. Notice I didn’t commit to something every day. Hopefully the pace will pick up through the year. Maybe not. Still, 52 will be a big life change. I am sticking with it.

I hope you came to a decision of what you will pursue through 2014. It’s got to be concrete, not some vague goal of hold my tongue, or eat more sensibly, or, or, or. What is measured is what gets done. That’s the reason it must be concrete and written down.

I’ve decided now. Are you brave enough to do the same? YES, YOU ARE. You have it in you. Be imperfect along with me without letting that imperfection keep you from moving forward.

Two years in review: one thing

Honing in on your one thing? I am not there yet. I have a couple of candidates I am wearing for size and fit for 2014. Will still deliver my decision next Monday. In the meantime…

I promised you in last week’s Monday encouragement to share my one things of 2012 and 2013. I didn’t think of them as “one things” then. I see them clearly looking back. I am incorporating the concept with purpose for 2014 and you are invited to join me.

As I have mentioned occasionally, my mother has Alzheimer’s. I am the sister that lives in the same town as Mom; making Mom’s condition and decline most impactful on my life than that of my siblings.

In late 2011, I wrote down as one of my top five passions to “treat my mom with all the honor and respect she deserves.” This passion continues now and will unto her death. Your one thing could have a different life cycle than mine.

Adopting this one thing hasn’t been easy as I reorder my life, mouth, and attitudes to honor and respect her. Plenty of resentment and bitterness since that commitment was made. I won’t attempt fooling you that it has been all wonder and light…I could since you can’t see into my life day by day. My mama taught me not to lie.

Because I have been willing to go through the process, God has been merciful in changing me from the inside out. I can see clearly how I’ve been changed and the process continues. My mom and I were not particularly close and I hid much of my life from her.

Now I have been given a special and tender love for Mom that causes me to manage her care and spend every evening with her with a joy that I did not gin up on my own. Do not be imagining I am perfect at it. The change in me is radical, the pain of changing no fun, and bouts of resentment in laying down my life for hers have passed. More will be required of me I am sure as I continue with this one thing.

As I have watched up close and personal her cognitive abilities decline, you can imagine I’d be thinking about how I can avoid this fate. Is there anything I can do? Alzheimer’s isn’t necessarily hereditary and Mom’s the only one in the family with it.
That desire to avoid this cruelty is what brought me to my one thing for 2013, which I actually began pursuing in late 2012. I’ve looked for research in this area and there is emerging evidence that one’s way of eating can protect the brain from this neurological distress. No clinical trials completed so I am not saying that I know the answer. This isn’t the point of this note in any case.

In the past year I have changed my eating strategy to support this budding evidence of brain health protection. Step by step, little by little I gave up certain food groups in my quest to do all I can to avoid Alzheimer’s. After all this time, this way of eating is quite ingrained. I still must choose it every day though. Perfect? No. Mucho progress? Yes.

My 2012 was about character and my 2013 about health. These two “one things” will continue into 2014 but I can take on another one thing now. I have the space in my heart and mind along with the continued desire to discover my best self.

Your 2014: Your one thing

The year 2014 is around the corner and full of magical possibilities! Not one moment has been written yet.

What usually happens as the new year rolls around is people make all kinds of crazy promises to themselves. Behaviors and attitudes they will display for the next year with some vague goal in mind. You have probably seen statistics on how not successful that is. Most people who make New Year’s resolutions have thrown them aside three weeks in.

I don’t want that for you or for me. Let’s be and do differently.

Your assignment
Find quiet moments in the next week to reflect with a truthful and kind eye at where you find yourself at the end of 2013. We are all a bag of successes, mistakes, and failures. Don’t be surprised to find that true of yourself. It makes you one of us.

The point of this reflection is not to berate yourself. It won’t yield any results that are beneficial to you or to anyone else.

Then imagine yourself a year from now. If you could change only one thing between now and then, what one thing would it be? One. Just one.

You may need to make a list to write down everything that comes to mind. This gives you a way to visually see those too many options and prioritize them so that one comes to the top. Every area of your life is open in this reflection: health, career, money, relationships, environment.

Sure, sure. They are all worthy of your time and effort. Yet, unless you have successfully taken on a myriad “I will be, do, act differentlies” in the past, be kind to yourself and skip that insanity. Notice I said “successfully.”

Once you’ve chosen your one thing, you’ll want to hold it up to yourself mentally for a few days. Is this a thing you “ought” to do? No good. You won’t do that. If you would do that, you would have already done that.

We are each searching for that one thing that we are motivated to go through the pain of change for. I teach in my work that everything you want is just outside your comfort zone. How do we know that? Here’s how we know that: If it was in your comfort zone, you’d have it, right?

I’ve begun this process myself. I have identified one change from two years ago and one change from last year that I can point to that I was motivated enough to make the small, consistent changes that produced the success I intended. I am not being mysterious about them. You first think of your own before I share mine. I haven’t come to the 2014 one thing yet. With the craziness of holidays and activities and, and, and…I haven’t given it much thought. This week my schedule is better suited for reflection.

I’ll share my one things of 2012 and 2013 next week and my 2014 one thing the following week. I hope you will join me in this important, beneficial, can-be-life-changing-if-you’ll-do-it process. Up to you. Remember: your outcomes are decided by you no matter what circumstances come along. That’s E+R=O.

Giving: The same but different

We arrived at December 2013 and its season of giving. This brief note encourages you to imagine momentarily not having any money to purchase gifts. What, then, would you give?

Your time. Your attention. You.

Little ones hunger for stuff, sure. They hunger for listening ears and hearts more; for them to be seen and heard. Bake cookies with them to connect meaningfully over a fun task. Bake fewer of them or let them be less than perfect to make room for the memory-making fun. If it isn’t fun for you generally, then find something else to do. Let them catch your attitude of joy and fun all during the month.

Don’t bake cookies? It’s only an illustration. Fit to your own interests and temperment.

What family member or friend could use your brand of encouraging word?

What volunteer opportunity can you give yourself to? There is need in your community. Opportunities abound to fit your interest and your available time.

Of course you’ll still give stuff if that is your habit. I am suggesting you add in more of you as you go along day by day. I am suggesting that you listen to any “I’ve got to do that” that comes up for you. You are choosing those things. Choose differently! You’ll have much more on your thankful list, your success journal, more to look forward to each day, and you will land in 2014 more joyfully.

In the quiet

As we review the three happy habits so that we can finish well 2013, it is in quiet we can be most thankful. Quiet from the noise of our lives be that electronics, relationships, ticking clocks. Find a few moments of quiet to let what you have to be thankful for bubble up to your consciousness. Better a few minutes a day than putting it off for months or years, saving for some grand travel or experience.

The other happy habit you can best start your day with in the quiet is paranoia in reverse. This is taking a few moments after being thankful to coach yourself into positive expectations for the day. Remember what you think about, comes about.

Train yourself to expect good at every turn no matter is happening around you.

Difficulties are part and parcel of daily living. Look past them every morning to envision that good is coming your way either despite those difficult circumstances or through those difficult circumstances. Then practice that habit of mind throughout the daily, especially when you catch yourself dreading something.

Many opportunities and good things pass us by because we are not looking for good nor opportunities in our daily living. Coupled with a few moments of thankfulness, this is a powerful and positive way to start your day. Better than vitamins.