People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept.
- where we are
- what we have to work with
- who is within our company (including our crappy-ass selves)
Observing what happens around us without filters or prejudice. Now that’s something to soak up. A life skill worth practicing. Try rewiring that into your brain. How often we get frustrated because life is not suppose to be this way or that way? As if it was always our call.
It’s so easy to get mad when things don’t go our way. It’s even easier to sleep walk through our days. On autopilot, we just cruise through the hours without even taking notice of the small things that need real care. The tiny pain points that pop up, that if we just focused on now, would never get out of hand. The things that really matter. Perhaps this is how bigger events and problems suddenly catch us by “surprise”. When we avoid the smaller, seemingly “meaningless” things in life. We shrug them off. “It is what it is.” “She’s just like that.” “I’ve been meaning to take care of that.”
An important skill to learn is to know how to sniff out the unexpected before it scares the hell out of you. It starts with paying attention to your life.
I am sure you realize that more often than not, there are usually many warning signals before something goes surprisingly wrong. It’s just that we were so distracted at the time.
To detect early warning signals, you need to build up your curiosity. Paying attention involves asking many questions and developing a wide network of friends and family willing to tell you the truth, even when it is spiked with anxiety and panic.
Collect all the rumors and paranoia that blow around you and your life and then separate the signal from the noise. Now, that’s paying attention.
Paying attention also asks that we ask the important question –
“What can you do today that will make a difference, not only in your life but in others?”
Becoming a More Attentive & Thoughtful Human
Encourage yourself to grow with quick and easy learning (YouTube), and create a personal mindset that allows you to make well-intentioned mistakes while paying attention. Taking notice, trying new ways of problem solving and staying awake at the wheel of life – it’s all a skill.
Don’t let your mind turn into a black hole where bright ideas go in but nothing useful ever comes out. Be an idea-driven human that values fresh thinking and doing.
Understand your strengths and weakness which will show you where your vigilance is strong and where you are vulnerable. That’s paying attention to yourself.
Minding What Matters
‘What actions can I take that will benefit not just myself, not just my family, not just my community, not just my work, but all it’ – that’s when you start to see possibilities for greater freedom.” That’s when you start paying attention to what matters. Inspired by “Leading the Life You Want“.
Happy and successful people focus on what really matters and who really matters to them. And then they take actions that are consciously and deliberately designed to make things better for them and the people around them.
Find meaning in mundane tasks while playing on your strengths. Apply skills you have in one area of your life to another.
Act with creativity and courage—and continually experiment with new ways of getting things done. An exercise for enhancing your skill in being innovative is called Scenarios. Identify a goal in any part of your life, and describe the results you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can. Then identify three alternative courses of action that would achieve the same results. For each potential path, list the resources you will need, the people whose help you’ll draw on, and how much of a stretch beyond your comfort zone this would be for you. By taking time to think through different options, you increase the flexibility of your thinking. Brainstorming about creative possibilities puts your focus on the goal, or results, rather than on one way to get there.
They’re not dead yet, but they aren’t living either, although they were once a fantastic dynamic duo, living quite a wonderful life, they are now in a highly emotional state trying to navigate a fiercely complex and shifting terrain that is filled with unknowns.
Now at 76 my mom has stage four lung cancer and even though she will start a new FDA-approved targeted therapy in less than a week, she is very scared, angry and confused. It is a part of the acceptance process, I guess and I hope it will pass.
Dad claims he can take care of her and will not accept any help in their home. It’s causing everyone in the family senseless, needless pain and worry, but it’s even more difficult not to help them. It is a twisted form of enabling and the situation changes daily. How do you know when you’re enabling an elderly loved one as opposed to actually helping them out with something they need?
Life Lessons Learned from The Dying Thus Far
Both of my parents are stubbornly holding on to old ways and traditions that no longer serve them and probably never served anyone well. They are trying so hard to hold on to their independence as they shut out the world around them. They refuse any help at all while making life harder for everyone, including themselves. Their behavior has affected not only their lives but all of us who care for them as they insist on struggling terribly through their days. Their lack of flexibility and adaptability is actually driving their decline even faster than if they chose to open their minds to new ways of staying as safe, secure and healthy as possible.
Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got. ~Art Buchwald
What you do with the time you have now, while you are actually able to live is most important. More important than savings, work or taking care of daily activities of living. Do not hesitate for one instance to do, try and execute everything you have ever dreamed of – for you have no time. Forgive and let go of the past, tell someone what they mean to you and celebrate each and every miracle of breath that you take. Gratitude for what you have right here and right now is everything. Do more with your life while you have it to live. Do not take this lightly. This is the most crucial lesson.
My parents won’t accept their current weaknesses – fading health and loss of memory, which is causing them even more harm and possibly big trouble for others. How many times does it take getting lost while driving, or losing your cell phone, checkbook, wallet and keys before you realize that your memory isn’t what it was? Only when we honestly examine ourselves and accept our current limitations can we improve or find the tools, people or plan to help us work around the obstacles we face. If we don’t accept that we have a problem, than how can we fix it?
Yes I see how refusing to accept the aging process can be helpful- expecting more from yourself and those around you can actually keep you going, but your approach is what matters most. Feeling overwhelmed and then reacting never produces a good outcome.
Life is always walking up to us and saying, “Come on in, the living’s fine,” and what do we do? Back off and take its picture. ~Russell Baker
My mother really surprised me when she said that she didn’t think the oncologist or the cancer center was really doing anything for her condition. In her mind, they are epically failing. How about 18 extended months of living? Mom is actually expecting a cure from the second deadliest disease in the world. It’s phenomenal. There is a measured amount of acceptance that is necessary in order to strike a deal with reality.
It is our duty to plan our death. I am not taking about a living will, health care proxy or deciding on cremation versus a below the ground burial. I am talking about how you plan to age. How open you will be to the natural process of slowing down? Reverse engineering your life so that when you get to the point that you need help from others, you will accept it. Knowing when it’s time to let go of past behavior and activities, giving up your favorite things like driving. It is critical to understand the type of attitude you will have as you enter a new season of your life.
Just as we plan our career, marriage, children and even vacations, we need to be more thoughtful of how we leave this earth.
Just like anything else, we can rethink how we plan to age and die.
If you stress-test the boundaries and experiment with the “impossibles,” of dying, you’ll quickly discover that most limitations are a fragile collection of socially-reinforced rules you can choose to break at any time.
Social rule systems are used to examine all levels of human interaction. They provide more than potential constraints on action possibilities. Read more about social rules and the patterning of action here.
Who made these social rules about aging and dying and why do we think we need to obey them?
Increased longevity paired with aging baby boomers means that our older population is growing at record speed – a phenomenon in developed countries from the UK to Japan. According to Professor David Clark, a researcher in end-of-life care at the University of Glasgow: “We’re seeing what we regard as a massive global issue. There’s a huge wave of dying, death and bereavement.” At the moment about one million people die each week around the world; within 40 years, that number is expected to double.
I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity. ~Hazel Lee
People redesigning the experience of death
Making decisions about serious illness is not an easy task and they are not made alone. Watch Nick Jehlen of Common Practice explain his design approach to facing the elephant in the room, the talk about death and these new products, services and dying submissions to Designing Death.
Being cautiously optimistic keeps me informed and realistic while remaining hopeful about the outcomes I wish to manifest.
Being too realistic can dry up my soul, but being too optimistic can make me extremely delusional.
If I see only the worst, it destroys my capacity to do something and if I only see the best, I may become blindsided by the bullshit I’m telling myself as things go horribly wrong.
A case for remaining causiously optimistic throughout the day.
1. I remain clear and focused
The optimism bias (also known as unrealistic or comparative optimism) is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.
Four factors exist that cause a person to be optimistically biased: their desired end state, their cognitive mechanisms, the information they have about themselves versus others, and overall mood.
The optimistic bias is seen in a number of situations. For example: people believing that they are less at risk of being a crime victim, smokers believing that they are less likely to contract lung cancer or disease than other smokers, first-time bungee jumpers believing that they are less at risk of an injury than other jumpers, or traders who think they are less exposed to losses in the markets.
2. My decisions are realistic.
The are based in reality, not in some daydream of how I want reality to be but more focused on how I am designing and producing the outcomes.
3. I carefully weigh the pros and cons
I weigh the pros and cons and stay focused on the results I want – knowing I can achieve them, because I am optimistic that I will get results.
4. Turning worry into work
Cautious optimism has me turn my worry into work while remaining positive about the outcome because I do a combination of what is tried and true while experimenting with fresh new solutions.
5. Impulsive vs Intentional
I am less prone to make impusive and spontaneous decisions – I am more strategic when I am cautiously optimistic.
6. Time is on My Side
I don’t waste or maybe I should say, I waste less time. Grounded and focused in reality and humble and hopeful for the future, I am purposeful. I remain cautiously optimistic.
7. Open to Opportunity & Outcomes
I move forward and do what needs to be done, but I am not holding onto a set outcome – I am open to different visions and versions of what winning looks like for me.
8. Celebrate the Moments
My careful optimism has me recognize the small wins throughout the day. Celebrating the bits of wins throughout the day – acknowledging my small moments and accomplishments.
9. A Reminder to Be Here Now
Caution + optimism has me locked in to being present to what needs to be done now for the future.
10. Correct and Certain
When I am cautious, I correct my mistakes. Having a sense of certainty and understanding and knowing what needs to be corrected in order to continue to make certain that I achieve everything I want to achieve.
11. Awake & Aware
I remain on the look out for problems and I dare to make them opportunities. I ask myself, what’s great about this problem? Does it propose an opportunity to make something better?
12. Hacking Away without Skipping the Essential
I recognize that there are no real short cuts – just smart strategies and in turn I am less delusional while focused on great outcomes.
No skimping – no scamming – just making sure I take each step carefully while remaining hopeful while proceeding with intelligence and faith.
Having faith in the outcome while I am willing to learn, grow and make corrections.
A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.”
Paul Coelho, author of “The Alchemist” said something very enlightening on Tim Ferriss’ podcast “The Habits of a Master” interview about observing, listening and learning as we live our lives. He believes it is not so important to journal and evaluate every action we take. He believes if we think about our lives and contemplate our actions and then let it go, the important will remain with us.
Somewhere between Paul’s no need to take notes, go live and the daily habit of keeping a diary/notebook of our daily thoughts, I believe we can grow so much faster and in turn become better versions of ourselves.
I know keeping a journal (morning and evening) helps me observe and consider my emotions and behavior in any circumstance that moves me. There are lessons that life teaches us from every situation that we could never learn in “school”. Every encounter that makes us angry, happy, sad or relieved is an opportunity to learn.
If we observe our thoughts and behavior as life unfolds we can begin to see what type of people we are and decide who we want to become. Like a scientist taking field notes from the front lines, we can observe ourselves and contemplate why we do what we do.
And hopefully, the important will remain.
1. Build Your Mind Muscle. Meditate your way to a deep sleep every night. In order to have a great workout routine, you must have a nightly relaxation ritual that does not include a couple of drinks to calm you down. Some of the best guided meditations for sleep and relaxation are here.
2. Be your Own Best Coach – but first you must listen to how you feel. Do you hold any guilt, anger, resentment? You can’t carry that extra weight to the gym. It’s not like fat that you can burn off. That baggage is heavy and more exhausting to schlep around than those extra pounds.
Really get a sense of how you feel during the day. Log those emotions. Do you tighten up when you see your coworker? Feel anxious when someone stands just a bit too close on the train? Feel like you want to choke the loud cell phone talker on the street in front of you? Those emotions are invaluable. They’re keys to the things that will really improve your life if you dig into them, because those kinds of emotional responses that we quickly temper are signs of an internal disagreement.
More on how to be your own life coach here.
Remember, resolving the internal disagreements that lead to unhealthy emotions and choices are vital for improving your life.
3.You can’t head to the gym in your paint-stained sweat pants that double as your bathroom/kitchen cleaning outfit. Eventually you will want to go pro and prepare with the right workout gear. This includes clothes, water, podcast or music playlist, headphones, FitBit, etc.
My favorite picks for the gym here and more here –
4. Play the Leading Role in The Award-winning Film of Your Life – This is what worked for me. Weigh yourself, look in the mirror, see yourself as you are now.You are the star. This your time. Every day. Then, in your mind, see yourself as you want to be. Visualize yourself. Want to drop 10, 20, 50 pounds or more, fit into a tight tee shirt or just feel more energized? List the things you must do to become who you want to be. Write them down. Now do one simple thing each day on this list to get yourself closer to where you want to be during your workout. Note: you need to eat less to weigh less, so tracking calories for a 500 deficit each day is imperative to losing weight. Do this in conjunction with your work out if you want to lose weight.
5. Talk to Yourself, Incessantly. I repeat the following to myself every time I walk into the gym. 123 Tone. That’s my goal weight of 123 pounds and my tone body. I have linked it to the photo of myself in my mind of what I look and feel like at 123 pounds with slim tone arms, a flat stomach and strong legs. Keep that vision in front of you as you work out. See yourself slipping into those jeans.
6.Set a time limit and and a target list of what you will perform while you are at the gym- don’t leave until you are done. Today my goal was 60 full minutes of cardio and three rounds of 22 push ups, 60 and sit-ups. Although I fought it – yes, I really did want to leave early, I did not walk out the door until I finished. It wasn’t easy.
7. Listen to Someone Motivating. If you have a smart phone, down load a motivating podcast to listen to while you are on the treadmill. My favorite today –The Good Life Project. Click here for more.
8.Sweat and track you success daily. I have come to understand that if I am not sweating or getting really heated up during at least a part of my workout, than, I are not working out hard enough. You have to push yourself. But first you must know your target heart rate. It is a very simple calculation and you can find it at Every Day Health, here. After working out a while, you will be able to physically tell if you are in fat-burning mode by the way your body feels.
9. Switch it up. Do not do the same thing every day. You will get bored and you will not optimize your workout. Try new machines and classes, today I did 20 minutes on the tread mill -a set of sit-ups and push ups and then 20 minutes on the Elliptical followed by another set of sit-ups and push ups and then another 20 minutes on the other machine that looks like the Elliptical but it’s a stair climber thing. Play with the buttons on the treadmill – build an incline, jog for a minute, slow walk, then speed walk, etc.
10. Move Every Single Day. Do something active every single day. I work out every day but every day is just bit different. One day is a 5-7 mile walk with hills and stairs, another a day at the gym, another is Spinning class, etc. I don’t take a day off from movement and do not believe it would help if I did.
Do you have a workout tip that is simple, easy and effective? I would love to learn from you, so please share in the comments below.
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).
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:
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:
Step 3 – Identifying What Needs Improvement
“You cannot save people, you can only love them.” Anais Nin
Professional & Career – 60%
“One’s life shrinks or expands according to your courage.” Anais Nin
Financial Health – 15%
Physical & Health – 50%
Emotional & Spiritual –80%
Time Management & Routines – 75%
Household & Living Environment –35 %
“Anything that I cannot transform into marvelous, I let go.” Anais Nin
Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%
Thoughts today on creating awesome experiences. Memorable ones – like the time my husband and I took our four daughters on an 18-day bareboat charter around the British and US Virgin Islands. They were ages 8, 6 and the twins 4 years old. They were young and fun.
The Future of Travel
Just how close do you think virtual reality arm chair travel can get to replicating a real barefoot beach combing, dolphin swimming, colada sipping vacation for you?
Imagine all the travel pleasures without the annoying TSA security check points, baggage claim blunders and long exhausting lines.
While I still think there is plenty of reason to travel IRL (in real life), like new friends to make, dishes to try, terrain to hike and air to breathe, I can also imagine enhancing your weekends with even more jet-setting and globe hopping in the comfort of your own cozy family room.
A Virtual Bucket List
What an amazing gift a virtual reality vacation would be for my housebound mom and dad, who are too ill to travel, but can simulate the relaxation and adventure of a vacation while checking off cherished places on their bucket list.
I am fascinated by the future of virtual reality travel. Are you?
“By its very definition, virtual reality is a simulation of being somewhere different, and if you’re in need of an immediate break from your current reality, stepping into a virtual one in a matter of moments is the ultimate form of escapism.” – read more about Occulus Rift and how technology will take you anywhere with 360 degree video experiences here
The British Columbia tourism bureau filmed this virtual reality video to lure in vacationers –here
“To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.” Rolf Potts, Author of Vagabonding.
Most of you will agree that we can read, listen and study for hours upon end on how to enhance our minds and become 1% better versions of ourselves daily, but the greatest lessons in life are from actual experience.
Mapping Out a Successful Day
I am a professional list maker and note taker. If I don’t write it down, my wild and creative crazy nine year old inner child takes over and the next thing you know I have 20 projects that I have begun but will probably never finish. This is one of the things that I struggle with daily, so I have decided that as I begin to declutter my life and brain, I will become more mindful of my approach and system to tackling the day.
Listening to an interview with one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear I love the way she handles the creative younger sister in her mind, the one who wants to do everything at once. She calms her down by devoting 15 minutes a day to letting her mind run free and capturing those creative thoughts on index cards and in notebooks – to do later on. Listen to her interview with Rob Bell here.
The Morning Journal, Master List and the Top 5 for the Day
As for prioritizing my daily to do list, I have a new approach. I have come to appreciate the wild and creative mind that I have as just an excitable version of me that wants it ALL and that is okay. I love that about me, I just know that I can’t do it ALL right now. So here are my steps/system to making it happen over time.
The Morning Journal
After a five minute gratitude journal moment, I write down my goals and tasks for the day/week/month in Evernote. I love how Evernote is accessible from everywhere – my phone, desktop, tablet and laptop and automatically syncs my lists so they are always updated.
Organizing My Tasks – The Master List
I organize these tasks in three categories: Personal, Work and Creating (writing, photography, making things). I dump everything I want to include in this master list – things like outlining my book, clients I have to call, learning more about social media strategy and tools like Periscope, etc.
My Daily Top Five
I then take a notebook from Muji (love this Japanese store) and write down the Top 5 tasks I will complete for the day – or start for the month. I am sure to include at least one thing from each area of my life to keep it balanced. I prioritize by sense of urgency and importance.
I also use Moleskin note books and Pinterest to help keep track of things that inspiring me throughout the day.
Recording Daily Activities
Try this with me. I am now committed to taking an extra 90 seconds a day and recording not only what I have achieved, but how it felt to accomplish the task. This will include my personal and work achievements because I don’t believe any one of my clients is recording my wins. This job journal will come in handy later on when I decide to raise my fees and move towards more.
If you love journals and notebooks and have developed a system for creating tasks and documenting wins I would love to hear more about what works for you. Be sure to comment in the section below.
Not just for wandering the world, Midori Traveler’s Notebook Brown Leather (1, 1 LB)
Because inspiration can spark at any time. . .
On your road to greatness, the details make all the difference. Write them down.