Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 21 - 21 Day Challenge. It's all over!

21 days of daily blogging has come to an end.  While I expected this post to be a reflection of what I've learned and on the success (or otherwise) of the exercise, it can't really be either.  I've been successful in blogging every day, but I'm yet to determine if it's helped me create new patterns and habits.  I suspect I have become more mindful of my day and things that occur in it, but the question is will I sustain this?  Is this a foundation on which I can continue to build?  Is there more that I can do?  I don't know.

I think that I'm likely to keep some habits.  I want to maintain my blogging habits.  It's been nice to contribute a lot of content to a new blog, and I want to continue to share my random thoughts.  I'd just like to do it a little more mindfully and with greater time for reflection.

I am keen on carving out some time each week to take photos and try and really work on my skills.  I haven't done that in these posts, but I'd like to be able to contribute a meaningful - or at least related photo - with each post.

I want to try another 21 day challenge.  Now that I know I can commit to something for 21 days and actually do it, I want to find another area of my life where I can make a small incremental change for 21 days.  I'm going to spend a few days thinking about it.  I don't know that I'll blog about it though :-)

So that's it really.  I'm done.  Well except for the reflective posts that I should write in 1 week, 1 month and 1 years time to see if I have really made a difference in my behaviour.  I guess if I'm still posting here a few times a week then we'll know the 21 day challenge does work.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 20 - 21 Day Challenge. The joy of people

I've had the pleasure of working with a small group of people over the last few days to help them develop their presentation & facilitation skills.  I love it when the opportunity to do this sort of work arises, because one of my favourite things in the world is working with people.  I love seeing someone rise to the occasion and challenge themselves to improve in their skills.  I love when you see someone take on board feedback, repeat an exercise and improve in dramatic ways.  I love the confidence that it gives them.  I love seeing them stand a little taller at the end of the day.  I love seeing them enjoy what they do.  I love hearing them say that they are looking forward to putting their skills into practice right away.  In short, it's a joy and a privilege I wouldn't trade for anything.

It does make me think though. How can I use encouragement today, tomorrow, next week to bring out the best in someone?  What can I say or do to make them shine?  What role can I play in someone else's success?  I've been reminded today that in helping people shine in what they do, I also shine.  If they succeed, I succeed even more so.  Helping someone else achieve their goals has greater impact than me doing it for them, and encourages them to do the same for others.

I hope I can retain this feeling that I have right now and take it into tomorrow and next week.  If you're part of my daily life I give you permission to check in on me in a week's time and ask me how I have helped someone else to shine.

Day 19 - 21 Day Challenge. Service that makes you smile

So technically it's Wednesday in Sydney which means I'm late for this post.... BUT it's only 10pm in Bangalore which is where I'm writing this from so it's still Tuesday and my record is on track.

Just a short note here to really highlight how someones attitude can really impact you - it a good way.  I'm staying at the Oberoi hotel - and it's amazing.  The hotel is lovely - well maintained, fantastic facilities - but one thing stands out head and shoulders above other hotels I've stayed at recently - the staff.  To say that the staff here are fantastic would be an understatement.  They are dedicated to making my stay as pleasant as possible.  They cater to my every need, but are not obtrusive in their service. They are friendly and welcoming, and I've never seen one person without a smile.  They know their guests by name - which is impressive when you consider the size of the hotel.  Even more impressive is how they remember I like my coffee and bring it to me as soon as I go for breakfast each morning.  It doesn't stop there though.  They even give me a take away cup of fresh coffee when I'm ready to head to the office for the day.

Last night however was truly incredible.  Noticing that my shampoo was nearly empty (deliberate on my part as I brought just enough for the trip), I came back from the office to find a note in my bathroom from housekeeping.  "I noticed your shampoo is almost over, so please accept this new bottle complimentary for your use.  We hope you have a pleasant stay." Very sweet right?  It get's better.  This wasn't any ordinary bottle of shampoo from the hotel. This was a brand new bottle of exactly the same shampoo that I was almost out of!  That took effort.  That required diligence and someone to go out of their way to do something thoughtful for me.  That impressed me.  Actually it blew me away.

I've been really impressed by how the mood & attitude of the staff here has elevated my mood and thoughts while I'm in the hotel.  I'm affected by them.  I'm touched by their attentiveness and care.  And their smiles have put a smile on my face.

So the question I have for myself (and perhaps you might like to ask it too) is what does my attitude influence others to do?  Does my mood put a smile on their face?  Do my actions make their day?  What can I do to influence the attitude/actions/mood of those around me.

PS - Yes this is a picture of the note they left me.  I love this place.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 18 - 21 Day Challenge. My most valuable asset

As I mentioned yesterday I really want to spend some time reflecting on life, and what I'm putting in, and getting out of it.  In the message I heard yesterday the first point was that time itself was the most valuable asset I possess.  In thinking about this, I cannot help but see how I squander time in some areas of my life.    I don't mean that I do things aren't valuable and waste time on having fun, but I sometimes get trapped into a way of thinking that every moment of every day must be significant and meaningful, and thus make the process of life more complicated than it need be.

I am questioning some of the ways I spend my time - TV for example is not really doing anything for me or anyone around me - except giving me a mental time out.  I don't necessarily want to trade that for activities of a more 'noble' nature, but I do want to look at how I'm spending my days and make sure that I am filling them with activities that are important to me.  Things that reflect the kind of person I am, and the one I aspire to be.  Things that are good for me (and those around me) - body, soul and spirit.  Things that bring me joy and happiness.  Things that enrich my life and that of my loved ones.  What are those things?  Many are simple.  Coffee with girlfriends and catching up on their life.  Walking the dogs with my hubby and spending quality time together.  Preparing healthy meals so we feel great.  Working out to work my body and my mind.

I think there are many things I probably need to reduce in my life, and other areas where there needs to be an increase in the time I spend.  It's a balance, but I want to be more mindful of what I'm doing.  Making conscious decisions which bring benefits - body, mind and spirit.

PS - I'm in India, sleep deprived and wired on caffeine so I'll be trying not to make any life changing decisions this week as I ponder where I'm spending my time.

Oh and that photo? It was taken in Munich.  It's in this post because it has a clock in it and the subject is time.... vague association I know.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 17 - 21 Day Challenge. The challenge of time.

I write this from the airport as I'm heading overseas for another business trip.  I heard a great message this morning which I just wanted to share with you - as it really resonated with me.  So it's a bit of a cheat as they aren't my thoughts - but they are just too valuable not to share.

5 ways to 'make the most' of every opportunity.

  • Recognize that time if your most valuable asset.  There is a fixed amount every day and whether you are rich or poor you are given the same amount.
  • You can't manage time so manage opportunities.  
  • You can't do everything.  
  • Decide what's important.  Determine what is on your TO DO list and what is on your NOT TO DO list.
  • Do them daily (the important things).  Make those things that are important to you (the things you value) part of your everyday life.
This really spoke to me as I live such a busy life and am constantly striving for balance in what I do, who I do it with, and how I do it.  There is too much in this for me to fully digest it all today so I know that I have to spend some time this week pondering time in my life and how I'm using it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 16 - 21 day challenge. Anticipation

I've been wanting to go diving for ever and just really haven't had the time to schedule it.  Today I changed that.  Ok well technically a few weeks ago I changed that when I completed the online e-learning.  Ok and technically I haven't finished.  And technically I haven't done any exciting dives with marine life yet - I'm not counting the other people in my course.

As I've been wanting to do this for a while, I was anticipating many things from this experience.  As I shared with friends over the last few weeks my plans for this weekend many of them added layers of their own experience to my anticipation.  Often when this happens I find I build the event up to something that is unrealistic and that the experience can't possibly live up to it.  In this case that hasn't happened.

I can't say I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the training.  Some of it was a little challenging.  Some of it unpleasant - I'm not a big fan of smelling of chlorine.  But overall it was great.  I'm now anticipating next weeks ocean dives when I'm back from India.  It's definitely time to commune with the fish.

Happy Saturday everyone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 15 - 21 Day Challenge. My happy place

Today I'm happy.  Not because of anything wonderful in my life.  Not because I've worked my way through my incredibly long task list at work (I'm not even close).  Not because anything special is happening right now.  Not because I have chocolate (I don't).  Not because I'm drinking coffee (I'm not right now).  Not because of any particular reason.  Today I'm happy because I choose to be.

My mood can be affected by so many different external influences.  Today I'm turning that around and influencing it back.  I'm happy because I choose to be.  I'm happy because I'm working from home and I just got to spend 5 minutes outside in the sunshine with my dogs.  Sammy lept into my lap and gave me the most beautiful cuddle.  Leo lounged around my feet until I gave him a doggy back rub that left him asleep - and me covered with fur.  I'm about to go make coffee and get on with work - and I'm happy about it - because I choose to be.

Oh and there's sunshine on my window, which makes me happy, like I should be.

PS.  I'm off to India this weekend so here's hoping my posts will be spiced up in my final week of my 21 day challenge :-)  And this pic?  It makes me happy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 14 - 21 Day Challenge. Coping mechanisms

Morning all.  Hope you're having a fabulous day, embracing the moment, living the dream.... yadda, yadda, yadda.  As for me I'm moving into stage 3 denial - coping mechanisms.  Today I'm rocking 3 coping mechanisms in tandem - coffee, Girl Talk, and chocolate. I would take a picture - but it isn't pretty!  I'm in full on fall back mode at the moment.  Need to knuckle down and just get things done.  It's all good & fun, but sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Some people are down on coping mechanisms.  They want you to try and live in a zen state all the time.  You know - mellow and happy - no matter what.  I'm not zen.  Not even my little toe is zen.  I mean I went to yoga this morning and started running through my first meeting in my head half way through the relaxation piece at the end of the class.  Did I achieve relaxation - you bet I did.  Was it the kind of relaxation I was being encouraged to aim for.... not exactly.

My point is I'm all for embracing the moment and living in the here and now.  In fact I believe I even said that last week.  But sometimes you've just got to push through things.  And that's where I'm a firm believer in coping mechanisms.  Now I know they can be bad for you.  I understand that they can lead to dependencies and bad habits, but damn it I'm a nicer person when I eat chocolate.  Known fact.  I can handle stress much better with chocolate and wine.  If you ask me my coping mechanisms aren't the problem - it's the situation that makes the need for them arise that needs to be dealt with.  Sometimes you can change the underlying circumstances.  Sometimes it's just a short season you're in and you just need to manage yourself through it.

So thanks for the zen advice friends and family.  For now I'm sticking with my coffee, chocolate and Girl Talk.

PS - for those of you who want to tell me to just go chill out and admire the view - this is the view from my desk.  Do I still need the coffee? Hell YES - and pass the chocolate while you're at it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 13 - 21 Day Challenge. It's time for Pomodoro!

Ever get the feeling that you're drowning in work and you just can't seem to get things started?  I know that feeling all too well.  I just keep saying yes to interesting projects at work, and in my private life, and end up with just a little too much on my plate.  I think this sensation of being overwhelmed with work was definitely impacting my posts the last few days - not to mention my mood!

Today is a new day.  And as the cheesy Billy Ocean song says When the going gets tough.....the tough get going.  It's time for me to bring out the big guns.  Actually I lie.  I did this yesterday as I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed.  To help me start getting through my long list of projects & to do's I'm employing the Pomodoro technique.  The Pomodoro technique is designed to help you get the most out of time management.  Simply choose a task, set a time for 25 minutes, and work on that task for 25 minutes straight.  No distractions.  No checking email, Google+, blogs, Twitter or Facebook.  At the end of 25 minutes you can spend 5 minutes on something else.  After 4 Pomodoro rounds have a longer break.

Now I know this won't work for everyone.  Some tasks require more time.  Some people are in roles where there are interrupts.  For me the psychological effect of knowing I only have to commit 25 minutes to the task really helps me plough through it.  It also lets me see a significant amount that I've achieved at the end of 25 minutes.  It's not perfect.  And I'm certainly no expert.  It is giving me a sense of some control over my life today - and for that I'm grateful.

Pomodoro on!

PS: The photo?  It's random.  Just a funky teapot at the Kempinski hotel in Munich.  It reminds me not everything is as it seems.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 12 - 21 Day Challenge - It's the little things!

I have a love-hate relationship with surprises.  I hate surprises on my birthday & big flashy surprises.  I love little meaningful surprises, like a card from a friend, a nice email, or a surprise on my desk.  I love how sometimes the smallest surprises in the world can impact and lift your mood.

Take today for instance.  I was feeling weary and not at all inspired. I'd been putting off starting this post by going to make another cup of coffee or tea.  My surprise this morning was finding my favourite tea from T2 - French Earl Grey - in the kitchen.  I quickly moved from surprise to delight and happiness as I prepared my cup and came back to my desk.  It's amazing how this little, unplanned surprise just brightened my day.

This got me thinking about how much things around us can affect our mood - well for me at least.  An unexpected sunny day lifts my spirits.  A favourite tune on the radio can give me energy.  Finding my favourite tea in the kitchen at work - joy.  All these things are happy accidents that work as a mood changer in my life.  What I want to know is can I change the circumstances, or add things into my routine, to deliberately and consciously change my mood to suit the task at hand.  I know I often use music as a distraction from boring tasks, but is there something greater that I can do to affect my productivity and mood.

It's definitely got me thinking about my day and how much I have to achieve today (and this week).  I'm wondering if I make a conscious decision to plan some 'mood lifting moments' throughout my day - will it help with my productivity?  Can I make plan moments that will have the same affect as that unplanned surprise?

Who knows.  We'll see what happens.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 11 - 21 Day Challenge. Monday-itis

Well its Monday and I can't say I'm that excited.  Seems like lazy Sunday wasn't really the reason I was struggling to blog yesterday.  I think I've hit a wall with this challenge.  This is pretty much right on time.  Any other life style change or challenge I've tried in the past I usually have a sense of euphoria and ease right before the rubber hits the road and it gets tough.  Usually this is where I say to myself - well one day off won't hurt.  After all I've been so successful up until this point.  

This time though I'm determined to stick it out.  Even if it's only to test the validity of that statement - 21 days to make or break a habit.  The question is - what do you do when you're lacking motivation, and stuck doing the task you've set yourself?  How do you push through and make it happen.  What do you do to get through the boring, tough bits and ensure you create new habits in your life?

For me I've tried the following this morning before writing this:

  • painting my nails a pretty colour (to make me feel good)
  • procrastinating over breakfast
  • procrastinating some more over tea
  • finding someone to talk to for even more procrastination
  • reminding myself of an even more dreaded task I have to do today (to minimize the challenge of blogging)
  • and listening to music.
None of them have particularly worked on their own, however in combination they have resulted in me here posting this.  

Hopefully tomorrow the challenge will have passed and I'll be back on track delighting in the ease of 21 day challenges.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 10 - 21 Day Challenge. What to say when I've got nothing to say

Some days you just don't have words of wisdom insight.  Today has been one of those days for me.  One of those lazy Sundays where one activity drifts into the next and it all just becomes a lovely big blur.  Perhaps because its the start of spring and the weather is getting warm.  Perhaps its because I'm feeling relaxed.  Perhaps it has a little something to do with last night's late night and the missing hours of sleep I have to go searching for later.

In any case I don't have a particular thought or idea running through my head today.  On one level this doesn't bother me as it's Sunday and I should be relaxing.  On the other hand it does make the commitment to blog somewhat daunting!

So instead of sharing a thought from the day, or something I'm pondering I want to share with you a statement I've been making every day, at least once a day, for the last week... Are you ready for it?  I LOVE spring.  I don't mean like other people say they love it but really they just love the absence of cold.  I mean, I really, really LOVE spring.  I love everything about it.  I love the warm weather.  I love that every garden around me is suddenly a riot of colour. I love that the air smells different to every other time of the year.  I love that it's light earlier in the morning.  I love that it's light later in the evening.  I love the fruits that start coming in to season.  I love the sunshine.  I love the breeze which just tickles you instead of the biting cold of winter.  I love that the birds are louder.  I love that my dogs get up in the morning and go straight to their favourite sunny patch to bask in it for a few hours. I love that I can start wearing sandals and thongs (flip flops for you Ameriacans), I love that my mood just seams to lift as soon as the temperature goes up 4-5 degrees.  I love that we drink light fruity drinks.  I love how strawberry tea tastes better in spring.  Are you getting the picture?  I LOVE spring.

PS.  Leo loves spring too. That's his pimping up for spring look :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 9 - 21 Day Challenge - Time for Reflection

I'm not even half way through my 21 day challenge, so it may be a little early yet for reflection.  I thought I'd take a moment today to stop and pause and think about how my first 21 day challenge has gone so far. Here's some of my observations.

  • Starting was hard.  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it, so I picked something easy to test the 21 day theory.  Something I wanted to do for me, but really wasn't going to be important if I didn't do it.
  • I've been more reflective this week.  The commitment to blog something everyday has made me more aware of what is going on around me.  It has forced me to pause and see what is happening in my life at least once every day.  A wonderful by product that I hadn't thought about - but something I wanted to do in my life.
  • I've become just a little more self aware.  I've started thinking about the things I want in my day, and what I can do to achieve them.  In short I've become a little bit more mindful.  (I have a long way to go).
  • There's a sense that I've reclaimed a portion of my life for me.  I'm surprised and delighted by this one.  I have a sense that I've been doing something for myself everyday, and it feels good.  
  • I'm less concerned about perfection.  When I started this out I knew I wouldn't have something interesting to say, but I was doing it for me so it didn't matter.  I find that I'm hesitating less before posting things.  This is who I am and I'm doing this for myself, so it doesn't really matter if it's not perfect - I'm not looking for praise.
  • Small incremental change seems to be infinitely easier than large dramatic change.  Although I'm only just over a third of the way through, I'm hopeful that at the end of this 21 days I will have created some mindful blogging habits that will stay with me.  We'll see - but the outcome is looking good.  I've just got to keep reminding myself not to think up the next challenge until this one is over :-)
  • My outlook on other changes I want to make it my life is more positive.  I'm looking for new ways, and smaller increments to bring change into areas of my life.  It seems more manageable, and I have more hope for success.
So that's it really.  A bit of a ramble there.  I'm not going to apologise or offer excuses for that.  It's how I feel on this blissfully relaxed Saturday morning as I drink my pot of tea and read/look at some of my favourite blogs on the web.  (Think happy contented sigh and you'll know exactly how I'm feeling right now.)

PS: The photo is one I took yesterday before work when going on a little photo walk with my friend Ale.  The photo walk that delightfully turned into 12 photos taken, and a delicious coffee and breakfast!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 8 - 21 Day Challenge. Friendships should be easy

When you're in your teens friendships can be full of angst and are largely based on proximity - who you live near, and go to school with.  Girls argue of their latest crush.  Boys complicate everything.  And everything disagreement can feel like the world is ending.  Passionate - yes, balanced and rewarding - hmmm not always.  In your 20's friendships become more interest based if you're at university or working in your ideal career, but are often filled with idealism & opportunistic.  You dream and talk of making a difference in the world, while taking every opportunity for travel and fun as it comes.  Your 30's change things.  Life is often busier than ever with work, and family.  The importance of things is measured differently.  More time with your partner, and building a family home can impact on the time and energy invested in friends.

I was talking to a girlfriend about this this morning.  We've both experienced a change in our friendships in the last few years.  We've become so busy with our partners & careers that we haven't had the freedom to just drop everything and hangout with our friends.  While we bemoaned this, I've also come to realise that some of the friendships of my early years actually took a lot of hard work. I can see the hours I spent listening to some of my girlfriends talking through their latest breakup or their latest life challenge, telling them that life would get better, but I can't actually remember what else we talked about or we did.  Don't get me wrong - not all my friendships were one-sided, but I suspect that there were more that were like this than not.

Friendship should be easy.  True we should be able to stand with our friends in challenges and walk through the tough time supporting them.  But it isn't always a challenge.  The good times should be very good.  You should be able to laugh together.  Conversation should flow freely.  You should feel free to be just a little bit silly together.  Or in my case, my good friends need to have a high tolerance for me being very silly.  You should be able to laugh and cry together.  You shouldn't have to always look your best.  You shouldn't have to explain yourself (well not ALL the time).  Really good friendship should be like putting on a pair of your favourite jeans.  They are relaxed and easy to wear.  They look good, but more importantly feel fantastic when you're wearing.  They are something you can't bear to part with, and are the 'go to' item in your wardrobe.  Good friends are better than this - because unlike jeans they don't often wear out and need replacing.

Today I'm adding an aspect of thankfulness to my blog post.  To all my friends out there who've let me blow rasberries on their cheeks, have made me laugh to much I cry and love to just hug it out - I love you all.

PS - The beagles (my boo's)  - they are the best of friends. They fight, they play, but at the end of the day they always sleep side by side.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 7 - 21 Day Challenge. Where is the love?

I'm traveling for work at the moment, so I'm out of my normal routines in the morning.  This morning after the gym I came back to catch up on some work and flicked on the TV to catch up on the news.  Back to multi-tasking rather than being in the moment.

Now I must admit it's been a while since I watched news on TV, particularly morning news.  It's no surprise that I consume most of my news online through various site, blogs and other sources.  It's just more efficient and I can spend longer drilling into the things that interest me, and less time on the things that don't (like sport.)  Because of this there were certain things that jumped out at me while watching the news. Mainly that it was just so negative.  While I was expecting updates on political topics (both local and global) there was instead, story after story of people's shame and downfall.  Stories about tragedy.  Stories about death.  Stories about footballers doing stupid things overseas (will they every learn?!?).  It seems like the main purpose of the news was to demonstrate what a sad state society is in.  There was no balance.  There was no impassive factual reporting about decisions being made around the world that affect the lives of millions.  Rather it was all human interest stories, that in my opinion, had a negative and destructive bent.

So, to take my mind off the negative this morning I'm asking - where is the love?  Where are the things people are doing that are good around the world?  What is happening in your community that is good and uplifting?  Who do you know that is doing something to make the world around them a better place?  Think about it.  There are a lot of people working to improve things on a global, national and local scale. Whether it be running orphanages in Zimbabwe, or opening a food co-op in your local area to support local farmers.  People are looking to make an impact - big or small - and make their world a better place.  Where are these stories?  The mainstream news is not likely to tell anyone about them.  It just doesn't sell. However we have an incredible opportunity to share through social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) the stories of those we know making a difference.  We can spend a few minutes to give them a shout out & a thank you.  We can create our own network of news and influence if we make it a priority to share the positive with others.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 6 - 21 Day Challenge. The Cake is not a Lie

Sometimes you just need cake.  It's a tragedy when you need it and there is no cake to be had.  The cake should never be a lie!

Sometimes the crazy schedule of my life and cake collide.  Yesterday this happened.  Yesterday I was very happy about this.  Yesterday I got a sugar high from the most amazing icing ever.  Yesterday I was thankful that I can order cupcakes on line and they are delivered.  Cake is amazing.  Cupcakes are awesome.

The cake should never be a lie!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 5 - 21 Day Challenge - Being in the Moment

If there is one thing I really struggle with (ok, ok there is more than one), it's being in the moment.  Whenever things happen - planned or unplanned I tend to be looking forward.  In a meeting to determine priorities and set strategies, I'm already in solutions mode and defining the long term goals after 5 minutes.  On a run, I'm thinking about what I'm going to do when I get home.  While I'm having a conversation I'm often skipping over several ideas in my head of what come next.  I've always been like this.  As long as I can remember.

There's nothing wrong with forward planning and focusing on the future.  It's actually a good thing to motivate yourself to move forward.  Except it certainly seems to hinder me from fully enjoying the present sometimes.  You know that moment when you see a stunning view, your breath is taken away and all you can do is say 'wow'.  Life is full of those moments.  We (meaning me) just miss so many of them by always being future focused.

So today I'm embracing the moment.  I'm trying to remind myself to just stop and pause and enjoy what I'm doing right now.  Right now for instance I have a wonderful cup of coffee sitting next to me.  I can smell the freshly ground beans, and frothed milk waiting for me.  As soon as I finish this blog I'm going to stop, sit and drink my coffee.  Nothing more - nothing less.  Just embrace the few moments that I have to just breathe and be.

PS.  This is the view I'll be stopping and looking at from my desk.  Yes I am lucky.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 4 - 21 Day Challenge. What motivates you?

Monday morning is not the most inspirational of days.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my job and the people I work with.  And to all measures I have a fantastic life.  But the fact of the matter is Monday mornings just suck.  When I think about why I think it's because I lack balance in my life between work and play.  Something I'm trying to work on.  That's why Monday just seems to come too soon.  I just want one more day to do other things.  Not that those things are particularly important or exciting - I just want more free time.

Anyway this blog post is not going to be about work life balance.  I don't feel qualified to write about that.... perhaps one day.  What I want to talk about is motivation.  How do you motivate yourself to move.  To get out of bed on Monday.  To do a task you don't want to do - but know that it needs to be done.  What techniques do you pull out when the challenge in front of your is a mountain - and you know you have to climb it.

I've got some great motivational tricks - and some that are not so great.  Procrastination, sugar, champagne are not things I recommend if you need to push through a task.  Although the last one has the potential to make it easier.  For me I find that I usually have one inspirational album or tune I can go to when the going gets tough, so to speak.  At the moment it's Gotye's album, Making Mirrors, and in particular track 6 - I feel Better. It's just makes me smile.  So guess what?  That's what I'm listening to right now.  I think I'll have it on repeat until I'm feeling recharged and ready for Monday.

What motivates you?  Any tips I can try this week, and next Monday morning?

PS:  Today's pic was taken at the top of Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka.  We'd climbed it during the night to watch the sunrise.  My motivation? The promise of this view.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 3 - 21 Day Challenge. The Power of Two

You've probably heard a bunch ads (or motivational speakers) tell you - You can make a difference.  One person can change the world.  The power of one person can save a life.  And it's true.  If you're one of the millions of people that contribute to charity, donate blood or volunteer your time to some community service group you are making a difference to someones world. But what about the power of one in your own life?

For me the power of little old me doesn't really make much of a difference to the things I want to achieve on my own.  I procrastinate.  I lose motivation.  I simply stumble from one personal project or goal to another without giving it much thought.  That's where the power of two comes in.  If you pick up any fitness magazine or journal it will wax lyrical about the importance of a buddy to maintain motivation and reach your goals.  This got me thinking about why we don't use the power of two, or a buddy more to help us make the small changes we desire in our lives?  For example why don't I harness the power of two on my 21 day challenge.  (Hmmmm any volunteers?)

As I was reflecting on this today the thoughts went one step further.  Two is almost always better than one.  Two people can get a task done faster than one.  Two people can do more than just the minimum required.  And quite frankly two people usually have more fun doing anything, as they are keeping each other company.  And who doesn't relish the thought of 2 chocolates not just one!  (Ohhhh two cupcakes instead of one...mmmmmm).

Anyway, as I mentioned when I kicked off this challenge, there are a number of areas in my life that I'm striving for balance and motivation.  In one of those areas I've decided to use the 'two is better than one' principle and enlist the help of my friend (who also wants to work on the same thing).  We're going to be accountable to each other once a week and see if we are successful in making changes.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So what about you?  Have you got any tips and tricks for me on how to harness the power of two?

PS: The obligatory photo is of my dogs.  Sammy is definitely using the power of two to stay warm!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 2 - 21 Day Challenge - I love serendipity

Serendipity - when someone finds something they weren't expecting to find.  (At least that's what wikipedia says it means - and we all know that's the source of truth!).  It may not be the best definition of the word but it sums up what I found yesterday.

After blogging about starting my first 21 day challenge to blog everyday I made a cup of tea and went to peruse some blog posts in reader.  A lot of the blogs I follow, I follow because there is something in the authors lifestyle or outlook on life that I like.  Some are crafty, some are design orientated, there are a lot of photo blogs.  Mostly though it's people who I perceive to be living life in the moment.  Embracing the now.  Loving and living in the moment they are in.  This is something I struggle to do sometimes, and I love the inspiration that comes from those who seemingly do it effortlessly.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw a post from one of my favourite bloggers - Elise, from Red Velvet on her 5 tips for staying inspired.  Yay.  This was written just for me.  And just in time.  Now that's got to be serendipity!

Elise's 5 tips really resonated with me.  You can read her full blog post here - but for brevity's sake they are:
  • Carry a journal
  • Find a new muse
  • Develop a creative play list
  • Refresh your workspace
  • Prove yourself wrong
While they were all pertinent in my life right now, the last one particularly struck me on day 1 of my challenge - to prove myself wrong.  I've already started this challenge with scepticism and doubt on my ability to finish it.  I've looked at everything that is coming up in my life in the next few weeks and already anticipated the challenges and the probability of failure.  In essence I'm setting myself up to not succeed.  Not a great start to change!

After reading this I've determined that I'm going to prove myself wrong.  I'm not going to prepare blog posts in advance.  I'm  not going to give up if it's hard because I'm busy and working or traveling.  I'm going to trust that by setting this goal for myself, and not having a plan that life itself will provide the inspiration and that I'll be able to complete it. After all whether I blog everyday or not really doesn't matter.  If anyone reads this or not is not significant.  What matters is whether or not I am capable of making small, incremental changes in my life through 21 day challenges.  If I succeed at this round - who knows what I could do next.

So who's with me?  I'd love some company on my 21 day challenge.

Oh - and because I think blogs should have photos if at all possible - the photos I've included today are some of my favourite things.

Friday, September 9, 2011

21 Day Challenge

There are some things in my life that are out of balance.  I work to much and play to little.  I have crafts I want to spend time on, yet struggle to do so.  There are goals I'd like to hit around my fitness and running - but am a long way off.

I think we've all heard the saying that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit.  There are 21 day challenges out there for everything - to lose weight, to become effective leaders, to make money.  You name it, someone has created a program, packaged it up and sold it on to many consumers looking for a way to achieve their dream (whatever it may be).

I've decided I'm going to take my own 21 day challenge.  For the next 21 days I'm going to blog - every day.  There are lots of things I want to change in my life.  Actions around my diet & health, actions around my time management and commitment to fun in my life, actions around my crafty hobbies.  The reality is I'm hesitant to do any of them, knowing my busy schedule and how I usually wimp out of any challenge about a week or so in to it.

Will the 21 day challenge work for me?  Will I create new habits and form new patterns in my behaviour?  I have no idea - but today is day 1 so let's let the journey begin.

Are you interested in doing a 21 day challenge with me?  Pick anything you like and join me here by commenting (and posting to your blog).  Let's see whether this 21 day thing really works or not.