If we are truly living, then we are immersed in a life of learning and growing as human beings.
As we are growing, we are in a continual cycle of aspiring, succeeding or failing. With wisdom we realize these positions are transitory. Quote from The Ego is the Enemy.
Personally, depending on which “part” of my life that I observe, I am currently in all three cycles all at once.
Aspiring, Succeeding, Failing
I am aspiring to launch and build my business, I am succeeding at helping my parents navigate their battle with cancer and I am failing at sustaining a relationship with my brother.
I am aspiring to find the best way to help my parents without enabling them, I am succeeding at keeping up with my own health and fitness routine and I am failing at prioritizing my time at work each day. I over estimate what time I really have and over promise to those clients I want to please.
What helps me during cycles of failure, is to be my own best coach. Just like a coach who faces a loosing team, I champion myself through difficult moments of exasperation by reminding myself of who I am and what I am capable of. I promise to face each moment with my highest standards.
On Being My Own Best Coach and maximizing my own potential.
I remember and I realize . . .
- the impact of my attitude on my life.
- to believe in myself.
- I am never given more than I can handle.
- I don’t have all the answers right now.
- to remain solution focused.
- to ask questions and ask for help. I investigate and research those that have been here before me. I look for guidance.
- I should listen for answers and rely on others who can help.
- I need to make corrections. Corrections in my work, my attitude and my behavior.
- that God is working with me every day. Guiding me to do my best. I am not in this alone.
- I have done more difficult things before and I have made it through, successfully.
- I remember that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
For those of you who have been following me, you already know that I am determined to improve myself daily with the goal of going to bed a little smarter and stronger every day. I have a firm belief that it is my duty to give the best version of me to the world each day. Better Together
I am on a quest to learn and acquire new habits, rituals, patterns and thoughts to become the best version of me, because I can’t just “think” my way there. It takes action and deliberate practice. I hope to form a community here on this blog of like-minded motivated people so we can help each other grow mentally, physically and emotionally every day. We can learn a lot from each other and in turn become our best versions together. So with that stated, I really appreciate your advice and contributions. What has worked for you? What books are you reading? What exercises are you doing? What classes are you taking?
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin
So, today, I am sharing a smart, practical approach to organizing and achieving your personal goals for success.
Before that, a quick assessment.
What I have accomplished so far (a year of daily deliberate practice).
- I lost 25 lbs on The Four Hour Body, a slow carb diet
- I wake up with gratitude and journal everything I am thankful for
- I started a daily workout routine and began Spinning and dancing weekly
- I began a daily practice of mindful meditation to clear my head
- A commitment to reading and learning something new daily
- 30 minutes of writing and reading aloud my purpose and plan for my life
- and devoted Sunday mornings to a one hour spiritual ritual with my husband
This next year I hope to spark joy in my life by letting go of everything that I no longer need while continue to lighten up and create love out of everything I do – cooking, working, writing, sharing, everything. Inspired by Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Taming the Wild Within
Just like everyone else, I struggle with certain things and one of my biggest challenges is getting overwhelmed. I have too many goals, too many dreams and I vibrate on the side of hyper mania. This drives my family and my friends nuts, but they love me just the same. So calming myself down daily is a big thing for me. See “mindful meditation” practice above. I meditate for me and everyone that has to deal with me. I believe that mediation + movement (exercise) = my daily dose of medication.
“Dreams pass into the reality of action, from the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Anais Nin
So my practical advice today is to follow along with me as I show you how I am going to organize my goals in a way that will not overwhelm me, allow me to be successful and continue to become the best version of me. There is one rule: I can only do one goal at a time and make it a habit for the year.
Step 1. Categorizing Life
Here are my categories:
- Relationships & Family
- Professional & Career
- Financial Health
- Physical & Health
- Emotional & Spiritual
- Time Management & Routines
- Household & Living Environment
- Personal & Intellectual Development
Step 2. Rating My Development So Far
The rating scale: 0% = completely unhappy to 100% this is the best version of me
Here are my categories:
- Relationships & Family – 45%
- Professional & Career – 60%
- Financial Health – 15%
- Physical & Health – 50%
- Emotional & Spiritual –80%
- Time Management & Routines – 75%
- Household & Living Environment –35 %
- Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%
Step 3 – Identifying What Needs Improvement
“You cannot save people, you can only love them.” Anais Nin
- More forgiveness, patience and quality time scheduled with everyone I love. Friends and family.
- Make new friends from around the world through this blog.
Professional & Career – 60%
“One’s life shrinks or expands according to your courage.” Anais Nin
- Continue to inspire each day by sharing what I am learning each morning.
- Writing my book “Lightening Up, Sparking Joy, Creating Love” Giving Your Best to the World
- Helping new clients grow with my marketing and public relations skills
- Continue to improve my Social Media, Photoshop and WordPress skills
Financial Health – 15%
- Learn how to invest in successful companies for the long term while allowing compound interest work for me.
- Pay down left over credit card debt, reduce my living expenses and understand if the insurance I have is the best for my family
- Save 10% of what I earn monthly, no matter what.
Physical & Health – 50%
- Lose 5 more lbs, Tone my body with an increase in pushups, situps, planks and weights.
- Carry less tension in my body and practice a full body scan meditation to release that tension
- Visit my doctor for a full check up and blood work
- Become a more mindful eater with a mindful kitchen to prepare healthy meals
Emotional & Spiritual –80%
- Continue to remove negative thoughts of anger and doubt
- Practice radical acceptance with compassion and loving kindness
- Develop a schedule of meditation practices to do throughout the day
Time Management & Routines – 75%
- Develop a mindful relaxation ritual at night that does not include more than one glass of chardonnay
- Continue to write my 90 seconds of daily victories each evening
- No phones, laptops or tablets in the bed
- Relaxation stretches and meditation before bed
Household & Living Environment –35 %
“Anything that I cannot transform into marvelous, I let go.” Anais Nin
- Purge everything that doesn’t spark joy for me in my entire house and care for everything I decide to keep. – clean it, paint it, fold it, organize it, make it shine.
- Refrain from buying anything new unless absolutely necessary for the entire year.
Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%
- Find my work and home “uniform” – clothes that suit the occasion that I feel great in and that I don’t have to think about too much.
- Read and learn how to continue to become a better writer. I just found this amazing list of 150 free writing tools here
- Complete books I am reading including The Tools and my winter reading list.
My favorite morning tea
If you suffer from even just an occasional attack of anxiety, worry or ruminating thoughts, this post has some very useful tips on how to stop the spin cycle of subcortical looping, ie. excessive, repeating thoughts of worry and fear. These are therapies and tips that I have been researching and trying on myself. They are not to replace professional medical guidance.
First, a few book quotes from Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness
Worrying as a Way of Controlling the Future
The thoughts spinning around and around in our minds can be very convincing. We build elaborate scenarios of failure and chaos and believe them to be true. This may be very creative, but not conducive to happiness! Worry is a very real kind of mental suffering. I know because I come from a lineage of worriers myself. My mother used to joke that when she couldn’t think of anything to worry about, she’d really get worried. “It was my way of making sure I was taking care of things,” she says.
These are the thoughts that hold us back from doing the things that will bring us success.
Our minds can get stuck in worrying about phantom problems that we convince ourselves are real. As Mark Twain put it, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Reasonable planning for the future can give us direction, but obsessing about what might go wrong puts us in a perpetual state of stress and rarely brings about positive results.
The Problem with Chronic Worry is that it Solves Nothing and Causes Stress
“New solutions and fresh ways of seeing a problem do not typically come from worrying, especially chronic worry. Instead of coming up with solutions to these potential problems, worriers typically simply ruminate on the danger itself, immersing themselves in a low-key way in the dread associated with it while staying in the same rut of thought.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.
Health Problems Associated with Obsessive Worry
Not only does worrying drain your energy, chronic worrying will eventually manifest into insomnia, sleep disorders, stomach problems, heart issues, binge eating, headaches, anxiety and depression. I personally have suffered through IBS and severe panic attacks and have been seeking guidance and help my whole life. However, I no longer want to feel this way.
Your Worry and Thoughts are Real, but Not True
So how do we wake ourselves up from the suffering of obsessive worry and anxiety? Tara Brach, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW) suggests you shine some light on the worry by asking yourself a series of questions that begin with – What am I believing right now? Are you believing you will fail at something in the future? That something is wrong with you? That doom and gloom is right around the corner?
While the beliefs you have and those ruminating thoughts running your mind may feel very real they not necessarily true and they may be causing a very real physical effect on your body – like tightness, anxiety and fear.
Illusion exists because it’s not investigated.
As soon as you start questioning these thoughts and beliefs and shine a light of investigation on your fear-based loops you can begin to wake up out of their grip.
Question Your Beliefs
Shining the light of awareness on our worry really helps. Byron Katie the founder of Byron Katie International (BKI), an organization that includes The School for the Work and Turnaround House in Ojai, California recommends we ask ourselves some powerful questions as we investigate the validity of our worry.
Take a moment to answer these questions. (Note, this is not a one time quick fix, in order to really do the work, these questions should be asked over and over again, it’s a practice.)
What am I believing right now?
Is it true? Do I really know that this is true?
What is it like to be living with this belief? What does it feel like? Do I feel small? Contracted? Sad? Defeated?
How has this affected my life to be believing this?
How would I be if I didn’t believe this to be true?
These questions and post was inspired today by this amazing talk by Tara Brach. Click here to listen to more Releasing Limiting Beliefs
Suggested Reading: True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
I am researching and studying the benefits of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Here are a few tips I have picked up a long the way. They have certainly helped me lighten up from the weighted suffering of worry.
Pause and Breathe
Mindfulness interrupts the tape loop by bringing us back to the moment so we can respond to what is actually happening right now. Mindfulness meditation shifts the mode adopted in response to thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation involves a particular kind of attention and mental stance: deliberately, intentionally and non-judgementally paying attention to the present moment. Just one minute of mindful awareness can break the sub-cortical looping and rumination. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Just focus on that breath moving in and out of your body.
Look for Triggers
Triggers are warning signs and triggers for rumination include tiredness, inactivity and irritability. It is important to watch your mind and become aware of any of these emotions, which can lead to bouts of anxiety and obsessive worry. These can be counteracted by taking better care of yourself ie. plenty of rest, exercise and nutrition.
Get up and Move and maybe Join a Team
Cognitive behavior therapy has found that exercise and sports that are action focused and have us directly engaged in an experience can help release worry and rumination. Think yoga, tabata, tennis, skiing and team sports. Participating in sports that require your attention and engagement may really help you immerse in a sensory experience which will help you break the pattern of fear and worry.
Start a New Project
Shifting your activities from routine chores and obligations towards more self-fulfilling and absorbing activities will help you refocus your mind on something new. So will taking a more mindful approach to cleaning the house, running errands and folding the laundry.
Slow Down and Reduce the Rush
CBT therapists will encourage patients to slow things down while only focusing on one thing at a time. They will ask their patients to pace their activities without taking on too much which also may help reduces the sense of “rushing around” and “being under pressure”.
When we lighten up and let go of real but not true thoughts, we make room for more in our lives.
What have you tried that has helped? I’d love to learn more.
Just as a goldfish remains small in its bowl, but grows when placed in bigger bodies of water, so will we. Here’s to embracing change. To forgetting about feeling secure in the pond you are in.
In the words of Joy Bell, “Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason you don’t have something better.”
A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander. Roman Payne, The Wanderess
Somewhere along the line, over the course of a few decades – between paying the monthly mortgage, grinding through the 50 + hour work week, suffering through the daily three hour commute, sitting in front of a screen for eight to ten hours, my heart-felt dreams faded into the background and literally sailed off into the far-away sunset. I’d forgotten how to dream. I became fearful of the “unknown”. I felt like I was leaning forward, tumbling into the fear of the future.
No More Fear
Around this time last year, I reached a point. The point where my mind, body and spirit just said no to the manic attempts to run from my life and bury myself in work and possessions.
“A time comes when you know that you can no longer wallpaper your soul.”
This deep inner reflection takes rigorous daily practice, because if you are or were stuck like me, you need to unwind the tape and reverse back into your own true nature to discover the deepest natures of your fear. It’s a painful path and the self-delusion must cease to exist. Every excuse you make is nothing more than an attempt to justify why you are not doing what you truly dream.
Interesting side note: the phrase “do not be afraid” recurs 366 times in the Bible. think about that.
What is truly important
After shining a flashlight in the face of fear I have discovered -what my heart really longs for is deep love, connections, peace-of-mind, serenity, calmness, security and freedom.
Now I know, one does not need to travel to find any of this, but re-igniting a sense of adventure also helps set the course.
So this is one of the reasons I yearn and plan to visit Bali and the Maldives. Yes they are on the dream bucket list and yes I am determined to visit, what I believe a place for a soul retrieval – a slice of nirvana – heaven on earth.
I’ve been inspired by others who have gone and have raved about the experience.
I’m just back from Como Shambhala Estate, and life has not been the same since. Spread out across the lip of the Ayung River Valley, about 10 kilometres from Ubud in Bali’s green hinterland, Como Shambhala is a silken, holistic health resort, one of the world’s finest, according to the arbiters of such places, a “Retreat for Change” by its own definition.
Bali and the Maldives. Mother nature provides the magic.
I would love to know, I am very curious, what does your heart long for?
There is a voice within you that no one, not even you has ever heard. Give yourself the opportunity of silence and begin to develop your listening in order to hear, deep within yourself, the music of your own spirit. – John O’Donahue
Read more Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom