I love January! I think I like it more than Christmastime, although both come with their own set of rituals, demands and expectations. It’s important to remember that we can make a fresh start any time, which I’ll cover here, but as it’s the New Year…
Every day is a fresh start, but 1 January is extra special
For some reason, New Year has always served as my reset point; my joy-and-motivation initiator – my reminder that every day is a fresh start. Certainly, that may be cliché, but I’m sure others see it the same way.
I also know I’m not alone in scrapping the whole ‘resolutions’ and ‘goal setting’ business. January 1 is a holiday, my uncle Doug and cousin Liz’s birthdays. The only pressure I want to experience is the cork popping out of a bottle of bubbly!
How to do January (or any time, for that matter) stress-free but with maximum impact then?
I’ve been practising for a few years and have simplified my start-fresh ritual.
Here’s what I’ve learnt:
A book, that is. I’ve spotted a pattern throughout my year – when I’m perpetually emailing or mindlessly scrolling Facebook each evening, I’m less happy than the times I’m engaged in a good read. I’m more of a non-fiction gal myself, but it doesn’t matter what your preference is. Find time to read. It’s too easy to fall out of the habit of reading books, but the practice has proven health benefits including improved memory and reduced stress.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Ask for recommendations on Facebook or talk to friends. Take it one step further and join a book club this year (there are countless options, both on and offline).
We are blessed with thousands of free interesting, inspiring and motivating resources at our fingertips. If you’re short on time, try the Blinkist app that summarises popular books into 15-minute sessions; or start a routine of listening to a Podcast once a week. Breathe and Calm are fabulous apps that will get even the most resistant amongst you into healthy meditation and mindfulness habits. The most accessible of course, is YouTube, with more hours of content than we can consume in four lifetimes. Much of it is even very good!
Tip: Sign-in to YouTube with your own unique account, so you can personalise your experience.
Make this the year you engage a coach or mentor. Since I opened up to this, my life has changed. I used to think I had to do it all on my own, but now I know for sure that surrounding myself with guides is wise.
To clarify, I see a ‘mentor’ as someone to look up to; whose footsteps I’d like to follow in, and who shares helpful advice. A coach, is usually someone who talks you through questions that help you come to a conclusion or solution that’s right for you.
Tip: Don’t worry if you’re not sure who these people might be in your life. If you’re on the lookout for a mentor, you’ll know when they appear. Or try Google – coaching is big business now.
Lean on gratitude as a tool moving into the New Year. Set an intention to consistently recall the things you’re grateful for. By giving energy to the good, you’ll attract more of it.
Tip: Start a habit of writing down five things you’re grateful for each morning and watch what happens.
Pick a tool, any tool – pen and paper, or an app like Evernote. Write down the things you want. It’s that easy. Think big; limitless. The power of putting it on paper is renowned, and for good reason. Many of us have seen the things we write down come true.
Tip: Don’t be too manipulative or specific. Instead, write down how you want to feel. For example, ‘I want to feel respected and be abundantly compensated for doing what I love’. Often what you ‘want’ comes in a form that you hadn’t imagined, so be open to the possibilities.
How do you see it? Let us know in the comments about your New Year’s rituals that work.
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
I regularly share thoughts in Australia’s Get it Magazine, and this month I cover the importance of professional development the the role networking plays in this.
I’ve shed insight on how to introduce yourself professionally and make the most out of your time at conferences and business events to get your career where you’d like it to be.
The importance of professional development – how to introduce yourself professionally: the conference
The packed conference room was buzzing with excited energy. The popularity of the break-out session I’d just witnessed had obviously been underestimated. People were sitting and standing in every free space.
I, like all the attendees, had been impressed by the generosity of the speakers who hadn’t held back on sharing wisdom about their business success strategies.
Dazzled, I simply had to meet them!
I lined up with other inspired folk at the end of the session to say hello. When it was my turn to swiftly meet-and-greet, I spoke but a few words, handed over a business card and scurried off.
Significant networking fail. NOT a lesson in how to introduce yourself professionally or beneficially at an event.
Networking doesn’t have to be scary. Be prepared
We’re coming into our final quarter of the year. With so much on the horizon including conferences, events and a host of opportunities proving the importance of professional development, there’s a good chance you might find yourself in a situation like this. I’m here to urge you to make it work for you (better than I made it work for me).
There’s no doubt that networking fast-tracks the opening of career and business doors. This happens through:
– the gaining of new tips to improve your work
– learning that accelerates growth
– finding customers or a new job
– making friends or discovering people who become future business partners, mentors and collaborators.
Yet, many of us cringe at the very thought of networking.
When we finally get ourselves in front of the crowd, we’re often ill-prepared, shy and take the wrong approach.
I soak up conferences (I especially love TBEX for travel content creators)! I love the learning and the inspiring presenters. I have always known the networking component is seriously valuable, but for many years I’ve made the errors referenced above.
When running my own business, I had to get stuck into the networking game, faking it ‘til I made it, so to speak.
For every person I met, I had a chance to discover how I might add value to what they were working on, and critically, much of that led to paid business.
How to make the most of a conference or event and introduce yourself professionally
It’s easy to slip into shy/tired/straight-up complacency though. This is where you hang out with the same people, get caught scrolling emails on your phone, feel stuck for conversation, or march right on in there with your business card.
Shamefully, I’ve done it all.
But, here’s my intention for us from now on:
be open to opportunity.
Make it your mission to connect with new people at each event you go to. Get to know them on a personal level.
Rather than only talking business, see if you can discover what hobbies, work, people, heroes, background or interests you have in common.
Ask questions, be interested, helpful, and listen some more.
If you have a few conversation-starters up your sleeve, that inevitably improves confidence when you approach someone new in a room.
Try things like ‘what brings you here today’, or ‘what are you working on that you’re most excited about right now’?
Another element I’ve always struggled with is getting my story right. You know, the ‘30 second elevator pitch’ thing!
I have always found it hard to articulate. Probably because I never crafted nor practised it – which is the final important bit of advice I wish to impart.
Instead of stating your job title when you meet new people, try sharing who you serve, what problem you solve, how you solve it and what results you’ve achieved.
For example: ‘I serve business owners by helping them produce high quality, creative digital content and this year already I’ve helped more than 45 brands reach their audience and engagement goals within six months of working with me’.
Over to you…
What emphasis do you put on the importance of professional development?
Make the best of what’s ahead this year, raise your profile and develop connections (offline, initiated via email, and online) that take you closer to your goals.
There’s no time like the present!
Keep in mind too, it’s only human to feel shy, reserved, or unsure of what to say.
Be honest about it – you can be certain others know the feeling well!
How do you see it? Share in the comments below.
More info on businesses mentioned in this blog – check out TBEX here, and Get it Magazine here.
First published in the August 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au