There are two magazines I am always drawn to in the checkout line these days: O magazine and Real Simple. I am up to my eyeballs in recipes, and I get Entrepreneur, Parents, Rachael Ray, Shape, Vogue, Glamour and SELF for free — but they rarely see the light of day.
The January issue of O is what lands me here today. Mama O interviewed Brendan Burchard, who I admittedly know little about — some friends inspired me to "like" him on Facebook a while back, but we all know how effed up the "algorithms" are, so I never see much content from him and thus he hasn't yet earned the "See First" designation. (Maybe that will change after letting this post marinate, however!)
The interview was all about motivation. Motivation is, of course, what gets us to create New Years resolutions, and I'm famous for them. I have resolved to drink more tea, practice more yoga, spend less, earn more, lose weight, exercise every day, be a bigger bitch (in the stand-up-for-myself kind of way), you name it. And sure, every year I inch a little "closer to my goal," whatever that means. It's all starting to feel like a sham, but I'm a sucker for the "last supper" feeling. The "I'll start my diet on Monday" idea. The reason why New Year's resolutions were invented, I'd bet.
This article explained what's lacking — no, not the dreaded "follow-through" — Burchard argues that after the motivation to get started, we must follow up with attention and effort. Without attention and effort, motivation is unsustainable. "I can do that," I thought while reading. I can do "attention." I made a note to practice more visualization in 2016. "Energy goes where attention flows," right?
But then comes "effort." Hmm. Effort sounds like work. I am thinking of huffing and puffing on the treadmill or making that "extra effort" around the house. This, undoubtedly, is where resolutions get tossed in the trash.
Usually I would say "that's my problem, I'm lazy" and kind of shrug my shoulders and try to love myself more as is. But we all know that nothing happens without ACTION. And this is a word that I don't associate with as many negative connotations. (I am a writer — words are important.) Attention and effort, Burchard continues, hinge on attitude and environment. So if my attitude feels more comfortable with the word "action" rather than "effort," that's what I'm going with. And environment I know all about — what works and what doesn't in terms of my home, my room, my workspace, my exposure to the outdoors...this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing with the excerpt from his book: reading it, taking it in and making it my own. I can put "effort" into adjusting my environment so that it is more conducive to productivity and peace. I can focus on and stay disciplined with my dreams and desires. I can actively pursue my goal and be my full self while I'm at it — that already feels like second nature. Easy.
If that sounds foreign to you, know this other juicy tidbit: Aliveness doesn't happen in the planning; it happens in the doing. I know just as well as any of you how difficult it can be to overcome fear, doubt and uncertainty. And while it takes daily practice to do so with love and not bravado, it truly does get easier to blast through the fear instead of allowing it to continue keeping you small.
"Through the active expression of our genuine natures and the steady efforts to master our minds and move our lives forward, we can experience the freedom and joy that we deserve in life." (BB)
I read that and I think again, this I can do. A steady effort to master my mind, yes. Moving my life forward, yes. Experiencing freedom, HELL YES. This is true awakening — freeing ourselves from the bad and opening to the good.
If you are of the resolution-making type like me, remember this: if you can name what you are afraid of losing or why you resist making an effort to go after a dream or goal, you are seeing behind the curtain right to the heart of the matter. That fear is your ego talking — an untrained, tired and undirected mind.
"Fortune favors the brave. Action alone will illuminate the next step." (BB)
You know how motivated you are or aren't. If you have goals, I'm sure you can rattle them off to me like the names and ages of your children. But will you have the guts to give them attention and take action? If you have doubts, we all do from time to time...but doubt has no power. Fear has no power other than the power you give it.
Yes I have a Word document for each year's "resolutions," intentions, goals, etc. Yes I have a zillion ideas floating around in my head about how just because the calendar changes from December to January, I'm suddenly going to magically have more time and energy for exercise, cooking and making money. But right about now, I'm just focusing on this: Attention and action. Being my full self and expressing my genuine nature by acting, not just planning. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering, ground-breaking action. Know yourself and know when you're half-assing your heart's desire. More often than not, that won't even get you halfway there.
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