31 Days {Day 20} – Change Your Goals

 

31 Days 2014

On Friday, I wrote about Nora Ephron’s five words.  Just as our five words are constantly changing, our goals are also changing too.  The goals I had when I was 18 years old were completely changed by the time I was 28 years old.  And the 38 year old me has totally different goals now then ten years ago.  But when I reflect back over the last twenty years, I notice an interesting pattern.  Changing my goals mentally was far easier than changing my goal behaviorally.  For example, I was still looking for musician jobs long after I knew that I really didn’t want to be a musician anymore.  And even more recently, I found myself picking up new t-shirts at the store the other day even though I’ve already decided that I want to broaden my wardrobe a little bit.

The reality is that changing our behavior is way more challenging then changing our minds.  I can come up with a million and one reasons why I don’t have time to exercise today, rather than simply putting on my sneakers and walking for twenty minutes.  Habits are difficult to break, even habits that support goals that we no longer have.  I continued to behave as a musician long after I knew I no longer really wanted to be one.   Is that a problem?  Well, yes, it is.  Because the only way to achieve our new goals is to work towards them.  But we can’t work towards our new goals if we’re still working towards our old ones.  It’s not enough to simply decide that your new goal is to be a chef.  After you set your new goal, you must then take on the behaviors of someone who wants to be a chef.  After all, you’ll probably find it a bit difficult to become a chef if you are still going to school for accounting.

Our goals are evolving just as we do.  And it’s important to always be thinking about our goals and adjusting them as needed.  But once we change our goals, we must also change our behaviors to ensure that we are working towards our new goals instead of towards our old ones.

31 Days {Day 19} – Change Your Feelings About Change (#3)

31 Days 2014

Every Sunday during this 31 day series, I’m sharing a quote or idea about change that I hope will challenge you and me to change the way we think about change.

If-you-want-something-in

This post is part of the 31 Days Series-Choose Your Change.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.

31 Days {Day 17} – Change Your Five Words

31 Days 2014

Nora Ephron gave a wonderful commencement address to the Wellesley College graduating class of 1996.  Her address was full of profound and interesting observations.  But my favorite part of her speech is this:

And this is something else I want to tell you, one of the hundreds of things I didn’t know when I was sitting here so many years ago: you are not going to be you, fixed and immutable you, forever. We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was your age, I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won’t make the list in ten years — not that you still won’t be some of those things, but they won’t be the five most important things about you.

One of the best and scariest constants of life is change.  We are changed by every person we meet, every experience we have…even the simple passage of time.  But sometimes it takes us a while to realize that we’ve changed.  We continue to see ourselves as the person we were 2, or 5 or even ten years ago, instead of recognizing that we have gradually, subtly, and yet undeniably, changed.  We hold on to those 5 words that defined us best 5 years ago instead of embracing the 5 words that define us best now.

So consider this:  What 5 words best describe you right now?  How have they changed from last year?  Five years ago?  Ten years ago?

This post is part of the 31 Days Series-Choose Your Change.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.

31 Days {Day 16} – Change Your Expectations

31 Days 2014

Last September, I wrote about expectations.  Specifically, I wrote about our dog, Molly and how I unfairly expected her to be the same as our first dog, Sloane.  It took me some time to accept that these were two different types of dogs with two different temperaments and personalities.  On top of all that, these two dogs had very different beginnings.  Sloane was a pure bread dachshund who we bought from a breeder.  Molly was a shelter puppy, found abandoned in the woods along her litter mates.  When they found her, two of her litter mates were already dead.  Molly and the other two surviving puppies were lucky to be alive.  In Disney terms, Sloane was the spoiled princess who never worked a day in her life while Molly was the poor, mistreated orphan girl, sentenced to do hard labor.  These two dogs couldn’t be more different.  Yet I expected Molly to behave just like Sloane.  And every time she didn’t behave like Sloane, I was disappointed and frustrated.

We all have expectations.  We expect our kids to behave a certain way.  We expect our spouses or partners to show their love for us in a certain way.  We expect our friends to treat us a certain way.  We expect our jobs to be fulfilling.   We expect our parents to always be healthy.  We expect regular raises and lower monthly debts.  We carry our expectations around with us everywhere we go.  And when our expectations aren’t met, we are disappointed, frustrated, and generally unhappy.

Expectations aren’t inherently bad.  In fact, expectations can be good.  Expecting to be treated well by others  can stop us from tolerating mistreatment.  But expectations can be bad for us when they are unfair or unattainable.  Sometimes we expect people to behave in a way that is fundamentally different from who they are.  Sometimes we expect a job to be fulfilling when the best it will ever be is tolerable.  In these instances, our expectations are setting us up for failure.

Once I became aware of my expectations about Molly, I gradually (and with no small amount of effort) changed my expectations.  It’s not that I lowered my expectations.  I didn’t stop expecting her to be well-behaved or stop expecting her to be housebroken.  But I adjusted my expectations so that they were fair to Molly.  Instead of expecting Molly to be the best “Sloane” she can ever be, I now expect her to the best “Molly” she can be.  And that has made all the difference.

This post is part of the 31 Days Series-Choose Your Change.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.

31 Days {Day 15} – Change Your Questions

31 Days 2014

Every day after school, I ask the kids the same question:  “How was your day?”  And I get a variation on the same answer:  “Fine” or “Good” or “Okay.”  It bothered me that they were always giving me the same, nondescript, answer every single day.  But then it occurred to me that I was asking the same, nondescript question every day too.  Why did I expect a detailed and revealing answer when my question was so bland and unoriginal?

This same type of meaningless exchange happens between adults too.  It looks something like this:

“How are you?”  

“I’m fine (or okay. or good).  How are you?”

“I’m good (or okay. or fine).”

Now I realize that the question, “How are you?” is often just about making social pleasantries.  But sometimes we actually want to have a meaningful conversation with our loved ones.  And in those instances, asking the same questions every single day won’t cut it.  If we want to get meaningful answers out of our kids (or our spouses, or pretty much anyone), we need to give some thought to the questions we are asking them.  So in the interest of encouraging better conversations, I wanted to share a fun article from the Huffington Post, entitled “25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was Your Day?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was Your Day?’  And while it’s definitely kid specific, some of these questions on this list could be modified to be applicable to the adults in your life too.  Try one of these questions out today, or come up with something creative on your own.  You may be surprised at what your find out today at the dinner table!

This post is part of the 31 Days Series-Choose Your Change.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.

31 Days {Day 14} – Change Your Style

31 Days 2014

I’ve been feeling really bored with my closet these days.  I open the closet door every morning and this is what I see:  jeans, t-shirts (long and short sleeved), sweaters (mostly cardigans with one or two others thrown in) and one pair of dressy pants.  Not only is there little variety in the type of clothes in my closet, there is little color variety too.  The jeans are all blue.  The shirts and sweaters are almost all neutral, with the occasional red (my old favorite) or green (my new favorite) thrown in.  It’s all practical and useful, but it’s also pretty boring.

There are probably two reasons for my boring wardrobe.  First, I’m a habitual person.  Which means that once I find something that works, I stick with it.  Not only do I buy the same types of clothes, but it also means that I tend to buy them from the same handful of stores.  So everything in my wardrobe starts to look the same because, well, it kinda is.  Same T-shirt in three different colors.  Same sweater, one in V-neck and one in crew neck.  Not super exciting.

The other reason my wardrobe is boring is that I don’t have a lot of reasons to buy different types of clothes.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, so my “work” wardrobe is…jeans and t-shirts.  And then, when the “work” day is over and evening comes, I’m still wearing those jeans and t-shirts.  And guess what…the weekend comes along and I’m running the kids around while wearing…wait for it…..jeans and t-shirts!

It’s been like this for some time now, but for whatever reason it’s started bothering me lately.  And so, with the arrival of Fall, I’ve started making an effort to branch out a little bit when it comes to the clothes I wear.  For me, branching out doesn’t mean wearing 4″ stiletto heels or micro mini skirts.  But it does mean that I’m making an effort to check out a few different stores.  And I’m making an effort to at least try on some different styles and look for some different colors.  For my first purchase, I decided to look for jeans (yes, predictable) but in a different color (all my jeans are blue, remember?) and style (all my jeans are boot cut).  Guess what I bought!  I traded in my boot cut jeans for a new pair of straight cut jeans.   And they are a beautiful, dark shade of…green.  Okay, I guess the color is predictable but come on folks…colored, straight cut,  jeans!

Baby steps, my friends…baby steps.

What’s your style?  What do you do when you want to change up your style a bit?

This post is part of the 31 Days Series-Choose Your Change.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.

 

 

31 Days {Day 13} – Change Your Perspective

31 Days 2014 One thing that my Dad often told me when I was a kid was this:

“To better understand another person, you have to put yourself in their shoes.”

I remember hearing him say this when I was around 5 or 6 and imagining myself literally wearing the other person’s shoes! Of course, he wasn’t telling me to put on the other person’s shoes, but to put myself in their position and see things from their point of view.  It was a reminder that we each have our own unique view of the world and that unique perspective impacts our decisions and our behaviors.

This advice highlights the important role that perspective plays in our lives.  And while it’s definitely important to consider the perspectives of others, it’s equally important to be aware of how your own perspectives are influencing your own opinions, decisions, and behavior.  Sometimes we adopt a flawed perspective without even knowing it. That flawed point of view may then go on to influence our lives in ways we never imagined.  Just as understanding another person’s perspective can be useful, understanding our own perspective can be helpful too.

In an article entitled, “The Power of Perspective:  Five Flawed World Views”, Dr. Simon discusses a few ways that our perspectives can impact our behavior.  For example, a person who believes that the world is dangerous and scary can be overly cautious and controlling.  And in situations where they feel as though they are losing control, this same person can feel anxious and distraught.  But imagine if this same person began challenging this perspective that the world is dangerous.  They may find themselves less anxious and more willing to try new things.

My Dad was right on the mark that the best way to understand others is to first understand their perspective.  Perhaps if we make it a point to also understand our own perspectives we might also begin to better understand ourselves too.

This post is part of the 31 Days Series-Choose Your Change.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.