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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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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The 3 Lies You Tell Yourself When You Dismiss Someone’s Compliment

Accepting compliments graciously does not make you prideful and self-absorbed.
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I will be the first to admit that I am notorious for rationalizing myself out of compliments or just straight up dismissing them.

I only found myself with a better perspective after I got outside of myself (shocking, I know). Not only did I realize how offended I would feel if someone doubted or dismissed the genuineness of my own compliment directed at them, but I realized that I have actually been lying to myself in order to justify dismissing them! Red lights.

See if you can relate to telling yourself any of these lies, and make sure you read to the end for some truth to speak over yourself instead.

1. "They’re lying."

This is my go to because it's so easy to just think this and move on, which is horrible, but, apparently, I am horrible sometimes.

Maybe you don’t sound as harsh in the way you respond. “They can’t actually mean that.” But, ultimately, you’re still telling yourself the same thing. You’re literally lying to yourself about them lying.

If you can’t see the problem here, well, then, that’s a problem.

2. "They’re just saying that to make me feel good or they just want something out of me."

This reflects bad motives on those that (chances are) are genuinely complimenting you simply because your view of yourself doesn’t allow for the heartfelt and honest kindness they’re showing to you.

Maybe you try to make it sound good, like “You’re too nice to me.”

OK, no. This isn’t some kind of personal pity party that they decided to throw for you because they were like “Aw, she actually sucks, so I should probably be nice.”

These assumptions are so insulting, not only to yourself but to those people who see the good in you and want you to see it as well.

Imagine how you would feel if someone dismissed something you said to them in this same way. It’s really rude and hurtful.

3. "I'm not talented/pretty/whatever it is they’re saying I am."

This is really the heart of the issue because none of the other assumptions would be made if you didn’t believe this lie in the first place.

We have to completely change our internal dialogue. Start speaking truth to yourself.

Accepting compliments graciously does not require you to be prideful and self-absorbed.

I'm not sure where this idea got started, but apparently, it's running rampant through the streets now.

Words of affirmation are meant to do just that and there's nothing wrong with it!

And, if you feel like you don't even have this problem, because it seems like no one feels any need to compliment you, just know that Someone already has.

Your Creator knew you and formed you perfectly in His Image according to His will and what He knew would be good.

Isaiah 43 says,

"But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel... you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you."

Zechariah 3:17 says,

"The Lord your God is in your midst... he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

And Psalm 139:14 says,

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

We have every reason to rejoice in what God has done in and through us.

Be thankful that He has given you these words and so many others so that you can be secure in Him and what He has spoken over you, rather than being overly preoccupied with what others are or are not saying. And if they are complimenting you, be happy to accept it and return the kindness.

Speak truth in love, not lies in self-loathing.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

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