I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When. An excellent book that explores the science of perfect timing. How do we get it perfect? Can we manifest a ‘right time, right place’ scenario?
Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the workday. Plus, the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is when you are most energetic and lethargic each day).
Do we overemphasise endings?
One concept, in particular, made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings.
Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me when I wrote this). This tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging relationships.
The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful.
When references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition. These movies make us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time.
Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying.
Have a chat with your future self
A beautiful example of how to do this, is sending a message to your future self.
- This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.
- The proposition made me a little teary.
- What would I tell my future self?
- I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on).
- I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things.
- I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly).
- There should be dogs, everywhere.
- And music, plus adventure.
I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others.
That’s all served me well so far. Finally, I would include a quote from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect:
‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.
This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023.
Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made. Or sadly by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome.
Your time is now
When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, this is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives.
‘Living in the moment’ is all the rage (and it’s no secret that I fly the mindfulness flag, it’s important).
However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future.
This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.
‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it.
I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.
Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…
How do you see it? Share in the comments below.
It began with something called a ‘happy planner’ that promised to keep me on track with my life goals list. The year, that is – I started off so well, planning ahead in my bright yellow hard-covered book that’s trimmed with gold and artistically decorated with beautiful landscape photography.
All my goals, neatly listed, poised for New Year’s success. Maybe you relate?
The un-happiness of a life goals list
I spent time working through my planner’s activities which included noting intentions, and rating my happiness in various areas of life with a view to taking action on anything that felt lacking. On a glance back, I see I also filled in the ‘reverse bucketlist’ pages, where instead of writing down all the things I wish to achieve, I listed those things I was already proud of accomplishing (a very nice activity, if you need a boost today).
While I did initially make the most of my ‘happy planner’, it has actually been sitting on top of a pile of half-read books since May!
The bright yellow HAPPY cover serves as a reminder each morning of the possibilities ahead. But in the evenings, it came to prompt panic over all I’d intended to do but not yet acted upon.
According to the internet, this is now a thing – ‘FOMOMG’ (fear of missing out [on] my goals).
What on earth is FOMOMG?
What to do then, if we feel like we’re not where we intended to be now? That is, if we haven’t saved the money we wanted to, got the job, bought the house, discovered the romance, finished (or started) a project we’d hoped to have in hand.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like we’re missing out, and some might agree it’s especially so at this time of year. Keen to not fall victim to this so-called FOMOMG, I resolved to lessen the pressure I admitted placing on myself.
Types of goal setting, not goal-setting or indeed not giving a f*ck!
I’ve been reading some of Sarah Knight’s work – she’s the author of the No F*cks Given guides and presenter of a TED talk on the ‘magic of not giving a f*ck’ that’s reached over four million people. Clearly, many are curious to know if it’s ok to shed our excess ‘stuff’, and Sarah’s now famous for spreading the word on how to let go of things you really don’t need to care about.
Akin to decluttering your home, we’re encouraged to do the same with our minds. You can start this today by writing down a list of all the things that are taking up space in your head, then carefully considering which items you don’t need to care about. Really. For example, are you worrying that you’re not as caught up in your career as your friends are (well apparently, according to Instagram)? Let it go. It’s likely to work out the moment you begin to clean up your thoughts and focus on the things that truly matter.
Life goals to set for yourself: choose wonder not worry
I’ve also been dipping into Amber Rae’s Choose Wonder over Worry (another one stashed in my bedside pile of books). She helpfully points out that it’s not the things we don’t care about that are hard to let go of, but it’s letting go of all those things we DO want to achieve, plan for or create, that is so hard. To choose ‘wonder over worry’, means doing just that – letting some of the stress and pressure go, and focussing on the thing that is the most important to you.
Looking ahead, it’s time for me – and you, perhaps – to find joy in the moment. Embrace, don’t stress, over your dreams and goals.
Make time for a festive break; consider the good in your world, and your achievements; play with your kids or pets; focus on ONE thing you’re looking forward to pursuing next year. Let go of the clutter and embrace with me the understanding that setting goals is one thing, but realising those goals can change is the real key to happiness.
How do you see it – do you set goals anymore, or focus on intentions? I’d love to know – please drop me a line in the comments.
First published in the December 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
Late last year I picked up on something I might need to address, a behaviour that didn’t impress me; I wondered what it would take to do everything without complaining or gossiping? My life would surely be less complicated. I’ll admit, it proved harder than I thought, but my diary on my week without bitching unravelled as follows.
How to do everything without complaining or b!tching: let’s do this!
It happened during lunch a few weeks ago – I was catching up with a group of friends, and typically, not too far into the time we were together, I noticed us all descend into negative chit chat. I could hear the words spilling out of my own mouth and knew I should rein it in, but I was on a roll.
I bid farewell to my mates and headed off to finish work for the afternoon, but something didn’t sit right following the interaction. It dawned on me that with some groups of people, I had fallen into negative patterns. We all need to let off steam now and again, and let’s face it, sometimes we face situations that provoke even the most patient among us. Still, I felt a bad habit brewing, enabled and worsened by certain people and conditions, but also creeping into home life, WhatsApp chats and coffee dates with colleagues. Chronic complainers – we all know them, and that is not who I want to be.
Breaking a b!itch of a habit
They say 21 days is what it takes to form a new habit. I decided to compromise and swore off b!tch!ng for one working week.
I declared my intention to my partner Cooper, and at 9am the next day to Lisa, the first work-pal I saw.
‘No negative talk for a week!’ I shared. She smiled sweetly and encouraged me to pursue it. ‘Excellent!’. Within half an hour we were discussing how irritating Riverdale is and how we’re shocked it scores so many television award nominations. b!tch b!tch b!tch.
Oops. (sorry Riverdale fans… but honestly!)
Onwards, it’s never too late to start fresh. I made it to 3pm determined to stay sensible during a meeting I was set to have with a project group I’m part of. All good, until one of the team made a dramatic entrance announcing he had gossip. I love gossip! And I failed on day one.
Four days to go, and in my diary was a meeting with a fabulous friend of mine, Tina. We often collaborate, and the reality of our ‘one hour’ slots is 45 minutes gossip, 15 minutes work (we are very efficient).
There was giggling, joking and b!tch!ng. As we entered our 35th minute, I told her that I was trying to drop my negative habit and feeling better about myself, I talked us up towards positive perspectives.
Wednesday: mid-point hump day, tough. Instead of engaging with my known triggers, I intentionally surrounded myself with optimistic affirmations and kept an eye on @thedogist Instagram Stories to maintain high spirits. If you’re not familiar with The Dogist, go on – thank me later.
Chronic complaining can be broken by mindful action
By Thursday I found I was catching myself in the act, but still making excuses for my bad behaviour. Two of my favourite people tried to explain that there is a difference between ‘b!tch!ing’ and ‘updating’, particularly if one of them has been away and missed out on ‘news’. I’m not sure it works like that, but we were being mindful of our words and actions, and that’s progress.
As the sun rose on FriYay, I wondered if I should test the rubber-band-on-wrist strategy, to be snapped as a reminder if I caught myself mid-naughty habit; but I granted myself a reprieve. I realised the experiment had been successful – pain free, even – because while I completely failed on the no-gossip, no-b!tch!ng front, I was now fully aware of the behaviour I am changing for the better.
This is good, because I much prefer the girl who contributes knowledge, kindness and wisdom to conversations. If not those things, good cheer, at least. I can’t say that you won’t find me moaning about certain television shows (don’t get me started on Love Island), but nobody’s perfect.
Have you caught yourself in the act – what are your tips on not being the compulsive complainer in your social circles? Let me know in the comments.
First published in the November 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
I regularly share thoughts in Australia’s Get it Magazine, and this month it turned out to be high time to try a new exercise routine which is how I discovered the benefits of Reformer Pilates. If you’re looking to start a new exercise class and lacking confidence to get going, maybe my story will help you.
The benefits of Reformer Pilates: starting from scratch
Neatly drafted under the date ‘December 31, 2017’ (a good ten months ago), are a few resolutions for the year to come, including one that jumps out at me now, ‘join an exercise class’.
It’s something I wanted to try because classes have provided me with positive fitness structure in the past. I remember that first week back in January, keenly researching suitable options like dance, Barre, and the benefits of Reformer Pilates – things I was never game to try.
I was geared-up to get along to the initial sessions of the year, believing all newbies would start then too.
As the hour drew near however, the internal dialogue began: ‘Good God, you’re too old to join a dance class!’; ‘You won’t even make it through the first ten minutes without needing a sit-down and a bucket of water’; ‘Imagine how awesome everyone else looks in their designer active-wear (and how idiotic I’ll look in my eBay specials)’.
I panicked, realising exactly how many years it’s been since I survived a group fitness class, let alone be in the routine of attending.
For the past year I’ve maintained independent gym visits when I can, walks and Yoga, but I’m aware the body gets used to repetitive activities and we start to see that our efforts don’t really reap rewards. Something must change, although I’d still not gone to a class!
Getting to class and discovering the benefits of Reformer Pilates
Cooper – my fitness-fan, fun-loving other half, bit his tongue for the past year. I’ve only just learnt he’s reluctant to divulge certain truths to me. Apparently about five years into this 17-year thing we have going on, he told me he didn’t think a shirt I was wearing out one night suited me.
The wrath that ensued meant he thinks twice before sharing such insight. Of course, despite me having no recollection of said event, I insisted I’ve grown since then, and promised that honesty is the right way. (probably).
He proceeded to share a flyer found at his gym promoting a special deal on Reformer Pilates classes, reminding me that I had been interested to get into a class activity. The proposal was positively received (much to Cooper’s relief).
Reformer Pilates had always been something I knew would be beneficial, garnering similar results as Ballet which I loved, well, until I was 16. But the idea of figuring out the ‘apparatus’ (a ‘bed’ attached to springs that move a carriage along the bed’s frame – thought about too deeply, it may resemble a form of torture depicted in The Tudors), freaked me out.
Finding confidence to give a new class a go
In a headspace to give something new a go though, I signed up for a 10-class pass.
The beauty of this situation, for me at least, is that I need to use the class passes within a certain time-frame, must book the sessions in advance, and if I bail at the last minute (typical ‘me’) I lose the investment, because these come with a 48-hour cancellation rule. Seems I’m motivated by money, or loss of it, so I show up!
The first class was challenging, but not intimidating as I’d feared. The instructor set up my reformer, and explained each exercise, as has been the case in subsequent classes.
I left that first time with wobbling and shaking sensations in muscles I didn’t know existed! I still go to each class with excuses in my head about why I’m too tired, too busy and too uncoordinated to attend, but there’s something new going on now. I know for sure, that at the end of each class I’ll be glad I went.
After about five weeks I noticed the benefits of Reformer Pilates showing up – some nice tone, which has led to body-confidence I thought was long gone.
Full disclosure, I’m just back at work following a break of nearly two weeks, and I’m aware I need to leave my wine-loving-holiday-happy vibe behind and return to a healthier lifestyle. That said, I’m proud I pushed myself through significant years-old blocks to embrace something that works for me, now. Make or break your habits, one step (or class) at a time – studies show it’s how we genuinely accommodate new, better behaviours. I feel I’m finally there, and I’ve signed up for more! It’s not torture, really.
Are you a convert on the benefits of Reformer Pilates or do you have tips on starting any new exercise class? It’s daunting, I know! Please do share your insight in the comments below.
First published in the September 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
A little learning on not saving your best for special occasions – find your glamour cue each and every day 👑
Not saving your best for special occasions: the story
Once upon a time I lived in tiny and expensive flat in a huge city overseas.
Competition for a roof over your head continues to be high in many places, and out of naïve fear I’d accepted the first unaffordable rental a real estate agent sold me on.
This apartment block housed a young, international set, mostly fortunate students who curiously didn’t work but had way more fun-funds than I did.
The experience wasn’t the homeliest I’ve had, and my pay packet stretched only as far as rent and a bit of food.
Trash, treasure and a splash of glamour
That’s why the communal corridor near the ‘bin room’ was such a treat.
You see, every time this transient crowd shifted in and out of the building, they’d leave unwanted goods in that space. Furniture, towels, blankets, cushions, kitchenware, shoes, lamps, kettles, storage boxes, trinkets and clothes would appear every few weeks. All in good condition, nearly-new! The little hallway offered a treasure trove of goodies that saved me loads of money.
One special day I was on my way to work when I spotted a fresh pile of pretty things left for the picking. Sure I needed to catch the train, like, ten minutes prior, however, I was captivated.
Unceremoniously dumped amongst a pile of women’s accessories, was a stylish black leather Kate Spade tote bag!
A Google search later indicated it would retail for more than (AU)$700. My bag’s former owner (someone with more money than sense) had abandoned it still full of her old gum wrappers, crumpled tissues, used cosmetics, and it was stained on the inside with what looked like leaked nail varnish. With a loving clean, it was nearly good as new.
Not saving your best for special occasions: living a glamorous life now
From that moment on, my Kate Spade tote and I were inseparable. I’d never owned an expensive bag before. I’m a fairly low-maintenance kinda girl, however carrying it around made me feel glamorous. It was just a bag that I’d retrieved from the trash, but it did add sparkle to my days.
Indeed, the word ‘glamour’ is derived from Scots (the old English language as spoken in Scotland), when in the early 1700s, the Scottish altered the English word ‘grammar’ to create ‘glamer’ or ‘glamour’, meaning ‘a magic spell’.
What is glamour?
Glamour. A little bit of magic, a feeling that things are in the flow and all eyes are on a sassy version of you. Enchanting, don’t you think?
More reasons to not be saving your best for special occasions, like weddings, formals, awards shows or a jaunt through Vienna.
Glamour can be accessed every day. My Kate Spade handbag made me realise that the spell is in the detail, if that detail is special to me. I still don’t seek designer gear, but I make sure that I implement touches of glamour in my life that serve as a cue to walk tall and approach my to-do list with grace and ease.
Glamour cue: be your happiest today
Your daily dose of glamour might mean ensuring your nails are manicured, wearing a fabulous hair accessory, getting fit and healthy, or brightening up your home with fresh flowers. Maybe the glamorous life to you, means the removal of excess, making space for calm, simplicity and the got-it-together confident you.
When the tragic news of designer Kate Spade’s death popped up as a notification on my phone in June, I recalled how the creation that bore her logo had brought me joy. That bag was my icon of glamour, the reminder to smile warmly, flick my hair a little, and to radiate the bright energy I intend to share with the world. Little had I known, I did not need a big budget or to be in attendance at a fancy event in order to ‘be’ glamorous.
In a reflection on the meaning of glamour, Financial Times journalist Susie Boyt says that, “your best self is not about pampering, but working on that song-in-your-heart mood”. How charming, and true. Find your glamour cues this month, and access daily, because a reality we can all agree on, is that life’s too short to save our best things for ‘special occasions’.
Read the latest issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au