I was texting one of my friends the other day, and the conversation went something like this:
“I read a few chapters of Girl Wash Your Face this morning and it totally started my day off on the right foot.”
“Good!! I’m downloading some podcasts right now because my life needs them.”
“I hear ya. That’s why I finally sat down to read this morning.”
“I feel like we need a ‘I want to thrive but real life keeps getting in the way’ support group lol.”
We’re both a “personal development” kick lately. At least, we’re trying. Personal development, growth, pursuit of joy, thriving- whatever you want to call it, the bottom line is we’re actively trying to “live our best lives.” And I think we’re not the only ones, which is why I’m writing this post. So if you can relate to any of those terms above, listen up, this is your support group pep talk.
Whatever “thriving” looks like to you, you need to pursue it with all you have. Intentionality is key. Whether it’s getting in better physical shape, dedicating yourself to more self-care, writing a book, getting out of a weird mental funk, investing in your friendships, being more devoted to your faith, or being a better mom, a better wife, or a better human in general– you need to want it enough to put in the work. If you really want something, you’ll make it happen no matter what. There’s this great quote from Rachel Hollis (yes I’m on the Girl Wash Your Face bandwagon) that I think you need to hear:
When you really want something, you will find a way. When you don’t really want something, you’ll find an excuse.Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be
I find myself making excuses all. the. time. You probably do too.
I couldn’t write a blog post tonight because I had cook dinner, and then I had so many dishes to do, and then I was too tired, and all I could do was watch Netflix.
I don’t feel like going to the gym because it’s snowing outside.
Sorry, I can’t make our girls night tonight! I had a long day at work.
Back to what I told my friend at the beginning of this post, “real life keeps getting in the way.” Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: “real life” (whatever that even is) should not distract you or take away from your ability to thrive. In fact, I’d argue that you are only truly thriving when doing what you love is part of your everyday real life! Thriving is not something you do on the side– it doesn’t work that way.
So here are three tips that have been helping me in my pursuit of “living my best life.”
Evaluate your priorities.
This should be your first step if you are feeling overwhelmed all of the “real life” distractions getting in the way of whatever your goal is. Make a list of everything you have to do tomorrow. Then make a list of everything you want to do tomorrow, or what you wish you could do if only you had the time. When you look at your two lists side-by-side, what small changes can you make to fit the “want to do” items into your day?
Maybe instead of watching Grey’s Anatomy for the eighth time while you’re washing the dishes, you listen to an uplifting or motivating podcast instead? Or instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media on your lunch break, maybe you bring your tablet to work and write as many words as your can for that novel you want to finish (or start)? Maybe you swap your nightly Netflix and Chill for a “youtube workout video and chill” a few times a week? There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s up to you to make them count.
Prepare for the unexpected
It’s easy to stick to your schedule when everything goes according to plan. But what happens when the unexpected real life moments pop up? What do you do when your sister tells you that she needs a coffee date therapy session but you had planned to go to spin class tonight? Do you skip the gym altogether or squeeze in a quick workout later? If you’re actively committed to your goals and you’ve built a habit around them, then this is a no-brainer. If you want it bad enough, nothing will stop you. You might just have to work a little harder or lose an hour of sleep every now and then when these things come up. We build habits so that we can fall back on them when life gets difficult or busy.
Lean on your community for accountability
Isolation is a slow and numbing death. You need your people. And if you don’t have people, you need to put yourself out there and find them.
As an introvert, my general tendency is to isolate myself, especially when I’m in a tough mental state. But in this season of life I’ve been blessed to learn just how great it is to gather your people around you when you need accountability.
Right now my friend Becky is committed to her fitness and overall being. If I don’t see a 6AM workout on her Instagram story, I send her a text to check in. My friend Kaleigh is trying to be intentional about not isolating herself in the midst of a difficult time, so if I don’t hear from her by a certain point in the day I’ll shoot her a text. I’ve been focusing on my writing and on growing my blog. BOTH of these incredible women have sent me a “how’s your next blog post coming?” gentle nudge this week.
Your community is good for more than just accountability– they’ll also be your biggest and loudest cheerleaders. And I think we all could use a little bit of that in our lives.
So here’s the bottom line of all this. It’s easy to say that you want to do something. It’s easy to think about doing something. It’s easy to dream. It is so easy to stay in that place of wanting and wishing and dreaming, and in the meantime your life passes you by and nothing’s changed. You cannot dream your way into a more fulfilling life.
You need to show up for your life. You need to put in the work. You need to be intentional about how you are spending your time and what you are giving your attention to. “Real life gets in the way” is not an excuse to let your goals slip through your fingertips. And you better believe that I’m writing all of this to myself as much as I’m writing it to you.
Life doesn’t have to gray and busy and chaotic. It can be beautiful and vibrant, you just have to reach for it.