Still? Still. Still?

Let’s talk about the word “still”. Five letters assembled together into a single syllable word that has a few different uses, a few different meanings, both good and not so good. Still.

An Effort to Evolve

Still; a bad thing. It takes motion and activity to accomplish things, from getting out of bed in the morning, to acquiring knowledge, to running a marathon. Being still, when we should be moving, then, is a bad thing. We cannot accomplish goals, learn, grow, be healthy, prosper, if we are still. Stillness suggests inaction, or, perhaps, complacency. Sure, we may move, physically, during the course of our day, but are we in motion towards anything greater than we currently are? That is the question. We were meant to learn, grow, achieve, by design, to which stillness is the enemy.

We were meant to learn, to grow, to achieve
We were meant to learn, to grow, to achieve

Further, we were designed, by nature, to move, physically. We are hunters, we are gatherers, by nature, our bodies, our minds and our souls require frequent, vigorous physical activity to thrive, to survive. Consider, then, stillness, the killer. Stillness robs us of our youth and our quality of life.

We were designed to hunt, to gather, stillness is a slow, silent killer, a robber of our quality of life.
We were designed to hunt, to gather, stillness is a slow, silent killer, a robber of our quality of life.

Are you still? Are you too still?

How do we know how to move, what direction to go, what to seek, to chase, to learn, to achieve?

Through stillness!

Still; a good thing. To connect to ourselves, in order to, perhaps, decide what it is we are meant to do, or be, or accomplish, we must be still, in body and in mind. This, though, for only a portion of our day. To learn to sit and quiet ourselves so that only our breath and the immediate moment surround us. In quieting and clearing our mind, in connecting our body and mind to our soul through breath and presence, we become aware of the current moment, the present, and we are more clear on who we are and in our purpose. There are many ways to practice stillness; meditation, peaceful, solitary activities such as walking or hiking, yoga, cycling, running or paddling. We simply need time set aside to allow the mind to quiet and the constant noise of our thoughts to cease. We need time to be present and focus only on our breath as it comes and goes, daily. In this stillness we have the opportunity to become ourselves, to connect our spirit to our being, and to be present.

Is your mind cluttered?
Is your mind cluttered?
Find stillness of thought in nature, walking or hiking.
Find stillness of thought in nature, walking or hiking.

How do we accomplish our goals, our purpose, or even just stillness?

Still; a good thing. Still is also a word used to imply consistency. Much of what we wish to do with our lives, in this world, relies on consistency, constancy, and perseverance. Whether achieving and maintaining our health, our fitness, a skill, some knowledge, or the ability to sit in stillness and connect to our breath, it all will require practice, consistent, regular practice. Still. A lifetime, sometimes.

Consistency, practice, perseverance to learn new things, acquire new skills
Consistency, practice, perseverance to learn new things, acquire new skills

Are you still? Are you still? Are you still?

Good Enough

Why settle for good enough? If Thomas Edison had said “good enough” on the first several hundred attempts to develop an electrical filament for the light bulb, we may still be in the dark! Do you think researchers today, on the brink of a breakthrough for a cure for cancer are going to give up and say “it isn’t quite there, but it’s good enough”? Do you think Leonardo DaVinci slapped paint on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel one day and said “good enough”?

Do you approach life with a “good enough” attitude?

I spent a very large portion of my adult (married) life driving cars that just ran “good enough”. And sometimes they didn’t quite run good enough. Or at all. My AAA card got more use than my Target Red Card (which I use almost daily to save 5% on my purchases). At one point, all ten cars were rendered motionless by mechanical ailments stemming from an attitude of “good enough”. I guess we’d run out of hangers, baling twine and duct tape. My husband had worked as an auto mechanic before college and vowed he’d always maintain our fleet of cars so we wouldn’t have to rely on costly mechanics or auto repair facilities. I guess you get what you pay for, unless you use the Target Red Card, in which case you get 5% more than what you paid for! My husband lives a life of “good enough”, which really means it was ALL good enough until it wasn’t good at all, at which point, it was kept anyway because, someday, if we had the time and money, we may be able to make it good enough, again. But that never actually happened, because things were always good enough that we didn’t really need to make good use of time to find a way to make enough good money, once the previous career(s) weren’t good enough. I left him, and all the cars, and all the other broken things, including our broken relationship. It just wasn’t good enough.

In our current job market, where good jobs are hard to find, and as hard to keep, do you think “good enough” is going to cut it? Absolutely not. So why should “good enough” be good enough in any other aspect of your life?

Let’s take this to the big picture. Is your life good enough? I hope not! And I don’t mean that quite like it sounds in the literal sense! I’m not saying I hope your life is shit. What I AM saying is that I hope you aren’t settling for good enough because that’s where you are and you don’t see the point in wanting more. If we have a roof over our head, frozen pizza in the freezer, batteries in the remote and premium cable, then life is good enough. Sigh. Ok, maybe add a Target Red Card so you can save 5% on the pizza and the batteries. And on underwear when yours is no longer good enough.

Me? Life is fantastic! But never quite good enough. I have a very, very long list of things I want that my Target Red Card won’t buy. These things are called experiences. Life experiences. Some experiences I can easily do, daily. I can always go outside and marvel at nature! The warm California sunshine and light breeze today. A sprinkle of Texas rain last week. The stinging, cold of an Alaskan winter day last month. Twenty hours of Alaskan daylight next month. I am not wealthy to afford all this; I just rearrange my priorities so the money I do make, which, by the way, isn’t quite good enough, allows me to afford some awesome life experiences.

Some experiences I have on my list are going to require a bit more work to, well, experience. I would like to travel Europe, parts of Asia, parts of Africa and South America. I’d like to see the rest of the United States, because, even with my travels for work, there is much I haven’t seen. I want to learn to white water kayak, I want to learn to snowboard better, I want to climb some mountains, and I want to backpack the Pacific Coast Trail. I guess you might say this is part of my bucket list. Just part. Because my bucket list just isn’t good enough. It needs work.

My “not good enough” attitude crosses into other areas of my life. For my age, I am pretty darned fit. But even that isn’t good enough. I can always be a little more fit. I am pretty darned healthy, but I could always find more ways to live a healthful life. I have a good career, I make enough money, and I’m fairly well respected professionally. Why, just moments ago, I received an email from a client that said, “I think that you were wonderful, thank you.” If I had done just a “good enough” job in our consulting session do you think I would have received that level of compliment and gratitude? I always look for ways to try harder, to learn more, to give more. At work. At home. In my relationships with my family, my friends, my love.

My knowledge is never “good enough”. There is so much to know, to learn. I want to learn to be a sommelier. I want to learn to cook better. I want to learn to take better photographs. I want to learn to sing. I want to learn to dance better. I want to learn a half dozen foreign languages. I want to be able to identify flowers and trees. What I know just isn’t good enough.

When will anything be good enough? The correct answer, in my opinion, is never. Once things are good enough, we’ve become complacent. Grab your Target Red Card and stock up on the hangers, bailing twine and duct tape; it’s going to be a slippery ride into misery. Me? I’m going to grab my Target Red Card and stock up on a new scarf, some rockin’ new sunglasses and cute tote bag, because the ones I have just aren’t good enough, for my next life experience!

March

March. The third month of the year. March. A walk with measured or regular steps. What does one have to do with another? March provides us an opportunity we should not neglect.

In the month of March, many things change; daylight savings time begins, spring begins, we are in the midst of the Easter season, all of these things signify a season of renewal and hope.

Much like New Years is the time of year we get to start with a clean slate for the year, and Monday, a clean slate for the week, think of March like the beginning of the “natural” year. Nature comes to life in spring, birds begin to nest, baby animals are born, flowers bud, blossom and bloom, everything is renewed. With this spirit and energy, we too can focus on those goals, those intentions we wish to accomplish.

And so, with March, and the spirit of renewal and hope that spring brings, we should pick up our feet, lift our knees high and march. Whatever intentions we had at the beginning of the new year, whether they languished during the doldrums of winter, are now forgotten, or whether we are still committed and taking action on them, this season of renewal brings to us an opportunity to commit ourselves anew to these intentions. Or perhaps to choose some new intentions to march towards.

As with all things we wish to accomplish, it is important to assign the appropriate level of importance to them. I use the word “intentions”, rather than goals. To be clear, goals are a desired result a person envisions, plans and commits to achieve. Goals are wishes, with a deadline.

Many times, in organizations I have been involved with, both professionally and volunteer, the suggestion that goals be S.M.A.R.T. has been recommended. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. We should always have an “active” list of S.M.A.R.T. goals, and I do recommend writing them down and revisiting them, often, re-examining them for relevance, importance and “S.M.A.R.T.ness”.

Often, we have many more goals than we can hope to accomplish all at once. This is where I distinguish my goals from my intentions. Intentions are goals that I am applying a focussed amount of energy, thought and activity to presently. Intentions are right now, goals are eventual. Intentions are goals that I intend to accomplish by working on them, focussing on them, each and every day, until they are achieved. They are aligned with everything I do, and don’t do. Intentions are goals that I am “marching” towards. And nothing comes between me an my intentions.

What goals are on your list that are ready to bud, blossom, bloom, ready to be born, ready for renewal? What goals are you going to promote to intentions? I implore you to use March to march towards those intentions, and don’t let anyone or anything come between you and the desired result.