What would you do if you had to choose between your family and one last shot at following your dreams? [Read more…]
Writing was my dream, but I had to delay it for almost forty years as I worked and raised a family. [Read more…]
At our age, we’ve been through a few hundred New Years’ resolutions. You’d think by now it would have resulted in all of us being thin, healthy and accomplished.
Last year, I wrote about setting goals and having something to show at the end of 2o11. I didn’t do everything, but I came close. For example, I didn’t publish my book, but I did revise it with the help of a great, wonderful editor, and now I’m vetting agents. So that feels good.
I’ve hung onto my Weight Watchers accomplishment – barely. With all the holiday eating I lost my way but sure had fun! And since all of America is embarking on a “lose weight, get fit” journey this month, the energy is palpable. I’ll ride that wave for a few months until everybody drops out in March, but by then I’ll be back at my goal weight.
I decided to have one goal for 2012, just one, and I’m pretty excited about it: to embark on my own personal Creativity Training Camp. Let me explain. Back in October I freaked out when I learned that alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer. (If you want to know more, read this.) So I cut WAY back, to almost nothing.
There was another element to my healthful period: exercise. According to the 20-year long Nurses Health Study, walking three hours a week can reduce your risk of cancer and improve just about everything else in your health profile. So I did that for a month, too. I kept track on my calendar and achieved 180 minutes a week, one way or the other. I either went to the gym, or walked or rode my bike around the neighborhood, or swam.
It was fantastic. I slept well, my creativity and curiosity shot through the roof, and I was less anxious and more peaceful and productive. Then Thanksgiving hit, and the holiday decadence began. Whoopee! I sure did enjoy all those calories. Yum.
But now I’m back to restless sleep, anxiety, and stupid-brain, which is not going to help me at all as I embark on the rough draft of my new book, Golden Years My Ass. Yes, that’s the title, for now anyway. I want to enjoy the process of creating and writing, and to return to that place before the holidays where I felt so calm, happy and productive, so that’s my only goal: Creativity Training Camp. I’ll go back to the regime I started before the holidays. If you’d like to join me by creating your own version, let us know about it.
How do we motivate ourselves?
You probably know that fear is not an effective motivator. Even fear of death can’t make us do anything after the novelty of the thought wears off. What is a motivator is the thought of a positive outcome, and that’s what’s I keep in my mind. I already know how good I’m going to feel
if as I stick with my Creativity Training Camp program. I’m already looking forward to the inspirational lightbulbs going off in my brain.
How about you? Are you resolved to make a change or do something new in 2012?
Note from last week’s contest: I hope you don’t think I’ve been ignoring your awesome responses, but I didn’t want to influence anybody who might sense a route to win the $25 gift card and two free books. Thus I’ve refrained from commenting to any great extent. While I appreciated all of your thoughtful comments, I felt that Dr. Lee would be the most excited about Marilyn Patrick’s past life recollections, so I am going to award her the prize. Thanks so much for participating, and happy new year!
You know what a Bucket List is: that list of the things you feel you absolutely must do before you die.
By definition, that would have to be one heavy list. First of all, it ends with your death, and second, there’s probably stuff on it like sky diving (Nanci can cross that off hers) and start a literacy program and reconcile with that icky family member you’ve been avoiding for the past fifty years.
Well, I’m tired of the pressure. Life is hard enough without having a giant existential To Do list, so I’ve decided to rebel.
I’ve decided to start a “F*** It” List.
On this list, I have itemized all the things I’m not going to do, ever. I’m having so much fun with my list. Every time I add something, my shoulders relax, like I just had a good massage, or therapy.
This list has another fabulous purpose: cleaning out your inbox. Like the other day I was doing that, and there was a stack of recipes I was planning to try. Except I found myself thinking F*** It. And I threw them in the trash.
It felt so good that I figured I’m on to something.
Here are two things people (starting with Mom) have always said about me:
You work too hard.
You worry too much.
Not anymore, girlfriends! Because I have discovered the F*** It List.
Go ahead, try it. But first, tell us, what would you put on your very own F*** It List?
Last month, I posted here about setting our 2011 goals, and a bunch of you weighed in with your dreams and aspirations.
So now the next thing we need to do is check back with each other. How’re you doing on those goals? Did you set up some kind of intermediate goals so you could inch toward them every week and month?
Nah, me neither. I mean, I DID. I all but built spreadsheets, I was so motivated. It’s easy to feel that way in January. But now I’m working fulltime, babysitting my wonderful amazing granddaughter, and my productive time tends to occur in three one-hour periods during the nine hours I’m with her. Working people, I feel ya!
But guess what? Since I have so little dedicated brain-time, I have to make sure I use what I’ve got, and so every night when I pack my briefcase, I ask myself, what one or two tasks could I knock off tomorrow? As a result, I’m actually pretty focused. I finished my book (again), submitted the entire manuscript to two contests, and am halfway through an online class with Writer Mama Christina Katz. I’m not tracking on Weight Watchers, but I’m packing 2/3 of my meals into a lunch box and taking it to “work” every day, so I’m maintaining my weight goal.
Some things I’m not doing. I’m not going to the gym, for example, but I think I get enough exercise using the stairs and caring for my granddaughter. You remember how much you get up and down off the floor with an infant? Carry them in one arm while warming a bottle with the other? Etc. So I’m counting all that.
Anyway, I hope you are inching incrementally toward your goals. If you’re having trouble getting started, just pick one thing you would like to see done in six months and figure out what you can do once a week to move in the right direction. Then tell us about it, and check back in and tell us how you’re doing. I think we’d all feel more motivated, knowing you’re out there kicking the can down the road, too. There are no heroes here, just a bunch of hardworking sistahs who want to do better.
How are you doing?
Do you ever feel like your days are being nibbled away by chipmunks? My days seem to disappear in hundreds of tiny bites, and in the end what do I have to show for it? House cleaned? Groceries bought? Gym visits, car maintenance, body maintenance? Check, check, check AND —- you’re dead.
My greatest fear is of waking up at the end of my life and suddenly seeing everything clearly, whatever it is. I fear that I will discover I have squandered my precious time. (If you are thinking the antidote is to slow down and be in the moment, let’s talk about that in another post. Soon, Grasshopper. Soon.)
So I decided that at the end of 2011, I’m going to have something to show for it besides a deeper crevasse between my brows. I made up a list of goals, originally called “Things I Need to Do in 2011”, but that was just another to-do list, only on a massive scale.
But one of the cool skills I’ve gained from getting to be this old is the ability to motivate myself, and what always gets me moving is to anticipate the satisfying outcome. Example: No, I don’t especially want to go to my critique group today, but I envision that in six weeks of attending, my manuscript will be done and polished, ready to send out. Next thing you know, I’m fired up and ready to go. So instead of a list of things I wanted to do, I called it my list of things I DREAM of doing in 2011.
Another thing that motivates me is buddies who are churning alongside me, trying to get there, too. When you and I and the rest of our growing community on this blog chatted about “30 Years of Journals” the other day, I felt you wanted to have a place where we could talk about our goals and check in with each other periodically, so I’m volunteering AST. I’ll tell you my goals, you tell me yours, and I’ll run a post at the end of each quarter so we can tell each other how we’re doing. That way, we might actually get closer to or even accomplish some of our dreams. Here goes:
“What I Dream of Accomplishing in 2011”
- Publish my book, Dakota Blues
- Outline and finish the first draft of my second book, Stockholm Summer
- Continue to build this blog so our community of voices grows, and we inspire each other and have fun.
- Enter writing contests so I can post a few wins by the end of the year.
- Maintain my Lifetime status with Weight Watchers (last year I reached my goal weight!)
Please add your list and comments, and I’ll compile them and run them in quarterly posts. We can see how we’re all doing and encourage each other, and actually get to our dreams. When we’re very elderly women, we can nudge each other with our bony elbows, smile, and say, “We did it, sister!”And if you feel tired and uninspired, here’s an upbeat article about Boomers who take the “retire” out of “retirement.”
In my last two posts, I reminded you that if you don’t know what you want, or if you live your life in service to others to the extent that you never know what you want, or if what you want isn’t really what makes you happy but rather, what gets you through the day (like “I want to organize my desk”), you may die unfulfilled. You may sleepwalk through your one precious life. What a tragedy.
HOWEVER. (Sound of self-righteous throat-clearing.)
Just a few days ago, I read a letter to an advice column from a confirmed slug:
Dear Advice Person:
Is there anything wrong with a single, childless 50-year-old whose only goal in life is to coast to retirement, having saved enough to make retirement comfortable and carefree? I keep reading about having a grand purpose in life, working in a field that you love, being creative, etc., and it just sounds like too much work to me.
I like to have good, clean fun and I don’t like to be responsible for other people. I give to charity, but I don’t want to work in a soup kitchen or be hands-on with helping others. My job is not very fulfilling, sometimes boring, but it pays well enough, and I don’t feel overwhelmed or like I can’t produce what is required of me. I get along with the people at work, and I don’t find myself dreading going to work.
Do I need to challenge myself? Do I need to set more goals? Is coasting such a bad thing?
Lynne again. Hmmm. So what I hear you saying is that my life, that of the rat on the wheel, born of some existential anxiety, may not be the norm. Maybe you don’t NEED to have a big damn goal. Maybe your life is fine just as it is, being a middling member of middle society at middle age. What’s so wrong with that, as long as you go at it consciously and are happy?
Not a darned thing. I think the important thing is to have self-knowledge, to be aware of what makes you happy and go after that. And if you do, and you have no interest in bringing clean drinking water to Africa or peace to the Middle East, I still wish you happiness. We should all be as self-aware and mature as The Coaster.
Recently, I wrote this: “…sometimes I think I am foolish for racing around with my hair on fire in pursuit of this passion, because I am 56…”
Do you wonder sometimes if you should stop trying so hard? Are we Boomers of an age where we should relax, nap, read, take more heed of the passing days ? Perspective is such a hard thing to grasp. My mom is 85 and says, “Oh, Lynne, you’re so young yet!” To see it from that angle makes me feel like lacing up my running shoes. But then on the other hand, how many years will I have to enjoy my sweet husband, to travel, golf, and just sit and read, maybe go to a movie with him? He’s 63. Per his family history, he’s got 20 years. That’s probably 15 of good health. Right now we’re in good shape, but who knows? And every minute I spend in my office pecking away at this keyboard is a minute I lose with him, forever.
I got a boost from Sly Stallone, who was interviewed in Time Magazine. The interviewer asks “Are there any more goals you wish to accomplish?” and Stallone replies, “There are always goals. If you don’t have a mountain, build one and then climb it. And after you climb it, build another one; otherwise you start to flatline in your life. People think retiring is fun. Well, maybe, but if you have a certain kind of fire inside, there is no end in sight.”
It doesn’t solve my dilemma but it does make me feel better about my ambition. Yo, Rocky, thanks!
Elana Johnson, writer and teacher, has figured out her own way of allocating social networking time here. She says we have to make up our minds, because time is finite. Have a goal, and then decide how much time you’re going to spend on which SN sites to reach that goal. Her system is too simple for me, but she’s way more accomplished than I am, so what the hey.
Frances Flynn Thorsen, who I’ll quote in my next post, said something smart about it: pick a few SN sites in which to “go deep”. That’s a good idea, and I’m paying attention right now as I flit from SN flower to flower, as random as ever. Soon I hope to pick the SN sites where I’ll spend the most time, and the ones that I only check maybe every third day. Do you have an idea about this? Let us know.