Posts Tagged ‘achievement’

Fortieth Birthday Interruptus

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

My 40th birthday is coming up and I have no plans.  I did have a plan but it fell through. I was really excited about it, too. Back in November, I made a goal: to be stronger, more flexible and have more stamina by my 4oth birthday. I was going to showcase the fruits of my labor by putting together and performing a pole routine. I pretty much put everything else in my life on hold and trained up to two times a day, six days a week. By February, not only was I totally on track to meet my goal, but I also had choreographed and executed two pole routines! (You can see practice video here, this is not  my birthday routine, it’s the other one.) I was definitely stronger, more flexible and had more stamina.


By mid-February, I knew I would be ready for my March 18 deadline.  Then I got injured. My fault. I got overzealous, overtired and, ultimately, overtrained.  I just recently got the ok to start swimming again, but it’s been a month since I’ve been on the pole. It breaks my heart to know I can’t spend my birthday with my beloved chrome stick.  No joke, my eyes are welling up right now as I write this.  But I’ve had a month to think–some of those thoughts weren’t so friendly, but some were really helpful.  My favorite thought is one I borrowed from the late, amazing John Wooden: Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. It’s really easy to get hung up on the things I can’t do. I can’t swim, I can’t get on the pole, I can’t practice contortion, I can’t perform my routine on my birthday. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.


This is not helpful and, actually, it isn’t even true. Technically, I could do all of those things, but I would risk doing serious damage to my body and putting myself out of commission for a very long time.  I chose not to do those things.  That was the first thing I had to get right in my head.  Then I could focus on what I could do. Let me just say that I tend to be a very dichotomous thinker, an extreme all or nothing kind of person, so this piece does not come naturally to me at all. I really had to work for this one. Fortunately, I started reading a really good book by sport psychologist Terry Orlick called In Pursuit of Excellence even before I got injured and the book is all about focus and mental training.  I knew I could practice my routines in my head mentally and visualize cleaning up my tricks and transitions. So I did and continue to do so. This breeds other productive action:  I can get quality sleep, I can stay on top of my nutrition, I can get my endorphin fix by laughing with a friend. I can. I can. I can.


I also learned that I can choreograph a whole pole routine without getting physical using paper, music and my imagination. And I did. (If you’re keeping track, that makes 3 routines in all. Not too shabby!). I can also perform my birthday pole routine on a day other than on my actual birthdate. And I will. Maybe the training I really needed was more mental than physical. Maybe, instead of thinking about all the things I haven’t accomplished by the time I reach 40, I can think about all the things I have accomplished so far and focus on setting and achieving new goals that actually have meaning for me now. Maybe instead of making a big deal out of one day, I can make a bigger deal out of a whole decade. I can conquer a lot more in 10 years than I can in one day. I can do it while loving the actual getting it done part like crazy while not desperately clinging to the outcome, too. It turns out that I don’t get permission to do whatever I want just on my birthday, I can choose to do whatever I want on any given day.  I can and I will. So can you. Will you?



How To Procrastinate

September 13, 2010 6 comments

A year from now you may wish you had started today.  ~Karen Lamb

How to procrastinate:

1. Determine that you want to get something accomplished

2. Get stressed out and worried that you won’t do it perfectly even though you know perfection is an unreasonable standard

3. Become overwhelmed by the enormity of your goal and don’t take any action toward accomplishing what you want and do something totally different and irrelevant instead

How not to procrastinate:

1. Determine that you want to get something accomplished

2. Be willing to make mistakes, learn and try again

3. Break up your goal into the many simple mini tasks that it really is and take action –no matter how small or imperfect that action might be. Keep taking action until the mini task is complete, then take on another simple mini task and another. Take planned mini breaks and celebrate your accomplishments. Even five minutes of good effort toward your goal and 7 hours and 55 minutes of celebrating is more productive than 8 hours of dread, panic and avoidance.

Pole Dancing: It’s Not Just For Strippers Anymore

September 7, 2010 2 comments

I keep forgetting that not everyone has the same frame of reference as I do when it comes to pole dancing.  As someone who absolutely adores the art, I feel that I have a small responsibility to let people in on what I know a about it.  And the first thing I want people to know is that pole dancing is not just for strippers anymore.  I am not oblivious to the fact that the pole is a preferred prop for many performers working in the gentleman’s clubs, and is often referred to as a stripper’s pole. But as my friend and pole instructor, Minda, once said, strippers use chairs as props, too, and no one is calling the apparatus we all sit on a stripper’s chair.  Of course, the reason we don’t refer to chairs as stripper’s chairs is because we have found other uses for them beyond being instrumental during a lap dance.  Humans are pretty resourceful and clever that way.  It turns out that we have also figured out uses for a pole that go beyond using it for a prop to grind on–not that there’s anything wrong with that, what ya’ll do in the privacy of your own home, strip club or spring break is totally your business and no one else’s.  I don’t judge and, before I go further, it’s only fair to mention that some exotic dancers also happen to be highly skilled pole dancers.

For a growing number of us (including professional women, housewives, mothers and media moguls . . .) who practice pole dancing, it means something more than prancing around a prop wearing a naughty schoolgirl uniform.  For starters, it’s an outrageous upper body and core workout.  I’d have to do a fair amount of weight lifting and abdominal work to get the strength and definition I get from pole dancing.  If I wore platform heels during a practice, I’d also get a good leg and butt workout.  Pole dancing has borrowed elements from the aerial arts (static trapeze, silks, hoop, etc.) so for those of us who like the idea of climbing on things and hanging upside down up in the air while making pretty shapes with our bodies, doing pole work is pure playtime.  It also reminds me a lot of being a kid playing with my friends on the monkey and hanging bars on the school yard, when we encouraged each other to try new tricks–the more challenging, the better (my favorite was the “dead man drop”).  Because of its physical and challenging nature, pole dancing is a positive way to release stress and tension. It’s hard to focus on what a jerk your boss is when you are inverted on a pole supporting your entire body weight with just the crook of your elbow of one arm and the opposite hand of the other while balancing in a straddle.

For some examples of the athleticism and art that can be expressed using a pole, check out these video clips of two guys performing a Chinese pole act and Jenyne Butterfly performing a strong and graceful dance on the pole.

I’m not saying that pole dancing can’t or shouldn’t be sexy.  In fact, that is a big draw for many women who to take it up in the first place (who doesn’t want to feel sexy?)! Pole dancing, like other forms of dance, absolutely has a sensual element inherently built into it.  Look at the Rhumba, the Tango (both have racy histories, by the way) or any of the other latin ballroom dances—Hot!  And these dances are performed openly—more like brazenly flaunted–in front of families, dignitaries and Brooke Burke.   These forms of dance require strength, conditioning and dedication to master, just like pole dancing.  Those of us who are drawn to dance, sports or any physically demanding activity know how good it feels to be in our bodies and fully focused on the activity we are performing.  We come alive, we are fully present in the moment and we are compelled to give our best effort. Whether we are elite or recreational athletes, we learn something very valuable from our participation that impacts the rest of our lives: we learn how capable we really are.  Pole dancing is just one more way that we can discover this and once we do, we are in pole position (pun intended) to achieve our non-athletic goals, too.

Want to know what else pole dancing can do you for you? Check out the details for the Comeback Diva workshop Minda Ruggles and I are leading in San Diego this month if you’d like to learn what pole dancing can teach you about setbacks, recovery and achieving your goals.

Do Yourself Proud

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I bet when you take inventory of your proudest moments so far, you discover how hard you worked to reach those moments. You probably had to overcome some, if not many, obstacles to get there. I bet you even look back at some of those most challenging times with nostalgia, not because they were the precursors to your most brilliant achievements, but because you are the most brilliant and alive when you are pushing yourself to reach your goals. More times than not, your finest moments are born out of the messy, frustrating and disappointing ones.

And, yet, right now you may be wondering why you haven’t been given the fabulous job, why the right mate hasn’t shown up on your doorstep, why your waistline refuses to shrink or why your bank account hasn’t swelled up to ridiculous proportions. I’m certain if you were handed whatever it is you are after, you would be elated . . .for about 10 minutes. After that, however, you would either lose appreciation for your new acquisitions or be terrified of losing them—if you have no control over how or when they come into your life, you have no control over how or when they will leave you. We thrive on challenges. I believe it’s why we have goals in the first place.  We are designed to stretch and grow and when we do what we are built to do, we are happy.  Think back to one of your proudest moments again. How much did you struggle and how much did you have to conquer to reach that moment?  Would you have appreciated it just the same if someone had just handed it to you?  Of course not, and what we don’t appreciate we don’t maintain.

Put yourself out there. Take the risk. Dare to mess up so you can learn, correct and try again.  Your finest moment is just around the corner, meet it and relish it. Before long, you will have another proud moment you can add to your inventory.

Focus On The Must Haves

July 1, 2010 1 comment

I got so many thoughtful and supportive emails about last week’s post (thank you!) that I just wanted to follow up and let you know that after I fell apart, I got to work on pulling myself back together and I’m happy to say that I am back in the game again. Part of my recovery involved taking inventory of how I was using my resources of time and energy and how I could be more efficient and focused with those resources to get what I wanted.  I have a weakness for fun of all kinds and I tend to say yes to every opportunity, activity, event and invite to to get my fun fix.  This definitely has its benefits, but unchecked, it can really dilute my focus from what I truly want by spreading my resources too thin over things it would be nice to have.  The net result is that I end up doing mediocre work and I’m exhausted.  I knew that if I were going to pull myself together, I needed to be way smarter about how I spend my time and energy.  I knew this was huge and that I needed to get on it right away, so, naturally, I rented the first season of Sex and the City and watched all the episodes back-to-back.  I really wanted to grab the second season, too, but the project of focusing in on what I truly want wasn’t going to happen without my involvement, so I did what I had to do. . .

I pulled out three clean sheets of notebook paper and titled them, respectively: what I want, what I must have and what I can live without.  I started unloading my wants, I have a lot of those, it was actually kind of fun seeing all the things I’d like to have, do and be.  Then I picked out what I absolutely must have from that list, those things people supposedly think they wish they had accomplished or acquired while they’re lying on their deathbeds and I came up with five things that I absolutely must have before I expire. Finally, I went back over my want list and picked out the things that, when it really came right down to it, I would be okay with letting go.  I won’t lie, it was rough–I felt a little bit like Meryl Streep’s character in Sophie’s Choice. I looked at my must have list, it truly represented my immediate deepest wants and I knew in order to get those things, I would have to funnel my resources to those five things.  Only, I got even more real and I knew that five things was still too many, I might be mediocre or just good enough, at best, by spreading my resources out over those five things and so I made some more Sophie’s Choices and narrowed my list down to my very top three priorities, the things that I knew I wanted to be nothing short of great at. These are my true must haves.

There is one caveat that takes any oppressive heaviness out of all of this though: I can change my mind at any time about what it is I must have. This is a major relief to me, because I don’t like the idea of being tied down to anything.  The truth is I’m free to do whatever I like, and what I like is getting what I must have.  One thing I know for sure is that unless I am clear and focused on what I must have and I consciously channel my time and energy toward it, I won’t get it. Nothing worth having happens by accident, we make it happen by actively planning, preparing and working toward it.  There’s little room in our lives for things it would be nice to have and no room for the things we can let go of when we are pursuing the things we must have.  The resources of time and energy are there, we simply need to decide how we spend them.

Making It Happen . . .

May 24, 2010 5 comments

I used my passion for pole to document my journey from WANTING something to actually GETTING it. It’s as much a reminder for me as it is, I hope, inspiration for others to actively pursue their own passions and dreams. We all fall down, but if we want something badly enough, we had better get the hell back up again!

There Is No Finish Line

April 12, 2010 4 comments

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. ~Winston Churchill

When I lose the extra weight, I’ll feel good about my body.  When my career takes off, I’ll relax. When I’ve accumulated enough money, I’ll feel secure.  The most recent one I heard, when I find a romantic partner, I can get on with my life, made me chuckle.

We tend to see our goals as static objects: once we reach them, we’re done.  The truth is that our goals are living organisms.  This is especially true for our long-term goals. Reaching a goal is just the beginning, then it’s about looking after it, caring for it and doing our best to make sure it thrives.  Achieved goals require maintenance.

So many of us are in love with the happily ever after concept.  It makes for tasty, tidy Hollywood endings. It’s fun entertainment, but it is a crappy model for goal setting.   Then there’s the concept of maintenance.  At best, we tend to think of maintenance as something that is boring and unsexy (like getting your car’s tires rotated), at worst we confuse it with something that is a struggle and painful (like holding on tightly to a challenging relationship or a new dress size).  It sounds really un-fun.  But I think we need to change the way we think about maintenance, because it’s what works after the movie has ended. Maintenance requires effort, no doubt about it, but it should never feel like a struggle.

I’ve lost weight and struggled with maintaining it, and then I’ve lost weight and put in effort to maintain it.  The latter feels much better and far more satisfying.  Why? Because when I approach maintenance from a place of effort (as much or as little as I want to give) I’m in far greater control of my life and my circumstances.  I like that.   When I struggled with my weight, I was working against myself: forcing myself to avoid this or that food, soldiering through extra workouts to work-off any extra calories I may have consumed and punishing myself if I did neither.  Not enjoyable at all.  Putting effort into my weight maintenance is different.  It’s not about how much I move or eat, it’s about checking in with my mindset.  The real work happens inside of my head, not outside of my body. When I catch myself feeling anxious or stressed about ANYTHING, I know there’s a thought that needs my attention and I make the necessary adjustments right then before I end up anywhere near the kitchen in a feeding frenzy. I have learned that there is no upside to avoiding my feelings and thoughts and that there is tremendous value in addressing them and authentically changing them when necessary.  I could just distract myself: sit and watch TV, surf the Net or eat. . .but the few moments of effort I put into my kind of maintenance keeps me from ever struggling with maintenance.

If you have a goal you really want to achieve, first get clear on how badly you want it and why.  Are you clean about it? By this I mean do you feel happy and excited about it (clean)? or do you feel anxious and stressed about what will happen if you don’t achieve it (dirty)? Once you achieve this goal, will you want to give it the love, care and attention—the maintenance–it requires?   Or are you just hoping for a happily ever after ending?  One choice empowers you, the other choice leaves you feeling powerless. I know which one I choose, and it’s a choice I practice making over and over again.  It is effort, it is clean and it is beyond worth it.