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.

 

Shift Happens

Old Typewriter Keys

It’s Day 20 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge.  Today’s challenge is to notice where things have shifted for you in the past 3 weeks.

Sometimes it’s a subtle shift.  Other times it’s the kind of shift that jolts you out of bed at 4am with the horrifying thought, “What have I done?”

What woke me at 4am this morning was the realization that by agreeing to add 8 pounds of puppy to my home, I was about to alter the course of my foreseeable future.

It also occurred to me that every time I embark on one of these challenges – whether it be a 21-day cleanse, a 40-day prosperity program, or a Get Stuff Done 1x 31 Challenge  – things shift. Big and small.  Just when I think nothing is happening.

There is something so convincing about showing up day after day no matter what that sooner or later, people pay attention.  Once you have proven that you can deliver on your promises, the universe can’t help but meet you half-way.

You may have outrageous expectations and delusions of grandeur that if you put in a little  time, you’ll get a lucky break and win big. And maybe you will.

But if Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed, you’re going to need to put in about 10,000 hours of practice before you achieve mastery.

That’s a lot of time to get discouraged.

It’s also a lot of time to learn and fall in love with the nuances of your craft.

Some things provide instant gratification.  Making your bed. Checking an item off your to-do list. Doing 15 or 50 pushups, depending. Preparing a delicious meal. Resolving a conflict. Getting a haircut. Scheduling an appointment. Writing a thank you note. Giving your dog a bone.

But some things mean more because they take time. You can’t lose 20 pounds in a day, train for a marathon in a weekend, or write your thesis in an afternoon.

Fortunately, most days don’t require you go the extra mile- or 26, if you’re determined to qualify for Boston like my friend Ann, who has justifiably earned her nickname, Annspiration. But by going even the extra 1/4 mile, giving just a little bit more than you think you have in you, those miracles are more likely to manifest.

Take 5-15 minutes today to contemplate what actions you’ve taken as part of this challenge that you may not have taken if you hadn’t played along. When have you gone the extra 1/4 mile and how far has it gotten you?

I’d love to hear what you discover.

Share if you dare in the comments below or email at penny@wellpower.com.

 

 

 

 

Stop, Drop, and Roll

AdobeStock_rollerblade.jpeg

It’s Day 10 of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge and today’s challenge is a variation on stop, drop, and roll.

I learned this fire safety drill early on in my relationship with Fireman Bob. I believe it was the first time I offered to cook him a meal.

“Should your clothes catch on fire,” he warned as soon as he witnessed my wizardry with the gas stove,“your response is to stop, drop, and roll.”

Of course this is no longer a threat now that I’m banned from the kitchen. But, the lesson stuck with me and today I’d like to adapt the stop, drop, and roll theory to our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge.

I’d love for you stop for 5-15 minutes today and review your progress so far. We’re about 1/3 of the way through our challenge. Nothing builds on the excitement of a movement like momentum.

So grab your lists and let’s review your to do’s-to be’s- to have’s , listen to a couple of your playlists, take a peek at those pics you took to post your progress, and gather your evidence that the world is basically good.

What are the biggest and smallest items you’ve been able to accomplish in 10 days? Would you have done these things had you not been doing the 1×31 challenge?

You are inching forward, are you not? You’ve earned bragging rights so go ahead a tell someone or share with the rest of us in the comments below.

Yesterday I took some work clothes to Dress for Success, which was a big item on my list. On Day 5, with the help of Fireman Bob, I got the pantry organized. (The pantry is not off limits. No fire hazards there.)

Okay, this is where I’m taking creative license with the Stop, Drop, and Roll drill and changing Drop and Roll to Rock and Roll. I think you know where this is heading. That’s right. Dance party.

Remember on Day 7 when I asked you to do something for the health of it?  Just in case you didn’t get around to that, here is your chance. As they say, dance like no one’s watching. Play air guitar. Break out the roller skates/blades. Or do the hokey -pokey and turn yourself around.

Just do some small physical thing (like throw your arms up in a victory pose as I did  when my feet touched this exquisite red sand near Zion National Park) to celebrate your success so far. If that happens to be drop and roll, so be it.  Otherwise, rock on!

Penny's iphone 2016 843

Okay, here’s your playlist to accompany today’s post:

Celebrate Good Times – Kool and the Gang

Rock On – David Essex – or if you prefer the Midnight Special edition, click here.

Stop, Drop, and Roll – Safety Safety Song for Kids- This is fabulous… a stop, drop, and roll song! These kids are amazing and their dance moves are awesome.

It’s Still Rock N Roll to Me – Billy Joel

Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim – One of my all time favorite songs:)

Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker

Rock Me Amadeus – Falco

Roll With It – Steve Winwood

Only Rock and Roll – The Rolling Stones

  • The fascinating thing with compiling these playlists is I’ve never watched any of the videos until now.  I usually just searched for the music on iTunes. It’s been quite entertaining to actually watch the videos. Hope you enjoy them as well. 🙂

 

Your suggestions are welcome in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Baby, You’re a Firework

AdobeStock_baby and bear.jpeg

In addition to everything else that today may be, July 4th is also Day 4 of Get Stuff Done 1×31.

There is a lot of picnicking, parading, and playing patriotic music in the USA today. In sticking with this celebratory theme, today’s task is to create an anthem.

We all need an anthem, a fight song, a Get Stuff Done 1×31 battle cry.

If cleaning the pantry and putting up deck lights are on your list (oh, right, that’s my list), you may want to create an iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Google Play, Tidal, or Apple Music playlist to get your through the tasks at hand.

Just as the soundtrack to a movie is essential to evoking the emotions necessary to move the action along, having a playlist for your project, party, or potential road trip helps you sustain your momentum. The music also anchors the event in your memory.

I’ve been making “mixed tapes” and playlists since I taught aerobics in the 80s. Trust me, it’s never been easier or more exciting to mix music than it is today.  If you have yet to discover the sonic sanctuary that awaits you at any of the above streaming music sources, take 5-15 minutes and check it out today. (Be warned, it may turn into an hour or all afternoon adventure.)

I know you’ve got the music in you. Tap into its power to propel you forward.

Here’s a little patriotic music in case you aren’t one of the 7 million people who have viewed this video. https://www.facebook.com/AnthemLights/videos/1434597926565706/

4th july calendar with vintage american flag

Share your ideas or recommend your favorite playlists and artists in the comments below.

 

 

Third Time’s a Charm

Glck - Symbole

Never fear, your Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 prompt is here!

Today we’re looking at the list you made on Day 1 and reviewed on Day 2 for the third time so we can chunk it down into doable deeds.

Remember on Day 1 when I said your list could include a couple “wouldn’t it be nice if...” items?

Well, despite your inability to get these items done in 15 minutes or less or even 31 days or less, there is a reason these things made your list. It’s the same reason they show up as New Year’s Resolutions every year. Against all odds, you still want to accomplish them.

Whether it’s lose 20 pounds, write a best seller, give a TED talk, start a garden, adopt a child, or donate your work clothes to Dress for Success, these things are possible.

They are, however, going to require a different strategy than the one you’ve been using for your New Year’s resolutions.

You know when someone says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,”  and they usually follow it up with, “It’s all small stuff?

Well, the secret to any big project, dream, goal, or desire is to break it down into the small stuff. You will most likely not be able to achieve this goal by August, but you can be 31 days closer to it than you were in June. It’s up to you.

You’ve heard it a hundred times.  Rome wasn’t built in a day. The journey of a thousand steps starts with the first one.  The way to get impossible stuff done is to consistently take the smallest, easiest, least intimidating task on your road to Shambala. Then, one day, without even realizing it, you’ll be leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

So, get your list and let’s break it down.

Okay…

  • How many things on your list are absolutely intimidating?
  • How many things overwhelm you just looking at them?
  • How many things excite you?
  • How many things are you looking forward to doing?
  • How many things require an elaborate plan?
  • How many things are neither dreadful nor desirable but just need to get done?
  • How many things have to do with your health and well-being?
  • How many things have to do with money?
  • How many things have to do with relationships?
  • How many things have to do with your business?
  • How many things do you honestly feel you will do?

No judgment here. I just want you to be realistic about this challenge. If you don’t think you will do it, don’t want to do it, don’t have to do it, or don’t need to do it, cross it off your list. If you have no emotional incentive to do it, you won’t.

I don’t know about you, but in my world, more stuff gets done the day before I leave for vacation or on Friday afternoons between 4:30-6pm when my staff and students have gone for the weekend than any other time. I have written more since I’ve had a 40++ hour/week job than I ever did when I set my own schedule.

As much as I rail against deadlines and structure, nothing lights a fire under my feet faster than knowing I can no longer procrastinate, the buck stops with me, and I will pay the piper for dilly-dallying.

Which is why even though you have 11 other months to get stuff done, you and I are going to get stuff that matters to us done every single day this month.

Okay. Let’s review.

  1. You’ve made your list.
  2. You’ve checked it twice and uncovered your motivation.
  3. You are going to chunk it up, break it down, and take a small step or two on the most doable action items on your list.

For example, a couple of years ago, I got my groove back, lost those 20 pounds, and now have a lot of clothes that I hope to never wear again that are taking up significant storage space. I am determined to donate these clothes to the local Dress for Success organization this month.

The logistics of laundering, labeling, and lugging these clothes to the donation site an hour away on the second Saturday of the month from 10am-2pm are a bit daunting.

But I desperately want to reclaim my storage space and I’m committed to donating these clothes to people who can use them.

The only way for me to get this done is to chunk it up.

Here’s what’s happened so far.  Day 1 I read the article about Dress for Success.  A week later I called to ask  some questions. I talked to someone who told me to email a staff member who would help me set up an appointment.  A week later I emailed that person to set up an appointment. Since appointment times are during my work day, I need drop the clothes off on the second Saturday of the month. Since that is coming up quickly, this week I need to pick out and label the first round of clothes to go. Taking all of them at once is too overwhelming since I’m not exactly sure what they will take.

Do you see how one item on your list may take all month?  Five to fifteen minutes at a time.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.

So, what’s on your list that you need to break down?

Does it make sense now why it was important to establish your why on Day 2?  This isn’t easy stuff.  If is was, you would have done it already. Knowing your “why” will get you through the “how“.

And remember, you’ve got the support of the group.

Share your questions, suggestions, ideas, or lists in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Get Stuff Done 1 x 31

 

3D render of astronaut

It’s that time of year again!

July is our Get Stuff Done 1 x 31 Challenge month.

What is the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge?” you ask.

It’s a way to slowly but surely knock out those little tasks that gnaw away at your peace of mind. It’s committing to daily micro-movements that move the action of your life along at regular clip, without getting stuck in the doldrums.

“What do I have to do?” you wonder.

I’ll post a prompt here each day. You just have to read it.  And act on it.

“Why would I do this?” you protest. “I’m already overwhelmed!”

Well, you don’t have to do it. But it’s fun. It’s free. It’s different. It only takes 5-15 minutes of your day. You’ve got support along with some built in accountability. And it feels really satisfying to get even the smallest stuff done.

Here are 7 Rules to Success for this challenge:

  1. The activity will only take between 5 -15 minutes… because who doesn’t have at least 5 minutes? (If you’re into it, feel free to spend more time.)
  2. You have to actually do it, not just think about doing it.
  3. Approach each day’s challenge with an open mind. (“Been there, done that” attitude does not lend itself to openness. Avail yourself to new twists on familiar themes.)
  4. Be present to the task at hand. Save multi-tasking for the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day.
  5. Have fun with it. Judging, criticizing, or censoring yourself – or me! – takes all the fun out of it.
  6. Post your responses, reactions, or results in the day’s comments. It’s more fun  when everyone contributes!
  7. Enlist a friend or two or twenty to join you. This will definitely boost your accountability and your popularity as leader of the pack.

The truth is you don’t get stuff done at all once. Overnight success is often years in the making. Your life moves forward decision by decision, action by action, thought by thought.

For the next 31 days, let’s move the needle on our mojo measuring devices so that by August 1, collectively we can feel as accomplished as all get out.

 

The One That Got Away

Opportunity wooden sign with a beach on background

Whether it was the missed connection, the dream job, the international man of mystery, the lady in red, the big fish, or the 200+ inch, double drop tine buck**, nothing haunts us quite like the one that got away.

Having lived long enough to have made my share of questionable decisions, the best decision is to have no regrets.

If in the agony and urgency of attempting to make a life-changing decision I can remind myself there is not just one perfect soul mate, one perfect job, or one chance of a lifetime, this is easier.

Granted, these opportunities are rare. But I’ve come to trust that what is meant for me has a curious way of circling back around.

Through a series of outrageous occurrences, I was invited to Miami Beach for a creative writing residency by the founder and creative director of one of the world’s finest greeting card companies. The chance to spend a little time writing cards at the beach escalated into an opportunity to become an integral part of the company.

Anyone who knows me knows being part of a creative team of writers and artists and brilliant minds is a dream come true.  Everything about this opportunity beckoned me.  Exceptional people.  Exceptional place.  Exceptional potential.

Except for the equal and opposite dream I have been quietly crafting in my own back yard.

Before I had a home, a husband to be, and a steady job that supports my writing habit and frequent flights of fancy, I would often imagine in detail what a free-spirited, super successful, single person’s writing life should look like.

Suffice it to say, it looked like what I was now being offered. Living the dream for a few days was intoxicating.

Returning to the reality of my regularly scheduled life was excruciating.  Not because it isn’t alluring in its own right, but because I had been unequivocally altered.  Only those closest to me knew to what extent.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t reconcile the gap between achieving what I’ve always wanted professionally and the price it would exact personally.

In getting a glimpse of this parallel life in all its glory, I got that my dreams must evolve as I do.  Like an app on an iPad, I must update them regularly in order to address the glitches I fail to factor in when I originally envision them.

Life-changing decisions are not meant to be easy.  By their very nature they urge us to evaluate everything, question our assumptions, check our egos, inventory what’s important, and listen deeply to our own wisdom.

They are designed to wreak havoc.  They are going to cause some grief since something has got to give and some things have got to go.

Adding to the pressure, they are usually time-sensitive and affect other unsuspecting people.

We remember the one that got away with such angst because he/she/it catapulted us out of our comfort zone and demanded we address our soul’s deeper yearnings.

Whether we act on the invitation, take a leap of faith, and change our current trajectory or not, the real gift is conjuring up the courage to consider doing so.

To feel deeply, love flat out, and shamelessly want what we want reminds we are alive with infinite input into how we live our lives.

Living this way is both exhilarating and exhausting.  And will undoubtedly define us as the one that got away in someone else’s story.

Now go.  Discover creative ways to live your updated, awe-inspiring dream.  Live large in small areas of your life.  Or go big and still go home. Whatever works.  It’s up to you.

And when you get a minute, tell me about it in the comments below.

**I only know about such things because the buck is Bob’s dream.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.