Stagnant. That’s like the ultimate swear word in my head. I don’t like my air to feel stagnant, and I don’t like my life to be stagnant. I seriously did not understand how this could affect my day until the past few months. So let me back up…
Pretty much my entire adult life has been a hot emotional mess. As soon as I got married, I was ready to pop out babies. And then of course once that happened, all I could think about was making it through the day with all of us alive and mostly mentally intact. I struggled with depression through all of that, but it’s hard to identify specific issues when you are just trying to survive. Each day felt like a repeat of the last, and other than watching everyone around me change and grow, I felt totally and completely stagnant.
When I started losing weight, that got me out of the stagnant phase. It helped in a way I hadn’t felt before, but I knew that it would become difficult once I reached my goal. Because where would I go from there? Losing weight had become my identity, but I needed more.
Sometime in early 2011, I learned about Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Push. I had been blogging for about a year, and I was ready to reach a wider audience. Aside from working part time and losing weight, the blog felt like the only thing I had just for me. And although I had no clue where it would go or IF it would go, I was grasping at straws. It was something I enjoyed, so I started making goals around it.
And that taught me a lot about myself. First, I suck at following directions. But as long as I felt like the majority of my day was spent working on, dreaming about, or preparing for some unknown exciting thing in the future, I was happier. And yes, that defies the idea that we should live in the present. But I don’t think we can simply make a decision to love our present. If you tell an unhappy person to just appreciate all that they have, do you think that will fix them? No, it won’t. It will make them feel even worse about their current state of mind.
I think if we don’t love the things that are happening now, it’s okay to focus on the future. And by doing so, we can start taking steps to make that future as bright and beautiful as it can possibly be. I also think we have every right to expect that we will have an amazing future because not one of us is more deserving than the next. We all have the capacity to be great. It’s just that we have different levels of desire to actually get there. (We also have different versions of what ‘great’ is.)
So sometimes, we can learn to love our today because of what’s possible tomorrow. If we recognize that we can’t have a successful future without our current process, it makes it seem less stagnant. It makes the prep phase (as I call it) seem a lot more important than we’d realized before. Maybe we simply aren’t mentally ready now for what will happen in a year.
Chalene’s challenge was about inspiring you to have big dreams and about doing things each day to achieve those dreams. I loved that. I didn’t retain most of it, but it was a good stepping stone. No, this is not an advertisement for her. The challenge was free when I did it, but that may not be the case now. The point is that it was a tool for me. It was a way to see that although my life may not look at all like I want it to now doesn’t mean this is my forever. And there are steps I can take to get there.
We spent 5 years living in Indiana, and it felt like J was moving forward, but I wasn’t sure I was. I wasn’t sure if I was just waiting idly by while he worked on furthering his career and education. That didn’t seem fair. But hindsight is an incredible thing. During those times that I allowed myself to dream about and plan for the future, I definitely was moving forward. It may not have been fast enough for my liking, but I was definitely not being idle or stagnant. It’s just that I wasn’t always seeing how important my time there was. I wasn’t aware that each tiny step I took was building my future.
Thankfully, moving to Hawai’i helped me tremendously. I’m able to do things I enjoy here while still building for my own personal future. But I need both.
Even now, living in Paradise, I have days that feel stagnant. I slipped into a funk for a few months earlier this year when we weren’t going on as many adventures as I wanted to. Adventures make the rest of the world slip away. They make me lose time and they provide a euphoria that I could never quite explain. But not every day can be spent exploring the mountains or ocean. That leaves a whole lot of time for me to feel like I’m just sitting around without a purpose. (And yes, I have three beautiful children who rely on me to raise and educate them – that’s separate from this!)
But what I’m noticing is that there is so much I can do for my future. I actually really do love my present. I love the opportunities we have here in this amazing place. I love spending time with my incredible family, and I love seeing us grow together at such a lightning-fast speed.
However, I want to continue to do things that will propel my personal growth. And for me, I’m learning that there are many options for that. I like to feel productive, and unfortunately (for our household), that doesn’t mean doing the dishes or washing the laundry. Right now, I feel the most productive when I’m doing something related to my blogs. And that may seem insignificant, but for me it means SO much. Because behind the blog is a girl who simply wants to touch others and in front of the blog is a world waiting to be touched. So every advancement I make on here is a step toward reaching my goals.
Moving forward. Those are happy words to me. I enjoy feeling like tomorrow has more in store for me than today did, and that’s how I choose to live life. I think that has been one of my biggest personality changes , and I think it has a lot to do with my successful path to happiness.
I spent a lot of years trying to be optimistic. I really wanted to think that I was working toward something great. But when your life looks the same day in and day out, what’s the incentive to change your mindset? There really is none. So I challenge you to start making goals – no matter how grand they are. They don’t have to pan out and it’s okay if you change your mind fifty million times. But it’s a process, and you can’t get there without having a tentative goal in mind. Maybe you’re like me – maybe you simply need to be moving forward.
When I wake up in a bad mood or when I wake up feeling like things aren’t moving at a quick enough pace, I make sure to do something productive. I do research for one of my goals, or I write a blog post. It sounds simple, but it can be the most powerful remedy.
We’re taught to be grateful for everything we have, and that the appreciation alone will bring more to us. But I really do call B.S. on that. It’s okay to want something more. You can be thankful for your life while still requiring something bigger.
But it’s your responsibility to take action. It’s your responsibility to figure out what ‘more’ means for you. It’s okay to admit you don’t know how to be happy, but it’s not okay for you to hand over the reigns. No one else is as capable as you are.
The great part is that you can change your goals yearly, but the experience and knowledge you gained while working toward them is never lost. That’s why it’s perfectly okay to not have a concrete idea of what our future will be. That’s why it’s okay to have dreams that seem outlandish. If you are living your life super excited about something that will never happen, what have you lost? NOTHING! As long as you’re not making serious sacrifices that you will regret, your hard work will only net you a life full of excitement and happiness.
I have lofty goals that may or may not come true. It’s irrelevant. If I enjoy the process of working toward them, I’m winning. I’m winning at life. And I know you can too.