Be Here Now

small step

It’s Day 31 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to be here now and savor the success of consistently doing something small but significant to move your life forward. That means before you rush into the next big thing, you take some time to articulate, enumerate, and celebrate all the stuff you’ve done in the last 31 days.

While I could go into detail about the impressive things you’ve accomplished, I’m going to share something I posted after last year’s challenge with a few extra insights from this year. This helps explain why taking on a challenge that catapults us out of our comfort zone and into our evolutionary zone is so significant.

The reason for doing anything that challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally, spirituality, financially or all of the above is because we forget what we are made of. We lose sight of our superpowers. The only way to reactivate them is not to just dream the impossible dream but actually do something about it.

While it may seem like trying something for a few weeks, twenty-one days, or a month  or two won’t change  a lifetime of bad habits, you may be surprised what a little forward momentum will do for you.

Here are ten terrific reasons to act on your desires and take on a time specific challenge.

#1 – Focus is required.

Whether it’s 3 days or 30, knowing you have a finite amount of time to achieve certain results definitely clears your calendar of any unnecessary clutter or distractions and allows you to focus on the goal at hand.  If you think you have all the time in the world to work on your website, draw up a will, or lose twenty pounds, that’s how long it will take. If you have a timeline, a plan, and a schedule that’s non-negotiable, you’ll get down to business.

#2 – Resources rush to the rescue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” The universe will meet you halfway but you have to take the first step.

When you are committed to the challenge, synchronicities occur. From random songs on the radio to books that fall off shelves to old friends who suddenly call with the exact information you need, assistance is all around you. Tune in to it.

#3 – Activation energy is unleashed.

In her TED talk, Mel Robbins talks about “activation energy” or the energy required to overcome the inertia you will experience when faced with the physical reality of changing your behavior.

Whether that’s throwing off the covers and getting out of bed a half hour early to write instead of hitting the snooze button or walking away from the chocolate chips crying out to you from the cupboard, conquering the gravitational pull to old habits will most likely be the hardest part of your challenge.

#4 – Next steps are revealed.

The great thing about taking the first step is that in order to get anywhere, you have to  take another. You do not have to know where it will lead or how long it will take to get there. You only need to pay attention and take the next step when it is revealed. Attempting to blast through all of the steps at once is not only incredibly destructive but hides the treasures that can only be found in navigating  a tricky terrain. (See Day 13)

#5 – Perfection is not an option.

The quickest way to learn a something is to fail a few times. Just like getting lost helps you find your way the next time, failing is a sure fire way to help you continue to refine and define your reason for wanting to master a skill or challenge.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you begin. But you get leaner, fiercer, and smarter as you gain experience. Or you soften, become more compassionate, and wise.

As most people training for a marathon will tell you, they are not in it to win it. By qualifying, participating, and completing, they achieve something beyond winning.

You are not taking this challenge to become perfect.  You are taking this challenge to become more of who you know you can be.

#6 – Expect the unexpected. (See Day 29)

At some point during the challenge, something will surprise you.  Whether it is something you learn about yourself or an opportunity that presents itself, your efforts will be rewarded when you least expect it.

#7 – Freedom comes through discipline.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets to Adulthood is, What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” The biggest lesson I’ve learned from any challenge I’ve completed in the last year is this. Freedom comes through discipline.

Discipline makes those hundreds of decisions that could derail you so much easier to make. You just say no. Not for the next 21 or 31 days or however long it takes.  Doing what you need to do every day instead of once in a while or when you feel like it makes all the difference.

#8 – You are capable of more than you imagined.

Until you activate your superpowers, you don’t know you have them. Until you do what you say you want to do, you’ll never know you can do it. And so much more.

One of  Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs encourages us to “Love the necessary hard work.”  While it may be difficult to believe in the beginning, you will come to respect this advice. Once you have walked through the fire, felt the heat of the challenge, and come out on the other side, you will not only understand the wisdom of these words, you will be an example of them.

#9 – You are not alone.

While it may feel like you are the only one making the supreme sacrifice of giving up junk food, bad tv, or online shopping in order to achieve your physical, mental, spiritual, or financial goals, you are not alone. Support groups abound. Find others who are doing what you are doing and learn from them. Someone a few steps ahead of you can tell you what’s coming and help you prepare for it.

Just when I would tell myself I could skip a day or doing this didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, one of you would leave a comment or like the post. Then I’d remember that how you do anything is how you do everything. It mattered a great deal that I kept my word, did what I set out to do, and never stopped believing it mattered.

#10 – Nothing succeeds like success.

The reason today’s challenge is to be here now is because success is fleeting. Savor it. Write down what worked. Write down what didn’t or work you could do instead. I would dearly love for you to share those things with me, so I can do better as well. But if you don’t share them with me, please share them with someone.

By tomorrow you will most likely be on to something bigger and better and forget what made this challenge so challenging. Crossing the finish line is huge! Raise your arms up above your head in the victory pose and definitely add this song by Jason Mraz to your playlist. Or put on the theme song from Rocky.

Remember this quote by A.A. Milne.“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” 

You have just proven what you are capable of and no one can take that away from you. Let this experience fuel your next big adventure.

Thanks so much for completing this challenge with me.  I’d love your feedback in the comments below or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

 

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

Black metronome with guitar and several notes on the wooden background

 

It’s Day 30 of our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to notice how rhythm plays a part in how you do things. This is a subtle but essential ingredient to be aware of in establishing the ebb and flow of your days. Not to mention your relationships with other people.

When I used to live alone and work from home, I didn’t notice rhythm much. For the most part, I moved at the pace of grace.  I call it the Goldilocks gait –not too fast, not too slow. Just right.

But when the firefighter moved in, with his lightening quick reflexes and urgent call to action impulses, I became acutely aware of the tortoise and hare situation we had on our hands. I also knew that rhythm was going to get us and lead to our demise if we didn’t learn to adjust to each other’s approach to getting stuff done.

I’m not saying we’re dealing with the sloth situation in Zootopia, but I’m sure it feels that way to Bob sometimes. On the other hand, because of slow and steady progress (1×31), the tortoise did win the race in Aesops’ famous fable.

I’m the first one to admit there are times when time is of the essence. There is a need for speed. The sooner the better. Fast and furious. Now or never. Life or death.

Just rapidly writing those words stressed me out a little.

Because what I’ve learned and what Erin Stutland has incorporated in her ingenious workouts is this.

What you seek, is also seeking you. What is meant for you will not pass you. Broadcasting fear or scarcity does not bring you peace or abundance. Consequently, my motto is to act with intention and do with deliberation.

If you’re not sure what I mean, experiment. Trying pushing yourself to do things at a faster or slower speed than you normally would. Try adding more things to your schedule or taking a few items off your list. How does this make you feel? Anxious? Irritable? Accomplished?

Sometimes we need to adjust our rhythm or our pace to work effectively with a team. Sometimes we need to adjust it when we’re touring with a group, taking a family vacation, involved in a special project, or participating in a Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.

Some days you may not even know what leads to your undoing. For me, it usually comes down to time and space. I need breathing room and I need time to just be, create, observe, marvel, write, read, learn, laugh, and process what just happened. When I over-schedule myself or allow my world to get too cluttered, I get cranky.

You’ve just given yourself the gift of 30 days to discover how you get stuff done. With just one day left in our challenge, what do you really want to get done without pushing or forcing or “shoulding” on yourself?

I’d love to hear how rhythm impacts you and what your favorite thing about this challenge has been. Share your comments below or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

Oh, and don’t forget to add this to today’s playlist. 🙂

 

 

Expect the Unexpected

UNEXPECTED GUEST

It’s Day 29  of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Day Challenge. It’s hard to believe we’ve worked our way through 29 days of deliberately doing stuff we may or may not have thought about doing only a month ago.

Today’s challenge is to look back and write down three or more things you didn’t expect to accomplish but did this month. Yes, this is a both a feel good and a momentum building exercise to help you finish this challenge strong.

Has it been harder than you originally thought?  It’s been a challenge for me and I love to write!  I can’t imagine doing this in addition to my regularly scheduled life if it didn’t bring me joy or if the payoff was not worth the effort.

Last year during the challenge I decided to donate several items during a Fill the Truck campaign. Unfortunately, by the time I loaded up the items to take to the drop off location, the collection time was over.

Determined to drop off a car load of goods to someone in need, I found a homeless shelter that was happy to have my household items and blankets.

Since most of my things were for women and children, I had hoped to find to find a women’s shelter. As it turned out, when I arrived at the shelter, it was for men. Men who were hungry for a home cooked meal, some comfy blankets, and some kind words.

My initial apprehension quickly turned into admiration for these men who unloaded my car and continuously thanked me for all the items I dropped off. It humbled me and made me incredibly grateful for all I have and often take for granted.

And then things got interesting.

Bob and I stopped at a health food store on our way home where I found some fantastic greeting cards. One was perfect for my eating psychology coaching clients, so I emailed the owner of the company to see if I could order more. I mentioned that I was a writer as well and loved her creative card line.

The owner not only wrote me back but said she read my blog and wondered if I’d like to spend a few days in Miami Beach and try my hand at writing greeting cards.

I did not see that coming.

However, I totally embraced it, got on a plane to Miami Beach, and had the job offer of my dreams within 15 days of completing last year’s Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.

The fascinating thing about the dream job was I hadn’t updated it in awhile. I never expected the fantasy job of getting to be a writer and live on the beach to need updating.

The unexpected reality was this. I was already living the dream

By working an ordinary job in an ordinary small town year after year, a different dream had taken shape.

In this dream I finally owned my own home, could afford to travel when I wanted, enjoyed the company of fabulous friends, regularly wrote whatever I wanted, walked my dog daily, and found a fireman to share it all with.

The great news is I got to write some cards and work with Cardthartic, one of the best card companies around. And I got to take stock of what I’ve got (See Day 15).

The most unexpected thing to happen in all of this was I decided to stay in Maquoketa,Iowa, of all places. Clearly not what I expected or anticipated ever choosing, if given the choice.

But a funny thing happens on the way to getting stuff done. New options open up.

This year it’s been all about welcoming new life into my world.  First with the fish tank. Second with the puppy.  And third with all of you.

My heart has expanded to twice its size this month. Thank you so much for reading and doing such an impressive job getting stuff done 1 x31.

As always, I’d love to hear what you accomplished or what unexpected things have happened to you this month it the comments below.

Here’s a sweet song for your playlist for today by Jamie Lawson.

 

It’s All Fun & Games

huskerdu

It’s Day 28 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to boost your brain power with some memory games.

Every Sunday morning when I was a kid we’d go to my grandmother’s house after church.  Once there we’d watch cartoons, All Star Wrestling, and movies that none of us kids understood but introduced us to the likes of Mae West, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Mickey Rooney, The Three Stooges, and others.

I was too young to know the the cartoons were sexist and violent, the wrestling was staged, and the movies were classics, but I did remember the commercials. Especially the ones selling games, cereal, cigarettes, shampoo , showing us the consequences of littering, and asking us to take personal responsibility for preventing forest fires. 

What I remember most was a game called Husker Du.  The advertiser would always announce in a booming voice, “Husker Du! Do you remember?” I had no idea what the game was about. I just loved repeatedly asking with my brother and sister in my own impressively loud voice, Husker Du?

Clearly, the advertising worked. It was “sticky” as Dan & Chip Heath would say. Forty years later I still remember it. Slick trick for a memory game.

concentration

I also used to love playing Concentration at home to mimic the game show I’d faithfully watch on TV. I knew early on it was important to focus, remember, connect the dots, and make connections that might otherwise be overlooked.

These days, of course, there’s an app for that.  Games like Lumosity, NeuroNation, Brain Metrix, and FitBrains are just a few examples of websites and apps to train your brain.

While you can easily get through one of these challenges in 5-15 minutes, the real challenge is to not spend an hour or two once you get started.

But even if you did, it’d be good for you. It’s too easy to let our brains be lulled into a trance by all kinds of incoming and unquestioned media.

Take time out today to think for yourself, test your memory, and give your brain a run for the money.  As another ad I remember warned, “A brain is a terrible thing to waste.”

I’d love to hear how you train your brain and keep your wits about you.  Share, if you dare, in the comments below.

 

 

 

Say What You Need to Say & Do

Lets do this

It’s Day 27 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to say what you need to say to whomever you need to say it to in order to do what you need to do next.  Do you need to move on, get over it, get on with it, set things right, set things in motion, start a revolution, or continue your evolution? Then let’s get to it and go do it.

Saying what you need to say liberates you to do what you need to do.

Granted, conversations of this nature usually take more than 5-15 minutes.  But you can take a small action step and identify which conversations need to take place and with whom, get clear on your talking points, or schedule an appointment with the person in this amount of time.

Because I’m a lover of words, I’m hesitant to say actions speak louder than words in every situation, because the right words at the right time can change a life. However, during our Get Stuff Done 1×31, I’m also about making a case for doing the stuff that moves your life forward. That requires action and, sometimes, doing difficult stuff.

I admit I love to talk my way all around my issues rather than face them head on because doing so would most likely result in a confrontation. I like to avoid these at all costs. However, the greater cost is that the issue continues when I’m perfectly capable of putting the kibosh to it by daring to do what needs to be done, which often starts with saying what I need to say.

As much as I call on my inner badass to get stuff done, harnessing her potential takes some serious practice on my part. That’s why I’ve devoted an entire month to getting stuff done. And by Day 27, I’d like to think we’ve practiced enough that we can confidently carry out today’s challenge.

I’d love to know what you need to say or do and how that will set you free to move on to the fabulousness that awaits.

Share if you dare in the comments below.

And by all means, add this song by John Mayer to your playlist.

Stop and Smell the Petunias

ruby 029

It’s Day 26 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to stop and smell the petunias.  Yes, I know the saying is “stop and smell the roses.” But since my puppy Ruby is particularly fond of petunias and is teaching me so much in a very short time, especially about taking breaks, I took some creative license with the saying.

Too often we look at interruptions as productivity killers, detours, excuses for our short little spans of attention. But sometimes taking a break to get up and walk around or sit down and relax, have a spot of tea, or nourish ourselves with a healthy snack or TED talk can cause epiphanies and unexpected pleasures.

I can easily spend my workday staring at a computer screen or piles of paperwork going over the same information in the same way.  But if I get up and walk around, move some tables and chairs, feed the fish, or water the plants, my energy shifts. By changing my focus for a while, the same situation looks different when I return.

One of my favorite things in my offices at work and at home is my standing desk. Because I spent most of my life as a fitness instructor, the biggest adjustment to life as a college administrator is the sedentary nature of the majority of my work.

To counteract this, I set up a makeshift standing desk where I can easily advise students and give them direct access to the information on the computer screen and hands on access to their information.

I also made sure we had a picnic table and bench outside so students and staff can get some fresh air, soak in the sun, and smell the lilies nearby when a change of scenery and perspective is needed.

I think in our hurry up and get it done world we’ve forgotten that there is a rhythm to life  There is an art to savoring the steps that get us where we’re going.

Today, take 5-15 minutes to do something deeply nourishing to your soul.  Maybe it’s reading that quote or poem from yesterday’s challenge (Day 25) or maybe it’s calling someone you love (Day 8) or maybe it’s arranging some flowers or fresh fruit and a bowl.

Try not to think of today’s challenge as an interruption and immediately look only for a way to return to the task at hand. Think of it as divine intervention sent to support your present predicament.

As always, I’d love for you to share your epiphanies or aha’s in the comments below.

 

 

Get A Quote

quotation icon. quotation vector illustration

It’s Day 25 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to find a quote, a poem, or a saying that inspires you and commit it to memory.

It can be something short like, “Fleas. Adam had em.” Or something long like the Gettysburg Address or the The Man in the Arena quote by Theodore Roosevelt that has served as the foundation for Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and leadership.

You may already have a quote that you know by heart that has served as a beacon of light during dark times. Or you may know some famous words that have gotten you to the finish line or helped you complete your degree. Undoubtedly these encouraging words have inspired you to do what you needed to do, when you needed to do it.

Like an anthem or a playlist (see Day 4), quotes and poems transport us to a place of possibility. A place where we can do, be, or have all that we’ve been striving for.

I love to  find a quote or a poem, type it up in the font that captures its essence – or find it on Pinterest– and print it out, and then put it in a place where I’ll come across it when I least expect it.

For example, I have Zen pictures and quotes scattered about my desk drawer, my sock drawer, my glove compartment, my laptop bag, my pencil case, my wallet, and my luggage. I purposefully forget where I put them so when I do come across them, I’m delighted to discover a moment of Zen.

Today I came home to find a package on my step that was held together by packing tape that declared, “You are adored.”  It really didn’t matter what was in it after that. Just seeing that message on the outside made me feel adored.

Inside I found a few magnets to adorn my refrigerator. They quickly became the catalyst for today’s post. (Because I can’t write about my new puppy every day.)

Because you are getting a lot of stuff done 1×31 this month, I’ll leave you with this quote from Mike Dooley.

“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.”

Take 5-15 minutes today to look up a quote or poem and commit it to memory.  Like knowing at least one clean joke, knowing this can make your world a brighter place.

Share your favorites in the comments below.

Don’t know any great poets?  May I suggest David Whyte, Heidi Rose Robbins, Mary Oliver, Hafiz, Rumi, Derek Walcott, or Pablo Naruda?  Or you could read one of Roger Housden’s Ten Poems series of books that introduce you to various poets.

 

 

 

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