Friday, January 22, 2016

Daily Steps to Success

It’s true that I often tell people my children have taught me a great deal.  As their mom, I nurtured and taught them as they grew from babies to young adults.  As we have experienced life together over the years, they have also taught me. Though all three of them are now adults and living on their own, they are still teaching me.   On any given day, as I offer wisdom and encouragement to my children in whatever joy or sorrow they face, I also share the same wisdom and encouragement with myself.  Usually, I end up telling myself, “Yea MaryAnn, live by what you are saying to them!” 

It is common human nature to have wisdom within but not to personally apply it day to day. It’s way easier to tell someone else what to do than to do it ourselves. We scroll through countless quotes of encouragement and wisdom on social media and the internet, read them, smile, “like” them, and agree (or disagree!) and feel them give us a fleeting moment of excitement.  But if we stop to seriously consider the depth and meaning of the words scrolling on our screen, we come to the startling reality that it’s a totally different beast to actually live out loud what those words are describing.  It’s not because we don’t want to live that way.  I think we do.  Unfortunately, we have trouble staying focused, disciplined, and persevering through the obstacles that get in the way of such success.

In my effort to encourage my children today, I shared with them the quote by Jim Rohn.

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

I even added my personal thoughts to the quote: Our daily discipline today may seem mundane or feel like a drag, but it is actually propelling us into what we will later call our success!” 

As I mulled over the words and what they meant, I began to examine within to see how I was applying that to my own life.  I didn’t particularly like what I saw.  This has been gnawing at me for some time and today I faced it head on.

I’m interested in a number of subjects, some of which I would love to pursue more seriously and also make an income doing so.  Yet, I continuously find myself every single day waffling back and forth haphazardly not accomplishing that which I long to accomplish. 

If we do not take daily, disciplined steps into reaching our goals, we will not reach those goals.  We do not reach a destination with aimless wandering.

I find great pleasure in writing and would like to do it more seriously, instead of sporadically.  But how can I be a writer if I’m not writing or educating myself in how to have a successful writing career?  I also have a passion for helping people and for natural health and healing. Over the past few years, I have spent copious amounts of time learning about such methods in an effort to help my own health.   Since I experienced fantastic results with holistic and natural methods, I’ve considered becoming a naturopath or health coach who helps others.  How can I be that person if I don’t spend time furthering my education and earning a certification?

Every day, I have these constant battles between what I must do in my daily life and what I want to accomplish beyond the daily stuff.  The day’s hours easily escape through my hands like fine grains of sand.  Do I take time to clean an area of the house or do I take the time to write?  Do I take time to cook a healthy meal or do I spend the time learning more about holistic health?  I have spent years telling myself, “Okay, as soon as you accomplish this daily responsibility, you can sit down and spend time focusing on what you are passionate about, beyond this daily stuff.”  And guess what?!  95% of the time, that magical moment never came or when it did, I was too exhausted to put my mind to such a task. 

Today, as I considered whether my simple daily disciplines were leading me to success, I came to two conclusions:  I am reaching success in having healthy relationships with those I love, staying fit working out at the gym, keeping my house fairly clean, and keeping us fed with healthy meals.  In those areas, I am successful!  Hooray for me!  I know I should rejoice in that success and not be too harsh on myself.  However, I also know I am not walking towards success with becoming the writer I long to be or the naturopath or health coach I’ve also considered becoming.  My daily disciplines are not leading me towards either one of those goals.  Bummer!  But I’m being truthful and realistic.

At my age, I am still torn with the “what do I want to do with my life” syndrome.  This is not because I am lacking passions or ideas (I have plenty!), but because I know that I must choose a path, focus, and have the daily discipline to take each little step to fulfill my goals.  Currently, I feel like I dart and flutter from this thing to that other thing.  While I’m playing around in the shallow end with a bunch of different subjects, I am not able to get to the depths of the particular accomplishment I long for.  Maybe I don’t really want to narrow my focus?  It’s fun trying my hand at all sorts of different things, especially now that my children have flown from our nest.  Nevertheless, I do desperately long to pursue a more serious focus in one area, not just to fulfill a passion, but to also earn an income and bring a greater sense of accomplishment.  Possibly, it could be that the accomplishment I long for is not truly in my best interest, and I should find peace with the successes I have had and am having now.  That’s more food for thought.  I have personal questions which need answers and decisions to make about my daily disciplines and how they relate to achieving my goals. 

The first step to change comes from opening our eyes to the realization that change is required.  I’m thankful that as I encouraged my children today, my soul paid close attention and was encouraged as well.  As I said at the beginning, my children have taught me much.  I’m thankful for the desire and enthusiasm to learn new things and the willingness to bring about a change, no matter how old I am.

While pondering all the thoughts about the daily steps to success, I am reassured of a number of things:

Along life’s journey…

-- we are never too old to reassess again, “What do I want to do with my life?”
-- talking about reaching a goal and actually taking the daily, disciplined steps toward it are two very different realities
-- talk is easy and cheap, while action consists of hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance
-- it’s never too late to begin anew
-- each day we are given is a brand new opportunity for a fresh start
-- personal success is defined within ourselves: a combination of who we are, who we long to be, what we long to do, and how we go about achieving it all
-- every person’s success tastes, feels, acts, and looks different
-- comparisons to others frustrate, hinder, and are an immense waste of time and energy
-- we are most successful being our own unique self and pursuing what makes us feel ALIVE!
-- small daily disciplines related to our goal will lead us to success
-- celebrating each small step along the way fuels our perseverance to go on

"The first step to change comes from opening 
our eyes to the realization that change is required."

Side note:
In order to have the time to write this post, I made the decision to skip cooking dinner.  :-)

Related posts:
Celebrating Daily Steps to Success

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