It doesn’t have to be fancy

The concept of creating goals for yourself may seem intense and scary. You may picture sitting at a very professional-looking desk with an open journal, colored pens and rulers. A couple of screens and a fancy keyboard may occupy a corner of the desk. But it doesn’t have to be fancy. Planning for your future can be as no-frills as you want it. Whether it’s a goal to become more fit, to eat right, to earn a million dollars, to buy a new house, setting your goals can be as simple as you like. Get a piece of paper and start writing.

Fitness goal? No-frills is best

If one of your goals is fitness, no-frills may be best. You don’t need special equipment or specific workout gear. You just have to be specific about exactly what you want and a timetable to get there. If you know that you want to do strength training two times a week, your own body weight can help you out. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just today I read about 2 celebrities who used mainly body-weight exercises while touring and on location. 

Carrie Underwood, country music superstar, worked with a trainer recently on tour to keep her endurance up. She said, “”I try to make the most of my time. I have changed my focus. Instead of just trying to get those external results that I wanted, my goals have changed. I want to be stronger, I want to live longer; those are the things that I want now other than just, ‘I want to fit into that.'” Underwood’s goals and wellness practices still aren’t big or splashy; rather, her habits are things she can “stick with forever,” and that’s what she recommends for others as well. Don’t get fancy – just get it done.

And Pedro Pascal, star of “The Mandalorian,” took a similar approach while on location filming the movie “The Last of Us.” There was no equipment, so he had to rely on body-weight moves for the mobility and movement he needed for the character. 

Make a date with yourself

If becoming more fit is one of your goals, there’s no need to join a gym or invest in expensive equipment. Make a date with yourself a few times a week to go for a walk. Have a half-hour dance session. Cue up your favorite playlist and move. Don’t break those dates with yourself! Working toward your fitness goals will make you more optimistic and you’ll feel more powerful and resilient.

Test the waters first for other goals too

And the same kind of thing follows for your other goals. Start by testing the waters. If you want to save money, think about easy ways to start. Don’t buy the most expensive coffee drink. Make coffee at home every day. If you invest in an inexpensive coffee maker (I use a single-cup French Press coffee maker that costs under $10) and a can of coffee grounds, you may find that you like it even better than the expensive stuff you buy at coffee shops you have to travel to. Make your lunch at home a few times a week. Limit your restaurant spending. Maybe don’t buy those shoes this month. Start small. 

Achieving your goals doesn’t have to be fancy. Keep working at it. Figure out ways to start small and grow from there.

Challenge the aging stereotypes

Halle Berry, in my opinion, is still one of the world’s most beautiful women. She’s 57 (!) now, and in the throes of menopause. But she’s not letting that phase of life shut her down, as she indicates she once thought it might. Halle Berry is changing her own reality and embracing the life changes menopause has brought her. Berry said, “I’m challenging all those stereotypes about how you have to look a certain way or feel a certain way. I’m my best self now … I have the most to offer.” We’re old enough that we don’t have to conform to society’s rules. So often we women feel compelled to think of others before ourselves, to conform to others’ rigid standards and do what others think we should. I’m with Halle – let’s challenge the aging stereotypes.

No more “little old ladies”

Gone is the “little old lady” stereotype. We used to think of “little old ladies” as stooped over, hobbling with a cane and wearing a shawl. Needing a driver to take us to the grocery store where we picked up our meager staples for the week. Yes, we might be shrinking in stature (thank you, gravity!), but we’re more vital and our views are more valid than ever.

Independent, but community has value

We see the world from the viewpoint of “been there, done that” – we’ve raised families, lost parents, and seen the best and worst of society from the vantage point of our homes and workplaces. We’re fiercely independent, yet community is still an important part of our lives – even if some days that community is just online. Our social media groups allow us to maintain the connections we so badly need for our resilience and our sanity. When you join a group on social media, you know you’ve got at least one thing in common with the other members. We’re not afraid to engage in discussions over controversial topics even if some others try to put us down. Our viewpoints are valid and we should express them. 

And while it’s imperative to feel connected in some ways to others, we’re still individuals. Our choices don’t look like our friends’ choices. What we do with our days is no one’s business but ours. If we have more free time during the day, yay us! We can still be motivated to make positive changes in our lives and the lives of others.

Everyone’s journey is different

I choose to train dogs and I write about how my fitness journey impacts the rest of my life. I also write about how I stay motivated to continue it in the hope that it inspires others to be motivated to succeed in whatever endeavor they wish. It’s not the vocation I expected when I was “downsized” from a major corporation many years ago, but it’s one I embrace now.

As we all get older, we must recognize that we are each more than the niche society wants to stick us in. We all can challenge the aging stereotypes. Just get out there and get interested in whatever the world offers.

Change your mindset, upgrade your life

We are limited by things we tell ourselves. Psychologists call this “self-limiting beliefs.” These are things we really believe at the moment we say it. Things like, “I’m too old to travel.” Or, “I’m not qualified to apply for that job.” Or, “I could never do that yoga pose.” Assumptions that you have about yourself can be dangerous – because they could become true. They don’t start out that way, but in your own brain they can grow and become more negative. The more you believe that you’re too old for something, too out of shape, not qualified, the more these things become true. These beliefs limit your future. They limit what you can become. Believing that you can’t do something kills your motivation before you even begin. But if you change your mindset you can upgrade your life.

Start small

If this is a new concept for you, don’t start trying to change the big things in your brain. It won’t work because you won’t believe yourself. Start small with things that are easy. 

For example, every two weeks I cook from scratch for my sister and me on my day off. Usually there’s enough to put half in the big upright freezer in the basement to defrost and enjoy for dinner in a month or so. We had a backup, though – there were four containers in the big freezer! So I thought that perhaps I would just make something for that night only. One of our favorites – BLT Pizza! It’s like a BLT sandwich but on pizza, with lots of cheese holding the bacon in place. Not exactly low-fat, but we don’t have it often. But I thought – but, I always make a pasta dish to freeze. What if we don’t have enough later in the month? Maybe I’ve lost my touch making pizza. My sister might not like the idea. Then I thought to myself: “Get over it. It’s my night to cook. This is what I want to make. My sister can like it or she can find something else to eat. And we will not run out of things to eat.” Of course, my sister loved it, and we’ve still got plenty of leftovers in the freezer.

If you wake up grumpy, change your mindset right away. Next time you’re in a bad mood when you wake up, smile at yourself in the mirror. You may feel stupid, but no one else is going to see you. And that small act can change your mindset. Try it!

Then go bigger

A strong core does not completely eliminate back pain, as I found.

That pizza sure made me happy. The other day I tweaked my back in the shower. No idea how I did it, but I had a hard time straightening up for days. I thought to myself, “Oh, great. I fancy myself sort of a fitness expert, always focusing on how a strong core can eliminate back pain. I’m a fraud.” I went on like that in my head for a while. But then I sucked in my stomach, straightened up (still painfully) and told myself to get over it.

I’m 68 years old. Sometimes old bones and muscles and other parts hurt. If I didn’t have a strong core, my back would hurt much worse than it does. People will not think I’m a fraud. Most will empathize with me. Keep going the way I’m going. The message is still valid. 

And now, 3 days later as I write this, the back pain is merely a hint of tightness. I can say without a doubt that a strong core reduced my back pain. I changed my mindset from almost accepting that I was a fraud, to a broader one of acknowledging that the message I’ve been giving is true. 

Change your mindset and upgrade your life. It’s great for your healthy aging. And you’ll be happier. Never limit yourself – others will try that all too often. Your motivation is not dependent on others. You can go out and do great things. Always believe that.

How to be resilient and motivated

In recent years we’ve heard that we need to be resilient to be able to withstand all that life throws at us, through the pandemic, political turmoil, weather extremes due to climate change. And we’ve all had this picture of someone who’s resilient: standing tall, perhaps at the edge of a cliff, arms akimbo, staring ahead with a stern expression. This person is mentally tough. She’s got what it takes to take whatever life throws at her. But, does this person have what it takes to still get things done? Is she motivated to still check things off her list? Or is she too busy fending off life’s arrows to maintain her motivation? Here’s why I think it’s not mutually exclusive to be both resilient and motivated.

Resilience defined

To be resilient you have to be able to recover quickly from adversity. You have to be able to take what life throws at you without wallowing. To pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on to the next challenge. To be resilient and motivated, you have to not only pick yourself up and move on, but move on to a challenge that’s important to you.

Attributes of resilience equated to motivation

To be self-aware, you ahve to know what's inside you.

What does it take to be resilient? You have to know what’s inside you. To be self-aware. Know what makes you tick, and what motivates you. If your family is what’s important to you, then you’ll do whatever it takes for your family’s well-being.

Another aspect of being self-aware is to be mindful. Nurse practitioner Deborah Stamm at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital says, “Mindfulness is the ability to purposefully bring one’s attention to experiences in the present moment without judgment.” If anyone is resilient in this world, it’s nurses. To be resilient, then, it’s not necessary to judge things that happen to us. Those things are neither good nor bad – they just are. They should not influence our future, nor should they taint the past. Accept them and move on. Life’s out there. 

Go do things

We only get one life. It’s up to us to decide what we want to do with it. So, make goals that are important to you. And follow up on them. Set your intermediate goals and deadlines. Meet them. And then make more goals for your best life. You can be resilient and motivated at the same time. There’s no need to take a backseat in your life.