Progress, not Perfection

The_Equalizer_posterA little while back, I saw the movie “The Equalizer” with my boyfriend Denzel Washington. I went to support my boo, who was obviously spectacular. Actually, there was a scene in the movie when I legitimately squealed and jumped out of my seat out of excitement I couldn’t contain from him looking like such a badass.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.

But more importantly, there’s a nice theme that his character embraces. The idea is essentially “Progress, not perfection.” I’ve written about this idea before , but with New Years around the corner, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.

Every day with ever decision you make- big and small- you change the outcome of your future. Sometimes these are obvious and big changes. Other times they’re tiny tweaks. But they’re all important. And they all make a difference in who you will grow into. It’s ok to make mistakes. And it’s ok to not be perfect in a day. And, this is especially something I need to remind myself, it’s ok if you don’t get to everything you had on the docket for that day.

The most important part is that you are being proactive about your choices. You are actively wanting to be better. You’re allowed to falter. You’re human. It’d be ridiculous to hold yourself to perfection constantly (only my boyfriend Denzie can do that).  But if you at least recognize when you’ve made a mistake or when you’re engaging in a habit or choice that makes you feel bad or doesn’t serve who you want to become… that’s half the battle. Because when you’re self-aware and want to improve, you will slowly but surely take steps to make those improvements.

This concept is important for me especially to embrace. I put way too much on my plate and am pretty consistent about letting some balls fall in order to juggle an unreasonable amount. And I get mad at myself for not being able to do everything I want to do. But I need to recognize that the only thing I can control is my own attitude and staying true to myself. If I’m working on improving at least one element of my life every day- even if it’s a small improvement- over time, that will add up and make a big difference.

It takes years of slow pressure and tiny changes in order to create a diamond. So be patient with yourself and others.

I am remind myself of this every time my baby Denzel and I go diamond shopping.*

*I am not actually dating Denzel Washington. I know this is shocking to you. The rest of the article is extremely honest, but I may be slightly over-exaggerating my relationship with the major star. But look at him… can you blame me?

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Productivity Princess

princessI wrote this article for Ms. In the Biz about being more productive.

6 Tips to Better Productivity

Read it. Learn from it. Talk to me about it.

Or don’t. It’s up to you.

3 Reasons You Should Do Your New Years Resolution NOW!

Everyone is gearing up for totally transforming themselves in the New Year. But as a person who loves to transform and work on goals and challenges year-round (and takes the New Year as a time for major shifts and personal assessments), here are my three reasons for starting your resolution ASAP.

1. It will help you exercise control yourself during the holidays

If you’re looking to lose weight or tone up (which most people at least have on their list), many people do huge amounts of health damage over the holidays. I’m a firm believer in balance and moderation in all things- no big deal if you have a crazy night or splurge in anyway- but you can often put yourself at a distinct disadvantage when you start off the New Year if you’re not careful.

As a runner, I know that I do myself more harm to my overall pace by going really slowly uphills than I can make up for by speeding down hills.

If you start a goal now and allow yourself only the occassional splurge, then the next six weeks don’t become one big calorie-gorging fest.

Plus, if you’re looking to become more comfortable at the gym, the New Year is a terrible time to do so. It’s always much more crowded than usual with people who are trying to change who they are completely. Unless you’re already comfortable at the gym or wherever you go to workout, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when there are too many people. Get used to it now so you can handle it when it becomes nearly overwhelming in a couple months.

2. The New Year is arbitrary anyway

Don’t get me wrong- I love an excuse to work on personal goals. And I love that the New Year provides this arbitrary date that lots of people work on improving their lives.

But it’s just another day. It’s a delineation in time that actually means very little. You can start a goal any day of the week. Some of my most successful personal challenges happen at very arbitrary times. One day last November, I decided I want to start being more consistent in my journal writing. Now, almost a year later, I journal daily. I finally finished a journal I started in 2008. Five years later, I finally got consistent about it. Why? Because I just decided I wanted to start doing it. And I like the way it feels. So I’ve continued to do it.

If you want the excuse of New Year to begin something, great. But recognize that it’s a meaninless date. You can start to transform your life and make a goal into a reality anytime. And there’s no better time than right now. So just do it already won’t you?!

I still haven’t convinced you to start your resolutions yet? Fine. Here’s my last reasoning. Then I’ve got other things to do because I have begun working on some of my resolutions already so I ain’t got time for too much more of this shiz…

3. When the New Year actually comes, you can practice the most important part of attaining a goal…the ability to restart without judgement

Nobody’s perfect. And nothing worthwhile was ever attained overnight. All success stories include an element of emotional elasticity. The ability to look at what you have accomplished honestly and let it fuel you to restart after a failure.

Everyone will fail. At some point, you will not go to the gym and you’ll ruin your “Go To the Gym Daily” goal.

At some point, you’ll cheat and eat a brownie and ruin your “No Desserts for a month” goal.

At some point, you’ll call your ex-boyfriend when drunk and tell him you know all about the girl he was talking to when you two were together and that you put up with more shit than you should have and he was lucky as hell to have you as long as he did and it’s completely his fault that the relationship was ruined and how dare he de-friend you on Facebook when you were obviously the one who was wronged and the one who’s actively working on still being cordial to each other… and ruin your “Become a better person” goal.

Whew. We just got real personal there for a second.

My point is, the reason I’ve ever been successful at any goal ever is because I don’t give up after one mishap. Nor should you. Understand and embrace that fact that things can and do come up. That’s what makes life so exciting. If you could pre-plan everything in your schedule (and believe me… I’ve tried) it’d be boring and dull and predictable. Be open to the fact that you’ll slip up and make mistakes. That’s OK.

If you start your goals now, too, you’ll have a great excuse to re-assess whether or not they’re even valuable when you’ll inevitably be motivated again in the New Year.

Just some thoughts. Take ’em or leave ’em.

But before you go, tell me what you think about goals. I like hearing how others accomplish their goals. And what they went through to do so.

Routine

I’m trying to get myself on a more consistent routine. I think routines breed productivity and creativity.

They take a lot of motivation and discipline. I’m motivated and disciplined about a lot of things- but waking up early to do specific tasks isn’t one of them. At least not yet.

The only reason I haven’t really in the past is because my mind tends to work in strange stretches- at 11:30 pm I’ll suddenly get on a writing roll and stay up until 3 am without realizing what time it is. Suddenly, my supposed 6 o’clock wake up time doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

But with so much on my docket in the upcoming weeks, I’m really working on getting into that routine. It feels good. You start to feel in a groove. Within that groove, you get confidence you can and will have time to accomplish everything you need. And if you don’t accomplish everything you wanted that day, you know you’ve created time tomorrow to try again.

Anyone who knows me well knows I like schedules. I have about four to five calendars I maintain with all my different activities and goals. It doesn’t make sense to the casual observer why one person would need so many, but it has served me well over the past several years.

Plus, it’s part of my personality. I preferred the office supply store over the toy store when I was little. Binders, highlighters, calendars, oh my!

I’m going to attempt to put myself in a serious routine. Up every day at the same time, no matter what time I go to bed. Go to the gym daily at the same time. Write during certain periods of the day. Check off a specific list of small daily goals and see how they help serve me.

There’s some room for flexibility- as there always should be- but most of it is after 11 am (because who knows what the day will bring!). My mornings, though… those should be routine. Even if it’s just for this one month. And even if it’s just in the mornings. I think that little kick every day with make a big difference.

Then again, I could just turn cranky and crabby. Who knows! You never know until you try!

Anybody have any suggestions on good morning rituals?