Stuck in a Rut

betterEver have one of those days…or in this case, a month…that everything you set out to do just wasn’t happening at all?  Welcome to my entire month of February. 

I’m not sure if it’s the winter blues or what, but accomplishing any goals or resolutions this month has been non-existent.  Ok, maybe I read two books this month…but that’s still putting me behind the book a week resolution.

The crap weather = more shopping online.  And yes, I did just order my groceries online for pickup (so I don’t have to wait in line or shop).  I also ordered 10 more J. Crew items, along with some intimate stuff. [Btw, ICYMI, do not buy Victoria’s Secret.  There’s a report out that says that they use a chemical in their intimates that can result in birth defects and cancers in women and abnormal breast growth for young girls.  And yes, girls are wearing VS. I was wearing VS when I was 15.  I stopped about 13 years ago.  So if you’re looking to get pregnant…don’t wear VS.]

Don’t the winter blues usually equal more shopping and hiding in our caves, only to come out when we have to (like bring in the UPS package from off of our front porch/hallway)? 

What do you do when you get stuck in a rut like this?

You re-evaluate everything you’re doing that you’re supposed to be doing.

I decided a few months ago to do 100 chores a day.  My apartment looked fabulous because of it.  By the time the winter months set in, those 100 chores a day sort of disappeared.  Maybe it was 100 chores a week (if that). 

Reading books…I think I’ve read a total of 3 or 4 books so far.  That means I’m 4-5 books behind.

Magazine subscriptions are piling up.

Laundry is piling up. 

The clutter is definitely piling up.

So what can you do to help you refocus? 

better1For most ladies, we turn to Pinterest for inspiration.  I’ve been trying to organize my magazines so that the organization will work for me.  I decided to organize them by month, because most home and food magazines really need to be viewed according to the month you’re in…especially if you rotate your decor around every season and create recipes according to the current seasonal fruits and vegetables.

This works especially well during the holidays.  That way I can pull all of my Easter recipes, Thanksgiving recipes, and Christmas recipes very easily. 

As for Pinterest, I’ve been discovering ways to organize and store these magazines to make it easier for me to find what I’m looking for.  Even a simple DIY by recycling boxes brings down the cost of buying 12 magazine files (which can get pricey).  That’s the beauty of Pinterest…you can find about a million projects you can DIY at home.

Seeing something visual, especially something that is very pleasing to your eyes can help you to refocus and get back on track again. 

For reading, I followed a lot of pinners that pin a lot of photos of libraries and beautifully bound books and their covers. 

For eating healthy, I started looking at various food recipes for vegetarians and vegans.  And if something looked really good that was totally not vegetarian, my mind started spinning on how I could veganize them.

Looking for inspiration can come in the form of a photo and Pinterest offers about a zillion photos on anything you need to inspire you to get back to the goal you wish to accomplish.  Even reading articles from financial experts, workout gurus, home decor sites, etc. will keep you informed and inspired on what steps you need to take next to reach your goal.

Next, it takes the whole…just do it attitude.  You know…the quit bitching that you’re not doing it and just do it already…attitude.

For instance, my ‘get moving’ ‘100 chores a day’ attitude has become, “just do it.”  I think about how I don’t want my home to be a cluttered mess anymore.  So I need to just get up off my rear end, do the chores, and start to feel better about the home I live in.  After all…a cluttered home = an unhappy home.

Since I let the 100 chores slip over these past few months, I have plenty of organizing and cleaning to do to last me the next month before I hit maintenance mode.

As for working out, I realized that taking the train in to work was shaving off 15 minutes of walking time from my life.  That means I started to feel a little sluggish when I did have to walk around.  So I’m trying to get up earlier so I don’t have to utilize the train.  I also read a few articles from Jillian Michaels.  She shared her shortcuts to weight loss.  One of those suggestions was working 2 muscle groups at the same time (which explains the KettleBell workout).  When you work 2 muscle groups at the same time, you’re actually fitting in cardio too.  Wow, right?  There’s a friggin shortcut to working out!  Hallelujah. 

So doing ballet while carrying a KettleBell can net a more intense cardio/weight train workout.  Or doing pilates, working the upper body and your lower body (maybe even your core too) at the same time will net some serious cardio points too.

Dieting?  Dieting is always a pain.  Since I’m starting to move towards being a vegan again, I’ve been cutting out one thing after another from my diet and adding more of the good things back in (like more fruits and veggies).  I learned from Jillian that 80% of what you eat needs to be the good stuff.  You can leave the 20% for the bad stuff.  In other words, you don’t have to withdraw from everything…just make sure that 80% of what you eat is the good stuff.

So as of now, my focus is just on making sure that 80% of what I’m eating is what I’m supposed to be eating, the other 20% is the residual fats, dairy, occasional chicken/fish that I’m trying to move away from.  OR I may decide to just do the Mediterranean Diet, sticking to only fish and chicken in that 20%. 

I think that’s probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from Jillian this week.  You don’t have to sacrifice everything in order to do something good for yourself, just make sure that 80% of what you’re doing is the good stuff…and you can still have that 20% of the bad stuff.  Nobody’s perfect…then again, you shouldn’t have to deny yourself completely of something you love. 

There are shortcuts…take them…especially if they will net you the same result later on down the road.  So maybe I’ll take to listening to audiobooks to get me through my 52 books a year, instead of just reading all 52. 

In other words, sometimes when we create goals for ourselves, we can become overwhelmed by the magnitude of what we are asking ourselves to do.  Going from not working out at all to 4 times a week…yeah…that takes time to do.  Usually when you fail at being able to accomplish that goal, you start to give up.  Instead, make it a ladder goal.  Start by working out one day a week.  When you’ve got that down and feel you can move to the next rung, add the next day…and so on.  You’ll find that change to better yourself, no matter how small, is still better than no change.

If you set a financial goal for yourself, don’t think about the 20% down payment for a home saved up in 18 months.  Just think about the smaller goals first.  For instance, since this is my goal, I actually started to get overwhelmed with saving, wanting to pay down or pay off all debt and raise my credit score, that I finally looked at the overall picture and asked myself if everything I wanted was realistic based on who I am? 

What I mean by that…I like fashion.  I like to travel.  Am I ready to give up both of those things to save all of that money for the down payment?  Apparently, I’m not.  I have 2 more trips scheduled for Dallas, 2-5 weeks of work in New Orleans, my annual international trips (going to Spain and Morocco this year)…I cannot realistically give those things up.  Why?  Because I’d be giving up something I love…and to me, that target amount I set in 18 months just wasn’t realistic. 

As for cutting out fashion…it’s like dieting…your brain freaks out and thinks…YOU’RE MAKING ME CUT THIS STUFF OUT THAT I LOVE SO MUCH????  I’LL SHOW YOU!  And then here comes the binge.

So how does one tackle these two loves?  By giving in to both, but in moderation…just like you’re supposed to do when you are dieting.  In a way, I could apply that 80/20 principle here.  80% goes to that savings, but I’ll have that 20% leftover to have what I don’t want to live without.

How am I able to do the moderation part?  Well…all flights to Dallas are around $400.  I paid $250 for February, $205 for March and $145 for April.  How?  Miles…unused tickets…travel certificates, etc.  That’s definitely helped bring down the cost of travel.  When given the opportunity to purchase extra miles when I fly, I triple up so I can earn miles faster.  It’s way cheaper than actually flying to get the same amount of miles.

Traveling domestically has probably been the smartest thing I decided to do this year.  I wanted to make sure I still nurtured my wanderlust, and saved money in the long run.  Now, I get to remember JFK 3 times this year during the 50 year anniversary of that horrible day.

There are always ways to accomplish the goals you’ve set out for yourself.  When you feel overwhelmed or stuck in a rut, just take time out to re-evaluate how you can succeed accomplishing what you set out to do.  You don’t have to abandon it all.  You just have to re-evaluate what you want, how you’re going to get there, what’s working, what’s not working, what’s realistic, and what’s not realistic.  Sometimes you need to set lower immediate goals that will eventually lead to the bigger goal. 

Maybe 18 months is too soon to come up with the down payment.  Maybe I should make it 24 months instead.  Always re-evaluate your goals to see how you can get there.  Sometimes the timing is too soon.  Sometimes you’re asking too much of yourself.  Sometimes there may be an easier way to get to the final outcome.  It’s all about revisiting how you can succeed.  Sometimes you can take a step in the wrong direction.  When that happens, take a step back, reflect, and see if there’s something out there that can put you back on track. 

Once you’re back on track, always take a moment to reflect (at least once a month) to re-evaluate if you are going in the direction you want to be going.  If you’re not, don’t give up.  Just figure out what you’re doing right and focus on that.  See how you can make it better in order to reach your goal.  Notice I said what you’re doing RIGHT, not wrong.  Focus on the positive, not the negative.

Most of all, don’t give up on your goal.  Just re-evaluate how you’re going to accomplish what you’re trying to do.  There comes a time when it feels like you need to give up…don’t give up when it gets hard.  Let go when what you’re after isn’t who you are or what you want anymore.

If things are getting too hard, take a step back, reflect and evaluate if what you’re doing is going to better your life and what you want out of it.  Sometimes when it gets hard, you’re actually doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

I was reading someone tweet the other day how difficult it was for them to write…even though they are so successful at it.  As a hockey writer, the non-stop writing, game coverage (two teams at that), and NHL coverage just really got hard…but I struggled through it until I felt like it was time to let it go.  If I was 30 and let it go, I would have been stupid.  Turning 37 in July this year and realizing I was letting life pass me by…I was about to give up on having a family of my own, you have to ask what was more important?  A career or a family?  You’ll let go of one thing because the other thing is about to slip away and you want that just as much or even more…that’s when you sacrifice a goal. 

To continue as a hockey writer, I would not have been making my life better  I would have been hurting myself.  That’s why I made the decision I made to let go of that life.  I don’t regret that decision, but at the same time I’m re-evaluating just how I’m going to have that family.

Goals can change at any time.  Sometimes life happens and what you want out of life…there may be many things, many dreams.  It is your responsibility to succeed in every dream.  Some dreams weigh heavier than others.  Other dreams, you have to let go of when the time is right.  I lived that hockey writer dream and moved on to another dream when it was time to let go of the hockey dream.  It’s not a decision I regret at all. 

That’s how you’ll know when it’s time to let go of a dream or a goal.  You let go when it no longer benefits you, not when it gets tough.

Spring weather is almost here.  It’s best to reflect now as you move into the month of March how you’re going to get out of your rut.  Find new solutions (or shortcuts).  Look for smaller, more immediate goals that you can realistically accomplish that will lead you to the ultimate goal you’re hoping to accomplish.  Just take it one step at a time.  Hit your comfort range and push a little beyond it until you can’t push anymore. 

Then try again the next month to push a little further.

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