This video is a good reminder that success doesn’t come easy, even for the people we assume it does. Success isn’t born of talent and luck; it’s born of dedication and perseverance.

The message that I absorbed growing up was that failure was to be avoided at all costs. Now I’m working on unlearning this.

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In the midst of all the other challenges I’m doing right now, I decided this morning to try another little one – go an entire day without logging into Facebook OR email. Quite an impressive feat for me, since I’m pretty sure that I am (was!) a dopamine addict. Check out this fascinating article in Slate about why humans are geared towards internet (and texting) addictions: http://www.slate.com/id/2224932

I check email compulsively; I used to check FB compulsively, but have gotten myself to slow down on that by instituting a no-FB-at-work policy. I used to think of myself as a very undisciplined person; but now that I’m acting like a disciplined person, by setting goals/challenges/limits on myself and committing to stick to them, I’m BECOMING a disciplined person. I’ve heard numerous teachers talk about “Act As If,” basically another form of “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.” Our actions shape who we are. Want to be someone different? Start doing what that someone different would do. And the ultimate cliché (thanks to Nike): JUST DO IT.

I had an extremely productive day. I’ve been feeling stressed between work and my side project and all of the other (wonderful) things going on in my life right now, and I decided that it’s time to stop wasting so much of my VERY PRECIOUS time on FB and email. Of course I love FB and email because they’re validation – that people care, that I’m loved, that others are thinking of me. But I need to learn to need that less. And I’ll learn to need that less by PRACTICING needing that less.

FB and email are also distractions that allow me to avoid and procrastinate on the things I’m afraid of doing – afraid that it’ll be wrong, afraid I won’t do well enough, afraid of failure. But I’ve noticed that lately, instead of putting things off, I’m just doing them. It’s becoming easier and easier.

I’ve decided that I want to use my energy purposefully. And that means getting extremely clear on what makes me happy, and what I want in life, and then channeling my energy – physical, mental, emotional, and money energy – towards those few, high priority things.

I’ve got a Paulo Coelho book of quotes that I just opened randomly, and here’s what that wise old man told me:

“A warrior of light makes decisions.
His soul is as free as the clouds in the sky,
but he is committed to his dream.”

Talk about synchronicity. Thanks, Paulo!

This post is about my recent successes and failures in the challenges I’m doing for the month of May (no sugar, no alcohol, no caffeine, no dairy, no processed foods, etc etc).  I read today in Tal Ben-Shahar’s book Happier that it is the process of striving after goals – rather than actually attaining them – that makes us happy. Good news for those of us who aren’t perfect!

FAILURE = Missed a blog post again yesterday. BUT,

SUCCESS = I was also sugar-alcohol-caffeine free. This was with the added temptation of stopping at a Spanish friend’s birthday party at what looked like a fabulous tapas restaurant on La Cienega (La Paella). Y’all know that I love wine, and I LOVELOVE food. But I partook of  neither. I had mint tea instead. I was very proud of myself.

SUCCESS = I also haven’t logged on to Facebook at work AT ALL since April 30th. That is a huge accomplishment for me. I still allow myself to check Facebook on my Droid occassionally, but you can’t waste quite as much time on FB when you’re interfacing through a phone. So, WIN for me!

FAILURE = Haven’t been practicing harmonica. I always do this with musical instruments. I’ve figured out that I have some deep-seated fears around self-expression. I’m musically talented but after the initial rush (one week), I lose motivation. I remember this being a habit since I was in 2nd grade (at least)… So, I haven’t been practicing, but I DO want to become proficient, and I’ve already booked two gigs so…time to start practicing. Maybe visualizing will help…

SUCCESS = Have been meditating or doing yoga every day.

SUCCESS = Woke up at 5:45am this morning (internal alarm clock) and went to a 7am yoga class at Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica. My goal is to go to yoga 3 times a week. I did yoga on Sunday in Santa Fe (it was incredible, a gong was involved, I had no idea what an audible tickling a gong can give you if played correctly), so today was my second time this week! I felt wonderful afterwards (and for the rest of the day). Hoping that I’m forming a new habit. I really want to check out Yoga West, which specializes in Kundalini (my favorite type) and is much closer to my house.

I have a blog drafted about why I do these challenges that I haven’t written up yet. It comes down to that you grow through challenges. I’m treating my life as an experiment & trying out different modes of living.

I also realized while writing this post that exposure to failure is good for me. Somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that you should never fail. It’s been very rare in my life that I’ve actually tried to do hard or challenging things, and risked failure. Better to do the minimum, the easy stuff, and not try my best. Then if I do fail, I’ve got excuses to fall back on. So, committing to all these challenges, and posting this blog detailing my failures, is a huge step forward for me. Woo hoo! This fear of failure also ties into perfectionism and starting things, but never finishing them. I have about 10 blog drafts I’ve started in the last year that I still haven’t published. I don’t like to “finish” things because once they’re done, you have to put them out there. You’re exposed, you’re open to criticism; you’re open to failure. Of course, this belief isn’t even true – I can always go back in and edit a blog (which, actually, is what I’m doing now! LOL).

This is tangentially related – I should use this in my future, fleshed-out post on why I’m doing the all the crazy challenges – but I saw this quote on my good friend China Brook’s blog tonight:

“Your former habits of thinking and being must disintegrate before better ways of behaving can begin to integrate.”

-LWT

True dat! Check out her blog at http://chinabrooks.com/words/spiritual/

She’s my inspiration.