“Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a ‘nervous system’, to coordinate its actions” ~ Bill Gates, co-founder Microsoft
Are systems really that different than goals? On the surface they sound similar, don’t they? Yet how many goals have you set but never achieved? How does that make you feel? Like you’ve failed and are always starting over, right? In contrast, systems for life are daily habits, routines, processes, or practices you implement to support your intentions. And day-by-day, you reach your desired result in a much softer way.
For example, perhaps you set the goal of losing weight by a certain date. You may achieve that goal, but soon the pounds creep back on. Why? Going on a diet implies that at some point the diet ends. A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is a system of healthy eating and exercise that is ongoing and has lasting results.
Over the years, I’ve focused a lot on setting and achieving goals, developing small measurable steps and developing a buddy system. All of this is important, but it’s not effective if my strategies to achieve these goals aren’t successful ones.
What does it mean to develop systems for life?
Let me give you another example: Imagine that you want to go to the gym at 6am three times a week and you commit to doing that. You prepare your gym clothes and shoes the night before so getting dressed in the morning is a breeze. Your gym bag is ready and your water bottle is full and available.
It looks like you’ve set yourself up for success, right? But what if you decide to stay up late because you want to read 10 more pages of your book, or your friend calls and wants to talk about her ex one more time? Will you be successful at getting up when the alarm goes off the next morning?
And what if deep down you hate the gym? How long will you be able to sustain your commitment? When you associate displeasure with exercise, you unintentionally train yourself to stop doing it. If you force yourself to do it you end up using your limited supply of willpower. So what happens as a result? When you’re tempted to eat junk food you give in, negating the good that you accomplished at the gym.
How much better to create a system for being active every day at a level that feels good, while experimenting with different methods of exercise until you find the one you love. Maybe it’s something as simple as using a pedometer to count your steps. Before long your body is trained to crave that psychological boost. It builds a natural inclination for challenges that gently nudges you toward becoming more active. 10,000 steps today…12,000 steps tomorrow. That’s a sustainable system!
Don’t get me wrong. Goals are fine for getting a project finished. But they have their limitations…
- Goals remind you that you’re not good enough. You’re starting from that negative state and basing your happiness, not on the present, but on a future, which you may or may not achieve.
- Goals make you feel guilty when you don’t achieve them.
- Goals foster a yo-yo of short-term results, instead of a steady flow toward long-term progress, because as soon as the goal is achieved you revert back to previous practices.
- Goals make you feel powerless when you have setbacks. When you have systems for life you know you can pick it up again tomorrow when you feel better.
- Goals make you focus on one thing while de-emphasizing others things you’re committed to. Consequently, you’re more likely to miss out on opportunities that could be far better than your goal.
The interesting thing is that if you never set another goal, but have a variety of systems for living an excellent life, you’ll still achieve what really matters to you. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can mindfully enjoy the moment, while making improvements at the same time.
If you’re having trouble sorting out which system you need to implement first, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.
After a long, hard winter it’s a relief to feel the warmth of the sunshine and see the flowers beginning to emerge! It makes me think about the healing benefits of sunlight, but also about some of the dangers from unwise sun exposure.
In northern climes like Oregon where there are so many overcast days, many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Others struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression. Beware…this can also occur from spending all day in the office working!
How much sunlight you need to produce your daily dose of Vitamin D depends on where you live. Scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research has created an online calculator that can help you determine the amount for where you live. (Click here to learn more.) Without it our bones deteriorate (osteoporosis and rickets) and we’re more prone to cancers (prostate, breast, color and ironically, skin cancer) type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.
Our mood is greatly affected by the amount of sunlight we get. We need the light to calibrate our circadian cycle of sleep and wakefulness. And it builds our immune system by increasing the white blood cells, called lymphocytes, which play a major role in defending the body against infections. It’s also been noted to lower cholesterol, fight bacterial infections, and clear up some skin disorders. On the down side, too much exposure can cause painful burning, skin cancers and possibly cataracts.
Even though UV from the sun can be harmful in high doses, you can safely enjoy the outdoors without risking your health. Keep in mind I’m not giving medical advice. You must use common sense and listen to what your doctor says about your situation. That being said…here are a few tips that help you enjoy the benefits of sunlight safely…
- Know your skin type. If you burn very easily, you’ll have to exercise greater mindfulness in how long you stay out in the sun.
- During the less intense times of the day (sunlight is strongest from 11 am to 2 pm) gradually increase your exposure duration to 10 or 15 minutes.
- Use sunscreen for longer exposure. Do some research and find the most healthful brand for you. Many of the products contain fragrances and chemicals such as Oxybenzone, (linked to hormone disruption and cell damage) Retinyl palmitate, (a carcinogen), Octyl-methoxycinnamate (oxidation damage which ages your skin) Butyl-Methdiebenzoylmethane, (releases free radicals into the body) Benzophenone 2 (BP2), (decreases the function of the thyroid). So choose wisely.
- Find sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection and good coverage of your full field of vision.
- Wear a hat and cover up in white clothing (more cooling on hot summer days than no clothing) during long exposure times.
- Be mindful of what you eat. A balanced, nutritious diet provides protection from some of the sun’s hazards. However, a diet high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats like sunflower, safflower, and other vegetable oils will make you more prone to sun damage. Healthier fats to use are coconut, avocado or palm oils.
- Also be mindful that some medications make you more sensitive to sunlight. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the type you take falls in this category.
Don’t let the fear of sun keep you from enjoying life fully. Exercise mindful awareness of the risks and benefits of sunlight and get outside! Now is a good to assess your entire body/mind/spirit wellness to determine ways you can improve. Download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It’s an eye-opening self-examination guide.
If you already know what changes you want to make, but you need some accountability and support, then feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype. I’d love to help you reach your goals!
Introducing The Neways Wheel of Life – Find Your Balance
“It’s not enough to be busy; So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Work-Life Balance…can it really exist? There are millions of people searching for the answer to work-life balance. Since the issue of balance usually arises when one feels that something important is missing in life, this indicates that way too many people are unhappy. And shouldn’t it really be called Life-Work Balance anyway? Life is more important isn’t it?
If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you:
- How do you define balance in your life?
- What might it look like when your life is truly balanced?
Some people look at life-work balance as a three-legged stool that needs all three legs for balance – the legs represent their physical, mental and spiritual needs. Yet this seems to oversimplify it because within those three categories are so many areas of life. And for many people, balance involves feeling like they have TIME, but don’t we all have the same amount of time? So there’s something needed that’s much deeper than just having time.
No matter what your definition of balance is, achieving a feeling of harmonious peace and happiness is really a matter of both internal and external balance.
If you’re internally balanced:
- Your inner critic is in check and it operates more like a friendly coach.
- You can methodically work on self-awareness – knowing yourself allows you to share the true you with others.
- You have awareness of your values and always operating from them.
- You check in periodically to make sure all inner parts are congruent and feel seen and listened to.
- You have a balance between taking risks and stretching beyond comfort and pursuing what is quiet and familiar.
If you are externally balanced:
- You will engage all areas of life (see The Wheel image below) that fit your lifestyle.
- You surround yourself with social support.
- You set boundaries.
- You’re comfortable with saying, “NO”.
I’d like to share seven steps that you can take to achieve greater balance…
- Define what balance is to you. Your definition will be uniquely yours.
- Identify your values by using percentages: 15% fun, 10% travel, 25% family…to see how much you require of each to be happy in an ideal world.
- Take care of basic needs: nutrition, water, sleep, exercise, vitamins and supplements.
- Regularly visit a supportive therapist, coach, or mentor.
- Make quality time for social contact.
- Block out “alone time” to be introspective, using mindfulness to get to know yourself more deeply – what your wants, needs, preferences, personality traits, and quirks are.
- Manage your energy not time! As the book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, demonstrates, managing time is not the key. Instead, focusing on a balance of exertion and renewal helps youreach optimal performance.
Here is a tool for you to use in your quest for balance. It’s called The Neways Wheel of Life – Find Your Balance.
Click here to get your downloadable, printable PDF copy of the Neways Wheel.
This Wheel of Life is designed to visually help you develop your own definition and vision of a balanced life. Each wedge represents critical aspects of life: Friends & Family, Healthy & Wellbeing, Love & Intimacy, Career, Personal Growth & Learning, Life Vision & Purpose – Spiritual Fulfillment, Fun & Leisure, and Physical Environment.
From 1 to 10 how would you rate your satisfaction in each area of the Wheel of Life? (Please print a copy of THE Wheel of Life and fill it in with where you are right now. Keep it handy and check your progress regularly.) You’ll find that your numbers will vary. And that’s a good thing. Obtaining a perfect 10 in all categories is not the goal. Balance is not static. It’s like riding a bicycle. You only remain balanced if you keep moving forward. Remember, it’s the journey that counts. We never truly get to the destination, because our definition and vision of balance changes as we change throughout the years!
No matter where you begin, all the sections of your life are interconnected, just like the wedges on the Wheel of Life. It’s simply a matter of what you want to focus on first. If you’re craving a more balanced lifestyle, it might be time to enlist the help of a life coach who can help you fully utilize your Wheel of Life. Contact me, because I would love to work with you!
“Good order is the foundation of all things.” ~ Edmund Burke
People who focus on excellence, like leaders and business coaches, know that their best performance starts with becoming highly organized and that “Clutter is a state of mind.” A cluttered space begets a muddled mind and vice-versa.
I have a confession: I’m unusually organized. Not only do I make my bed every morning, I also find a way to tidy up and declutter as I go. I partly inherited this from my mother. I suspect her neatness was a way to cope with stress and anxiety. I’m so glad this gave me a model for creating a simpler, clutter-free environment.
Being highly organized is not only a way to create pleasant spaces but also a strategy for doing anything in life. It means being clear about what you want, being able to prioritize, setting outcomes and the respective steps to make your way to the goal.
We can’t run around stressed all the time with a million things on our mind and expect to perform at our best. So…how are you going to change your lifestyle to one that’s more organized?
Take a look at the following highly organized characteristics that leaders cultivate. (You can do the same with daily, mindful attention.)
1. Be undistracted by uncluttering your mind. Learn to work through the daily stress in a way that let’s you forget it and move on. For some, the best method is a vigorous workout. Others like yoga, walking, or talking with a friend or professional. Personally, I love Crossfit, Archery, and Aikido.
2. Be proactive. If a task takes fewer than five minutes, do it! Pick it up, wipe it down, put it away. That way work doesn’t frustratingly pile up.
3. Be goal oriented. Create an environment that makes it easy to achieve your goals. It’s easier to let things go when they’re not attached to your goals.
4. Be optimistic. The can-do attitude keeps you on track. Focus on filling your mind with the positive things you can do, even if they seem small.
5. Be decisive. Wishy-washy gets you nowhere. Consider your options, pick the best one and work it to the best of your ability without looking back.
6. Be imperfect. Don’t become immobilized in the minutia of the details. It’s never going to be perfect, so determine when it’s good enough and move on.
7. Be list, calendar, and container oriented. Make a place for everything, and put everything in its place. This applies to physical items and routinely scheduled events. You’ll know where it is when you need it and you’ll know if you have a slot open in your schedule for invitations and requests. Capturing your ideas in a detailed list of tasks frees up your mental energy. Referring to your list and calendar often keeps you on-task. This helps you foresee any potential conflicts that might interfere with your goals.
8. Be able to say, “No.” When you know exactly what you want, it’s easier to turn down invitations and requests that don’t fit into your goals.
9. Be prepared. Know how much time you have to complete a project and leave enough time, including a cushion for unexpected occurrences, to do it.
10. Be focused. Avoid multi-tasking. It’s better to protect your time by shutting out distractions and focusing on doing one task at a time.
11. Be aware of your strengths and play to them. Define how you want to live your life such as how you want your home to look, how you want to dress, how you spend your time. This makes it easier to set goals and accomplish them. Do your most taxing work when you’re alert and energized.
12. Be willing to ask for help. Trying do it all yourself only causes more stress. Respect your most valued resource – time – and use it wisely.
13. Be content. Just because you see something beautiful you don’t need to possess it. Just because it’s on sale, it’s not a good deal if you don’t really need it.
14. Be in love with what you own and do. Everything need to be cared for and maintained whether these are relationships, skills, or possessions. Streamline your focus to the place where you can thrive.
15. Be choosy. Don’t attach sentimental value to everything you own. For example, just because you inherit your parents’ furniture, it’s okay to pass it on to someone else if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
What I love about being highly organized is that it:
- Saves time in the long run,
- Lessens your stress because you’re not “playing catch-up”,
- Makes you feel better about yourself,
- Prepares you for everything,
- Empowers you to say NO to excess and say YES to what you really want,
- Energizes you as you stop procrastinating, and
- Shifts your focus from quantity to quality.
Being organized is about striving for optimal effectiveness and maximum efficiency in any task. It is about feeling more in control, about the thrill of setting things up for success. Wouldn’t you love the freedom to be exactly who you’re meant to be as you enjoy each moment of life? Becoming organized can get you there! Contact me and let’s work together on ways that empower you to make lasting change. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Stressed out. Strung out. Uptight. On edge. Tense. Nervous. People have such a hard time achieving a deeply relaxed state of mind. Any little thing can set them off, send them over the edge. This is taking a terrible toll on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health of us and our loved ones.
Earlier, I shared a number of ways to achieve deep relaxation through Progressive Muscle Relaxation and simply making time for things you enjoy. (Yes, that’s me in the picture. I love archery!) As mentioned, to get the most benefit, focus on relaxation via the body, via the mind, and via the soul.
What do I mean by Deep Relaxation via the Soul?
A lot of people say that they can’t relax because their lives are chaotic and messy. It’s important to practice your ability to relax fully no matter the circumstances or the conditions around you. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) teaches us that we can choose any psychological state at will. This means that you can experience bliss, joy, gratitude, or love no matter what is happening in your life. And one of the NLP techniques that helps you do this is called “anchoring”.
In NLP, “anchoring” refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly and subtly accessed.
NLP anchoring techniques are based on science. Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov, famously demonstrated how conditioning works. He rang a bell every time dogs were fed. Soon the dogs psychologically associated the smell and taste of food with the sound of the bell. So even if the food was not present, the dogs would salivate at the sound. The bell (an external trigger) caused a real physiological response (salivation) even though the smell and taste were absent.
NLP anchoring techniques similarly cause you to psychologically associate a signal or trigger (tapping your chest, snapping a rubber band, squeezing your fingers) with a physiological response (an emotion, mood, or mental state) of your choice. When you experience a negative emotion, you can trigger a positive emotion and extinguish the negative one. This thereby allows you to choose your mood or state of mind no matter what the circumstances are.
Here are 7 Easy Steps to Anchoring a Resourceful State of Mind:
- Decide on the state you want to anchor. For example being calm and relaxed.
- Recall a memory or imagine a situation where you can experience the state. Make it very detailed and vivid, using all your senses.
- When the experience is vivid and you’re in the desired state, connect it with a part of your body. For example, put your hand on your heart when the state is at its peak!
- Now, break state by removing your hand and doing something else. Open your eyes, count down from 10 to break state and distract yourself.
- Apply the anchor by just placing your hand on your heart and check that the required state, such as calmness or peace, occurs again.
- You may need to repeat the anchoring process a number of times to make the experience sufficiently intense.
- Use your new anchor in the situation where you want to experience the desired state. For example, when you’re feeling stressed during your next business meeting, place your hand on your heart and make sure it creates a sufficiently robust resourced state of calmness.
NLP anchoring techniques are really a method of deep relaxation that is best learned under the guidance of a trained professional. If you’d like to add this excellent tool to your life skills, please contact me and I’d be happy to help you finally achieve the peace you crave.