It's that time of year when most of us are trying to stick to our New Year's resolutions. Chances are that if you're a woman and you made a resolution, it had something to do with eating healthy or losing weight. According to an article on inc.com 71% of people who made a New Year's resolution focused on diet or eating healthy.
Only about 8% of people who vow to make a change in their habits for the New Year are actually successful, so how can you be one of those who meet your goal? There are many factors in meeting a goal including setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal, creating milestones, monitoring progress, developing new habits, finding someone or a group to encourage you and keep you accountable, and avoiding obstacles.
Today I'm going to focus on two of these factors - developing new habits and avoiding obstacles - and how organizing your refrigerator can help you accomplish your resolution to eat healthier!
One way to avoid obstacles is to remove temptation. When you give into temptation, you might say you have no willpower. Give yourself a little more credit - it's not that you have NO willpower, it's that willpower is a limited resource. An American Psychological Association article suggests that willpower is similar to a muscle that can get fatigued from overuse. We use willpower all day every day whether it's forcing ourselves not to daydream when we should be paying attention in a meeting, not blurting out what we are really thinking when it would be inappropriate, or choosing an apple over a chocolate chip cookie. All of these instances take energy, and the more we can remove temptation, the less work it is to make good choices throughout our days.
In your refrigerator, you can easily remove temptation by cleaning out the items that are unhealthy or not on your eating plan. Well....this is easy if you live alone and no one else has to eat out of your fridge! But even if you have a family not on the healthy eating train, you can still make this work (especially if you are the one who buys the groceries!) First, eliminate the items that no one needs. Examples could be sugary drinks, desserts, condiments high in sugar, etc. Then designate a few areas of the fridge that you are "allowed" to eat from. Guard these areas and only allow foods that you should eat to go in them. In my fridge, I eat mostly out of the crisper drawers and the bottom shelf. This concept applies to your pantry as well.
The second way to avoid obstacles is to make it more convenient to make good choices. Rearrange your fridge so good foods are easy to access. Consider a small lazy susan to help you get to items in the back of the shelves more easily. Remove packaging and prewash and cut fruits and veggies. Having clean, cut strawberries makes it much easier to choose them over a packaged treat when you don't have to spend extra time cleaning and cutting them when you are hungry!
Group foods that you use to together. For example if you make smoothies for breakfast like I do, put all of your refrigerated ingredients together. Use bins to make it even easier on yourself so you can simply pull out one bin, put it on the counter, and have everything you need for your breakfast. I prefer clear bins so you can stack items, but still see what is in the bottom. If you make a lot of salads, you could use one crisper drawer for all of your cleaned, cut up veggies and proteins.
Developing New Habits
Another critical component to achieving a goal is developing new habits. Don't think of a habit as something big like "eating healthy," but rather the tiny things you do that lead to milestones along your journey toward your goal. When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, little habits related to your refrigerator can be very helpful.
Some of these habits do double duty and also help you avoid obstacles - win, win!
"Using all that you buy keeps your grocery bill down and removes the obstacle of 'healthy eating is too expensive'."
If you can get into these refrigerator related habits, you will have a better chance of being successful with your healthy eating plan!
If you would like to increase your chances of meeting your goals by joining other women for encouragement and accountability, consider joining the Achieve! program. Registrations for the February/March 2020 session are still open!
Economy, Peter. “10 Top New Year's Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019.” Inc.com, Inc., 1 Jan. 2019, www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html
Weir, Kirsten. “What You Need to Know about Willpower: The Psychological Science of Self-Control.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2012, www.apa.org/helpcenter/willpower.
It's the first full week of the new year, and I'm on-fire motivated to meet my goals. I'm so darn excited about what I want to achieve this year that I want it all to happen right now! I was reminded yesterday that just because I haven't seen immediate progress on my first goal of the year, doesn't mean I'm a failure or that I'm not going to achieve it. Thank goodness for good friends who can see things from the outside looking in and remind me of that! This got me thinking about what strategies I could employ this year to not only be successful at achieving my goals, but also to give myself grace along the way. Here's what I've come up with:
Give Yourself Time
The T in a SMART goal stands for time bound, and I need to remember that even though I may be able to complete each of my individual goals in 6 weeks, I can't do them all in the SAME 6 weeks. I want to keep that fire in my belly, so I need to be careful not to let it burn to quickly and extinguish that flame.
Recognize All Achievements
Even small victories are worth celebrating. Though I may not have gotten 100 people to attend my webinar on the first day it was launched, I did have one person who watched! That's something to be proud of, learn from, and build upon.
Keeping a "done" list is a great way to remind yourself of how far you've come and how much you've accomplished. A done list is the to-do list's counterpart. You can still keep your traditional to-do list, but start a list of everything you've completed. This will give you a sense of accomplishment, and it tends to create momentum.
Not meeting your goal the first day you begin working on it gives you time to learn more about what you are trying to achieve. There are so many resources available about every topic imaginable. While you work toward your goal, why not gain insight from someone who has done something similar? You don't have to follow their blueprint exactly, but you can almost always pick out a little nugget of wisdom that will help you improve.
Sometimes when you get head-down into a goal, you become so focused on a certain outcome that you don' take time for your other responsibilities or relationships. Laser-focus is a great thing, but not at the expense of what matters most to us. Walking away from your goal even for an hour or two and spending that time doing something productive or interacting with your family or friends will provide you a better perspective and a refreshed sense of purpose when you get back to it.
Another option is to set certain time frames that you dedicate to your goal so that during other parts of the day or week you don't feel like you're losing precious time. This can also set expectations with your family and friend so they aren't upset when you are busy working toward your goal.
This is the best (and easiest) tip by far — get a mentor, a sounding board, or better yet join a group of them! Achieving your goals increases by 95% when you check in regularly with someone about your goal. This person or group can keep you accountable no only for working toward your goal, but for being realistic with your own expectations. If you're looking for a group like this to encourage you and keep you accountable, check out the Achieve! program that launches in February.
I love the holiday season for so many reasons, but one of my favorite parts is looking back on the last year to reminisce about the good times, recognize accomplishments, and realize what I learned and where I could improve. When I was a kid, I remember my mom pulling out the wall calendar on New Year's day and going through all of our appointments and outings that she'd written down. We would talk about all of the fun things we’d done in the past 12 months. These days, I do the same thing — only with my Google calendar. It’s amazing how much you forget about your day to day life, and it’s a lot of fun to look back and remember all of those little details.
Reviewing your previous year’s calendar is a good way to determine how you spent your time and what you prioritized. There are entries on my calendar that I didn’t have a choice about, but there are also many things that I decided to do instead of something else. You can easily recognize a person’s priorities by the way they spend their time. If you look back at your calendar and don’t like what you see — not enough date nights or outings with friends, too many late nights working, or not enough “me” time — you are the only one who can change it. Sure, there are some non-negotiables like doctor’s appointments, your job, or maybe even jury duty (I spent 3 days on a jury this year!) but there are many hours that you DO have a choice about. Don’t beat yourself up about how you did or didn’t spend your time in 2019. Instead, learn from it and become intentional about how you spend your time next year so that when you review your 2020 calendar a year from now, you will feel proud, successful, and happy.
I’m a big proponent of choosing areas of focus for the upcoming year and then setting small, specific goals within each of those areas. I just completed this exercise, and I used my calendar to help me identify what worked in 2019 and what I want more of or less of in 2020. Though I was really pleased with what I achieved in 2019, there’s still more I want to do. I want to build on habits I started in 2019 and create new ones in 2020.
Many people enjoy identifying a single word for the new year, but I’ve always found it a little intimidating to distill everything going on in my head and heart into one word. This year, though, I saw a theme in my areas of focus and my goals for 2020 — ACHIEVE. I want to achieve, and I want to help others achieve. I want to empower others to be their best selves and to achieve what they have struggled with up to now. I am excited to announce that I am launching a formal program around this theme!
In February 2020, I will begin facilitating a goal setting group program for women called Achieve! Small groups of women will meet virtually for an hour every week for 6-12 weeks to set goals, identify and overcome obstacles, and meet milestones necessary to achieve those goals. The group will encourage one another and offer suggestions, assistance, and, most importantly, accountability! As the facilitator, I will guide the weekly calls, document your progress, and check in with you regularly between meetings to provide resources to keep you on track and motivated to complete the tasks necessary to achieve your goal.
If you are interested in joining an Achieve! group, please fill out the form below, and I will contact you to discuss the details. I wish you all a very happy and productive 2020!
I can't believe this is my 100th blog post! I looked through what I call my "blog log" which lists the date, title, and number of every one I've written, and I have to say— I'm really proud of what is included in these past 99 posts. When I say proud, I don't mean boastful, but rather a feeling of deep satisfaction that resulted from hard work, honesty, and perseverance. It has been important to me from the start that I be transparent and not claim to know all the answers. I'm in this with you — I have many of the same struggles as you, and I'm continuing to figure out how striving to live a life in order can help me gain and maintain control. I truly believe that productivity and organization is not only for those born naturally orderly, but that it gives the rest of us the freedom and space to really enjoy our lives.
I asked my oldest son, who is nearly an all-knowing teenager, what I should write about for my 100th post. He gave me some sage advice, "write about how you stuck with your blog all of this time." I thought his suggestion was brilliant! Yes, that's something I want to explore — stick-to-itiveness!
I kind of went down a rabbit hole researching what this word meant. I went from stick-to-itiveness to tenacity to tenacious to "persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired." What I realized was the reason it was easy for me to stick with my blog is because I value it!
Many of us were required to read What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles in a college job readiness course. This book explored how to determine what job is right for you and how to get it. No matter if you are looking for a job, a hobby, or just your next fun project, the principles are the same — you should search for your key passions and strive to use them daily. The more passionate you are about something, the more likely you are to see it through, and be happy along the way.
A pioneer in this type of strengths philosophy was Bernard Haldane, an English doctor who moved to New York in the 1940's. After realizing he didn't meet the U.S. requirements for working in medicine, he began helping veterans recognize their own strengths and transferable skills from their military experience. He encouraged them use those skills to rejoin the non-military workforce after returning from the war. Haldane's work inspired others in the field and led to many books and programs encouraging people to determine not only what they were good at, but what they loved doing and would provide them with feelings of pride for having accomplished. He was clear that this didn't mean it was all sunshine and rainbows along the way! There will always be parts of a task or a process that one will dislike or cause them to work outside of their comfort zone, but he proposed that both the journey AND the outcome should provide satisfaction.
Starting My Life In Order came out of something I was passionate about — getting my own life in order and helping others do the same. It consisted of things I enjoy — writing, technology, connecting and helping others achieve their goals. I have one little secret that has helped me stick with it to this milestone 100th post — I give myself a LOT of grace! I try to remember that this venture is supposed to be fun. Though I feel a responsibility to publish blog posts regularly and be active on social media, I also give myself a pass sometimes. The world won't end if my blog post is a little late or if I am MIA on Facebook for a day. By giving myself permission not to be perfect all the time, it is much easier to keep on keeping on! If I felt like if I didn't publish a post every 7 days that I was a failure, I would have quit a long time ago! Imagine what you can accomplish if you can find that thing you are great at, fuels your fire, AND can give yourself some grace!
You may be thinking, "Yeah, this all makes sense —if I love something I can stick with it, but what if I don't love it or just downright dislike it?" Learning to persevere even when it's not fun is where real success begins! Start by asking yourself the who, what, when, where, why questions.
When you honestly answer all of these questions, you may be surprised what you learn. Maybe changing gears really is the best option! If it doesn't hurt you or anyone else, if it's not required, if it's not propelling you forward, and it's not going to bring you any joy, maybe it's better to turn your focus to something else. But, is it possible that you can identify just one small thing that is frustrating about your project and realize that you may just need to suck it up and get past that little obstacle because the benefits of doing so are worth it? Could you just "eat that frog" and get past the not-so-fun parts first thing in the morning so you can gain some momentum throughout the day?
The biggest question that I think we all need to answer is our "why". Why did I start and why haven't I already quit? If the answers to those questions are meaningful enough to you to keep going, write them down and post them somewhere you see them often. Daily reminders of your compelling "why" will most definitely develop your stick-to-itiveness!
“Dictionary by Merriam-Webster.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 2019, www.merriam-webster.com/.
Bolles, Richard Nelson. What Color Is Your Parachute?: a Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Ten Speed Press, 2011.
Mike. “H Is for Bernard Haldane: His Pioneering Work On Strengths.” The Positive Encourager, 4 Mar. 2018, www.thepositiveencourager.global/bernard-haldanes-approach-to-doing-positive-work/.
“Uncovering Strengths...Unlocking Potential.” The Center for Dependable Strengths, 2019, dependablestrengths.org/
I've been a daydreamer as long as I can remember. As a child I would make up what I called "stories in my head." They weren't wild or unrealistic, but instead, they were detailed accounts of things that could actually happen. When I was very young it could be about a toy I wanted, and I'd daydream about how I might earn enough money to buy it or how someone might give it to me as a gift. When I was a little older, and I liked a boy, I would daydream about how we might be in the same place at the same time.
The first of my well-thought-out-daydreams came true with a white Chevy Lumina APV minivan. Yep, the kind with the pointy noses that were popular in the late '90s. My then-boyfriend/now-husband and I were in year four of dating and thinking seriously about marriage when his car died. His parents had been driving a pointy-nosed van for a while, and I'd overheard them mention getting a new vehicle — cue daydream. I started thinking about the scenarios that could occur where we'd end up with the van. Maybe they'd come to take us out to dinner and then offer to sell him the van at a low price, or maybe they'd even just give it to him. I'm pretty sure at this point they knew I was their future daughter-in-law, so I thought maybe they'd consider the van a gift to "us." I daydreamed about the whole thing, and then one day, they came to visit us at college and took us out to eat at Cracker Barrel. Afterward, it happened almost exactly as I'd imagined. Every 20-something guy's dream come true — they gave him the minivan. This is when I started taking my daydreaming a little more seriously!
Have you ever said, "I wish" this or that would happen? Consider changing those words to "I hope." The definition of hope is not a wish, but an expectation of something you know could actually happen. I'm not suggesting my ironically cool minivan story proves that if you think hard enough or want something bad enough that it will magically happen. I believe if we truly hope for something, it will require us to have some faith, think logically, and work hard to make it happen. Once we start daydreaming, we allow ourselves to dare to visualize what we really want and then consider how to position ourselves to achieve that goal. Obstacles will still get in our way, and some daydreams won't ever come true — but some will.
Over the years I've used daydreams to help me work through difficult situations, sort through my options, and decide on the best course of action. I may rework a daydream over and over until the details make sense in real life. What started as the daydream of a 29 year old mother of one to have another baby and a more flexible job to be home with the kids turned into a reality as I got my real estate license, saved enough money for a cushion as I got started, and quit my office job days before I turned a very pregnant 30. Once a daydream comes true, that doesn't mean you can't have more or different daydreams. I'm no longer a real estate agent, and I have new daydreams now.
"Once we start daydreaming, we allow ourselves to dare to visualize what we really want and then consider how to position ourselves to achieve that goal."
Daydreams can also be an escape from reality. When I have a hard time sleeping, I will start a new "story in my head." It helps me escape from the thoughts that are keeping me awake. If the story isn't logical or possible, it doesn't hold my attention, and I quickly fall asleep. If I'm stressed, sometimes I'll make up a daydream about a positive outcome to the situation that is wildly unrealistic and then work at the details until it becomes plausible. This gives my brain something else to focus on besides my stress and sometimes it results in real opportunities.
Have you given daydreaming a try? It's a powerful tool to allow yourself to aim high and then figure out how to make it work later. There's no real risk or judgement because daydreaming is literally all in your head. Work on hoping for change instead of just wishing for it. I truly believe there is power in a daydream!
Just this week my daydreams have come full circle. The Chevy Lumina of our newlywed years served us well for hauling friends and moving boxes, but it created an aversion to minivans that my husband and I have shared for almost two decades. Now it's time for us to get a new vehicle, and earlier this week my husband walked in the door with a few spec sheets from the car dealership where he'd stopped to do some research on his way home from work. One of them was folded in half, and he said he would save that one for last because it was his favorite. I assumed he was joking and that it contained details of an expensive sports car, but instead, he unfolded the paper and dramatically announced that his favorite was a MINIVAN — and he was dead serious! Now I'm daydreaming of third row seating, extra cup holders, a roomy center console, and how we will get the best features for the lowest price. Watch out car salesman — my daydreams about minivans tend to come true!
Sometimes it seems easier to just give up than it does to start over. That's why some people never get their house organized, complete their passion project, or lose that weight they want to. It's easy to get excited about the possibility of achieving a goal, but it's much harder to see it to completion.
I'm here to tell you that I have been there — lots of times. I'm actually there right now! A few weeks ago I vowed to lose 15 pounds in 6 weeks. It's been —honestly, I don't even know off the top of my head how many weeks it's been — but it's been a few weeks, and I'm not even close to my goal. It would be easiest for me to just throw my hands up in the air and say, "This is too hard. I'll never lose weight." and just quit trying. But I'm going to propose a different way. I'm going to simply start over.
I have been successful in completing goals and even achieving more than I set out to in the past, so I'm going to look closely at those instances to try to figure out how I was successful. One example that comes to mind is the e-book I decided to write and publish in 6 weeks. Even looking back, I'm not sure how I pulled it off, but I did! I have a finished product that I'm really proud of, an e-book for sale on my website called Get Started Head First.
After that experience, I was really pumped up and felt like I could achieve anything. I gave myself a week off, and then jumped right back into another 6 week sprint — the one where I was going to lose 15 pounds. Well...I've already told you this experience has yet to be successful, but why?
When I really sat down to think about it, the answers were very simple. In order to achieve a difficult goal, I need a strict framework to keep me on track and focused. I didn't have that for this attempt at weight loss. I think we will all agree losing weight is hard for lots of reasons. I wrote about my struggle in a previous post, Weight: A Heavy Topic. After the high of finishing a 6 week sprint with my e-book, I think I forgot how hard it really was, so I didn't spend the time and effort in the planning stage to set myself up for success.
Here are the things that made me successful in achieving a goal in the past and how I am going to apply them in the future:
Accountability and Honesty
In my previous 6 week sprint, I publicly announced my goal and my time frame, and I did weekly live videos to report on my progress. This time, I also publicly announced my goal and my time frame, and I did one weekly live video to report on my progress. As soon as I realized I wasn't on track and my progress wasn't what I wanted it to be, though, I stopped checking in. Without that accountability, it was too easy to fall back into old habits. I wasn't even being accountable to myself because once I saw that the scale wasn't moving in the right direction (and sometimes in the wrong direction.) I stopped weighing in and recording my weight feeling like I'd be better off not knowing how I was doing. It soon became easy to go back to my old way of eating since no one would know.
This time around, I'm going to be stickler with accountability. I'm going to check in on my Facebook page with a live video every week to let you know the good, bad and the ugly of how it's going. I'm going to be honest with those I'm accountable to, including myself. Ignoring my shortcomings or even lying about them doesn't help me move in the direction I want to go. I will write down my food and weight daily even if I'm not proud of them!
The 6 Week Sprint Worksheet I used for writing my e-book was filled with small, bite-sized goals. When I filled out the worksheet completely, I was successful. I started out setting 6 weekly goals, and then broke those down into daily goals at the beginning of each week. This time around with my weight loss goal, I did set 6 weekly goals, but when I just looked back at my worksheet, I realized I only ever set the first week's daily goals and after that, I just walked away.
Without small, achievable goals written down so I could physically see them, I got overwhelmed and felt like I was failing at the whole goal all of the time. If I could have focused on just one day's goal, I would likely have been able to conquer that one thing at a time.
This time around, I'm going to put a daily reminder on my calendar to review and log my progress. In addition, I will create a weekly reminder to set daily goals for the upcoming week.
As much as I want to be able to do a million things at once, the truth of the matter is — I can't. I distinctly remember after finishing my e-book, and deciding on my next 6 week sprint that I couldn't decide between two things: losing 15 pounds and improving my online presence for My Life In Order. So what did I do? I decided to do them both! That was a mistake because I haven't done a good job on either of those projects. I was afraid I would be bored if I only chose to focus on one or the other. It's so easy to look back and see our faults, isn't it?
What I needed was true focus. Obviously I would still have to do all of my daily tasks and responsibilities, but to take on something "extra," it needed to just be one, focused thing.
This time around, I'm going to choose me and my health as my true focus. As much as I love My Life In Order and enjoy trying to figure out how to gain more followers, newsletter subscribers and potential clients, that's going to just have to fade into the background for now while I focus on my true goal of getting healthier for the next few weeks. My hope is that soon that healthy lifestyle will become one of those daily tasks and responsibilities and no longer feels like an "extra." When that's the case, I will take on a new project, but until then - one focus for me!
How about you, do you want to vow not to fail, but instead to start over with me? It could be anything you want it to be. Download a free 6 Week Sprint Worksheet, and give it a try. Just make sure you have:
I've been planning to write an e-book for about a year. I'd get super excited about it, dreaming about all the people that I might be able to give just a little bit of help or encouragement, and then I'd start doubting myself. I came up with excuses why I couldn't or shouldn't put my content out there for the world to read, and I just plain procrastinated! Fear of failure and rejection set in, and I put that goal aside.
Well, this week, I decided I'm going to just start and not in a "someday I'll publish this" way, but in a hard core, 6 week sprint with a for real deadline kind of way! This spring, I listened to Natalie Eckdahl on her Biz Chix podcast talk about hitting your next goal in just 6 weeks, and I got excited. She told success stories, and I was sure I could do it! But soon, the excuses started again as I looked at my calendar and realized there was a vacation coming up in the next 6 weeks, and that would just throw a wrench in things. The next time I thought about it, there was something else on the calendar in the following 6 weeks, and I was a little relieved to have another "reason" not to start.
Choosing not to proceed - not to challenge myself - limited me and made me feel inadequate. I really believe this began a vicious cycle that caused me to began procrastinating on all sorts of other things. Not only was I not accomplishing my goals, I was feeling guilty and weighed down by all that was undone. A good friend recently gave me some great advice. She said to pick one thing that I could finish that day, just one. I did it, and you know what finishing just one little thing did for me? It gave me momentum to want to do more and more! In Brian Tracy's book, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, he shares about the old saying: 'if you eat a live frog first thing each morning, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it's probably the worst thing you'll do all day.' Use the frog as a metaphor for that thing that you know you should do and that you know you'll feel better when you've done - and just start!
My Sprint Step by Step
There's no magic formula, but here's what I'm doing. Would you like to join me and do your own sprint to accomplish that thing that you've been putting off? You can download a FREE worksheet here, but please read on for some suggestions.
Don't wait for a Monday or the first of the month or when things slow down at work or when the kids start school - start TODAY!
Announce your goal to at least one other person
If you keep your goal to yourself, it's all too easy to continue procrastinating. Once you share it with even one other person, your chances of meeting your goal go up significantly. The American Society of Training and Development reports that chances of success increase by 65% when you commit to completing it to one other person and chances go up to 95% when you check in regularly to report on your progress. I am currently doing a 5 day Infinite Growth Challenge hosted by Pinterest Marketing Strategist, Rachel Ngom, and one of the daily assignments was to post in the Facebook group - for all to see - what the one thing you need to do even though you're scared to do it. I shared that I'm going to write my e-book, and now I feel accountable to the others participating in the challenge to get it done!
Commit to make forward progress (however small) EVERY day!
How big your goal is will determine how much you have to do every day, but don't let a day go by without some action. Create a chain that you promise yourself you won't break. 6 weeks is only 42 days - you can do this for 42 days!! Set aside a time each day where you will record your progress and adjust your plan. I've been spending 5-10 minutes on my deck in the mornings making my notes.
Start by thinking about what success will look like. That's where you want to be at the end of week 6. My goal is to publish an e-book by September 11, 2019 (which just happens to be My Life In Order's 2 year anniversary!) Now work backwards on what you have to do to get there, starting with weekly goals. Here are my weekly plans thinking with the end in mind:
I've decided to make out daily goals a week at a time. For example, this week looks like this:
Next week, I'll make daily goals around actually writing!
Now the hard part, actually do the thing! Here is a FREE printable I've created to help you be successful. Please share with us in the comments on this post or on the Facebook page what big things you will be accomplishing in 6 weeks! You've got this!! I'll be sharing with you my weekly progress on social media (so be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram) and I'd love to hear about your weekly progress, too. If you'd rather not share with everyone, feel free to email me at email@example.com .
Will you help me with my research by completing a 1 minute survey? Click here! And, if you want to be one of the first to know when the e-book is available, sign up below!
Wissman, Barrett. “An Accountability Partner Makes You Vastly More Likely to Succeed.” Entrepreneur, 20 Mar. 2018, www.entrepreneur.com/article/310062.
Eckdahl, Natalie. “Hit Your Next Goal With a Six Week Sprint.” Biz Chix, 28 Mar. 2019, bizchix.com/363-hit-your-next-goal-with-a-six-week-sprint/.
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash
At the beginning of the year, I reflected on my past year and set a few goals for myself. One of the goals I had for my blog was to do a guest post on another productivity blogger's site. I'm proud to announce that I can check that one off of my list!
I was honored when Csaba Vadadi-Fulop, a fellow productivity lover who blogs at www.productivity95.com asked if I'd be interested in collaborating. We met while participating in the 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity book launch team. I published one of Csaba's posts on my blog in March about Productivity and Parenting, and this week, a post I wrote was featured on his blog, Productivity 9 to 5!
Please check out my post about Workplace Productivity in Real Life, and while you're at it, check out Csaba's free Productivity95 Manifesto - a kick-ass guide to supercharge your productivity.
Now I’m feeling motivated to crush a couple other of my goals - writing an eBook, hosting a webinar, and developing some productivity products! Stay tuned....
Last week I was in Las Vegas at a huge conference for my job in IT. As I sat way up in the nosebleeds in the arena needed to hold the 6,000+ people in attendance, I felt more than a little insignificant. I looked around and saw so many people that seemed to have more knowledge and experience than me, and though that could be a good thing - an opportunity to learn - it was also overwhelming!
Where do I start? There is so much, so many choices bombarding me everyday. I struggle with choosing an area to focus on and get better at, because I feel like if I do, I will neglect everything else - and what if there was a better choice and one that would have been more important or had more impact? Nearing 40, I'm starting to feel like my potential is fading. I used to be the youngest in the room, and many times the only woman. That was my identity - the young, promising woman poised for success, but now I ask myself, "Where did my potential go? What has been my contribution, and did anyone notice?"
Now, when I hear a motivational speaker, I get all fired up...for a minute. When I was younger and less experienced, I was more easily inspired, but the older I get, my level of cynicism grows as my level of inspiration wanes. I'm now more grounded and practical and want to see my actions and contributions matter. I find myself asking if I should just try to blend in, and I now realize that it's because I'm afraid I won't stand out.
"I find myself asking if I should just try to blend in, and I now realize that it's because I'm afraid I won't stand out."
Last week, I realized it was time to embrace that being a small part of something big is enough. As I pondered what this meant in my real life here's what I came up with:
What about you? Do you feel like you have to be on top to matter or have you already mastered the art of teamwork and honing your specific skills so that you can compliment others with a common, big-picture goal? I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A while back, I wrote about my struggle with my weight, and I'm still working on it! I have a trip coming up in a couple of months which is a great motivator for me to set a goal and crush it! I've been trying to figure out how to keep track of my progress and while also setting myself up for success.
Research says habits are broken down into three parts:
Identifying triggers can help us to avoid them or come up with strategies to cope with them. I've always thought my triggers were stress and free food, but what I've been noticing is that the lack of a plan or accountability seems to be what really gets me in trouble.
I don't know about you, but I'm really good at rewarding myself, but I struggle to find a reward that is appropriate and doesn't undermine my intended outcome. For example, I often feel like when I've lost some weight, I "deserve" a milk shake or a candy bar or some jalapeno poppers! I think the reason I feel like I've earned some "bad" food is because I've felt deprived during the short stint of weight loss.
I've been brainstorming a way to help address my triggers and my feelings of deprivation. I ran across James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, who says that the first step to successfully developing a habit is to make one so small it's almost impossible fail. I like the idea of not failing, so I decided to give this miniature habit thing a try. I chose just one thing to focus on for a very short time period of time.
I saw an intriguing idea on Pinterest about tracking habits with a very simple chart with dates for an entire month listed down the left side of the paper and habits across the top. This would create squares that could be colored in to indicate completion of a task. Using different colors to indicate different actions gives a quick visual representation of your actions. I decided to create my own chart, and even though I fantasize about producing a beautiful bullet journal (and maintain a Pinterest board about it), I took a shortcut and created a printable that I could just color in. My chart is a little different, and instead of various habits across the top, I listed the hours in the day to help me see patterns in my eating throughout the day.
I wanted to track one goal at a time, every day and see my progress in small increments - as small as every hour. Each hour, I can color in the corresponding box with either green (I did good), red (I did bad) or blank (I didn't do anything related to my goal.) Then over just a few days, I can quickly see how I'm doing and if there are any particular days or times of days that are tripping me up. By focusing only on one goal, I am much more likely to be successful, and then I can eventually add additional goals after my first one has become a true habit.
My first goal was to avoid white flour. I tracked my progress for the last few days of February, and the picture above is how I did. What I noticed was that by focusing only on one goal, I didn't feel deprived and thus didn't feel the need to reward myself with food for a job well done nearly as much as I had during previous weight loss efforts. I also noticed that even though I was focusing on only one goal, it made me very conscious of my other food choices, and I ate better overall than I normally did. I love being able to look at my chart and immediately be able to tell that I have a good breakfast and morning snack routine going, but I eat lunch at all sorts of different times, and my problem time is evening and late nights! The jury is still out if this plan will work for me long term, but I'm excited to give it a try. Who knows, maybe this will work so well I'll eventually add in some exercise to the mix!
Check out the free Habit Tracker printable, and give it a try! You can come up with your own color system and make it as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. Print out just one or use multiples as you add to your goals and habits. I will be reporting back before my trip in May to let you know how this system is working for me. I'd love to hear from you if you test out this system and would especially like to see pictures if you draw a really pretty one in your bullet journal!
Quora. “The Science Behind Adopting New Habits (And Making Them Stick).” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Feb. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/02/13/the-science-behind-adopting-new-habits-and-making-them-stick/#4f1430e843c7.
Clear, James. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. Cornerstone, 2019.
I often hold back tears. There are various reasons - something reminds me of my grandma, my son outgrows an especially cute shirt, my husband says I look nice, someone else’s kid does a fantastic job at a school program - I’m really not picky with my teariness! Many of the times that I’ve felt like crying happy tears were because of music. A friend who I’ve never heard sing gets up and belts out an impromptu performance with a band, a Prince impersonator plays the piano, a child sings a clear, simple song, I am in a large crowd and can sing at the top of my lungs without judgement, the lyrics to a song say exactly what I feel, a song brings a vivid memory back to life, or the complexity and beauty of classical music overwhelms me - cue tears!
Music doesn't only make me cry, it inspires me. There are all sorts of music - some with lyrics that would make you blush, some that only sound good with a major twang, and some with a better beat than melody. I love all that this abstract thing we call music is - music is math, it’s art, it’s emotion, and it’s everywhere! Music brings people together, transforms us, allows us to express what’s deep inside, and displays God’s perfect design.
Music brings people together
Music connects us. Kids in a school choir from different social circles become friends over a common interest. Teens in a garage band become lifelong friends. A shared favorite band is a sign on a first date that a relationship will work. Strangers that both play an instrument are able to strike up a conversation.
You don't have to be a musician yourself to connect with others over music. Music is present at many of life's events where people gather - weddings, birthday parties, and even funerals. It's inter-generational, a conversation starter, and gives us a comfortable way to be together without talking. The same song can be appreciated by people who speak different languages, come from different backgrounds, or disagree on most everything else! Music connects us.
Music transforms us
Music transforms a shy kid into a performer, a stutterer into a clear communicator, a sad person into a healed person, a determined person into an accomplished one. I have a learned ability to play music, not a natural one. I’m so incredibly grateful to have taken piano lessons from ages 6-17 from an incredible musician, Ruth Berkebile. I am one of the hundreds of kids whose lives she impacted. (Here come my “leaky” eyes again!) I learned about getting better at something through practice and having the patience to see the results of that practice. She made me count, she taught me the theory behind the music, she made me sit up straight, she believed I could, she taught me to improvise. She gave me a lifelong gift, and when she suggested I teach piano, I could only hope to have a fraction of the impact she had on me and my life.
When I tried out for the school choir in Jr. High, I considered myself a "bad" signer, but thought I had a chance of getting in because I knew they needed accompanists. I got in, and though I don't know for sure it was my piano playing ability that got me there, I have a strong suspicion! Being in a choir gave me the opportunity to learn that I could be fulfilled without being the best, that surrounding myself with others who were better than me would help me grow, and that I could get better even without a natural ability. One of my proudest accomplishments was when I went from a novice singer who sang quietly to getting a 1 rating in a solo singing contest. Mr. Howard Whittlesey was my choir director that, even though he had perfect pitch, believed in students who didn't. He taught, he coached, and he connected his students with other musicians who helped each other grow. He gave structure and attainable goals that built on one another. What an incredible lesson about our own ability to transform our lives!
Music allows us to express ourselves
Now here I am at 38 years old, teaching a few young kids piano lessons (including my own children), getting to play at church occasionally, playing the piano for fun, and enjoying getting better with practice. It’s amazing to have the chance to disappear into the music sometimes, and even to focus on technique and small improvement. When I'm stressed, it helps to sing along with the car radio, listen to classical music before bed, play a familiar song on the piano at home, or throw myself into trying a brand new song.
Most of us have playlists we listen to when we feel a certain way - angry, romantic, excited - and ones that help us with certain activities like exercising, studying, or sleeping. Emotion and music are linked together. Music helps us to experience emotions again and again. You can hear a certain song and be immediately transported to the same emotions you had when you heard it the first time. My husband and I, like most couples, have a song, and even though it became our song over 20 years ago, I still have that feeling of young love when I hear it.
"...music is math, it's art, it's emotion, and it's everywhere!"
Music shows me God
There is so much math and symmetry and so many interconnected relationships in music, that my mind can't comprehend a way that it could have just "happened." Someone had to design it. Though I myself don't have a musical ear, many do, and there's no other way that I can explain a small child with the ability to sit at a piano and play any song they've heard or a singer who can harmonize and improvise or a composer who can dream up symphonies than to believe those people have God-given gifts. Music has long been a way to praise and worship, and many musicians get their start in church. I believe in a creator God, and I think music was a pretty incredible creation!
A life in order is what I write about, and I think music can play a large part in a meaningful life. Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities listen to, play, learn, sing, teach, feel, appreciate, see God, and see others’ hearts in music?
I cracked open my brand new journal on my birthday this week. My first entry is titled "38 Things I Want to Accomplish While I'm 38." Last year, I wrote down one less goal for a 37 year-old's version of this list. I made the list with various types of goals - some fun, some frivolous, some personal, some professional, some physical, some spiritual, but all just for me. I made some easy and some a real challenge. I was thrilled to mark off one of them very early in the year - I beat my husband at chess! Sometime in my first three months of being 37, I was able to check off another one - I found an appropriately sized and stylish black purse - I call that a win! I didn't buy a new shower curtain or finish reading the whole Bible, though. In fact, I only completed 20 of the 37. Let me rephrase that, I completed 20 of the 37 things I wanted to do last year - that's over half, and some of them were really big!
5 reasons you should make your own birthday goal list this year!
1. It's fun
The goals can be anything - they can be meaningful or can be purely indulgent I kept mine private so I didn't feel embarrassed about how silly or insignificant some may have seemed to others.
2. It's low pressure
This birthday goal list was in addition to areas of focus for the year and related goals, so they weren't high stakes to me. They were just for fun and some were long shots - like I wanted to get 1,000 likes on my Facebook page - I made it to 335. I'm not upset because it was just an arbitrary number and working to get there got me to where I am!
3. It provides you multiple small wins
When you create lots of small, easy to attain goals, it makes you feel good about yourself as you check them off. This gives you momentum and motivation to attack larger goals! When you make attainable goals that are split up into digestible and measurable pieces, you set your self up for success. For example, don't set a goal to "read more" instead, set a goal to read a book. That's not too hard and once you've done it, you will likely want to do it again and again.
4. It allows you to dream of your future self
It's fun to daydream about where you will be in a year. Thinking about how we want our future self to look, feel and act can be fun, but also help us to set goals to help us get there. I often think about my future self - what would my future self appreciate me doing now (like stashing a dark chocolate Dove bar in my car's console so that I find it on a day I'm starving on my drive home and unexpectedly find this treat!); how will my future self feel when I've gotten through this tough season that I'm dealing with in the present (pride, joy, relief, or will I regret how I handled it?) ; or how will my future self benefit from this thing I'm doing today (exercising, eating right, etc.) If you've never considered the concept of your future self, listen to this Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast episode.
5. It gives you perspective and helps you give yourself grace.
Since I made this birthday goal list last year, I was able to read through what I wrote last January and reflect on why those things were important to me then. I realized some of them are no longer important to me now, and there are new things are in my life now that weren't even on my radar then. I did transfer a few of the undone items from last year to this year that I still care about. But I was also able to easily let go of some of the things I didn't accomplish. I gave myself permission to just not do them - just like that - no guilt or explanation needed!
Let us know in the comments if you make a birthday goal list this year!
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!