Thursday, December 3, 2009

Self Exam Time

And no, I don't mean breasts. (Although you should be doing that every month anyway).

Every so often, it is good to really stop and *look* at yourself and your life, how you feel and why, and whether you are reaching your goals. December is a good time for this. Most people, near the end of the month, are bemoaning yet another year gone by with dropped resolutions. New commitment comes magically on January first, but it always seems so fleeting. Wouldn't it be better to do a self exam more often? Like, maybe several times a year? Then you don't get quite so far off track.

So here's mine.

I am 40 years old, which sometimes feels very young and sometimes feels ancient. I weight 229 pounds, which sometimes feels quite thin and other times feels humongous. I have a life filled with children, a paused career, a dog, and various hobbies, and all of this feels sometimes like an incredible blessing and other times like a huge mess. Isn't that how life is?

I feel, often, that I am doing well, comparatively speaking. Yet somewhere inside me I long to do better. What is "doing better," anyway? Well, I think it is a gradual improvement in one's state, whether that be health, happiness, productivity, or whatever other thing you have set your sights on. But what if your sights are not really set on *anything*?

Answer this:
What do you want to accomplish today?
What would you like to have done by next week at this time?
What do you think will be the same/different in one month?
What would you like to have done/changed one year from now?
What would you like your life to look like in five years? Really think about it. Five years from now, how old will you be? What will your relationships look like? Your job? Your body? Your home? In five years, describe yourself and your life... what you WANT it to be.
And then, when you have done that, go back to question #1 and tell me how what you are doing today is leading you to what you want to see in your life in five years.

It is all inextricably connected... what you do today, next week, in a year, in five years. Because five years ago I decided to get up in the morning and go to my classes, today I have a college degree. Because five years ago I decided to get up, go to work, and use the paycheck to pay my mortgage, today I have a house to live in. Because five years ago I planted a small tree in my yard, today I have a large tree with lovely blossoms that gives me great joy (well, no blossoms in winter, but I look forward to spring!) Because I fed my dog five years ago, he is still alive and healthy today. Because I decided to have sex five years ago, I have a lovely daughter today. Get it? What you do today determines your tomorrow. And your next year. And your five years from now.

You can sit and eat pizza and Big Macs and cookies today and think, "Oh, I will do something better for myself tomorrow" but the fact is that today's actions are building a path to your future. If you pave that path with Ding Dongs, your future is *not* going to be the picture of health. Every step propels you in a particular direction. Every step counts.

So, it's important to check your steps frequently to make sure you are not just going in circles, or walking to China when you wanted to go to Ireland.

My vision of five years includes: well adjusted (mostly grown) children who are still in my life, financial stability, a normal BMI, a strong body, an organized and decorated home.

My *concrete steps* for today (because making a list of to do's but never doing them is a step in the *wrong* direction) are: connect with my children in conversation this evening, stick to a budget, eat under 1700 calories of healthy foods, bike for 30 minutes, sort some stuff, and get glass for a broken frame so I can hang a picture.

If instead, my Today Steps were: be too tired to talk to my kids, spend extra money on some goofy thing I see in the store that I want, splurge on some donuts, be too tired to bike, lay around and let the clutter pile up, and forget to get the glass fixed... then, I am walking a different path that is leading away from my chosen destination. You might think that *lack* of doing something is neutral, but it isn't. A 30 minute workout is a step towards your goal, but *not* doing the 30 minute workout is *not* standing still. Lack of action is STILL A STEP. A step in the opposite direction. And goallessness is like being adrift at sea: you may not be *trying* to get anyplace specific, but you're still going to end up somewhere... and you may not like it.

So take a little time today to reflect on your steps. And make sure you're headed in the direction you really want to go.


Hallie said...

shoot, I do this EVERY DAY!!! lol

JSP said...

This is a great post! I read your blog every day and have never commented even though I think all of your posts are great. But this one, this really speaks to me. The idea that no action is a step toward something else, well, I needed to read this today. I feel adrift, and you are right, that seems like no action, but again you are right, I am headed somewhere. It's time to think and time to act. Thank you so much.

Caroline said...

Isn't that funny - just like JSP - I have read and enjoyed your blog for awhile and (I think) today is my first comment. What a great message - your writing spoke to me today, thank you.

Margie M. said...

You are so right about "action". Wishing and hoping will not create a forward movement (or action) in a person's life. You've accomplished many great things and the action you are taking in your resolve to lose weight and gain control of that part of your life is the best action. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

hello! i just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this. this really spoke to my heart this post. :) love ur blog. thanks, kathy x

Anonymous said...

really good post - thank you! I like the reminder to focus on where we want to be.

Jules said...

*awesome* post.


Certifiably Fit said...

Great post! Self reflection can be very helpful in moving in a positive direction.

Anonymous said...

You're a great writer, Lyn. I especially love the part about paving the path to the future with Ding Dongs. lol

Thanks for the reminder to check in and evaluate life, goals, and ME every once in a while. It's so important!

swayerm said...

Wow, that was pretty much perfect... I am taking that list of questions and answering them in my own blog today, thank you :)

~*~ Beckie-Lynn ~*~ said...

Thank you SO MUCH for posting that... I really needed to hear it! Excellent ideas, too! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post!!! I've had the same thoughts going through my head the past few days, but you said it soooo much better than I could have.

redballoon said...

Thanks, Lyn, an excellent (yet gentle) post that I should read daily.

Laura said...

Thank you. This post spoke directly to me today. I needed to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Lyn - you really hit the spot! I think I shall print this out (and credit it to 'Lyn' too!) and stick it on my kitchen wall! This bit is SO true...and I thank you for putting it so simply and plainly. Your sensible straight-talking really does make an impression on me. Thank you.

"What you do today determines your tomorrow. And your next year. And your five years from now.

You can sit and eat pizza and Big Macs and cookies today and think, "Oh, I will do something better for myself tomorrow" but the fact is that today's actions are building a path to your future. If you pave that path with Ding Dongs, your future is *not* going to be the picture of health. Every step propels you in a particular direction. Every step counts."


I am having a sort of 'down' month. I am not exactly depressed but haven't been able to convince myself that I am worth the effort required to make healthy changes. My half-hearted attempts are only frustrating me more than if I binged on a six-pack of doughnuts. Today I was so tempted to pick them up in the supermarket. I am so used to calming and soothing myself with sweet treats. I didn't though...and when they were out of sight, when I'd moved away from the bakery section, I continued to push my trolley around without giving them a second thought.

That WAS a step in the right direction...I just need to think about going in the right direction all the time, until it becomes a habit. That road is so long..but I must go down it.

Thanks again for another inspiring post.


Val said...

I LOVE this-especially the last part about not taking any action still being a step in some direction. Brilliant!

Salted with Shadows said...

Great post. I'm going to go over those questions every so often to keep myself on track.

I once broke up with a jerk who told me I was too goal-oriented. There's a red flag and a half...

Melissa said...

Love this! I'm going to do a blog post answering these questions!:)

jenn said...

Love this post. I like how you show the small steps you'll take now to get where you want to go in the future. I know that's common sense, but sometimes it's so easy to forget.

Tammy said...

Been thinking a lot about this lately. It started with dumping my boyfriend 2 weeks ago. Time for change and a better life. I'm glad you posted about this.

Mzchef said...

What a great post to get one's fanny in gear and put things in perspective ! Thanks!!

Caitlin said...

I left you an award :) to pick it up

screwdestiny said...

This is a great post and something I try to remember every day. We can go on living life, just doing (or not doing) whatever, and never make any progress toward what we actually want. To get to where we want we have to make conscious choices that are going to lead us there. Sometimes it's hard, but I think the rewards are worth it.

Anonymous said...

As Sartre said, No choice IS a choice.

Anonymous said...

I really needed this today. Thank you!

Lynne said...

Great assessment... observations... Looks like you are in a *good* place. Nice to see! Keep at it!

Jessica VZ said...

I was very moved by your blog and felt the need to spread it a little. I posted it on my blog (giving you credit, obviously) and I just wanted to share the responses so far with you.

RUNNINGBLITZ 12/4/2009 10:09AM
What a blog....great piece to make you think about everything. Thanks, but now I am asking more questions of myself.

Very good blog!

HOSTALADY 12/4/2009 9:42AM
A GREAT blog. Thank you for spreading the words. I to set goals and it is so vitally important. You have eloquently with words expressed goal setting beautifully.

RONIJHAM 12/4/2009 9:39AM
Jessica - Thank you so much for posting this blog! It's just what I needed to hear today! emoticon

GLASSYJEN 12/4/2009 9:39AM
Wow..I love this blog! It really hits home and makes you stop and think about things....thanks for sharing!!

BUFFSHINE 12/4/2009 9:38AM
What a great blog! Thanks for sharing. Definitely gives me some great things to think about :)

Have a great Friday!

CHERYL1105 12/4/2009 9:35AM
I really enjoyed reading this. I've been setting a lot of goals for myself lately and this helped to solidify why these goals are so important for me to follow through with. I'll have to add that blog to my reading list.

Jessica said...

I have to just say - wow - this post was just what I needed. I just found your blog, and I cant wait to see all the progress you're going to and are making. Thank you for sharing with us!
I had to post a link on this in my blog - I hope you don't mind.

- Jessoca

TheLosingAmerican said...

Wow. I find myself doing the 'putting off' thing almost consistently on a daily basis. I always say to myself, "I really want that piece of cake....I'll start losing weight tomorrow" or, "Ya but I really want another helping of food...I'll be good tomorrow." And this just goes on and on and on. Completely understand what you're saying and thank you for sharing.