Episode #17 5 Challenges for 30 Days
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
What stories do you habitually tell yourself? What stories can you reframe to create better habits and ways of being? Today I’m going to give you 5 challenges for the next 30 days! Easy, but life altering if you let them in.
Stories are our lives in language. Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. I’m Lori Lee, and I’m excited for our future together of telling stories, evaluating our own stories, and lifting ourselves and others to greater places because of our control over our stories. This podcast is about empowerment and giving you, the listener, ideas to work with in making your stories work for you. Power serves you best when you know how to use it.
Think about something you do habitually. Something that might have been hard to learn at first, but after practice, you can do it without even thinking about it. Your brain has set up a pattern and you will do it the same way every time. We set up patterns of behavior by repeatedly doing them until the body and brain go on autopilot and can do them without much thought. Since we become what we repeatedly do, and we do what we repeatedly think about it makes a great deal of sense that we purposefully create thoughts and habits that will help us become who we want to be. Habits that create the story and life we want for ourselves and our loved ones. Habits that strengthen, build and empower us. Often these habits are very linked to the stories we have going on in our minds.
The challenge I am throwing out to you today is to take the five simple things I’ll share and implement them into your life for just 30 days. No year-long resolution, no, just try these for 30 days and see what new habits you might form and how those transform your life and your way of seeing and thinking about things. So, let’s get started…first, eat chocolate cake everyday…just kidding.
1. Address and acknowledge the lesson in inconvenient situations – look at the stories.– There are lots of ways to look at life. We acknowledge all the time that our stories are filled with challenges – people we clash with, lost love, situations and people who require the very depths of our patience, health and body issues, disappointments, lost jobs, no job, that lump of coal you got for Christmas, the state of the world, the definning of shark. Of course there are also the moments of beauty and miracles, but this challenge is about the habit of how we deal with the disappointments and challenges. One of the ways we can approach life is with the idea that everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, they’re all part of the learning experience. So, here’s the challenge: Acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means the right thing for you– is still out there waiting, and the lesson you just learned is a step toward it. It’s easy to start making up stories about ourselves and others when things don’t happen the way we want: I’m not good enough; that person had it out for me; my boss doesn’t really like me; my friends always let me down, they must not respect me. None of these are helpful stories, even if they seem real. Remember that you get to choose your perspective of any situation: Attitude determines experience. When you try to find the lesson and glean a little something from the experience, and focus on that, there is less room for the one-liners to eat away and create a bad headspace for us. Every day we choose our state of mind. Try to find the lesson that comes with each challenge. Find the take-away – the thing you will ponder on, learn from, and focus on whenever you revisit that experience. It will change your story completely because you give up victimhood, blaming, bitterness…
2. Success File – what was the day’s story? At the end of the day I do what is called “success file” which is a play on sounds – “successful.” I go through and list in my head all the things I got done, instead of all the things I didn’t get done. This includes everything, even getting out of bed, taking a shower, doing my make-up. Because sometimes that’s harder than others. Some days my list is longer than others, but it always shows me that I’ve created SOME successes. Maybe my list is: I got dressed and ready for work. I made breakfast for the kids. I did morning meditation. I walked the dog. I went to zumba. I took a client out on showings. I fixed dinner. I had a great conversation with my son. Maybe instead it looks like: I got out of bed. I enjoyed a cup of tea. I read a book I’ve been wanting to read. I talked with a friend. I ate a healthy lunch. I processed some paperwork. Maybe it looks like this: I slept in late and got some extra needed ZZZs. I washed the car. I wrote a podcast. I went to a listing presentation. And that’s it. Every day is different for each person but it’s invigorating to file your successes instead of focus on the things still sitting on your List of Things To Do. Try this every night as you lay in bed before falling asleep. It’s a nice note to go to sleep on. It’s a nice way to frame your story with what you did, instead of what you didn’t.
3. Let Go: Get rid of one thing a day for 30 days.– We have so much clutter surrounding us at any given moment (at the office, in our cars, in our homes) and often we’ve become so accustomed to it that we no longer notice how it affects us. If you start cleaning up some of this external clutter, a lot of internal clutter disappears as well. When we sold our house and packed all our belongings in storage units and went off to travel Mexico I can verify that there was an energy draw to the things I owned in that storage facility. The things we own, even if they aren’t near us, tie up our energy. Choose one needless item each and every day and get rid of it. It’s that simple. It might be difficult at first, so expect some resistance. But after some time you will begin to learn to let go of “things”, and your mind will thank you for your efforts. Take a box of old clothes to Goodwill. Get rid of a vase that you’ve never really loved. Throw out those water bottles clanking around in the backseat of your car. Take down that picture you’ve had on your wall for 20 years and find something new and fresh that you love, clean out your music collection, sell off the DVDs you no longer want. This can be fun. Let Go! – Pay down a debt. Get rid of a bad relationship that causes you pain. Your options are many. Your surroundings are the stage in which your story takes place. Make it a place that you love – a place that feeds your energy, not drains it – a place where your best stories can play out.
4. Give the benefit of the doubt – My father and I got in a spat over politics. On the way home from his house my son and I were discussing the issue, and as I shared my frustration and lack of understanding as to the party my father supported my son reminded me to give him the benefit of the doubt. While it may not make sense why so many people voted in a direction I thought was completely amoral, my son reminded me that I had to give people the benefit of the doubt that their reasons for voting that way were not based on a complete lack of ethics, morals and intelligence. Maybe they are focused on only one part of the candidate rather than the whole package…or some such thing. Sometimes, especially when we don’t understand something, giving the benefit of the doubt can be the only way.
I’ve been told that my communications via e-mail and text are often too direct, without emotion. This stems from the fact that I’m not generally a flowery person, more straight to the point, but without facial expression and body language it can be interpreted as stark. I begged Matt, my podcasting partner, the other day to give me the benefit of the doubt in our communications because I don’t ever mean to offend, but I’m not great at adding heart emoticons and smiley faces. In fact, sometimes after I write an email I have to back to the top and add in all the “How are you” lines that one would generally exchange in person. I really appreciate it when people give me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not being a jerk.
There are always places where we can take offense. People rub up against each other (metaphorically speaking), it’s what we do. There are rubs and irritants, and miscommunications all day long. But if everyone gave one another the benefit of the doubt that they meant well, that they are doing the best they can in their current state of understanding and in their current situation, I suspect life would generate a whole lot less friction and we would create grace for others. I know I’m always grateful when people afford me a little grace and create stories that are generous and kind rather than being quick to take offense.
5. Meditate – Meditation is quite the buzz word. On Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, the top entrepreneurs very often talk about how meditation helps them be the top performers they are. In The Universe has your Back by Gabby Bernstein, she goes into great detail about the power of meditation. It’s a key spiritual practice for her. I’m trained in Transcendental Meditation and I notice that often when I am meditating, slowing my mind down for 20 minutes, that it is these moments when very needful things that have been lost in the hustle of my mind pop up to the surface so I can take care of them. I find it also rejuvenates me for the rest of the day. I sometimes even fall asleep – and that’s okay too, frankly. Aside from what I find, or what Gabby finds, or the what the EO Fire entrepreneur’s find, science also finds that meditation improves your health, both mental and physical. It calms, clarifies, creates flow. So, even though you are busy, I highly suggest you find 10 minutes every day to sit in a place where you can be alone, close your eyes, and focus on your breathe. Try to get your mind to place of quiet – this is why we focus on the breathing – on the present moment of the body, not on all the tangents the brain can conjure up. Use any technique you like, but notice the difference and create the possibility of calm, of communication with ideas and spirit, of just taking care of yourself. It’s a worthwhile investment that can put a whole new spin on your story.
That’s it! My five suggestions. Do these 5 simple things for 30 days. Write them down and put them where you can see them every morning. Ready: 1. Find the lesson in difficult situations. 2. Success file 3. Get rid of one thing a day for 30 days. 4. Give the benefit of the doubt. 5. Meditate.
Make it fun! Be consistent! And see how different your perspective, your relationships, your home and space, and your mind-set is in just one month! It’s exciting to think about. Then hop on www.loveyourstorypodcast.com and share your thoughts, your experiences, and your results with me. I promise to respond to every post. I am excited to hear from you. And one piece of advice. Don’t be hard on yourself. If you miss a day, start again the next day. If it’s difficult at first to give someone the benefit of the doubt, just practice it, do what you can. That’s why we have 30 days to practice, because new behaviors and ways of thinking take practice and you won’t get them right all the time. And that’s okay!
See you next week on the next episode of Love Your Story podcast. Please share this podcast with a friend and sign up for our weekly challenge on www.loveyourstorypodcast.com.