If you’re in any way familiar with college basketball, you’ll know the term ‘March Madness,’ which describes the season of NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that determines the championship teams each year.
Even a sports novice like me knows that these weeks of play matter most – to the teams and their coaches, to the fans creating fantasy leagues, and to students and alums of schools in the running to claim the title. Every team wants to make it to the Final Four and finish with the big win.
Because March also ushers in Women’s History Month and my favorite season (spring!), and continues the Christian period of Lent leading up to Easter, I consider it an ideal time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished so far this year and renew my commitment to thrive.
I invite you to create your own version of “March Madness” and do the same:
- Read a few books that encourage you and open your mind to new perspectives. (Here’s one recommendations, but there are many good options: The Confidence Code: The Science & Art of Self-Assurance by Katty Kay & Clair Shipman)
- Write journal entries, essays, poems, short stories or chapters in your book-in-progress that reflect your goals and dreams. If you can better articulate your inner world, you can manifest it. (Details about my author coaching opportunities are here.)
- Review your 2019 goals and be honest about whether you’re truly ready to live “Life Untapped” or if you’re more comfortable “talking versus doing.”
Yes – there will be missteps, mistakes and moments of doubt when you set sail in a new direction; but is the alternative really better?
Stay anchored in who and Whose you are, but don’t stay put and get stuck.
Launch out into the deep and experience your life, your relationships, your purpose and the things you’re most passionate about from another vantage point.
You’ll see – perspective is everything, and so are the new levels of hope, possibilities and joy you didn’t think were possible.
When you take a chance on you, you’ll never go wrong. If you fail, learn the lesson. If you succeed, use that blessing as fuel to go to the next level.
Love you, trust you, honor you. Be your own best friend so that you can be a better friend to others.
When you grow your heart, your mind and your purpose in ways that stretch you, you elevate the energy around you and within you, and bring others along for the beautiful ride.
So today, don’t dwell on what could go wrong. Focus on what could go right, and work on making that vision your reality.
This image, posted online by an unknown source, featuring this anonymous quote, inspired me:
From my perspective, these are timely words for this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. For years after Dr. King’s service and sacrifice, there is still the need to do what he lived and died to ensure: the snuffing out of hate; more people following the Golden Rule; everyone looking beyond race and ethnicity into one another’s eyes and hearts to see (and experience) mutual humanity.
So I challenge myself – and you – to care enough to do a little more, to be a little better, to…
Do what it takes to create a life and not just live.
Keep seeking the good in others;
growing into a stronger, kinder, wiser you,
and giving from the purest, most selfless place in your heart.
For when you persistently seek, grow, give and live with hope, resilience and integrity, your courage and optimism will inevitably overflow and touch the people and the world around you.
We often make resolutions at the dawn of a new year, believing that with a fresh date and fresh start, we can jumpstart what fell by the wayside weeks, months or even years earlier. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t – a reality that all of us can own.
In my case? I haven’t started exercising regularly yet in 2019, although my gym is awaiting me. And I’m still trying to convince myself to give up refined sugar.
I did purge my closet, and that felt oh so great. Yet I’m still in the process of mapping out a quarterly To Do list, to make sure that by the time I reach April, I can actually mark as completed most of the 90-day goals I set out to achieve. (That list will be finalized before this month is over!)
Tackling goals like these year after year is refreshing in a way, because they are reminders that we always start again; that we should never stop living, learning and growing.
Yet, the first step, in one sense, is the easiest: We’ve talked ourselves into doing what we know is right and good for us in both the short- and long term. On Jan. 1 of (whatever year) we’re psyched and excited.
However, then comes Day 2 and Week 3, and before you know it, Month 10. Taking step after step, day after day, in moment after moment is where we must keep talking and walking and envisioning that for which we long. For it is after taking step after step, day after day, in moment by moment the magic, the movement and the new reality await us.
Are you up to the challenge and the change required to actually shift into this new space? I think I am, even if I have to recalibrate and restart on Day 15 and then again on Day 30 and Day 225. For, when we really decide we’re ready and we choose to really dig in, we’ll be able to appreciate the small transformations along our journey that make it as worthwhile a process as achieving our ultimate goals. Even if the process takes longer than we want (which it often does), we can stay on course by remembering that delays aren’t denials and “not now” doesn’t mean not ever.
I’ve done it before, and I’m aiming it to experience those mountain moments again, for both my big and small dreams. Are you with me?
If so, remind yourself throughout the process – on the days when sticking to your goals isn’t fun or when it seems easier to say you’ll get to it “tomorrow” – that the change you long for – the change I long for – requires that we change our minds today.
Throughout your process, remind yourself…
When you’re open to consistently learning and growing;
to seeing life from another person’s point of view;
to stepping outside your comfort zone;
to helping someone else just because;
to opening your heart to new adventures at any age;
to living in peace and ensuring others that same opportunity,
the sky is not your limit and your joy can’t be contained.
It’s the true definition of changing for the better; of transforming into more of you.
– Stacy Hawkins Adams
Vacations are great for many reasons – they give you a chance to do nothing if you want; to savor each moment without rushing; to be fully present in your here and now.
What I’ve learned over the years is that this even applies to breaks from social media. (According to a recent Washington Post article, a Pew Research Center study shows that 68 percent of Americans have either temporarily signed off of social media this year or left various platforms for good.)
I took time away from my social media pages last week and part of this week to brainstorm a few writing projects; to connect with fellow writers and authorpreneurs, and to strategize/envision my first quarter of 2019.
All good stuff and worthy of the focus I gave.
But equally important was the time I took to enjoy each day and each encounter – from leisurely reconnections with longtime friends and the meeting of new ones, to an empowering luncheon with amazing women leaders to the simple yet heartwarming phone chats with two of my 20-something nephews, who (unbeknownst to each other) called me out of the blue last week to shoot the breeze. Both of them made my day. 🙂
So my point? Consider taking your own social media break (whenever and however long suits you best) to enjoy your family and friends in real time. Focus on some goals away from the hustle and bustle of the internet highway.
It can be refreshing and revealing, and perhaps you’ll return ready to appreciate – all the more – the good that comes from connecting online, as well as the good you rediscovered within.
On this first day of November, may we all remember to define and strive for success in ways that fill us and fuel us to bring our best selves to each day and every encounter. The outer trappings of winning at life should simply be the “gravy” we’re grateful for; not the end game.
So here’s my challenge to you (and to myself): For the next 30 days, let’s bathe ourselves in an attitude of gratitude, so that we can more fully appreciate the present for all the gifts it holds. They are there; let’s take some time to see them, big and small – from the breath you’re breathing in this moment to the smile a stranger may have shared.
See yourself as a winner because you are, in your own worthwhile way. And in the places where you’ve stumbled or tumbled, look for the lessons that can help you grow. Embrace them. Doing this will help accelerate success, because life rarely offers a straight and seamless path to victory.
It is the bumps and bruises and twists and turns along the way that make our journeys – and especially our successes – all the more meaningful and memorable.