How to stop breaking promises to yourself

How to stop breaking promises to yourself

Lately I’ve realized I haven’t kept a lot of the promises I’ve made to myself. I tell myself I’m going to do something, and then go back on my word as if it didn’t even matter. I think it’s harder to keep promises we make to ourself because, unlike promises we make to our friends or family, there isn’t another person to call us out when we don’t follow through. We’re on our own and have to have self discipline and will power in order to successfully keep our promise, and that’s not always easy. 

Some of the promises I’ve made to myself that I’ve had a hard time following through on include: 

  • Exercising regularly 
  • Eating healthier/not binging on junk food 
  • Learning to cook and eating at home more often 
  • Writing frequent blog posts
  • Learning more songs on the piano 
  • Journaling and listening to meditations before going to sleep

I keep telling myself I’m going to start doing these things, but then I go back on my word. When I look at everything listed out like that, it can feel overwhelming and I have a habit of starting a cycle of negative self-talk that sounds something like this: “There’s so much I’m not doing! Why aren’t I doing it? What’s wrong with me? At this rate I’ll never accomplish all of this! I’m just going to continue letting myself down!” When I get really overwhelmed I tend to shut down, and decide to just not try. “I can’t do all of this, so I guess I’m just going to do nothing.” 

I’ve recently realized one of the keys to breaking this habit is to go easier on myself. While I do want to hold myself accountable and stop this habit of breaking promises, I know I’m not going to succeed if I’m being overly critical of myself. Instead, I’ve decided to make a goal of following through on at least one small promise every day. I saw the concept in this Instagram post and it really hit home with me. I don’t have to do everything every single day, but if I practice following through on at least one promise, I’ll get in the habit of not letting myself down! Even if the one thing is just playing piano for 10 minutes, or listening to a sleep meditation before bed, I can go to sleep knowing I succeeded at something that day. 

I’ve only employed that concept for a couple days now, but I’ve already noticed a weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s not about doing everything, it’s about putting in the effort to just do something! I got out of my comfort zone and tried two new workout classes, and I listened to guided meditations before bed two nights in a row. I also practiced a song on my keyboard earlier today, and now I’m writing this blog post!

The neat thing is, I’ve noticed once I accomplish one small thing, I feel more motivated to keep going and get even more accomplished. I came home from my workout class tonight ready to knock a few more items off my to-do list, because I knew I’d already kept one promise to myself. On the flip side, if I had skipped the workout and started beating myself up about it, I bet I would have just ended up just watching TV and going to sleep feeling dejected, and would be more likely to do the same tomorrow.

I’m sure I will still have days where I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything, and that I broke all of my promises to myself. And that’s okay, I’m human and can’t expect to be productive every single day. I’m never going to be perfect. But I think making an effort to at least keep one small promise each day will help a lot, and will lead to feeling more satisfied with my life.

Do you have a hard time following through on promises you make to yourself? What are some small promises you think you could start following through on every day? What helps you feel more motivated? Let me know in the comments! 

I’m not behind, my timeline is just different than yours

I’m not behind, my timeline is just different than yours

I’ve never done things at the same time as other people. My life has always seemed to march to the beat of its own drum. When I was a teenager and my friends were getting their first boyfriends, I still hadn’t even had my first kiss. I remember feeling embarrassed and confused. “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I so behind?”

Ten plus years later and I still feel that way at times. Now my friends are getting married, getting promotions, going to grad school, buying houses. Meanwhile I’m single, starting over in a completely new career, unsure what the future holds. I often wonder if I’m doing something wrong. Those same fears from my teenage years creep back into my mind. “Why am I so behind?”

I have to constantly remind myself there’s no “right” time to do things, no “correct” timeline for my life. Just because other people are doing things sooner than I am, doesn’t mean I’m behind. When I did finally get my first kiss and my first boyfriend, I remember thinking in hindsight that the timing was perfect. It may not have happened the same way, or at the same time, as my friends, but it happened the way it was supposed to for me and my life. Just like my first kiss and first boyfriend, I know all of the things I want to happen in my life will happen for me in due time. I just have to be patient.

Everyone’s timeline is different, and that’s what makes life so unpredictable and beautiful at the same time. Imagine how boring life would be if you knew exactly what was going to happen to you, and when? Where’s the fun in being able to predict, or control, the timeline of your life? Part of what makes life interesting and exciting is how impossible it is to plan what will happen next!

A year ago, or even six months ago, I never would have guessed where I would be today. I had no idea I would make a huge career change to become a preschool teacher. I didn’t know I would be moving into a condo by myself in an area of town I’ve never lived in before (blog post about my move coming soon!) I may not be getting married or buying a house this year, but I’m sure I will have other big milestones happen that I never would have imagined a few months ago. I’m ready for whatever life wants to throw at me! I’m just along for the ride.

Do you ever feel behind? What do you do to help yourself feel better? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. I’d love to hear how you relate to this topic!

Be Proud of Yourself: Part 2

Be Proud of Yourself: Part 2

I was looking back on some of my old blog posts to get inspiration for what I should write about next, and I came across my Be Proud of Yourself post, which is one of my favorites I’ve ever written. It’s short and sweet, but gets the point across. It gave me the idea to write an updated version, with some of my new accomplishments.

I was in such a different place than I am now when I wrote that post almost a year and a half ago, and though reading it makes me a bit sad to think about how I was feeling at that time, I also feel really happy to know I’ve accomplished even more now and I am much happier than I was back then.

I can honestly say I am really proud of where I am in life right now. I have a great group of friends who I have been spending a lot of time with, I’m continuing to spend time with my family, I’ve gotten more responsibility at my job, and I couldn’t be more excited about where my blog is going. And most importantly, I’ve learned how to stay positive, even through difficult times.

It was fun for me to make this list of my current accomplishments, and I would definitely recommend you try it! It’s a good reminder that no matter how you’re feeling, there are always things to be proud of in your life.

My Recent Accomplishments:
  1. I’ve somehow become an interviewer, and I’m loving it! I started a new series on my blog, Table Talk Tuesday, where I interview other bloggers. It’s been so much fun to talk with other like-minded people, and hear their stories. I also recently got the chance to interview Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe of The Bachelorette, and celebrity personal trainer Erin Oprea at the CitySTRONG event in Austin.
  2. I am the organizer of a blogger Meetup group, which I wrote about in a recent blog post. We had our second meeting yesterday, and once again I was blown away by everyone’s stories. There are so many awesome bloggers and aspiring bloggers out there! Check out these two who I met today: http://www.delayedsleeper.com and http://www.mycontrolexperiment.com
  3. While I was excited to have 40-something blog followers in my last post, I am now even more excited to say I have 200-something followers! It just goes to show that hard work and perseverance pays off. And I am so flattered and happy so many of you seem to enjoy reading what I write.
  4. Unfortunately after I wrote that last post, I started to work out less and less, and I spent most of 2016 not exercising regularly. However, I am proud to say that the last few months I have been going to a yoga class once a week, walking around my neighborhood with my mom at least three times a week, and hiking in the greenbelt with my friends a couple times a month. Like I said in the last post, I’ve noticed a positive change in my moods since putting fitness as a top priority.

Having two more things to be proud of compared to the last time I wrote this blog post feels pretty great. I’ve decided I am going to keep track of accomplishments like these regularly, because it really does make a difference to actively tell yourself how proud you are, and to take note of the small victories in life.

I hope you enjoyed this update on an old post. Let me know in the comments what your recent accomplishments are!

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited to introduce you all to my guest this week: Jenn from the lifestyle blog The Art of Better, where she helps women live their best lives, and The Art of Better Blogging, helping others along their blogging journey.

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I’m so impressed by what you’ve built with both Art of Better Blogging and The Art of Better. Can you tell me, in a nutshell, how you got to be where you are today? 

Thank you! It’s been a long, winding path, for sure. I’ve been blogging on & off since 1999, way back in the day where I would hard code my sites in HTML from a blank page. A few years later, I had a fledgling graphic design business that I had to put it on the back burner for my corporate career. Can’t maintain a side hustle while working 60hrs every week!
Luckily I started my blogging journey back up again not long after because I just couldn’t seem to exist without writing. The Art of Better came first with The Art of Better Blogging coming about a year later when I started getting asked so many questions about blogging that I decided to segment them out. I blogged on the side for a few years and then finally got to the point where I was able to go full-time in 2015 and leave my soul-sucking corporate career!

A lot of people struggle with feelings of doubt, fear, and worrying about not being good enough when trying to accomplish big goals in life. Do you have any advice for pushing aside those negative feelings and going after what you want?   

“Impostor Syndrome” can be crippling, but everyone grapples with it from time to time. The way I help my blog & business coaching clients through it is through helping them recognize that everyone has a unique story and angle because no two people have the same background, path or life perspective. Well, that, and making it clear that fear is just a feeling, an emotion. You can choose to acknowledge it, set it aside, and move beyond it.

You seem to be an expert in all things blogging, social media, and just life in general. What was your process for becoming so knowledgeable? Do you have any tips for someone who wants to learn more about blogging, social media, etc? 

Well, I don’t know about life (I’m kind of a self-development junkie!) but I’ve been around the blogging & online business worlds for so long that I have seen nearly everything. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to know more is to read everything you can get your hands on (but take everything with a grain of salt) and find some bloggy besties that are slightly above your skill or experience level. Hanging out with people who are more advanced will cause you to stretch your skill set more often.

What is your life motto?

Hustle 24/7? Hell no!
Everything I do is dedicated to better… and that includes rebelling at the idea that you need to grind away all day every day to have a successful blog or online business. It just isn’t true! Do you have to hustle with purpose sometimes? Of course! But not all the time.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog, like The Art of Better, or a business, like Art of Better Blogging?

Consistency is imperative for success. A lot of people start blogging and seem to have this idea that you can just write and they will come. I wish!

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

Oh! I love this questions. I do a daily gratitude practice and it has truly changed my life. Keeping it down to just 3 is really difficult!
1. My family (including our 4 dogs & close friends!)
2. My ah-mazing clients!
3. True red lipstick

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I have so many! Of course, the usual suspects like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Marie Forleo, but also women like Rose McGowan & Ani Difranco who are so unafraid to speak out for what they’re passionate about.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Learn to meditate much, much sooner.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?   

I’m most proud of becoming legal guardians for my niece a few years back. We didn’t have any kids prior to that time and we’ve managed to learn very quickly how to become good parents. I think in a few years we might want to have a baby- that would be a big accomplishment for us since we thought we’d never want kids!

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be? 

I’d have to say either an eagle or cheetah. I like to go fast!
Hope you enjoyed my interview with Jenn and learned as much from her as I did! For further inspiration and education, grab her free video training, How to Kickstart Your Blog’s Growth in 2017and join The Art of Better Blogging FB Community.

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

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Welcome to the first-ever Table Talk Tuesday, a new interview series I’m starting where I talk to bloggers and entrepreneurs that I admire. But before I get into talking about my first interviewee, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to my friend Lindsay for creating the cute image you see above!

First up in the hot seat this Tuesday is Anna Gordon, social media manager and creator of House of Hashtag, a platform for female entrepreneurs. She also has a brand new website in the works, so I will share that link when it is live.

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To start off, can you tell me your life story in three sentences or less?

My background is in art, design and photography. I have certainly had a lot of trials and tribulations in life but I am grateful for my struggles as they have led me to where I am today, and I am happy!

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

I would tell myself not to worry so much and to never miss out on an opportunity for the fear of being disliked. Up until the age of about 23 I was so insecure about my appearance, I would often avoid going out with friends and attending any social event. Looking back, I feel I missed out on a lot.

If you had a life motto, what would it be?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

What is the most important thing for people to know before starting a business/blog?

Done is better than perfect. It’s important that we get things right for our businesses and blogs, but spending forever on something until it is perfect is a waste of time. Just get it out there! Also I think having a positive mindset is crucial as well.

Sometimes our failures/setbacks teach us more than our successes. Can you talk about a time when you failed and what it taught you?

Honestly, I have experienced so many ‘failures’ and setbacks but like I said in my first answer, I am genuinely grateful for those times because I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life. I think going through rough times and experiencing failures helps mold you into a more compassionate person to others. Ultimately, sometimes we all just have to roll with the punches when things don’t work out.

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My mum (she is literally my best friend) 2. My partner, David. 3. Finding my passion

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Oh tough one, I have so many “girl crushes”. At the moment I’d have to say I’m crushing on Mariah Coz the most. She really knows her stuff, gives away so much free content and she comes across as genuine and down to earth.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d have to say travelling solo around Australia and South East Asia (which was amazing by the way). I have always been such a shy and anxious person. So for me to step out of my comfort zone to that extent and follow my dreams makes me proud.

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. What is your go-to karaoke song?

Prince- 1999

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I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of Table Talk Tuesday with the very inspirational Anna Gordon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram, and keep your eyes out for another interview next Tuesday.
Interested in being featured? Email me at shelly@shellyray.com.

Exciting Life Update!

Exciting Life Update!

I have some great news to share with everyone! For those of you who have read this blog post from a few months back, you know that I have been searching for a full time job since my graduation in May, and was beginning to feel a bit defeated that I hadn’t gotten one yet. Well….drumroll please…I GOT A JOB!

So here’s how it happened: a few weeks ago a woman from a social media marketing agency that I interned for over the summer of 2013 emailed me to let me know they had a job opening, and wondering if I would like to meet for coffee to catch up and discuss the opportunity. Of course I said yes! It seemed like a great position and I had always raved about the agency to my friends and family and frequently referred to my experience there as “my favorite internship I’ve ever had” (I’ve had four total). We met and discussed the position, what I’ve been up to since we last spoke, and what I’m looking for in a job.

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I felt the conversation went well, but was slightly worried I didn’t have quite enough  experience for the job. Still, I was optimistic and couldn’t help daydreaming about what a great time I would have working there again. Flash forward to this past Friday, I get an email from the woman I had met with and she tells me they are offering me a position! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I got so used to hearing “no” that I almost couldn’t believe it when I finally got a “yes”, which is a little bit sad but anyone who has ever gone through the struggle of job hunting will relate I’m sure.

I am still smiling about it and can’t wait to get started on Monday! I’m excited to meet the new faces and say hi to the old ones, I’m excited to have a routine and schedule every day, I’m excited to learn new skills and use old ones, and mostly I’m excited to be a part of a team! I love the feeling of being part of a community, whether the community is my theater friends in high school, my sorority sisters, or now my coworkers!

The word ‘community’ is also relevant because it will be in my job title! I will be a Community Manager, which includes tasks like creating content for social media platforms, analyzing the engagement of audiences on the platforms, responding to customers online, and even writing blog articles! For anyone who knows me, all of this is right up my alley and is similar to what I have done at most of my internships.

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Thanks so much to everyone who wrote kind words on my blog post about not having a job. I hope this post brings hope to anyone out there who is still looking. Your perfect job will present itself before you know it, and all of the waiting will be worth it! If you’d like to keep up to date on my daily life and hear how my new job is going, follow my blog and follow me on social media! Since I’ll be working at a social media agency, I will have no choice but to keep up my personal accounts.

Twitter and Instagram: @shellycrossland

Why I Hate #Goals

There is a new trend I’ve seen lately, which is the use of the word “goals” (often used in hashtag form with a word in front of it) in association with people (often celebrities). For example, I have seen countless comments on Instagram saying “#relationshipgoals” for pictures of celebrities, friends or YouTubers and their significant others. I have also seen an even more disturbing trend of “#bodygoals”. Why am I calling this disturbing? Let me explain.

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There is no denying that we live in a society where worshipping celebrities and coveting things about their life or appearance is common. Magazines are constantly bombarding us with tips for how to look more like Celebrity X, or how to obtain Body Y. Many people tend to get far too wrapped up in articles like these, thinking that if we only drank the juice blend that our favorite celebrity drinks, or copied the exact workout that she performs daily, we would magically become her. But obviously this is not the case.

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A goal, by definition, is: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. In my opinion, making the object of your ambition a person is very damaging because it leaves no possible positive result. We will constantly be disappointed because there is no way to actually achieve this. Our boyfriend will never be the exact same as our favorite YouTuber’s boyfriend. And our body will never look the exact same as our favorite celebrity’s. Is it really fair to place an unattainable goal on ourselves and expect to achieve it? Why not focus on setting goals that are unique to what we actually believe we can obtain?

For example, instead of making someone else’s body your “goal”, why not set a goal to work out a certain number of times per week, or to get your body back to how it looked a few years ago? The key here is that both of these goals have to do with you and not someone else, and thus are attainable with hard work and effort. And if you think someone else’s relationship as perfect, why not take a look at your own relationship, and decide on specific ways you and your partner could improve, separate from how you perceive the relationship between two strangers to be.

In a nutshell: try to focus on yourself, not others. You will never obtain someone else’s body or boyfriend. You will, however, obtain your individual goals if you set them to be obtainable for you. When goals are centered around yourself and your own life, rather than someone else’s, they have a much better chance of being accomplished.

Hope you enjoyed this blog! Like and comment to let me know if you agree with my annoyance at the #goals trend on the internet. I would also love to hear some positive goals you have set for yourself!

 

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Be Proud of Yourself

For the past few weeks I have been feeling a little down. Some might say I’ve been in a rut. This is due to not being completely happy with certain things in my life, putting a lot of pressure on myself to change them, and also just general feelings of sadness and annoyance that don’t seem to stem from any one thing in particular.

While working out today I had an epiphany of sorts, and I thought I would share it in case any of you are struggling with some of the feelings of doubt and unhappiness that I have been experiencing. My epiphany was that I do not do a good enough job of patting myself on the back for all of the things I am doing right. Instead, I focus on the negatives or what I think I could be doing better. This causes a lot of unnecessary stress and makes me feel upset at myself when I really shouldn’t be feeling that way.

So I came up with an idea which I think is a pretty good one, if I do say so myself. I am going to start acknowledging all of the accomplishments and goals that I have been achieving lately, in an effort to improve my spirits and just have a more positive outlook on life. Positivity is one of my words for having a happier fall, after all! (See ‘Happy Fall!’).

What I’ve Accomplished Lately:

  1. Over the past few months I have gone from not working out at all (besides the occasional short walk) to getting to the gym at least 4 times a week! I’ve always heard that working out can help make you feel happier and more energized, and I am already seeing how true that is. No matter how down I’m feeling, I always feel better after leaving the gym.
  2. I went from not blogging in over a year, to publishing five blog posts in the past few months! It is crazy that as I write this, I have 40-something followers already. I know that might not seem like a lot for some of you big-shot bloggers out there, but the thought that 40 people have read my blog and were influenced by it in some way is really awesome to me!

I know I could think of more to be proud of myself for, but those are the two main things that stand out to me as of right now. I already feel better just having acknowledged that I have succeeded in doing something, in changing something about my life in a positive way. Blogging and working out are both activities that make me feel happier, which is really the most important part of any activity.

What makes you happy? What have you been doing right lately that you haven’t given yourself enough credit for? Let me know in the comments, and write your own version of this blog if you think it will help you feel better! It certainly worked for me.

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