Jana Says

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Tag Archive: mental health

3 Tricks for Achieving Your Goals

Jana’s note: I’m working on improving my goal achieving prowess. I’m pretty good at setting them. Achieving them? Well, that’s not always as easy because sometimes I get bored and stop or get frustrated and stop or life gets in the way and I stop. The tips in this post are quite helpful for someone like me and I plan to use them as I continue working through some of my goals in progress. Also, if you’re a resolution setter, with the new year approaching, these are some solid tips to help you not quit those, either.

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Many of us fail at achieving our goals. We go through life with a myriad of goals, only to achieve some and not others. When this was happening to me, I became frustrated. I knew there had to be a way to better achieve all my goals. I read books and listened to others to see if I could figure out the secret ingredient to hitting my goals.

In time, I realized that there was no secret ingredient that would magically help me achieve all my goals. But that doesn’t mean I gave up.

Through much trial and error, I found 3 things that have helped me with achieving my goals. In this post, I share them with you in hopes that you too can start attaining more of your goals too.

#1. Break Them Into Smaller Steps

No matter what your goal is, I want you to write it down. Leave some space underneath it so you can add some information. Do this for all your goals. Your next step is to now figure out how to break that goal into smaller goals. The key here is to make a bunch of smaller goals so that as you hit them, you will be motivated to keep going and eventually reach your big goal.

For example, a couple years ago I wanted to pay off my student loans. At the time, the balance was $20,000. For me, seeing this huge number overwhelmed me. I thought that there was no way I could pay off that debt. As I made my monthly payment and saw the balance drop by $100, the goal seemed even more insurmountable.

But then I did what I am telling you here. I broke this goal into small goals. My first small goal was to get the debt down to $15,000. The next goal was $10,000 and then $5,000. Suddenly, I had more motivation to pay off my debt.

Instead of focusing on $20,000 I focused on $5,000. Just pay off $5,000 I kept telling myself. I created a separate spreadsheet and tracked my payments. Seeing me progress towards my goal excited me and motivated me to keep going.

After I hit $5,000 I began all over again, trying to hit $5,000 a second time.

This trick helped me to pay off that debt in just under two years. Each time I hit my smaller goals, I celebrated by going to dinner to my favorite restaurant. So take some time and figure out how you can break your large goal into a smaller set of goals and then celebrate when you hit them.

#2. Keep Your Goals In Front Of You

Another trick I found to help me stay motivated was to keep my goals in front of me. Too many times I would write my goals down in a notebook, close it and not look at it again for months. When I would open the notebook a few months later, I would see my goals and be like “oh, yeah, I did have that goal”. I was a victim to the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”.

To overcome this, I started to keep my goals out where I can see them. On my desk and computer monitor is a number. To most people who see it, they just see a number. But to me, that number equals freedom. It is my number for financial freedom, the net worth that allows me to retire and live life differently.

Of course, there are some goals you don’t want on your desk for everyone to see. Luckily, there are various things you can use here to get this trick to work.

  • Put sticky notes on your mirror in the bathroom.
  • Put a reminder in your phone and set it to send the reminder to you at various increments.
  • Make the goal your lock screen on your phone.
  • Use a free tool like FutureMe. It allows you to write yourself a note and pick a date in the future to send it to you.
  • Tell friends and family so they can bring up your goal in conversation.

#3. Use The Power Of Visualization

One underrated trick is to use the power of visualization to your advantage. Many professional athletes use it all the time. Basketball players envision shots going through the basket. Soccer players envision their kick getting past the goal keeper.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to use this trick. I use visualization all the time. Every day I take a little time to be by myself. I close my eyes and visualize my goals in detail. For a while, I was visualizing our dream house.

I got so good at this visualization I could see little details, like blades of grass. Doing this exercise helped me to stay motivated to keep saving for our down payment and to keep looking when it seemed like all the good houses were everywhere but where we wanted to live.

You too can use visualization. Look at your goals and start picturing life with the goal being met. I used visualization for my student loan debt too.

I pictured my life without the student loan debt. I felt the weight off of my shoulders. I pictured how I could use that money for investing or saving for a dream vacation. Doing this motivated me to keep pushing through the tough times and pay off the debt once and for all.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I can’t guarantee that using these 3 tricks will help you reach your goals. But you won’t reach your goals unless you keep trying to find something that motivates you to keep pushing forward. I’ve been using these for a couple of years now and have told friends about them too.

Many of my friends tell me today how they visualize all the time now. They also tell me how breaking their goals into smaller pieces really helps them push through the long road that they had to travel down to reach their goals.

I encourage you to give these a try and start experiencing what I have already experienced – reaching your goals more often than not.

About Jon: Jon writes at Breath of Optimism, a website where he helps people think positively and be the best person they can be. You can also find his motivational quotes on Pinterest.

The importance of being honest

If you’ve spent any time around these parts, you know that one trait I cannot stand is lying. I have a zero tolerance policy for it. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you’ve done something, admit it. I might be angry at the action or lack of but I’ll be even angrier if you lie to me about it. I find lying to be one of the most contemptible, reprehensible behaviors and, if you lie to me, we’re essentially done. I already have major trust issues; I don’t need them confirmed with lies (in fact, being lied to is precisely WHY I have trust issues but that’s another topic).

But I get that sometimes a lie might be necessary or not entirely mean spirited. For instance, your weight on your driver’s license (why is this even still a thing?). Telling a 6 year old that Santa is real. Or pretending you’re going to a nice dinner when it’s really a surprise party. Shit like that. I can let those types of lies pass. 

However, there’s a whole list of lies I cannot. Here’s a sample:

  • Seeing someone with food in their teeth and say no if they ask. Especially if that person is me. If I ask and I do, let me know. I don’t want to walk around like that. See also: tags sticking out of clothes, toilet paper on shoe
  • Breaking or losing something I’ve lent you and then pretending like nothing happened. Just tell me. I won’t be mad. I promise. 
  • If you’re angry with me. I cannot stand passive aggressive behavior and if I’ve done something to upset or anger you, please tell me so we can work it out. We’re adults. 
  • Telling me I look good in an outfit if I, in fact, do not. Trust when I say you can’t be harsher on me then I am on myself. 
  • Continuing to work or maintain a relationship with me when you no longer want to but instead of saying something, you just disappear or forget to get back to me or something else shady. Just own up to your feelings. I can take it. Ghosting is the ultimate insult. 
  • Making promises you don’t keep. 
  • Pretending to be something or someone you’re not. 

Even more than the things you should always be honest with me about is one key thing you need to be honest with yourself about. And that thing is being honest about what you want from, well, life in general. What are your goals? What do you see your life looking like 5, 10, 20 years from now? What’s important to you? You have to admit those things, sans fear of judgement, because it’s your life. You need to do you. And you can’t fret about upsetting or displeasing someone else, even if that person is a parent or spouse. You need to prioritize your happiness and enjoyment. 

If you’re worried it’s too late, it’s not. You can always, ALWAYS start over. 

I know because I’m right there with you.

I recently found a picture of 24 year old me. She was so full of everything–confidence and hope and promise and believed in herself and her goals. Then I look at a picture of 39 year old me and holy shit, have I let younger me down. I have not fulfilled any of the promises I made her. 

I am a liar.

I hate that about me.

I will tell you, it makes me insanely uncomfortable to admit certain things to myself (never mind out loud). It’s that whole “deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties” part of myself that I’m scared of. I’m scared to stop lying and start owning what I know is my truth. But I know that the only way anything will change is if I do that. 

Being honest is fucking scary, y’all. 

But if we’re not honest, then we’re liars. 

And liars are assholes. 

Let’s not be assholes. 

 

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18 months after

This post is part of Alyssa’s back to blogging nonchallenge challenge.

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Saturday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Up until last year, it was one of those days that went noticed but unnoticed in my life. Then my miscarriage happened and now, it’s a day that has more meaning than I’d like (you can read here for my thoughts from last year). 

Since I’ve told people about it, I’ve learned that it’s way more common than I thought. Approximately 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage. One in four. That’s a lot of us. And yet we still suffer in silent pain because it’s too uncomfortable to talk about. But we need to talk about it because the only way to foster understanding is to have those frank, unpleasant discussions. Doing so minimizes stigma and opening public discourse means that those suffering can find resources and assistance and comfort to get them through the trauma. 

And miscarriage is traumatic. 

I didn’t quite comprehend that a year ago. 

I do now.

It’s a difficult trauma to work through. More difficult than anything else I’ve had to do. 

But I’m doing it. And in the year and half since my miscarriage, I’ve not only learned to work through it but I’ve learned some other things. In fact, if I could tell the me a year ago some of what I know now, here’s what I’d say:

  • There will be days you don’t think about the baby. And when you do remember, you’ll have pangs of guilt that you forgot but really, it’s okay. 
  • Also okay? To honor the baby (or babies) you lost in whatever way makes you comfortable. 
  • Something of that magnitude will break you. But it will also build you up and find strengths you didn’t know you had. 
  • Your support systems is greater and bigger than you think.
  • It’ll be difficult, painfully, extremely difficult, to hear about pregnancies and to see pictures of healthy babies, especially ones who were born around your due date. Own your feelings about how hard it is on you and if you have to stay away from them in person or on social media, then do it. You have to protect your mental health.
  • But also, be excited for and supportive of friends who are pregnant. Maybe they’ve gone through what you’re going through. 
  • You’ll find yourself more appreciative of what you do have, and you’ll find ways to live a fulfilled life.
  • You are still that baby’s mother. You will always be that baby’s mother.
  • It’s perfectly fine to talk about it if that’s what you need to do. The people who care will listen and the people who don’t can fuck off. 

But most of all, I’d tell the me a year ago that today is better than yesterday. And every day gets better and easier.

If you guys remember, please light a candle on Saturday, October 15th at 7PM in your time zone in honor of all the babies gone too soon.

 

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No regrets

 

Let’s talk regret. I’m not talking the “I should not have watched that 10th consecutive episode of Sons of Anarchy last night” or “potato chips and Diet Coke for lunch was a bad idea” or “I regret wearing this dress on a boat because this shit is inappropriate” types of regret. (For the record, I’ve done all of these). I’m talking the serious type of regret. 

The life altering types of regret. 

The not taking the job type of regret. 

The staying home rather than go on that once in a lifetime trip type of regret. 

The staying in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy for longer than you should type of regret.

The not taking a chance on something, anything, because you were scared type of regret.

It also works in reverse. You know those “I can’t believe I did that” type stuff. 

Regret is a real, powerful emotion. It makes you think and do weird stuff. It can ruin your day, your week, your year. 

I gave up on regret at some point in my 20s. I’d love to tell you that there was this big eye opening moment but there wasn’t. It was simply some self-reflection that made me realize regret, for me, was a fucking waste of time. I can’t change the decision I made, and I made the decision I did because clearly at the time, it was right for me. Would others have done the same? Probably not. But they’re not me. They don’t have to live with my choices. 

I do. 

And I think that’s the crux of my no regrets philosophy. If I’m comfortable with the choice I made, I’m not bothered or saddened or guilty or shamed by it. I don’t feel the need to erase anything or wish I’d done this or that different. I don’t regret relationships or jobs or making that purchase or taking that 3 hour nap because every single choice has led me to where I am now. Everything has taught me a lesson. What I like, who I like, what I want. Regretting any of those parts of my life means denying something’s impact.

Have I done stupid things that maybe I shouldn’t have? Yes. Absolutely, 100% YES. But do I regret them? No. Absolutely not. And believe me, I’m grateful nothing terrible happened as a result of those god-awful choices. Because some of them could have gone incredibly awry.

Also, in dealing with depression and anxiety, having regret is simply stoking the fire. It opens up avenues to dwell and beat myself up and that’s a gateway to an episode. I don’t need anything else making it worse. Especially not something I can control. 

Let’s be clear: regret is multifaceted. The regret I’m talking here is based on choices or perceived loss of opportunity, not on time (think time spent with grandparents or kids). And you should never, ever do anything you’re not comfortable with because you think you might regret if you don’t. That’s just ridiculous. And pop psychology will lead you to believe that you should do those things simply because you don’t want a lifetime of regrets. That’s a steaming pile of shit. 

You’re an adult. You do what you want. 

And live without regret for doing so.

live-without-regret

 

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Exposing depression’s lies

This post is written as part of a project coordinated by Melanie from Dear Debt in honor and respect of National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day (tomorrow, 9/10). 

My depression has told me a number of lies including but not limited to:

  • You are stupid
  • You are ugly
  • No one likes you 
  • You are talentless
  • You don’t deserve succeess and you will never have it
  • You are an asshole
  • You have no friends
  • You don’t deserve friends
  • You are a terrible mother
  • You are a terrible wife
  • You are a terrible dog and cat mother
  • You do too much
  • You don’t do enough, you lazy fat bitch
  • You are useless
  • You will never be happy
  • You don’t deserve to be happy

When I’m in the right state of mind, I know these are lies. But when I’m in the thick of a depression cycle, these seem as real as the color of my eyes and it is pretty much impossible to convince me otherwise. The words become truth and mantras and rather than the depression talking, it becomes me talking to myself. As in, “I know I’ll never be successful because I am a talentless hack” or “How can anyone even stand to look at me? I should never leave my house”.

And then there were the times I wish I could disappear. 

I’ve talked about this before and you can read the whole post but this specifically bears repeating: 

I just wanted to be invisible. I wanted to exist only within the walls of my house. I didn’t want to go to work or socialize or walk my dogs or even leave my couch. I wanted no contact with the outside world because I didn’t feel like I had much to offer anyone. It put a strain on all my relationships and it made me a pretty shitty mother, too. I had surrendered to the depression and let it control my life.

For a long, long time. 

I was lucky, though. I never reached the level of despair where I thought death was the only way out. It breaks my heart that so many people can’t come to that conclusion. That they don’t see anything as getting better. Ever. That there is nothing left to live for. Not a song, not a picture, not a sunset, not a person, not an anything. They truly believe that everything is better if they simply cease to exist. 

And that is the worst lie depression can ever make you believe. Because it is unequivocally false.

If you are feeling like you literally cannot live anymore, please, PLEASE tell someone. Doesn’t have to be family or a close friend. Tell a random person on the internet. Text a random number. Email me or reach out to me on social media. But just tell someone. Because, despite what lies the depression is telling you right now, your life is important. You are a good person. You have gifts to share. You deserve to be happy. You will find the place where you belong, with people who love you for who you are. I’d even be willing to bet that there are people right now who love you just as you are. You will survive whatever it is you’re going through and you’ll come out even stronger. 

Because.

Depression lies.

You are worth life.

If you’re dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, please know you’re not alone. And it might not seem like it now but it will get better. Maybe with medication, maybe with therapy, maybe with time, maybe with all three. But it will get better. And please, if you need help, reach out to someone. A professional, preferably. Especially if you’re thinking about suicide. You can find help at 1-800-273-8255 or via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

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