“The future depends on what we do in the present.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi
The Yo-Yo diet, a roller coaster of emotions, the ebb and flow of life are expressions we use to describe how life never happens in a straight line. We’re not robots, nor do we rely on instinct like animals do. We have to use our brains to plan, to choose, to decide, to act… Yet we often revert to unhealthy old behaviors rather than adopt new, healthier ones. Why is that?
When you try to do something that goes against your habitual behavior, you fight not only against your circumstances; you fight against yourself! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. When you focus on skill building for habits that serve you rather than on changing solely by means of willpower, you’ll finally be able to create the life you really want to live.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, “40% to 45% of what we do every day is actually habit.” His studies led him to discover that every habit has three components. 1) The Cue – the trigger for the behavior; 2) The Behavior – what you do; and 3) The Reward – teaches your brain how to encode the pattern of behavior. Most people focus on the behavior, but it’s the cue and the reward that really determine why you practice a specific habit.
Do you want to reset your habits? It can be done through skill building. For habits to stick, they have to become your default state of being. Habits are automatic, naturally brain-friendly, learned behaviors. Yes, you’ve learned every habit you have.
That means you have the power to mindfully create any habit you want, if you learn the foundation of skill building for habits. Here are seven steps to make it happen…
- Identify one small action or thought you really want to embrace. Make it tiny and specific to increase your chances of success. For example, if you want to journal so you become more self-aware of the habits that are holding you back, your first step will be to buy a special journal and pen, and keep them with you.
- Choose an anchor behavior (The Cue) that triggers your new action. As soon as you experience a supportive action or self-limiting belief, jot in your journal a note, so you can explore it later in the day.
- Keep your new behavior (The Behavior) simple. Don’t over-complicate things or rush into trying to do too much. Every night, brew a cup of tea, sit in a designated spot and finish the entry in your journal.
- Create an environment conducive to success. If you habitually sit in front of the TV after dinner, don’t sit in that chair to journal. This helps break the cycle.
- Celebrate (The Reward). Don’t wait for some big milestone, before you celebrate. Each time you tell yourself you did a great job today, you release dopamine into your brain. This reward makes you want to replicate the behavior to experience that feeling again. If you have trouble talking nicely to yourself, be sure to enlist the help of a mentor, coach or friend who celebrates every win, no matter if they seem small. A win is a WIN!
- Rinse and repeat. Repetition is the mother of retention. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
- Assess and adjust. Even if a method worked for someone else, if it doesn’t work for you, try something different until you find a method that does work. Actively search for the best solution for YOU.
Over time, your new habit will be stored in your unconscious mind. It will become automatic and easy to do. No more fighting yourself to do what you really want! Baby steps lead to transformation. If you’d like guidance and accountability as you develop your skills for building new habits, please contact me and an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It’s easier when you have help.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.
Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?
- Growth & learning
- Daily relaxation
This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:
1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.
But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.
I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all.
2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.
Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.
3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)
When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Ancient wisdom says there are many benefits of waking up early. What’s your normal wake up time? Mine is 5:00 a.m. Some people, extreme early risers, get up around 4:00 a.m.
There are numerous reasons why I love getting up early each morning. No, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but once I’m up, I love it!
I love drinking my morning coffee with my sweetie and my two kitties. I love how it sets the tone for my day. I love driving through the morning light as I go to or come home from the gym. It’s my special time of the day, before other demands crowd in on me.
Maybe you’re not a “morning person” but getting in tune with the natural rhythms of life and the cycle of the sun can help you live more intentionally. Bottom line: you’ll feel better physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Here are five of my top benefits of waking up early:
Productivity. With a clear mind and well-rested body, the ability to concentrate is at its peak. No one is there to interrupt your train of thought or to impose their priorities upon you. You can optimize your performance, because your body hasn’t experienced the wear and tear of the day.
One warning: if you waste this time on emails, social media or texting, your brain will get a hit of dopamine, like you’ve accomplished something, but you haven’t accomplished anything with lasting satisfaction. The first hour of the day should be your time to focus on what matters most to you. Concentrate on doing “deep work” as author and professor, Cal Newport suggests.
More time. You feel like you don’t have enough time, right? I know you’ve said that a time or two. But when you get up early, it’s like you’re creating more time.
Wouldn’t you rather greet each day calmly, rather than being stressed out as you rush out the door? That just puts your game off for the whole day. Being up before everyone else gives you time to plan and getting organized.
Creativity. Sleep lets your brain sort through the previous day’s challenges. When you wake up to the sacred space you’ve created for yourself, the answers you’re seeking will more easily come to you. As your mind roams free in the tranquility of the morning, you’ll get some of your best ideas.
Mindful decisions. Waking up early means you’re going to have to go to bed earlier, because you do need restorative sleep. Developing the discipline to turn off that movie or close the book by 9:00 or 10:00 will give you a feeling of control…that you’re creating the life you want.
Before going to bed, plan out what you’ll do first thing in the morning. Lay out your gym clothes, or open the book you want to read or the journal you want to write in. Whatever your goals are…use this time as an investment in yourself.
Peace of Mind. There’s magic in the early morning hours. The air has a different feel. The birds are just waking up. The calm and quiet helps you think. It gives you the opportunity to listen to what your body and spirit is telling you. And there’s nothing better than watching the endless beauty of each sunrise.
Studies have shown that once you open your wallet and spend money, then it’s easier to do it again and again. The same is true with spending time as you invest in yourself. It breaks the dam of feeling unworthy. Are you ready to make that breakthrough and claim your worthiness? Then please attend our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP in Ashland, Oregon. Nando and I promise you will reap huge benefits, if you come fully prepared to participate wholeheartedly.
“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” ~ Lysa Terkeurst
Let’s look in and see what many women deal with, especially during the holidays …
As she starts her day, she wonders, “When am I going to find the time to get everything done? I have three work deadlines and I’m behind schedule. And now the holidays are here… so everything has to be perfect! The house must be cleaned from top to bottom. I have to decorate at least as well as my sister does or Mom is going to say something. With everyone’s food allergies how am I going to cook for all of them? On top of that I have to smile through Uncle Ted’s jokes again…Eeeeek! I feel like I’m going to explode!”
Life in general causes many women to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Then the holiday season brings with it its own set of stressful circumstances. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed all the time, it can almost drive you over the edge. It’s no wonder so many women are suffering from adrenal fatigue. They’re burning the candle at both ends.
So how can you relieve your feeling of overwhelm, so life is more enjoyable?
1. Create routines so you make fewer decisions.
If you’re not clear on what you want, making decisions creates stress. So the more things you can do routinely, the less stress you’ll have. This is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a break. Try simple changes like getting up at the same time or following a meal plan.
2. Move your body every day.
I’ve found that The Feldenkrais Method® really helps me to sense into myself.
Endorphins combat stress, and exercise stimulates endorphins. It doesn’t take a lot, just doing something extra every day.
3. Eat mindfully.
Too many people eat on the run. Make sure you carve out time to sit and mindfully eat a balanced breakfast and lunch. Don’t check your emails. Don’t try to work and eat. Put away your electronic devices and reading material. Breathe deeply and feel yourself slow down before you take your first bite.
4. Don’t immediately commit to something.
Because we hate to let anyone down we often reflexively say “yes” to every request. Instead, practice saying, “let me get back to you on that.” It buys you time to consider whether you want to do it or not.
5. Try simple meditation.
Close your eyes. Breathe in for a count of four. Breathe out for a count of four. Repeat another three times. And you’re done.
6. Visualize each task as completed.
Sit quietly for 30 seconds and think about what it means to finish what you start. Commit and trust yourself to follow through. How will that feel? What will it mean to your life? Think about it and let it move you forward.
“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
7. What you should do doesn’t always matter.
We have a limited number of hours in the day, and while you may have many interests, you can only realistically do a few major projects a year. You don’t have to do everything. So ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this or can I let it slide?” Focus on the things you really want to do.
8. Don’t wait for motivation. So many times you won’t feel like doing a project, but if you just get started with one step of it, you’ll find it leads to the next. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a quick way to randomly pursue something, then give up, only to yo-yo back a couple weeks later. If you have life systems then you won’t have to depend on willpower or inspiration.
Instead of depending on fleeting motivation, build a system. This means you work through the steps of finding a new job, add it to your calendar every week, and make sure you have the time and mental energy (which are much easier once you know what to do).
Are you ready to live a more intentional life? Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), and let’s get started.
What are you most grateful for? I’m so grateful for a supportive husband, close family, loving friends, a great business working with wonderful women, a strong body, having the skills to cope with daily ups and downs and so much more. My list is really too long to itemize. Perhaps it’s the same with you.
Did you realize that some people struggle with listing even five things they’re grateful for? Ungrateful people tend to focus on deprivation, regrets, lack, scarcity and loss. Grateful people, on the other hand, tend to talk about things like gifts, givers, blessings, fortune and abundance.
Why does being grateful come easily for some but not for others?
According to experiments conducted by Anthony Ahrens, associate professor of psychology at American University, people who score high for autonomy experience less overall gratitude, and they value it less. It’s possibly because they feel that gratitude undermines their independence.
People who tend to be perfectionists may also have a neutral or negative reaction to gratitude because it attributes their success to benefits received from others. They don’t want to feel beholden in any way. And they don’t want to share the spotlight with anyone else.
Living in a culture that equates having “things” with happiness also undermines a person’s ability to feel grateful. Much of society feels entitled, that the universe owes them. They see relationships through the lens that they are bought, used and disposed once their purpose is fulfilled, just like the “things” they purchase.
Depression may also be a factor. Studies suggest that chronic complaining may be linked to depression and anxiety. If you ever experience severe depression, please seek help immediately. If you’re experiencing a funk, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how practicing gratitude can life your spirits.
Have you been influenced by any of these limiting points of view? Don’t feel discouraged. There are things you can do to improve.
The good thing about gratitude is you can always have more. So don’t reserve a spirit of thankfulness to just once a year. As Zig Ziglar put it, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
When you do feel amazingly awesome moment of gratitude, savor those feelings. Pause. Notice. Let it sink in. Soak it up.
But gratitude is more than a feeling. Gratitude is a virtue that leads to action. It embodies the law of reciprocity. You do a nice thing for me, I want to do a nice thing for you. And it makes me feel so good I want to pass it on to someone else.
To say you’re grateful doesn’t mean everything in your life is great all the time. It just means you can see the goodness and you don’t take it for granted. Gratitude shifts your focus from what you think your life lacks to the abundance you already have. It increases your resiliency, optimism and energy. Gratitude puts situations into perspective so you don’t complain or stay stuck. It lessens panic and opens up your thinking of new solutions as you see what’s working for you.
Just as there are many ways to exercise, you can express gratitude in various ways like practicing mindfulness, meditating, praying, reminiscing and sharing stories, being more generous, or spending time in nature. Some families have made a practice of taking turns to express one thing they’re grateful for before eating dinner. What an easy and sustainable practice!
Once you decide to practice gratitude, give it some time before you expect changes. But be assured they will come, because you can rewire your brain. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). We can talk about more ways to practice gratitude and live an embodied life.