Where Are We Going?

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ~ Jim Rohn

Happy Friday, everyone! Another weekend is here. How do you feel your week has gone? Do you feel successful? Do you feel excited about the things you are accomplishing? Goals that you are meeting? You should! We have seen pictures and heard stories this week – they show your successes and accomplishments. If you don’t feel excited, we’ll be excited for you! To some people, cleaning and organizing a pantry might not seem like much, but if it’s something you have dreaded and avoided and put off as long as possible, attacking it and getting it done feels amazing! (You may also be wondering why you put it off so long in the first place.) A lot of times, it just takes words of encouragement from someone else to motivate you and get you moving in the right direction.

The right direction. That’s what I want to talk about today. Let’s define some important terms here.

  • right – most convenient, desirable, or favorable
  • direction – a line of thought or action or a tendency or inclination; the line along which anything moves
  • motivation – the act of providing  with a reason to act in a certain way
  • habit – an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

The goal of “Simplify 2013” is to motivate you to acquire habits that move you in the right direction. See us there? We’re holding up the sign that says “This way!” That arrow is pointing you in a positive direction. You know what’s at the end of the road? Routines. Schedules. Plans. You know what comes along with those? Peace. Contentment. Freedom. You know what doesn’t? Stress. Chaos. Fear.

When you came across “Simplify 2013,” what were you looking for? From the name, we’ll have to assume you were looking to simplify your life in some way. Did you think it would involve cleaning out your pantry, or were you expecting to be told to give away all your worldly goods and live in a tent in the woods? (If there were tent-living involved, I would so be out of here!) Did you have any clue that cleaning out your pantry (or your refrigerator, or desk, or linen closet) would make you feel so very good? Did you think you’d be so excited about cleaning that you’d take pictures? BEFORE and after pictures?And then show them to complete strangers on Facebook?

Some of you were overwhelmed with what needed to be done to get your house in order. You stood in the middle of the chaos and just felt lost. You felt hopeless. You wanted to throw up your hands and just give up. (You may have considered lighting a match, tossing it into the pantry, and walking away. I’m glad you didn’t. You know you can go to jail for that kind of stuff!) You  might have said to yourself: “Where do I even start?” or “What’s the point? It’ll just be messy again tomorrow?” or “No one will notice if I clean it anyway.”

Over the past two weeks, we have seen some pretty remarkable stuff. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and your pictures have certainly been exciting to see. But what has excited me even more is that you are feeling good about YOU. You are feeling proud of your accomplishments – and you should be. And, maybe more importantly, you are encouraging one another. I can’t tell you how that makes my heart feel. (I am NOT crying while sitting here typing this. I. Am. Not.) Every time you “like” someone’s picture or status on our Facebook page, you are being an encourager to someone else. When you post about being excited to be cleaning and organizing or when you give someone else a big “You go, girl!” you are encouraging anyone else who visits the page.

We are forming a community of supporters here whether you realize it or not. I didn’t realize that that’s what it would feel like – a community. And not just from Aiken, SC but from all over…Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Alabama, California, and even Germany. How does it feel to know that there are women from so many different places and phases of life who are feeling the things you are feeling? Who understand what it feels like to be overwhelmed by kids, laundry, and housework? Who are now walking right alongside you in this journey towards peace and contentment? (Kumbaya…oh, wait. Never mind.)

I know that some of you are still “lurking.” Kind of waiting to see what’s going on here, probably making sure we don’t get to that whole “give away your stuff/live in a tent” thing. You’re scared to start. Scared to make that first BIG step because a clean house or a menu plan or a laundry schedule just don’t seem like they’d make much difference at this point, and you’re sure it wouldn’t work for you anyway. Read the comments. Look at the pictures. (I dare you. Double dog dare you. You have to go do it now. No one can resist the double dog dare.)

You know what? That thing we’re doing here? It does work. It will work  – for you. And, guess what else? It’s not a first BIG step. It’s a first TINY step. And then another tiny step. And then another. Little 15-minute intervals. A small goal set and met. And suddenly you realize you’re doing whites and towels on Mondays, planning meals for the following week, and – gasp! – inviting friends over for coffee (and – secretly or not so secretly – so they can see what you’ve been up to). And then, Lord have mercy, the doorbell rings and you don’t cringe. You don’t ignore it. You open the door and you INVITE THEM IN! Into YOUR house! Without having to debate with yourself before you do it or open the door with an explanation of the chaos on your lips. Amen and hallelujah! (Note: Inviting “them” in only applies to people you actually know. Do not invite strangers in. Please.)

When you do a load of laundry every day, or clean bathrooms on Wednesdays, or have family movie night on Fridays you are establishing habits. Good habits. I know we often hear the word habit and it brings out negative feelings in us; we hear habit and just assume someone means bad habits. You oftem hear people say, “You need to kick that habit. It’s bad for you.” Rarely, if ever, do you hear someone say, “Hey. You need to get that habit. It will be good for you.”

But habits can be good…really good. If you get into the habit of washing one load of laundry every day, guess what? You don’t have to spend all day Saturday working on laundry. When you plan your meals on a regular basis (that’s a habit), you find yourself sitting at the dinner table enjoying a meal with your family instead of in the drive-through of McSomething  or the other eating in your car. (And maybe the pizza delivery guy will forget your first name.) When you start saying “no” to things that don’t bring joy or meaning to your life, you are developing a habit that will lessen your load and reduce your stress more than you even realize right now. If you start having date nights with your hubby and you have one every month – a really good habit – you will begin to see blessings in your marriage. When you take time for yourself every day – especially if you’re not used to doing so – you will become more and more aware of the things that are keeping you from the life you really, really want. And deserve. Because everyone – every single one of you – deserves to be happy, content, and free of stress. (Still not crying here. No, sirree.)

And when you figure out that life doesn’t have to always be overwhelming and chaotic, something inside you will change. That little part of you that never liked cleaning the kitchen…gone. You like that kitchen tidy, thank you very much, and you will be determined to leave it that way every night. The part of you that hates laundry…gone. When you kick out the laundry monster, you will realize how much you DON’T miss him, and how much you DO enjoy your days off when you don’t spend them with him.When you realize that making meals at home means that dinners out are special, you’ll do more of it. And you might even like it. (One day I’ll write about my first experience baking hockey pucks. I mean, biscuits. My poor hubby.)

I don’t know all of you. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there are more of you that I don’t know than that I do. I feel like we are all getting to one another here. I like that. I am enjoying it immensely! I feel encouraged by you…so much so that I feel like what we set out to do is really helping. We had a vision of what we would do, but I’m not sure our vision was big enough. You have given us new ideas. New goals. We’re making plans.

I think that there are big things coming for all of us. Big, GOOD things. When you have been through enough weekly challenges that your house is clean from top to bottom and you are on a maintenance schedule, you will be beside yourself with joy. That’s when you’ll need to be on the defensive. You can’t get complacent. You can’t quit. You will have worked too hard to let things go back to the way they were. As hard as it is to kick a bad habit, it’s just as hard to maintain a good one. (I know you’re feeling mighty encouraged now.) So I hope you’ll stay with us. We will be here to challenge you – and ourselves – to keep up the good work! To never give up! To fight the good fight! Ahem. Sorry. Got carried away there.

I want you all to be thinking about this question: How has “Simplify 2013” impacted you? We want you to start sharing what these challenges have meant to you. What changes you are making. What differences you see. How it makes you feel to set a goal and then meet that goal in just 15 minutes a day or one task per day. We want to hear your stories. We’re sharing our lives with you through our posts. And, dang it, we want to know all about you, too!

For those of you just lurking and watching, I challenge you to take that first baby step next week. When the challenge is issued tomorrow, really take it into consideration. Make a plan and then just do it. At the end of next week when you see results, I guarantee you’ll feel better about you, about life, about your neighbor…maybe even the slow driver in the passing lane. Well, maybe not him. But, still. You’ll notice. You’ll feel it. And hopefully, you’ll act on the next challenge.

We’re going places here! And we are following the signs that lead us to where we want to be. Don’t get distracted by things that will only get in your way. Keep you eye on the prize – a happy, content YOU!

Have a blessed weekend!

Lynne

“There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.” ~ Peter Cohen

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