Archive for the ‘habits’ Category

Routine or Ritual?

 

Habits and routines created with intention can make life easier in so many ways. I don’t mean the unconscious habits of going for a snack when you’re bored or throwing clothes on the chair rather than hanging them up. Those are the habits that most people say they’d like to change.

What I’m talking about are the productive behaviors you want to change the problem behaviors to. I’m also including other positive routines and habits – such as regular sleep and wake time, paying bills every Friday, that kind of thing. For example, I have a morning routine that goes breakfast, exercise, shower and dress, work. Sometimes I have an early client and have exercise or shower after that. The actions of the routine may get shuffled but not neglected because they’ve become habitual.

Now with a ritual you are adding an additional element—the conscious intention of the behavior helping you be more of the person you wish to be. Here’s an example that uses the process of ritual:

Intention: Organizing a space in which you can find things, get things done, and keep what’s important to you safe. Hold the intention of creating your space as a sanctuary where you can be comfortable and focus on what is meaningful.

Planning: Schedule a block of time to look at all of the things in your space. During this time, you will make a decision about every item in your space. If something has no use or meaning, or is no longer important to you, consider letting it go. Some things will be tossed, some given away, and some perhaps stored elsewhere because they are rarely used. Next, look at what will stay – the things you want to keep and use all the time. Think about where it makes the most sense to put the items you’ve decided are special to you and support your intention.

Preparation: Your first action step is the clearing and de-cluttering. A cleansing process is often done to make way for something new. After clearing, find the right kinds of containers for the things you have. Now, take a break.

Manifestation: Set aside a morning or afternoon for the ritual. Enter the room and close the door. Sit down and focus on your intention.

Select one type of object—say books. As you recognize in what way they reflect who you are and what’s important to you, you can claim them as power objects. Put them in the areas you’ve decided upon.

To close the ritual, imagine doing what you will be doing in each area of the room. Do you feel better, worse or, the same as before? Make sure you feel good everywhere. Take a photograph of your space.

Integration: Put the photograph on the wall or in your journal. Use it as a daily or weekly reminder as perhaps the first step of a maintenance ritual.

What’s Your Story?

When I was studying to be a coach, I was introduced to a book called, Taming Your Gremlin.

No, it is not a manual for those who have mythological pets. Rather it addresses all of us who have that voice in our head that says things like, “you can’t…,” “you’re not…,” or “you should.” Despite the fact that the voice is likely disparaging, we have a tendency to listen and believe what it says. We are believing that story as if it were fact.

Belief. That is the key here.

You may have heard the quote by Henry Ford that goes, “whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” Fortunately, because we have the ability to learn and change we can change our beliefs. We can create new “mindsets.” Our mindsets are beliefs that determine how we deal with life and make choices.

Do you feel like your brain is holding you back? Or, maybe, it’s not that obvious. Have you ever felt like no matter what you cannot get past this certain place? That is still your mindset – that little voice telling you that you cannot do better. If you want to make changes in limiting mindsets, the first step is to recognize that there is a self-limiting story that’s running the show. The next step is to consider re-writing the story.

Yes. You can do it. It takes practice to get the new story to take hold but it’s worth it. For example if you have a story that you “have to” do something and you find yourself resisting, try thinking that you “get to” do it. Or when you hear yourself thinking “I failed miserably with…” how about thinking, “I learned what works and what doesn’t so I can do things differently the next time.”

On the other hand, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours.” Said Richard Bach in Jonathan Livingston Seagull. You’re so much better than that.

Why play small when you can fly?

To-Do, or Not To-Do

 

Is your To-Do list the bane of your existence? Or is it an effective time management tool? Those of us list-makers find that writing things down can alleviate possible memory issues, such as going to the market and leaving without the most important item, or packing for a trip to a beachside resort and discovering you forgot to pack a swim suit.

 

But some people personify the To-Do list and hear it relentlessly nagging with “you should…” or “when are you going to…” If you have a list with countless items and you don’t begin because you don’t know where to begin, you are likely to have thoughts like that run through your head.

 

Why not find ways to effectively manage your to do list?

  1. Categorize items
  2. Prioritize items in each category according to things like due dates
  3. Estimate roughly how much time, and when you can realistically attend to the high priority tasks
  4. Schedule them in your calendar as appointments

 

If you still feel that your To-Do list is more like the Grim Reaper constantly hovering over you than a helpful reminder of what you’d like to get done, how about a Not-To-Do list?

 

In her article “To-Do Lists are Great but Do-Not-Do lists Might Be Even Better for You,” Caroline Liu argues that a Do Not Do list lets you dump (or limit) the things that are keeping you from what’s really important. This list makes you look at all the things that you do do in your day and say, “this is not worthy of my time, I’m not going to do it any more.”

 

The key thing is to NOT. DO. THEM. ANY. MORE.

 

Busy Doing What?

Nobody is too busy; it’s just a matter of priorities. Laura Vanderkam has an eye-opening TED talk on this subject.

What if you could be in charge of designing your days by creating a time budget? You know how to budget your money, right? If you have a regular paycheck and you’re aware of your monthly income, presumably, you know how much goes to rent/mortgage, utilities, food, transportation, etc., and what might remain for saving or random spending. And if you don’t have a regular paycheck, then you really have to budget to stay on top of things.

How about applying the same principles to your calendar? Realistically, how much time can you/must you devote to work? To health? To taking care of your home? To your family, friends, community? You can use your calendar to block time for your priorities in each area. Some things will be high priority items, some medium, and some low. You want to commit to the high priorities as much as is realistically possible. It also makes sense to have both cushions and flexibility. For example, include travel times for appointments, and padding for things that run longer than intended.

Sometimes the best laid plans…, so when that happens consider rescheduling as an option. When something unexpected happens – maybe you get a flat tire on the way to your workout class – look for a place later in the week when you can get a different workout in, and make sure to put it in your calendar.

Of course, a portion of your time needs to be spent creating your time budget and updating it daily. Schedule that too. And pay attention to how long things really take so that you can improve your time budgeting skills.

The Upside of Failing

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Did you know — At age 23 Oprah was fired from her first reporting job? Or that Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer when he was 24? How about this fun fact– at 28, J.K. Rowling was a single parent living on Welfare. And finally, Def Jam Records dropped Lady Gaga after three months. She went on to earn six Grammy awards and thirteen MTV Video Music awards!

Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates famously said, “it’s fine to celebrate success, but more important are the lessons of failure.” The key word here is lessons.
Lessons mean you get to look at your intention, review what worked, what didn’t and then make adjustments. Failing at anything, from eating a big dessert three days into a new diet to writing a report that you discover is missing a paragraph only after it goes to print, means you get to learn how to make future attempts get more pleasing results.

This is lots of what we do in coaching. We shape behaviors so improvement is constant.

Three Tips to Avoid Late Fees

Penalty word in 3d letters on a steel bear trap to illustrate punishment, fees or fines for breaking rules

Do you ever procrastinate on paying bills? Solutions exist.

 

The List

First make a list of all your monthly bills and their general due dates. Note that some may be due weekly, while others are monthly or quarterly. Some bills will usually have due dates early in the month while others will be due later in the month. Organize your bills in the order that they need to be paid.

 

Pay Date versus Due Date

This is a place where lots of people screw up. Whether you pay electronically or send in a check, there is a time span between when the payment is made and when it arrives. If you pay online, your bank will usually have a note as to how many days it takes for the money to be transferred. If you put a check in the mail it could be anywhere from two days to who knows when. Scheduling pay dates a week before due dates is generally a safe bet.

 

Alert, Alert

If you’re income varies, have you noticed that institutions don’t like it when you try to pay a bill with money that doesn’t exist? Alerts can help with this. With online banking you can set alerts to send you an email with your balance daily or weekly. They can also let you know when a check posts, when you have a low balance threshold, and more. This is great information whether you are paying all your bills yourself or using automatic deductions to handle the job.

 

Finally, tips are only good ideas without implementation. So schedule a chunk of time in your calendar each week to be used for bill pay. Make it an appointment. If something that feels more urgent comes up, make sure to reschedule to a time within 24 hours.

Who’s in Your Head and Why Are They So Negative?

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If you had a friend who consistently said things to you that made you feel small, things that were damaging to your self-esteem, would you maintain the relationship?

What if that so called “friend” was an ever-present voice in your head? You know, it’s the one that says things like, “what’s the use?” “why bother?” “you’ll never…,” “you’re not good enough,” “no one understands you,” “you don’t deserve…, “you should….”  Sound familiar?

I bet it does.

The thing is, as limiting and disparaging as those voices are, we tend to listen to them.

What if you didn’t?

Recognize that there are any number of positive and supportive options available at any time. No need to argue with the negative voice. Just thank it for its opinion and give yourself permission to recognize that you do deserve to have, be and do what’s important to you, that you can make mistakes and still be okay, that it might take a number of attempts to get t–hings the way you want them to be and that perfection need not be necessarily be required.

One caveat—that little voice never actually goes away, but you can definitely learn to ignore it.

Are You Ready to Take a Stand for What You Say You Want?

There’s a life changing concept I want to share with you. It’s based on a line in the 1976 movie, Network. In it, the news anchor rants to the television audience, “Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’”

Maybe you’re not quite mad as hell, but perhaps there are things in your life that you’re tired of, frustrated with, given up on. Maybe you think you “should” do something, but you haven’t done anything yet and you don’t have a plan.

we only regret chances we didn't take comment illustration design graphic

Things don’t change just because it would be nice if they did. And you’re not necessarily going to do something differently just because it’s a good idea. But if you’re ready to take a stand for what you want to do, or be or have and commit to that…well.

John Assaraf said, “If you’re interested, you’ll do what’s convenient; if you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.” Yes, change might be a bit of a challenge. So what. Lance Armstrong put it well when he said, “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.”

So I challenge you to take a stand for yourself. Use this quote by Paul J. Meyer as your affirmation. “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.”

Here’s how it works. First, you imagine yourself doing, having or being what you say you want. Want it so bad that you have that commitment to do whatever it takes. Make sure you truly believe you can make that happen, and that you deserve it. Finally, create a plan and work it. Work on it every day. Get support if you need it. Do it.

The Last Newsletter You’ll Ever Read

newsletter blog

Okay, this is not a promise. It’s more of a thought exercise.

What motivates you to read newsletters?
Do you look forward to useful tips, new information, special offers, upcoming events?
Do you open and read all the newsletters that arrive?
Do you anticipate the arrival of any of them?
Do you delete any unread?

I don’t know your situation, but I receive newsletters from people I barely know as well as from colleagues. Reading takes time and for most of us, our time is valuable.

There are three newsletters I read every time. Invariably they contain information I can use. A few others are interesting to me on occasion and I briefly scan them. And for the rest…there is a link at the bottom of every newsletter that lets you “unsubscribe.” (I hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot here).

So if time management is a concern for you, deciding how you can best use your time is important. If you are already using your calendar and focusing on your priorities (some of you know these are your “big rocks”) when and where do activities like reading newsletters fit for you? Deciding what’s important is important. If the information or education that arrives in a newsletter could have value, great. Look at your schedule and see when you have some time you can set aside for reading.

My intention is to provide a useful tip to you every month, along with a notice or two. If there’s something you’d like, please let me know. My goals is to give you information and tools you can implement.

Newsletter tips not enough? Contact me for that complimentary coaching session I offer.

Now Where Did I Put My…?

Lost Keys in the Freezer

My keys are in the freezer???

Does this ever happen to you? You’re carrying a few bags of groceries from the car to the house. Later that day, you’re in a hurry to leave again and your keys are nowhere to be found.

There are only so many things you can fully attend to at a time. When you’re engaged in a conversation, or have ten things on your mind something as “trivial” as where you set something down may shoot right past your short term memory.

My uncle Leon would have his glasses pushed up on top of his head. After looking all over the house for them, he’d offer me a quarter if I could find them for him. Easiest quarters I ever made. Like Leon, everyone misplaces things from time to time-you put your keys in your pocket because you’re carrying a few bags, hang up your jacket and later wonder where your keys are, or put the remote control down to get a snack then return and cannot find the darned clicker.

Two solutions:

1. Create places where you always (okay almost always) put certain items, like keys, phone, wallet, shoes. It’s kind of like having the address for them. Once you develop the habit, chances are you’ll find your items where they belong.

2. Calm down. For when you don’t put things where they belong, even if you’re in a rush, stop. Sit down. Close your eyes and breathe. Think about what you were doing when you last had the item. Recreate your steps. Do this as calmly as possible.

How do you decide where something “belongs” anyway? Where is the first place you generally look for the item? If there isn’t some place that seems obvious, pick a place a build the habit. I have a client who has to know where her keys are even if she cannot find anything else. Whenever she moves, the first thing she does is decide where “that place” is going to be for her keys. Even when she comes into the house with arms full of groceries, her keys always seem to land in their place.

Have you ever put something important in a safe place and then forgotten just where that place is? Again, having a special safe place that you use all the time can make a huge difference. Trust me. I still haven’t found two – hundred dollar bills I put safely away last fall.