Blowing It!

I’m so sorry! I can’t believe I have let this month get away from me like this. Family health problems, getting ready to take the plunge and quit my job, old friends (and ex boyfriends) popping up out of nowhere – it’s been a lot. I am a mess. (And I have a lot to talk about!)

I promise I shall return soon. I have to get organized, but this blog is one of the few things that is of actual importance and enjoyment in my life. It is here that I pursue my passions. I refuse to let that fizzle and die.

Talk to you soon!

– Jules

Such is Life . . .

Have nine days really gone by since I last posted? So much has happened, I guess it is believable. I took my father into the ER on Thursday for what ended up being his fifth brain surgery. Not to mention the ever-increasing toll that my job is taking on me. Whew!

I had some great ideas for posts this week, but I’m just too tired and overwhelmed to put anything coherent together for you. Like this lovely post by Noch Noch of The Change Blog advises, I am trying to keep a positive perspective. This bump in the road is not the end of the world. I shall endure.

“Some days it is a heroic act just to refuse the paralysis of fear and straighten up and step into another day.” – Edward Albert

A little something I stumbled across today was the Global Rich List. Really puts things into perspective. Give it a try.

Taking Action

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard,

just keep putting off doing it.” – Olin Miller

The past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the wake-up call I asked for. The end of my work-week at my soul sucking job was absolute hell. I am more convinced than ever that I need to get out of there ASAP and if I am going to stay more than another month then some things need to change.

I’m torn because I don’t feel like it is safe or rational at this point to take the plunge. On the other hand, I keep seeing messages that say “Take the Leap” all around me. I feel apprehensive about both options. Which one is really the best choice?

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I attended a webinar this week facilitated by Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind. It was about creating your own freedom and getting paid to be who you are. I discovered it as part of my job research project that I’ve been working on.

It was actually quite inspiring, despite the obvious intent to sell his product. I’m not sure it would be ethical of me to share very much about it here, considering he puts it on for free and I’m sure would prefer that you watch it yourself. I will say that the most important and inspiring message I walked away with was to stop just collecting ideas, and start taking action.

While I did not sign up for his program, it is something I might consider at some point. In the meantime I have a lot of other free tools that I haven’t used yet, such as the “Passion + Profit” guide that Jonathan gives away on Illuminated Mind. I have that guide at the top of my list right now and may even have time to get started later today.

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I have also unlocked a new habit in Habit Judo despite my poor results in the “Choose Happiness” category. I’ve come to the conclusion that choosing happiness is difficult to measure and act on because it is lacking concreteness. It’s a great concept and I think it can work under different circumstances, but it’s too vague to focus on. However, I don’t plan to remove it from my list of habits.

I’m going to set a somewhat large goal for my new habit and that is to spend at least two hours per day on my big project. The big project includes this blog, the job-change research, and TAKING ACTION to move towards a more meaningful source of income. I am sick of constantly planning what I will do instead of getting things done. Planning is important, but it is no substitute for action.

One action I need to take is planning a budget. I need to look at what my monthly expenses are and create a savings plan. I just had to pay (a lot of) taxes for the first time ever due to my employer’s unwillingness to make me an employee (I’ve been an independent contractor now for 15 months.).

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One reason for doing this is that I haven’t set rewards in Habit Judo yet. I am coming up on a reward soon and have realized that the only things I deprive myself of are really big ticket items. I can afford to splurge on coffee or dinner or books for the most part, and often do, but they should really be treats.

My long-term goal for my finances is to be able to save up enough to live off of for one year. If I can do that, I will feel safe quitting my job even if I haven’t secured reliable income yet. I will go into this in more detail once I start getting the job-search related posts up. The project is growing so rapidly, I might have to start a separate blog for it. I have a feeling this will have to involve disclosing my identity . . .

I wanted to  make one other quick comment. I previously recommended CX.com on the “Reading List” but I have run into some troubles with it. For those of you who are interested in what I chose instead, I am now using Windows Live Mesh to utilize the sync folder feature that is part of SkyDrive. So far, it is working seamlessly.

Wake Up Call

Where does the time go? Days are passing like hours lately. I’m trying to stay positive and choose happiness, but it’s been a challenge. How does one overhaul their life when everything around them stays the same?

I wake up daily in the same bed, in the same claustrophobic, cluttered cabin that I have lived in for the past seven years. It is never fully clean and impossible to keep free of disorder (less than 500 sq. ft. + 2 animals + 2 people = always messy). I take the same car on the same road to the same building for work. I come back home, always overwhelmed by the number of unaccomplished tasks glaring at me.

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I have no space. My mind is as cluttered as my surroundings. It seems like so much sometimes! There is so much I want to do. I am trying to regroup in order to focus, but I haven’t seemed to have any more success at achieving my goals with this method. I just keep thinking of more and more goals and things I wish I could do or change.

I wish I could “just do it.” Do it all. I just want to be perfect. Is that really too much to ask? I know, I know. If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth it.

I just feel like I need to reset. My environment is so constant, it seems impossible to change my habits. My husband and I had planned on moving from California to Colorado in October last year. The week before we were going to give our 30 day notices to our jobs, my father went to the emergency room and ended up spending a full month in the hospital due to multiple brain tumors. He was eventually diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.

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Needless to say, we decided not to move. I feel blessed to be able to be here for my father during this time. However, I was so looking forward to the extreme change.

I have good ideas on a daily basis. I have felt consistently inspired for months now. Yet I’m still stuck in a rut. I can’t stretch out. My brain is hard-wired for all my bad habits. I still feel like I’m always looking outside myself for happiness – coffee, cigarettes, food, consume, consume. I actually believe that these things will make me feel better in my weak moments.

I have done fairly well on my new goals since I last wrote (for a complete list of my current goals, see the “Goals” page). I have been planning daily. I haven’t always accomplished everything on my list for the day, but I’ve been more focused and productive than usual.

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I’ve remembered to record my habits about 50% of the time. I might have to create a paper version at some point to make it more accessible. Choosing happiness, as I said, is not going very well. Much of the time I just can’t focus on it – even though I’ve surrounded myself with reminders. It seems like a chore, it’s not exciting (even though it should be), and when I’m already grumpy it’s too hard to pull myself out of it.

Advice? I know there aren’t too many of you reading this out there yet . . . but if you stumble across it – please share your ideas. I read so many positive articles and blogs. I have an insanely large library of books on topics like meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, recovery, yoga, self-help, writing, and spirituality (for a list of some of my favorites, see the “Reading List”). I feel like I have all the tools within my reach. I just can’t get myself there. I can’t take it to the next level. I’m all talk, no walk.

How does that change happen? I want to be in charge of my own life – my thoughts, my actions, my feelings. Somebody slap me in the face! Wake me up! Please!

Revise and Regroup

Happy Friday to everyone! It has been another long week for me – but look, I’m making time now, aren’t I? So it can’t have been so bad.

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I have done my best to reflect on the themes I mentioned in Monday’s post and have come up with a somewhat unfinished, very simple plan. This is not to say that I am going to give up all the goals I was currently working on. That is certainly not the case. However, I am only going to focus on three very simple goals, on a daily basis (at least for now):

  1. Planning (utilize Franklin-Covey planner throughout day, coordinate paper planning with work-related Outlook planning)
  2. Choose Happiness (most recently inspired by this post on The Change Blog)
  3. Record Habits (using Habit Judo)

I am starting the above 3 goals TODAY. Expect to see revisions to the “Goals” page, as well as some new additions to the “Reading List” very soon.

The purpose of this change is to simplify and start with the basics. Of course I am going to continue on my journey of quitting wake-up caffeine, quitting smoking, eating healthy (although I do not think we will renew our CSA membership as it was just too much food for us to handle on top of the OAMM cooking), and blogging. I certainly will not just be giving up on those goals which I am making progress in. I just want to eliminate some of the pressure, and minimalize the flurry of thoughts in my head on a daily basis.

“Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy soul – for the soul is dyed by thy thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

In the meantime, there are some loose ends I would like to close up in this post – items I’ve been meaning to mention, discuss, and follow up on. I apologize for the scattered effect that will have – but I promise to be more organized and concise from now on. Smile

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First of all, I wanted to mention some of the new strategies I have employed for keeping my goals and mission statement in the forefront of my thoughts. I have added a “sticky note” to my homepage with my mission statement and current goals/daily tasks (the 3 mentioned above ONLY). I have also added a 3×5 bookmark (I prefer a version that Levenger makes, which has a little slit at the top of the 3×5 card so that you can attach it to another piece of paper like a bookmark) to my planner that I move from day to day which has my current goals/daily tasks on the front, and my mission statement on the back. Now that I am keeping my planner open at my desk at work and on my counter at home, and considering I have my homepage open at work almost all day long, this keeps my simple goals and purpose in my thoughts all day long and because I have kept them so minimal, they aren’t too much to overwhelm me.

In addition, I never really summarized my progress during my week off. There isn’t a whole lot to report. I did a lot of relaxing, some of which was mindless. I also got a good amount of tasks accomplished, such as organizing my bathroom shelves, some of which had been on my list for months. I did not make a lot of goal progress that week – but I did do more self-care than usual and was getting in a great groove of waking up early, before the time changed.

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One of the resources I utilized during that time, was the free version of the Lefkoe method. I had clicked through a link on Steve Pavlina’s site and, while my first impression was that it appeared a little cheesy, I actually did glean some value from it. I chose to eliminate the belief “I’m not good enough.” It’s hard for me to tell if it has been fully successful or not (I think mostly because of my skepticism in general), but it was an insightful and liberating process. I would recommend trying it.

Lastly, as I mentioned last week, I have undergone a major research project with regards to my pursuit of meaningful income. At some point, there will be a long, extensive post on the subject – or possible a free e-book! However, due to the incredibly large number of wonderful resources I have found, it might be a while before I feel organized enough to gather it into one place. For now, you will notice my occasional adding of new sites to the blogroll and “Reading List” that you can check out on your own, if interested.

Have a great weekend everyone! I plan to tackle my taxes . . .

Too Many Goals?

Wow. What a crazy couple of weeks I’ve had. As you can imagine, because I was so busy, I did not accomplish as much as I wanted. However, I’m beginning to realize that no matter how much I accomplish in a week – it will never be enough. I will always wish I could have done more. This goes back to one of the themes in my last post, about using my free time lazily instead of productively. For some reason, when I have a spare moment/hour/day, the thing that seems most appealing to me is sitting in my pajamas and playing The Sims 3 for hours on end (often while smoking marijuana). When I get busy again, all I can think about are the things “I wish” I had time for – like this blog, various research, meditation, yoga – the list goes on and on. This is going to be a major part of my reflection today.

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First let’s do a quick recap on my goals (for a complete list of my current goals, see my “Goals” page). Not smoking is going great. I’ve been utilizing my patches and controlling my cravings quite effectively. I have not been perfect, however. My husband and I have cheated on a couple of outings with friends (where, of course, drinking was involved). But I have to say, I have never been the kind of person who could just smoke occasionally and then stop. If I bum a cigarette from someone, chances have always been that I will buy my own pack within the hour. The fact that I have been able to have one or two here and there and still stay away from purchasing a pack of my own is excellent. I am more than happy with that compromise. Admittedly, one evening my husband did come home with a pack and we smoked it together over a couple of days and then continued to restrain ourselves. While I would love to say today is 19 days without any cigarettes, I still consider my efforts a success in this area.

Self-care is not going great. My skin is looking pretty good but as a result I have been less motivated to wash my face at night or brush my teeth. I have still not practiced getting up to an alarm and with the time change my great new waking up habits have disappeared. I am starting to think I should just move this goal to the “upcoming goals” section considering my current lack of intention. I still have the desire to rise early, but the underlying goal is really productivity. I feel so disorganized that I am finding motivation to be very difficult to come by. I haven’t been doing so well with drinking water either, but my work just installed a new water cooler that should help facilitate that process. As I will be at work much more often in the coming months, it seems even more likely that this will make a difference.

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Obviously I haven’t been keeping up on my blog posts and, even though my freezer still has plenty of food in it from February’s OAMM menu, I’ve been really bad about eating out lately. I still feel thinner than I’ve felt in a long time, so that’s great. However, I would like to be able to say the same about my health and energy . . . So, I see all these things I just listed and my instinct is to feel like a failure. Blog post after blog post I have to fess up that I am not accomplishing these things that I supposedly want to accomplish (keep in mind that I warned you this might happen)! What is my problem?!? On the other hand, I made a promise to be gentle on myself and focus on the good things. That is possible to do – I mean I’ve almost completely quit smoking! That is a major feat! This is also the first week I missed a blog post all year so I’ve really been doing great if you put it in perspective.

I did choose a habit tracker that I liked while on vacation: Habit Judo. It isn’t the prettiest habit tracker out there, but I really like the way it incorporates a point system to reward yourself and unlock new habits. I was going to start using it on 3/9 with the initial habits of: Record Habits, Check Planner, and 4+ Glasses of Water or Tea per Day. I know you can sense the “but” coming here – I never started. The no wake-up caffeine goal is going somewhat well. I have not bought coffee or made it in the house in weeks. Unfortunately, last week I think I stopped for coffee on my way to work every day. Part of my excuse for that is breakfast – I need to keep breakfast in the house so I don’t have an excuse to stop on my way to work.

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I am having a little mini-revelation as I write what was supposed to be a “quick recap” of my goals: There is too much on my plate! While on my “Goals” page, it appears at first glance that I am only taking on 3 goals right now, that is obviously not the case. If I look at the progress I summarized above I can see all of the following goals represented:

  • Quit Smoking
  • Self-Care (wash face & brush teeth at night)
  • Drink More Water & Tea (4+ glasses/day)
  • Blog (at least once/week)
  • Eat at Home/Seasonal/Healthy (including OAMM meals)
  • Use a Habit Tracker
  • Take Time to Plan Each Day (using Franklin-Covey planner)
  • Quit Wake-Up Caffeine/Daily Coffee
  • Practice the Alarm/Wake Up at 6am

That’s a lot! Some of these are not even mentioned on the “Goals” page, nor do they have devoted blog posts associated with them. Many of them are things that I mentioned in a post somewhere along the line and then kept up on my weekly progress from that point on. This is not even considering my December goals which have pretty much become habit and all my desired upcoming goals! I think I need to regroup. Although all that reminds me of is the fact that I am constantly planning all these things I am going to do and never actually following through. Hmph.

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I really wanted to write a post today on the theme of work and jobs. I had an incredibly busy work week at a job that brings me little to no satisfaction or pleasure. It is only going to get worse as this is my last 4-day week before my coworker goes on maternity leave and I have to take on a 5th work day and basically do two jobs for the next few months. I very strongly believe in the concept of doing what you love and have always wanted to find a way to make this work in my life. My plan today, after recapping, was to go back through some of my research on the subject and then write about it here, possibly creating a plan to move in that direction. Instead I think I will spend a little bit of time recapping/revising my goals and planning for the upcoming week. Then I will go back through my research and perhaps post an additional blog this evening or later this week.

It feels great to catch up and get a post out into the world. Not sure how many of you are listening/reading out there – but I would love to hear about any goals, obstacles, or suggestions any of you out there in the blog-o-sphere might have. There is always strength in numbers!

Ahhh!

I am alive and I have so much to say – but this week has been INSANE going back to work. I’ve barely had time to breathe. Just know that I haven’t forgotten about you and there will be plenty to come in the future. xoxo.

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