When in doubt, choose in favor of your passions

Sometime at the end of 2017 I made a decision. I decided it was time for me to take control. 

Those of you who know me well may laugh at this. I am Germanic in nature, and like when things run efficiently and in a structured manner. As such, I naturally find myself in leadership positions.

So to say I decided to “take control” may seem strange… take control, of what?

I think there is a common misconception, which then serves a disservice, that one is expected to have everything figured out, and everything “perfect.” Someone who is good at keeping their finances in line is unlikely to have a hard time maintaining a healthy diet; or someone who is a high-up executive must have all personal matters align as well.

I think it’s safe to say recent scandals in politics and Hollywood is proving this a myth, and I do hope this is the beginning of a wave of somewhat-put-together adults being able to say “I need to work on ______.” Whatever that blank is, it is okay to have a blank space (or many) in your life that needs to be further worked on.

With that in mind, I’m here to tell you about one of my blanks that I have been successfully filling in.

I don’t recall what the switch was, but sometime last year I decided I was tired. I was physically and emotionally fatigued on a too-regular basis, and I was just tired of being tired. Years ago I adapted a strict plant-based, whole foods lifestyle, cut out sugar and all processed foods, and felt the healthiest I’d ever felt. Then things happened, I started eating at friends houses more who didn’t keep a similar lifestyle, started eating more bread, and suddenly, I gave into excuse after excuse and gave up on this lifestyle I strongly believed in. It happened that doing so also meant gaining back weight I had previously lost, and then some more, and just generally not eating in a way I knew to be good.

I was reading endless research (and binge listening to audiobooks) that told me how important physical, aerobic exercise is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Simultaneously, I found myself cringing at dietary and fitness choices (or lack there of) some of my client’s were telling me about. Yet, who was I to make suggestions on my client’s dietary habits, when I was not even following the dietary and fitness habits I knew to be best for myself?

There is a wonderful business and/or self-development workshop called The Passion Test that I have had the opportunity to work through over the years. One of my top five passions is to “be the teacher who is living her teachings.” I realized that I have a lot of work to do on this regard, and at the end of last year I decided enough was enough. There were no more excuses, it was time for me to take control of my own behavior.

Change takes time, and it is imprudent to believe we can make change overnight, or to work on changing too many things at once. (A great explanation of this is discussed in the book Willpower by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, highly recommend!) Yet we CAN decide to make a change, and take small steps at a time to achieve that change. 

First, I started selecting food items that were more aligned with my desired plant-based lifestyle. Each time I said “no thank you” to a processed dessert, or selected a salad over a pasta, it became easier to do so the next time. I had to spend more time planning ahead and making food to have available to grab in my fridge, but then I found I loved discovering new recipes and cooking.

Next I decided I was going to exercise three times a week. I got a gym membership, and praised myself each time I made it there. I did NOT become angry or discount the (at first consistent) weeks when I only made it 1-2 times. Rather, I praised myself for making it that one time rather than none.

In April, as a few weekend trips were on the horizon, I realized that I wanted to keep up my now consistent 2-3 days a week of exercising, even when traveling. I decided to start Couch to 5k, with the hope that I could go for a run/walk wherever I was at that time, whatever city/state/country I was in.

When given choices in life, the Passion Test tells us to choose in favor of your passions. Months ago, I was reminded of this, and I began making small, daily choices in favor of my passions. And today, I reached a small milestone along the way: today, July 4th, 2018, I completed my first ever 5k. I have training left to do, and I am by far not yet a runner. But I did it. 

At the finish line. L to R: Daniel, me, Cassandra (also first time 5k-er!), Russ

At the finish line. L to R: Daniel, me, Cassandra (also first time 5k-er!), Russ

It felt fitting to me that today, on our nations Independence Day, there would be an opportunity to be reminded that we can all break free from our own excuses, our "I can'ts," and take the steps to living the life we want to live.

I have lots more work to do. There's a long list of other blanks in my life, areas I need desperately to make progress. Today, though, I'm reminded that I CAN keep taking these steps, and the next finish line will get closer and closer each day.

Happy 4th of July.