Last week, I turned 31 years old. It was an incredible day filled with family, friends, delightful gifts and delectable sweets. I got the royal treatment at work and the festivities continued after I returned home- homemade pasta served inside of a whole steamed lobster, wine, a mouth-watering dessert with “Happy Birthday” scripted on the plate in chocolate…laughter, kisses, sweet sentiments; I am so grateful for the time and effort others dedicated to making my day special.
October 1st involves more than a celebration, however: It has always been a time of reflection, a checkpoint amid a 365 day- cycle where I zoom in on what I am doing, where I want to go, who I want to be, and how I get there.
This year, extensive contemplation isn’t needed: I know that my days are more stressful than they should be, and I am burning the candle at both ends. My work week currently extends past 60 hours and I can’t remember the last weekend that I was fully able to enjoy time off without a phone call. Although 30 was great- I reached new heights in my career that I never imagined achieving- other things have in fact suffered: My health, a routine, my creativity, time to undistractedly invest in my relationship with my husband.
So what needs to change, then? How do I refocus, reroute my course, to ensure that I can end this year and start 2019 with a bang?
UNCOVER TRUE MOTIVATION
As you can probably tell, I have become a newfound fan of Rachel Hollis, author of “Girl, Wash Your Face.” After devouring her book this past month, I immediately started following her on social media, where I found that she was jumpstarting what she calls, her #Last90Days challenge. She describes her exercise as such:
“A couple of years ago I found myself in the middle of September already starting to make dietary choices like it was December 22nd. You know what I mean, right? Toward the end of December, I start making TERRIBLE choices. I start having pumpkin spice lattes every day and eating all the caramel corn from those giant tubs at Costco. I drink more than I usually do and don’t exercise like I should, because, you know, “it’s the holidays.” And I suppose if it REALLY was just during the holidays it wouldn’t be so bad, but December lifestyle started creeping into November and then into October and then halfway through September I was already mailing it in because I kept thinking, “Well, I’ll just start fresh at the New Year.” But that’s a TERRIBLE plan because 3 months of unhealthy living means you’re actively choosing a poor lifestyle for an entire quarter of the year. Then one day I thought… “What if I ended the year as strong as I try to start a new one?” And the idea of the Last 90 Days was born.” –(@MsRachelHollis)
Rachel and her husband have committed to making healthier choices in the last 90 days of the year, beginning on October 1, and on social media, she invited the world to tag along on her journey, make their own pledge for success. Rachel sends prompts and words of encouragement to her supporters when they “pledge” via her website; so far over 184,000 people have opted in.
I am one of those 184,000. Upon presenting my email, I received message in my inbox, almost immediately, with a lovely introduction to the exercise and an amazing to-do list titled, “5 To Thrive:”
- Get Up An Hour Earlier Than You Normally Do And Use The Time For Yourself
- Workout For At Least Thirty Minutes
- Drink Half Of Your Body Weight In Ounces Of Water Each Day
- Give Up One Food Category You Know You Shouldn’t Be Eating
- Write Down Ten Things That You Are Grateful For Every Single Day
Although I am currently on a work trip and refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on drinking my weight in water (my Miami hotel only serves $8.00 bottles of VOSS) I am excited to start some of these things now and continue to try others as the year comes to a close.
DISCOVER TRUE MENTORS
We all have these mundane but monumental memories clinking around in our heads- small sentiments that make us nostalgic toward something that we just can’t put our fingers on. I have a few that come to mind, even now. I remember a good conversation that I had with an old friend once: we sat in a booth inside our little town diner and talked for hours, swirling coffee around ceramic mugs with silver spoons. I can’t remember lines but recall deep contemplation of things like religion, love, life. We were young then, but our discussion was quite profound.
I remember sitting next to someone on a plane once that moved me in just one 90-minute trek across the sky. He asked what I was writing: By the glow of the overhead light in an otherwise dark and sacred space, I divulged the secrets of my novel-in-progress. He was impressed with the storyline and we dove into a discussion that left me peering out of my window in absolute awe. When we finally landed, I think my hands were shaking as I shook his outstretched one, bid him farewell forever.
There are other memories that I hold dear: I have met people at events, whether they were keynote speakers or beside me at the registration desk, that have left footprints on my spirit. These people serve as the mentors of my past, have said things or have done things or have made me feel like I could do something more, be something more, contribute something more to the world.
Yet all of those occurrences were fleeting. I don’t follow the speaker that urged, “Make time for white space,” or keep in touch with the man on the plane that said, “Pursue that dream.” I follow a regimented schedule and stumble upon instances of wisdom while en route to my next meeting, my next event, my next big, outlined, pre-determined next milestone.
How unfortunate is that?
This year, I have been thinking a lot about finding mentors, people that I can truly emulate, follow, find inspiration in, etc. I always thought that a mentor needed to be someone that was present in an everyday sense- From a career perspective, I hear the word tossed around a lot when people, “Invite their mentor to speak.” “Do lunch with their mentor.” I envision side by side coaching. This year, however, I have decided to take a broader approach and really have found words of wisdom in the books that I have been reading. If someone asked me today, the question: “If you could have a meal with someone dead or alive, who would that be?” I could now say with conviction that I would like to have coffee with Rachel Hollis, would love to have a wonderful meal in the beachside home of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. These are two women that I am in awe of, find encouragement in their words.
This week, while reading through Rachel Hollis’ social media posts, I was pleased to find her speak about the subject:
“I have had the greatest mentors in the world and none of them knew I existed. Every book I read was a mentor. Every podcast I listened to was a mentor. Every YouTube video that taught me how to build an email campaign or increase my revenue or contour my cheekbones was a mentor.”
“Everything you want to know or learn exists right now on the internet for free. Every skill you need to acquire to grow is sitting on the shelves of your local library for free.” … “You want to learn from the best? Seek their content. Not sure where to start… find out who the thought leaders are in your field and go from there.” –(@MsRachelHollis)
And so- I add another goal to my list. By reading, by researching, by pondering out loud and listening to the responses of other wandering souls that also aspire to be more, do more, question the world around them and live out loud… perhaps I will find more of a consistent source of inspiration.
UNLOCK TRUE CREATIVITY
I always start projects, rarely ever finish them. Challenges are always too challenging for me- I get lost around Day 18 with every Instagram writing series I have ever done. I’ve signed up for free motivational exercises before, couldn’t last the full duration. I’ve purchased books that required daily documentation. I’ve signed up for races. I’ve purchased Shakeology and have a yoga Groupon that is soon expiring and… the list goes on and on.
Of all shortcomings though, I feel most guilty about my lack of writing. So recently, I made a small investment toward my quest to write on a more routine basis. Its one of the only ways I feel like I give myself a break without distractions- It takes me forever to get into a creative mindset, but once I get over that threshold, I am captivated. I feel sparks flying. Brain cells are flickering and my inner soul child is dancing in the strobe lit room.
Andrea Balt (@andrea.balt) is someone that I have been following for a while and honestly, I am enamored by her zest for life and willingness to expose the deepest depths of her being through her words. She started a writing course with Tyler Knott Gregson a few years ago but I did not have the funds to participate. Well now, working 60+ hours a week and raking in a better paycheck than I did at 26, I refuse to let another opportunity pass me by because I now have the money, but “not the time.” A hundred-fifty dollars later, I got a confirmation email for #writeyourselfalive, a 30-day, online, self-paced writing course.
Thirty days. With someone I’m inspired by. I can do this.
REDEFINE MY SENSE OF STYLE
I’ve always loved fashion, even if I haven’t always been the most fashionable. I love expressing myself with clothing, adore getting dressed up and am a woman that truly loves a good pair of heels. I purchase new wardrobes every time I go on vacation and add to my closet before almost every work trip. A few things have changed my look recently though- weight gain and a more casual work environment- and quite honestly, I am sick of my self-induced excuses. I want to wear the clothes that have now been clogging up my closet, and get rid of what I no longer feel good in. Instead of staring at my wardrobe, scratching my head before pulling out a black oversized sweater and Toms, I want to trim everything down to the show-stopping essentials. Its time to feel good about the skin- and layers- that I am in.
A book I read recently shed light on how I should view my closet. “Brida,” by Paulo Coelho, had some great words that I couldn’t help but jot down.
“Well from now on, wear everything in your wardrobe.” “Everything that contains our energy should be in constant movement,” Wicca explained. “The clothes you bought are part of you, and they represent those special times when you left the house wanting to splash out a little because you were happy with the world, times when you’d been hurt and wanted to make yourself feel better or times when you thought you should change your life.” “Clothes always transform emotion into matter. It’s one of the bridges between the visible and invisible. Some clothes can even be harmful because they were made for someone else but have ended up in your hands.”
“Get rid of your clothes that were not intended for you,” Wicca went on. “And wear all of the others. It’s important to keep the soil turned, the waves crashing, and all your emotions in movement. The whole Universe is moving all of the time, and we must do likewise.”
This weekend, I am going to strip some hangers and do a little “sole” searching in my closet. Consign, donate, model and fall back in love with my head-to-toe staples.
HOLD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE
At the beginning of the year I found this app called “Tally,” a habit counter and goal tracker that is easy to use and maintain. For me personally, I find that it’s a great tool in visually seeing progress in various activities, will continue to utilize it in the months ahead.
I also think that social media is such a powerful phenomenon in the right circumstances. Being able to write and publish, share my thoughts with the world and get feedback, is an incredible motivator. When I don’t contribute, my followers decline and I am compelled to sit down and actually produce something new. Same with my blog- the sense of community that has formed encourages me to wake up early, stay up late and type just a few more words.
Next thing I know, I’m at a count of 5,000 and am smiling, ear to ear.
This list could go on and on, I know. I could meditate, schedule date nights, take more classes, etc: There are so many ways to tweak or utterly revamp a lifestyle like my own. But today, I choose to focus on the little motivations, hoping that in mastering these above, I can add a few more to my plate.
Here is to a fabulous 31st year! One of consistent application of my true goals, a year that is spent really listening to the rhythm of my heart beat and following the music that it makes once I satisfy its cravings.
Come along on my journey, and complete some of these exercises with me! Tell me about your goals- we can push each other along.
#Last90Days is in full effect- Let’s do this!