Do What You Can…Today

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IMG 72631   Do What You Can…Today

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The Silly Things We Say

Do What You Can…Today

I’ve talked a lot about finding happiness within ourselves and with our careers, and to this day, it remains one of the topics I am emailed about the most. I really didn’t realize just how many people struggled with these things until I talked about my own experiences. Opening up to others was one of the reasons that I was able to work through many issues in my life. Who knows where I would be right now, had I not let myself feel vulnerable.

It is isolating when you are going through a tough time on your own. I always felt like there was something wrong with me for feeling unhappy with myself and circumstances and I was ashamed to even talk about it with my friends and family for fear that they would think I was a failure. I remember sitting in one of my very first graduate classes, thinking ‘What am I doing here?’

I bottled everything up inside and I put on a happy face, but little did I know this was the worst thing I could have done. For many years, I convinced myself that I was not worthy of happiness because my problems were my own ‘fault’.

But today, I’m so over the whole perfectionism thing. Really…I’m over it.

We all struggle. Many of us struggle with accepting ourselves, finding a happy weight, deciding what to take in school, paying the bills, relationships, health problems, when to start a family, career satisfaction, and balancing everything in between. No one walked away from me when I finally confessed that I struggled with an eating disorder (they knew all along, anyways) or when I quit my job and I hit an all-time low in my life. If anyone did, they probably weren’t worth it in the first place.

How did I cope during tough moments?

The most important factor for me was talking about it…not only to friends and family, but to a counselor. I also used to display my favourite inspiring quotes in my offices. I would tape them on my computer screen or tack them to the wall. I was known as the quote girl by my friends. ;)

For the two years I was a grad student, I had this quote taped to my office wall:

IMG 21141   Do What You Can…Today

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I tend to worry about the future too much. This quote helps me to live in the moment as much as I can. It also teaches me that every day may not present the ‘perfect’ circumstances or opportunities, but we can still work with what we’ve got each day and make the best of it.

I CAN’T…

1) Predict the future

2) Control other people’s actions, thoughts, or feelings

3) Determine the outcome of my choices

 

However, I CAN…

1) Learn from yesterday

2) Take action today (no matter how small)

3) Plan for the future (even if the plans ultimately do not work out!)

4) Challenge myself, but never expect perfection.

5) Ask for help.

6) Eat chocolate.

 

Plans are great, but the greatest teacher is experience. Don’t beat yourself up for decisions that you make that may not work out because with everything you try out, you are that much closer to finding something that works for you.

Have you ever done something you thought was a huge ‘mistake’ and it turned out to be a valuable lesson in your life… or even life-changing?

What positive action can you make today to help an area of struggle in your life?

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{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle February 9, 2011

I love being over perfectionism! I feel like in school, there are concrete things to strive for in order to be perfect. Grades, sports, etc. For me, in real life, the definition of perfection is really hazy, so I tossed it out the window. Now I do what makes me happy. The people in my life love me for who I am, and those are the people that I choose to surround myself with. Like you said, those are the people that don’t walk away when you let your flaws show.

I am now in a field that has nothing to do with what I studied in school or what I thought I would be when I grow up, and I’ve come to terms with it. I’m helping people, I’m good at it, and I’m happy. I wish the same for everyone!

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Alex @ Healing Beauty February 9, 2011

Today I am going to try and change my outlook and not demand perfection from myself. I tend to get upset at myself for even the slightest misstep and I think it’s crucial to remember that I’m just human, I’m not perfect, and yet I’m still OK.

Thank you for such an honest and open post. It can be difficult to be so personal but I know all your readers and myself included appreciate it.

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Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn February 9, 2011

I love this! Thank you Ang, this is exactly what I needed today! Lately, life has not been as easy as I would like, but this is what I have to keep reminding myself, and that I come first in my life.

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Meesh February 9, 2011

Haha, eat chocolate made me laugh out loud.
Love this post!

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(what runs) Lori February 9, 2011

Your words gave me chills. I am seeking change but finding peace with letting go of TRYING to change everything. Instead, I’m working on the things that I can change, and I’m so much happier because of it (even though I’m still not exactly enjoying career satisfaction YET).
You are so inspirational! Thank you!

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Moni'sMeals February 9, 2011

such a good post. you are 100% correct, We must talk and get it out. You are so beautiful in and out for sharing and being real and helping so many…..and
6.) chocolate—– thanks heavens!

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Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete February 9, 2011

What a great post — To be honest, I feel like “I don’t belong” or “this was a huge mistake” in any job I have ever had. But you know what? I never would have met my husband if I had not made the decisions I did — there is no way! Starting with my college major choice and ending with a few odd jobs/volunteer opportunities — all of those lead me to him and to where we are today.

It felt like my life sucked at the time, and I kept thinking I ma making horrible decisions and I was miserable. But I stuck it out and worked with what I had and I made it work. I’m glad I did.

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Traci(faithfulfoodiefashionista) February 9, 2011

Thanks I needed this….perfect timing :)

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Melissa @ Vegan CacaoBee February 9, 2011

I love that quote! I can work on being more patient.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 9, 2011

ALL the time. Some many thing in my life haven’t gone as planned, but whoa – I wouldn’t trade where I am not for anything.

Can you imagine if you were still with the person you said you’d love forever in your 8th grade diary?! LOL! :)

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Michelle February 9, 2011

I have a lot of those experiences, and they’ve all shaped me for the better. It’s so refreshing to feel that way now, especially when I struggled through them. One of the big ones was a relationship I was in. I stumbled upon a quote that seriously hit it on the mark:

“a true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. but to live with a soul mate forever? nah. too painful. soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. a soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, and make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.”
— elizabeth gilbert

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter February 9, 2011

Another absolutely beautiful post. I was just reminscing on how I was working on a group project earlier this term and absolutely struggling working with my partner–he disregarded any of my input, ignored my answers to problems he didn’t understand and so on. We ended up getting an okay grade, but I felt so disregarded especially when I understood the class and the concepts much better than he did.

I was thinking of applying this to another group project I’m working on. A different partner and I were talking about strategies for graphs, but I guess I didn’t allow her to talk enough because when the TA called on her to share her thoughts they were great! I need to apply my own experiences to now.

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Kath (My Funny Little Life) February 9, 2011

Hi Angela,

thank you so much for this lovely post! There’s so much wisdom in it! And I can relate so well to many things you’ve written about! (I’ve read some of your backgrounds on your blog, so I know about your struggles with switching frm research to your own bakery business, and your eating disorder.)

I tend to be an anxiety person myself. I call it “mind monster growing”, and I always have to be careful that those mind monster don’t get too big. I have struggled and still am struggling with food, but it’s going upwards thanks to speaking about it with close friends and getting therapy. So I absolutely agree that withdrawing into isolation tends to make everything worse, and although I’m a very introvert person, I feel that exchanging about these things helps a lot.

A thing I use to say to myself is that everything is okay and I’ll be fine, and that there’s nothing to be afraid about because things turn out somehow anyway, and I’ll be able to handle it and be happy someway. My past experiences have shown me that, regardless what happened and how difficult it was by then, I was able to get through it and become stronger afterwards. That’s very encouraging.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 9, 2011

I love what you say to yourself when feeling anxious…good tips! :)

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laura February 9, 2011

How uplifting :)
I am struggling with an eating disorder,and although every day is a struggle, I am learning, challenging myself, and growing into a better person.

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ashley@quasichick February 9, 2011

I couldn’t agree more. Life is about today, don’t get caught up in yesterday its just not worth it!

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Sarah (Flavoropolis) February 9, 2011

Great advice! I believe that everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure whether there is some cosmic force controlling the universe and making sure things turn out for the best, but I believe everything can be for the best if you decide to make it that way. Even the worst experiences have an upside, and if you take the time to look for them you can find them. I’ve learned all of my valuable lessons from mistakes!

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Jodi February 9, 2011

This post couldn’t be more timely! Love that quote – it has a way of setting my head right when it tries to get to far ahead and I can’t see the things to be grateful for right in front of myself. Thank you for posting! :)

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Ruth February 9, 2011

Thank you for the inspiring post. I definitely needed it today. Winter is always a hard time for me, and today was one of the tough ones. Thanks for the reminder that I can’t control everything and that sometimes I need to just do what I can right now instead of waiting for it to be the perfect moment. It’ll never be that perfect moment if I just sit on my butt and wait for it to show up.

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Meg February 9, 2011

Amen. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life and the funny thing is they keep popping up because we’re only human and like you said, hindsight and learning the hard way is the best teacher.

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Emma February 9, 2011

Thank you so much for this post. I about about to embark on a very exciting but scary journey: I am moving to New Zealand to study for 5 months. I am BIG on planning, but not knowing what it is going to be like once I am living there, this has been hard to do! Wondering what bank to use, what to do about a cell phone, who I’m going to meet, even where I’m going to buy groceries keeps me up at night! But this post has reminded me that no matter how much I worry, I can’t predict or control what will happen. I just need to go with it. I’m SUPER excited!

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Briana February 9, 2011

This post felt calming to read. Thank you. I am currently in an intense doctoral program AND a long distance relationship with someone I love very much. Stress comes from many directions, but in a strange way it helps. Recognizing the challenges and having negative experiences only teaches us to understand and appreciate the things that do make us happy even more.

Your blog is a great place. This is my first comment to you, but I am newly vegan and have tried a few of your recipes…all wonderful. I’m grateful for blogs like yours!

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Lauren @ Color Me Happy February 9, 2011

Oh my goodness! I just want to add to the chorus above — I really needed this right now! With so many of us saying this, it really must be that lots of us feel this way a lot of the time.

I thought it was going to be a huge mistake when I left a PhD program early, but now that I’m studying what I want to study (and I know what I want to be “when I grow up” finally!) I know it was the best choice.

Thanks again for being inspiring and awesome Angela!
Lauren

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Cilla February 10, 2011

I have just been suffering from a severe bout of depression, and had the last few weeks of my last job on sick leave.
This week, I have started in a new, more senior position, and started a PhD (that I planned when well).
At times, I have been almost crushed with self-doubt, and felt that I should be doing ‘better”, whatever that is.
Your post has helped me (as has the chat with the psychologist). I will post your Roosevelt saying over my desk.

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Cilla February 10, 2011

Also, I hope you do not mind, but I have copied some stuff off this post to my blog, with full credit and a link to you. Mainly to remind myself :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2011

np!~ :)

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Jess S February 10, 2011

Another beautiful post!
Again, thank you.

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Carrie (Moves 'N Munchies) February 10, 2011

i haven’t experience anything yet, but i do have to make a pretty big decision in the next year or so that im TERRIFIEd for and it will be hard at the time, but in the long run i think it should be better- i hope. so i needed this!

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Lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner February 10, 2011

I really like these Daily Glow posts a lot. My “biggest mistake” was not going to college right out of high school. I was clinically depressed in high school, and when I finished I felt totally burnt out, plus I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life. Everyone around me flipped out when I said I was taking time off; they were sure I’d never go back. Instead, I moved from Iowa to New York (where I have extended family), worked for a few years, and it was here that I met and spoke with native Spanish speakers. I really liked speaking Spanish, and started considering majoring in that. Then my brother, who translates for a living, sold me on the idea of translation as a career. I’m now about halfway finished with college, and I’m really excited about my career path. Waiting was seriously the best decision I ever made. Plus, I got all of my partying out when I was younger, so by the time I started school, I had calmed down a lot and can really focus and learn. I’m glad I followed my gut!

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kate February 10, 2011

I have been following the inner channel into myself, through yoga books and following other peoples journeys like yourself that have been working hard to get there. A book that started to change things for me was “the four agreements” you have captured some of the essence of this book with your thoughts in this post (on being present and not changing or controling others).

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Michelle February 10, 2011

kate – love the 4 agreements! i have read, and re-read, that book so many times!

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Kristin (Cook, Bake, Nibble) February 10, 2011

This is such an amazing post, Angela- and such an important topic! Living in the moment and not in the future is something I struggle with every day. I need to constantly bring me back to reality and focus on what I can do NOW, not what I’m going to do in two days, two weeks or two years. I think by consciously bringing myself myself back to that point of focusing on NOW, I am giving myself a gift.

There have been many times in my life I’ve done something I thought wasn’t going to work out, and I am very happy that it did- we shouldn’t doubt our choices. You can’t change the past, and you’ll never know what will come in the future!

xo

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Maddie (Healthy Maddie) February 10, 2011

Great post, Angela! I have made many mistakes so far in life but every mistake is just an opportunity to learn.

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Beach Bum Beauty February 10, 2011

This post has made me cry. I’m going through a tough time at the moment and just feel so tired. It’s been good to read this as it has made me put things into perspective. I also suffer from anxiety and at times, depression so sometimes find it hard to see the wood from the trees. I’m going to do one thing a day (not matter how small) to get myself back. Thank you.

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Lisa February 10, 2011

It’s hard for me to stop thinking all the “what ifs” and negative thoughts that lead to anxiety. I need to practice positivity more and meditation.

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Ashley @ the fit academic February 10, 2011

What a beautiful & inspiring post! Love starting the day with a positive message!

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Helen February 10, 2011

I completely understand what you went through. My fiancee recently has been having a tough time at work, feeling unfulfilled. And who doesn’t feel that way some of the time? But we talked it through and he felt unfulfilled because he didn’t feel like he was helping anyone. So now he volunteers with homeless children and spends time with them, playing and doing homework with them. Even though it’s 2 hours a week, it makes him feel grateful for all that he has.

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Christine February 10, 2011

I needed this today as well. I will be 29 in one week and have decided to leave behind my job, Bachelors and Masters to pursue an entirely different career. I have a very stable job now, with great benefits and a nice, big, salary. My husband is self employed so doing this means a lot of sacrifice from both of us. He is being totally supportive and we are saving over the next year while I take prerequisite course so I can apply to nursing school. I can’t sit behind a desk for another 10 years, 20 years. It’s not me! Everyone I told was like it’s about time, we knew this was coming. But I still can’t shake the feeling, what if I put our financial security at risk???? Am I selfish, stupid, ungrateful for the job and stability I have when othrs have nothing????

My husband says together we can do anything (swoon) but I still feel guilty for taking this long to figure it all out. Somedays I am riddled with guilt, others I think of course I can do this.

One day at a time is all I can give. I too suffer from a lot of anxiety and if I start thinking about next year, I will be stuck here forever. I saw a quote from a woman who has stage 4 ovarian cancer (her blog: http://182days.com/about/) and it put it all in perspective today. She said “Don’t let routine lock you into a situation that consistently interferes with your joy” I texted that to my husband and said I can do it. He wrote back “Damn straight you can.”

Thanks for this post today! There seems to be a running theme lately…. :)

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Baking 'n' Books February 10, 2011

Wow – that takes such strength and courage! I admire you for your amazing decision. Do what’s right for you!

It may be scary – but you have the support of your husband and if you can go back to school and have a sliver of opportunity – jump on it! I’m not in a position financially to make that move – but one day maybe…(like 20 years from now ;) ).

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Marty February 10, 2011

I don’t waste time regretting any of my former decisions. While not the best choice in the long run, at the time they were the best decision. Even my worst decisions have taught me things about myself, about life and about how to continue trudging forward under situations which are not the best. I love the quote you posted today and plan to feature it prominently in my office. We are all capable of having a positive influence in the world, even if it is not of the magnitude we would like.

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Tracey February 10, 2011

Anxiety is something I’m currently working on in my life. It is a difficult process but I’m making progress. Great post!

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Emily E. February 10, 2011

Thank you SO much for this post. One of my greatest weaknesses is fear. I often let the desire for perfection and fear of failure prevent me from doing anything at all.

While I hate the fact that fear is such an issue for me, I’m coming to realize that this powerful challenge provides me with an equally powerful opportunity to develop faith — faith that I have talents, faith that my contributions are valuable and faith that it’s OK to fail.

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Madeleine @ Stepping to the Bright Side February 10, 2011

I was eating chocolate as a read this- a perfect companion ;) I believe taking the time to truly mull over what you want out of life is time well spent. I know so many of us like to rush from one thing to the next that we forget reflection and thought can be just as valuable- if not more- than running that insignificant errand.

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JenATX February 10, 2011

I can eat chocolate today TOO! oh wait.. I already did hehe

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