OBSTACLES, OBLIGATIONS, AND OPPORTUNITIES: AtoZAprilChallenge

a-zchallengeI obviously got a little carried away with this one. I played with so many “o” words, and in the end, I finally stopped myself and proceeded to put down a few thoughts that will be offered in three sections: Overcoming Obstacles, Ongoing Obligations, and Observing Opportunities. They are somewhat cyclical, and not totally separate from one another. But part of the process of exploring these ideas is to begin to break the cycle and give me some breathing space to move from a life full of frantic activity to one that is more deliberate and focused.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

When I decided that it was absolutely time to find a way to exercise, Curves seemed the way to go. The other Options I had explored–walking and swimming–had inherent issues that made it difficult to maintain them, or–in the case of swimming–to een find a pool within reasonable traveling distance. As mentioned in my post for F: Farther to Go!, this is the first time in my life that I’ve been at an exercise program that I have maintained for this length of time. I can’t believe I’m in my sixth month. I’m not perfect, but I’m better than I’ve ever been, and I have every intention of getting better.

But it wasn’t easy. From the very first day I was scheduled to check things out at Curves, there were major obstacles. Bus schedules, times when there were no seats on the bus, trying to get to the bus in the rain, the schedule at Curves itself–Chinese New Year for example, with it’s five days off, and then the two day deep cleaning break, which I didn’t know about (because I can’t read Chinese on the text message). Then there was the unexpected dip in income, which made me question whether or not I should continue, given the obstacles. If you’re interested in knowing more about the ups and downs of this endeavor, type CURVES in the search bar at the right of the blog.

But in the end, I am doing it. My progress is not as quick as I would like, but I am still at it, and my intention is to get back to three times a week in May. Hopefully, without too many more obstacles.

The next obstacle: dealing with the clutter in my life.

ONGOING OBLIGATIONS

I have to admit that even though the ongoing obligations can get me a little down sometimes, I am moving along more smoothly through them lately. There are still some little glitches along the way, but because of the above experience with working through obstacles with one major focus, it has become easier to apply that to other things. Although I can be good about planning, I sometimes set goals and then expect I can just figure out the steps to take me there by magic. So when it comes to the textbook project, this particular volume is going¬†much better. It’s not without its frustrations and I’d still rather not be doing it, but I’ve got a process in place that makes it easier to keep going, day by day. It will also be made easier when I tackle the clutter obstacle mentioned above.

The problem with the ongoing obligations is that they are often the result of glittery ideas that captured my attention, and I grabbed on without thinking. As much as I’d like to “move on” in my mind, these things still have to be taken care of. So I’ve had to make a plan that really gets me moving, so I can look to the next phase of my life and really focus on what’s important, and what I really want. This is the current aspect of Farther to Go! that I’m working on–figuring out What I Really Want.¬†Once I KNOW and am not just speculating, the path will be clear. (I pay attention in class.) Which takes us to the third category.

OBSERVING OPPORTUNITIES

To me this is where the real challenge lies. To observe the opportunities that come my way without automatically grabbing. To ask how they fit in with what I want. If they don’t bring me closer to what I want my life to be, just walk away. I have discovered there are things that I want to be doing, and that in order to do them, I have to keep overcoming obstacles, move past the ongoing obligations, and make sure that I observe the opportunities and be very selective about which ones I take.

Obviously, there are more opportunities out there than I can possibly find time for. And it’s not about seeing how much I can cram into my life, but about defining what I want that life to be and observing that not all opportunities fit that vision. It’s freeing to realize that opportunities taken on without thought are just one more form of clutter. Life is too short to life it buried under obstacles and obligations of one’s own making. Time to observe and focus on eliminating rather than collecting.