Follow her journey through this crazy life on her Facebook page, Twitter stream or Google+.
--- --- ---
Toward the end of 2010 I became a divorced, single mom of a newborn and a two-year-old, faced with an entirely different life than I had imagined. It was in that moment that I realized I had not been living life to the fullest.
I decided to make some changes and got to work creating 28 goals to accomplish in my 28th year of life.
Then, just as I started working on them, everything changed again. My husband and I decided to work things out and got remarried. Life got busy again and I wasn't able to accomplish as much as I thought I would in 2011. Still, I accomplished far more than I had in previous years and learned a few things along the way.
I discovered that the only way to live a full life is to have something to work toward. We are here to learn, to be better, to be stronger, and to be smarter. My goals gave me a purpose and a clear path to walk. They gave me the key to taking control of my own happiness. They taught me how to figure out what motivates me. They also taught me that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. Finally, they taught me that I really can do anything I set my mind to- as long as I have a plan for how to get there.
So I kept some of the goals I still had to work on from last year, and set some new ones to make 29 for this year. Yet sometimes, even when you have goals, it can be difficult to move forward and live fully.
Lately I have been struggling in an emotional pit of despair. I could not keep up my goal of healthy eating and exercise. I would start over and fail again and again. Then, I discovered that I have never really loved myself and, though that gave me something else to work on, it knocked me down even more.
I racked my brain, tried new things, even prayed for help to find a way to motivate myself again.
I had been doing mostly at-home workouts to achieve my goals. I kept getting the feeling that I should change it up. I have always loved running, but I was afraid to try because the last time I ran (over two years ago) I could hardly make it to two minutes without feeling like my lungs would burst.
Last week I got the distinct impression that I needed to go for a run. I spoke to my husband and he offered to put the kids to bed so I could go that night. As I was preparing to leave, he came in to tell me it was snowing. I have never run in weather like that. I almost gave up and sat on the couch instead of braving the storm. I looked outside to find that it was only lightly snowing/raining. There was no wind and it was rather warm for a snowy evening.
I started with a brisk walk for a warm-up and was off running after five minutes. I ran until I got a side cramp. I checked the time and found that I had run for 10 minutes straight. Ten! Even in high school, I could never run that long without stopping to give my lungs a rest (side cramps were constantly present.) After walking for a minute to breathe away the side cramps I ran for another five minutes and then turned around and ran for another 10 minutes straight. I had to talk myself through the last couple minutes, but I made it to my goal spot and cooled down with a walk the rest of the way home.
I was awe-struck - triumphant, even, after months of putting myself down because my body wasn’t looking the way I wanted. Weeks of fear that falling off the wagon had cancelled out all my previous hard work were put to rest. After all the emotions and tears and frustrations, I discovered that I am in the best shape of my entire life. Having a setback didn't negate all the progress I HAD made.
After my run, I was the happiest I have ever been with myself. I literally loved my body, in that moment, more than I ever have. I was PROUD of myself- a very rare feeling for me. It was exactly the motivation I needed to recommit myself and get out of this funk. Exactly what I needed to know what loving myself feels like.
Finding out what I wanted out of my life. What I wanted to do, to improve, to be. Creating goals that would help me get there. That is what has given me control over my happiness and my future (as much control as I will ever have, anyway). Goals are what help me live my life to the fullest.
I may not always do it perfectly. I may fail over and over, go through rough patches, periods where I feel inadequate, but that is OK too. Life is not meant to be lived perfectly, but to continue the imperfect journey no matter what. It's just a matter of dealing with each hurdle as it comes.
I am certain that as I make goals and achieve them, I will come to the end of my life with no regrets and will be happy with myself - it’s one of my goals, anyway. And that happiness, to me, is what will signal that I’ve lived life to the fullest.
... ... ...
Questions: What sort of goals have you set for yourself to work toward this year? How are you doing on those goals? Is there anything you struggle to do because you don't think you do it well enough?