Goals Refresher Part 2 – Community

“Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” my favorite millennial recently said on her podcast.

It’s going on 6 months since COVID-19 upended our world. I took advantage of the forced time with myself to work on a few goals I’ve claimed to want to achieve for years. How am I doing? Let’s find out!

GOAL: MAKE NEW FRIENDS BUT KEEP THE OLD.

COVID-TIMES: Zoom and FaceTime becomes our lifeline. I host a weekly call with my around-the-world girlfriends. I also run a weekly Zoom with two theater lovers. My husband and I join our first real English pub quiz, hosted by our friend Mark (who lives in Nottingham! Robin Hood! Merry Men!)

TWO MONTHS IN: Still going strong on the weekly Zoom calls. Honestly, I enjoy them. I feel more connected to my girlfriends than I have in months, maybe years. Virtual happy hour is a blast!

I experiment with social media. I follow lots of writers and DAYS fans on Twitter. I lurk. I play with the Stories feature on Instagram but delete most of what I publish within minutes. I’m still shy. I don’t know how millennials do it. They are unstoppable sharing machines.

MID-JUNE: The around-the-world group decides to drop down to every other week. The theater gals Zoom remains weekly but caps at under an hour. We don’t have much to talk about. No one’s doing anything new.

I find I’m distracted by social media throughout the day. I’m bolder with commenting and retweeting/sharing. I get why millennials love this. Likes and replies are like little gold stars. I’m a sucker for gold stars.

JULY: I get a DM asking if I’m subscribed to The Freddie and Alyssa Show on YouTube? She recognized my handle from the LiveStream they host on their Producers channel. Her name is Amanda and she lives in Manchester, UK. We DM a bit. Then more and more. She’s so nice!

TODAY: The scheduled Zoom calls still take place, but we all have screen fatigue. I’ve stopped reaching out to most of my friends. Calls and texts from me are rare. I respond but don’t initiate. I use social media to share, but hardly look at what my friends post. It’s the opposite of how I’ve been for years.

FUTURE GOAL: How do I fix this? I still adore my friends, so why am I isolating myself? I’m glum and sad a lot lately. Send me a message or leave a comment below. I’ll take any and all suggestions.

A GOOD THING! Amanda is now a real friend! We now talk by video chat about once a week. It’s great to have someone to talk to about DAYS, but we talk about everything else under the sun too. Look at what she gave me for my birthday!

My favorite millennial and her fiancé! (He’s a fave too, let’s be real)

Next up: Creativity

Goal Refresher Part 1 – Fitness

Remember when I posted I would pivot from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus? I take it back. I can’t help it if Alyssa says great stuff! “Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” she says in Ep. 097.

I just had a birthday. It’s been about six months since I seriously committed to a few goals. Time to check in, see how I’ve done, and plan what to do from here.

LOSE 20 POUNDS BY LABOR DAY

COVID-TIME: I logged my food. Everything I ate. Every day. I hate logging, but I pivoted my mindset. I decided it would not be terrible. Also, I finally started the Couch-to-5K training app that’s been hanging out on my phone for over 2 years.

TWO MONTHS IN: I completed the Couch-to-5K app in 8 weeks! I can run a 5K! Slow as f*ck but I can do it! And…I lost 10 pounds!

MID-JUNE: Running is stupid. I hate it. I hate Roosevelt Island. I run around and around this island and for what? Only 2 more pounds lost. And you know what else is stupid? Logging food. I hate thinking about it, I hate doing it, it’s dumb. Everything is dumb. I hate all of this. The same thing over and over day in day out BLEAH I’M SO BORED. I’m grumpy. I’m not doing any of it any more. Spoiler alert: I promptly stop losing weight.

Going to the gun show!

JULY: Since it’s too hot and humid to run most mornings, I opt to work out in the living room. I subscribe to The Fitness Marshall. Britney-inspired choreography for hundreds of songs. He’s brilliant! It’s the only workout where I smile as I’m doing it. I love dancing. Try Into You, Rain On Me, or Boss B!tch.

For strength training, I sign up for Snatched in Six Weeks, because you don’t get Michelle Obama arms by wishing for them.

TODAY: I dance with The Fitness Marshall twice a week. It’s still fun! I’m not enjoying Snatched. It’s not Snatched’s fault. Snatched is now Zoom-based due to COVID. I’m sick of everything being on a screen. The magic of the Unicorn Ninjas is their community. In person. I’ll try again when I can Snatch at the MFF Clubhouse, like I was supposed to back in March.

Put-your-pants-on handstand?
Challenge accepted, Mr. Massey.

I downloaded the 5k Faster training app. I don’t love running but I love being outdoors. I need to get away from screens. I have major screen fatigue.

FUTURE GOAL: handstands! Thanks yet again for the fitness inspiration, guru-adjacent Chandler Massey!

I still loathe logging. I’m using my hands as measuring guides. A palm or two of protein, two fists of vegetables, a thumb of healthy fat, a cupped handful of complex carbs or fruit, per meal, 3-4 meals per day. Spoiler alert: It’s not working.

As Mark Fisher says, “You can’t out-train your diet.” He also says, “If you’re not losing weight, 95% of the time it’s because you’re overeating.” Sigh.

This is not how I set my future self up to be grateful. Got any ideas? Comment below or send me a message.

Next up: Community

Alyssa’s Greatest Hits

IT HAPPENED! Freddie and Alyssa hosted the Zoom chat with the 3 winners – including me! It was a blast! Alyssa and Freddie are genuine, sweet people. We talked about DAYS of course, but also theater, public health, hometowns, pets…a wide range! It was so nice to have conversations with new people. Like we were strangers chatting each other up in line. I long for those pre-COVID moments, the chance encounters with strangers that could go either way – a friendly conversation that makes your night or a dude shouting at you to suck their d!ck. (Do I look like I’m into baby food? F*ck you!)

I didn’t thank them during the chat like I’d planned. It felt weird with others on the Zoom – they were there just as DAYS fans, not The Pivot Principle. Instead, I sent a brief DM after:

Thank you Alyssa and Freddie! If you wondered if something good would come of posting The Pivot Principle on YouTube, IT DID. It gave me the push to change my life. From unused potential to being kinetic. From frozen with fear to giving-no-sh*ts if I fail because there is value in trying. From C activity to A activity – wow, it’s the best way to learn. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for writing it and sharing it!

So, as I pivot (see what I did there?) from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus, I give you a gift: Alyssa’s best quotes. May she upend your world like she did mine. Drop some knowledge, Alyssa!

The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.
Introduction

Any time you catch yourself about to say, “I don’t have the time for _____,” stop and say, “_____ is not a priority.”
Ch. 5, Pivot on Purpose

To reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ch. 1, Pivot from Fear

Only use positive words when speaking, especially to yourself.
Ch. 3, Pivot your Mindset

If all you do is try and speak your life into existence without action, you will see zero progress. But the moment you align your actions with your beliefs, and make your intentions clear to the world, you will be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Positive reinforcement not only to yourself but to the world will leave you ready to rock it. Revive your sparkle, manifest your dreams, realize your worth.
Ch. 7, Pivot your Routine

There is no perfect moment. “Being ready” is an excuse.
-Ch. 1, Pivot from Fear

The Zoom chat!
OF COURSE I ADDED IT TO MY STORY

Sprinkling Fairy Dust

I won a Zoom chat with Alyssa and Freddie! I’m thrilled for the chance to thank them for their audiobook, which I’ve blogged about quite a bitmaybe too much. My newfound social media bad-assery paid off!

Being grateful and thankful is an important part of positivity. What a wonderful exercise to think of three things you’re thankful for each morning. It opens your heart and mind to good things that come your way. But it seems the act of actually thanking people gets a bit lost.

When I worked at a law firm in Atlanta, a second-year associate hid in my office. He’d submitted a document to the Delaware Secretary of State, but found a calculation error after it was posted. He was miserable because the last time he’d worked for this client, he made a similar error and had to submit a Certificate of Correction, which wasn’t good. “I can’t go back to them with the same mistake a second time,” he groaned.

“Let me see what I can do.” I picked up the phone and called DSOS. After speaking with a few people, it turned out that they could do a page swap within 12 hours of filing! We quickly submitted the corrected page and the document was fixed. What a relief!

At the end of the day, I called DSOS again. I left a voice message profusely thanking the rep who’d helped us, hung up and moved on to the next thing.

The next morning I had a message from DSOS. Uh-oh.

“Nothing’s wrong,” the rep’s message began. “I just had to tell you that we never, ever get thanked. All of the overnight voice mails are complaints. I forwarded your message to my supervisor, who forwarded it to the Secretary himself, and he sent it to the whole office. You don’t know what it means to us to hear we actually helped.”

Ever since, I make sure I thank and compliment people who help, or try to help as best as they can, especially in crummy situations like when a flight gets canceled. “Can you transfer me to your supervisor? I’d love to give them a compliment about you.” It’s so easy. You could help someone get a bump in pay at their annual review just by giving a compliment about them to their boss. My husband and I call it “sprinkling fairy dust.”

You see why I’m super excited to thank Alyssa and Freddie. They helped me so much and they have no idea! If it were me who put something out into the world like The Pivot Principle, I’d be so happy to hear I helped someone. But we are strangers so I don’t know how Alyssa and Freddie might feel. I will think carefully about what to say and a succinct way to say it. I’d die if their reaction was, “Anywaaaayyy…”

Pivoting My Mindset

Chapter 3 of The Pivot Principle, Pivot Your Mindset, is about the aftermath of the car accident. Alyssa takes us through the extent of her injuries and her depression during her long road of recovery. After playing with the hospital’s therapy dogs one afternoon, the pure joy they gave her made her realize it was up to her to reclaim her life in her “new normal.” She and Freddie decided to surround themselves with positive thoughts, words and actions. She credits this approach with being able to walk again in 3 months instead of 8, regaining close to 100% use of her injured eye, and running long distances again after 18 months of recovery.

Alyssa and Freddie certainly aren’t the first to tout the power of positivity. The Mayo Clinic, psychologists and scientists have proven that positive thinking reduces stress, build skills and improves your health. It’s nice to say you want to be more positive, but how do you gain, and keep, a positive mindset? Alyssa and Freddie built a strategy:

  1. Only use positive words when speaking, especially to yourself. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t,” say, “Of course I can!”
  2. Create your dream environment. Build your personal space with podcasts, music, articles and clips that have positive, uplifting messages.
  3. Gratitude. Every day, acknowledge three things you are thankful for.
  4. Visualize your life as if you’ve already achieved your dreams and goals. What does it look like? Use your imagination. What will it take to achieve those goals? Write it out, step by step, and see yourself conquering each one.

Does this seem hokey to you? Make you uncomfortable? As Alyssa said in Chapter 1, to reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Pivoting your mindset isn’t easy. You don’t just decide to be a positive person and BAM! you’re positive. If you’re like me, you’re undoing a lot of deeply embedded mental habits.

As for their strategy, I’ll say right off the bat that only using positive words when speaking is the hardest, especially when talking to myself. But, I’ve been practicing it for a few months and it makes a difference. I used to apologize for anything and everything – I’m not the only one – and I do it much, much less since I started speaking to myself with kindness.

The biggest shift I made to create my dream environment was to stop working for a news organization. This was incredibly difficult because I loved it there – my team, the work, and the mission: To Inform the World. But, being in an environment of relentless Breaking News took its toll on me last year. I was joyless, disillusioned, depressed. I felt myself slipping away. Yet the positive talk started to work even then. I was worth leaving News. I was worth waiting for the right opportunity. It took several months but I found it.

I have a gratitude journal. I write in it most mornings. I list three things I’m thankful for. When I started it, one goal was to be a successful enough writer so I could quit my day job. But now, I don’t resent having to have a day job at all. I pivoted my mindset. My day job is the patron of my art. Writing is a pleasure, a hobby. I can write whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t depend on writing for a living. I’m thankful for my day job because it gives me the freedom to explore who I am as a writer. If someday I actually sell something, it’s a bonus.

Willing to give it a try? Or are you still skeptical? Leave me a comment, or get in touch!