Motivation Monday: Start Small

Life is overwhelming. From our every day To-Do lists to our goals and dreams, the anxiety of stepping out to tackle all that life has to offer can stop you in your tracks. No one knows this better than me. Just in the last week alone, I have been overwhelmed five times. Seriously! Cleaning the house put me in a tailspin because I worried over what room to start first. Creating a meal plan for my new color-coded diet took me two hours because I felt like I had too many meals to categorize. And don’t even get me started on this website. Do you know how many blog ideas I have in my head? I have started them all, but finished none. It is often paralyzing, and results in unfinished chores and missed deadlines. (Yes, this Motivation Monday post is officially a week late!)

I tend to focus on the big picture. I want to see the end result. I want to reap the benefits. Who doesn’t? But if we’re so focused on looking ahead to the finish line that we stop taking steps forward, we’ll never complete the race.

There is one common factor that can help us in achieving all of our aspirations, no matter the goal. START SMALL.

bigthingssmallbeginnings
It has been said that one of the top habits of a successful person is their ability to start small. Katie Ledecky is an Olympic swimmer from the US, who holds the current world record for the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle. She began swimming at the age of six. Although she was born into a family of swimmers, Katie couldn’t swim the length of the pool at such a young age. Although she was determined to get to the other side, she often had to hold onto the rope for help. Did that make her less of a swimmer? No. She knew that in order to reach her destination, she had to continue forward even if it meant slowing down, reassessing her focus, and occasionally reaching out for help. Her small, yet persistent beginning has taken her to her second Olympics, where she continues to succeed.

Like Katie, I also want to reach the other end of the pool, so to speak, on several goals. But the difference is that I seem to always ungracefully jump into the water and then flail around somewhere in the middle. There is no forward movement, no focus outside of the end results, and I never reach out for help.

In order to overcome the sense of being overwhelmed by our goals, we must think on a small scale. What plans to you have? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to better your health? Do you just want to get your house clean and organized? Let’s think about how we can ‘reach the other end of the pool’ in these types of scenarios.

Most small businesses start with brainstorming. Many of us can dream up ideas. But did you know that there are steps forward in the brainstorming process that we should take BEFORE we advance to the ‘next section of the pool’? When we’re in this initial phase, we should slow down and take the time to focus on questions like, “What could go wrong with this business and how would I solve it?” and “What are the main things I want my customers to know about me?” After you have considered all of the questions that may arise about your business in general, then move onto to the next step… gathering resources. This may be your opportunity to ‘grab the rope’ by reaching out for assistance. See the pattern? Small, slow, and steady progression forward.

When it comes to my health, I don’t want slow and steady progression! I saw a quote yesterday that read:

“Two days into my diet and I’m still not skinny? This is bulls#!*”

Right? I want immediate results. Don’t you? And that is the number one reason why most diets and exercise plans fail. We jump in… all-in… with no small steps planned. We would be better off setting smaller goals. Want to lose 30 pounds? Your first goal should be 10, and only 10. Interested in a 5K? Your first goal should be one mile. Once you’re comfortable with that distance, then you can focus on two. Need to change your eating habits? Pick one thing to slowly remove and replace it. Cookies to fruit. Chips to carrots. Don’t try to give up everything at once. And most importantly, reach out for help! Have an accountability partner. Download an app to use. Join a group in your community with similar goals. All of these things are small steps toward your ultimate goal.

For me, instead of looking at how unorganized my entire house is, I have decided to focus on one room at a time. I am not going to rush. I am allowing myself one week per room. I will start small and take the slow and steady forward approach, beginning with the room that I use the least and work toward my busiest, most cluttered space. Being able to finish one room will not only give me the satisfaction of completing a small goal, but it will also motivate me to tackle the next, more unorganized, area of the house.

Let’s make a promise that the next time we’re feeling overwhelmed by our big dreams and lofty goals, instead of abandoning them, we’ll continue forward, slowing down from time-to-time to reassess our focus on smaller steps, and reaching out for help when needed. Big things are in our futures!

Jail House Rock

I was reading in Acts 16 about Paul and Silas and as usual ran across something I had never noticed before.  These guys experienced a full on attack from the enemy but were privileged to also see the power of God deliver them.

They had traveled to Phillipi and were followed around by a woman that was demon possessed.  Her head didn’t spin around and she didn’t spit out green stuff.  She just aggravated the fire out of Paul and Silas.  She kept yelling things, mocking them about being Christ followers and it was intended to distract them from sharing God with the people of this area.  After a full day of constantly listening to this lady’s empty compliments, Paul confronted the demonic spirit and cast it out of her.  As it happened, this woman had a reputation for being a fortune teller.  She was owned by a man who got pretty upset that she no longer possessed her “gift”.  He had Paul and Silas brought before the City leaders with all kinds of accusations.  This guy wanted nothing more than revenge for losing his money maker.  After being beaten, Paul and Silas were shackled and thrown in prison.  Around midnight they began to sing and worship God while the other prisoners were listening.  I imagine some of them were upset that what precious sleep they attempted to get was being disrupted.  Some of them may have even thought, “great, some more whack a doodles.”  There may have been some that felt refreshed, maybe they had given up hope that God’s presence was in that dark place.

In verse 26 we find that there was an earthquake and all the cell doors opened and everyone’s shackles fell off.  This is where I really want to spend some time today.  Here Paul and Silas sat in the middle of the night.  Midnight was the darkest part of their night.  They had been beaten, unjustly accused and judged to be guilty of nothing more than trying to help people.  They had every right to be depressed and angry.  After all, God is the one that sent them to Phillipi and look what that got them.  Instead of giving into the pain, shame, hurt, anger and humiliation…they sang.  Look at the power of a song of worship!  In the middle of that smelly, dark prison, God’s power was so strong that EVERYONE was delivered.  EVERYONE was set free.  You might say, think or feel—wait a minute…some of those people didn’t deserve to be set free, they were not the one’s worshiping.  Paul and Silas made a sacrifice to rejoice in their trial, so they should be the only ones deserving release.  (Once again, we think we know the ways of God.)

If two guys stuck in some remote prison could have that much effect on the people around them, what in the world could happen in our communities if a group of 30 people or 100 people decided to rejoice no matter what?  People who didn’t even know they were bound would be set free.  We would see people being delivered from addictions, self-esteem problems, financial issues, negativity, apathy, unhealthy relationships and the list could go on and on.  Through God we have the ability to make an impact on the lives of people we may never even meet!

Livestrong Review

I am simultaneously ecstatic and embarrassed right now. I just registered on Livestrong.com! Am I the last human to learn about this website?

Let me first clear up the embarrassment part. I am not ashamed of signing up. I am, however, ashamed of just now finding out about what all Livestrong has to offer. I have used the website multiple times in the past to look up nutritional facts, specifically when I was on another well-known program. I never once stopped long enough to realize that Livestrong offered just as much as the other program, and more!

Fast forward to today. I’m about a week behind schedule in training for an upcoming 5K. It has been a couple of years since I’ve participated in one, and although I downloaded the Couch-to-5K app for my iPhone, I haven’t been persistent in using it. I have studied fitness and nutrition long enough to know that, to be my healthiest, I need to incorporate more than just running into my training regimen.

I sat down here at the computer and asked trusty Google which apps were the best, well-rounded heath apps available. In a matter of minutes, I found myself on Livestrong.com. After just a few clicks, I was ready to register. Once I was logged in, I was in awe. This has to be one of the coolest sites I’ve seen.

Here is where the ecstatic comes in. Livestrong is a support community, a library, a medical advisor, a trainer, and a personal assistant all in one! At your fingertips, you have access to nutritional facts of nearly every food item sold in most supermarkets, an array of exercise routines, countless recipes, an allergy center, meal trackers, and one of my favorites… local certified loops. Yes, you enter you address, and Livestrong.com can tell you the calculations and whereabouts of a nearby route! When I entered my zip code, I found a 10K bike loop, a 5K running loop, and a few 2- and 3-mile walking loops. Amazing!!

In most sections of the website, we as members can add information too. If there happens to be an item not listed in the nutritional information section, we can add it. The same goes for recipes, and even creating a new loop. The site even has a social media aspect to it, where you can share information, successes, frustrations, photos, or questions with other Livestrong members.

Both the website and the app are very user friendly. The app includes:

MyPlate – meals, snacks, water intake, and workouts tracker
Diary – a list of daily and monthly calorie intake and recorded weight
Progress – three easy-to-read graph for weight, calories, and nutrients
Community – similar to the Twitter app, chat with fellow members in an open feed or privately message a particular person
and More – help center, menu for your account information, and Livestrong.com’s Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

There is a Lite version of the app, which is free, but I chose to spend $2.99 and download the full version. With the website requiring no cost to register… a one-time fee of $3.00 is nothing in comparison to the competition.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, need a place to keep up with your activity schedule, or training for an event, I highly suggest checking out Livestrong.com. It’s a well-rounded, convenient, informative, and supportive community!