Focusing on Good Habits that Transform Your Daily Life Ever since I left the teaching world, I’ve lost a bit of structure. That’s partially why I left as I wanted flexibility in my life. However, I’m a pretty type A person most of the time, …
Why it’s okay to not always have a plan
Remember in school, classrooms would have a poster that said something like, “If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail” (Benjamin Franklin). I used to think that poster was so true. People who did not plan ahead in their lives were going to fail. In college I even used to think it was CRAZY that people were undeclared majors.
“How could they not know what they want to do in life?”
However, now that I’m 28 and in the “real world”, I absolutely despise that quote. The quote is almost set up to make people believe at a very young age, that life must be planned out. It is a very unrealistic.
I remember once when I was about 14 hanging out with one of my friends in my backyard talking about how in 10 years each of us will be married with kids. It’s almost sickening for me to think about now. I had the mindset that at 24 I should be married. Then at 25 or 26 I should start having kids like life would be some SIM game. Ta-da! Here’s your husband and perfectly timed kids, with everything else lined up just right in life. Back then I was SUCH a planner. For crying out loud, I even had my braces colors chosen out for each month and written down on paper!
Fast forward to today. I’m 28 and want totally different things out of life. I’m not in this dream spot of my life, in the dream home, financially where I want to be, doing elaborate things…yet. Essentially this is not what I would have envisioned 28 looking like back when I was just 14 years old. Society put ideas in our minds at a young age that we need to be married, have kids, and have our lives figured out basically in our 20s.
Well I’m here to tell you that it does NOT have to go that way. YOU are in charge of YOUR life. Am I where I want to be at 28? No, but that’s okay. I’m not a failure because I did not plan my entire future out 10 years ago.
With social media, it has gotten so easy to compare ourselves to others and their lives. We often assume that we are unsuccessful, unloved, or not worthy just because we haven’t hit major milestones at a certain age. What should have more emphasis is ACTION. Are you growing? Are you progressing? Are you working toward your “big why” in life? You see, people can plan and plan and plan all
day, but plans will mean nothing if action is not taken. In fact, planning too much can lead to let downs. If you plan out your entire future life, you are likely to see that life does not always stick to the plan. You can probably ask anyone who is middle-aged, “Are you where you thought you would be back when you were in your 20s?” I am willing to bet that majority of them will say “no”. Does that make them failures? No! Life is going to happen. You may not like the original career path you chose. Perhaps it’s time for you to move across the country. Maybe you found that you want to spend time focusing on yourself. Either way, change is inevitable. Yet, our schools have these awful, pressuring posters that make us believe that we will be failures if we don’t have everything planned out.
So am I just totally trashing the idea of planning? Not quite. I’d say I’m a pretty Type-A person. I love planners, post it notes, to-do lists, you name it. However, it is important to plan carefully. Don’t plan the next five years of your life as that could lead to disappointment. Plus, it is highly likely that what you want out of life will change, especially in your 20s.
Instead, plan your day out to reduce down time or procrastination. Plan out how you are going to get the project for work done by the deadline. Plan a daily routine for yourself to have a more productive, positive day. Create a budget plan to monitor your expenses and income. Plan and prep your meals for the week. Start a workout regimen to get in shape. See, there are plenty of ways to plan effectively in order to help you achieve without planning your entire life.
Overcoming your fears and doubts through courage to find ultimate happiness
Have you seen the movie “We Bought a Zoo” with Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson? If you haven’t, stop reading this post. Rent it or you know what, just go ahead and buy it because it’s a great one for sure! After you are done watching it, then come back to read this post! Otherwise, I’m going to give some parts away.
The first scene below Matt Damon’s character tells his son about the idea of 2o seconds of courage. He basically says that being courageous may be embarrassing, but that it’s worth it. Later on in the movie, he reenacts the moment he first met their mother who has since passed away. What if he didn’t take that leap of faith to talk to her? He couldn’t just pass by and always wonder “what if I would have said something to her?”. So he made an insane decision to give it a try. Check out for yourself in the second clip to see what happens because of those 20 seconds of courage.
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.”
Alright, go get a tissue to dry your eyes and continue reading! 🙂
It’s probably the one single emotion that inhibits humans from pursuing what we truly desire. Maybe it’s that new job you want to apply for, but you’re too afraid to pursue. Or maybe, you’re afraid to tell someone your utmost and heartfelt feelings.
So why? Why is fear such a difficult emotion to overcome? Facing our fears might sometimes mean that we have to give up comfort and stability. That job you are thinking about leaving provides you a consistent salary with benefits. You don’t want to be judged for failing, not to mention the effect failure can have on our ego at times. You wonder what people will think or if they will be disappointed in your decision that may seem selfish.
Maybe telling someone how you feel could lead to rejection. Or perhaps taking a leap of faith and trusting someone with your heart could lead to yet another heartbreak. That means you have to put your feelings on the chopping block with the uncertainty of the future. I mean how many times can you pick up the shattered pieces of your heart and confidence before you just can’t anymore? It’s exhausting, draining, and disheartening; I know.
What if these new ventures in life don’t workout?…
But what if they do?
I think we often focus on the negative side of the “what if?”. Did you know that there’s a positive side of “what if” too? What if in finding a new job, you are able to pursue a means of living that you are actually passionate about? That career change could even mean more financial freedom, more overall happiness in your life, or more time spent with people you value most.
What if being vulnerable with someone and taking the risk to invest your feelings leads to something spectacular? How would you have known that if you never had the courage to give that person a chance?
What if this one single person knows and understands what you’ve been through and is now helping you pick up the shattered mess of heartbreaks from the past? Maybe this person will end up being the one that you can share your life and future with.
You see, I used to be that person who was okay with staying in my comfort zone. I wouldn’t dare try something new if it meant I might possibly fail. And putting up a guard around others has been pretty easy for me. It’s a challenge to keep letting people in your life knowing that there is always the potential of them walking all over you, taking advantage of you, or just flat out disappointing you. So over time, I learned to just build up this invincible wall to protect my heart and feelings. I did not want to take any sort of risk if there was the potential of a negative “what if” becoming a reality.
However, as 2016 is dwindling down, I have started to reflect on the amount of courage I have found within myself. My resilience after some challenging moments this year has really surprised me. The Loretta from a few years ago would not have been this resilient. I would never have taken the risks (and yes, that’s plural!) that I have decided to pursue this year. Instead of settling, I have decided to take a road that is pretty foggy, has a lot of obstacles, and I definitely don’t have a map to guide me along the way.
However, this new found courage has allowed me to trust in myself. I may not know exactly where things are going in a few areas of my life, but I do know that somehow I will manage to find a way to the ultimate destination of my life.
Although I may get lost, I may take a wrong turn and have to start over, or I may trip and fall, I will still be content in knowing that I am trying. I don’t want to look back and think about the positive “what ifs” that could have come from taking risks.
You can still go into something that causes you to break out of your comfort zone with good judgement. You can still remain true to yourself all throughout these courageous risks. But until you are willing to go through the fear, then you will never truly know what is on the other side. It may be hard to imagine mustering up the courage to take the next step into the unknown. I am a living testament to the fact that it is worth it. You will learn so much about yourself and life through the journey. You will fail and you will question your decisions at times. That’s normal. Honestly, when you have faith in yourself, you know that somehow you will find a way to get there.
For once in my life, I feel like I am in my prime even though there are more unknowns in my life than there ever were before! I’m telling you, it all relates back to courage and trusting in myself.
This isn’t to say that all new, scary journeys in our life will end up just the way we envisioned, but I have come to realize that until we overcome fear, we will always be limiting ourselves. Why would we ever want to limit our potential to ultimate happiness in life just by playing it safe and settling?
All it takes is 20 seconds. 20 seconds of courage that could end up being one of the best decisions of your life.
So, why not?
6 Simple Steps to Less Stress
Just breathe. Meditate. Yoga. Exercise. These are all pretty common ways to alleviate stress in our lives. However, the other day I was driving home from work and this idea hit me.
I just went back to work after 2 months of Summer break. As teachers, we have a week of pre-planning, so this past week I had to get back into the flow. Over the Summer I truly did not miss the constant stress I feel throughout the school year.
One of those school year stressors happens to be the commute to and from work. Now, luckily I don’t have it too bad as I go against traffic for the most part and only have a 20-30 minute drive. Could be worse, right? The drive to work is not so bad. The temperature isn’t unbearable, I’m awake (for the most part), and there aren’t as many cars with angry, tired people.
On the way home, however, is a whole other story. My black car has been sitting in the direct sunlight for 8+ hours and I leave work at rush hour (between 4:30-5PM), so driving is a bit uncomfortable. Everyone, including myself, is ready to get home. If those drivers feel anything like me they are on the verge of turning their steering wheels into a pillow. Due to this fact, I think it just turns everyone into the moodier and angrier version of themselves. Plus, everyone seems more distracted and worse at driving. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been cut off, almost side scrapped because somewhat swerved into my line, or had to slam on my brakes because people didn’t yield properly.
I’ll be honest. My worst emotion can sometimes be my anger. I rarely show my anger, but when I’m angry I’m almost ready to fight and get very defensive. I know, I know…it seems odd coming from little ole’ 5 foot, nothing Loretta. My road rage in the past used to be terrible (for me at least). I wouldn’t do anything too crazy, but I just let people impact my mood and became easily frustrated. So when I was driving home the other day I was listening to music you wouldn’t expect to listen to in the car and I was realizing how much it calmed me even with all the stress, frustration, and exhaustion. That’s when the idea hit me…
There’s so many simple steps we can take to remove little bits of stress in our lives that eventually overwhelm us.
Listen to peaceful music
I typically listen to rap/hip hop, trap music, or rock while driving. It wakes me up, kind of pumps me up, and it’s fun at times. However, a lot of songs in those genres can be very angry or hardcore. Last year I started listening to Christmas music in the car in October (don’t judge!) and I was shocked at how my mood changed. Like, seriously, how can you be angry while singing aloud, “simply having a wonderful Christmas time”?
After the holidays I transitioned to Pandora stations like Classical for Studying, Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack, Frank Sinatra, and even Calm Meditation. At the end of a long, tiring day these calm and peaceful tunes prevent me from overacting to something minor. Even in my classroom, when I don’t have students, I’m listening to one of those stations.
Give this a try. Notice your mindset change. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever listen to the fun and upbeat music. However, I save those for less stressful drives, my workouts, quick drives, or for home.
Nature sounds app
This goes along with listening to peaceful music, but more so for when you are going to bed. I used to be the person who liked to have the TV on (usually Family Guy or American Dad). I would set a timer and fall asleep in between watching TV. If you didn’t already know, it’s not a good idea to do that as it affects your sleeping. So if you are someone who likes to have background noise while you fall asleep, you should try a nature sounds app. I have the free app called Rain, Rain. There are plenty out there, but I really like this one because of the variety. You can mix three sounds like: thunder, rain on a window, and wind. There’s even non-nature sounds like: dryer, sink, clock ticking, and more.
Other than water, I primarily drink hot tea without any added sugar. After a long, stress filled day, it’s great to unwind with a hot cup of Chamomile tea. There are certain herbs and teas that are ideal for relaxing at the end of the day. There’s non-caffeinated green tea, peppermint tea, and blends of herbs for specific night time teas. For example, Celestial Seasonings makes a Sleepytime Herbal Tea that is caffeine free. You could even make a hot cup of tea part of your nightly routine. This would start to turn your mind and body into off mode; just make sure it’s caffeine free!
My favorite times of the day are around 6AM and 7-9PM. The air usually feels the thinnest and the world is calm at those points. When I take my dogs out, sometimes I’ll just spend a few extra minutes standing outside. I’ll admire the sky- the beautiful sunset or the bright stars. It’s very humbling to look up at the sky and realize how you are just one spec of this great, big world. Just realizing that helps me forget about my stress a bit. The things I am stressing about are minuscule when I look at the big picture.
Nature is just amazing, serene, and healing all on it’s own. If you are really stressed, I encourage you take a little weekend or day trip. Try going hiking, walk around at your local park, or go camping. Every Fall my sister and I go to Dahlonega, GA to stay in a cute little cabin in the mountains. Sometimes you just have to get away from the complexities of life and enjoy the simple things we take for granted like the trees, leaves, grass, and the sky.
Pet your pet(s)
When I was at West Georgia, they would sometimes bring dogs from the shelter right before finals. This was to help students de-stress during a stressful finals week. Petting animals has even been considered therapeutic. I love coming home to my pets and loving on them. There have been times that I was really heartbroken or crying and I knew my pets sensed it. They would calmly come over to me to cuddle or keep me company. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced that either. Animals are very intuitive.
If you don’t have any pets, you’re missing out! You could solve that by adopting an animal from your local shelter or rescue group. Don’t want the responsibility of pets? You could also volunteer at a shelter so that you can still interact with them.
Turn off the drama
Half the time I don’t know what’s going on in this world when it comes to the news. The only way I truly know about “hot topics” is because I see trending topics on social media or by word of mouth. I almost never watch the news anymore. The only time I involuntarily see the news is on the gym TVs. I know that might sound ignorant, but come on…we all know what’s happening in this world. We all know how the news stations love to report all the drama. Yes, people are dying, people are crazy, and there’s another mass bombing. Instead of focusing on all that bad stuff, just focus on making YOU a better person. Focus on helping others and this world to become a better place instead of watching it fall to shambles.
It’s also a good idea to stop following anyone who might be indirectly adding stress to your life. For example, if someone online keeps posting negative comments I’ll either delete them or hide their posts. I stopped following a lot of shallow, dramatic, self-absorbed celebrities because I noticed it was frustrating me. I used to watch shows like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Teen Mom” religiously. Even though I’ll watch them once in a blue moon, I can’t watch it on a regular basis. I’d rather watch fitness or motivational YouTubers who promote a positive and healthy lifestyle.
Find ways to disconnect from those little things that stress you out or cause you to react in a certain way. Stress from the news or celebrities is totally unnecessary, so why not cut it out?
These are just 6 ways that help me when I’m stressed out and they may not work for everyone. However, if you are a highly stressed person, I encourage you to try these out. What’s there to lose? (besides stress of course!)
What do you do to alleviate stress? Comment below!
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