Celebrate Your Actions, Not Your Awards

I was talking with my friend the other day about working on longtime projects and how the day-to-day process can be grueling.  You see the end goal in the distant future, but it always seems just out of reach.  But what is the end goal really?  Is it the praise you receive or could it be something else?

I think it is important to celebrate the act of finishing.  This is quite an achievement in and of itself.  You would be surprised to know just how many people never actually finish what they start, especially when it comes to a longer project.

Why don’t we finish?  There are lots of excuses.  We’re too busy, we’re bored with it, we’ve changed direction, we no longer have the resources, and on and on.  But there really is just one reason: we’re scared.  We don’t want to know what the end result will be.  We’re worried we’ll fail.  That our project won’t turn out as we imagined.  If we stop now, we’ll never have to taste failure…or success, whatever that is.

So for those brave souls that push through these fears and frustrations and make it to the end, I say THIS is the victory.  This is the accomplishment for which we should be so proud.  Celebrate those actionable steps you take, each and every one, regardless of the outcome.  And then see how you feel.  You might be surprised to find that you want to take more steps.  That you’re motivated by simply finishing.  That you become more confident in your ability to make decisions and carry them out.

Typically I think we only find ourselves celebrating after we receive a prize or praise for finishing our project.  If we win an award for our submission to a writing contest, we celebrate.  If we get a promotion at work, we celebrate.  If we lose five pounds, we celebrate.

But what is the true accomplishment?  Is it winning the award, or is it finishing the work and having the courage to submit?  Is it being recognized and selected for a promotion, or is it being motivated to do our best at work and actually enjoying what we do for a living?  Is it losing weight, or is it having the strength to adopt a healthier lifestyle and commit ourselves to an exercise routine every day?

If we only celebrate our awards, we run the risk of never being satisfied with ourselves or our lives unless we receive awards.  Also, we tend to simply want more and more, almost like a drug.

On the other hand, if we celebrate our actions, we take pride in ourselves regardless of whether the outside world recognizes our value.  Then if we receive recognition, it’s just icing on the cake.  But meanwhile, we don’t internalize it as much, because we’re already back at the wheel taking action once again.  We’re not caught up in our successes or failures.  We’re free to simply live, experiment, try, push ourselves even further.

So start celebrating the act of finishing without awaiting judgement.  Don’t wait for others to deem your work worthy.  Don’t wait for an arbitrary award to be handed out.  Give yourself a reward right now for simply being brave enough to take a chance and act.

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Tidying Up = Letting Go = Inviting Miracles

A new year is all about a fresh start, right? Well, what better way to start off the year 2016 than by cleaning up around the house.  Sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it?  I thought so too, until I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Actually, my husband and I listened to it on audio. We both have a habit of holding onto our possessions, long after they cease being of value to us. But what good is it to be surrounded by so many things that you aren’t even sure which things you like and use and which things are just there simply because you can’t let go of them or, worse yet, forgot they even exist.

Ms. Kondo wrote this New York Times bestselling self-help book on tidying primarily for Japanese people who need to organize small living spaces, but the book has taken the world by storm and its popularity continues to grow.  Why?  Let me share some of the great tips and insights I learned from this book that changed the way I view cleaning and organizing. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel like tidying up your space too.  The best part is, if you tidy all at once now and really put your things in order, you’ll never have to tidy again. What could be more appealing than the idea of never having to spend time straightening up or decluttering again?

First things first. Know that you will come away from this experience  with more than just a tidy house.  This book promotes cleaning as a way of restoring balance to your life.  How cool is that?

Here are just some of the ways tidying up will affect your life:

–The moment you start, you reset your life.

–You discover what you were really meant to do in life.

–You surround yourself only with those things truly important to you.

–Letting go allows more good things to come into your life.

–You gain confidence in your decision-making ability.

–You become more zen.

–You can truly see what you have and appreciate it.

–Your health and vitality often improve (like a detox).

–You are forced to confront your choices, which is cathartic.

–Tidying can increase good fortune.

Tips

–If you tidy only a little each day, you’ll be tidying forever.

Apparently my mom had it right years ago when she had my sisters and I “overhaul” our basement/play room rather than just straighten it up.  But at such a young age, I couldn’t fully appreciate this concept.  To us, “overhaul” simply meant getting rid of some of our favorite toys (and they were all our favorites), never mind we were probably too old for some of them and didn’t play with half of what was down there.

–Ask if something truly brings you joy.

–Remember everything wants to be useful.

This means that if you are holding onto a vase that you don’t like because your Great Aunt Zelda who passed away gave it to you, but you never use it or take it out of the box, then it isn’t serving its purpose.  Give it away and let it “spark joy” for someone else.

–Realize that some items fulfill their purpose the moment you receive them or purchase them.

You know that sweater you bought that made your bad day better but ended up not looking that good on you?  It’s ok to discard it.

–Most items are kept based on an attachment to the past or anxiety about the future.  Keep only that which reflects and supports who you are today.

–If you discarded something useful, you can usually recover it or get over it.

–Own only what you love and need.

–Organizing is not the same as decluttering, so discard first and then organize what you have left.

–Declutter by category, not place.

–Best order of decluttering: clothes, then books, then papers, then misc.  Save mementos for last.

Feng shui is about living in accordance with nature, so put your house in order in a pleasing way that makes sense for your life.

Favorite quotes from this book:

“One theme underlying my method of tidying is transforming the home into a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy.”

“The lives of those who tidy thoroughly and completely, in a single shot, are without exception dramatically altered.”

Real World Application:

My husband and I put the KonMari method to the test.  Last weekend we started by cleaning out our closets, first realizing that we had clothes in several closets but with no apparent order whatsoever.  I would say between the two of us, we’ll probably discard at least 6 bags.  And we still have all the clothes we want and need, now arranged all together in a satisfying way. So all I can say is, what’s next?

As for you, I recommend you go out and get this book.  But don’t take it from me.  Try it for yourself.  If you want to get your life in order, start by getting your house in order.  See what happens.  Trust that by letting go, the release of energy will come back to you in a new and surprising way at just the right moment.  Maybe in the form of a miracle.

PS: Stay tuned for more results from me about this life-changing experience!

 

 

 

My Word for the Year: 2016

Happy new year!  It’s that time again.  No, not resolutions.  We have enough of those to keep us occupied and sometimes frazzled and guilt-ridden.  What I’m talking about is something that sets the tone for your year.  One word to inspire, motivate, and sometimes even surprise you.

Here’s a list of my past words:

2013: possibilities

2014: confidence

2015: change

It’s amazing how a single word can create an entire mindset for the year. I started out with something really open and positive and then moved towards words that would challenge me and help me grow, sometimes in ways that were not always comfortable.

My husband has also enjoyed choosing a word for himself each year.  Since he just graduated with two master’s degrees while working full-time, he decided his word for this year should be: reignite.  As in, he wants to reignite his hobbies, exercise routine, and friendships.  Sounds perfect!

As for me, I’m taking a different track this year.  My word is…

Miracles

To get me started, I’m going to focus on some mantras related to this word.  Two of them come from one of my favorite meditation CDs, Meditation Moment.

“I open myself up to miracles both large and small.”

“Miracles happen every day.”

The third mantra is from SARK and can be used when you find you need a little help from the universe.  Fill in the blank below with whatever you need.  I especially like to use this one when I’m trying to find a good parking spot 😉

“________ miracle find me now.”

(i.e. Parking miracle find me now.)

You’ll be amazed at the results of inviting miracles into your life.

But don’t stop there!  Come up with your own unique word for the year.  Something to excite you and get you all fired up.  A word that not only defines your entire year, but also each moment of each new day.

Go for it!