The Habit of Completion will simplify your Life

 

The Habit of Completion

Who feels good about checking off something on your list? It seems like a small satisfaction to know you have completed a task. Yet those some acts of completion help motivate us to keep moving forward with goals, projects or just the steps of everyday life. What stops us from completing projects?

Time. Lack of time is what everyone says prevents them from getting things done. I would disagree. I have found with my clients that when drilling down how they spend time, there are things they could stop doing, give away or spend less time on. This change would then gain some valuable time for personal projects.

I challenge you to reflect on how you spend your time and look for areas that you can make a change. Consider how these three steps might help you develop a habit of completion.

 

Step One: Learn How to Say No

Practice saying no to demands on your time and energy. Only say yes to things that make the best use of your time and bring you energy.

 

Step Two: Get Rid of Clutter

Start with a small area and create a clutter free zone- on your desk and in your home. Use this area to work on projects or planning where you are not distracted by other items that might claim your attention. Clean out closets of items you do not use or do not fit and find them a home with someone else who could use these items.

 

Step Three: Chunk it Down

Take any project that is too big or overwhelming and break it down into steps. Decide what five actions you could take to start on the big project and do those. Pick a time period between 20-40 minutes and just commit to spending that amount of time on the project every week or every day.

 

The habit of completion can be improved when you focus on small steps along the way. Give yourself credit for each step, so you avoid that feeling of overwhelm that prevents you from even starting on a new project.

I am planning on spending the last few days of this year cleaning out files, clearing up loose ends and clearing out the clutter that allows me a fresh start to 2017. Need help? I won’t physically come to your office or home, but I can give you some practical ideas on how and where to start your new habits for 2017.

Swim around the Rocks

 

 

 

Habits can be helpful or they can be so automatic that we forget to reflect if we could improve or change a process to make it easier.

What makes us push through the toughest possible path because it is what we have always done? What stops us from trying a different path to see if it might be easier?

I had a dream last night. I love swimming. It feels good, improves my mood and gives my brain a rest while my body gets a great workout.

In my dream the pool was full and in each lane people were just floating in small boats taking up all the space. If I attempted to swim with the boats, I would hit my head, have to stay underwater or just get pushed around by the boats. Even when I asked nicely, the people in the boats were not willing to move for me. So my dream self decided if I wanted to swim I would have to give up on the pool and just go swim in the air.

Dreams are magic. What I discovered was how fun and easy it was to swim in the air. Why had I not tried this before?

If you find yourself pushing through obstacles, consider how you might go around them. How could you avoid the obstacles and make life easier? Is there a path or new idea you could try? Play the “what if” game. What if this might work?

What if someone else has a good idea? How could I make this process easier?

What patterns do you have that might be improved by trying something completely different? In my dream I was free to explore unheard of possibilities. In real life you will benefit by thinking as if anything were possible. Surprise yourself by taking a different path and see what you learn.

 

Responsibility- Is this Mine?

When did I first learn that I was responsible?  Some where in the lesson of responsibility – I twisted up what I was responsible for. I took on the belief that I was responsible for all others first, that I was responsible for other people. That I was responsible for happiness, feelings, outcomes, being perfect, doing it all.

That other people’s feelings and needs came before mine. I used to think that doing things for others was important and I was not important.  Now I reject that belief and have let go of my idea of being responsible for the entire universe.  Are you really in charge of the universe today? Only when I ask myself that out loud does it sound silly.

Responsibility is a habit that is difficult to sort out at times. I am at heart a responsible person. It is the order of my belief that has changed. I cannot be helpful, compassionate or caring when I am overwhelmed or carrying the weight of all responsibility around with me. What happens if you pick up every task or problem that you see? How many of these problems or rocks can you carry and still keep moving without impacting your own health?

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On good days, I will gently hand you back the responsibility you attempt to pass over to me. On bad days, I will say yes to anything asked of me, and then get angry or upset when I realize I have taken on too much responsibility again. When I carry around things for other people, there is no space in my life for me. I am important. I need to be responsible to me before you.  Another lesson to be learned.

When I do forget and slip back into that outdated idea of what is mine, I am able to remind myself by asking better questions.  Is this really mine? Pause. Say no before yes. Who does this belong to? Why would you ask me that? Is this mine?

I am responsible.

I am responsible for my own happiness.

I am responsible for self -care, honoring my feelings, being kind to myself.

I believe that self- care is critical to self- development and growth.

I am responsible for me.

Words can be used as Weapons

Words can be used as weapons

Words can be used to shame, blamarchere, humiliate, hurt, discourage and intimidate.

Words used as weapons can create emotional distress even when the intentions are careless instead of deliberate. Words can be thrown out in anger or frustration. Words can be used in a deliberate pattern of verbal abuse. I think we fail to recognize the effect of verbal abuse on our physical and emotional health. We have been told to toughen up and ignore hurt feelings, that we are too sensitive and cannot take a joke.

 

In reality your response or understanding of the intended meaning of words is what counts. If you think you have been insulted or ridiculed: then you have been. Trust your internal instinct on how the words were intended.

Suzette Haden Elgin reminds us, “ That verbal violence is a toxic menace. The majority of illnesses and disorders that develop in the workplace have emotional stress as their direct or indirect cause.” (1.)

Words can be carefully crafted as a verbal attack. Elgin describes here how

to recognize the “Verbal Attack Pattern”.

“The most reliable clue you have to verbal abuse is to listen to how different words are stressed in the spoken sentence. Listen for odd or abnormal emphasis to be placed on words spoken.”

Examples: If you really cared about your health–you would get off the couch and start exercising

What is so difficult about eating healthy? It is so simple any one could do it.

In both these examples the attacker is not interested in your answer.

These words are not used to encourage or support. A verbal attack is meant to injure, blame or shame. You don’t have to apologize or explain when under attack. Here are some short ideas about how to defuse a verbal attack.

The attack will include a bait: Some part of the sentence will attack you personally and expect you to defend against that part of the sentence.

Your best defense is to recognize that attack pattern and ignore the bait.

Instead keep your voice calm and address the situation at hand or agree with something that has been said.

All words spoken are not absolute truths. Just by understanding and recognizing a verbal attack can help you reduce its impact or power to inflict pain. It saddens me to realize how often we accept criticism as our fault without questioning the intention behind the words spoken to us. My hope is to raise awareness of the words we hear and speak. That we focus on how to communicate with sensitivity to others and learn to defuse or deflect words used as weapons. I have gathered many tools and skills over the years as a martial arts instructor and teacher of verbal self-defense. I hope this blog gives you some new ideas and would be happy to discuss your specific situations with a coaching call. Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Elgin, S. (2000). The gentle art of verbal self-defense at work. Paramus, NJ. : Prentice Hall Press

 

 

Do you Have Spring Fever?

What is spring fever? The common definition is restless and distractive behavior brought on by changes in weather and daylight. It seems that spring weather brings out my urge to clean out my closets, start new projects and reflect on how I am spending my time. I use the wild ups and downs of the weather patterns in Colorado to refocus, slow down and think. Some days we get clear sunny days and I just want to be outside. Then when it snows or hails again I get this urge to take massive action on projects and complete undone tasks.

 

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Why does the weather or longer sunny days affect our mood or behavior? I know there is a research-based answer; I am more interested in what longer sunny days can do for us. Do you feel like skipping work and spending the day outside? Is that an outrageous thought? Have you really looked at how much you work lately? What would it take to get you outside and enjoying the weather more often? Spring weather can be an opportunity to reflect, reassess and make changes that allow you to feel centered and happy with how you spend your time.

 

Is there a cure for spring fever? Yes. Get outside. Spend time on things just for you. Stop doing everything for others. Start doing things for yourself. Start with a change of pace. Slow down and pay attention to how you feel and what you really need. Then decide what actions will support you in this changing season. Short-term ideas are simple steps.

  • Create a change in your daily routine.
  • Get outside more often
  • Do something just for the fun of it
  • Be social
  • Take a trip for a day or longer
  • Be lazy and unproductive for a full day

A good solution to make a lasting change is to take a day to reflect and consider what you want from life. What do you want more of in your life? What do you want to spend less time doing? Dream big. Consider all options before you start making plans. Review your long-term goals. Break those down into shorter actions that you can do daily or weekly. Use this changing spring weather to create a positive space in your life for healthy change.

 

Daily junk food or weekend binge?

Are Weekend Binges as Harmful to Gut Health as a Regular Junk Food Diet?

 

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Eating healthily during the week and filling up with fast food over the weekend is just as bad for your gut health as eating junk food
every day of the week, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales.

In the study, two groups of rats were either given constant access to either a healthy food or junk food, while another group cycled between the two diets, receiving healthy food for four days and junk food for three days, over 16 weeks. A variety of metabolic markers were analyzed, including body weight, fat mass, insulin and leptin.

At the end of 16 weeks, rats on the cycled diet were 18% heavier than the rats on the healthy diet. In addition, the rats who were fed the junk diet food had reduced levels of microbial species which metabolize flavonoids, which have been linked to weight loss.

Researchers also established that the microbiota of cycled rats was nearly identical to the microbiota of rats on the junk food diet, with both groups’ microbiota being substantially different to the rats on the healthy diet.

Head researcher, Professor Margaret Morris, the Head of Pharmacology at UNSW said, “While these findings are yet to be replicated in humans, those who are strict with their diet during the week may be undoing all their good work by hitting the junk food over the weekend.”

Professor Morris believes that “The study suggests certain gut microbiota, including Ruminococcus and Blautia, may be promising targets for future therapeutic strategies to treat metabolic disorders”.

Source: University of New South Wales. “Weekend binges just as bad for the gut as a regular junk food diet, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160120112112.htm

There is no Perfect Plan

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There is no Perfect Plan

Do you have dreams? Do you have plans that are waiting for the right time to implement? This can apply to your professional goals or your life plan. Each of us has an ideal concept of how we want to live, work and play. What are you doing to achieve that ideal goal or vision? Most people will admit to having some vague ideas or goals. Very few people have their goals written down.

Yet I would suspect many of us are avid list makers. Why? When I capture my tasks on a list, they get done. It is that simple. If I don’t write them down or get them on my list, there is a much higher chance they get neglected or postponed. What does this teach us about getting what you want in life? Have written goals. Goals need to be very specific so you can work towards a real objective with a time line attached. One year I decided that my goal was to live in a cabin in the woods for a month. What I had in mind was a cozy cabin on a stream with lots of walking trails where I could spend a productive month working on next year’s projects. I did achieve that goal. My goal was not very specific, so what I got was living in a KOA cabin with no heat or running water for a month while on a travel assignment. I laugh now at this comparison between my ideal and my reality of a goal achieved. To me it is a great reminder that goals need to be very specific or you might get something completely different then your intended outcome.

Now comes the action part of any goal. What are you willing to do for this goal to be achieved? There will be a cost in time, effort or choices. Every step can be broken down into small actions that are reasonable and fit into your daily schedule.

The last step is to make a plan. Here is a sticking point for many people. We want to get it right. So the plan has to be air tight, all options considered and be sketched out all the way to how you achieve your final goal. Right?

Wrong.

Your plan for achieving any goal is to start with a plan. Getting starting is the plan. As you move forward you then will monitor, modify and adjust your plan based on how it works for you. Remember this is how adults learn, by doing. By making mistakes and adjusting or changing course from learning what does not work.

Throw out the idea of a perfect plan. Get a plan that gets you started on your goals.

That plan is the basis for taking action. Spiral Coaching offers a Laser Coaching 3 call special this month to jump-start your actions.  Decide Act Results- Click here to Start

Small actions will move you towards your goal. Say yes to your dreams by turning them into realistic goals one action at a time.

Think Big. Act Small

Think big-act small

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Every year feels like a good time to start fresh new projects or launch into new goals and activities. Everyone knows what they need to do to improve. So what stops us from making those ideal personal improvements? The classic mistake is attempting too many changes in too short of a time with no plan on how to make it happen. Then you get frustrated with no progress or not achieving those high level goals in one week and give up altogether.

Does this sound familiar?  This concept applies to mastering new skills, setting up a healthy eating plan or new exercise program.

What is a better way to make positive change?  Here are some ideas that will make your changes last.

Start with the why. Why do you want to make this change? Why is it important to you? What will improve in your life if you achieve this result? Make your why personal, important and clearly define all the reasons that you really want to achieve this change. Connect your change with what is important to you on a daily level.

Step two. Be very clear on your expected outcome. What does success look like? How will it feel to achieve this result? What does it mean to you? How important is it to make this change?

Step Three. Think big. Act small.  Go for the ideal end result.  Take small action steps that will be easy to achieve.  What do you need to do on a monthly basis or weekly basis to reach your goal?

The key to success is to start with small actions on a daily basis that you can commit.

Small daily changes will create a habit that builds towards your overall goal.  Journal about your progress. Write out your daily goals and check them off.

Final thoughts are to be patient with yourself as you move through any change process. Be kind and forgiving when you stumble or take extra time to get your new habits going. Every change needs time to become a habit. Every person needs a support team or system to help them make changes. Need a platform to get started? Get a free on line secure journal from Spiral Coaching.  Get Your Free Journal

What you focus on grows.

Healthy Food Habits for Busy People

Healthy habits are small choices that you make each day that support your larger goals and vision of living well. This list will give you some ideas on how to turn your ideas into action steps that move towards a higher quality of life. Keep it simple when it comes to food choices. That is what works when you balance a busy life with healthy eating habits.

 

  1. Plan meals ahead. You know that if you have a plan for the week you make better choices. Set up a time each week to plan out your meals, snacks and needs so that you have healthy choices on hand when you need to eat.
  2. Use a list at the grocery store. This will save you time, money and avoid impulse decisions at the store.
  3. Buy the bulk of your food on the outer isles of the grocery store in produce and protein. Avoid the center isles where the processed food lives.
  4. Read labels. Start looking for added sugar with words that end in –ose: Frutose, dextrose, glactose, or syrup, barley malt, fruit juice concentrate.
  5. Stop drinking soda. This is the one thing that could make the biggest difference to your health. Diet soda with artificial sweetener is no better when it comes to keeping you in a cycle of craving sugar.
  6. Drink more water. Have a water bottle or glass of water close to you. Just the habit of having water in front of you will increase your intake. Ideal is 8 cups/ day.
  7. Cook ahead or cook double portions so that on hectic days you have food ready when you get home or leftovers to pull out of the freezer.
  8. Eat out less at restaurants. You can both save money and calories by cooking your own food. When you do eat out- choose foods that are baked, grilled and not fried. Ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
  9. Make a large pot of brown rice on the weekend when you have more time. That rice will last all week to add to your protein and vegetable dinners. Try quinoa as a grain that is healthy and easy to cook as your side for meals.
  10. Make open face sandwiches that only use one slice of bread- you can have lettuce on top to hold everything in. Pack your sandwich with protein and veggies. Try mustard instead of mayonnaise to flavor it.
  11. Avoid late night snacks. Put up a closed sign in your kitchen as a reminder

 

Here are some ideas of healthy snacks that you can grab and go with.

  • Fruit- it is a fast food
  • Vegetables with hummus
  • Cheese- like mozzarella sticks
  • Almonds or nuts that are raw and unsalted
  • Protein shake
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Yogurt- Greek – plain- you can add your own vanilla or nuts

The bottom line is to make your food choices ahead of time so your system makes it easy to eat healthy at the end of the day when you are tired or low on energy.

Keep it simple and start with small changes that fit your needs. If you need more ideas on how to simplify your life: take action and Contact Gwen for a complimentary coaching session

 

 

Why I flunked Meditation

I know the value of slowing down, deep breathing and allowing yourself to focus inward with meditation. It gives your brain a rest.  Meditation has physiological benefits of lowering your heart rate and improving your blood pressure. Meditation can be a powerful tool to reduce stress. So ,why do I have trouble meditating? I can only answer that sitting still for periods of time without doing something is difficult for me. I can sit and read, I can sit and make out lists or review my projects for the week. I can sit and have conversations or interact with friends. I can even sit and watch birds or the weather outside- for a little while.

I do have one visualization play list that I use at night. This is a short meditation that I listen to laying down just before going to sleep. This sequence seems to be very effective in signaling my brain that the day is done now I  drift off to sleep. Many times I don’t hear the end of the program.

I firmly believe that finding quiet time to allow your mind to be calm is necessary for refreshing your brain and restoring calm to your overall well being. Sitting still is just not calming for me. I have decided that meditation for me needs to be movement focused.

When my mind is working overtime- I need to move. I walk, I swim, I bike, I stretch, I move. To give my brain a rest, I use physical movement that allows me time to focus on the pure joy of  some type of activity.  I have had great bursts of creativity while swimming. I can let ideas flow while I am physically focused on breathing in the water. I refresh and soak up the energy of nature while hiking in the woods. Even just 10 minutes of gentle stretching or yoga help me end the day with a calm peaceful feeling.

I hope that I have given you some ideas to use when get  stuck or feel like you failed at something. Instead of giving up, turn it around.  Coaching is all about you finding the unique path that works for you. Just like meditation- there is no one coaching program that fits all- each coaching session is based on what works best for you.

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