I launched Hey Eleanor six months ago. Yep, I’m halfway to my goal. I can’t believe I haven’t quit. What’s more, I can’t believe I haven’t wanted to quit!
I think it’s important to set aside time for reflection. I meant to do a progress report at Day 100… and didn’t make time for it. Same at #122 (about a third of the way through) and 150, and basically every other day after that. Turns out, I am so focused on moving this project forward that I didn’t want to take the time to reflect. So in order to do so, I am making myself take a break. Today, I am acknowledging that taking time for reflection is actually a difficult task for me. Hence, I am counting it as # 179.
I’ve learned a lot in the last 179 days. Things like…
1. I Can Do This.
For the longest time, I didn’t believe I had the gumption to keep up with a blog. I’d attempted blog projects a few different times and pretty much gave up after a month or so. Turns out, I CAN DO THIS! It was just a matter of focusing on something I actually care about.
2. Scary Things are Everywhere.
Initially, I thought the difficult part about Hey Eleanor would be finding scary things to do. Turns out, scary things find me nearly every day. Getting a flu shot, the crazy Chinese healer man (probably my favorite/funniest scary thing thus far) and using this creepy toilet in my basement (desperate times call for desperate measures), I encounter plenty of things outside my comfort zone. The difference is before Hey Eleanor, I would’ve shied away from these things (in most cases I RARELY would’ve said yes). Now I say yes to nearly everything. It’s way more fun.
3. Things that Can Kill You Aren’t Always the Scariest Things.
I did this last October:
…and somehow, it was not as scary as this:
I’ve never heard of anyone becoming paralyzed or deceased from public speaking, and yet, I can’t explain why skydiving is less scary than giving a TEDx Talk. So is doing stand-up comedy, going through the haunted basement and eating a live minnow.
4. Practice Makes Things Less Scary.
In Studio/e (a entrepreneurship course I took last year), we talked a lot about creativity. Guess what? Anyone can “be creative.” Really. It just takes practice. Think you’re not a creative person? Try incorporating some of these tips/tricks into your routine. It works. Much in the same vein, overcoming fear gets easier with practice. A short six months ago, I would’ve rather died– quite literally–than get up in front of an audience and speak. My heart still beats with serious fervor prior to public speaking, but it gets more and more comfortable every time I do it.
It’s also become second nature to say yes to the things that make me uncomfortable. Now, I kind of look forward to challenging myself. I’ve changed a lot in this regard.
5. Guides are Important.
I’ve done some unsafe things this year: hunting, scuba diving, a ride along with a Minneapolis K-9 unit. The thing that made all of these experiences feel okay was relying on a trustworthy guide. For example, Georgia’s patience while hunting with me in Arkansas made me feel at ease while holding a shotgun (something I had never done before). Also, a confident and empathetic guide can help push you farther than you’d go on your own. I’d never have been able to kill a bird with my own bare hands if Georgia hadn’t pushed me to do so.
6. People Want to Help.
My friends, family and even perfect strangers have really gone above and beyond. From inviting me to observe ACL surgery (date TBD!) to “letting” me change their newborn’s diaper, I absolutely love how many of you have offered to help me complete this [often overwhelming] project. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
7. Accountability is Awesome.
Do you honestly think I would’ve ever attempted to do the Whole30 if it weren’t for Eleanor? Of course… and I would’ve maybe made it five days before quitting.
8. I’m the Best Version of Myself.
For the record, my computer is not autocorrecting fiance to beyonce, as many of you have pointed out. “Beyonce” is just what I call my fiance because I think fiance seems a little formal and weird. And beyonce is funny. Since we are on the subject…
9. Josh is the Best.
Not only does he literally go to every single crazy event that I’m doing for Eleanor, he takes photos, proofreads (kinda… I guess I also often rely on my other beyonce, Maggie, for actual grammatical errors) and volunteers himself to do ridiculous stuff with me. There is a reason I am marrying this guy and it is because he’s incredibly supportive, inspiring and grounding. Also, he has beautiful eyes and a hot body.
10. Blogs Take a $#!*load of Time.
I work on Hey Eleanor every day before I head into the office. Most nights, I devote a few hours to it, too. I spend 10 hours minimum on this every weekend. I wish I were kidding. Hey Eleanor could be a full-time job. It’s interesting though– I’ve only had a few moments where I’ve thought, “I am so over this.” I freaking love this project with all my heart. The time flies.
11. My Writing is More Efficient.
I’ve learned to let go of perfection. Six short months ago, it would literally take me hours to craft one of these posts (sometimes, maybe eight or twelve. I am not kidding!). When you find yourself writing 500-1,500 words a day, you learn to let go of the little things. These posts aren’t perfect. Sure, there are typos. Yes, sometimes I’m not feeling it and my writing is lazy. But in general, I am getting more done in less time– both on Hey Eleanor and at my day job– which is a gift I wasn’t really anticipating, but am so incredibly thankful for.
11. Leaning into Fear = Possibilities.
By not allowing fear to hold me back, I’ve had the most exciting six months of my life. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined (mentally and physically). I can do a pull-up. I can make a commitment to something as “drastic” as the Whole30 and stick with it. I tried SCUBA diving (my biggest fear), survived and actually loved it. I’ve cooked amazing meals for my sweetheart, friends and family. I can talk in front of a big group and not breakout in hives.
I’ve met all sorts of great people, who’ve then introduced me to other great people. By giving a TEDx Talk (so scary!), I met someone who wants to help me publish a book. I also met someone who wants me to help teach a group of at-risk BUT driven teenage girls how to lean into their own fears. I even met someone I liked so much that I set them up with one of my good guy friends. I don’t want to jinx it, but I am pretty sure they are dating. Oh, and I met Richard Simmons, nbd….. just kidding, HUGE DEAL.
But if I had to pinpoint the most important thing I’ve learned, it’s that the only limits in my life are ones that I have created for myself. (Well, aside from laws at the federal and local level, plus general ethics.) It’s one thing to know that intellectually, but a whole different thing to have lived it. I feel unstoppable. It’s the best thing ever.
Consider This Challenge, Will Ya?
I wasn’t intending to end this post like this, but would anyone be interested in doing a Hey Eleanor!-inspired Whole30? The gist: you commit to doing one thing that’s outside your comfort zone for 30 days. These can be things as simple as ordering something new at your favorite restaurant, telling a friend, “Actually, those Doc Martin platforms sandals have been out of style for fifteen years,” or alligator wrestling (not recommended). Or maybe trying a hot yoga class. Or the Whole30. Or emailing a former teacher that actually had an impact on your life. Really guys, it’s so easy to come up with 30 things. Try it; you’ll be amazed. And if nothing else, you will have lots of good stories.