Achieving Lofty Goals While in a Long-Term Relationship

photoMany of the most accomplished people I know or idolize are not in long-term relationships. Perhaps this is just coincidence, but I actually think that there’s a reason that people who are not in relationships accomplish so much.

Why Single People Might Accomplish More

First of all, single people have more time on their hands. They dedicate less time to a partnership, meaning that they have more free time. They are also able to make decisions more quickly because they don’t necessarily need to take into account another person’s opinion or plan their life decisions around another person.

I find that when I am invested in a relationship, I tend to follow a pattern of less personal accomplishment. For example, if I have a goal of writing or programming or just doing something that could further my skillset or body of work, I don’t always get to it.

I would definitely say it is my choice, and that I defer my personal goals for later so I can enjoy spending time with my significant other in the present. I would conclude that it’s psychologically harder to commit to achieving personal goals you’ve set for yourself if you’re invested in a relationship. This is because you’re dedicated to making the other person happy, showing your appreciation for them by focusing at least some of your energy on interacting with them on a daily basis.

Each person or project you commit to absolutely adds to your list of responsibilities, and takes up extra mental RAM. That’s not to say that being in a long and satisfying relationship isn’t worth it, but just that you should be aware that it is indeed another commitment you’re responsible for. Maintaining a healthy relationship is no easy task–it involves regular input, much like tuning up a car to keep it running smoothly and free of any problems down the road. You invest in what you have now, and it pays off later.

When Relationships Help You Achieve Goals

I do believe that relationships can definitely add to your ability to accomplish your goals in a variety of instances. For example–a partner can provide positive support when times are tough, or you’re having a bad day. They can steer you in the right direction if you veer off course.

There are some people who are in relationships and also get a great deal of their own stuff done. I would guess that these people have an understanding of what their relationship means to them and what their priorities are. Either that, or they’ve been together for a long time and just understand that giving each other their own private space and time to think is essential to leading satisfied lives together.

Foster Your Relationship to Grow With Your Goals

If you’re currently in a relationship and don’t feel that you’re achieving your highest potential, the solution could be to discuss this with your partner. By building a mutual understanding of the specific priorities that you have, and blocking off personal time for you to do what you most want to. I’m still working on finding the right balance for this between my partner and I, but I think that identifying and surfacing the issue are great first steps.

Getting on the same page as your partner.

Prioritize your goals with your partner and let them know what you’d like to accomplish and what your most important goals are.

Block off bits of time just for yourself.

It’s easy to get into a rut where you’re constantly spending time with your significant other and you barely have a chance to get a breather yourself. But it’s absolutely necessary if you want to accomplish your own independent projects to block off some time for you to work on them.

Don’t feel guilty.

Your significant other will respect you and probably feel relieved to know that you also want some time for yourself and to work independently on items that are important to you. This will free them up to also pursue things that make them happy and aren’t directly tied to you. Having time to pursue your own passions is absolutely essential for a healthy relationship.

Decorating as a Minimalist

minimalismI moved into my own apartment not long after I got my first full-time job. I don’t regret this. I love every minute of being able to make my own decisions and choosing my lifestyle. Funny thing is, I hadn’t decorated at all since moving in. This is pretty much the norm for me.

Even in college, I always found myself decorating places like my dorm room haphazardly and halfway through the year. Friends of my old roommate used to come over to our dorm room and ask if she lived alone because my side of the room was so sparse.

For the past few months at work, I used to joke with my coworkers that if there all of a sudden were an earthquake (a likely occurrence in Seattle), I would have nothing to worry about because the two big items I owned—a card table and a futon might fall over, but I would just pick them back up and move on with my life.

Recently, I decided I wanted to add furniture to my place. This was because I found my aparmtent to be cold, uninviting, and not very functional. We had no couch, so there was nowhere for guests to sit or any place for us to relax in our living room. It wasn’t making me happy. And I decided that’s not what I wanted. I’m frugal, but I’m not cheap enough to deny myself material possessions if they would actually add to my happiness.

As I began to gather ideas and concepts for decorating my apartment, I found it difficult to stay minimalist and still have a cozy and comfortable living space. In my research, I bookmarked pictures of nice, friendly looking apartments that always included an overabundance of textiles and storage space that created a lot of visual clutter.

Just thinking about buying all of those things and caring for all of those things made me uneasy. Sure, it might be nice to sit in an apartment will all sorts of knick knacks, but would I really want to deal with all of that stuff?

Finally, I began searching for keywords like “cozy minimalist apartment decorating ideas,” which yielded much more relevant results. The key to decorating the interior of an apartment with a minimalist yet cozy twist is to stay away from furniture that has a cold color scheme. Anything that’s too grey, black, or white tends to create a cold and uninviting environment–something I definitely want to stay away from.

I used some of these classic colors for our large furniture items, but also mixed in natural wood elements (our coffee table is a light wood color), which absolutely helped to create an earthy and cozy feel without adding clutter.

We bought a few other key items that upped the potential for functionality and comfort in our home, but passed on the items that were unnecessary and could be considered clutter.

We bought a couch, a coffee table, a couple of very simple desks, a lamp, a (real) bed, and a couple of bar stools for dining. We found many items on Craigslist to cut down on costs, and still retain the ability to own quality items on a budget.

The thing I liked most about buying furniture secondhand from Craigslist was that we were able to eliminate much of the extra packaging that comes with new items and at the same time wreaks havoc on our natural resources and the environment.

So far I’m happy with our purchases and don’t feel like we have anything we don’t need. Everytime that feeling comes up for me and I feel like I own too much, I get out a bag and start putting things in it for us to take to Goodwill or any other conveniently located charity.

Now we’ve got a few different areas in the apartment, all functional, and although the apartment is sparsely decorated, there’s just enough warmth and pieces of furniture that it’s comfortable to me.

The purchase of a few well thought-out items has made all the difference in my happiness about my home. And that’s what we should be really thinking about: only accumulating the items that would make the most impact on our happiness and nothing more.

Achieve Great Things

Open Your Eyes

There are endless possibilities facing you at this moment.

Don’t waste time imagining barriers between you and your dreams.

In less than 30 seconds, you could be naked in the street, flailing your arms around and singing at the top of your lungs–if you wanted to.

In less than 5 minutes, you could start a blog, write about things that matter and connect with people all over the world–if you wanted to.

In less than an hour, you could have your photos developed. (No, just kidding. Does 1hr photo development still exist anymore?) But you could create and upload a video tutorial on something you know about and share it with millions of potential viewers on YouTube–if you wanted to.

In less than a day, you could come up with a viable business idea and start acting on it–if you wanted to.

In less than a week, you could raise money for a charitable organization of your choice–if you wanted to.

In less than a month, you could write a book–if you wanted to.

In less than a year, you could intimately learn a hobby (tennis, salsa, web coding) of your choice–if you wanted to.

In less than 5 years, you could be excruciatingly close to your dream self–if you wanted to.

What are you waiting for?

If you want to change your life, you need to discard your limiting beliefs.

Stand in the presence of someone who has created a lot, and you will find that they don’t carry around negative self-beliefs. Sure, they may get nervous before releasing their work, but never do they use their imperfections as an excuse not to create their masterpieces.

Do yourself a favor and let yourself go for your highest aspirations.

But don’t be stupid about it. 

Here are some suggestions that will change your life for the better, if you don’t already do these things.

Read

Admit to yourself that you don’t know everything, and learn from those who know more than you. The easiest way to start doing this is to read. In the past year, I’ve been reading as many personal finance books as I could get my hands on. This taught me some basic tenets of personal finance, something that I think will serve me well all my life.

You can find inspirational and instructional material in books, blogs, videos, podcasts, and just about any other print or electronic source you can think of. These will help you grow as a person.

Attain Experience

Beyond reading, actively seeking life experience will move you from the ignorant crowd, to the cultured and knowledgeable individual. Having new experiences whenever possible will broaden your viewpoint and allow you to be more sympathetic with other people–a vital component to networking.

Another aspect to gaining experience is to simply work on a project that interests you. While working on said project, you’ll tackle problems that you would have never imagined existed. But afterwards, you’ll be stronger and more confident in your ability to solve problems that crop up.

Create

You’d be amazed at how many people never consciously reach this stage. They never decide to put the work into something they care about, and release it to the world unless a superior is breathing down their neck.

It’s okay if you’re one of these people who chooses to consume instead of create. But let me explain why I think creating something is so important.

When you have a tangible project on your horizon, a creation in progress, you get to refine all sorts of skills that you never knew would be associated with the project. You could be forced to utilize skills such as time management, copywriting, design, collaboration, initiative, and public speaking, just to mention a few. And in the process of creating something, you’ll get better insight into what type of person you are–where your weaknesses/strengths lie, your level of persistence, and you’ll surprise yourself with what kinds of hidden abilities you have.

You will be proud of your work. And you and the world will be forever changed because of it.

**If you’re looking for some great ways to get started implementing these ideas, then check out my Resources section of the blog.

My 2012 Review

2012 ReviewFor me, 2012 was a great year for growth. I developed professionally and gained some skills I didn’t explicitly set out to conquer—but I am grateful that it all happened.

My main achievements were: learning more about fitness and nutrition, maturing emotionally, building relationships (personal and business), and recognizing that value lies in experiences and the intangibles—not material possessions. All in all it was a year where I discovered how to nurture my strengths and how to challenge my weaknesses.

This article will detail some useful resources I used to achieve these items, and my new resolutions for 2013. Let’s get ready to rock this year!

FITNESS

I’ve done my research on nutrition, have experimented what works with my body, and have gone to the gym consistently for all of 2012. Also, in April I ran my first 5k—something I thought I could never achieve because I thought I hated running. Our bodies are capable of so much more than our minds think we are. We are our own limitations.

Resources on nutrition:

  1. Eat less carbs/starches/white refined flours.
    This includes pasta, breads, rice, chips, etc. Whenever I eat these, I feel really bloated. I eat way less now that I’ve made the connection.
  2. Eat more protein in your diet to help you feel full.
    Most of the American population likely gets too much protein. I’m a vegetarian and have found that when I eat a little protein with every meal, I eat less and stay fuller for longer. Try it out if you don’t already eat enough.
  3. Stay away from processed foods.
    It’s so easy to reach for a convenient bag of chips or cookies or even a frozen meal. Every time I do this, I don’t feel healthy, I feel really thirsty and like I retain a bunch of water (this is likely due to the sodium). Cut it out and you’ll feel much better, guaranteed.
  4. Cut out the sugar.
    I had no idea sugar was in just about everything! It’s in sauces, packaged dinners, “health” food. Man, just stay away because the substance messes with your bone density, teeth, skin, and waistline.
  5. Understand why you are mindlessly eating.
    After reading the book called “Mindless Eating,” I gained a whole lot of insight as to why we tend to overeat in social situations, and how to trick my body into thinking I’m eating more–or at least resist the temptation. If anything, this book provides some handy tips on how to beat your brain when it comes to overeating.

Resources on fitness:

When it comes to learning about fitness, I default to Youtube videos as my favorite source of inspiration. For a brief while this year, I was also lucky enough to get personal training sessions at my gym where I learned correct form for some heavy power lifts like deadlifting and squats.

Some of the people I tend to watch on Youtube include those that are extremely motivated and inspirational themselves. I would never take fitness advice from someone who didn’t practice what they preach in their lives.

  1. A chick with abs that is extremely strict with her diet and exercise routine–and she’s a mom.
  2. Another girl who is toned and flexible to boot.

My boyfriend taught me to break my workouts down into categories–targeting: arms/shoulders, back, chest, legs, and core. It’s important that you hit one of these categories HARD every workout. I also recommend working out once every other day or about 3-4 times per week for best results.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY

Petty arguments serve for nothing. I’ve had more than my share and can more clearly see when I have engaged in one. I’m now of the belief that my time is better spent on more important matters—like working on my fitness, or learning a new skill.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

Spent time at family functions, gatherings with friends, and learned how to forge business partnerships. Working at a company where I get to manage those partnerships has also been great exposure to this side of business.

What I did to gain these skills

  1. Taking on a couple of internships during my senior year of college. Not only did I build experience, gain professional connections/mentors, but I also found out what I didn’t enjoy doing.
  2. Communicating at work—soft skills are extremely important for just about every profession. By “communication,” I mean writing emails, speaking to people, interacting in group settings, work functions, etc.
  3. Staying in touch with family: try texting/emailing/calling a family member every other day or whenever you think of them. Sometimes it’s as simple as texting them a funny picture that you ran across during the day that reminded you of them. Attending family functions is also a great way to automatically be closer to family just by gracing people with your presence.

TRUE VALUES

This fits in with my goal of minimalism. At the beginning of this year, my hope was that I would be able to comfortably give something away without a second thought. That happened. Multiple times this year. I gave bags and bags of things away to Goodwill and took a few pictures of items for memories. I’m okay now. I don’t feel the need to buy excess things. A lot of the reading I’ve done this year of bloggers and people I admire is that money is time. When I know I can live off of a certain dollar amount per day, why would I spend it on something that I don’t really care about if I could instead have one more day of freedom to spend my time exactly how I want and with whom I want?

Tips:

You can do this too. If you’re afraid that you’re a person who clings too much to material possessions and that it’s weighing you down or causing stress, you can follow these steps to help get rid of that stuff from your life.

  1. Take a picture of the item and place it in a bag to be given away. If you don’t need it within the next couple of months, you won’t miss it. 
  2. Use psychologically persuasive points on yourself. Remember that someone else will cherish this item more than you can. It’s not fair to deny the other person of this possession if they could really enjoy this item in their life.

SETTING UP FOR THE FUTURE (2013 Goals)

In 2013, I aim to continue this trend of personal development. My main focus this year will be setting up my life so that I’m in a position to achieve my 5 and 10-year goals. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I’m going to let you know that in several years I’d like to be married and have children of my own.

This inevitably means that I need the skills, network, and drive to be able to maintain a decent income even while working from home (my long-term future goal as of right now is to be a stay at home mom that is also an intelligent businesswoman).

FINANCIAL

I’m steering my life towards financial independence, and continuing to mature my professional relationships to make a name for myself in the consulting space by providing results to small businesses.

INTELLECTUAL

Learning more about business and how it works is a large goal of mine. This would include reading about the topic and applying my learnings in the field.

FITNESS

I definitely have more ambitious fitness goals this year. I’d like to be able to do a lot of the hardcore “dude” exercises that you’ll see guys doing at the gym—push ups, pull ups, dips, benching lots of weight, deadlifting, etc. Since I’ve built up the consistency of going to the gym, it won’t be hard to continue. I want abs and my goal is to have them by this summer. Be warned: If this happens, pictures will follow.

What have you learned in 2012? Do you have resolutions for 2013? Share them below in the comments!

The Art of Krav Maga: Learn to Save Your Life

I hit the ground. Hard.

Still stunned from the impact, I heard someone say, “Welcome to the real world. Get back up and fight!”

I immediately sprang back up, and with a one-two-punch combo, I continued to hit as hard as I could until the instructor called “Time!”

My head was pounding from the punches and I was breathing heavily, but I was smiling. I was taking the first steps toward protecting myself.

This weekend I attended my first ever krav maga class.

Origins

For those of you who may not already know, Krav Maga is a style of martial art, originating in Israel. It empowers people to perform offensive moves in the face of unexpected attacks. The fighting skills that you learn in class are tactical, and the element of surprise and stress are baked into the sessions so that you can prepare yourself to react effectively under those conditions.

My first experience in such a class was eye-opening. I always think of the possibility of being mugged, attacked, etc., while performing normal tasks, like walking to my bus stop in the evening. The likelihood of an attack is very real, especially for a young, unaccompanied woman.

Like in the event of any natural disaster, preparing after the fact is too late.  Truthfully, to successfully get away from such an attack, you’ll need a combination of: offensive attacks hardwired into your muscle memory, the ability to act under stress, and the confidence to strike back—and hard. Like you mean it.

Three Important Takeaways from Class

  1. Go for the nuts.
    If your attacker is male, hit him in the crotch and do it HARD. This is your best chance of escape.
  2. You can’t count on running away.
    Your first instinct may be to flee—however unless you’re extremely fast or skilled at running, you probably won’t be able to outrun your attacker. This means that you’ll need to do some damage before you can get away.
  3. Practice stress.
    Being exposed to stressful environments and then practicing fighting during those times will give you the best tools to save your life.

Now, I don’t mean to be a downer in any way by writing this post. I think we should all be aware and prepared for real-life situations. And if that means thinking about these scenarios and your possible reactions beforehand, we must do just that.

If you only had one chance to strike your attacker before they rape/shoot/stab/kill you, could you make it count?