What Keeps Us

What Keeps Us

How to stop holding onto what only holds us back.
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Ever said to yourself, “I wish I could do that, but…” or “I want to, but…”

What were the words that spilled out next? If I had to guess, the answer would look something like this:

“…I just don’t have the time.”

“…I don’t have the money.”

“…I can’t because (x,y,z).”

Believe me, I have been there. Haven’t we all? I listed all the reasons, made all of the excuses, until I realized that I was the one standing in my own way. When it all boils down, there are three main things that hold us back from accomplishing what we want: time, money, and fear.

Time

Time is perhaps the grandest luxury we have. You can spend it, but you can never purchase more. Therefore, what we do with the time we are given makes all the difference. It can be our greatest resource, or it can fill us to the brim with regret. In a society so crazed with busy lifestyles, how do any of us have time for anything? If you’re a college student, you are all too familiar with juggling classes, homework, projects, and any remnants of a social life. It’s overwhelming enough alone without even adding in relationships, sports, hobbies, part-time jobs or internships. The same applies to those of us who are working full time jobs or are parents. So what gives?

  • Realize that the time is going to pass anyway. The hard truth is that you can continue to sit there pining after this dream, or understand that if you started today, you’re that much closer to making it come true. Doesn’t matter how small the step is, as long as it is in the right direction. Where do you want to be in a year?
  • Make the time. You have the same hours in a day as Beyoncé. While this is true, she also has a whole team of professionals working for her. If you’re like me and don’t have those amenities, then you need to make the time. We hear this statement constantly, but it is much easier to speak those words then to live them. Understand that time is an investment. Don’t waste it. Want to make fitness a part of your lifestyle, but are too exhausted when the day is done? Discover where your hours are going. First, schedule out your day so you see exactly where your time and presence is required: i.e. school, work, etc. You’ll see that you aren’t there for a full 24 hours. Before, after, or in between, you can find the time. Maybe that means sacrificing an hour of television. If your ultimate goal is not as important to you as "The Bachelorette," you will only continue to make excuses and fall behind. Suck it up and set your alarm for 5:00 a.m. or quit wasting time on Facebook. Nobody said this was gonna be easy. Tell those distractions where to go.
  • Stop waiting for the right moment. Rid yourself of this toxic habit. “It will be better next week/in the summer /when I have...” Hate to break it to you, but you are lying to yourself. A week or six months will go by and you will find that nothing has changed. Did you save up all the money you planned to? Probably not. The cycle will continue. You may never be truly ready. So okay, maybe you don’t have as much in your bank account as you’d like right now, but you also have more than what you would if you lost your job. Put these examples into perspective. You have your health now, but will you always? Are you in a position where you don’t have major responsibilities: a serious career, spouse, children, etc.? Consider the fact that once you have these albeit wonderful things, you may not have the same exact amount of freedom or opportunity as you do in this present moment. Can you still make it work? Of course. There are always exceptions to the rule. I am not suggesting you book a flight to Australia when you’re in debt or leave your kids, or shirk all responsibilities. What I’m saying is, while this may not feel like the best time, you risk throwing the opportunity away for one that may not come later down the road. Stop putting off what you’ll regret not starting today. A year from now, how do you want to look back on your life?

Money

Ah, the dreaded topic, the root of all evil, the stress-inducing and fun-sucking issue of money, or lack thereof. It runs us. And as much as we don’t want to believe it, we need it. Do we need private yachts or a mansion for our home? Of course not. But, we do need money for hospital bills and the medications we need to stay healthy. We need money to pay the rent, so we can have a roof over our heads. We need money for food, so that we can eat and nourish our bodies. Sure, it isn’t everything. But the unfortunate truth is that even a small amount of money can be a necessity to live, at least to live comfortably. I can’t tell you how to get rich, but I can give you suggestions on how to stop draining your account.

  • Stop buying stupid stuff. Seriously. All those trips to Starbucks? Hitting the sale rack at your favorite store? You don’t need these things. These material items will bring you temporary pleasure, but they are not aiding you in your goal. In fact, they are keeping you from reaching it. That $20 dress you bought might have seemed like a steal, but it could have been a taxi in Paris or toward a textbook you need for class. Say no to the mocha frappucinos, your wallet (and your body) will thank you later.

  • Downsize your belongings. Clothes you haven’t worn in a while? A snowboard you don’t use? Jewelry that has been collecting dust? Get rid of them. Hold a garage sale or sell your clothes to a store that buys gently used apparel, and list the snowboard and jewelry on eBay or Craigslist. I’m the not-so-proud owner of a closet full of things I never wear, yet still keep because “you never know.” Enough with that! Ask a friend to help you, or watch a couple episodes of “Hoarders” like my boyfriend made me do first. If you aren’t using it and haven’t in a year, you probably won’t be using it next year. Think of it this way- the money you get from selling these items could be the security deposit on your first apartment!
  • Prioritize not only your spending, but also your savings. Grab a sheet of paper and a calculator. Got it? Good. At the top, write your monthly income. Below, list all of your monthly expenses, such as rent, utilities, cell phone bill, etc. with the cost of each item. Now add them together, and subtract from your monthly income. Hopefully, you will have some money left over. Do we see that money, though, or even think about it? Often it feels as if we get a paycheck only to see it go straight to paying off bills. This might be avoided if you monitor your spending habits. A friend of mine participates in “No Spend November” where she allots money for all bills, but attempts to go the month without buying extras. I use an app called Digit, which monitors my spending and my income and then pulls a small amount of money from my bank account every couple days automatically and puts it toward a savings fund. There are several different apps or methods you can use to save- it just takes some researching. Since I am passionate about travel, I use a credit card that gives me airline points, which is incredibly beneficial to me since I use them often. In a way, this is saving too! If you are in an extremely rough place financially, bite the bullet and pick up another job. Yes, we know the service industry is not always glamorous work, but it is every bit worth the effort when you get that extra cash deposited. Sacrifice is the way to success. How bad do you really want it?

Fear

Surprisingly, this can easily overpower both of the aforementioned items. Fear is often the original underlying reason behind any justification we try and give ourselves (or others) for why we cannot do something. When it comes down to it, you may actually have the money in your account, but you don’t want to make the investment because of the “what if”. I have a friend who wants very badly to finish his degree, but he is nervous to go back to school. What if he fails again? Since it’s been a couple years since he was in school last, what if he struggles with being a student again? Committing to a degree takes commitment that goes beyond time and money.

Your desire to achieve your dream must be greater than the excuses you give from voice in your head that tells you “no.” Whatever the dream, success is very much a mental game. So how do we tackle our own minds?

  • Take the first small step. When I got the idea in my head that I wanted to run a half marathon, I had never run further than one or two miles. I didn’t know where to begin, but I (quite literally) started with a single step. After a couple weeks, I went from walking to running, and after several months had passed, I had built up my endurance and speed to the point where I was medaling in 5k races. I went on to finish not only one, but three half marathons that year. Often, we see our dreams as unattainable because the distance between reaching them and where we currently stand seem too overwhelming to conquer. Instead of 13.1, I focused on running three miles, then four, and increasing by one mile at a time. If what you want takes a lengthy period of time or multiple stages of effort, breaking it down so you take it step by step, or day by day, can do wonders.
  • Get a support group. It is far easier to give up if you are not surrounded by others who are working toward or supporting you in the same goal. Also, in some cases it helps to make it public. This held me accountable. Everyone knew I had already signed up, so I couldn’t back out now. Instead, I surrounded myself with like-minded people. I was 100% less likely to skip a run if I had made plans with a friend to train. What’s more is that I was able to ask questions and receive support from that individual. I got advice about what shoes I should be wearing and which gels tasted better, but more importantly, I got nothing but encouragement and positivity, which increased my confidence and helped fuel my determination. Make sure your family and friends know about your goal. Even if they don’t have experience with the subject, they can be your main source of strength. From runners to non-runners, like my parents, these people kept me going. Those who believe in you will always help keep you focused and sustained.
  • Plan it out. First, I threw caution to the wind and signed up for the race. I knew that whether or not I was ready, it was going to happen regardless. Now that I had a goal with an end date, it was easy to map out. You may not be training for a race or writing down your mileage on a calendar, but with any goal you need a solid plan. The saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail” has never been a truer statement. Recently, I sat down with my friend who wants to finish his degree and made a chart. Simple as it may seem, write your goal down. From there, think about why you want to accomplish it (any reasons whatsoever) and jot that down. Keep this; ingrain it into your memory and keep it on post-it notes on your bathroom mirror or wherever you can see it regularly as a reminder. Next, write what you are afraid of. Is it fear of failure? Fear of commitment? Fear of the unknown? Whatever setback you think you may encounter on this journey, write it down but move on. Next, brainstorm all of the possible ways you can overcome said obstacle. Let’s say you are afraid of failing out of college. What can you do to be sure you don’t? For instance, going to class and doing your homework are obvious answers. But delve deeper- what can you do to make sure you go to every class? How are you going to ensure that you finish every assignment? List whatever you feel you need to do in order to stay on the right track. Now, remember #2, getting a support group? Tell others in your support group. Maybe you are afraid of failing out because you don’t understand math, but perhaps your cousin is a math teacher, or your friend can recommend a tutor. If you communicate your needs with your support group, together you become unstoppable.
  • Envision the final outcome. Imagine walking across that stage and being handed your degree, or finally listing it on your résumé. Ever have someone tell you that you couldn’t do something, or not have faith enough in yourself? But then you crushed it, and proved everyone wrong?! A sense of pride should well up inside you at just the thought. You can finally say, “I did it!” You are capable of such remarkable and infinite things. Doesn’t matter how many others believe that, just as long as you do.

Cover Image Credit: Kara Knickerbocker

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things. If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity towards this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you, if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Telling Yourself You Are Beautiful Will Make You Even More Beautiful

You are you, and that's what makes you beautiful.

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As a woman, there is a lot of pressure on having the perfect body image. Long legs, tan skin, a flat stomach, the list can go on forever. From pictures that we see in magazines, tv, and so on display only a small percentage of people who can achieve the [from what society thinks] is the perfect body type. I know when I've looked in the mirror, the first things I draw attention to are the things I am most self-conscious about, my stomach, my legs, and my jawline are just to name a few.

When I was younger, I would go to Bible camp every summer. I always learned a lot about myself during these times and would consider them "some of the best days of my life". The days were filled with positivity, Gospel, and building self-confidence. Out of all of the great things I learned while my times at Bible camp, there is one thing that stuck out to me the most.

I remember specifically one night, we were talking about body positivity. We are all our own worst critics, and how most of us think that we aren't beautiful ourselves. My camp counselor gave us a task that seemed quite odd to do. She said that we need to go in the mirror, look yourself up and down, and then in the eye and say, "you are beautiful".

Everyone got in line to the mirror and started doing so. Some girls had a hard time saying it or laughed at themselves saying it. I know when I went up to the mirror, it was hard for me to say it out loud that I am beautiful. At the time I was in that awkward stage of puberty where you kind of look like a kid, but kind of looks like an adult and your body is all disproportionate from growing/developing. Least to say, it was rough. But looking myself up and down in the mirror, seeing all my curves and edges and then saying "You are beautiful" to yourself is absolutely liberating.

Still to this day if I ever feel down about myself, I look in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful. Everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way. We don't need someone to tell us we are beautiful, you just need to tell yourself that you are beautiful, and you WILL shine brighter than you ever have before.

You will not believe how much your outlook on life improves when you tell yourself you are beautiful, and you are in every way, shape, and form.

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