Guest Pep Talk [Allie Seidel]: Why announcing your goal is half the battle.

Processed with VSCOcam with a4 presetCongrats! You’re halfway there! Goal setting is as much a part of my life for me as brushing my teeth or getting dressed in the morning (which, let’s hope, are two things that happen on the daily).

Since August of this year, I’ve chosen a few goals each month and have written about them publicly. (See August, September, October and current November goals here.) I’ve found that simply writing my goals down and making them public gives me an extra push to achieve them. Additionally, I love looking back and seeing something that seemed so far off at the time and realizing that I’ve accomplished it.

So naturally, I love NoExNo and have participated for a few years, some years with success, others not so much. My NoExNo goal this year was an interesting choice. I picked “launch the holiday line in my shop” even though I knew I had this planned for Nov. 3rd.  So did this leave the rest of November “goal-less” for me? Hardly. When I chose this goal, I knew that I needed to get the holiday line out earlier than the last day in November, so moving it to a later date wouldn’t help, and I was also aware that I could pick a “smaller” goal that I could technically be working towards every day in November.  But, since my biggest goal all month was the launch, the early date didn’t matter to me so much as the concept behind announcing it as my goal.

When I set that goal in October, I had no idea what the extent of my holiday line was going to look like. I had big dreams, but wasn’t sure how to reach them. It unfolded over the course of a few weeks to include stamps, 8×10 art prints, and Christmas cards, most of which were only far-off ideas when I set the launch date. Despite the uncertainties, I knew I needed to announce this goal in order to make it happen. This is why I love NoExNo, because everyone is announcing together, and I know that for me, this tiny steps makes a huge difference in helping to make my seemingly far-off goals a reality.

So, announce I did, on multiple platforms including NoExNo, and I set the date. The weekend before I was frantic, learning skills I didn’t yet have (hello, Photoshop) and spent many late nights and early mornings struggling through it. But, since I knew I had announced it, I pressed on because I had set this as a personal and public expectation. And then, magically it all came together and I launched it. And today, a week in, it’s live and it’s selling.

Sometimes achieving goals doesn’t look like a linear path, but more like a maze: two steps forward and fourteen steps backward, with plenty of road blocks and wrong turns, but the feeling I get when I finally accomplish my goals is the reason why I’ll hopefully continue to be a goal-setter (and goal-announcer!) for the rest of my life.

So, NoExNos, be encouraged! Know that by simply sharing you goal here, you are on your way to achieving it. Keep going after what you want, and telling people about it. You’ve already won by being courageous enough to announce your goal. Now, get after it!

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Allie Seidel lives in Seattle with her husband. Find her sometimes blogging on alliewaydesign.com, and always instagramming @allieseidel

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Guest Pep Talk [Alison Kranz]: 14 Things I’ve Learned from 14 Months of Giving Zero Fucks

Above, my Zero Fucks Protégé Haley and I demonstrate the Team Zero Fucks secret hand signal which combines the round “zero” of thumb and forefinger with the ASL sign for the letter “F” to provide a comprehensive sign that laymen assume means “AOK.”

Recently, I realized I have three guiding life tenets:

  1. Give zero fucks
  2. If it makes you laugh, do it
  3. Say what you mean and mean what you say

For the sake of this post, I will focus on tenet #1, which I have upheld wholeheartedly since August 2013. Note that I am referring to “fucks” as a noun (though there was a sad, dark expanse of time where I was upholding “zero fucks” in its verb form as well).

You might think “zero fucks” is the opposite of “no excuses,” but I assure you it’s not. At its essence, “zero fucks” means “say yes” and “just do it”; don’t spend too much time overthinking your actions, and certainly don’t spend any time caring what others think. Eliminate that doubt and do what you know, in your gut, is right for you.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my ongoing practice of giving zero fucks:

  1. If you are tall and wondering whether or not to wear those five-inch platform heels, the answer is “yes.”
  2. You have no responsibility to respond to text messages from your ex. Especially when he refers to you by an old pet name.
  3. As soon as someone says something the least bit offensive on a dating website, block them—that’s what the command is there for. (“I would love to sniff your ass” is not an acceptable opening line.) Remember: If it’s not “fuck yes,” it’s “fuck no.”
  4. If you want to listen to one song on repeat for an entire month, do it. (Exhibits  A, B, C, D, E, F.) And be sure to sing at the top of your lungs. Definitely when you’re in the car, sometimes even when you’re walking across town.
  5. It’s your scrapbook. It’s totally okay if you want to fill it with pictures of unintentionally explicit newspaper headlines and store signs you’ve come across.
  6. If you’re a lady, the pickup line “Excuse me, would you like to makeout?” is very effective on the gentlemen.
  7. Your iPhone autocorrect is smart enough to change “makeout” to “MAKEOUTS.”
  8. If Lady Gaga is playing a show on a Saturday within driving distance from your house, you buy a ticket. Even though you’ve already seen her once this year. (She is the original zero fucks inspiration, of course.)
  9. It’s all right if you want to watch Aziz Ansari’s Buried Alive special seven times within as many months. You’ll still laugh out loud every time.
  10. When you bicycle home in the morning from the house of the HOT MAN you’ve been seeing, refer to it as a “bike ride of pride,” which is the exact opposite of a “walk of shame.”
  11. If you are feeling like you are giving too much of a fuck, go out for a (really fast) run until your brain is cleared.
  12. Life is too short for binding, underwired bras. Embrace the stretchy, soft cup bra, and—when it gets cold—let those nipples fly free. At least they’re comfortable when they do.
  13. Let people read your writing, even if you are afraid of showing a little too much of yourself (or others).
  14. No one’s stopping you but you.

I encourage you to embrace the practice of zero fucks this November and beyond. Who knows what might end up on your own personal list of zero fucks triumphs?

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Alison Kranz is an editor, writer, observer, runner, and abundantly photogenic model. She likes wordplay, flânerie, typing, squares, surrealism, and consistent correspondence. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @alisondearest.

Guest Pep Talk [Eric Joppa]: On Rising Again

NoExNos,

Last year was a miserable failure for me. I set out with the best of intentions. I wanted to inspire, be inspired and change my life. Instead, I changed nothing, inspired no one, and was jealous of all you who made good change. I was true to our little group’s name and gave no excuse. I just wallowed in my guilty filth.

Then, I came face to face with my need for change and could no longer put it off.

I have lost 55 lbs. so far and have just finished my master’s degree.

So why am I writing? Easy: I need to.

I have lost 55 lbs. since June. Not bad, but I began my journey at the hefty number of 330 lbs. I know sit at 275 lbs. I have 75 lbs. more to lose, and I have been struggling.

In the last week and a half, I have had life hit me in the diet plan. Traveling, speaking, and some arrogance, has derailed me and I lost nothing this week. I also know that I have been half @$$ing my efforts. This fact came home to roost the other night.

I coach my son’s flag football team. (We are REALLY good, btw. I should be in the youth flag football HOF for coaching) I was talking to a father, who lost 70 lbs and looks great, and another boy’s mother, who is on the same journey I am on and is close to her 50th pound lost. You Go Marcella!

As we were talking, we were planning how we would eat at the end of the year party, discussing how we would avoid the inevitable pizza for dinner. A “cheat” day was suggested when Kenny, the dad who has lost 70 lbs. and looks great, said, “Nope. My cheat day (in maintenance mode) is Sunday. Can’t change it. I’ve lost 70 lbs. and I don’t want it back.”

WOW. Now that is dedication. I want to be like that.

I am now in his journey. I am going to lose 75lbs. more. I am not going to get it back. So here is my plan for November.

I am going to:

Lose 20lbs or more in November. (Or, 30 lbs. between Oct. 23rd and the end of November.)

Be in the Gym 5 days each week, and active on the weekends.

Prepare all of my meals meticulously, down to the last gram of fat.

Post all of my activity as accountability.

I know what you are thinking… “Here he goes again, making all these big Goals…SMH”

The difference is, I know what I have to do, and how to do it. I just need to be more serious than I have been.

I invite you, NoExNos, to join me in lofty, crazy, life-changing goals.  Your goal could be to stay away from caffeine, drink less alcohol (yeah right),  ask that amazing girl to marry you… whatever it might be, let’s do it together. Let’s get moving and make change!

You can follow my journey at ericjoppa.tumblr.com

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Eric is a regular guy, a former student, a father, husband and pastor.  He is also a follower of Jesus, but he totally sucks at it.

NoExNo: You’re Doing it Wrong/Right

successThis year, NoExNo got me good. And I don’t think I’m alone when I say that it’s been an uphill battle. But, I’m still learning, and I hope you are too.

This year, I’ve learned to count my blessings along with my failures. Sometimes, when I fail to succeed at something, that’s all I can think about. But I often forget/ don’t give myself credit for the things I’m doing right.

When I read my dear friend Ashley Simmons’ Pep Talk, I realized that sometimes we take our failures too seriously and our successes too lightly. For Ashley, that meant that while she was feeling like a failure for not managing to stick to her NoExNo goal, she failed to give herself credit for being a new mom, a wife, a friend, a full-time employee, et al. Finally, she gave herself some credit for the fact that even though she didn’t get to exercise as much as she had hoped, she never let excuses get in the way of caring for her beautiful daughter.

This week, I ask you to briefly acknowledge what you need to work on, but to focus on what you are doing right. Are you working hard at your job? Are you a good friend? Mother? Son? Great at drinking wine? There are so many things you are succeeding at that you might be taking for granted.

So, if you feel like a failure, you’re doing it wrong. The point of NoExNo is not to condemn those who don’t complete their goals (who would cast the first stone?), the point is to encourage each other to do something brave. Well, today I am encouraging you to remember what you are doing right.

Give yourself a mini pep talk today, and remember: you’re doing it right*.

*That’s what she said.

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Allison Baker is a legal assistant, marketing director, writer, career procrastinator and the founder of No Excuses November. You can find more of her here, here, and here.

Guest Pep Talk (Ashley Simmons): How I’m succeeding and failing all at the same time.

I set very reasonable goals for myself this year.  Very reasonable.  Things were going well, but I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “I can so do this, and I will even go above and beyond. This is going to be awesome!”  Well, spoiler alert, it wasn’t awesome.

As many of you know I had the experience of carrying, birthing, and caring for a beautiful baby girl this year.   Everyone tells you how hard it is going to be. Some really lovely people tell you how amazing it is going to be. And in truth, it is both. However, somehow my Husband and I ended up with a really wonderful child. She was eating on a predictable schedule and sleeping at minimum of 7 hours a night at 7 weeks old.  There were a few bumps in the road, but really, it was great.

This little pumpkin is the adorable reason I don't sleep anymore.

This little pumpkin is the adorable reason I don’t sleep anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward to end of October. I have a 4-month-old and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m thinking I have the hang of things as a full time working Mom. I was excited to getting back to being more regimented about my exercise routine and healthy eating habits (pregnancy had thrown me a bit off course). Then November rolls around and BLAMO! My daughter regresses. Now she is waking up every 3 hours at night, she refuses to take her naps, and she wants to eat, what feels like, all the time. To make matters worse, over the following weeks I got a terrible cold, followed by awful allergies, followed by my fifth and worst breast infection yet. If you have never had a breast infection (I have no clue if men or non-nursing women can even get them), think really bad flu/high fever/can’t get out of bed/want to die/lots of pain/but still have to feed and take care of a baby. I was distraught and exhausted. November was supposed to be my month. My month to get back on track. My month to have no excuses.

Now my goals were reasonable.  I wanted to exercise 1-2 times per week and just cut out processed/refined sugars.  I had cut out processed sugars before and it really wasn’t so bad. In fact, after a little while you completely stop craving them. Yet I found myself refusing to read certain labels because if I didn’t “know” that there was processed sugar in it, then I could somehow pretend that it was okay to eat.  Yes, I somehow pretended away the sugar in Ketchup and BBQ sauce this month. As far as the exercise goes, 1-2 time a week was what I was already doing prior to November so no big deal. Ha! All of the sudden I would realize that the end of the week was here and I hadn’t even gone for a walk. So I would park my car further out at the grocery store. This way I could say I got some “exercise” while walking to and fro. I was carrying my 15 lbs daughter in her 13 lbs car seat, so that makes it a little better, right? Obviously this wasn’t how I wanted my goals to go.

I knew I could do better. But all the things that were happening were real, and felt real. I tried so hard not to let them become excuses. But some days I was just too tired to care (that’s an excuse right there…) that I was failing.

Then it hit me. It hit me in an exhausted stupor. There is one area that of my life in which I make no excuses. No matter how tired, sick, or discouraged I am I will always hold, feed, care for, and love my daughter. No excuses. She wouldn’t understand them anyways.

My NoExNo goals, my goals, may not being going as planned, but at least I know that I am capable of pressing forward through all the obstacles without excuses. Now I just need to work on transferring that skill to other areas. I won’t stop trying. No excuses.

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Ashley Simmons is a full-time employee, part-time photographer, and mother to a beautiful baby girl.

Ashley is tired.

Guest Pep Talk (Bryce McEfee): The Demons of Resistence

to-practice-any-art-no-matter-how-well-or-badly-is-a-way-to-make-your-soul-grow-so-do-it

 

As I wade in my self-imposed pool of excuses on this beautiful fall afternoon, I wonder what it is that I am truly making excuses for.  Why do I keep myself from doing things that I really do want to do?  What am I hiding from?  If I take a deep look and shift through my guarded bullshit, I find a scared little boy.  A boy whom is afraid to take a significant leap in any direction for no apparent reason at all, other than a misguided complacent comfort.  It’s easy to do nothing. Its safe, its what we know and its completely controllable with minimal effort.

For example – I want to write.  I love writing.  It is a calming place for me to go, but it’s also a scary place for me to go. My mind wanders constantly with fantastical ideas of stories, poems, rantings, etc. that I want to write down and share, but when I put pen to paper, I hesitate.  The ideas I felt in my mind suddenly become self aware when faced with a penned actuality.  I get an overwhelming feeling that I will not be able to adequately translate what I saw in my head down on paper.  So, a lot of times I don’t.  My excuse…I’m not a good writer, so it just doesn’t matter anyway.  With each excuse fades away another idea, whether truly good or not, left to die with the unknown.

It’s funny how I allow an unknown dictate my decisions.  It’s an unknown.  The outcome could be either what I want, what I fear or a completely different outcome I did not think of and yet when I choose to not take that leap, I automatically end up with the outcome I feared…failure.   But it’s easy to disguise this failure.  After all, I didn’t attempt writing what I wanted to.  I didn’t have to go through the struggle of trying, there isn’t any physical evidence that I failed so in a sense – out of sight, out of mind.  It never happened.  Wrong.  The only thing I succeeded at was making up an excuse to mask my failure.  It was the easy way out.

Even as I sit here writing this, I want to delete it.  However, to my extreme mixed pleasure, I sometimes conquer my fear and actually get something out of my mind.  Some writings are better than others and other times they are complete shit, but regardless of the outcome, it feels fantastic.  It feels fantastic to break complacency and live in the world just outside my guarded box.  Yes there is a risk of failure, but our accomplishments would not feel as grand if their wasn’t that risk of failure.  Life without risk, is not a life at all.  One can never grow without reaching outside their comfort zone and chasing risk.  Even if that risk is as simple as writing down what’s on your mind.

I want to share a quote from one of my favorite authors and inspirations that helps remind me to keep reaching beyond my fear.

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.  Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  You will get an enormous reward.  You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut

I believe this quote goes beyond just the arts.  It transcends over everything we do and want to accomplish, but are too afraid of making the effort in fear of failing.  The majority of life is made up of decisions that are not a matter of life and death, so what is truly the worse that can happen?  I’ll tell you what the worse is that can happen…that you never try. So why make excuses?  Go out and accomplish what you truly want.  The fact that you are reading this is proof that I just did and it feels damn good.
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Bryce McEfee is one of the founding members of Last Week’s Memoir.  He writes stories (like this and this) and serves as the chief business manager and all around rabble rouser for the Sacramento based art/story ultra lounge web upstart. Most days you can find him pretending to write a novel about his life long love for zombies, kicking around a soccer ball annoyingly wherever he goes, doing that thing he does to make real money and last, but certainly not least, spending time with his little hellion of a kitten and angelic wife.

How to Succeed at NoExNo Without Even Dying

successNOEX

We’re 5 days into November, which probably means you are thinking (panicking) about how you will conquer your goal(s) before month’s end. If you’re anything like me (severely lacking motivation without structure), you may be trying to figure out the best strategy to ensure that on November 30th, you can confidently give yourself a pat on the back for completing your goal.

To make sure we all cross the finish line together, here are some of my tips for fool-proofing your NoExNo success:

Refine your goal.

I encourage you to make your goal as specific as you can. For example, if your goal is to “eat healthier,” try modifying it to something easier to keep track of, like “I will only eat whole foods,” or “I will not eat refined sugars.” The more specific you are, the more confident you will be that you have reached your goal.

One of my NoExNo goals is to “finish the Warm + Fuzzy Project.” For me, this means that I will write and send warm + fuzzy notes to the 60+ people who signed up to receive them this year. When I send off the last warm + fuzzy note, I will know that I have completed my NoExNo goal.*

Make your goal quantifiable.

Along the same lines, make your goal quantifiable, if possible. Last year, it was easy to know if I had completed my goal because my goal was to write 1,000 words every day. If your goal is something along the lines of “work out more,” “sleep more,” or “read more,” consider modifying your goal to make it easier to keep track of. How many minutes of exercise will you complete per week? How many hours of sleep per night will you get? How many books will you read? It’s much easier to throw in the towel if you can’t be confident every day that you are doing something to meet your goal.

Give yourself a plan of attack.

Once you have a clear idea of what it means to complete your goal, you can create a plan to accomplish it. For me, this means setting a daily or weekly goal to accomplish. In order to meet my goal, I have decided to complete 15 warm + fuzzy notes on a weekly basis. This may look different for you. Unless your goal is to help me complete mine, in which case: I love you.

If you want to complete a project, how will you make progress toward its completion?

Don’t be afraid to refine and modify your goal. If I learned anything last year, it’s that our goals were dynamic. They took on lives of their own. While I originally set out last year to complete a screenplay, I ended up starting entirely new projects and contributing Pep Talks to NoExNo. I invite you to be flexible and forgiving with yourself when you don’t meet your goal just as you planned. You can change your goal if you need to.

Good luck, NoExNos!

 * you can make my goal even more challenging by signing up to receive a warm + fuzzy note.

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Allison Baker is a content marketer, novice improviser, and expert bourbon connoisseur. She is the founder of No Excuses November and is a very skilled procrastinator.