Tag Archives: new years resolutions

5 Ways You Can Sustain Your New Year’s Resolutions

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The end of the year is nearly here, and if you are planning to set a New Year’s resolution you are not alone. According to this Forbes article, over 40 percent of Americans make resolutions; however, after six months only 46 percent of people are able to maintain their goals. In other words, the odds are not in your favor, yet, if you are willing to change your mindset the chance of sustaining your resolutions greatly improves.

Further, the good news is that change is possible. The brain science behind neuroplasticity teaches that our brains are able not only to adapt to change, but are able to form new connections. With training and practice our brain is able to create new patterns.

There are things you can do to optimize the chance you can succeed and reach your goals.

Here are Five Things to Help You Sustain Your New Year’s resolutions: Continue reading

New Year, Be You


With the New Year still in its first few weeks, the annual "new year, new you" phenomenon is all around us – in the worlds of advertising, media, self-help and more.  And while this time of year can be a great catalyst for positive change in our lives, what if we made a commitment to live our lives in 2011 focused on who we are, and not so much on what we do, what we accomplish, what we look like, what we’re striving for, and more?   One of best things we can do in this New Year is to focus on who we really are, instead of who we think we’re supposed to be.

Who would we be without our accomplishments (or failures), our degrees (or lack thereof), our bank accounts, our experiences, our title, our home, our status, and more?  As simple of a concept as this is for us to think about and discuss, at least on the surface, it’s actually quite difficult for many of us, myself included, to genuinely separate who we are from what we do (or have done or not done).  These past two years have taught many of us, in some cases quite painfully, how quickly the external circumstances of our lives can change dramatically and things can be taken away.

The deeper question for us to ponder here is really one of the big philosophical questions of life, "What makes me a valuable person?"  While this is something we have all thought about to some degree, most of us don’t really engage in this inquiry on a regular basis.  And, when we do, we often think that if we just got more done, lost some weight, made more money, took a vacation, accomplished a goal, had more meaningful work, made it to retirement, or whatever, then we’d be "happier" or feel more "valuable."  Sadly, as we’ve all experienced, this is not usually the case and is also one of the main reasons why most of our New Year’s "resolutions" don’t really last.

What if, in addition to having important goals, we could also expand our capacity for appreciating ourselves and being who we really are this year – having nothing to do with our external circumstances?  What if just being ourselves, the way we are right now, is good enough?

Being ourselves fully, takes courage, commitment, and faith.  It’s a process of letting go of many false beliefs we’ve picked up from the collective consciousness – that we have to look good, be smart, know the right people, say the right things, have the proper experience, make a certain amount of money, and more, in order to be happy and successful in life. Being ourselves can be scary and counter intuitive, difficult and even off-putting, and, at times, lonely.

However, being our authentic self is liberating, exciting, and fulfilling.   When we have the courage to just be who we are, without apology or pretence, so much of our suffering, stress, and worry in life simply goes away.

Here are a few things to consider and practice as you deepen your awareness of and capacity for being who you truly are in this New Year:

1)  Tell the truth to yourself.  Think about and own how much of your self-worth is based on what you do, how you look, who you know, what you’ve accomplished, etc. (i.e. the external stuff).  The more we let go of being defined by the external, the more freedom, peace, and power we can experience.  And, as we really get honest with ourselves, we may realize that outside of these external things, we don’t really know who we are.  As scary as this may seem on the surface, it’s actually great news and can give us access to a deeper and more meaningful experience of who we are.

2)  Appreciate who you really are.  What do you appreciate about yourself that has nothing to do with anything external?  In other words, what personal qualities (of being, not doing) do you value about yourself?  The more we’re able to tap into what we appreciate about who we are (not what we do), the more capacity we have for real confidence, peace, and self love.

3)  Practice just being you.  As silly as it may sound, we all need to "practice" being ourselves.  We have a great deal of experience being phony or being how we think we’re supposed to be.  It actually takes conscious practice for us to be able to just show up and be who we are.  We can practice alone, with people we know, and with total strangers.  This is all about awareness – paying attention to how we feel, what we’re thinking, what we say, and how we show up.  It’s not about getting it right or doing anything specific, it’s about letting go of our erroneous notions of how we think we’re supposed to be, and just allowing ourselves to be who and how we are in the moment.

Have fun with this, talk to others about it, and have a lot of compassion with yourself as you practice – this is big stuff for most of us.  This year, instead of trying to be a "new" you, just be yourself and see what happens.

How can you accept, appreciate, and simply BE yourself in 2011?  What does this mean to you?  What support do you need in your life this year to step more fully into who you really are?  Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog here.

To listen to this week’s audio podcast, including additional thoughts, ideas, and tips, click here.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / gtall1

What’s Your Guiding Word For 2011?

At the beginning of 2010 a friend asked me how I would sum up the year ahead in a single word and I answered without a pause: Professional.

Last year was going to be the year I got professional about my writing. That meant cutting out distractions and creating the stability in the rest of my life that would allow me to pursue my writing dreams.

To that end I stopped blogging on Someday Syndrome despite being on the edge of some big-time publicity and minor Internet-success, quit being a Someday Mentor, and left off selling my coaching services. I also started teaching English that gave me a steady income but left me with enough hours to write.

On the fiction front, I took my writing seriously, participated in two courses, wrote regularly, finished a novel and completed the first draft of another one. I also treated writing like work. I took weekends and vacations and found time to move my writing forward even when I didn’t feel like it.

As the year came to a close, I started to think about what would be my guiding word for 2011 and the answer jumped out at me again without requiring much thought: Consistency.

Why consistency? Because although I was taking my writing seriously I wasn’t consistent across the board. I futzed about a lot more than I needed to. I frittered my networking time on things that weren’t at all productive for my career. I had no regular plan or clear measurables.

Being who I am – a planner! – I came up with a plan. I broke my goals out into five areas:

  • Consistent writing (a writer has to write)

  • Consistent submissions (if I don’t submit I’ll never get published)

  • Consistent marketing (people need to know who I am)

  • Consistent eating (I have food-issues that affect my concentration)

  • Consistent exercise (can’t have healthy creativity without a healty body)

I’ve assigned measurable activities to each area for the year, for each month and for each week.

And I track my progress, every day.

It might sound a bit obsessive, but I want to create a habit of success, which means devoting time to my dreams. If I don’t track it, I can’t be sure what I’m doing or what actions produce what successes.

The best part? By being consistent I can take time off without feeling like I "should" be doing something, which is the quickest way to ruin enthusiasm. By tracking myself I see my forward motion and so when I relax I really relax, no guilt.

So, what’s your guiding word for 2011?

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / creepyed

Welcoming This Year with the Best of Intentions

It is truly a new year. And like every one that preceded it, it began with an old tradition — a personal resolution for change. An off with the old and on with the new, if you will. We see it everywhere from our world to our country to our community to our friends and families and finally to ourselves; we are all determined to make things better this year. And indeed we will — as long as we keep focused on the most important parts of that resolution.

As I look back on my personal successes, searching for common threads, I’ve discovered it wasn’t the words I used or how I structured them. Nor was it the method or process or rules or guidelines I used in my action plan. And it wasn’t just perseverance either, at least not in the traditional sense. It was something below the surface that seemed to matter the most.

So as I journeyed deep inside, seeking to find the keys that drove me to lose all of that weight and to maintain the weight loss for well over a decade now, allowing me to rediscover the happy, healthy person I was always meant to be, I was able to identify the two things that truly ignited and sustained me — intent and spirit.

My resolution (that is, my intent) this year is to keep living in gratitude and to share from my overflow to those who need my support and to be open to those who are there to support me. I am not just talking about the material level. I am talking about emotional, mental and spiritual levels of support as well.

I am blessed to have more friends then I have time to spend with them. Last year was difficult for many of them. And yet, through their travails, their faith in themselves and their resilience, not only sustained them and their families, but at times, through their actions inspired others, as well. I was in awe at how some of my clients, through sickness and economic downturn, managed to keep their intent focused, and regardless of their own circumstances, they were always there to support those they loved. It was inspirational to me. Sometimes one wonders just who is the mentor. We all have so much to offer each other.

In keeping with my intention of living in gratitude I want to acknowledge one dear friend in particular who has been a blessing to me and to countless others by sharing his remarkable insights in what has been an especially trying area for many. I’m talking about Russell Bishop, one of the new emerging thought leaders in business. Russell has just authored a new book, "Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work," and I want to recommend it to anyone who has found it more and more difficult in the current business environment to get the results they want and need for success. It’s not only a great read, but also a godsend in these days of long weeks spent at the office just trying to catch up and keep up.

So, led by gratitude and with spirit stronger than ever, I welcome this new year with only the best of intentions. I hope I will continue to see you along my path, no matter where I go or how I get there.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Massimo Valiani

Create What You Truly Want In 2011

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.)

As we embark on another new year of life, I find myself experiencing a mixture of emotions about 2011.  I’m excited about the possibilities of this New Year and inspired by the energy of creation that exists at this special time.  Similar to last week, there is a magical quality to this first week of the New Year – lots of hope and positive anticipation.

At the same time, especially given the nature of 2010 and all the twists and turns last year took for me personally, so many people around me, and in the world, I find myself feeling a sense of trepidation about setting new goals and jumping right back into the mix of life and work.

As it relates to New Year’s "resolutions," most people I know and have worked with over the years, including myself, have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal-setting for the New Year.  Whether you spend lots of time and energy creating your New Year’s intentions or you decided years ago that you wouldn’t bother (since in years past by mid-January most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway); I don’t know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated, or empowered by their New Year’s resolutions in a sustainable and real way.  How about you?

Here are some of the main reasons I think we aren’t authentically inspired by our goals or truly empowered to manifest them:

  • Our "goals" are often about fixing what we think is wrong with us

  • Once we set them, we feel a sense of pressure to make them happen

  • We worry that we won’t accomplish or achieve what we want, and then we’ll feel like failures
  • We don’t get the kind of support we really want and need
  • We forget that our intentions are designed to support us, not stress us out
  • We get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience
  • We allow competition and scarcity take over
  • We get all excited about them at the beginning of the year, and then forget about them

For these and other reasons many us either don’t set powerful intentions for the New Year or we do so out of fear in a way that creates more stress in our lives.  One of the best things we can do to shift our perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to our process of setting goals for 2011 is to understand some key distinctions – intentions, goals, and actions.

Intentions – Our intentions are states of being and authentic desires.  In other words, we may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy, wealthy, or more.  Our intentions are our high ideals and are usually at the root of our motivation for any of our specific goals (i.e. "why" we want to do, accomplish, or experience something).  Most of us don’t really want goals like a new relationship, more money, or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves – we want them (or others) because of what we believe we will experience by having them in our life.  By starting with our intentions, we get right to the source of what we truly want.  Intentions are the core and the magic of all of our goals and desires.

Goals – Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable.  We want to be able to track our progress and know for sure if we are reaching our goals or not.  This doesn’t have to be a competition (with others or ourselves) and doesn’t have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame, or guilt (which is sadly how we often relate to our results).  Having our goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest.  And, the paradox we have to always remember when setting and working on our goals is that we can’t be attached to the outcome – which will make us crazy and can take us off course with our real intentions.  Our goals simply take our intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.

Actions – Creating action-oriented practices that support us in manifesting our goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly, and monthly process of our success and fulfillment.  Coming up with action plans that inspire us, connect to the goals we’re working on, and fulfill our intentions is vital to all of this.  This is where the rubber meets the road, and is often the place where things break down for us.  The breakdown with actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows us to let circumstances take over and causes us to lose focus) than it does with any “failure” or “weakness” on our part.  Having practices that support us and help us take the baby steps needed to manifest our goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.

Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life.  Let’s say you have a desire to make more money (which is a very common one that many of us have, especially these days).  Start with your intention.  For example, "My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace, and freedom with money and to easily manifest income."  Then create a specific measurable result-oriented goal.  "I will generate $100,000 by 12/31/2011."  The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices.  "I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do to increase my income."

The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this.  You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group, create a success/ accountability partnership with a friend, and more.  Having someone or a group of people you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable will make all the difference in the world.

Have fun with this.  Don’t take it or yourself too seriously…it’s just life, you’re allowed to make mistakes, screw things up, and fall down (which we all do and always will).  Be kind to yourself in this process and in this New Year.  And, when we remember that our intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what we are truly after (not the specific outcomes or actions), it can allow us to take the pressure off of ourselves, have more fun, and trust that things will manifest as they are meant to – especially if we open up and let them show up!

What are your most important intentions for 2011?  How can you create empowering support and accountability for your goals and actions in this New Year so that you can manifest what you truly want in 2011. Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog here.

To listen to this week’s audio podcast, including additional thoughts, ideas, and tips, click here.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / [ Mooi ]

New Day, New Decade

2011 is well under way.  Not only is this a new year, it’s a new decade!  We had our grand finale, wrapping up 2010 with the solstice and coinciding full moon and lunar eclipse, bringing change and a shift in energy.  And now, January 4 welcomes a new moon, signaling new beginnings.

Many of us choose to set New Year’s resolutions, goals that we work towards to better ourselves in one way or another.  This is a good exercise, as it helps us to consider what we want for ourselves, and how we can take action to make things happen.

Of course, we can set goals at any time.  Many people choose their birthdays to do this because it’s a time of reflection.  You might also choose any new moon, or the beginning of any season.  These are all natural times to invoke change.

We know the importance of setting goals, and we know how good it feels when we reach those goals.  But at the same time, we need to remember that each step is an important part of the process.  We need to recognize this, and understand that we are moving forward.  This will keep us invested in the long run.  Breaking down “big” goals into more easily achievable steps is a good way to mark our progress.  We are learning and growing every day.

We can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at our goals and our desires.  There’s a reason why we want what we want.  And we wouldn’t want it if it weren’t attainable.  We learn and grow on the way to our goals.

Desire is our greatest motivator because it spurs us into action! Through action comes experience, achievement, accomplishment, and many great things.  We are busy fulfilling our desires everyday, and sometimes so easily that we aren’t even aware of what we are doing.  So, when setting your resolution, or goal, look at your desires first.  These are the steps you can take to get things going:

1. Recognize that you have this desire.  Label it.  Define it.  Know it.

2. Evaluate the desire – do you REALLY want it?  What is it exactly that you really want?  Explain it to yourself.  Make sure that it makes sense to you, and that you understand why you want this, and what it means to you to achieve this goal.

3. Create an intention to fulfill the desire, to reach your goal.  Make that commitment.  Set this as a priority in your life.

 

4. Release the desire to the universe – state your intention clearly.  It’s a good idea to write it down, and then burn the piece of paper, or file it away somewhere with the date on it. 

5. Give up any attachment to what happens.  Just let it go, knowing anything can happen, the outcome is usually better than we ever could have anticipated. In spirit, there is no time or space. Be flexible, be open, and observe how things unfold.

6. Let the universe handle the details – don’t try to control or manipulate how things occur. Rather than making demands, leave room to allow nature to take its course in whatever way, shape, or form that might be.  There’s always some reason behind everything that happens, so have a little faith that work is being done even if you don’t see it.  Know that creation and growth takes place every moment.

7. Feel grateful, and express gratitude!  Your emotions electrify the process.

8. Be aware of things that happen that may help you to achieve your goal.  There are no accidents, and no coincidences in life.  When opportunities arise, be ready to embrace them.

9. Celebrate every success and let it build your confidence and warm your heart.  Continue to express gratitude all along the way.

Happy new day, happy new year, happy new decade!

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Computer Science Geek

Practicing What I Preach

Why can’t I have the same compassion for my family that I have for my clients?  I find I can be very empathic and tolerant of most any religion, political view, parenting philosophy, sexual orientation or type of relationship – in my clients.  I’m not always so patient with family members. 

My mother used to save the "good" china for guests while her family ate off chipped and broken plates.  I understand not putting fine china before children, but this often applies to best of ourselves  as well;  compassion, nurturing, patience, tolerance, understanding, listening, helping and good manners.  We often give the best of ourselves to complete strangers.  And after I do that for 8-10 hours there’s not much left for the people I care most about. 

This is when self care becomes important.  Not allowing myself to become overbooked or overworked to the point that there is nothing left for myself and nothing left for family and friends.  I have to remember to save back part of the best of myself for family and friends.  Then I have to remember to use it!  This is sometimes the hardest part, especially with family.  We are locked in a dance that started decades ago and I sometimes find my feet moving without realizing that the music even started. 

As my mother ages I see her learning away from the liberal views of her youth and more into conservativism.  This includes her religious views.  And this difference in her has sparked more than a few heated arguments when she tries to apply these views to the children in our family.  Unfortunately, I am more like my mother than I care to admit.  (Aren’t we all?)  So we butt heads frequently.  One day after hanging up the phone I realized, "I would never take that attitude with a client!" 

Old patterns die hard and old hurts heal slowly.  But they will never die if I don’t actively work at it.  So this is my New Year’s resolution.  Only two months late. 

 

Gluten-free diet, day 15

Originally posted at Vitality Health Hub.

It’s day 15 and I am still gluten-free! Basically, I just wanted to write this short post and tell you how well it is going, although it has not been without it’s challenges.

Over the course of the last week I have stuck to my guns with the occassional meal or snack of some rice to satisfy some cravings, and while doing this I have always felt good that I’ve not let myself slip.

On two occassions I have been really challenged however:

  1. Last night I was training a client who is on a strict anti-fungal diet, and she was talking about getting Chinese food (which is my absolute FAVOURITE cheat/treat!). Even just talking about it was challenging me. The first thing I did when I got home was to eat my normal food which I knew would lift my blood sugar and make me crave much less.
  2. Earlier on in the week, my wife (bless her heart), thought she was doing a fantastic treat for me – she made me an apple crumble with coconut flour and organic oat flakes. It looked fantastic, smelt fantastic, but unfortunately she didn’t realise that on the gluten free diet I am not allowed oats. Luckily it didn’t go to waste and she got to enjoy it all to herself, even if I was a little envious.

This second challenge was not a hard challenge physically – there was no physical cravings for the apple crumble whatsoever. It mainly involved the mental/emotional challenges of not wanting to upset Laurie by not eating her surprise. I could have very easily said "Ok, I’ll have some", enjoyed it initially and then felt extreme guilt afterwards for failing ten days into my mammoth 6 month challenge.

Instead I chose to be honest – it’s the best policy – and let her know that however thoughtful I felt it was, I couldn’t eat it. She didn’t mind, and I felt good too.

I tell you this story to let you know that a lot of addictions, and other decisions we make in life, are not always based on physical impulses but mental conditioning, and often emotional responses to family and friends. Whenever you decide to do anything in life, I suggest making sure that you do it for yourself first, and then please others second if you can.

Don’t Just Sit There, Do Nothing!

Ok, here’s the first big question of 2009 (you must answer truthfully or Leon Panetta will soon be knocking at your door…):  Did you take “time off” over the holidays?

Very likely the answer will sound something like, “well, yes…and no.” Perhaps you did take a day or more off from your regular job, or a day off from personal obligations, or if you were fortunate, even a vacation in the typical sense of booking hotels and flights and coming back more exhausted than when you left.  Very relaxing, right? 

Think about it: when was the last time that you really took a day off from life’s endless swirl of activity—a day with no agenda, no plans, no to-do list, maybe no movement at all?

Don’t you long for such a day? Maybe a weekend, even a whole week (God Forbid!) to just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, or cuddle up on the sofa with a good book? If you are like me, you wonder what it would be like to experience soulful rest, the kind that nurtures your spirit and reconnects you to a deep inner voice that usually gets short shrift: yours.

Sounds good, right?  Yet, in our harried, productivity-obsessed culture, we have become caught up in a paradox: we fear that if we stop—stop work, stop striving, stop performing our dutiful roles as “worker bee,” “perfect parent,” “corporate scion,” “Starbucks fueled consumer,” even for one day, well, the insidious malaise of anxiety, lethargy, even depression (what I call the “bag-lady syndrome”) will take over and throw us off track. 

To this fear-fantasy, I say: “Bah, Humbug. Don’t just sit there: do nothing!”  The deeper truth regarding our type-A testosterone-driven life styles is just the opposite: if we do not stop, rest, and rejuvenate, on a regular basis, we will die. Incessant, manic activity is ultimately deadly, to the body, to the soul, to the spirit.

In his beautiful book, “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Daily Lives”,  Wayne Muller speaks eloquently about the essential requirement of dormancy: “If certain plant species, for example, do not lie dormant for the winter, they will not bear fruit in the spring. If this continues for more than a season, the plant begins to die. If dormancy continues to be prevented the entire species will die. A period of rest—in which nutrition and fertility most readily coalesce –is not simply a human psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity. A lack of dormancy produces confusion and erosion in the life force.”

Very powerful stuff, no? I doubt that many of us have considered that taking an honest-to-God BREAK from life’s endless struggle might be a “spiritual and biological necessity”? Well, I would go one step further.  As counter-cultural as it sounds, I believe that many of my clients with “clinical depression,” are not really depressed at all: they are spiritually, emotionally, and physically EXHAUSTED. Wasted. Burnt.

Now, in the ever-widening circles of New Agers these days, the anecdote to all this frantic activity is simple: learn to meditate.  Meditation—simply sitting and breathing for a few as five minutes a day on a regular basis—has been proven to have powerful healing effects on the body, heart and soul. 

BUT, here’s the rub: most of my clients who try meditating, wind up putting “meditation” on their “to-do” list, and more often than not, end up skipping the practice or cutting it short within a few days or weeks.  Sooner or later they are in despair of their “inadequacy” as spiritual seekers and end up adding the additional weight of guilt and envy to their already bulging bag of burdens.

Here’s my take: I meditate. In fact, I have meditated semi-regularly (key word-“semi”) for over two decades. It works. When I meditate regularly, I feel more grounded, less anxious, and generally approach my work day with a stronger sense of self.  But I admit this too: I skip sessions; I sometimes forget to sit; I lose track of time; I have even been known to cut my “sitting sessions” short when the phone rings, the cat whines, or Anderson Cooper is in Afghanistan.

Don’t you ever wonder just how truthful people are being when they boast about their “consistent mediation practice?”  I’m not convinced. 

So, what if meditation is not your thing?  Well, you STILL need to learn to DO NOTHING occasionally—it’s like eating less fat, less sugar, and regular exercise.  For health of heart, mind and soul, these work.  As does REST. So, here’s my offering for a New Year’s resolution to consider:  This year DO LESS. 

Take up the gauntlet, find a warm, cozy corner, and DO NOTHING.  If that feels like too much of a stretch (and for most of us, it will), here are five alternative suggestions that just might get you in the mood—for nothing: 

1. Day dream:  Find a comfortable sofa, curl up under a blanket (buy a “Snuggie?!) and begin by simply staring off into space.  Fun, eh? Now, let your mind wander, add in a touch of fantasy (no, not THAT kind of fantasy—that’s for later when you’re on the internet). Now, here you go: day dream. When you get interrupted, or start feeling antsy and anxious and guilty, pretend you’re asleep (dreaming is allowed then…right?)

2. Read:  Only fiction. No self-help, research thick scientific journals, no political or economic commentary, no mags, newspapers or e-zines, not even blogs!  Find a great, hopefully mindless novel (horror is fine, as is mystery/thriller) that will cause you to lose track of time, whisking you off into the far reaches of your imagination. Think: Harry Potter!

3. Walk:  Anywhere. Alone. Take a solitary stroll around Times Square, through a park, along the ocean. Purposely try to get lost (unless you’re in the Adirondacks). When the desire to “be purposeful” kicks in (and it will), take deep breaths and think: “I’m doing a walking meditation.” This is what the monks do just to survive the monotony of their contemplative lives. 

4. Doodle:  Draw and scribble: words, pictures, cartoons, you name it. Fill up a page with sentence fragments, pithy phrases, and useless swirls of color.  Dig up your old crayons or colored markers.  Make a mess on the page.  Not only is this great fun, but Carl Jung would be impressed. You are creating a mandala, which, when psycho-analyzed, will be filled with amazing amounts of meaningful symbolism; but for now, just PLAY.

5. Listen to music: This one’s as close to a no-brainer as we get, but even here you can “step off the bus:” dig out old albums from the sixties, turn to the AM dial and find the one remaining classical music station, download an opera (yes an OPERA) on to your I-pod…and just LISTEN.

6. Sleep: This one is KEY. Human beings really DO need 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  Yet, no matter how many sleep-deprived rats have died in the cause of “proving” the importance of sleep, we just don’t get it.  Well, this year: get it.  Here’s three ways:  1. add an hour in morning (that’s right, roll back over and turn off the alarm, the cat will survive…and maybe someone else will feed the kids, just once); 2. Take a nap, anywhere (except while driving); 3. When all else fails: sit through a movie twice, in the theater, or at home (something like “Synecdoche” is good—totally abstract and incomprehensible).  You’ll be able to tell people that you’re “at the movies” or “watching a film”—and yet get two additional hours of guilt-free zzzzzz’s.

I have many friends and clients whose biggest struggle in life is not with their work, their kids, their boss or even their mother-in-law. The big question, the one that gnaws at them day in and day out from morning till night, is deceptively simple, immediate, and insidious: how do I get a day off (or a week, or a year…?).

Deep down we all know that just as the plants and animals of the natural world require hibernation—a time for rest and gestation—the human spirit needs time for restitution. Do you hear that voice?  The one that you usually ignore; that emerges from some deep, unfathomable place in the back of your mind, telling you to put down that cell phone, close the laptop, lie down on that inviting sofa… and just hang?

In 2009, might we answer this call?

There is no time to waste. So I’m going to take the rest of the day off. It’s a start.

Cheers,

Dr J

 

Looking forward to 2009? Or just enjoying right now?

Originally posted at Vitality Health Hub.

I am back at my computer to a mountain of e-mails and other tasks that have built up while I’ve been away, and I have realised something:

I need to stay more present with the moment and enjoy the place I am at right now, this instant, rather than looking forward to something all the time.

What do I mean? Well, I am one of these people who loves to dream and I have many BIG ideas, but I sometimes forget where I am. For example, I might have a great goal to improve my financial or career status and sit on the computer for hours at a time writing articles, blogs or designing my many websites – all so I can one day retire young and spend lots of time with my family – only to actually miss my family at the very same time I am doing the work!

Now, I know what you are saying – Brett, everyone has to work, and everyone can’t be in all places at once, thus missing certains events, eg. baby’s first smile. But I would like to suggest a balance and a compromise!

Take all of your goals and then categorise them. For example, I have goals to be more financially stable, to spend more time with my family, and to be healthier. Not one of these goals is more important than the other because they are all from different categories – finances, family, and health. So you must therefore work on all of these goals at the same time. If I added another goal, to be able to squat 200kg in the gym, this would [for me] come under the health category so it is now down to me to prioritise my "get healthier" goal against my "squat 200kg" goal.

Sorry if this is confusing but I hope you get the point – I am trying to say basically, GET SOME BALANCE! If I could sum up all of my goals into one it would be "Get some work-life balance." This is, I think, what we are all trying to achieve. 

So now it is down to me to act upon it. So when my wife asks me to come and look at the baby because she’s doing something funny, I stop writing my article there and then and come back to it later. I don’t tell her "I’ve just got to finish this line, darling."

Be in the present moment and appreciate where you are and what you have because the moments of life will keep ticking by. 

I am trying to capture my present moment awareness by using my new camera often. I also find it really helps my creativity too, thus developing my right-brain.

I took a few pictures this week over New Year while visiting my wife’s family and I hope you like it. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve also revisited a quote that I particularly like on this subject of finding work-life balance:

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.”

– James A. Michener.

Good luck in 2009 everyone. And good luck for this very moment 🙂 If anyone has any advice or ideas on how I can reach my goals I would be grateful to hear them. And maybe I can help you too!

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