Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Use artificial inspiration if you can't muster it up yourself

I remember a time, back before I opened up my business, when I was very discouraged.  I had been working on my business plan, researching demographics and market and demand and you-name-it, trying to start a business of my own.  Everytime I thought I was all set to get financing for my vision, something would slow down the progress.  I was frustrated and beginning to doubt whether or not I would ever get the chance to make my vision a reality.

Over and over again in my mind I pictured myself giving notice to my awful boss, doing the unthinkable at my company and leaving after sixteen years.  Nobody left with that much time on the clock, close to twenty years, and hell, by the time you got to twenty, retirement would be right around the corner so why keep that 401K from getting nice and fat?

The thought of one more week in my current work environment, let alone 9 to 14 more years, was enough to bring me to tears.  The tears brought me down, let those negative thoughts creep in and fueled self- doubt and a downward spiral.  I was so wrapped up in what I was doing wrong, combing over every single detail, and worried about what the next bank would say.  I knew that when I felt overwhelmed, I was supposed to take a break, step back.  I found myself so obsessed with my plans, however, that I was unable to do that willingly.

So one evening, after everyone had gone to bed, I stayed up, hanging out on the couch in the living room obsessing and unable to sleep.  I felt the lowest I had felt since the idea for my business first popped into my head.  I was mindlessly surfing through cable channels and I came upon a movie about an ice skater.  She was young and smart and ice skating went against every expectation she had had placed upon her. She didn't have the money it took to compete, she didn't have support from family or friends, but she loved it more than anything else.  So of course the movie shows her working to get the money, rising early to train, keeping up her academics, all behind the backs of her family, and she was exhausted but determined.  Of course, she found a way, competed and won.  It was a very inspirational and uplifting movie.

Not only did it make me feel better physically, but more importantly, it inspired me emotionally.  It made me feel like I could reach my goal too, with hard work and determination.  It forced me to take a break and not think about what was going wrong, and reminded me how important it was to keep my attitude in can-do mode.  As cheesy or predictable as it might've been, it served me well.

Don't be afraid to take a break and do something uplifting.  Watch a feel-good movie, read a romance novel, crank up your favorite rock band and head bang in your living room while re-living that very concert you went to back in high school.  All of these things are good for your body, your attitude, your all around energy.  Before you know it you'll be right back on track to reaching your goal.

It was shortly after that when I received a call that my financing had been approved and I could give my awful boss two weeks notice.  No matter what has happened since then (my biz didn't survive the recession), my life has been in a solid upward spiral ever since, with one opportunity leading to another.  And when I'm having a rough day, when things don't seem as sparkly as usual, I don't hesitate to throw in my favorite feel-good film.

Monday, June 7, 2010

April's Upwords: When the present brings you down, act on the future...works everytime!

When the present brings you down, act on the future...works everytime. 

 I'll be the first to admit that it is not always easy being on the sunny side of every situation.  Truth is, I get dragged down just like everyone else (today was trying to say the least!).  It is because I am such an optimist, however, that I am able to take a difficult situation and only let it affect me for minutes or hours versus days. So how am I able to do that?

Three things break up the dark clouds for me:

1.)  Perspective.  I have to keep perspective, things could be a lot worse.  Is my problem really worth the distress I am feeling?  I often think back to right after my business (Beanstalks) went under.  Obviously, I was devastated and not sure what was next for me or my family.  During that time, as now, the news was filled with the wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I was watching the nightly news one evening and it showed a video of a woman in an open market, holding onto the hand of her son who looked to be about six years old.  She was running away from an exploding building behind her, and the fear in her eyes for her child is an image that has yet to leave me.  No matter what I am going through personally, financially, whatever...I am not going through what she is, and I bet she would give anything to feel the safety that I get to feel everyday. Makes my problem not so big.

2.)  Gratitude.  Another of my April's Upwords is "It is impossible to feel down when you are being grateful" (a whole other blog!).  I always have something, many things to be thankful for.  It is so important to think about what you have and truly appreciate that you have it.  My family is healthy, my marriage is terrific...I'm here, I'm breathing and I am building a future.  If today is a downer, think about what you get to do tomorrow. Did your car break down?  Well, be thankful you even have a car and make a plan to  get a better one.  Really believe in what comes next and how you deserve to receive it.  Open yourself to gratitude and open the possibilities to a brighter future. Make a plan for what you want,  take that first step to get there, and then be grateful for the ability to make that plan.

3.)  Go with what you know.  Knowledge is power.  I will say it so many times on this blog you will be sick of reading it.  Know the decisions you are making for yourself are beneficial.  If they aren't, than know it is time to change them.  Learn. Know. Do.  If you are having a lousy time of it, you must know that you will get out of it. If you aren't yet sure of a solution, you must know you will do what it takes to find it. Don't forget how smart you are, how capable you are.  Look for resources.  Find a way.  Be empowered by knowing.

If today is a drag, act on tomorrow.  Perspective. Gratitude. Knowledge.  This is how I clear my dark clouds...and if I can, I throw in a latte and a litle dark chocolate...



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

April's Upwords: Go! Be that person you've always wanted to be...

Go! Be that person you've always wanted to be.

What are you waiting for?  The truth is, you will never reach the goal, the idea, the LIFE you are dying to get to if you don't act on it today.  Today.  Even if you don't know exactly what it is you are seeking, at the very least, start thinking about it. Thinking is an action and one action leads to another and another.

Get out a piece of paper and start writing stuff down.  Do you want a different job?  Better relationships?  A more profitable or fulfilling day to day existence? A healthier lifestyle?  What do you want your life to be like?
Write down everything that pops into your head.  Don't judge yourself, just write.  You want to be rich?  Write it down.  You want to be popular?  Write it. You want to start a non-profit to save baby seals?  Write it down.

Once you see ideas on paper, they will talk back to you.  Something will stir as you look over them again and again and the choice will become clear.  It is amazing how you will start to be drawn to one particular idea.  If your goal is vague, start thinking about it more specifically. What EXACTLY are you looking for at the heart of your ambition?  It may take a few days of looking at that paper.  Keep looking, keep thinking.

Once you have a goal, figure out the steps you need to take to reach it.  Even if they are baby steps, the important thing is to stay in action, keep moving yourself forward.  For example:  Let's say you want to be a brain surgeon, but you haven't even gone to college, you have a house full of kids and a meager income(there will be plenty of naysayers who say you "can't", don't listen to them!).  Your first step might be to get your hands on a catalog from a community college near you.  Catalogs and handbooks are usually less than five dollars, or available at your local library.  Look up counselor info, child care info, financial aid info.  Start thinking about yourself enrolled in a program.  Begin to see yourself succeeding in a classroom, snuggled up on your couch at home after the kids go to bed, doing homework.  See yourself as a surgeon from day 1.  Step two, make the call to schedule an appointment with a counselor and let them walk you through it.

Baby steps.  A catalog.  A phone call.  An appointment.  A brain surgeon in the making.

Don't be afraid to go after what you want.  You have a brain, you are smart, you can do or be anything.  Go!  Be that person you've always wanted to be.  What are you waiting for?

Note:  I would love to give credit to the artist of the above image, but can't find any info online...it is beautiful!