I love HGTV. I love watching the remodels, the fixer uppers, the new home builds take shape over 30 minutes. Mostly, I am amazed by how quickly the homeowners or buyers are able to make decisions regarding paint colors, floor plans, or fixture options. And then, voilà, seven weeks later, they are in their new home and everything is beautiful… and done!
Now, I know there is more to it than can fit into a 30-minute show. I’m sure there is some hemming, hawing, tears and temper tantrums that aren’t filmed. However, it took me years just to decide what color I wanted to paint my living room walls. Finally, after 10 years of false starts with paint chips and living with just white primer, I made a decision, chose a color and painted the damn living room over a weekend. And it felt so good to be able to check that chore off of my to-do list. Was it a perfect paint job? Did I absolutely love the color? Would I have chosen that same color again? Nope, nope and nope. But, it was done. I didn’t have to walk into the living room anymore, frowning at just white primer on the walls walls and feeling guilty that I hadn't gotten the job completed. It wasn't perfect but it was done.
That’s the problem with perfectionism. It is immobilizing. A task, a story, an idea is started but then the tweaking happens. “This doesn’t sound right; I need to rewrite it.” “The elements in this design don’t seem right; I need to fix it.” “Oh heck, maybe I’ll just clean the house instead!” Folks, there is no perfect time or place. There are no perfect colors or styles. Perfectionism gives you only anxiety, avoidance, indecision and ineffectiveness. Struggling to complete a project? Fine. Stop and admit that you're struggling. Take a breath. Make a pros and cons list. Do your research. Dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” but stop tweaking and in the words of Nike, “Just do it!” If you wait for the perfect time, place, thing, person or idea, it may end up being too late. Take initiative, gamble a little, choose the paint color and finish the job. You’ll feel much better about the task and the outcome once you can check it off as completed, because, in the end, “done is better than perfect.”
I have used a day planner my entire adult life. I began using one in my first real job when I was introduced to the Franklin Planner (before Steven Covey, yes, I’m that old!) I went to the seminar, learned the tips and tools of goal setting and planning and I was hooked. At the time, I worked in a human resources department and was teaching time management. Incorporating a day planner into my life was a lifesaver and I have used some version of day planner ever since.
I found the SELF Journal on, where else, Facebook and was intrigued enough to hand over my money. I made the purchase and once I received it, promptly stored it away in the closet… and forgot about it. Poor journal. But there comes a time in life when when what you're doing just isn't working anymore and you need to pivot.
I sat one Friday night, mulling over a particularly frustrating week. I felt stagnant, health wise and mentally. Remembering my purchase from the winter, I dug the still-boxed SELF journal out of the closet and read the how-to’s. I did some soul-searching and then forced myself to actually formulate two goals with coordinating details and steps. Those details and steps are so important. They break the big goals down into small achievable steps.
I have been using my SELF Journal for a little over 2 weeks. It takes commitment and consistency, hallmarks of the product. Did I achieve every daily target, weekly goal, and habit I had written down? Hell no! As a matter of fact, for the first week of habits, I only achieved one: writing 400 words or more for 5 days. I was off by a day or so on several other habits and one I didn’t get done at all. Some days I’d finish all 3 target goals; other days, I wouldn’t achieve one goal, although I completed at least two most days!
The beauty of the SELF Journal is you start and end your day with gratitude. You get to brag about your wins every night while also acknowledging what you can do better. And at the end of the week, you review your progress, write about your successes, and note where progress was weak. And then you adjust for the next week.
I learned two important things on this new journey: 1) Use pencil for your actual schedule because plans change, meetings get cancelled; and 2) if you are repeatedly missing a target goal, day in and day out, you might rethink that target goal, and ultimately, your big goal. One of my big goals was to run a fast fall 5k. It required running at least five days a week, strength training and all of the prehab I need just to keep moving forward. After weeks of missing scheduled runs, dragging myself out to run because it was scheduled and making myself feel guilty because runs weren’t going well, I realized I was burned out! Last summer’s marathon training was a beast and I just wasn’t feeling it this summer. So I pivoted—I’m running for fun this season and finding my groove in other physical pursuits: biking, yoga, and hiking. I feel better about my goal and it’s achievable.
I’ll keep updating my SELF Journal progress. So far, I’m hooked and finding that it does help me focus on my big goals. Want to check it out for yourself? Click here to visit the Best Self website!
Former professional actor, keynote speaker and author Michael Port has authored several best-selling books but it is his latest, Steal the Show, that caught my eye in an airport bookstore. Rather than just giving the reader a list of do’s and don’ts when addressing an audience, Port has created a helpful, entertaining and eye-opening approach public speaking.
How many times have you watched a presentation and been annoyed by a presenter’s jangling jewelry or incessant nervous ticks or bored to tears by endless cluttered, text-stuffed slides? As a speaker and speaking coach, I have always maintained that anytime you are presenting to an audience, you should consider it a performance. The speaker should consider everything from clothing, props, mannerisms and slides as important tools that should complement, rather than take away from, his or her presentation.
Port also views the giving of a presentation as a performance. He cleverly uses his acting background to help people learn to be performers, including information on everything from rehearsal and stage blocking to lessons on using improvisation, allowing the reader to think on his or her feet for every and any eventuality.
Do you have an upcoming speech? Maybe a wedding toast? An important sales pitch? Or a job interview you want to ace? Pick up Steal the Show. You will come away from the book with quite a few ideas for delivering entertaining, informative and inspiring presentations. Implementation of even a few of Port's suggestions will put you on the path to being a better speaker.
I could have raced on July 4th in a local 5k. It was a small race on a flat and fast course. Who turns down an opportunity to race locally on a fast course? I did and now I’m more than a little disappointed in myself. My reasoning for not running? I’m not in peak shape and my time would have probably been quite a bit slower than typical. My thinking after I went on my run at 8:30 later that night? Hmmm, this probably wouldn’t have been as bad as I originally thought and even if it was slow, so what?
Last week, a friend of mine posted a photo of herself in her swimsuit and talked about body image and negative self-talk. She looks great, and by the way—her body has taken her through both a full and a half Ironman, among many other races. The moral of her post? You be you, because you is pretty awesome.
That same day, I met with a young lady who is a personal trainer at my health club. We talked about my training goals and I complained about how slow and sluggish I have been feeling lately and if I could just get back to racing weight, I could run as fast or faster than I did in my fastest 5K two years ago. She reminded me that I was comparing myself with myself from 2 years ago, and was that really healthy?
A few days earlier, I had also been complaining to my 26-year old daughter about how slow and unfit I have been feeling. She asked me where I got my warped sense of body and fitness, and was that really healthy?
I know better. I wouldn’t put this kind of pressure on any of my athletes. So why am I putting this kind of pressure on myself? I have run multiple ½ marathons, a full marathon last November and too many 5Ks to count. Many of those 5Ks resulted in podium placings for my age group and solid PRs. This body has also grown and birthed my beautiful daughter. It took 3 young, smart ladies with very healthy attitudes to remind me of just how capable this body of mine is.
And so Emily, I will be me. And Audra, from now on, the only comparisons I will be making will be the time from my first 5k of the season to the time from my goal race of that same season. And Cecilia, I will do my best to not have such a jaded view of this pretty damn athletic body. And to the two ladies who kindly cheered me on during my run the other night, thank you, thank you, thank you! Next time, I will just run the race, no second guessing, no qualms.
Commercial & editorial lifestyle & travel photographer, educator, competitive cyclist, track/cross country coach