Human Racing

Recently, I went to watch my husband, Pierre, Autocross (Auto-X), which is a car racing sport where pylons define a specific course in a large empty space (like a parking lot) and drivers are timed as they individually navigate through it. The object is to beat your time over several runs during the course of the day and maybe even win your “class” (a Ford Taurus and a Porche wouldn’t be in the same class because THAT just wouldn’t be fair!).

I don’t Auto-X, but sometimes I go along for a ride and that’s a lot of fun! As I co-piloted and simply watched the Auto-Xers, I noticed it had a lot in common with my competitive sport of choice, running. They share similar life lessons. Here are just three of them:

Lesson #1: Know your vehicle

Driving a Porche is a little different than driving a Ford Taurus. If you expect the Taurus to perform like a Porche, you WILL be disappointed! But, then, you’d be equally disappointed if you expected to get all your groceries into the back of a Porche! Auto-Xers drive every car imaginable and the people that do well simply understand what their vehicle can do and what it can’t do.

The same can be said for runners. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are lots of Porches and lots of Tauruses. Seeing a Taurus who understands his/her own abilities and uses them to the max is as exciting as watching the Porches.

Lesson #2: Pace yourself

Whether it’s cars or people, once you figure out what’s under the hood, you need to learn to take care of it–or physical break down is inevitable.

In Auto-X, if you simply try to blast through the course, ignoring the difference between a straightaway or an intense turn, you aren’t going to get very far–you may even crash! In running, if you go out too fast in a marathon, you’ll likely bonk way before the finish line!

On the other hand, if you keep “saving up” for the finish line (“I’ll give it all I’ve got later”), you’re not getting the most out of the vehicle or yourself. And, as in all things in life, there may not be another chance. Lightning could strike, your car could break down, you could fall into a pothole as you’re running and break an ankle.

In either case, you have to constantly listen to your vehicle. It all comes down to pacing. You have to be able to recognize when the less-is-more approach is appropriate and when the more-is-more approach is appropriate.

As a kid, I was a sprinter–there was OFF and ON–no in between. It’s taken a lot of practice and life experience to learn the pacing lesson. For me, that means being “in the moment”. I’ve gotten pretty good at asking myself, “how do I feel RIGHT NOW? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally?” I might feel one way this minute, and another way this minute (if, for example, a lightning bolt hit me in between those two minutes, how would my experience change? Radically, I’m guessing!).

The older I get, as aches and pains increase in number, pacing has become a running (and life) imperative for me.

Lesson #3: Appreciate ALL your resources

Knowing “what’s under the hood” and learning the subtle nuances of pace are important, but car races, foot races and human races don’t succeed without community. We can be Usain Bolt or one of the Andretti racing clan, but without the many people working in the background, there is no success. Some of those “resources” even volunteer to put up tents, time events, hand you water, cheer you on, inspire you and help you succeed in a thousand other ways.

I’m Curious. What lessons have you learned through your racing experiences? I’d love to hear about them!

Tracy

 

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Brains are stupid!

This is my conclusion six months into my Do-Over Challenge. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced during that time is getting my brain to cooperate.

Like when I meditate. It takes every ounce of energy I have to focus on the breath. All I have to do is focus on the breath going into my body… and focus on the breath as it leaves my body. Easy-peasy.

But NOOOOO! I can’t focus on my breath more than a minute or two without my brain flitting off to make plans, make lists, over-analyze, rationalize, second guess, and otherwise get in the way of my progress. How can breathing be sooo difficult?!

The meditation guy says, “That’s just what brains do” and that I am to “congratulate” myself when I realize I’m away from the breath, not admonish myself, and focus back on the breath.

Easy for him to say. I just want to tell my brain, “Shut the f***k up!

The program I’m working on is from the The Mindful Way Workbook. It’s very well-researched and even comes with a CD with meditations on it. I have to admit it’s been very helpful but it’s got me wondering just how stupid brains are. Why can’t they just realize thinking is getting in the way and just, well, STOP thinking?!

In one of the meditations the guy says  “thinking isn’t the enemy”. I beg to differ. I think the world would be a lot better off without all this extraneous thinking going on. How many wars have been started by “smart” people thinking it was a wise idea? How many “smart” inventions have killed millions? How many “smart” asses get their asses kicked?

I think we’d all be a little happier if we didn’t have our brains in overdrive all the time–I know I would be happier. What do you think?

I’m thinking at this moment that I’m thinking wayyy too much about thinking. I’m tired, frustrated and plain cranky because I just can’t shut off my stupid brain. I just want to do what I feel without my brain’s constant nattering!

That’s all I got!

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The cost of change

Hi All!

I’ve been thinking recently about the various costs associated with change.

I’ve realized there is a tangible, monetary cost of changing my life. I want to change some of my thinking patterns, so I see a psychologist. Ca-ching! My brain is a bit stuck, so I see another psychologist who specializes in neurofeedback. Ca-ching! I’ve been having trouble losing weight on my own, so I joined WeightWatchers. Ca-ching!

The money pile is only so big and  it means my savings aren’t quite where I want them to be, but I look at it like an investment. Besides, I’m trying to do things differently so I’m willing to pony up the cash–within reason!

Then there’s the emotional cost of change. As I’ve said many times, this is really hard. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting.

I expected the financial and emotional cost, but it’s the social cost that has caught me a little off guard. I ‘ve read about it. I’ve thought about it. But actually seeing your social relationships change–for better and for worse–is challenging. Some people are invested in who you are right now–they don’t want you to change! It’s hard to say goodbye to people you’ve known for a long time or to put up boundaries where they were shaky before. And, just so you know, you will be tested!

In the end, the people who truly love you want you to be your best–even if that means some upheaval for a while. Thank you to those people–I couldn’t go through this without you!

There is one cost missing from this list: the cost of doing nothing.

change lao tzu

It may seem simplistic, but it is an undeniable truth. If you’re driving down the road and a fully-loaded semi crosses the center line and is heading straight for you…well, you better make a change–and quick!

The semi isn’t exactly in front of me, but I know I need to make change now before I lose the very best of myself. For me, the price is too high NOT to change.

When is the cost of doing nothing, too high of a price to pay for you?

Tracy

 

 

Can it get any worse?!

I’m sure you’ve said this to yourself at some point in your life.

The simple answer is: Yes. Of course it can get worse!!

No one promised there would be good times and not-so-good times in equal measure. It’s not that way sometimes.

Sometimes, it rains harder and harder…and still harder and it JUST-WON’T-LET-THE-F*CK-UP! Sometimes, life is just hard. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. There are times in everyone’s life (I mean anyone who’s ever lived on planet earth from Aristotle to Donald Trump!) when it feels like the negative train is stuck at your station with no plans to move on.

Before you think I’m being a Debbie Doomsday, this is actually a positive post. Let me elaborate…

I’m having a really difficult time right now as I get into the thick of The Do-Over Project. You see, change is really hard work–it’s been a while since I’ve gone through significant change and I forgot how tough it is (probably a lot like the pain of childbirth). It’s not that I’m feeling negative, but I am feeling overwhelmed. And that feels negative.

It doesn’t feel good to be constantly working on myself. One night it’s neurofeedback. Another it’s therapy. Another it’s singing lessons. Then there’s climbing and journaling and running and meditation and WeightWatchers and Sunday walking group and weening off meds and working full time, and, and, and!!!

The worst part is, I’ve put all this extra work on myself deliberately. It’s not like the world has thrown me curve balls–I’m doing it to myself.

I’ve talked about how difficult my process has been before and I feel I have no right to complain because it’s a deliberate act. I want to share this experience because anyone contemplating real change in their life is going to hit this same wall.

So why bother?

The end result. Ever witness a butterfly emerge from it’s cocoon? Ever seen a time-lapse of a flower as it emerges from it’s bud? It’s excruciating to watch! Oh, but the result!!!

That’s what’s kept me going lately. I’m in the cocoon, pushing out the walls so that butterfly can emerge! I don’t know when it will happen, but I don’t think I’m far off. I think that’s why the process has been so gruelling lately. I feel like I’m at a tipping point into some unknown universe. Almost, but not quite, at the moment when the tide turns.

I guess that’s the positive takeaway: no matter how difficult, the tide always turns. It has to because that’s what tides do! So what do you do until it does?

Give yourself a break. I took yesterday off because I had a headache and didn’t sleep well. At first I felt guilty because I wasn’t “sick enough” to stay home. Now I realize how much I needed that time. At this stage of change, you need to just get through it. Cut out a some activities, if you find it’s too much (guess what I’ll be doing in the near future?!). Instead of wearing yourself down further, find ways to rejuvenate. Take more walks, get a massage, etc.

Don’t make any major life decisions. Sometimes I think, “Maybe if I get a new house or change jobs…” As appealing as those changes are, they’re only shiny distractions. What you really need now is unshiny, slow plodding progress to the finish line. Ughh!! Not nearly as sexy as a new car!

Pay attention and applaud yourself. Look for evidence of small changes and celebrate them. Drastic change only happen on “The Biggest Loser” — and it usually doesn’t last. A small change is easier to repeat, and thus leads to solid, long-term change. For example, taking the day off even though I wasn’t deathly ill is a small change for me–it’s not something I’d typically do. Hurray!

Don’t isolate yourself. It can feel like a very lonely journey at times. It is, in a way, because you’re the only one who can make the change. At the same time, as I said at the beginning of this post, everyone’s been through it. Tell people who are close to you and they’ll help pull you out of your cocoon!

Remember: Things might get worse before they get better, but the end results are worth (if you can stand one more metaphor!) riding the wave.

Tracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renos: starting with good bones

It’s been 10 llll-o-n-g days since I last wrote. For good reason. In my last post, I wrote about being medication-free for the first time in 20 years and how exhilarating that is.

Since then, I’ve been paying the price for that decision. Withdrawal from a long-term drug (especially Paxil) is not as much fun as it sounds!

Hot & cold sweats. Nausea & vomiting. Headache. Feeling “scratchy” on the inside of my skull. Muscle tremors. “Swimmy” head. Dizziness. Lack of concentration. Restlessness. THEN, there are the emotional effects. One minute I feel full of rage. The next, sadness. AND, I worked every day last week, except Wednesday. No wonder they recommend taking a week or two off (which I didn’t do because I’m on contract )!

I don’t have addiction issues, but it sure makes me understand and empathize with those withdrawing from cocaine or heroin. The ONLY difference I can see, is that I don’t crave Paxil all the time (which is why what I’m experiencing is technically called discontinuation syndrome and not withdrawal).

I’ve learned important lessons over those 10 days and, oddly enough, they also apply to renovating a house (which I know something about because my husband and I have been doing it for a dozen years!):

There’s a big difference between remodelling and renovating.

When you remodel your home, you make it pretty.  It usually involves paint, maybe some new kitchen cabinets, new furniture, etc. Renovating involves pulling out walls, identifying and fixing structural problems, replacing an old furnace or water heater, etc. They’re both valuable, but, I contend, if you don’t renovate, remodelling is kinda pointless.

Yes, you can paper over a crooked wall, but YOU know there’s something wrong underneath that could be fixed. MAYBE the thing that needs to be fixed is so integral to the structure, that the house could fall down around your ears! Then what point is the pretty wallpaper? If you fix the real problem, the beautiful color on your walls is a source of enjoyment–not a source of stress because you KNOW what you’ve covered up.

The same applies to renovating your life. I can remodel with weight loss, working out, meditating–whatever. It’s helpful, but unless I renovate, get to the root of why I felt the need to do a do-over in the first place, I am much more likely to backslide. Maybe I’ll gain the weight back, drop out of the running group, etc.–without even knowing why. And because I don’t know why, I’ll likely blame myself for not sticking to my plan. It’s a terribly destructive cycle.

I wanted to take Paxil out the equation because I wanted to “strip off the wallpaper” and see the structure of who I truly am underneath.

Our house was built in the 1920s and it was solidly built. It has “good bones”. Building technology was different back then, so we’ve renovated, removing all the old plaster and lath and replacing it with drywall. There is not much worse (except maybe withdrawing from Paxil!) then being covered in a gooey paste of sweat and plaster because the only time you have to renovate is mid-July. But it’s been worth it. We know renovating on top of “good bones” means that any remodeling we now do will look amazing. From the remodeling we’ve done so far, I can attest to this truth.

I’m not as old as my house (I’m a 60s structure!), but I like to think I have the same “good bones” as my house and with a little renovating, whatever I put on top of those worthwhile renovations (weight lose, meditation, etc.) will be beautiful and enduring.

Expect pain.

Remodeling, in my experience, is a lot of fun! You pick out the tiles you love, get the high end finishings, choose awesome paint color, and you’re done. There’s effort, of course, but it’s mostly fun.

Renovating is hard (see gooey paste above!). You rarely see your efforts–only YOU know they’re there. It’s also more time-consuming. Boxes and boxes and still more boxes of plaster and lath went into the dumpster.

And it’s physically painful when you torque your back lifting all those boxes and boxes… In the end, the pain was worth it because renos provide a great “bang for the buck” (both structurally and financially). The true value, however, is in the enduring beauty of your efforts to work through the pain–just like renovating your life.

Accept pain.

I can’t explain this concept, except to say this: I have found it much easier to get through renos when I accept that there WILL be pain. You can count on it! I guess when I accept that there will be pain, I am also accepting that I can get through it–after all I’m doing it, aren’t I?!!

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted talking about all this renovating!

In the end, after going through the last 10 days, I realize that the truly exhilarating times are still to come. Right now, I’m getting stronger every day. I am renovating the heck out of myself. It’s really hard. Painful even. But I have good bones (I bet you have good bones too) and I am up to the challenge of the renovation.

I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of this year. Here’s to many,  many more lessons!

Tracy

PS HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!

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REALLY long term goals

What a great day for the Do-Over Project!

I used to have Epilepsy and was on medication for that for years. Shortly after I stopped the anti-convulsant, I was diagnosed with panic disorder and have spent over 20 years on Paxil.

You can, perhaps, understand why one of my goals in life is to be medication free. No anti-convulsant, no anti-anxiety–and no anti-diabetes, no anti-high-blood-pressure, or any other typical meds adults are on. No medication. Period.

I’d like that to extend to the rest of my life.

I think it’s possible, so this year, as I work on my Do-Over Project, I’m trying to get myself as healthy as I can to get rid of what little medication I am on and not start on any others for as long as I possibly can.

I’m not anti-medication, by the way, if you need it, you need it. But my own experience with medication and watching my parents gulp down pills by the handfuls (my father just told me he take 10 different pills per day!), well, I just don’t want to do it!

Anyway, As part of the Do-Over Project, I’ve been decreasing Paxil since the beginning of the year, and I just went to the shrink who’s prescribing it and she says I’m on a low enough dose now that I can stop it entirely.

AND, Paxil is the only med I’m on. Tonight, for the first time in 20 years, I won’t be taking medication. This is huge for me and I just needed to share my joy with the world!!

I don’t know what the future may bring, I may have to go back on an anti-anxiety med again, who knows? Maybe there are other medications in my future, but I’m going to do everything in my power to stay healthy enough to avoid that possibility.

It was important to keep at this REALLY long-term goal–for more than health reasons. It tells me to keep at other REALLY long-term goals–like publishing a book. It’s another almost life-long goal. If I can finally achieve the medication REALLY long-term goal, maybe my published book isn’t far off! Just keep at the goal!

Cheers,

Tracy

 

Why am I so exhausted?

Why am I so exhausted? That’s what’s been on my mind lately.

At first I was whining, “Oh, it’s cuz I’m getting older…I’m an old lady of 53 with no energy…boo hoo!”

But after the pity party, I realized it has nothing to do with my age. Let’s see:

  • Monday, I’m in grief counselling
  • Tuesday, I (force myself to) go to singing lessons (because of the grief I haven’t enjoyed the things I love as much, but I kept going and the joy is finally returning)
  • Wednesday, I have off (but not really!)
  • Thursday, I go to neurofeedback (more counselling)
  • Friday, is date night with my husband
  • Saturday, is running around down (groceries, errands)
  • Sunday, is climbing in the morning (sometimes walking group too) and then house chores

But that’s not all! During the week I also have to find time to:

  • write in my journal daily (finding one thing that brings me joy, post a positive Facebook video, etc.)
  • do my short workout at least 4 times a week
  • run at least 4 times per week
  • write this blog once a week
  • meditate for 1 hour 6 times per week
  • do my therapy homework (usually Wednesday)
  • fit in other appointments since I committed to getting health issues cleared up

That doesn’t include other positive activities to get things on track such as social time with friends or duties like checking in on my parents and other family members or working on our fixer-upper house. Oh and there’s the day job thing too!!

But I’ve realized that it’s not all of the above that’s taking a toll on me. No, I’m exhausted from the constant processing. I am going through probably the biggest transition of my life with the Do-Over Project and my mind, body and soul are constantly working. I’m absorbing the lessons I’m learning, applying them to my life every day. It’s a full time job!

I’m not complaining. I’m very glad I’ve taken on this project. But I’ve realized I have to give myself a break. Be gentle with myself. Not beat myself up for not getting more done.

If you’re going through a change in your life, don’t underestimate how difficult processing change is. Give yourself a break!

Cheers,

Tracy

Don't confuse difficulty with impossibility. Is achieving your goal difficult, yes. Is achieving your goal impossible, no.

Ego ≠ Success

Hi All!

I am by no means a mathematician, but I know one formula: ego ≠ success. That is, in order to be successful, you have to get out of your own way, which means putting your ego aside.

Yesterday I joined Weight Watchers. It felt like utter defeat. You see, I’m a personal trainer and a fitness instructor. I have training in nutrition. And yet I have not been able to lose weight. I exercise, eat incredibly well, meditate, decrease my stress at every turn–and yet still, here I am, struggling with my weight.

I felt ashamed asking for help. I should know what to do and do it! And yet still, here I am, struggling with my weight.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday for my annual physical and I was griping about my weight. She said my weight is OK but I could stand to lose a few pounds. She told me the only weight loss program recommended by doctors across Canada is Weight Watchers and maybe I should give it a try.

But I eat incredibly healthfully, I exercise…! I stopped myself. Clearly something isn’t working. While I’m guessing some of the problem is related to my gut issue (which I’m doing testing for in a few weeks so my doctor will have results after that), it’s not the whole problem. I need help tweaking what I eat, how I workout…something!

It couldn’t hurt to try it out–after all, this is my year of doing things differently. Repeating the same patterns isn’t working for me so I better try a different approach if I want success.

But I eat incredibly healthfully, I exercise…! Put the ego on hold and all the things I should be able to do and I’ll likely have better success. Ask for help. Beg for help. Do whatever it takes to change my life.

I’m trying hard to learn the lesson: ego ≠ success.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tracy

 

 

 

Tick-tock!

 

Hi All!

Well, I’Wall Clockm coming close to five months in on the Do-Over Project. This blog is an update of my goals set at the end of January.

This may not seem relevant to you, since they’re MY goals, but perhaps this can stand as a reminder of the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Have you looked at them since?

Or, maybe you have been working on your goals, but you think they should all be accomplished by now! I feel that way sometimes. It can be really frustrating to not see progress fast enough (or as fast as we think we should see it).

For me, some changes have already taken place, others are progressing slowly and some aren’t even started. I think I’m pretty average so have a look to see where my goals are. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. As long as we continue to work on ourselves, we can’t go wrong!

Exercise:

  • YES! Get knee fixed (miniscus tear). In good working order!
  • YES! Sign up for Ottawa Race Weekend 10 km (May 27). Because of above injury I couldn’t run the 10km so I walked the 1/2 Marathon!!!!!
  • NO BUT YES! up for MEC Races. Forgot so I signed up for Army 1/2 Marathon (Sept 7)
  • NO! Sign up for Fall Colours 10km (Sunday, October 8). Not yet.
  • PARTLY! Workout: GOAL (need one). Doing 30-day work out routines I find online. I can do way better.
  • PARTLY! Rock climbing: Didn’t start indoor rock climbing in Dec 2016 because of knee. It’s been sporadic. I went today so that’s something!
  • NO! A climbing goal. I want to do an outdoor climbing trip but I haven’t been in the gym so I’m not ready. Maybe fall?

Weight:

  • NO! I wanted to be 135 lbs by the Ottawa Race Weekend (Saturday, May 27). I’ve lost 5. Not good enough.

Food:

  • PARTLY! Get back to regular good eating habits. Still eating bits of sugar. Would like to cut it out completely.
  • YES! Little or no white bread. None but I’d I’ve had whole grain which also doesn’t feel great in my tummy. Like to ditch this too!
  • YES! Limit alcohol (which I do anyway) but maintain.
  • YES! Go back to mainly protein and vegetables, which makes me feel good.

Supplements:

  • YES! Continue habit of Vitamin C
  • YES! Continue habit of Omega 3-6-9
  • YES! add: Magnesium (500 mg?)
  • YES! Start pro/prebiotics (10 million)

Other Health:

  • YES! Continue Neurofeedback once/week, but begin training other areas of the brain. We’re about to do another mini-map to see where else I can try.
  • YES! BONUS POINTS: I started biofeedback too!
  • YES! DON’T cancel my cardiologist specialist. Got a clean bill of health!
  • PARTLY! Balance my gut this year! All tests done. Go for results on Monday. See what followup I need to do.

FUN!

  • PARTLY! Find 10 things do that bring more fun/joy to my life.
    • Spa day with my mom (May 25). massage, back scrub, pedi!!
    • Charity event with bands playing all night (June 2)
    • Planning a hiking trip for our wedding anniversary (July 20)
    • One other local (4-hr drive or less) vacation in the next 3 years with my husband
    • Planning a hiking trip with the girls (September some time)
    • Need to work harder at this
  • PARTLY! Singing: find the joy in singing again. I’m getting there but still work to do.
    • Go to all lessons and jams. I’ve missed some of both. Legitimate reasons but still missed. AND,
    • Sing at the jams like I don’t care if I crack or forget. Sheer joy!) Getting there
  • PARTLY! Audition for at least two more things (musical, revue, band, something!). Decided to ditch this in favour of doing more jams.
    • PARTLY! Go to four additional jams around the city (other than The Music Factory). Gone to 1.
  • YES! Joy Journal. Most days doing it, but still not there.
  • YES! Drawing Prompts. Doing this regularly, but not EVERY day.
  • PARTLY! My Book: An agent this year. To send 100 queries by year end. Had fallen off the wagon, but I’m back on it.
  • YES! Blog: at first I wanted to blog daily but I realized it was too much so as long as I get 1 per week, I feel good. I have to give myself a thumbs up on this!
  • YES! Adventure: Go to my financial planner to save for adventure.
  • YES! Set up RRSP for stability but also a travel account to start March 15
  • PARTLY! Save 15-20,000 for a big trip in 2-3 years. Workin’ on it.
  • PARTLY! Take a beach vacation in 2018 with my husband. On track.
  • NO! Get new passports for husband in myself (spring 2017).Not yet. GET TO IT!
  • YES! Go to bank for a travel rewards card.
  • MOSTLY! Finish my office in beach theme. Almost there! It’s so pretty!

New goals:

There are goals that I added along the way:

  • YES! Meditation for leadership: 8-week course. No skipping a class. commit to 5 minutes of meditation per day. TOTAL success!
  • PARTLY! New therapist to work through grief and other issues developed in the last two years. 9 more weeks. Haven’t missed any.
  • PARTLY! Decided to stop taking Paxil (for anxiety) so have a doctor to wean me from it. I’ve got from 40 mg to 10 mg, so I’m getting there.
  • YES! write down 5 things I’m grateful for daily. Most days I’m successful.
  • STARTING! Starting a meditation program with my husband (one hour per night for 8 weeks)

If you haven’t looked at your goals lately, what are you waiting for? Don’t be scared, just do it!

Cheers,

Tracy

Deciding to be happy

I’m almost half-way through 2017. Soon I will have to take stock of where I am in The Do-Over Project. Where am I succeeding? Where am I…not? Where do I have to pick up the pace? Am I accomplishing what I set out to do in this experiment?

I’ll get to that in another week or so, but in the meantime, I’ve been thinking about my initial thoughts on why I started this experiment.

I wanted to be happy again. Simple–but not easy. I’ve had a couple of tough years (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts) and I felt it was time to take back my life.

But could I just decide to be happy again? That’s one question I’ve answered for sure in the last six months. I won’t make you wait until next week to find out what I’ve discovered…the answer is…

Yes. It is possible to simply decide to be happy. No matter where you are in your life. No matter what has happened to you. Actually, it’s the most important decision–before you set a single goal. There has to be a decision to do something differently.

But it’s not easy. In fact, the decision is very, very hard, because it means that, like me, you’ve accepted you need to take responsibility for your life. You have decided to take control of your life.

It takes me back a few years to my fitness instructor days. In order to get people into the habit of fitness, we needed to understand an individual’s readiness to change in order to meet them where they were.

We used the Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente), which identifies six stages of change:

Precontemplation (Not Ready): People in this stage aren’t going to take action. There’s no sense setting up a fitness routine, for example, for a precontemplator.

Contemplation (Getting Ready): People in this stage want to change. They understand the pros an the cons of their behavior, but they are often hung up on these, making them ambivalent and keeping them stuck in place. They are likely to procrastinate.

Preparation (Ready): People in this stage intend to take action in the near future (say, a month). They have typically already taken some action in the past year. For example, they’ve joined a gym or are seeing a psychologist. These are the people ready for action!

Action: People in this stage are making specific overt changes.

Maintenance: People in this stage are working to prevent relapse. They are increasingly confident that they can do this! They’ve learned that they can. But they still have to keep at it, because relapse can sneak up.

Now, this is simplification of a much more complex theory and I am in no way an expert in this area, but it’s important to think about (for more information, just google “stages of change” and you’ll find many resources). Where are you in your own process?

For me, I’d say I’m in the early stages of Action. This is when I have to be hypervigilant in my efforts and I know this, which is why I’ve given myself a year. I want to really get it under my belt. I want to be a Maintainor.

This theory points to something very important about making the decision to change. While it’s arguably the hardest decision, it isn’t the only decision.

Unfortunately, you still have to do the work! I still have to do the work. If I want to be happy, I have to back up my intention with action. I’m getting there, but I still have a lot of actionable items!

Here’s to action!

Tracy