You Have To Play to Win! (Not a Lottery Ad)

There have been a lot of moments lately where I’ve felt like giving up something that I was previously excited about. You may relate- this is fairly common:

Step 1: You think up a great idea for a project, or for some new undertaking- a lifestyle change, a new diet, a new job, a new attitude.

Step 2: You begin this challenge with gusto and verve, ready to go.

Step 3: Progress is fast and furious- you’ve really got something going. What a good idea you have! Go you!

Step 4: Progress halts. Movement is tough. Are you moving backwards?

Step 5: Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe you aren’t the one for the job.

Possibly distraction moves in. Another task takes the place of this new creation. Scrolling Instagram for hours seems like a great idea. Netflix calls loudly. Procrastination ensues, followed by giving up.

BUT: if you quit the game before you’ve played, can you win?

Last month I decided to create a bunch of Budget Planners. I began to sell these budget planners on Amazon, and none really sold. I immediately got discouraged, and stopped making planners entirely for a short while- leaving my project half completed.

Facebook feeds were scrolled. A lot of email got deleted. But then, in a sudden burst of clarity, it became apparent to me that I had to play to win. And I hadn’t really played- I had only started. Even if my books aren’t successful, the steps to playing are clear: continue even when a downward dip sets in. Making the creation that does well isn’t the end game. Putting more out there is the end game. Continuing is the end game. Growing is the end game. And that’s the trick that keeps me playing. If my books do well, great. If not, back in the game. Even if they do well- back in the game. The game continues on. There are many more projects/creations/jobs/mentalities/habits/endeavors/people to play with. And there are many more downward dips ahead- but that’s normal. There are also uphill catapults!

Don’t stop!

 

bloggamelifeboard

Advertisements

The 2 Minute Swim (or How I Learned to Run)

Sometimes I like to brag that I’ve run a half marathon.

This is only half true. I haven’t run a “real one”- one that was timed and had a medal and a finish line and all of that exciting gold stuff, but I’ve run a half marathon on a treadmill. I took pictures of my mileage. As evidence. Okay, maybe that’s not even impressive at all. Whatever. But I did it.

So I can run. I run a lot, sometimes 4-5 times a week, with 30 minutes of running being my bare minimum for a workout with running.

I really like running, actually.

However, during my first running workout- excluding gym class in grade school- I didn’t even run for THREE MINUTES. I’d never run as a workout before because I didn’t really do any kind of workout before. I thought exercise was against the nature of my body. This really meant that I gave up on my running career before it started in order to pursue my fated path of couch potato extraordinaire. Alas, it was not to be.

The first time I whimsically decided to work out, I told myself I would only run for two minutes…and I barely made it! When I got to one minute and 30 seconds, I almost had to stop. But I kept going, and made it to two minutes, and then turned off the treadmill and walked away. For the next few days, I did the same thing: two minutes of running and then walking away. After that, I upped my challenge to three minutes for a week or so, and then to 5!

Suddenly, I was running for 5 minutes straight, and then 10! It probably took me a few months to get to 30 steady minutes of running, but everything came from that first 2 minute run! My success really boiled down to allowing myself to change only 2 minutes of my life.

When I jumped in a pool last month at an Orlando hotel, I tried to swim a bunch of laps, and quickly got exhausted after maybe a quarter of one. I haven’t really tried to swim in years. Actually, I’ve never really swam laps- maybe once. I don’t really know how to swim, for that matter.

And as I took a choking, water-tinged breath in the Olympic sized pool, a vision of my first 2 minute run from long ago popped into my head. I allowed myself some mercy. “Just 2 minutes of laps today!” was my mantra, as I swam a wholehearted 6 feet or so and then gasped for air. But I went back under and swam my 2 minutes- and then another 2, and then another. I don’t know if you’d really call my swimming “laps” or “skilled” for that matter. But there was movement.

And sometimes a little movement is all you need.

Have We Become the Slash Generation to Compensate for an Economy that’s Failing Us?

Jane wrote an article about the Slash Generation over a year ago- Are We the Slash Generation?– and it’s one of our most read articles. Why? Well, beside’s Jane’s captivating writing skills, I’m convinced this interest in the slash generation prevails because the slash generation is ubiquitous and is already bleeding into future generations.

What is the slash generation? It’s a generation of 20 and 30 somethings that have multiple jobs and even multiple full time careers. For example: Actor/Yoga Teacher/Nutritionist/Graphic Designer, or DJ/Cafe Owner/Artist/programmer. We all have hobbies, such as occasional running or painting, but the slash generation has multiple JOBS. I’m a prime example of slash generation- my job title is presenter/product specialist/ demonstrator/ marketer/ writer/ actor/ director/ producer. I’m probably forgetting something.

Why is the slash generation on the rise? Well, the economic landscape is changing for millennials in their twenties and thirties- and the changes are affecting younger and older generations as well. Jobs that include pensions are now few and far between and companies don’t necessarily encourage employees to stick around. Changing jobs has become as frequent as changing your socks.

And there are good reasons to change jobs: minimum wage salaries don’t nearly keep up with inflation, most employers don’t reward you for sticking around, benefits are few and far between. So instead of sticking with one company, millennials are going wide and both starting their own companies and working with multiple employers on both a freelance and employee basis. Honestly, we sometimes need to do all these things to pay our bills.

The slash generation is a double edged sword: it can be very helpful to have multiple jobs and skills and to ‘go wide’ so that you have security if certain jobs don’t work out. But the slash generation is also sign of unfair economic times in America- where you can work very hard within companies and still not see anywhere near the kind of money you deserve. This is an era where companies can have spectacular financial success with their employees barely seeing a dime of that growth.

main-qimg-ba5a7ef58048dc15896af4ae1b99e72f

In America, there has been a 72.2% rise in productivity since 1973 and only an 8.7% rise in pay rate

 

 

A Beautiful Frustum In Your Thirties

Seth Godin, one of my favorite business bloggers, recently wrote a blog about pyramids without a top. In geometry, these types of shapes are called frustums.

We spend our career lives trying to get to the top of our pyramid- we want to be the career elite, the famous, the special, the 1%. And why not? Fantastic career success is a big and beautiful possibility.

However, with the advent of the digital age, more and more of us will find it easier than ever to get our work out there in some form, but harder and harder to gain the fame and well-known 1% type of success (because everyone else is getting their work out too). For example, it’s easier than ever for anyone to publish a book all by themselves, but now there are more books available than ever before. Instead of waiting to get a book published, you can publish your book and sell it on Amazon or multiple other internet sources completely free. You can do the same with music and web tv (webisodes)- you can quickly and easily get your music or webseries online and direct to users all by yourself and for almost no cost.

Will you be the next Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? The next Stephen King or Tina Fey? Maybe. Maybe not. But can you be a success and make good money and have a powerful, impactful, positive life without being a headliner like the above names? Absolutely.

The hard part isn’t in being in a frustum of an industry- where there’s no real peak, just more and more opportunity for entry- the hard part is in accepting the frustum and knowing you can still make a great life. There’s lots of room in frustums for lots of people to be successes- it’s just a different kind of success.

Even when you’re not well-known or at what you think is the peak of your career pyramid, you can still be a pretty damn good school teacher or time-share seller or yoga instructor or animal shelter manager. You can write amazingly good books or make insanely gorgeous music and get it all out into the world easier than ever because the base of the frustum is wider than ever. If you can accept this shapeshifted new world change, you may just realize that you’re more successful (and happier) than you ever dreamed you could be.

Pentagonal_frustum.png

Budgeting in Your 30’s When You Hate Budgeting

For all the writing I do about finance and money goals, I really hate to budget. I just can’t stand it.

Perhaps this is because I’m already a big saver, so when I want something, I usually REALLY want it, and not much is going to stand in my way. I hate not listening to my own written budget, but I wouldn’t listen if I really wanted something badly, so I feel like I’d probably go over budget lot of the time, and then I’d kick myself. Ok, so this is actually a self-control issue. :/

I walked around forever with budget hatred burning a hole in the pit of my stomach until recently, when I read an article and realized I’d been kind of following an unofficial budget strategy all along. I googled the info in that article and came upon even more articles that outlined alternative budgeting strategies. Turns out, I naturally follow a common budget strategy called the 80/20 budget, though my version is actually a 70/30 budget.

The 80/20 budget is basically the simplest and least detailed way to budget ever. And I love it, because the details of budgeting make me nuts. Here’s how it works: when you get a paycheck, 20 percent goes to savings. The rest is fair game to divide between needs and wants. That’s it.

This is kind of amazing if you’re never sure how much you’re going to spend in any given month- no matter what, you’ll still be saving. I do a 70/30 budget, or actually a 70/10/10/10 budget, which is only slightly different than the 80/20. The way it works is:

  1. I get a paycheck
  2. I put 10 percent in my retirement account immediately
  3. I put 10 percent in my savings account immediately
  4. I put 10 percent towards my student loan immediately (this is always in addition to the minimum monthly fee I pay)
  5. Then the other 70 percent is divided as best I can among EVERYTHING else without making a budget.
  6. Within the 70 percent, my NEEDS include: Rent, utilities, and student loan minimums (definite needs), as well as food, metrocards (transit), laundry money, and toiletries.
  7. Also within the 70 percent are WANTS including: eating out and or/drinking with friends, food and coffee and green juice splurges, new shoes or clothes, tickets to theater, subscriptions to Spotify and Hulu.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s probably best to actually budget everything out little by little with a food budget, a clothing budget, and an eating out with friends budget. But I’ve never done this, and I don’t know if I’d stick to it if I did. So I think it’s better to at least have SOME sort of budget! And with the 80/20 (or 70/30, or even 60/40) budget, you’re at least still saving. If you don’t have students loans, I’d recommend putting at least 10-15 percent of your paycheck immediately into your retirement account, and then 10-15 percent immediately into a savings account.

What’s funny about taking a certain percentage out of your paycheck right away and paying down a debt and/or putting it into savings is how little you notice that the money is gone. It’s a strange phenomenon! Try it if you don’t believe me. Take 10 percent out of your paycheck immediately each month and put it into savings…you probably won’t even miss it! And if you do, you can always take it back. I wouldn’t recommend it…but the whole point is that your savings account belongs to you! 🙂

83605628

Meditating Doesn’t Last- So What the Heck’s the Point?

I’ve been really into meditating every day in the morning, before anything has had the chance to distract me. It’s been a good habit, because if I didn’t make it a habit, I wouldn’t always want to do it.

You see, I realized something interesting about the practice of meditation.

Sometimes meditating feels great and strengthens me and makes me feel positive. Other times I feel distracted and jittery and distant. Sometimes I start out really into meditating and then get distracted by to-do list thoughts. And other times I start out with distracting thoughts and slip into a very peaceful state. Occasionally it’s a back and forth.

On the days that meditation feels good the whole time, or at least by the end, there’s never a guarantee that the next day’s practice will feel as good. There’s also not a guarantee that the meditation energy will “hold” and that I’ll continue to feel good the next day without meditating again.

In this way, I feel like meditating is extremely comparable to brushing your teeth or showering. You need to make a habit out of it. It doesn’t bring goodness that lasts and lasts without its own continuation. Showering once is great for the day- and it’s better to shower only a few times a week than not at all (though I’d still go with once a day). But it’s way better to shower every day or sometimes twice a day. Same with brushing your teeth- after brushing, you feel all minty and fresh. But your teeth get dirty again, and you need to be in the habit of removing the dirt.

I think sometimes when I get down and feel like meditating doesn’t work, I forget the simple fact that it’s more of a habit than a one time thing. You’ve gotta keep removing the dirt. Brushing your teeth regularly prevents tooth decay. Meditating regularly prevents soul decay- or more accurately, it enables soul growth. If I make it a part of my life, my life grows.

Female yoga silhouette with the lotus flower

 

The Paradox of the Unpacked Box in Your Thirties

I’ve been thinking a lot about boxes lately. This is probably because I just moved.

There are boxes all over my new apartment, most of them still neatly taped up. I’ve been beyond exhausted this month, as I talked all about in my last post, Is The Saturn Return In your Thirties A Real Thing?  So, the last thing I’ve wanted to do is unpack. image

This is unlike me, as I usually like to get things done fast, and all at once. But it seems I used the last of my energy to get the boxes packed, and now I can only stare at them listlessly and hope for them to magically put themselves away.

image

Alas, it’s been four days in the new place, and nothing has put itself away yet. So today I decided to crack open a bunch of boxes.

And everything got a lot more messy.

The nice stack of boxes all sealed and piled up was so much neater than the messy pile of clothes and nonsense that I pulled out and didn’t know where to put.

image

And for awhile I just wanted to put it all back into the boxes again and seal them up. Or I wanted to jump to the end and have everything all be done.

The hardest part is being in the middle of the unpacking process (still there now), where I have to make things more chaotic in order to progress.

Tonight, I was talking to a friend about how if you’re feeling sad or upset, you need to feel your feelings and express them in order to grow and move on from them. And to move through them. Fake positivity all the time just leaves you in a state of stagnation and  annoys all your Facebook friends.

Then I thought about the boxes, and how in your thirties, all you want is to feel like you’re on top of things and like you have things figured out. You want things to be neat and squared away. Boxed away, perhaps? But the real truth is that in order to get things squared away for real, you have to get messy and uncomfortable. It’s not going to feel good and is not going to look good when you take things out and they get everywhere for awhile. And maybe people will judge you when you’re in the middle of that. But screw those people. You have to unpack the neat boxes, get messy, and see what’s inside.

image

It’ll likely look like chaos and maybe feel even worse, but only then can you begin to put it away.

And move beyond it.

What are some of the boxes in your life?

image

Am I Any Closer to Self-Acceptance Yet?

Jane recently wrote two posts on Self-Acceptance: Radical Self-Acceptance and The Paradox of Self-Acceptance. In her latter post she asked a question that I ask myself almost every day:

“How do we completely accept who we are, but also self-improve?”

I’ve grappled a lot with the idea of dualities: two ideas that seem conflicting, but actually go together. In the road leading up to my thirties, I’ve desperately wanted to accept myself right now while still working on a better version of myself. This feels really hard to do without beating myself up for not yet being the person I’m working towards being.

Meditation, as Jane also mentioned in her last post, is definitely helpful. In fact, I believe that’s the main point of meditation- to get yourself into the now and accept yourself now, even while knowing that there is no choice but to grow and evolve. A lot of this is talked about in my favorite meditation podcast, Learn To Meditate, from the Mediation Society of Australia (but I will also try Headspace. Thanks, Jane!)

How to self-accept yourself completely in the now but still change at the same time is one of those questions where the answer has always felt like a slip and slide; However, this year I found a great way to look at it which always brings me back to center:

Think about a tiny oak tree seed that will one day grow into a giant oak tree. The potential for a giant oak tree is always inside the small seed, but the seed hasn’t yet grown up into what it will be. Do we hate the seed for not yet being an oak tree? Do we beat it up? Do we say “why aren’t you a giant oak tree yet??” Of course not.

For the tiny seed to become a giant oak tree, time is always involved- plus water and soil and care. That’s the way it is and the way it has to be. There is no rushing it. There is only caring for it. All we can do is love and accept the seed for being what it is and let time, nurturing and growth take their course.

You can still accept yourself and know that you’re a small seed growing into a giant oak tree.

At the same time that you love the small seed that you are, give yourself the nurturing energy, patience, and love needed to grow into the giant oak tree that’s been living inside you the whole time. Your best self is already there!

 

historic-angel-oak-tree

Did You Get an “Hour” with People you Care About Today?

As you might have learned from this blog, I love learning about ways to life-hack. Specifically, facts and numbers about how to make my life better. As you can probably guess, I’m subscribed to way too many blogs/newsletters/fan pages of self-help/life-coach gurus and thinkers. I recently got an email with a link to an article by Deepak Chopra titled “Social Media and Your Personal Growth.” The article is worth a read; it’s basically about how to form more meaningful and deep connections when using social media. I was particularly interested in this:

“Psychologists point out that being connected in a positive way for at least one hour a day with people you care about is one key to happiness.”

Do you normally get your hour of this time? I have recently. Today I did, at least. I had a great phone conversation and I felt happy and connected. This “hour” doesn’t have to be in person – you can spend your hour on the phone, or engaged in a video chat, or perhaps just even gchatting online.

It’s fascinating to me that we’re constantly told by doctors and the media that we should exercise a certain amount each day, and eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day…But no one talks about setting an exact parameter about social connectivity. So I’d like to propose – get your hour with a close friend(s) a day!

images

%d bloggers like this: