Four Decisions: Self Improvement Plan

What is stopping you from being happy?

What is stopping you from being happy?

Introduction:

This post is another contribution to my four part series I have titled The Four Decisions Theory. In a previous blog post, I have described how there are four major decisions in life that create the foundation of who and where we are. These choices play a critical role in not only where we are presently, but also the direction of our future paths.

By using hindsight to reflect upon these choices, it is easier to see what went right and what went wrong. It is very important for everyone to take time and reflect on their own major life events in order to recognize similar opportunities as they arise, or to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Self Improvement Plan of 2009

As I was lying under a beach umbrella in Maui in the summer of 2009, many thoughts began crossing my mind. As a school teacher with only three more weeks of summer vacation left, I was greatly dreading going back to work.

I wasn’t a happy person at this time in my life, and even with the trade winds blowing the sand off my toes, my negative thoughts riddled my emotions. At this moment I did a mental check of my feelings, I was able to look at my own emotions from an outside perspective. These observations were not good. How could I be so negative and depressed in Maui, my favorite place to be in the entire world? Were things really this bad?

The main emotion that angered me was the feeling of being stuck in life. I was in a failing marriage, extremely overweight, and I was not satisfied with my career. Year after year I was watching my friends and family make progress in their lives, but I felt as if I wasn’t going anywhere, and this lack of accomplishment was making me depressed.

The next day I returned to Reno from Maui, and stepped on the scale to find that I had reached the heaviest weight I had ever been, 335 pounds. I had half-heartedly attempted diets in the past, but never put the effort needed to see any success. Once again I was drowning in self-defeating and negative thoughts, and saw no end in sight to my misery.

It was at this moment I looked to past successes in my life and felt a renewed confidence. I was able to go to college and be successful on my own, and I realized that whenever I have put my mind to goals in the past, I was successful. I realized that my problem was that I had no plan to be successful, that I wasn’t really trying my hardest, and the reason I was miserable was because of my own apathy.

It was at this moment that I came up with my Self-Improvement Plan. I began to list the areas of my life in which I was miserable, and came up with a plan to fix it. My first goal was to find a way to get healthy, and be in better shape. I realized that I was an emotional eater, and that I needed to work on my fitness in order to improve my self-esteem.

Weight Loss:

Realizing that I needed to lose close to 100 pounds or more, I needed to take this goal seriously, and consider all options. Working out by myself wasn’t going to work. I needed someone to hold me accountable, and help me through this endeavor. I attended a weight-loss surgery seminar, and decided that I would be a good candidate for a lap-band. In order to get the lap-band, I had to meet with a nutritionist for 12 weeks to show my dedication to weight loss. She helped me by also counseling me through my emotional eating patterns, and giving me positive support along the way. Prior to my weight loss surgery, I had lost 40 pounds on my own, and found the energy and confidence that was missing in my life.

Me in 2009 :(

Me in 2009 😦

Career:

I love being a teacher, but it has begun to wear me down over the past 7 years. I was frustrated at the stagnation in my career, having maxed out my pay cycle with 25 years to go, and getting little input into the curriculum and pedagogy strategies that were being forced down our throats. Every night I was working 10 or more hours with little appreciation for my principal or parents, and I had had enough. I came up with the idea of getting my MBA after my weight loss surgery.

Even though I knew I wanted to change my career, I felt that putting all of my effort to each goal individually would help me to be more successful. Once I got control of my health and fitness, I began studying for the GMAT, and was accepted into the MBA program at the University of Nevada. By surrounding myself with talented and ambitious individuals in my MBA program, I feel like I am a talented individual gain, not “just at teacher,” and I am excited about my future professional career.

Teachers can only do so much. #badparenting

Teachers can only do so much. #badparenting

Marital Awakening:

During this improvement plan, I was also beginning to realize how troubled my first marriage truly was. Instead of ignoring this issue, I was able to see the future of my ex-wife and my own, were drifting in different directions. We began going to marital counseling, and after many months, we realized that we were at an impasse, and no compromises could be reached. My ex-wife is a wonderful person, and out of respect to her, I do not wish to divulge any more details. After realizing my ex-wife and I both wanted different things in life, we decided that a divorce was best for both parties.

It was a very difficult time for me, but I was very fortunate to find the love of my life soon after I divorced. As the old saying goes, “you’ll never find right person in your life until you let go of the wrong person.”

What I Learned

It was the series of choices in my Improvement Plan that allowed me to realize that we are never truly “stuck” in life. Most of the obstacles we feel surround us are entirely mental. Think of the biggest goal you had in your life, or even in your youth? What stopped you from going after it? Was someone physically standing in your way, or did your own fear make your dreams seem unattainable?
Life is too short to not be happy, and if you want things bad enough, you CAN and WILL achieve it. The hardest part is getting started.

As the old saying goes. . . .

As the old saying goes. . . .

Photo Credit 1
Photo Credit 2: Self Photo 2009
Photo Credit 3
Photo Credit 4

Advertisements

Life is as Easy as YOU Make it.

iStock_000010109984XSmall

“Life is as easy as you make it.”

(Purposeful Pause)

Do you agree or disagree? It took me many years until I agreed with that statement. Even now at my most stressful moments I don’t know if I hold this statement to be 100% true, but it is a line I can repeat in my mind to bring me back from my most trying times in life.

My mother said these words to me every time I was stressed throughout my childhood. I was wound pretty tight in my youth and would let the littlest things bother me. From problems with my peers, school projects, sports, and dealing with my father, my mom had a way of putting life into perspective and bringing me back from the edge. But having the power to make your own life easy? I still never believed her. It was easier to make mountains out of molehills, and give up without trying to solve my problems.

Every time she would say, “life is as easy as you make it” it would annoy me and anger me all over again. How can life be as easy as you make it? With all of these obstacles, problems, and stress, how could someone make life easy? Life never seemed that easy, as soon as I would overcome one obstacle, another would present itself, and frustrate me down to my core all over again. Where was this easy way she was talking about?

The older I get, the more I realize how right she is. Most of the obstacles in our life are mental, but we build them up within our mind until they seem insurmountable. I wish I had a time machine to go back to the most frustrating and helpless moments in my life and shake some sense into myself. I would tell myself to calm down, put myself at ease, and realize these horrible dilemmas were really only minor speed bumps.

We are so quick to tell ourselves that we are stuck where we are at, we are not worthy of anything more, and it keeps us from daring to be great. No one likes change, and often is easier to be “comfortably miserable” than strive for something bigger and greater. How many people do you know, or maybe you’ve said it your self: “it’s just easier to keep it the way it is.”

Often the most depressing part in facing these mental obstacles is that we surround ourselves in helplessness and feel there is nothing that can be done. Settling becomes acceptable, and we feel we are destined to be miserable and that there is nothing we can do to improve our situation. I think depressing thoughts are like a stack of dominos, it can cause a chain reaction of negative thoughts that can get out of hand before you know it.

Take a moment to think about the biggest problem in your life, whether it is your career, your relationship, being out of shape, etc. What is truly stopping you from making an improvement in this area? Is someone literally blocking your doorway and not letting you out? Or have you wrapped yourself in a cocoon of self-doubt, and this fear of failure is what’s really holding you back? You are most likely not as stuck as you think you are. Maybe now is your moment to dare to be great.

“Life is as easy as you make it.”

Thanks Mom, you were right.

PHOTO CREDIT