I teach a goal-setting course based on my book, "Just Get it Over With-A 12-Week Jumpstart to Great Health." We all pick a goal that matters to us and then go about achieving it through the ups and downs of life. Recently we were in week 7. As we went around the room, I asked "How's it going? Are you rising toward your goal or stuck in a plateau or falling?"
As is typical, my students and I were in various stages. Some of us were surging and riding high from focusing on our goal and making time for it and loving the energy, confidence and results that are the reward from giving an effort we were proud of. I love times like that, don't you?
Others were stuck. They weren't going forward but weren't going backward either. Kind of like when the Green Bay Packers run several sets of plays and don't gain any yards. It is frustrating for the team and boring for the fans to watch. Going to get a hotdog seems like the best idea to relieve the stress of this stalemate stage. But for players and coaches, that is not an option. Quitting is an option but a bad option. Another bad option is running the same set of plays over and over that are not working. Thank goodness for time-outs and half-times to regroup, look at where you are and where you want to be and form some new strategies. If Plan A and Plan B is not working, how can we learn and adjust and form Plan C?
How about you? Think of your goal. Are you running the same plays over and over again and its not working? Like wanting to lose weight and making great choices all day or all week and then blowing it at night or on the weekend? Or maybe you are stuck in the same patterns of draining arguments with your spouse or kids. Do you want to keep running those same plays?
Yes, it easier to stay with habits we know, but as they say, "No guts, no glory." Punting or getting sacked over and over yields a big L. W's are much more memorable. How about researching and risking some new habits? What is worth fighting for to you? Most people say family and friends. Some say faith or health or a career. What is important to you? Do you want to continue to stay distracted in this busy, got a million things to do world and lose or do you want to zero in, live on purpose and risk, change, grow and win for some goals that matter?
We are either rising, stuck in a plateau or going down. In our week 7 class, a student said she had crashed. Nothing was working. So I asked her, "What is your goal?" She stumbled and fumbled and finally said, "Well, I don't know. I forgot." Everyone immediately looked up, turned their head and stared at her. The obvious reply was, "Well, how can reach your goal if you don't even know what it is?"
Unfortunately, that happens a lot. Is it happening to you right now? We can set a goal and get all fired up about this new picture for our lives. Maybe a big health or relationship challenge wakes us up and we say, "Now is my time! I am so going to really change!" But it is not a part of us yet. We have all of our old habits that like a weed, choke out our new goal unless with great intention and purpose we clearly define it, focus on it, track it, and then work for it with daily persistence and effort and get ourselves surrounded by healthy people doing the same.
Maybe we focus for a little bit on our worthwhile goal such as a daily two-mile walk or reading a chapter of the Bible or a weekly connection time with our spouse. We mean well...but then life hits with stress triggers like crying kids, whining co-workers, relationship lows, cold days, a hole in our favorite jeans, nagging injuries, not feeling like it or just wanting to watch TV. We can forget our goal and with it why it mattered to us and the impact it has on our loved ones in the first place and take the slow spiral back to where we started. "My goal? I forgot it." How sad.
I could go off now and list a million strategies on how to overcome this. But honestly, do we ever really listen when people tell us what to do? We may listen, but then right after that all our excuses why we can't puke out. You know what to do. So do I. Who are you? Why are you here? What do you love to do? Are you going to fight for your goal today or not? Some do, most don't. Will you?
Live on Purpose
Great News! Jane's book, "Hall of Fame Habits-Staying Fit Through the Generations" is now an e-book on Amazon and Nook!
My mind feels all aflutter. It is bouncy-like and trying to connect things that struck me in 2013. Like jumping on a trampoline and trying to grab all the balls in the air and holding them together as one. So please hang with me and let me work through some thoughts that have been twirling in my head. Maybe after we both ponder we can help each other move forward.
Throughout this year of reading and learning and listening and praying these phrases popped to the top:
"What rules my heart, rules my behavior."
"Life is about God and not about me. Put God first."
"I really like M & M's and Diet Coke...but not together."
"Am I self-centered or God-centered?"
and the big one of:
" Why am I so interested in myself?"
With these phrases as the filter in my head, I starting processing what I read in the latest of my health and fitness and coaching articles. One thing I noticed was a dis-ease and a "something is not right with this" feeling.
A case in point, I recently read the latest "holiday survival" articles and how to make this the best holiday ever. Typical things come up like take a hot bath, meditate, pick who you really want to see, focus on being your authentic self, don't eat so much, go swim with dolphins, buy what you really want, etc.
But through my new filter a red light kept going off that flashed "DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES NOT COMPUTE. DOES NOT COMPUTE!"
There seems to be so much self in the picture. Me, me, me. What do I want? So after I read all this and ate some M&M's, I thought of my phrases of 2013 again.
"What rules my heart, rules my behavior."
"Life is about God and not about me. Put God first."
"Am I self-centered or God-centered?"
" Why am I so interested in myself?"
So if the whole reason for the holiday is Jesus' birthday and focusing on him and his incredible gift to us, how would taking a bath, doing yoga and buying a sweater help?
Is it thy will be done or my will be done?
I come from a big birthday family. We make a big to-do and really celebrate the birthday girl or boy no matter how old they are. It is festive and fun. We buy gifts and write poems and make the person feel real special for their presence in our lives.
Susie is next. It would seem weird to me if instead of focusing on Susie I made it about what I needed (a massage) and wanted (a musky guide trip). Or if I wrote a poem and made it all about me instead of Susie.
"Why am I so interested in myself?"
Contrast this to when I went cross country skiing last week. It is early in the season and there is a part of the trail which is very challenging. Usually my heart is beating out of my chest so loud I can hear it and I agonize to make it up the hills.
But not this time...at least not what I was aware of.
This time my thoughts were laser focused on God. The trail is near a zoo and I heard a lion roar in the distance. Very cool. So then my thoughts focused on Jesus who is described in the Bible as the Lion of Judah. My mom loves lions and loves Jesus so I was thinking how I could paint her this awesome Jesus lion.
I was thinking, thinking, thinking of this. Time passed and all of a sudden I asked myself, "Where am I?" I looked around as I skied and could not rationalize where I was. It looked like I was far along the course but my mind wouldn't believe it because I didn't remember the agony of the hills. Could it be that when I focused on God and not myself that I got up the hills without even noticing? Strangely it was true! How fascinating!
So my grand conclusion from 2013 was that I think I think about myself too much and don't want to anymore. I desire from God an awareness and a grace to help me glorify and worship Him instead of glorifying and worshipping myself. 2013 helped me hear the inner Big Baby scream of I want! I want! I want!
"I want my way."
"I want control."
"I want approval."
"I want God to do my will."
"I want this part of God but not that part...which means that I am deciding who God is...so oh no...at the root I want to be God!"
This awareness humbled me and make me sick at myself. Me. Me. Me.
Help me, Lord. You are God and I am not. You love me so much and so know and want what is best for me. May the desires of my heart line up to yours. Let my focus be on you. More of you and less of me. Lion of Judah ...roar!
My brother John gave me a Porsche. Yes, you read that right. Who does such a thing? My brother John did and I never grow tired of telling the story. But please read through to the end because he recently gave me a gift that was even better than a Porsche! Is that possible? Yes…and you and I can give the gift as well. Hang with me as I explain.
First, the Porsche. I am John’s baby sister. Although I am soon to be 50 there was a time when I was 6 and John was 16 with the keys to my mom’s hot red Mustang. He would delight me to no end zipping me around corners and flooring it at green lights. I would yell out, “Faster, Big Brother, faster!” Well, as you might guess, the Mustang did not last too long. So I would frequently say to John, “Maybe someday you will get me a sports car, Big Brother.”
Fast forward 40 years. John was in town and we were out for breakfast. As we neared our last bites, John’s son Jake leaned over and said to me, “Dad got you a birthday present.” I was so excited! He got me a $50 gift certificate to Dicks Sporting goods the previous year and I bought the favorite Nike pants of my whole life. So here I was lost in la la land envisioning a cool Nike jacket when John tosses a set of keys across the table and said, “Here’s your birthday present.” OH….MY….GOODNESS. He gave me the keys to his Porsche! I leapt high into the air and screamed out, “YOU ARE THE BEST BIG BROTHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD!” All around us people were in shock. Eggs were practically falling out of everyone’s open jaws. Who could believe such a thing?
What joy that car gives me. I just smile my head off driving it because it is so fun and fast but mostly because it was given to me by my Big Brother who I love with all my heart. Ahhh, to be loved so lavishly!
The Rest of the Story
But wait, there is more. Are you ready? John recently gave me something better than the Porsche. What can be better than a Porsche you may ask? Let me tell you.
I was cutting my folks grass last summer and my friend Connie who I grew up with stopped by. She also is the youngest of eight and her brother Dick was her Big Brother. She told me the story of Dick getting cancer and how she quit her job to take care of him and how sad she is now that he is gone. My heart just broke for her. We cried as I held her. Can you relate?
I wandered home, all the while thinking of how much I loved my Big Brother John and how lost I would be without him. So I emailed John and told him what had just happened. Then my fingers decided to type the words that his gut was too big and I would be so sad and mad if he died of a heart attack or stroke or if he didn’t die and I had to take care of him and we couldn’t do anything fun anymore and I had to change his diapers or some other awful thing like that. Then my fingers kept typing how his best friend also had too big of a gut and he was going to die too. Oh my.
Lastly, I mentioned that John’s 60th birthday was 6 months away and challenged him to lose 1 pound per week for 25 total and arrive at his birthday party at 210 pounds and to think of a fun contest so his friend would join him. I recommended that he check out www.myfitnesspal.com for assistance and to track his journey because if you don’t track it, it doesn’t get done. With my heart racing, I pressed “send.”
Now please hear me. This article is NOT about telling your loved ones they are fat. That is very dangerous as you well know. But what happened next will hopefully inspire you and me to make our own changes and give a gift that is greater than a Porsche. How? Let’s finish the story.
To my great relief, John accepted the challenge and got his friend involved. He added one twist than if he met his goal I would have to wear diapers at his birthday party and if he didn’t, he would. Now that is interesting! Up and down the journey went as any challenge worth fighting for goes. There were times of great joy and success and times of John wanting to quit and everything in between. You know the story.
Then the big day was here. Our family gathered in Madison and John was late for his 60th birthday party. Little did we know that John was at the gym swimming lap after lap, running to the scale and back to the pool until he could see the number 210 and take a picture of it. He did it! All of his hard work for six months paid off! When John walked in, I couldn’t believe it. I never saw him looking so fit, trim and healthy. He threw a pack of diapers at me and said, “Here, put these on. I won!” HA!
It is so hard to change habits, isn’t it? But John loved me so much that he did that for me. That overwhelms me.
So please think about this today. What is important to you? Who are you so important to that they would be just heartbroken by your loss of health or life? Let’s not go on a telling people they are too fat or smoke or drink too much or whatever campaign. But let’s each look at our own lives and see what we can change for those we love. Would that be a hard thing to do? Of course! Just ask John, who now, by the way, is striving for 200. But the real question is ‘Is it worth it?” With tears in my eyes thinking of having my big brother for years to come, the answer is a resounding YES!
Live on Purpose
Contact Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help
setting and reaching a goal.
I had to laugh recently after reading a long paper on the many benefits of exercise. After pages and pages the conclusion was:
“Exercise is beneficial only if a person engages in it.”
What? We actually have to do the exercise? We can’t just read about it?
How hilariously obvious! But is it?
We all love the benefits of exercise. You know the list…feel good, have more energy, social time with friends, brain food for new ideas, blow off steam, loose pants, reduce risk for a bunch of nasty diseases, ect. We know and love all of that! But actually engaging in exercise, and in particular starting, now that can be a problem!
Case in point. Last week did you get the minimum guideline of 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise in? That is like a 2-mile fast walk 5 days a week. The vast majority of us all fall short. Or what about 2 days per week of strength training last week? Or 3 days of stretching? Again, most of us fall short. We mean well. We highly value the benefits. Our intentions are good. Yet we fall short. What is going on here?
Could it be we are focusing on the wrong muscle?
Here me out. I am all for working my muscles like the biceps, triceps and all of that. They all need to be strong to whack a golf ball or lift groceries or grandkids.
But aren’t we missing a really big muscle? What about grit muscle? This is our ability to stick, persist and to keep at it. Do you stick like super glue to your goals or are you more like a half licked postage stamp that falls off with the least amount of resistance?
If our grit muscle is out of shape we will set a goal, hit an obstacle, fail, feel bad, and then go eat to feel better. Not good. Over time who even wants to set a goal? Not many of us want to sign up to feel bad.
Is there a better way? Like Captain Kirk says, “There always is a way.”
Pick a goal that matters to you. Make it small enough that it doesn’t overwhelm you yet big enough that you are interested. Have a start date and an end date. For example:
· I will eat 1 fruit and 1 vegetable a day for 2 weeks.
· I will walk around the block once a day for 7 days.
· I will do 10 push-ups a day for 10 days.
What is important here is not so much what goal you pick but that you focus on building your persistence muscle. Listen to your mind chatter otherwise known as your inner big baby. It screams with arms crossed and stomping legs “NO! Baby has no time! Baby is too busy! Baby doesn’t feel like it! Baby will do it later! No! You can’t make me! Ummph!”
Stick a pacifier in baby or send her to her room and stick to your goal anyway. Build your grit muscle one mind attack at a time. Refuse to give in.
I am in week 5 of 12 of the very challenging
And I know I could not even attempt to conquer a challenge like P90X if I didn’t start long ago with honoring my run to the end of the block, or 1 chapter of the Bible per day or 10 push-ups a day commitment. Start with a goal you can handle. Build integrity and confidence by honoring your word. If you fall, learn from your mistake and move on!
In the end, isn’t it true that what we really all want is to have close, meaningful, fun and make a difference relationships with God, family and friends and others we meet and to have the health and energy to fully engage in those relationships?
So how can exercise help? When I was a kid and got out of my comfortable bed to honor my goal of 10 push-ups per night and reading a chapter of the bible, I taught myself the value of honoring my word. I don’t like to hang around people who don’t honor their word, so why would I put up with that in myself? Little did I know that I was building my grit muscle.
Pick a goal and practice, practice, practice honoring it. Build on it. Grow with it. If you goal is to run to the mailbox then run to the mailbox. Don’t slow up and stop a few feet before. Train yourself over and over to honor your word, reach your goal and finish strong. Then when work, health or marriage struggles hit, you can dig deep and persist. You have grown your grit muscle! I know for sure that honoring my exercise goals and eating goals has toughened me up to honor my really important goals…like sticking with my husband Tim in good times and in bad.
“Exercise is beneficial only if a person engages in it.”
The challenge is on my friend. Put Baby to bed. Pray for God’s help and strength and together go claim victory day in and day out. Get grit!
Live on Purpose
My Mom and Dad are both 90 and recently went to the funeral of a good friend. I was kind of nervous to call home and ask how it went because I know I would just be a mess if a good friend died. But I took a deep breath, called, said my condolences to mom and asked her how it went. Her answer shocked me! She said, “Oh it was great! We got to see all of our friends.”
Oh my. That rattled me. It made me take stock. Am I connecting enough with those I love so much? I say I love them, but what am I doing proactively to connect with them? Will funerals be where I will see my friends? That is just an awful thought to me.
How about you? Who pops into your head that you love but have not connected with? Are you OK with just seeing them at future funerals?
I just had the great opportunity to listen to presentations by 43 students. In their own creative way one by one they described 1) who they are, 2) what they love to do 3) what they have done and 4) what they will do. I would estimate that 80% of each presentation focused on great relationships with family and friends. There were so many joy-filled, smiley, goofy and huggy pictures! Relationships. Being together. Loving on each other. Laughing. Taking time.Making memories. That and faith and health seemed to stand out as to what is important to the majority of people.
But back to the disturbing thought. I can rattle off a list of people I love with my whole heart and I am sure you have your list as well. But with too many I have not connected with in too long. Or it just goes way too long between visits. Oh sure, I can say I am busy and I don’t have time and I’ll do something about that soon. But I also see that as I get older more and more people I know are experiencing sudden loss and death of loved ones. Will I do better than only seeing these dear people at funerals?
Live on Purpose
I turn 50 this year and don’t know how. What I struggle with is fear. What to fear-what not to fear, that is my question!
Maybe you can help me out. My question relates to injury fear and mental fear. When do you charge and when do you hold back? When half of your mind is saying, “Go for it!” and the other half is saying, “Caution! Caution! Caution!” how do you know who is right? Who do you listen to?
For example, I used to go cross country skiing and charge down the hills. The bigger the better! If I wiped-out I would laugh and quickly ask the person I was skiing with to rate how good the fall was. In recent years, I find myself all fearful when I come to a hill. I snowplow to keep my speed in check and cry out “Lord Jesus! Please get me down this hill!” What on earth happened?
Well, broken ribs, a separated shoulder and trying to locate my head after one too many falls tubing may have something to do with it. All I know is that I don’t like it! I feel like I am losing a part of myself. Is this normal or self-imposed because of fear?
How do you do it? How do you stay engaged and living fully the things you love to do yet cautious enough to stay injury free but not too cautious that it is boring? Help!
Cross country skiing lately has been a window into the playground of my thoughts lately. 100 minutes alone in the woods. Let the battle for the mind begin!
There I was doing my wimpy little down the hill snowplow crying “Just get down this hill…Jesus please get me down this hill…” Midway through, my thumb-sucking thoughts were jarred loose by the blur of two women on the UWGB ski team passing me and charging down the hill. Excellence in action.
Immediately I saw the problem. In fear I was standing straight up. I had no balance. If I fell, I sure had a long way to fall and would probably stick my arm out and wreck my shoulder or twist my knee. My worse fear realized. They were tucked liked a speeding bullet. So I gave myself a pep-talk. “You are an athlete! Act like one.”
With the next hill, I tucked. I noticed if I did fall it wouldn’t be very far in this position. Kind of like tipping over a small Mr. Potato Head! I had control and it was somewhat fun again. Fear had made me forget the basics.
The next time out, I decided to try a new trail. Where is everyone? All alone and miles from civilization I came to a hazard sign with yellow caution tape blocking the trail. Well obviously this made me wonder what the hazard was so I employed my new tuck position and crawled under the tape. Let the battle of the mind begin! “You shouldn’t be here. Turn around. Remember that sign you saw about the bear sighting? You have no phone. What if a man with a hatchet is running around?”
Fear. To fear or not to fear-that is the question? When is it legit? When is it just your mind being a baby? I pondered this as I crawled under the 2nd and 3rd line of caution tape. In my mind I pulled out my favorite fear weapon that I have memorized-Philippians 4:6 which says, “Don’t worry about anything. Instead pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will quiet your heart and mind as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
But on second thought, I was doing something that could be considered stupid…crawling under three lines of caution tape. Would that verse still apply if you are being an idiot?
So I moved to the second half of the verse which says, “Think about things that are pure and lovely and dwell on the fine good things in life!” I discarded the bears and crazed men with hatchets and thought of my family and friends who I love with all my heart and just rejoiced and prayed blessings over them. What a mind changer! All was well…until I came to “Hazard-Steep Downhill.” What to do?
Do I act like Jane the Old Person and take off my skis and walk down the hill? Do I turn around? Is that too boring or is that smart? I don’t know! I don’t know how to be 50!
If I go down and twist my knee will I ever be found again since I am sure everyone else obeyed the three lines of caution tape? What of my new ‘tuck and be an athlete’ mindset? In the quiet on top of that steep hill I actually laughed at all that goes on in a brain when you actually take time to be alone and really hear it. It is so fascinating!
What are your mind battles? Many of us only listen to the fear side. What does the other side say? Who is right?
Well, smart or not, I tucked, charged and even filmed it as I went down. It was fun! I made it. It was no big deal…as most fear usually is. I laughed, and said “Steep downhill. That was nothing to worry about. What a baby I was!” and enjoyed the beautiful day and made it back without getting a hatchet in my back.
What I learned is two-fold:
1. My mind is such a battle ground. What I fill it with is my choice.
2. There is a fine line between being smart, cautious and staying injury free versus letting go and charging. At this stage in my life, I don’t quite know where that line is. Help!
Three cheers to you!
Live on Purpose
Check out Jane’s action videos at www.janebirr.com under videos! I hope they inspire you to make some of your own. Life is short- Live on Purpose!
Picture yourself on a trail in the woods and coming upon one of those “You are Here” signs. They help us get our bearings so we know where we are so we can move in the right direction toward our goal.
I recently gave 43 people the challenge of stopping their busy life for a moment and finding their “You are Here” position. I took up the challenge as well. We simply just stopped and took 5 minutes to rank 1-10 how satisfied we were with items such as our current level of flexibility, strength, aerobic fitness, weight, sleep and eating habits and other areas such as our finances, relationships, spiritual life, how happy we are, dealing with obstacles, confidence, planning healthy choices and our current energy level.
To go deeper by the following week, we got specific data from taking a brief fitness test (www.exrx.net), analyzing a day of our eating (www.myfitnesspal.com) and writing down our actual minutes per week of aerobic exercise, days of strength training and stretching and servings of fruits and veggies per day. All together we got a great picture of “You are Here.”
The results were fascinating! 4 people out of 43 people were very happy. Their scores were generally in the 8, 9 and 10 categories. Their fitness and diet analysis were great because they were earning their results through stellar daily habits and choices. I call them Aces. They made comments such as:
- I am a 9…happy, healthy and free!
- I have a very disciplined workout schedule. I get up early to make sure I get my workout in. I feel a constant 8.
- I feel good, strong and confident. 9!
On the other side, our “You Are Here” test found 3 people out of 43 who ranked their habits in the 1, 2 and 3 categories of very unsatisfied. Ugh. Their comments were:
- I am out of shape. I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t want to be ashamed of myself anymore.
- I hate how I look.
- My arms are very weak, I am not very flexible and I hardly ever have energy. I am not very happy with my habits.
That leaves 36 people who felt the blah of mediocre. They gave themselves 4, 5, 6 & 7 rankings. Is this you? They made comments such as:
- I feel about a 5. I know I can do better.
- I feel about a 5. Not super self-conscious but not super confident either.
- I am a 6. I know I don’t eat well.
- I am so/so.
- I am good at staying away from junk food but need more fruit and veggies.
- I am not happy with my lack of physical activity. I need to make some changes.
- I can do more push-ups than I thought.
- Settling should not be an option! Healthy and fit is something I need.
- This is definitely not how I want to feel several weeks from now.
So where are you? Great, awful or somewhere in the middle?
Three observations from the data stood out to me.
1. Low Health. Rankings of health and fitness scores were in the 5.0-5.9 range whereas satisfaction with family (8.1), social life/fun (7.5), work (6.7) and spiritual life (6.7) scored much higher. Most of the people in this study were in their early 20’s. It made me wonder how long the other scores can stay high when constantly lugging around a body with average or worse habits. On the other side, as I get older and so do the people I love, I see health concerns becoming more and more important. Average or worse physical habits through the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s seem to surface their ugly head and bring much sadness to families as people get in their 50 & 60’s and beyond. Yet people consistently rank their families as one of the most important things in their lives. Could taking care of ourselves be a great gift to our families? What would finding the solution to “I don’t have time” or “I’ll so it later” mean to your family?
2. Planning seems key. The three worst scores in the data were I plan my meals (4.5), I eat at least 5 fruits and veggies/day (5.1) and weight (5.0).
3. Awareness leads to changes. The exciting news is all we did is stop our lives and briefly assess our “You are Here” point in body, mind and spirit. We did not discuss strategies for change or setting goals. But by the following week, most people were so shocked and sick of where they found themselves in the assessment that they took it upon themselves to plan and make changes. “I know I can be better” and “this is just not who I am” self-motivated them to start the planning and changing to bring out their best. No one told them what to do. “You are here” was the motivation they needed.
Back to the map. You and me living energized, fit, free, connected, engaged, positive and glorifying God in our thoughts, words and deeds is a great destination! Where on the map would you put your “You are Here” dot? I encourage you to STOP. The rush, rush, rush will be there tomorrow. Take the time to assess where you are. With data, we can gain valuable insight to simplify, streamline and live on purpose in great health for glory of God and inspire others to do the same!
Live on Purpose
Need help with “You Are Here?” Contact Jane at janiebirr@gmail and ask about her 4-week “Live on Purpose” goal-setting series. It is a great jump-start!