Success: Perfection or Productivity?

Have you ever wondered how someone with more responsibilities or demands is able to achieve more of their goals than you do? No, they are not perfect, alien, or some breed of human meets robot. Simply, they are probably just more highly productive and efficient than you. 

Now, if only we could be as perfect as they are then our lives would be better and we would be happy, right? That’s hard to say. So, let’s talk about this.

According to Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries, perfection is defined as

  • “having no mistakes or flaws”
  • “completely correct or accurate”
  • “having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.”
  • “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be”
  • “free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless”

Is perfection really attainable? And what exactly does perfection look like for me? These questions are complicated in the basic sense that we may all inevitably have different definitions of perfection. To further complicate the matter, shouldn’t we be looking at what “perfect” is for us based on our goals, dreams, values, and convictions, and not at what perfection looks like in other people? Well, this is exactly what make this all an on-going challenge.

Ultimately, we are all striving for some form of perfection. Although we logically know that (1) no one person is perfect and that (2) perfection is fleeting and hard to maintain, we still have this idea of perfection planted somewhere in our heads. The idea alone is not the problem. Rather, the problem lies in what happens to us emotionally when we recognize that we are not presently perfect and may never achieve perfection.

I really don’t know who sold us this dream of perfection because it definitely wasn’t the Disney films we watched as a child.  Even those characters experienced some kind of problems along the way! The movie endings were always perfect for them, but never what they envisioned when they started out. In life, we make these long lists that embody the full vision and wish lists of perfection. They assume the idea that if we can find or discover everything on our lists then life will be complete, happy, or whole. For most of us, happiness is connected to being as close to perfection as possible. However, success is rarely perfect and the road to success is not perfection either.

For the sake of discussion, let’s just hypothetically consider that we have achieved perfection. Yay! Pat yourself on the back! Well, not for too long because as we grow, change, and learn, our personal definition of perfection will change. It is like a never ending race that can become overwhelming, stressful, discouraging, depressing, and anxiety-producing.

However, there is hope!

Recently, I have been contemplating what my emotional and mental idea of perfection looks like. There’s going to be a lot going on in my life and I will not be already to plan for or guarantee perfection.

In the past I would get down on myself when I would make long goal and to-do list only to not get everything done. Thankfully, my Life Me mindset kicked in and I now have a great list of life hacks, edits, and simple changes which have enabled me to get more of the things done that I want and need to get done! Yet, it is still not perfection. However, before these hacks I would really feel emotionally defeated at the fact that I was not accomplishing everything, everyday, in every month as I wanted to for reasons both within and outside of my control (Let me know if you’d like me to share those tips. Just leave a comment below or message me on Facebook or Twitter). 

For the moment, I’m focusing on how to be as highly productive and efficient with my days as possible as opposed to having a “perfect” day. For me, productivity and efficiency is my new idea of perfection—a slight adjustment that has made the world of mental and emotional difference for me.

Through some time of planning and reflection, I figured it out! My mindset needed a shift if I planned on climbing the mountain of success effectively. So for the moment, I’m focusing on how to be as highly productive and efficient with my days as possible as opposed to having a “perfect” day.

For me, productivity and efficiency is my new idea of perfection—a slight adjustment that has made the world of mental and emotional difference. It has re-framed how I feel about my days, the intention in which I attack each day, and how I focus on things throughout my day. It has resulted in me actually accomplishing more in each new day than I thought I could. I now ask myself…

  1. What will productivity look like today?
  2. What do I need to get accomplished?
  3. What can I do/change to be more productive?

The goals haven’t changed; however, the approach has. If you adopt this mindset just know that there will be things that cannot be controlled completely through a pre-planned list and vision for the day. There are constantly things, such as work, family, friends, life, people, biological factors (sleep, health, nutrition), and weather, that either add to our daily “productivity list” or interfere with our ability to completely focus on the things we have set as priorities. But, that’s OK. If and when these matters arise, we can quickly recalculate how to handle them by determining when and how handling them would be the most efficiently and effective way possible. Some matters can wait, sometimes you can give yourself permission to say no, and other times, you might need to shift something to quickly handle life’s interruption.

Accepting that everyday will never be perfect is the first step to being more productive and happy. If I am being highly productive, using my time effectively, and placing optimal focus on the steps that bring me closer to my goals, then I am having the perfect day. That makes me extremely happy!

Some are still holding out hope that a magical unicorn will fall from the sky and reveal the secret to perpetual perfection. Until that happens, we can all strive to be as close as we can to achieving highly productive days. Before you know it each day will add up and you will look up to see that you’ve almost accomplished your goal(s)!

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I being productive?
  2. Am I doing things that bring me closer to my goals or am I doing things that pull me away from my goal?
  3. Am I focused on the things that I should be focused on?
  4. Am I wasting time on things that are not necessary?
  5. Am I spending too much time on things or people that will not increase my chances of achieving the vision of life I want to live?

Remember, success comes one deliberate step at a time and one productive day at a time.

And remember, productive days include time to manage stress and take care of your health — a healthy body and mind increases productivity!

Discussion: Talk to me! 😁

What are some ways you stay focused on your goals? What are some tips and tricks you use to stay productive? How do you protect your productivity? Please share below or come chat with me on Facebook and Twitter!

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Photo Credit: _dChris

 

 

Get Lost (Every Once in a While…)

“Beep. Beep!” The church vans pulls up and I know for sure that if one particular person is driving the van that week, we were in for an adventure. Working on a weekly rotation, each driver offered a variety of excitement each week. Whether it was leaving a church member because they were taking too long to come out of their house or knocking off side mirrors of cars parked along narrow streets, each week was an experience. However, looking back on those times one person’s interesting driving taught me more about life than I ever realized until now.

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a moving-away party for two very special people at my childhood church. Besides the million questions people asked about where I’ve been and what I’m up to now, it was a lovely event. I knew in advance there was going to be a “tribute” portion of the event, so of course I felt like I had to prepare to say something to this amazing couple (that has happened to know me since birth). Do you know how hard it is to capture everything you want to say about people you’ve known your entire life in TWO MINUTES!? Yes, we only had two minutes because the organizers of the event wanted to prevent a luncheon from turning into an all-night open mic night from 150 people. And to no one’s surprise, everyone spoke way past two minutes. But I digress.

As I thought about all the memories I had of this amazing couple — which are many — the church van rides stuck out when it came to David; it perfectly captures who he is. After riding in the van every week for years, I felt like I knew how to get to everyone’s house and how to drive despite having never set foot behind the wheel. If my 13 year old self ever needed to advise the grown-ups on directions, I was your girl. However, whenever David drove I was lost, confused, slightly scared, and very intrigued.

Confusing turns and back road adventures painted the majority of David’s weekly drive. Yet, somehow we always managed to efficiently and quickly reach the next destination. To avoid lights, get to the next destination with as little traffic as possible, he would take these back roads that my inexperienced mind never knew of. Turn after turn after turn, I was convinced we were lost and going to make it to church way past on-time. Whenever I felt we had taken too my turns to possibly be heading in the right direction, I either whispered to someone or publicly questioned — “are we lost?” David’s response ranged from “no” to “not quite,” but there was never a “yes.” As if he had branded a map of the city in his head, we would some how magically appear at our next destination. We never got lost… (that he every admitted)!

At some point as I got older I finally asked him how he knew all those back-roads. His answer: he learned them by joy-riding through the city and intentionally traveling down roads to see where they would lead. He would get lost but soon find that he would emerge onto a street that was familiar and could lead him back home. It was a sort of deliberate attempt to explore, get lost, and discover new things before finding his way again. What a risk!

Being older now, I recognize the strong link between his success, his faith, and his fearlessness — three essential factors of life. He was never afraid to get lost because, despite which way he turned, he had a strong confidence that he was never truly lost. Such a profound lesson and thought: (1) Be willing to get lost; you never know what successes, shortcuts, and opportunity you will find around the corner. (2) Don’t panic if you find yourself on an unknown street; the worst that can happen is you retrace your steps, ask for directions, or keep going until you see a sign of familiarity.

Reminiscing about these excursions made me think about the degree of faith and fearlessness he had to possess in order get to discover and remember these back roads. We have to ask ourselves — What’s out there waiting to be explored? Why are we so afraid to go off script? There’s something to be said about what he did — he explored when he had time and when “I wonder if I go down this road…” came to his mind. Thinking about his faith and fearlessness made me wonder — What if I take more time to get lost? What will I find?

I recalled the many times I was driving home from an event or store and thought “I wonder what’s down this street…” Overtime, I’ve discovered beautiful parks, neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, lakes, and shortcuts by  willingly getting lost every once in a while.

Most recently, getting lost helped me discover something beautiful and peaceful near my new apartment…

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I arrived extremely early for the apartment showing and parked across from the building. Slightly bored and curious, I decided to see what the neighborhood had to over. To my surprised I stumbled across a private beach, the ocean, and close proximity to other wonderful places to explore. Honestly, the apartment alone didn’t sell me, but the neighborhood, water, views, and places to explore did. It taught me to trust God, life, and to never be afraid to explore; you don’t know what is around the corner, literally.

This probably is very underwhelming to you. Water. What’s the big deal? Well, I love to walk by water, see water (particularly the a beach or the ocean), and sit by water. There is just something very calming about watching the waves, wondering about the life that lives beneath, and enjoying a sunset reflecting off the subtle waves. It’s peaceful and makes me wonder about life, God, balance, and physical and mental relaxation.

 

 

Now if I can only do a better job of applying this to my goals and dreams; I wonder what I will find…

Related Posts:

On the Other Side of Fear

GPS: Shut Up And Fly

Picture Perfect Puzzle Pieces

Comment below or chat with me!

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The Plan: My 2016 Resolutions

I am back! Or am I? The last two+ months have been oddly hectic– peppered with great highs, positive personal realizations, wonderful whirlwinds, and twisted tests of my personal stamina. I am pleased to report that — for the most part — I am conquering the tests of life. I am very proud of the growth I see in my responses to life’s ups and downs.

While there have been many wonderful memories this year, there are definitely a few areas I have neglected in the midst of grinding away at work– this blog, fitness and exercise, consistent sleep, social gatherings, building my other dreams, and reading. Honestly, these areas have been inconsistent in my life quite into 2014 too.

Well enough is enough, this post is about developing the plan that will hopefully help to rearrange my priorities so that I might find deeper fulfillment in my one life to live. After my admissions of guilt, you will find my plan and goals for 2016.

Today is about “I” statements. It is time to look in the mirror and figure out what role the person in the mirror [me] has played in my happiness and progress in life. The hopeful outcome is for me [and my reflection/inner self] to (1) figure out how to accept the contribution(s) I have made to where my life is (both the good and not-so-good) and (2) to figure out how to move forward toward living the fullest life possible. Usually I am not one for making yearly resolutions. However, this year I am not only going to make them, but I am also going to make them public so YOU can be my accountable partner. This mean it’s your fault if I don’t succeed, right?

 It is time to look in the mirror and figure out what role the person in the mirror plays in your happiness and progress in life.

Lofty would describe the plans I have in my head. I dream… I plan… I start… Some things I finish and for others I don’t even come close to the finish line. Although I know better, I still fall into the mental trap(s) that cause me to be paralyzed with inaction, to finger point, and to poorly prioritize. As I get older it seems more things require my time. Or, maybe it is more like I am not filtering and prioritizing efficiently. Life happens, work happens, feelings happen, I happen, the cat happens, and even the dog happens. At times, everything seems to happen besides what I personally would like to focus on in the moment.

Surrendering

Overall, I have had such a blessed life and a blessed year. Yet, there are a few areas that I would like to either better or to create. The first step on the road to recovery is admission (surrender), right? Well, here goes: This year, I had the problem of drinking subconscious excuse juice mixed with rationalization. Acceptance = My life is the way it is — good or bad — because (1) I allow it to be this way or (2) I create/d the circumstances that produce/d this life.

In life we blame other people and things for the outcome of our lives. Scapegoating and projecting our issues onto other people and things is the easier thing to do. We can’t chose the cards we are dealt, but we can chose (1) whether we want to continue to play the game and (2) what we want do with each card. I alone have the power to be happy or miserable about my cards.

Using a past post as inspiration, I am surrendering to the following:

  • I surrender my weaknesses and concerns over to God.
  • I surrender to the fact that God has given me the cards I have right now and will/can bring the necessary cards into my lives when the time is right. For now, I must learn to utilize the cards I have in my hands.
  • I accept that change will only happen when I get sick and tired of hearing my own excuses and rationalizations.
  • I surrender the defense mechanisms that cause me to anxiously avoid the idea that I played a part in those less than desirable areas of my life.
  • I surrender being upset about the things I cannot control.

Mental Adjustments

It is necessary to consider the honest reasons that we didn’t accomplish some of our 2015 personal goals. Here are some things I have learned during my reflection about progress, growth, and feeling lost in a whirlwind of deadlines and work/life expectations:

  • Change will happen when I get sick of hearing my own excuses.
  • Change will happen when I realize I’ve been talking about it for so long, yet have no real results to show for it.
  • Growth will happen when I am willing to slow down, readjust, and go at my own life pace.
  • Growth will happen when I don’t get frustrated when I don’t see immediate results.

Pre-Plan:

If you are interested in joining me, comment below, comment on Facebook, or send me an email in the “Ask Me” section

  1. Examine Reasons for Failure — In doing some more research about why people don’t accomplish goals and resolutions, some of the common factors were procrastination, disorganization, and fear. I am partly guilty of two of the latter reasons, maybe even three. Here are some of my additional my reasons:
    • I could have used my time more efficiently.
    • I did not prioritize healthy lifestyles choices.
    • I thought about worse case scenarios too much.
    • I allowed fear to dominate my thinking at times.
    • I was paralyzed by frustration at times.
    • I worried too much about what people might think about me or my decisions.
    • I kept to myself too much and became consumed with work and my own life.
  2. Health Check — Before we make this next push toward new goals, make sure that you are physically healthy. Any overdue doctor’s appointments? Book those appointments.
  3. Practice — Start practicing saying “no.” Sometimes it is just as important to say “no” as it is to say “yes” because sticking to goals takes sacrifice and discipline. We will have to prioritize our goals and schedule, so it is inevitable that will have to say “no” to things that take us away from our focus(es).
  4. Commit — Prepare to commit. That means saying “yes” despite fear, challenges, and pain. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
  5. Anticipate Challenges — Feeling tired is natural which means it happens to everyone. Sometimes the only way to push through doing something when we are tired will be to do it anyway. I know, it sucks…
  6. Get Rid of Guilt — Never regret putting your health, goals, or plans first especially if those plans are what’s best for you.
  7. Let It Go — We can no longer focus on the past as justification for why we cannot accomplish more.
  8. Plan — Create a plan and make check-in time tables.
  9. Partner Up — Find accountability measures if necessary.
  10. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.

The Plan: 2016 Goals 

Step 1: State the plan — Write it out, don’t just keep it in your head. Make it public to add more incentive!

Here is my plan:

  1. Pray/Mediate More
  2. Read More
  3. Be More Fearless
  4. Be More Organized
  5. Travel More
  6. Maintain and Cultivate More Quality Relationships
  7. Write More
  8. Give More
  9. Regain Past Levels of Physical Fitness
  10. Dream Bigger

Step 2: Create accountability measures — Using people, timers, calendar remainders, etc. Make sure you have a plan to remember your goals! Trust me, life will get hectic and you will lose track of time. So far, I have a fitness fanatic friend texting me every week to ask me about my fitness progress. For the other goals, I am going to use you, the readers, as my accountability. Feel free to ask me how I am doing from time to time and I will give you an honest answer. In addition, I will be writing a monthly post check-in updating you on my progress!

For YOU: Tell me your goals/plan and I will check in with you to make sure you are staying on track! Let’s help each other! If there are multiple people with the same plan/goal, we will help support each other via The Life Me Blog’s Facebook page.

Conclusion

Though it looks like nothing more than a simple list, the plan is far from complex. It requires patience, passion, discipline, time management, consistency and stamina. I accept that there will be no one to blame in December 2016 if I haven’t accomplished these goals. That is why this year is about “I” statements. How am I taking control of the moments in my life? How I am taking control of my success and growth? I don’t know about you but I am ready to crush these goals!

What are you going to choose to take control of this year? What’s your 2016 plan? Please share below, even if only to put your plan out in the universe so the accountability gods can come and find you when you fall of the wagon.

Let’s do this!

Comment below or chat with me!

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Judging People in the Media: Right or Wrong?

It is very easy to forget that other people are also human.

I remember when I was a little teenybopper I subconsciously found slight enjoyment in commenting on other people’s life mistakes/decisions. In a weird way it made me feel more normal, more confident, and more hopeful that — despite not having everything I wanted — I might possibly stand on a higher moral ground than those I chose to judge comment on. I felt the pressure to be perfect, so it was kind of refreshing to know that other people were not. Hooray, someone’s mistakes were bigger than mine!

Back then I would not have considered myself a gossiper, but I certainly had an opinion if asked. In my mind, my opinions were not judgements but rather concerns cloaked in curiosity. Me be mean-spirited and judgmental? No. Never. However oddly enough, the most enjoyable conversations were those about the mistakes of people that acted like they were better than others. “See, that’s why people should never think they are better because life will show us that we are not.” This I would proclaim while thinking myself better than they were. Oh, the irony.

One of the easiest targets I felt entitled to comment on were celebrities and entertainers. There were many I loved, but there were others I thought to be raunchy, slutty, desperate, fake, corny, untalented, ugly, weird, crazy, and/or conceited!  Most of my negativity boiled down to the fact that I didn’t feel they deserved the fame, money, or success they had. I was jealous disturbed that me, my family, my friends, and others in society had to “work so hard to succeed while these celebrities prance around from red carpet to red carpet like the hardest task of life is deciding what makeup, suit, dress, or date they are going to bring that night.” Elite athletes were not exempt from my judgments opinions either: I would say, “you are talented, but you are lame!” Of course I had no idea about the challenges and sacrifices, both physical and emotional, they had to make in order to get to where they were. Yet, I still felt the God-like right to determine what someone else deserved! But you know what? It is very easy to sit back and comment on another person’s life — celebrity, athlete, famous or not —  when we don’t really have to live their life or walk in their shoes.

It might sound like I sat around all day “hating” on other people (which is not really the case), but I do recall the many moments when I projected my insecurities and anxieties onto the easy targets of the world: the famous ones, privileged ones, and the entertainers. They signed up for it, right? It comes with the territory, right? It is the price of fame, right? Well, at least that’s what I told myself in order to justify my judgments opinions. I needed to find something negative in order to explain why my life was less glamorous so I told myself I had more class, purpose, and humility than “those people.” Honestly, deep inside me I really just wished I was rich too! (I still secretly do).

As my teenage years passed, the celebrity issues I read about were no longer so distant from the realities of regular people. Suddenly I knew/knew of people going through similar experiences: divorces, rumors, cheating, drug and alcohol abuse, hard partying, suicidal episodes, and/or new boyfriends/girlfriends every other week. I started to rethink my heavily misguided judgements about entertainers and got the sense that anything could happen to anyone, famous or not. I started asking myself: Would I be able to endure the pressure? How do I know I wouldn’t do that under the right conditions? Would I really be able to react differently than they do? Would my attitude be different if I went through that? How would I feel if I was in their shoes? Would I be happier? Could I handle the constant spotlight of judgment and expectations of perfection? I wasn’t always sure in each circumstance so I changed my opinionated tuned: “Judge less and never think you are above life’s challenges; just hope, pray, and do whatever you can so the challenges allotted for you won’t be the end of you.”

Now in early adulthood, I feel empathy for celebrities, entertainers, and leaders. Social media has not only changed how the world interacts, but it is also impacting how we view each other. When I started college, MySpace was huge, Facebook was only open to college students with a valid school email address, and there was no Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. Before social media, we had to wait to hear about a celebrity scandal in the local newspaper, on the nightly news, or we just had to speculate about the truth plastered across the front page of the tabloids. Now, everything is front page news on social media and everyone has a comment or judgment that can be posted openly or anonymously for anyone to read at any time. The sad news is that it’s highly likely that one of our friends, family members, or even one of us will be in a position of entertainment, leadership, or fame one day. We/They will have to endure the same public ridicule that we put entertainers and leaders through everyday. There are some people out there that warrant the opinions we have toward them, but those people are far less prevalent than those that don’t deserve it.

When I look at the tabloids, blogs, and entertainment news columns I see stories that could happen to any normal person:

  • Rumored marital problems: If you have ever been in a relationship, then you know that there are ups and downs! Imagine paparazzi and news outlets, proclaiming your relationship or marriage to be over while you’re fighting hard to make it work. Imagine your relationship is totally wonderful, yet every grocery isle claims it’s doomed because your spouse is cheating with someone else in their industry.
  • Breakups and makeups: Now we know that the dating scene can range from very pleasant to pure madness. Can you imagine every dating move you made being stalked and reported by the media? From your one-night stands, to your short-lived relationship, to your quick transition to the next lover, or to the moments you thought you were exclusive but he/she is out dating someone else. Can you imagine finding all that out on social media? Can you imagine being judged for the relationship decisions you willingly chose to make as a grown man/woman by people who probably have less than perfect relationships themselves?
  • Family Drama: Need I say more? Can you really imagine all your family drama being front page news for all your friends, employers, and haters to revel in? How embarrassing!
  • Body Image: Can you imagine feeling like a fashion icon only to later find out that half the world thinks you look hideous? Or even worse, can you imagine those times when you don’t look your best and have to go out in front of the world? Exactly!
  • Hidden Struggles: You may not be an alcoholic or drug abuser, but I am sure if you think hard enough you will be able to identify one person you know that struggles with something similar. But, what’s your vice? How do you mask and hide your insecurities, anxiety, and/or fears? What are the self-defeating behaviors and thoughts you have? How would you feel about having your lowest day chronicled and logged as the most talked about news of the week?
  • Mental Illness or Health Issues: Sometimes we deal with mental and health issues that we don’t necessarily wear on our sleeves. Some are impossible to hide and others we try our hardest to keep private. Can you imagine people taking your private moments for mass entertainment or having cameras and photographers outside every surgery and doctor’s appointment as they dig and hack for your medical history simply for entertainment purposes?

I don’t know why I think about these things but I do. I think about how some celebrities, prominent figures, entertainers, and leaders in our society must feel at night when they lay down to sleep knowing that there are a lot of people out there in the world that would rather tear them down than see them thrive. Too easily we forget that people are human and deserve to be treated like they have a heart. Let’s try harder to support the entertainers we like but NOT pull down those we don’t enjoy as much. Instead of trashing them from our lofty moral seat, let’s just say, “I am not a fan” and keep it moving. The truth is our bashing, hating, disgust, and attacks say more about our internal issues than they do about theirs.

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Photo Credit: Seth Capitulo

Logic vs. Emotion

I swear, our logic and our feelings are like two siblings that like to constantly fight and bicker with one another. I remember fighting one of my older brothers when I was a little girl. He would pick on me or make a smart comment, I would cry, and then sometimes we would fight. I would try to rub his face deep into the carpet, but ultimately his strength and age would always overpower me! Darn you brother.

One time he pissed me off so much that I swore. “F*%&$ you!,” I boldly proclaimed! My emotions clearly overruled the logic — that I would get in huge trouble — and I said it again: “F*%&$ you!” This time, however, no brawl ensued. He simply said, “Oh, so you want to swear now?” Calmly, he walked out of the room in what I thought was defeat and I proudly proceeded to watch my afternoon cartoons. Next thing I know the phone rang for me, twice. First it was my mother calling from work and then it was the pastor’s wife! That little sneak left the room to call them… not to cry as I initially thought!  Let’s just say I got in BIG trouble when my mother got home, cried many tears that night, and the next Sunday had to go up and ask Jesus to come into my heart for the 5th time in my young life!

The annoying feeling of bickering with a sibling is what the tension between logic and emotion feels like — to me at least. Life happens, questions arise, doubt raises its ugly little head, and we have to determine which we are going to rely on to move forward — logic or emotions.

Hurdles are an excellent example of logic versus emotions. I remember having to do the hurdles during track and field tryouts in high school. It was interesting to say the least. You are running full speed ahead, see the hurdle right in front of you, and need to make a decision to jump over it. An experienced hurdler knows that proper execution relies very little on emotion but rather on three factors: (1) accurately counting the steps in between hurdles, (2) powering over the hurdle through the use of speed and momentum, and (3) proper running form in between and over hurdles.

Ready, set, go: 1-2-3-4-5 OVER…1-2-3 OVER…1-2-3 OVER…1-2-3 OVER… The hurdles race requires the runner to focus on their steps and technique rather than on trying to anticipate jumping over the hurdle. I am sure that with more training I would have become a very good hurdler. However, during the first auditions in practice I stutter-stepped before each hurdle and jumped over it each one with flailed arms and wild legs. Let’s just say that the hurdles never became by main event; I was better at sticking to sprinting without the hurdles being there to slow me down.

Sometimes my logic dominates my emotions, and in other cases my emotions overrule my logic. In general, I cannot say one way is better than the other without considering the situation. In some cases, logic should overrule emotions and in other instances we should be more emotional. The key to life is knowing which one should dominate in any given situation and then being able to listen to the appropriate one.

Logic versus emotions may play out in the following ways:

  • Sometimes you may have to trust your experience and logic, and in other times you may have to let your experience go and step out on the limb.
  • Other times, you may have to overcome your initial emotional responses and rely on systematic logic.
  • In other cases, you may have to completely throw away logic and pray that your gut emotional response is worth trusting.
  • From time to time, you might have to rely on both logic and emotions in order to navigate a situation.
  • And in certain cases, trusting any ounce of either logic or emotions will seem impossible — in which case I personally rely on the spiritual.

Logic and emotions like to fight and bicker within us. Unlike my fights with my brother, it is not always clear which side will win. I always lost, but in real life logic and emotions don’t always win or lose. Thankfully, as I got older the fighting with my brother decreased and we became siblings that have each others’ back when necessary. This is how we need to train our emotions/logic to interact– more like partners in crime than like warring children. A great partnership between both logic and emotions can make us unstoppable even in the face of the tallest hurdles.

Logic versus emotions will never be a black and white dilemma. One thing is for sure: Whether the situation requires more logic or more emotion, it is important to not slow down as we approach the hurdles of life. Momentum, momentum, momentum! Trusting our ability to generate enough power to make it over the hurdle(s) is just as important as trusting that we will be able to decide whether to use our emotions or our logic in any given situation. In reality, we need a little of both: enough logic to conclude that our experience and technique, if well executed, with not fail us and enough emotion to feel and use the power we possess to overcome any hurdle that lies ahead of us.

Photo Credit: G. Jereczek

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Having Faith in Yourself.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light even when the dawn is still dark.”

As defined, faith is a strong belief in someone or something. That concepts seems very vague, somewhat intangible, and also requires a significant level of trust. If I trust a person or object, I believe in their/its ability to be who or what I know them to be. Subsequently, I have faith in them or it. For example, I trust that the ladder will support me as I climb to reach the top shelf because I believe it was designed correctly. Therefore, I can say I have faith in the ladder. If a person has proven to be trustworthy in their character and actions over time, you might say you have faith that they will be there for you when you need them.

In general it is easy to have faith in other people or objects. But what about having faith in ourselves? What makes it so difficult to believe in our own ability as confidently as we believe in others’ abilities? Is it because we cannot see ourselves as clearly as we can see others? Or, is it because our defense mechanisms and doubts blur our ability to see all the great qualities that exist within us? In my opinion, it is probably the latter. It is great to have faith in other people, but it should not outweigh the faith we have in our own capabilities.

Over the past two years, I have wondered even more about what I would do if I had no fears or doubts. I started praying that God would (1) allow me to continue to discover everything I am supposed to accomplish in this lifetime and (2) to have the patience, willingness, and courage to complete it. After a while, it was no longer a new prayer. My confidence to explore my interests increased, yet I was still doubtful and fearful. I knew some of my interests and goals were/are destined and ordained, but I was still hesitant to move forward without more reassurance from God.

Me: “God, I just want to know that you will be with me if I journey down this path. I know that if you destined this path for me then everything will ultimately work out in my best interest. I trust you God.”

God: “Yes, this is path I ordained for you. I am with you and will always be with you”

Me: “Thank you God, but I just need to know that you will be there for me…”

Repeat this dialogue every day about the same goals and paths and that’s how ridiculous I sounded asking the same questions over and over again. Unfortunately, having repeated reassurance didn’t result in me running full steam ahead down the path. Something was wrong and it wasn’t God.

I started to recognize a contradiction in the overall situation. I felt God signalling, encouraging, and supporting me to move down certain paths, yet I still kept asking for sign after sign that I would be successful. In some way I was looking for confirmation that my strengths and abilities were enough to protect me from failure — very unrealistic. If I had faith in God, then why would I doubt him so much? Why did I need to keep asking for reassurance? I finally realized that the problem was tangled somewhere within my fears, doubts, and insecurities. The problem wasn’t God; the problem was me.

With this realization I started praying instead for God to help me believe everything he already believed about me. He made me strong and intelligent (I believe), so I just needed to have faith that he knew what he was doing when he created me. I was not a fluke creation, but rather a destined life on earth. Ultimately, the goal now was for me to learn to believe the greatness he created in me and still sees in me.

Think of it like a parent-child, teacher-student, or coach-athlete dynamic:

Parent: “You are so capable, strong, and loved. I believe in you and I want you to reach for the stars. Just know that I will always have your back every step of the way. You will never be alone because I support you.”

Child: “I know. I know. But, I am still scared and afraid that things will not work out. I know you love me and believe in me, but I just can’t do it.”

Parent: “Trust me! You CAN do it and I am in your corner! Haven’t I always been there for you? Listen, I am very proud of you and I will continue to be proud of you even if you fail.”

Child: “Yes, you have always been there for me, but I don’t know what will happen if I fail. I don’t think I have enough in me to do this. I love you too, but I just can do it.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that is a sad dialogue. If I am ever having that conversation with my future children, I will wonder why my inspiration and encouragement doesn’t seem to garner even a little bit of faith that his/her goal is worth trying. I will wonder if my child trust that I will be there to catch them if they fall.

Coach:“You have so much talent and ability. If you are committed to the training, you will go very far. You can do it.”

(Athlete goes through weeks of training, is committed to the process, and begins seeing improvement in practice. )

Fast forward to game day

Coach: “You ready? Let’s do this! You are prepared. Now all you have to do is execute what we practiced, Go get ’em!”

(Athlete gets out there, observes the competition, and begins to doubt him/herself and the coach’s words).)

Fast forward to after the performance/match…

Coach: “What in the hell happened out there? You are better than that performance today.”

Athlete: I felt (insert lame injury or excuse here)… and when the referee (insert lame scapegoat excuse here) it threw me off!

(Or maybe the athlete will be more reflective and say…) “I felt great today coach. I don’t know what happened.”

Well, I will tell you what happen dear athlete: Doubt made you question you preparedness. You questioned whether your coach was just pumping you up because that’s his/her job and you froze! You didn’t have faith in yourself, your abilities, or your coaches words.

A few weeks ago I reached out to an old friend to touch base about a new project I am working on. For the most part I was super excited and confident that I was going to do a great job on this project, but of course my insecurities, doubts, and fears needed confirmation that my strengths were indeed strong enough to outweigh my weaknesses. To make a long story short, after chatting with this person for a while, I realized that although they had many great suggestions and resources to offer me none of the information outweigh the preparation and lessons I learned along the journey.

In essence, in that moment I realized that everything I went through — both the good and bad — had prepared me for exactly where I was/am. I didn’t need reassurance or more resources, what I really needed was to have faith that (1) God would not give me this path if he/she/it (whatever you what to think God is) knew I was not prepared for it and (2) that even if I hadn’t learned the lessons along the journey (as I was supposed to) that God would be there to support me when I fall. Therefore, success seemed to lie in whether I not only had faith in myself but also in his plan for me.

I have many weaknesses, but the good news is that I have many, many more strengths. Most of what we need to take those first steps toward our scariest goals are already inside of us; it is just a matter of whether we start believing the idea that (1) we are strong and (2) that God and the universe — already knowing our weaknesses — still thinks we have enough strength inside of us to positively impact the world around us. Maybe in the end embracing our weaknesses as much as we embrace our strengths is what makes us unstoppable.

Photo Credit: Zhao

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Protect Your Optimism

Man, oh man! How much bad, poor, negative news can we handle? Does anyone else feel like every time they turn around there is more bad news being reported? Yes, Facebook is usually filled with positive messages and laughs; Instagram with joyous photos and smiles; but, the news, forget about it– sad news upon weird news upon more sad news. Of course, there are many hopeful stories mixed in, but violence, rape, fraud, cancer, overdoses, war, terrorism, racism, death, and financial ruin seem more prevalent than the positive, the hopeful, and the good.

I often struggle with keeping a positive, hopeful, faith-filled head when I watch or receive dreadful news. In the moment, it really knocks a little bit of the wind out of me and makes me wonder if there is any good left in the world. In some instances, I find myself asking myself “why” this or that happened. Thereafter I usually utter a “God, help me,” put everything back into perspective, and realize more and more that living to the fullest is the only alternative to the negative surrounding us. Herein lies the good news: the more I attempt to live life to the fullest is the more that I realize and believe that there is still more positive than negative in the world.

Some time ago, I began thinking about how often fearful negative things actually happen to me or people I know. Throughout this exercise, I found that more negative instances did happen more in some areas than others, but overall the chances of the negative prevailing were lower than my fears would lead me to believe. In no way does this mean that I believe bad things will not or cannot happen to me or those that I know. It just means that although the negative, bad, discouraging events may happen, they are probably far less prevalent than my fears will allow me to believe.

Sometimes it can feel that negative things unceasingly happen to us. While this may or may not be true, the goal is to not lose hope and try not to become too overwhelmed by them. In the grand scheme of life, the statistics may still fall on the side of hope and good. If life does not feel positive right now, keep living and eventually the numbers will straighten themselves out. Who knows? Maybe the positivity and optimism we all seek lies inside of us all.

Protect your optimism, then, share it with the world.

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Untangle Yourself.

Slaves to the mind, trapped back in time

Freedom seems to be confused with nickels and dimes

Success nothing more than a borrowed image

Satiated by perverted perspectives

Chained to rusty bars of mental prisons

Fighting for the chance to realize destiny

While clothed in costumes of hijacked dreams

Stolen language, borrowed frames

Walking in circles waiting for answers

Convinced that conquering the world will reveal it

Yet there’s still no dirt on the bottom of your shoe

And the real you still stands hidden inside of you

If you ever stopped to take an inventory of your thoughts, frustrations, goals, and priorities, you will often find that they have become wildly webbed with borrowed pieces of other people’s goals, fears, and thoughts. Sometimes those borrowed pieces are beneficial and help us push toward finding our true self. Other times, however, those borrowed pieces weigh us down in knotted webs that seem to make finding our true self more stressful than just living out other people’s dreams and expectations for us.

However, it is necessary to determine how entangled you are with the images, goals, fears, and expectations of others. On that journey of disentanglement, you will find happiness, freedom, and purpose in life. Until you make the first steps to untangle yourself, you will always have the weight of the skeleton of the real you pulling you under water. It may not seem like it at first, but once you bring that skeleton to life — by accepting and embodying who you were created to be– you will feel lighter, happier, and less like you are constantly drowning in a world that seems to enjoy pushing you under water.

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