Putting yourself in the equation, creating your life
A week ago Sunday (just in time for the New Year), Marcia Hyatt – a dear friend, leadership and life coach – posed the question on her weekly radio show “What do I want to create?”
Marcia tosses these provocative questions into the universe (often inspired by a quotation) to get you to think and challenge yourself for a better life. I LOVE this question and the accompanying quote: “Now is the only time. How we relate to it creates the future. In other words, if we’re going to be more cheerful in the future, it’s because of our aspiration and exertion to be cheerful in the present. What we do accumulates; the future is the result of what we do right now.” ~Pema Chodren
What immediately came to mind for me, after achieving a year-end weight loss goal that puts me awfully close to my ultimate goal weight, was the success I’ve had this past year staying SOLELY focused on what I wanted to create.
My goal was to create a life with Lori in the equation – the center of the equation. And I can proudly say that my success in 2011 — both personally and professionally – was achieved because every decision I made was framed with that goal in mind. Seriously, I think I get an A!
How did I do it? I lived intentionally. I planned. I executed. I worked hard. And I had lots of help and support.
First, I defined what it meant to have Lori in the center of the equation. For me, it was about prioritizing my nutrition and fitness program first…above all else…always. It included getting enough sleep, limiting my work hours so I had life balance, asking for help when I needed it, and more.
Establishing this framework/plan at the beginning of the year was key. I created a detailed picture of what it looked like to have Lori in the equation, which included establishing non-negotiables. This gave me a platform that I could go back to whenever I was in doubt about a decision. Sometimes the decisions were big and tough and it wasn’t obvious. In those times, I sought counsel to sort it out and we always came back to what was best for Lori and what would keep the focus on me – the goal.
Those of you that know me, know that until about a year ago I wasn’t even in the equation of my life. Nope. Not there at all! I was all about building a business and serving clients, volunteering and helping others, being there for friends and family…doing everything for and about every one else. In part, this is my nature. My personality type (ENFJ) is focused on people and helping others. But in large part, this phenomenon manifested because I was trying to fill a hole/void in me and prove my worth to the outer world by doing things.
Because I don’t do anything half hearted, I focused so aggressively on others that my personal well being completely fell by the way side. I was working 18-hour days consistently to get it all done and manage all of the balls in the air. And by doing this, I was slowly killing myself. Eating to stuff emotion and deal with stress, not moving out of an office chair in 12-18 hours a day, and losing hope with each passing day of a different life.
At the time, I thought I was relatively happy. Not ecstatic but okay. But as I reflected last night with a colleague who was in the trenches with me – I realized NOT at all! My natural upbeat disposition turned “glass half empty.” Everything was more difficult and drama filled. I cried a lot. And the very relationships I was sacrificing myself for, well, they suffered. Not to mention what I was doing to my health! Pretty depressing when I think about it now. But I can say that at the time I was not fully and consciously aware of what I was doing. And I certainly didn’t know what I wanted to create for Lori.
I tell you this and tie it to the question – what do I want to create? – because, for me, the most important step of making a change in my life, was indeed answering that question and deciding that BAR NOTHING I was going to tackle it. One day at a time. Day after day after day.
And it has worked…brilliantly. The really cool thing is that as I continue to put myself first and focus on my overall health and happiness, everything else around me is better. My work. My relationships. My fun. And, so many opportunities have presented themselves because I am now attracting them. Of course, the best part, my worth comes from inside me not what I do for others or to hold the world up! (Wow. Sigh. Smile. Big Step.)
Short term sacrifices for long term gain.
How many times have we heard the phrase: “Short term sacrifice for long term gain?” For me, thousands. And most often I have been annoyed by it. Well, short term sacrifice is exactly what I’ve had to do these past months to achieve the longer-term goal. And again, as much as I hate to admit it, it totally works. Better yet – it is not as hard as we make it out to be in our heads! It’s just a mindset.
Example. As I get closer to my goal weight the program is getting a bit tougher. Less food, more working out, for lower weight loss numbers each week… At our Marketing that Matters Christmas party this past year, I was excited to celebrate our business success with the now 15 amazing people that work with me! I so wanted to toast my new colleagues with my favorite glass of wine to celebrate. But, my eye was on the big goal, as well as a shorter-term, year-end weight loss milestone. My program director and coach, Leif Anderson, had worked to prime my body for this loss. So, after checking in with him to confirm that drinking at my holiday party would screw it up, I sacrificed that glass of wine.
Yes, indeed, I toasted my team with water and ate a grilled chicken skewer while they indulged on great holiday party food and drank my favorite wine and had a ball (on my tab!). The thing is, I had a ball, too. Because inside I felt amazing that I could choose me and make my goal the priority verses indulging in that moment. This is not something I often did in the past. The truth is, there will be other Christmas parties. This time I made the sacrifice/choice with my goal of creating a life with Lori in the equation…long term as the prize. And it was the right choice.
If I can do it. So can you!
These past couple of weeks I have had the absolute pleasure of talking to, and working with, so many people – some friends and some strangers – who have asked for help. Several have similar challenges about how to put themselves in the equation (perhaps not to my extreme). It has been a joy to share my story and listen to theirs. I love paying it forward and helping people. But now, helping people is helping me. There is something very powerful in sharing your story with others who have the same struggles and helping them take that first step. That first critical step. That, my friends, is the hardest part.
So to those reading this who might have similar struggles or find something in my story in which they resonate, I say this: you can and will do it. If I can go from a place of no hope and a sedentary lifestyle where the focus was on everything and everyone but me — to a balanced, centered and healthy Lori. Well, you can do it, too. And when you do, you will be soooooo happy and fulfilled! Beyond your wildest dreams. I promise.
My advice: Tackle Marcia’s question. Think about what you want to create? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out. Plan. And then go…like a laser beam focused on that goal/plan. Take one moment, one decision, one day at a time. And before you know it, you will see success…and it will feed you…and you, too, will create something truly amazing!
At next year’s Marketing that Matters Christmas party, I will raise that glass of my favorite wine and toast to me, to my team, to you and to the lives we all want to create.
What do you want to create in 2012…and beyond? I am so excited about what’s next I can hardly contain myself!
Happy and healthy new year to all.
P.S. Check out Marcia Hyatt at www.marciahyatt.com and her really cool book, “What have I Mythed.”