Sunday, January 27, 2013

Checking Your Pulse...

Well, here we are already!  In a few short days, the reign of first month of 2013 will be over and its predecessor will continue the course.  The holidays are behind us now, and we are very much back in the groove of our daily grind.   As it seems the norm, the days just seem to fly right by us without as much as a tap on the shoulder. But before January leaves us, I feel compelled to ask the question... Are you failing or succeeding with your New Years Resolutions?

On the first day of the new year, I wrote a blog posting about living an intentional life with passion.  I challenged you to make this your year of action by quashing your fears and making more of the good stuff happen in your life. You were confronted with executing the existence that you've always envisioned for yourself, and making your 2013 your best year ever.  How is that working out for you?

I pose this question of the 27th day of the new year, simply because most experts believe that it takes a minimum of 21 days to change a habit or to form a new one. Whether or not this is really the case is debatable. For you it may take a bit longer. For me, it may only be a few days. I think it really depends on the habit that you are trying to change, and the method that you employ that appears to the best for you. But big or small, the only question that really matters... is your change still in the fore-front of your mind, or have you tossed it by the waste side because you've already given up on it? Are you checking your pulse?  

If you've given up, then I implore you... Don't be so hard on yourself.  Many of us fail during the first days or weeks of starting a new change.  Don't be afraid to let your failures define you.  Failure can equal success when we take the time to learn from it. Even the wise Winston Churchill reminds us - "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." The good news is that you can begin again.  Just because you may have tossed aside your change, resolution or habit, doesn't mean that you can't pick it up and try once again.

Lord knows, I've become an expert at "trying again."  To give you an example, for many years I had challenged myself to save more money. To this goal, I would deploy what I perceived to be simple measures, such as putting ten percent of my paycheck into a savings account. Then as the need would arise, I would spend it. $20 for gas or $50 for a night out with the girlfriends.  And before I knew it, my $350 savings would dwindle down to a mere $46, and the bank would then close my account for failing to keep a minimum balance. But after taking a well deserved year long sabbatical, and spending a pretty hefty chunk of my rainy day fund, 2013 brought with it the need to become a better steward of my hard earned cash. With the reminder of my previous savings fiascos still firmly on my mind, I knew I needed a different approach. But what I also knew was in order to make this a lasting change, I needed to start small. Maybe even miniscule. This time, I charged myself task of simply taking my lunch to work, in lieu of eating out. I was averaging about $10-$12 a day. In my mind, not only would this help in my stewardship, but it would also assist with my weight struggles, since I have a tendency to make menu selections based on options that would normally not be available to me at home.  Often times, those restaurant selections would end up being a rich, fat-laden house specialty like the southern fried chicken sandwich served beside sweet potato fries, or the shrimp over buttery, creamy, cheesy grits, like those served at one of my local Jackson favorites, Julep. Both are truly worth their weight in calories, and the city of Jackson is filled with many more culinary gems like this one... hence my financial and weight loss dilemmas.

Well, just 19 days into my week day experiment, I've net a whopping $190 in savings that I can actually see in regular checking account. And even more savings than that if you include the twenty percent tip paid to each the server who performed their duties, well. (Yes, I am a sucker for good service.) It's no secret that I love to eat well, so the simple turkey and swiss on multi-grain bread with mayo or mustard, wasn't going to cut it for me. But truth be told, it really boiled down to simply searing a one or two extra pieces of the wild caught salmon made for dinner the night before, and serving it over the same bed of organic kale, also prepared the night before.  Years earlier, a challenge to eat well by planning ahead was formed during my days with Weight Watchers, and one habit that serves me well to this day.  Saturdays are spent planning and purchasing my weekly menu, while Sunday becomes my cooking day.  The reality of the lunch idea translated into planning and preparing an extra protein and veggie, and an extra $15-$20 dollars added into the weekly food budget. What's more, I can still enjoy the practice of eating out (weekends mostly) while I'm saving real money and real calories. Simple in theory, but harder in execution. Everything in moderation... right?

I will confess that this small change is actually a part of the bigger picture of the life I envision for myself.  As I mentioned in that previous blog posting, I really do want to own more years like the totally fabulous one of 2012.  I want more travel adventures. I want to more scuba diving expeditions. And most importantly... I want more love.  But these things take time and money and looking good in that scuba suit. And just maybe, while I am globetrotting around world, and experiencing all the adventures that I plan for myself, I'll be spotted by my Prince Charming, who will fall in love with the awesome woman he recognizes as having the time of her life, and he'll want to be a part of that too!

Are you checking your pulse...???

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