Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.
One of my favorite quotes ever is the one above. I used to think that commitment mostly applied to relationships, especially marriage, and of course responsibilities such as work. It occurred to me in my mid-twenties that commitment is really what turns dreams into realities. Period. Once I made the quote above my life mantra, it seemed as though nothing was impossible for me to achieve, as long as I stuck with it, even if I was gritting my teeth on certain days. So let’s talk Milestone Moments. Everyone has these special moments in their lives that mark goals and dreams that were achieved, no matter how small or large they may seem to others. Maybe you conquered your biggest fear or changed careers when you thought it was too late to. It’s these moments that add up and turn into this beautiful thing we call life! Inside, I share four of my “milestone moments” and what worked for me in succeeding along the way.
I’m inherently a dreamer. This is something that came along with being a huge bookworm growing up and always getting lost in fictional stories. I believe that nothing is impossible for one person to achieve, no matter how young or old they may be. Going from dreaming about something to actually achieving it takes a lot of work and a big dash of heart. Here are four of my “milestone moments” and how I achieved them. Hopefully my tips can help inspire you!
MILESTONE MOMENT: Moving 700 miles away and becoming a homeowner.
THE BEGINNING MOMENT: I remember thinking at some point near the end of college that being born, raised, and educated in New Jersey was both amazing and also incredibly expensive. New York City was just miles away from my childhood home, and I got to experience life in the northeast wholeheartedly for over twenty years. I started wondering how and when I would ever be able to afford my own home in a state that was, to put it mildly, expensive. From the very first apartment I rented, a home was always on my horizon. I wanted a place that I could call my own. A place where I was paying into a mortgage and not rent. I wanted to be able to paint the walls and have a backyard. In early 2007, I took a trip to South Carolina. It was during this trip that I discovered how beautiful the Palmetto State was, with its palm trees, sunshine, and friendly residents. I had seen how affordable the houses were, and how much you could get for your money. It was Memorial Day 2007 when my husband and I fell in love with a model home, purchased a dirt lot, and made the decision to move 700 miles away from all we had ever known. On August 15th, 2007, we closed on and moved into our brand new home that was built for us.
HOW I ACHIEVED THIS MOMENT: It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. The second I got back to New Jersey from South Carolina, I started researching homes and prices, as well as the financial details of applying for a mortgage. We made the commitment (see a theme here?) to travel back to SC on Memorial Day weekend to look at various neighborhoods. While we left that trip with a new address that consisted of dirt and weeds at the end of a cul de sac, the actual details had to be worked out. Truth be told, we still had to be approved for the actual mortgage through the bank, as well as find jobs in the south. Oh, yeah, we were having a home built 700 miles away from us and we hadn’t secured new jobs yet. It sounds crazy, and it was. We are typically much more responsible than that, but what made it a success was committing to making the details fall in place, no matter what.
TIPS FOR ACHIEVING THIS MOMENT: While we found jobs from 700 miles away and were set by the time we got here in August, I definitely recommend trying to secure a new job somewhere first. Life doesn’t always work out exactly as you had penciled it in, so sometimes taking the risk like we did is inherently worth it. Many companies are willing to offer you relocation money to offset the cost of moving, especially long distance. Every little bit helps when it comes to moving hundreds of miles away. Be persistent and stay involved in your paperwork. It took constant contact with our home builder and mortgage company in order to keep things going and going smoothly. Don’t be afraid to be involved in the fine print. Call, e-mail, and be present in your process. There were many times I felt I was being overly aggressive or pushy by e-mailing my home builder for the twentieth time in one week, but in the end it prevented design and construction errors and helped them understand our interior preferences. It was particularly difficult because the home was built without us being in the same state, so we relied on our building agent to take photographs for us and update us on the status of our home. Never feel that you’re being a nuisance or too pushy. This is your home and your investment, and one of the largest ones you’ll ever make.
MILESTONE MOMENT: Changing career paths and starting my website/blog, BeautyGala.com.
THE BEGINNING MOMENT: My college major was elementary education with a minor in English. As I started to go into the field of education and complete classroom hours, something didn’t feel right. I enjoyed teaching and helping others, but it wasn’t lighting my inner fire the way I thought it would. Flash forward to me living in South Carolina feeling a bit like a lost puppy who had no home. What was it that I wanted to do? What was I passionate about? I was huge into photography, and I loved makeup, hair, and all things beauty. I would often take pictures of myself with various makeup looks and hairstyles, and those close to me would ask me how I did it. As the Facebook messages came in, asking for advice on the perfect lipstick for their skin tone or my favorite long-lasting foundation, it occurred to me what I was meant to do. I enjoyed teaching, I loved photography, and I was always into writing. A beauty website where I could help others was calling my name.
HOW I ACHIEVED THIS MOMENT: I’ll be honest with you…it didn’t happen immediately. I kept procrastinating with my idea, and didn’t know where to start. I committed to getting my blog up and consulted with my husband, an IT professional, about designing my site. While I know enough about graphic design to be dangerous, he did all the coding and technical work. On March 17th, 2010, Beauty Gala was officially born and became my baby. It wasn’t easy at first. I remember being excited when checking my Google Analytics and seeing 50 people had visited my site that day. I began to grow my social media presence through Twitter and networked with other bloggers. I made a vow to try to post every single day, because after all, the top blogs are updated often. By summer, I had received my first contact with a brand to receive press samples and do a review on my website. From there, it’s all history. It’s been over three years now and the growth has been tremendous. I am fortunate enough to be writing this blog post now because I worked hard every single day to create blog content and engage with those who visited my site.
TIPS FOR ACHIEVING THIS MOMENT: When in doubt, just start. I waited several months before actually designing and starting my site. Once it was designed, it was easy to start posting and get the momentum going. It’s sort of like exercise…the first step is always the hardest. If you’re looking to change careers and you’re not sure what your path entails, write down up to five things you’re extremely passionate about on a piece of paper. Don’t include casual hobbies or interests, only things that you do on a regular basis that really get you going, things that you could talk to others about for hours. Once you’ve written them down, stare at your passions. Can you combine them in any way to create a career? For instance, if you love photography and children, maybe you could pursue a photography business doing maternity and child photo-shoots. If what you’re looking to do is a blog, my advice would be to get started on a design as soon as possible. Whether you do it yourself or pay someone else, getting your design up and your website functional is half the battle. Post every single day or as often as your schedule permits after that. The most popular blogs are updated on a regular basis and contain interesting content and photographs. Pour yourself into the social media scene using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Submit your blog to blogging circle websites. Thank every single reader and be gracious to every person you talk to. Create engaging content on a regular basis, and use social media regularly, and you will start to gain loyal readers.
MILESTONE MOMENT: Conquering my fears and anxiety.
THE BEGINNING MOMENT: I was twenty years old when I had my first panic attack. The term “panic attack” is often used loosely in conversation, and I can assure you that my first panic attack was nothing like the exaggerated word I had used in the past. I had tunnel vision, my heart was pounding, I felt like I couldn’t breathe or even swallow. A trip to the doctor that day made me realize that I had a clean bill of health. I was experiencing a panic attack for the first time, and it wouldn’t be my last. Throughout my twenties, I continued having these, some worse than others. It affected my daily life at times until I made the decision to conquer my fears and anxiety.
HOW I ACHIEVED THIS MOMENT: I sought the help of a professional where I was diagnosed with panic disorder officially. I learned coping mechanisms that I needed to retrain my brain daily to use. I became deeply involved in exercise to release excess energy. I began journaling where I wrote down my fears and concerns. I realized that while scary in the moment, facing my fears head on was the way to get over them. I went para-sailing with my husband and I remember being scared out of my mind. Once we were floating up in the sky in nothing but a harness, I remember how quiet and peaceful it was. It was a gorgeous summer day and I was lucky enough to have a birds eye view of everything. Afterward, with the rush of adrenaline still in me, I realized that it was an incredible experience. Now, I don’t shy away from adventurous activities. On my birthday in 2008, my husband and I biked down Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii, a 10,000 foot elevation.
TIPS FOR ACHIEVING THIS MOMENT: Panic disorder and anxiety disorder are often best treated by a professional. I held out for a long time seeking professional help, but once I did, I learned techniques for calming my breathing and coping with my worries. There is no shame in seeking out a professional if your anxieties start to affect your life on a daily basis. Some things that worked for me: deep breathing, meditation, exercising on a daily basis, creating a schedule, journaling, talking to others with similar issues, and facing my fears head on.
MILESTONE MOMENT: Exercising regularly and eating whole, healthy foods.
THE BEGINNING MOMENT: This moment goes hand-in-hand with my previous milestone of conquering my anxiety. One of the first things that was recommended to me was to exercise on a daily basis. It was the dead of winter and I would wake up at 6:45am and go for a run in the 25 degree weather. I was willing to do whatever it took. I had a bit of an epiphany during this time. This is the only body I have been given, so I need to nurture it and treat it kindly.
HOW I ACHIEVED THIS MOMENT: I was a big runner in high school and college, so I returned to my roots. Something about my feet hitting the pavement, the ache in my legs, the steady breathing…it was always the most effective form of exercise for me. I enjoy running. I began to include strength routines in with my cardio. I now exercise 5-6 times a week formally, though I try to move each and every single day in some way, even if it’s swimming during the summer or walking the dogs. I overhauled my eating habits big time. I’ve always loved vegetables and had a diverse palate for food, so that wasn’t a problem. It was the fast food and the ordering of high-calorie foods in social situations that I needed to change. I stopped eating fast food altogether, and it helped to always be prepared. When you’re most hungry, you’ll reach for whatever is in sight, so I kept healthy food in the house that I could easily reach for instead of fast food. I planned my meals out for the week and did my food shopping on Sunday so there were no takeout dinners during the week. When out to eat, I ordered a salad to start with always, and kept away from anything fried or in a cream sauce. I am not on a diet plan of any kind, I simply choose to eat foods that are in their purest, simplest, most whole form possible.
TIPS FOR ACHIEVING THIS MOMENT: Whether your goal is to lose weight, tone up, or simply change your habits, it’s not easy. In fact, I would rate this milestone as the hardest out of the others. I know that sounds crazy, but changing your habits is difficult. Maintaining good habits is even more difficult. You can use a food journal or an app on your phone that lets you log your food intake and calories if that helps you stay accountable. I choose not to count calories, instead making sure that I can pronounce every ingredient in 90% of the food I take in. I believe in a 90/10 approach. 90% of the time I eat healthy, whole foods and 10% of the time I allow myself to eat sweets or something unhealthy. Choose what works for you at first. You may need to start off with a 50/50 approach at first, but don’t beat yourself up because every little bit counts. Overhaul your kitchen and pantry and get rid of bad foods that you know you’ll reach for. It may sound hard to believe but we never keep sweets or sugary snacks in our house. I know that if they are there, I will reach for those. Start out exercising 2-3 times per week. Do something that you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, swimming, walking, or playing a sport. Even if you feel like you’re moving at a snail pace, remember: you’re still lapping everyone on the couch. Measure and track your progress using a flexible tape measure. Scales don’t always show progress, but measuring your arms, legs, and waist can show inches lost. Start an inspiration board. I keep a dry-erase marker board in my office that maps out my fitness and health goals for the week. I use neon markers to caption my attention every day and keep it fun. Most importantly, if you slip up with a meal or skip a day of exercise, get right back on the wagon immediately. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week to continue your goals. Accept that you’re human and you slipped on your commitment and make your next meal a healthy one. I also find that buying cute workout clothes and sneakers helps keep me motivated. I keep my workout clothes near my bed to remind me to work out. I also invested in a heart rate monitor watch that counts calories burned specifically for my height and weight. It helps challenge me and I always compete with myself to beat my last workout!
Milestone Moments are fun to reflect on. They help you feel good about yourself and your goals, as well as keep you on track for future goals and dreams. What are your milestone moments? Leave them in the comments below!
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