Keep Moving Forward: 5 Steps to Get Going


MLK-Positively-Present

 

Lately I've been struggling a lot with motivation. There are so many things I want to do and make (and be!), and I've gotten to that point where I feel so overwhelmed that, instead of taking action, I just want to lie down, throw the covers over my head, and do nothing. (And, of course, whenever I do that, I feel guilty and terrible and even more overwhelmed.)

Indecisive about wanted to write about this week, I was sitting here (very unproductively watching endless episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee) and it occurred to me that maybe this struggle — the frustration and disappointment that comes with feeling overwhelmed and, rather than tackling the tasks, doing nothing instead — is exactly the thing I should be writing about. So, rather than write about what I've done, as I often do, I'm writing today about what I plan to do to take small steps to make positive progress! 

 

STEP 1 : ACCEPT WHERE YOU ARE

The first step to tackling any problem, I've found, is acceptance, and I think that's quite true in this situation. First and foremost, I've got to accept where I am instead of frantically worrying about what haven't yet done or fretting uselessly about what I want to accomplish. The complaining and worrying and freaking out is (clearly!) doing no good, so I've got to start by accepting where I am — much as I dislike this particularly unclear and frazzled time in my life. Once I begin to realize that this is where I am (and remember that it's not where I'll be forever!), I bet I'll be able to feel just a tad less overwhelmed and a bit more able to take on what needs to be done. 

 

STEP 2 : USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE

This step is actually what made me finally sit down and start writing. I was struggling and then I thought to myself, Why not try working backwards? Instead of writing and then creating an image for the blog post, why not look at the images you've recently created and see if you're inspired by any of them? Of course, the first one I spotted was the one I made for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — and the perfect prompt to remind me that, wherever I am, I can get started using what I have. I might have some limitations at the moment — both physical and mental — but I still have a lot that I can work with! 

 

STEP 3 : MAKE A (SHORT!) LIST

I'm a chronic list maker (could you tell from my listicle blog posts? ha!), but the older I get, the more I notice that lists aren't always as productive as I think they are. Sometimes, as I mentioned, I look at that long list of to-do tasks and feel so overwhelmed I just snap my iPad shut and avoid them all together. This week I'm going to try making short, specific lists. Rather than something vague like "write next week's blog post" it'll be "write 5 tips about X." Getting specific and direct with my lists might (hopefully!!) me take more action. 

 

STEP 4 : DO THE HARD STUFF FIRST

We all have limited amounts of will power that apparently diminish over the course of a day, which means it's important to get the stuff you really don't want to do out of the way first. I've recently gotten into the habit of starting my days out slow and working more later in the day, but this week I'm aiming to get back on a get-up-and-get-to-work schedule, tackling the tasks I dislike first so that it's more likely I'll get them done. 

 

STEP 5 : TRY DIFFERENT METHODS

Staying motivated, particularly if you feel like you don't have access to the tools or mindsets you need, is challenging (which is why there are tons of books on productivity). One method that worked for me for awhile was keeping a "Done" lists alongside my "To-Do" list, where I'd  track what I'd accomplished — however small! I'm going to revisit that one this week, and explore some other productivity habits (like the Pomodoro Technique, which has always intrigued me). We're all different (and we all change, too!) so it's probably a good idea to explore new methods when in a rut. 

 

Wish me luck as I try to get a handle on this — and feel free to share any ideas or resources in the comments section below. I'd love to know what you do whenever you feel overwhelmed with a mountain of tasks that you've been putting off for months. Advice and resources greatly appreciated! 

 

Taking my own advice, I'm doing one thing that's been on my mind but I've been putting off: finding out what's on your mind! I have so many ideas for this year, but I want to know what you want to see from Positively Present in 2018! Click the link below to take the one-question survey.  

 

TAKE THE ONE QUESTION SURVEY! 

 
Thank you so much!
Can't wait to get create some
wonderful things for you this year!

 


The 5 Best Ways to Beat the January Blues


Hey Its Okay Positively Present

 

Happy 2018!

2017 was... interesting (to put it nicely), and I can't deny that I'm looking forward to a fresh start, with 12 whole months of possibilities ahead. That being said, January is always a bit of a tough month for me. For some people, there's the excitement of a fresh start, the glow of the coming year's opportunities, and I want to embrace all of those things too, but more often than not, it's just stressful. The beginning of January often comes with a mix of make-it-the-best-year-ever pressure and it's-ages-before-my-favorite-season (autumn) rolls around again. 

Like many people, January often finds me either fretting about what I didn't do in the previous year or worrying about all that's yet to come. Plus, the holidays are over, the days are short, dark, and often gloomy, and it's cold. It's not the greatest month for a lot of us, but that doesn't mean we can't do our best to stay as positively present as possible! 

Here are some of the tactics I'll be using this month to try tackling those January blues. All of these I've tried before and they've really helped me ward off the doom-and-gloom of the new year. Hopefully they'll help you too! 

 

ACCEPT THE DOWN-AND-OUT VIBES

When it comes to dealing with a difficult situation — no matter what it is! — the first step is acceptance. If you try to pretend you're not struggling or you try to push away the sad or stressed emotions, they'll come back even worse (and often in unpredictable and bizarre ways!). If you're not feeling the "new year, new me!" vibes, don't worry — you're not alone. It's a challenging time for a lot of people, and the first step to making it easier is recognizing that it's okay not to feel super excited and optimistic about the year ahead. Twelve months is a long time, and you don't have to be jumping for joy on day one. Allow yourself to feel how you feel, and try your best not to judge yourself or tell yourself that you "should" feel a certain way. You feel how you feel, and that's perfectly okay. 

 

DO SOMETHING YOU PUT OFF LAST YEAR

Part of the not-so-great feelings that can come along on January 1 involve believing that you didn't accomplish everything you wanted to last year. You've probably heard about the high failure rates for new year's resolutions so if you didn't get all of your bad habits under control last year, you're not alone. You can't change everything that happened last year, but you can take a positive action right now. Think of one thing you could do right this month (today even!) that you wanted to do last year. It doesn't have to be something big — could be cleaning out a closet, donating some old clothes, writing an email to an old friend, visiting a museum you've been wanting to check out — but pick something and do it. It'll make you feel good, and it'll set a positive, proactive tone for the year ahead. 

 

START A NEW (POSITIVE!) DAILY HABIT

I know, I know — this is the most cliched new year advice in the world, but for the past few years I've started doing Yoga with Adriene's 30 Day Yoga Journey and it's been amazing for me. Working out is hard (especially if you're not a fan, like me) and this is an easy way for me to get into a routine without too much effort since I can do it at home anytime I want. Plus, because she's been doing these for a few years, I start a old video series in February and it keeps me on track for a few months. It apparently takes about two weeks to start a habit so why not incorporate something into your daily routine now? It doesn't have to be a major shift (sometimes that whole "resolution" concept feels daunting!), but doing something (however small!) new on a daily basis will give you a nice little focus for upcoming gloomy month.  

 

KEEP YOUR HOME FESTIVELY HYGGE

Last year after Christmas, I decided I was going to leave up the lights all year 'round. I'd decorated my bookshelves and windows with them and I knew that taking them down was one of the hardest bits of post-Christmas de-decorating because it meant a lot of the light would be taken out of the room. Keeping up lights always seemed too college-dorm-room to me, but once I decided to embrace them, it was kinda awesome. I generally don't use them much in the warmer months, but they keep my place feeling cozy and hygge-like all winter long. Lights might not be your thing, but try to do something at home that'll keep you feeling cozy and uplifted throughout the darkest months of the year. Even a little thing can have a big impact on your mood!

 

MAKE A STAY-THE-SAME RESOLUTION

Years ago, I wrote New Year, Same Me: 6 Stay-the-Same Resolutions, and I think about it every year when all of the articles and blog posts on making and keeping new year's resolutions start popping up everywhere. There's always so much focus on what we want to change and what we hope for in the year ahead (or reflections on what happened the year before), and most people don't pause to think about what they want to stay the same in the upcoming months. Resolutions might work for some people, but I personally find them frustratingly ineffective. Since I wrote that post back in 2010, I've found it a lot more useful to think about what worked well in the previous year and direct my focus to creating more of that in my life. Instead of focusing on what you don't want to be (or don't feel you are), try zeroing in on what's working about you and your life, and it's sure to make January a bit more joyful (and perhaps a little less judgmental, too!). 

 

If you're struggling right now, don't forget: you're not alone. A lot of us have a hard time during this time of year, and the best thing you can do is do what you can to make the most of it. Hopefully these tips will provide some inspiration for the weeks to come, but if you're really feeling down and can't seem to shake the January blues, I highly recommend seeking advice from a professional. Therapy (and light therapy!) can work wonders for the toughest time of the year. 

 

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4 Ways to Embrace the Freedom of Letting Go

 

Positively-Present-Let-Go

 

This week, I made this illustration for the "Freedom" prompt of the 2017 Gratitude Challenge, and it really got me thinking about how freeing the act of letting go really is. But it's also really difficult to do — at least for me it is. I'm pretty picky so when I let a person / thing / experience / idea / behavior into my life, I find it challenging to let it go (even when I know for sure it's no good for me). But, as I say often, it's often the most challenging things that are the ones worth doing. 

Hanging onto the things you no longer need might feel comforting, but consider what would happen if trees clung to all of their dead leaves? Come spring, the brand new (alive!) leaves would have a pretty tough time finding room on the branches. Same goes for us. When we cling to what's no longer enhancing our lives, we block off possibilities for new things to flourish. 

Releasing our own dead leaves isn't always a smooth and effortless process, the way it seems to be for the trees, but that doesn't mean we can't do it. If we want the freedom that comes with letting go, it's up to us to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of letting go. Here are some of the best ways to get started: 
 

  • Determine what you value most. When you take a step back and think about you truly value in your life, you'll realize that much of you're holding on to isn't as essential as you might've thought. What's essential is being healthy, positive, mindful, and living your life to the fullest (or maybe some other things that matter most to you!). If you are clinging to things or people, you're not experiencing true freedom. You're restricted by beliefs that aren't allowing you to thrive the way the trees do in the spring. Stepping back and assessing what really matters to you will make letting go a lot easier.

  • Reflect on what you're really receiving. We often hang on to things or people because we believe they're add value to our lives, that we're receiving some benefit from them (or providing it to them). But is that actually a fact? Are you actually benefiting from the clutter (emotional or physical) in your life, or do you just tell yourself you are because it's easier than choosing change? Reflecting on whether or not a person / experience / etc. is making your life richer can provide you with a boost of motivation to let someone or something go. Of course, not everything in life is about what you get from it, but if something is taking more than it's giving, it might not be worth clinging to.  

  • Take note of what you're overvaluing. Are you placing high value on a person or thing you're holding on to unnecessarily? Are you giving something way more value than it truly has? More often than not, we idealize people or things and tell ourselves that, for whatever reason, we need it/him/her. Needing something is kind of prison; it keeps you trapped in situations that aren't necessarily beneficial for you. If there's a voice inside you saying "let go," it's a pretty good sign that you should let go. What you truly need in your life is never going to be accompanied by a voice that urges you to let go. Listen to that voice — not the one that overvalues what's no good for you as a way to keep you feeling the false comfort of not experiencing freedom. 

  • Be strong enough to release your grasp. It really does come down to two little words: let go. No matter how hard it feels, no matter what obstacles appear to stand in your way, if you want to experience true freedom, you have to be brave and release your grip. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but, honestly, taking action really is the only way to access freedom and make room for new growth. You owe it to yourself to be brave and release what you no longer need. And keep this in mind: the hardest part is the release; once you're brave enough to take that first step, you'll soon see that you're fine without those dead leaves clinging to your branches. 
     

As you're learning to let go, also keep in mind that, deep down, you know what's best for you. If there's a voice telling you to let go, listen to that instinct. You won't hear that voice when you're doing what's right for you, when you're with people who bring you up, when you're connecting with the very best parts of yourself. It's hard to listen to the voice telling you to do the hard thing, but not listening often makes it harder — you'll either remained imprisoned by what you're clinging to, or you'll drag out the letting go process, making it even more challenging when you finally release that grip. 

Let the trees inspire you, and look to them way they let the dead leaves drop motivate you to release what you no longer need. When you let go, you might go through a tough time — a bare-branched winter, like the trees — but that pain will pass, and you'll have made room for the bright, lively leaves of spring when they arrive (and they will!). 

 

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