Depending upon how jam-packed your life is, the old adage of take things one day at a time would be great advice to follow. However, for those of you whom time-management is not your best trait, I have found it a better practice to approach things one week at a time.
Whether you’re a person who likes to schedule and plan every nuance of your life, or fly by the seat of your pants, laying out an outline of each upcoming week is essential to achieving your goals (whether fitness or life-changing). A 7-day time chunk with a guideline of plans will help those of you whose focus is normally too scattered, while not overly-restraining those who can’t handle anything but a spontaneous, go with the flow, life.
Without some planning, fitness goals go out the window. You cannot eat right, you consistently drop workouts for other, supposedly more important priorities, and you do not get enough rest. Without a plan for steps A-Z, directing your career path (i.e., getting a new/better job), improving your financial state, and/or strengthening relationships do not have a chance of truly changing.
The best part is that seven days is a small enough chunk that you’re likely to not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the task of planning. I’m not talking about every single hour of every day planned either. You’re simply going to place a few non-negotiable key tasks for each day. Keep your perspective that these tasks are commitments/ appointments that you’ve paid for (money is always a great motivator) and only under dire circumstances can you cancel them. By the end of one week, you’ll be pleased and amazed at how much progress you’ve made towards your goals. The next week will be easier, and soon you can fill the days with even more goal-achieving steps. (This is a great practice for kids and teens as well.)
So take a deep breath, and pull up a digital calendar on your computer or smart-phone and prepare to place 1-3 of these firm appointments on each of the upcoming seven days. If you’re wondering what qualifies as a “firm appointment” here’s a random, yet specific, list:
- Workout (in home or at gym)
- Grocery shopping (with a deliberate healthy list in hand)
- Food prep (meals and snacks for several days)
- Outdoor activities (exercise disguised as a play time)
- Play time (down time where you enjoy a passion like movies or reading)
- Connection Dates (time to re-connect with significant other and/or children)
- Work enhancement (time spent on furthering your career via networking or studies)
- Rest/Sleep (don’t disregard this one, it’s key to your mental and physical well-being)
Once again I remind you that you only need to schedule 1-2 of these per day. In a 7-day period you should workout 2-4 times, while others things like grocery shopping and food prep might only need once a week.
You’ve nothing to lose except stress if you give this a try for the next seven days. I look forward to hearing your results, so be sure to schedule time to write me with your report!
Once upon a time there were three bears: an “over-planer” bear, an “under-planner” bear, and a “well-balanced” bear.
The Over-Planner planned out every single nuance of his life. He was rigid and uptight because everything had to go just right all the time, and when plans didn’t work out he pitched a big old grouchy stressed-out fit. There was little room in his life for spontaneity and he therefore missed out on a lot of opportunities. His family and friends labeled him difficult and controlling, and sometimes felt bullied by his insistence they always follow his choices or plans. Though he achieved most of his goals and got very far in his career and personal life, he was never satisfied and lost a lot of sleep as he was always planning so many steps ahead which left him missing out on many beautiful moments occurring in the NOW.
Conversely, the Under Planner lived by seat of her furry pants. She refused to be tied down to any plans, preferring to go with the flow or mood and live life always in the NOW. While she was a fun and creative bear to hang around or work with, she ran chronically late and often annoyingly non-committal, resulting in a long tail of unfinished and underachieved dreams and goals dragging around behind her. Perceiving her as “flaky,” her friends and family to never place too much trust or reliance upon her.
Lastly we meet the “well-balanced” bear. Bear in mind (pun intended) this cub is rarely born this way, but evolves through emotional maturity and life’s trials and lessons, to find balance between a structured life full of back-to-back plans and a frolicking lifestyle of blowing with the wind. They can get their responsibilities handled in a timely fashion, have time left for their needs and wants, and still have room for reacting to life’s curve balls without breaking too much of a sweat.
Having worked hard to become a well-balanced bear in my life, I love the quote that I stole from someone somewhere: “I adore spontaneity as long as it’s carefully planned.” In other words, while I do live a pretty structured daily life, I not only leave room for sudden left turns (whether for fun or a crises), but I have time allotted in my life for “nothing.” That’s time when I can spontaneously choose something random to do – I can do absolutely nothing – and sometimes that’s the best of all!
So my little bear-readers, which are you? More importantly, which one do you want to be? Just some spontaneous food for thought today. Cheers!
We are officially in the last quarter (Q4) of the year and like many I tend to take stock of what I have achieved throughout the year, or more importantly, what I have not. Not everyone is as goal based as I am (more than one goal for growth and achievement always on my plate) – and that’s neither good nor bad. However, almost everyone has at least one goal nagging at the back of their head be it to get into shape or get out of a dead-end job or relationship. Year after year slips past and still you do not achieve your goal.
Since we are in the final quarter of the year, today I’m sharing with you some easy tips to break out of the stagnation or back-peddling that has kept you from that one desire for the last nine months (or longer).
Re-Define The Goal.
People change, things happen, and we often forget to adapt our goals to the newer circumstances. So be clear on what it is you want and how it is you’ll achieve it. (For some the steps needed are what keeps them stuck as they have no clue how to define those steps. If this is you, read my other blog entries about this subject, or simply email me with your questions.)
Often my clients will tell me their goals in a very long detailed sentence that can convolute the true end goal. I say slice away the fluff and get down to the nitty-gritty. Here’s an example using my career: instead of I want to stop working at a corporate gym and start working for myself with private clients where I train them in their homes, try the simpler and more accurate goal of: I will launch my private practice and secure at least 2 clients by X date.
State in the Positive and the Now.
Using the above example, rather than stating: I want to go into private practice which still sounds like a dream more than a reality, and is future based with no time specified… I say: I WILL launch my private practice and secure at least 2 clients by x date. This way is positive (will vs. want), has a proactive goal built in (2 clients) and has a specified date (x date). I know that placing a specific date is not always achievable, but I prefer to aim with specificity than the throw things at the wall and see what sticks approach. Also, remember when there’s a choice, always choose the path of least resistance. which is often either the most direct or the one with the fewest obstacles.
Choreograph Your Steps.
Much like creating a dance, if you want to succeed at goal planning and achievement, you must “choreograph” (outline) your steps A through Z. Remember to keep the newly defined goal in mind, and keep each step simple and proactive. Be results driven and before you know it you will have a slew of results behind you (the steps) and be that much closer to – or actually AT – your goal.
I welcome any of you to reach out to me should you desire a bit more advice and sage direction. Now go get your life on and enjoy Q4 of 2015. It’ll be over before you know it! (Q4, not your life! Wink.)
Last week I reposted a blog from two years ago as stress and it’s damaging affects on one’s body appears to be enjoying a renewed rampage on many of my friends and clients. In continuation of my “summer vacation” series, this week I offer (reprint) some suggestions to help you manage your stress.
As I discussed last week, stress – chronic long-term stress, can wreak havoc on your body in a myriad of internally detrimental ways. I reminded you that there’s always a way to change a situation or circumstance, or at least change how you deal with a negative problem, when you want it badly enough. I asked you to think about what’s stopping you from making that much needed change in your life.
Well I guarantee it boils down to fear. Fear is the main culprit behind most people’s inability to change a situation, thus removing detrimental levels of stress from their lives. But fear can be faced and overcome – IF you’re willing. So here are some steps you can take to reduce or remove chronic stress:
1. Diagnose the core problem – the person, place, job, or situation that is the root issue to your stress. You may feel there are multiple issues, but usually there is a core issue, i.e., worries about money, poor communication, being spread too thin.
2. Acknowledge and name the fear that holds you captive. There are only four (4) fears that exist to us humans (all fears can be boiled down to one of these or a hybrid of two of them):
Fear of Failure
Fear of Rejection
Fear of Pain (physical or emotional)
Fear of the unknown
3. Tear apart that fear by looking deeply at what is the worst possible outcome if you face that fear. Death or serious physical harm are about the only outcomes that you clearly cannot recover from. Otherwise, all obstacles, with proper planning, can be overcome (and they won’t kill you).
4. Assess your support systems. Who is truly a supportive force in your life. Not a “yes” person, not an enabler. Someone whom you can trust with your intimate emotions, who will not judge you, and will tell you the truth. Someone reliable and consistent in your life. The more of these the better – then lean on them, not wholly, but just enough to get you through the really tough stuff. The rest you must do on your own to truly succeed.
5. Make a plan. Detail the steps and map them out on a calendar.
6. Commit to the plan. Have someone hold you accountable, and then take each step in constant forward movement until you are where you want to be.
To some these ideas may seem obvious and easy; to others, daunting. However you perceive it, the task is to take positive steps towards a change. Stress does not have to rule your life. The key to getting rid of your stress lies in your very capable hands (and head).
SO GO AND EMBRACE CHANGE! Happy summer.
Two years ago I posted this blog, and recently I’ve had a slew of clients dealing with the physically debilitating results of stress. So I thought since many people tend to take a summer vacation around this time of year, it might be some helpful food for thought to those of you who are “stressing out.”
By now you should all know that negative effects of prolonged stress on the body. I’ve written about it frequently, it’s discussed regularly on Oprah, Dr. Oz, and the like. But for those of you living in a constant state of stress, I thought it time to revisit the issue, remind you of a few important stress-facts.
The kind of stress I’m addressing – that of situational, circumstantial, environmental and relationships – starts in the head (it’s emotional). If not dealt with quickly and thoroughly, it moves into the body where if left unreleased, ricochets around your insides like a pinball! A mind/body under stress releases Cortisol. Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have numerous negative effects, such as:
- Impaired cognitive performance
- Suppressed thyroid function
- Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
- Decreased bone density
- Decrease in muscle tissue
- Chronic digestive and intestinal issues
- Repeat muscle spasms (lock of the muscles) in the neck and back
- Weight gain
- Higher blood pressure
- Reduced sex drive
- Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
- Increased abdominal fat, which can in turn result in higher cholesterol, heart attacks, and strokes
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s quite a list of ailments that I would actively seek to avoid!
For those of you that reply there’s no way to change my current situation or circumstances to alleviate the stress, I say think again. I know it’s trite, but where there’s a will there’s a way. If you have enough motivation, you can overcome – and change – anything.
So what’s stopping you? Think about this while on vacation this week, or during what little down time you allow yourself to have (like the drive home from work). Next week I’ll address (or reiterate) some tricks for handling your stress.
How long have you been saying you want to get in shape? How long have you been stuck in that dead end job or still living where you didn’t want to be in the first place? For many people, the answer is a really long time – too long – but they just sit and complain about it. If this resonates with you (or someone in your life), I have one more question: what will it take to get you to get off your butt and do something about it?
Blunt, I know, but that’s me. Time spent complaining, being depressed over a situation, wallowing in your inaction is the biggest waste of life I can think of. There’s always something you can do to improve your situation. Usually what’s holding you back is your fear. Fear that changing things might make life worse – you won’t like the new results any better. Fear that you might have to have a conversation of a serious nature (also known as the dreaded confrontation). And the biggest obstacle of all – indecision.
I’ve come to understand that despite the fact that I rarely, if ever, am indecisive, many people are. There are either too many overwhelming choices to pick from, or too few. Either way, they cannot make a decision with conviction for fear that they are making the wrong choice – that another choice might be the better way. Unfortunately they forget the first rule of decisions and planning. You can always change the plan!
We’re not talking Sophie’s Choice here people. We’re taking a point A to point B choice to get you to your desired goal. If the first step of the plan doesn’t get you in line for the next, revise the plan. Movement, even if not completely successful is better than stagnation. Besides, sometimes movement even in the wrong direction, brings forth an opportunity that you would not otherwise have found.
I often use the analogy with my Life Coaching clients that they are on a ship, staring intently upon the horizon for another ship to come by so they can jump ship. But as life as proven to me and many, sometimes you have to jump ship and tread water before the next better ship comes along.
So to any of you stuck in a rut reading this, I say make a plan. Don’t second guess yourself, don’t make it too complicated or take too long. Then outline at least the initial steps (first 3-5) and then execute them in a timely fashion. I promise you the next steps will be easier. I’m always here to help should you desire it.
Time to get off your butt and do something starts NOW!