This is the second article focusing on re-inventing self – you can read the original article : reinventing myself here
The best way to decide what you want to focus on in the future is to simply take yourself into the future ask yourself a question.
“What will I regret not having seen/achieved/done?”
If you can identify something then it becomes easy to work towards achieving it.
For me it was travel. I know if I don’t get to travel (even around Europe) and live in at least one other country outside of England for a few months I will always wonder about what could have been. I will be left feeling unfulfilled and regretful.
My mum always wanted to attend the Rio de Janeiro carnival. She never managed to fulfill that dream. It was more something she talked about rather than planned for and talking about a dream isn’t enough. Maybe she thought one of her children will eventually pay for her to go – it would have been my honour to have been able to do that and go with her but it never happened.
Once you have identified what your dream is now you need to look at what might get in the way of you achieving that and also what strengths, weaknesses and skills you have that will help you get there.
This is a time to be brutally honest about yourself to yourself. If you find that difficult ask other people what they believe your strengths and weaknesses are – make sure you ask people you trust. Many times people see so much more in us than we can see in ourselves.
Caution: Always make sure your dream is something you want for you. Don’t tag yourself onto your partners/husbands/children’s dream. It is easy to think we will be happy if we become a part of helping someone else achieve their dream but it rarely happens.
If you, like me, are in your late 40s now really is the time to focus on what we truly want to experience.
There is nothing more personally fulfilling than working through a transition period where we are internally motivated to succeed. I believe this is why my desire to get healthy and fit has been so much easier this time than it ever has in the past.
This time I am not losing weight to go on holiday or to attend a wedding. This time I am making a lifestyle change and shifting the way I eat and workout forever. I am motivated to do that because it is something I really, really want for myself.
In the past I focused on wanting lots of money, a big house, a fancy car. Stuff that didn’t even really appeal to me but would “prove” my material wealth. Now I want life to be about experiences, about the memories I create, the places I visit and the things I get to do. None of that always involves needing a lot of money to get started but it does require action.
Connecting with my future-self and my dream
In order to really enjoy experiencing my future-self I need to connect with that woman. I see myself as a size 14, running with ease for a bus on the way into town while on holiday. I see myself packing to leave for three months and I also see myself enjoying travel with a partner.
I connect with my future selves so that I am more likely to want to get there.
I will say no to that doughnut, or I will make myself exercise (I am finding the more I make myself exercise the fitter I get and the more I actually want to exercise) to ensure I get stronger.
I am more likely to take action in the present that will lead me towards the future I want when I am constantly in touch with it. In the present immediate gratification can easily win over future goals so remembering why it is I am choosing to eat healthy foods and exercise are a must.
Reminding myself of why it is I am sitting and writing a long article or blog post when all I really want to do is go and watch TV becomes easier when I am in touch with my future selves.
When I am reminded about my dream thanks to my screen saver or desktop image or even a post-it-note on my wall it becomes real in this present moment, which makes taking action on it easier for me.
Action Is Necessary
It is important to understand that to achieve this future you dream of you must take action towards it. You need to plan, save, make lists, and remind yourself constantly.
For me losing weight wasn’t just about eating less. It involved:
- reminders to exercise
- notes up on the kitchen wall encouraging me not to eat unhealthy foods
- planning my food for the week while in the transition stage of my plant-based diet
- buying vegan recipe books for meal ideas
- cooking plant-based meals – some of which turned out terribly
- planning my exercise for the week so I knew exactly what I was doing and didn’t have to think about
- trying out different forms of eating (high fat, high protein, low-sugar, high carb…) until I found a way of eating that I knew I could sustain for the long-term
- forgiving myself when I went back to eating four slices of toast with butter or any other unhealthy foods
- learning about food and its effect on my body so I became clear on what happens when I eat unhealthy foods
- learning about the pesticides and toxins in certain food so I appreciate what I put in my body
- spending time learning about weight lifting, strength training, functional training and other forms of exercise besides aerobics
- shouting, talking, and begging with myself to exercise when I had the feeling that I didn’t want to do anything
So much has gone into my desire to be healthy and that is only a small glimpse into what I have taken myself through over the last two years. Weight loss for me took a lot of constant planning, mental energy, and changing the way I worked and ate so that I could make it all happen.
Without consistent action our dreams become something we only think about. Taking small steps towards them are what make them real.
Re-inventing myself not only takes action but it also takes effort. I always have to battle my inner demons called fear and procrastination – those two are huge for me. Because I was always under estimating how much time and effort it would take to achieve my dreams I ended up giving up before they ever really got started.
It helps me to watch YouTube videos from people who are already where I want to be. People like ‘Lose it like Lauren’ who lost her weight over 6 years, super fit and toned people who provide exercises like ‘Blended Fitness’ and vloggers like ‘The Living Fruits’ who travel around London and different countries.
These are people who are enjoying their success now but I can also see their struggles, both in the past and in the present too. It makes it all so very real and that helps me to stay focused on my own success.
Set up new habits and routines
To successfully manage my health I had to create new habits and routines that would change the way I had done things for years. No more Friday night take away. Just the habit of expecting unhealthy foods on a Friday set me up to eat unhealthy foods on a Saturday and into Sunday.
New bedtime routines. Watching late night TV meant eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a cup of tea. Every night around 10 pm the craving for my night time snack would start and by 10.15 pm I had a 3 sliced layered sandwich (the middle slice full of jam) of peanut butter and jam. That sandwich alone was probably over 500 calories!
I tried to watch late night TV without eating and some nights I succeeded but many nights I didn’t. I needed a new routine. A new habit. One to replace the food. Eventually, after trying and failing many different things I settled on doing a little strength building routine. Some tricep dips on the sofa, a few squats and lunges as I watched TV. I performed that routine to take my mind off food.
The other habit I formed was to go to bed and watch on-demand TV, Netflix and Amazon video on my Kindle. Being in bed and watching something didn’t set up the same trigger for eating that watching the TV did.
That was just one of many habits and routines I had to change in order to improve my health.
As you think about forming new habits and routines in your own life give yourself time to adjust. That is the one piece of advice I wished I had at the time. There were many nights of frustration as I tried (and failed) to not eat my night time sandwich.
I was quite hard on myself at times. Instead of recognising that change can take some time it would have been easier if I accepted that it will take time for me to release myself from my old subconscious habits.
Long after the 21 days that is usually suggested to form a new habit I was still going back to my old ways but when I decided to move forward and try again each time was longer than the last time, and that was progress.
Exercise was a habit that was never really a part of my life. Even if I had free time and was sitting doing nothing it would never occur to me to exercise. I would do anything but not that. Eventually, I had to schedule it in.
Buying my TurboFire DVDs helped me with that. It came with a class schedule that told me which DVD to complete on any given day. It really helped me to recognise how scheduling in exercise was the key to ensuring I kept doing it. I also picked a day to perform a routine. Every Sunday at 10am I attended my local swimming pool and swam during ‘adult hour’.
I walked the 20 minutes to the pool, swam and then walked the 20 minutes home. I set that up around October 2015. At first I shouted and screamed at myself to go when I ‘didn’t feel like it’ until eventually I went because I loved it. It took until March 2016 for that to happen. Now I attend weekly and I may have missed a week or two here and there but I would say I have a 98% attendance rate when it comes to swimming on a Sunday.
Celebrate every little success
Self-reinvention in middle-age (and at any time in life) can be difficult and seem like a hard slog so it really helps to find things to celebrate.
I can be really bad at celebrating my success. When I first decided to lose weight I wanted to get down to my 2010 weight. Once I had achieved that I didn’t even stop to really celebrate that goal. I simply decided it wasn’t good enough and I wanted to continue going down towards being the slim woman I was in my 20’s.
During the time of weight loss I have found small reasons to celebrate. When I was able to cut my toe nails without difficulty because my large stomach was no longer in the way. I remember celebrating that. I also remember celebrating when I got into a smaller clothes size, and then another, and then another.
It is really important for motivation that success is celebrated. No matter how small. In the YouTube weight loss community there is something called “non-scale victory” and people would make a video celebrating a success that wasn’t about weight loss. Like being able to wear a pair of shoes they loved or running up a flight of stairs without being totally breathless.
All success, no matter how small, is worth celebrating. That is something I have to constantly remind myself about too.
It won’t be a straight road
The key to achieving any dream is to recognise that not everything will go to plan. When I first decided I wanted to travel and live aboard it was back when everything was great in 2004, maybe even before that, and I had savings, business was great and I owned my house. My 2009 my savings gone, the house sold and my business bringing barely enough to live on everything had changed. By desire to travel and live abroad remained.
Now more than ever I feel so far away from my dream because I have spent the last 9 years in “recovery” trying to rebuild my life post-recession but I still won’t let that stop me from dreaming.
That is when you know you are truly working towards something you desire, when nothing will stop you from achieving it.
Focusing on my health gave me a way to track my successes, no matter how small, as I moved towards great health. As my body was able to do things that it couldn’t because of my excess weight that motivated me to keep going. Writing about it in my journal and making videos where I could see myself changing are other ways.
Are there times when I really don’t even want to work out or eat right? Of course there are and there are times when I give into that but mainly I use things like my journal that outlines my successes or the TV show Obese: A Year To Save My life USA to show me what’s possible with hard work and dedication. Nowhere is hard work and dedication more evident than on that show IMHO.
Get ready to adjust
Something I like to do every spring, because spring represents new beginnings for me, is to look at where I am and what I want to achieve over the next year. Another great time to do that is your birthday if you prefer that.
It is essential that you reassess, re-evaluate and take stock of what you have achieved, whether you are moving forward and what there is still to do otherwise it is easy to keep working towards something that keeps moving into the future.
I don’t always like to set a date, I have found it doesn’t always serve me in a positive way but setting a date to achieve something is still a great way for many to ensure they achieve their desires.
Ultimately you must do what works for you and the best way to discover what will work for you is to start on it, assess it and see if you want to remain the same or do something different. No amount of reading can do that for you. Only taking positive steps and definite action will suffice.
Never make the mistake of thinking that because you have spent so much time working on something that you should continue with it. If you really find on evaluating it that your desire has changed or this is just not something you want to pursue you need to be brave enough to admit that.
When things were tough and my life coaching / training business was struggling I turned to the internet. I had taught myself how to put up WordPress websites and I began offering that as well as other internet marketing services to local people.
While I still love putting up websites I have to admit that the time I have spent on this work – from 2007-2015 – has taking me away from my true passion which is self-development and helping women stand in their truth and pursue their dreams.
I had spent a lot of time learning about internet marketing. I spent money on courses, groups, at seminars and I even qualified as a Digital Marketer. As I had sunk so much time, energy and money into digital marketing I believed I had to continue working on it but eventually, after reassessing what I was doing I decided it was time to go back to my true passion of personal development.
The only part of digital marketing I truly love is putting up websites. I still do that and I love the creative side of that work. I enjoy starting it and handing it over.
As I work on developing this site and sharing my personal development message of change, transition and transformation what will be different this time compared to the past? Well, now I have extensive knowledge about video, social media and digital marketing. I can use those skills to help me build my own online presence and to fulfill my goal of generating passive income, which is what I started to do at the end of 2015. It was only thanks to reassessing my goal that I was able to achieve that.
Before you consider whether you are ready to re-invent yourself there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. I will share them in the next blog article.