Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I can't believe it's not January anymore

I really can't get over how fast January has gone by. I think I say this every year, but time just seems to speed up in January.  When I stop and pause and look back on the month it feels like it only began yesterday and I've run out of days to achieve everything I set out to. My goals have outstripped the time allocated to achieve them and sometimes it kind of feels like I've let myself down. Not sure if you feel the same way, but if you do it can be the biggest downer and the fastest way of falling off the wagon, or loosing momentum for all your setting out to do. So what do you do? How do you keep on track?

I wish I could tell you I had the magic answer, but the truth is that right now,  some of my goals are in worse shape than when I started. Instead of making baby steps of progress, I've actually gone backwards.  Hands up all those who've done the same? You know who you are?  Come on... eyes closed no-one is looking. Let's get real with each other and confess... some of our good intentions for the year are already gathering dust on the shelves. We try and ignore the truth of the situation, because it feels like failure, but in the harsh light of day the truth is we've done nothing to achieve them.

On a positive note, not all of my goals are in such bad shape. My commitment to my creative outlets and my blogs is still on track - although there have been a few close calls. And I'm diligently protecting my time, my energy and my life like a mother hen protects her chicks. So there are a few things I'm on track to achieve in the coming months and year. What then is the difference? Why am I succeeding in some goals and not others? I'm not 100% sure I have the answer yet, but here's a few things I've noticed.

Having a plan has made all the difference. Last week I talked about the difference creating a roadmap for your goals and dreams makes in achieving them. For me that's truth right now. At the end of December I planned what I wanted to blog about in January and I've more or less stuck to it. In that roadmap I set both hard and soft goals. The things I wouldn't compromise on doing and the nice to haves that I wanted to do if I had time. Well I've hit all the hard goals and even a few of the soft ones. For the goals I haven't hit I haven't really had a plan. Well that's not entirely true. In my head I had thought about how I would achieve them, but I never actually wrote them down and stuck to them. There was no daily or weekly commitment to stick to. For me this makes all the difference, so now I have to set aside time to write up my goal roadmaps for February.

The second thing I've noticed is that my attitude has made all the difference. The goals I've made progress on have been things I've been wanting to do for months. I've been actively thinking about them and slowly working on a mental strategy to achieve them even before I started work on them. When I did sit down to plan and then execute on that plan it was easy because I'd already made the mental commitment to do so. The fact of the matter is when I look at the goals I've made little or no progress on I can't say I have the same attitude or mindset. They are things I want to do, but I'm not as passionate about them. I can't say I've worked through the process in my mind. It's no wonder it's easy to keep putting them off until tomorrow.

So where does that leave me today? Well right now I'm reassessing. What is it I want to achieve this year? What is really important to me? The goals I've been making progress on I plan to keep on work on. Clearly they are important to me and I have both energy and motivation to continue working on them. The goals that I've made little process on require a bit more thought. Are they really important to me? If the answer is no then they need to drop off the list. If the answer is yes then I need to make a concrete plan on getting there. If the answer is I'm not sure then I need to carve out time to answer that question. After all time is ticking away and I want to spend it doing the important stuff, not just the stuff I can do.

Monday, January 28, 2013

keep trying

It's been over 4 weeks since many of us have set some new years resolutions.  If you're struggling today's quote is for you.

Photo from Now is the Time book from Kikki.k
Keep going.  Even if it's just baby steps... it's still a step closer to your dreams.

Friday, January 25, 2013

#funfriday - time to relax

I don't know about you but this year has started off pretty intense for me.  It's all good, and a lot of fun, but I've been struggling to maintain momentum and we're only in the last week of January.  That's why I've taken off for a bit of r'n'r.  Relaxing.  Unwinding.  Pausing life and reflecting.  Oh and drinking a cocktail or three.

See you all next week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Time to plan

Today I want to talk a little bit about planning.  Having resolutions, setting life goals, these are all well and good, but without a plan you don't get anywhere fast.

A couple of years ago my niece and her friend came to visit me in Sydney.  They were traveling out from the city to my place in the suburbs - a pretty straight forward trip if you have a map and know the main roads in and out of the city.  Unfortunately my niece and her friend had neither a map, nor any sense of where they were in the city or what the main roads are.  What ensued was a frustrating few hours of telephone calls back and forth as I tried to give them directions.  Just when I thought I had them back on track they would call back saying they took an earlier exit as they were sure they must be going the wrong way.  There were a number of failure points on this journey.

  • They had no plan on how to get to my house, no roadmap of what directions to take.  
  • When they did call and ask for directions they didn't know where they were so it took a lot of time and energy on my part to figure that out.  
  • When they did get back on track and were following a plan (mine) they didn't trust the plan and kept exiting it early.  
  • When they finally got on track they doubted the correct exit and kept going, not realising they'd reached their goal.
Sometimes we can be like that with the goals we set in life.  We make them, but we fail to plan how to achieve them.  Without a roadmap we become disorientated and lost, and ultimately frustrated.  It can lead to us giving up our goals and shrugging them off as something that wasn't meant to be, when really it was just lack of a plan to get there.

Sometimes we recognise when we go off track and where, which is a good start.  Unfortunately the time taken to reorientate ourselves towards our goals can be time lost.  Creating a plan can help us realise quickly when we are no longer aligned with it, and adjust our efforts to bring us back on track.

When we set big, hairy, audacious goals it's easy to get overwhelmed on the journey and question the route we are taking.  Having a plan gives us something to refer back to.  It's a reference point that guides us and shows us both how far we've come and have far we have yet to go.  Of course that doesn't mean plans have to be static.  Sometimes you only realise there's a faster way to get to your destination when you've already begun the journey.

Rigidly following a plan is both a strength and a weakness.  Have you ever been so fixated on an end goal that you forgot to stop when you reached it?  It's easy to keep moving the finishing point and just keep on keeping on so to speak.  Planning is valuable, critical really, but so is perspective.  It's important to stop and pause and take stock of where you are and what you've achieved.  Sometimes it's only when you do this that you realise you've already reached your goal.

Monday, January 21, 2013

take the first step

Ready for a slice of motivational pie?  If you've been following my #stuffsallysays posts the past few weeks this one is for you.  And it's definitely for me!

Photo from Now is the Time book from Kikki.k

Breaking down goals to one bite size piece at a time.  What are you chewing off today?

Friday, January 18, 2013

#funfriday - cookies

Sometimes you just need cookies.  You know what I mean right?  It's those days where everything just seems a little harder than normal...  It's those times where you've been working hard and doing the right things and you just need a little treat... It's a reward for being good... It's Friday.... Ok well maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch for an excuse.  But it is Friday and that''s my excuse for...

Small secret.  I didn't make these today.  Today I've been slaving over my day job and working hard to get things done.  But I did make these and they were awesome.  I say were because there are none left - not a one - not even a crumb.  They did take a while as I had to leave the dough in the fridge for a few hours to firm up but they were exactly the right mix of all spice, cinnamon and dark chocolate drizzled over the top.  Not too sweet, and perfect with coffee.

If you're like me you probably can't be bothered to bake these because it's Friday.  Well that's ok.  I hereby give you permission to go and buy something yummy from the bakery or local store to satisfy your sweet tooth and help ease you into the weekend.  Go on now go - go get something.  And while you're there pick me up something yummy too please.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What are you doing today?

Lately I've been on the journey of redefining what it is that I want in my life.  I've been reevaluating what it is that I'm working towards, and trying to be conscious of what I'm doing day by day and where it is leading me.  Last week I talked about this process and some of the steps I've been using to help me figure it all out.  This week I'm continuing the journey but focusing on how you get there.  Answering the question - What do you do when you've finally figured out what you want?  In other words now that you've figured 'it' out, how do you get there?

For me the thing I have to keep on reminding myself is not everything will get me where I want to be and not everything will get me there at the same pace.  There are lots of things I can do, but only a few things I probably should do in order to achieve my goals.  It's all about focus.  Focusing on what is important.  What things, if I do them and do them well, will take me towards my goals in leaps and bounds, rather than spending hours doing the small 'busy' things that take me there at a snails pace.  So here's the 3 things I find myself reflecting on day by day, goal by goal and project by project.

Figure out what is important.  There are lots of choices and actions that will help you get where you want to go, but not all of them will have the same results.  For example I love to teach people to make cards.  It's a hobby of mine.  If I teach people in my home I can only fit 8 around the table.  It's great & and a lot of fun, but it doesn't scale and I want to share with more people.  This year I've set myself a goal of encouraging more people to join my hobby so I've redesigned my blog and added a section called #techniquethursday so I can share my knowledge with more people.  As I have a lot more readers on my blog I'm able to share with a much bigger audience.  I'll still keep up the classes, but I'm spending more time on the blog so I can encourage more people.

Do what's important.  Once you've figured out what's important you have to do it.  Often you have to do it again and again.  Knowing what you need to do doesn't automatically translate to doing it.  You have to make the effort and be consistent.  If you're trying to loose weight or train for an event you have to be consistent with your diet and exercise.  You can't just do things one day and not the next.  You have to keep on doing it day by day.

Don't do everything.  This may seem contradictory to what I just said but bear with me.  When we start out on a new goal or project we are often filled with early stage enthusiasm and there can be a tendency to try and do as much as possible to achieve it.  The thing about that is you often get caught up doing the insignificant things rather than investing time in just the important things.  It can be hard to say no to activity that aligns with your goals, but your time is limited.  There is only 24 hours in a day and for those hours you are awake wouldn't you rather be doing the important things rather than the busy things?  For me that has meant learning to say no and prioritizing my time.  It means evaluating the returns of what you are doing and investing in the things that are significant, rather than the things that are limited.

By no means are these the only things I'm doing to reach my goals in life, but they are the questions I try and keep at the forefront of my mind.  I have a tendency to be busy, to say yes and to do a lot.  So it's important for me to continually ask myself the question - is what I'm doing right now the most important thing I could be doing?


Monday, January 14, 2013

do something

I love today's motivational quote.   

Photo of quote taken from the book Inspire available at Kikki.k
I think the reason why is it reminds me that happiness, success, achievement and a better tomorrow all start with me.  My life isn't in the hands of fate, but it's in my hands.  It's my choice how I want to live it. 

What's your better tomorrow and what are you doing today that will inch you closer towards it?

Friday, January 11, 2013

#funfriday - chocolate goodness

TGIF.  I don't know about you but it's been a BIG first week back at work for me.  Don't get me wrong... I'm excited about what the year has in store, I just didn't expect it to start with quite so much happening.  Given the big week I've had I think it's time for a little reward... something with one of my favourite things in it... chocolate.

Can you guess what it is?  It's a chocolate pav.  (Pavlova for those who don't speak Aussie short hand). If you don't know what a pav is it's worth reading the wikipedia article even if only to see the line " The nationality of it's creator has been the source of argument between the two nations for many years."  (The two nations being Australia & New Zealand).  Although I can't say I've ever gotten into an argument with anyone over a pav.  

The traditional recipe calls for egg whites to been beaten until stiff and firm, before adding in castor sugar, cornflour, white vinegar and vanilla.  I'm not really that traditionally so I went on the hunt for something a little more decadent.  And I found it... on a blog from one of the most indulgent foodies out there - Nigella.  Here it is in all it's decadent glory... the chocolate pav!

Confession time... it's the first time I've made a pav and I'm surprised by how easy it was.  The recipe on Nigella's blog is easy to follow and has only 5 ingredients (not counting the cream and berries for topping).  I altered the topping to be blueberries and strawberries because I didn't have any rasberries on hand, and it was delicious.  In fact I've served this at 3 parties in the last 2 weeks and it's been a big hit. Simple, decadent & delicious.  Just want you want in a desert.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Redefining what 'it' all means

In my post last week I talked about reevaluating how I'm setting new years resolutions.  This year I'm focused on defining what 'it' is for me.  Defining the things I value in life.  Defining the things that are important to me.  Crafting goals around those values and things, rather that on some social norms or values that I should think are important.  

It's a journey I've been on for a few months... maybe even years now... of redefining what 'it' all is and what I'm doing to achieve it.  It's something immensely personal and unique.  I'm not the same as you, and nor should I try to be.  I don't have to achieve things just because I can.  I don't have to acquire things just because I can.  Just because I could have a great job, family, nice home, great stuff doesn't mean I should.  In fact whether it is possible or not for me to do something shouldn't dictate whether I do it or not.  It's better to start at the other end and say what do I want to do and then ask can I do it, and how do I do it.

When you start with the questions what do I want to do?  Who do I want to be? you have to ignore what you are capable of.  Current capability limits our thinking.  It shrinks our dreams.  We let it define what is possible, rather than challenge us to do something improbable.  Creating a vision for your life that is bigger than what you currently are capable of stretches you & challenges you.  So how do you do it?  For me there are a few things that I have to keep in mind. 

Write out lists of things you love to do and spend time doing those things.  We all have things that get us excited.  Things that make us feel alive and inspire us.  Spend time doing these things every day - even if it's only 5 minutes.  It will energize you.  It will inspire you.  And most of all it will spark new creativity with in you.  

It's important to try new things.  Now this may sound contradictory to what I said earlier about only doing what you want to do.  I don't mean it to be.  If you have absolutely no desire to go diving with sharks then it's quite ok not to try it.  But if you want to become an underwater documentary expert it's probably a good idea to have a go and see if you like it or not.  For me trying new things is all about giving myself the permission to experiment with new sights, sounds, activities, foods and to see if I like them or not.  If I don't, well I never have to do it again.  But if I do, well maybe there is a new hobby or passion that I can build into my life or work that makes the day exciting and challenging again.  So when someone calls you up and asks you to try something new, unless you're horrified by the idea why not give it ago.

Embrace fear and walk through it.  Fear can paralyze you and hold you back from so many things.  It's important to remember that the first time you do anything it can be scary.  But by taking baby steps to conquer fear can open up a world of possibilities that you never dreamed of. 

Let go of the things you think you should do/be/have.  When you allow others to dictate what your life should be you waste hours trying to be something for them, not for yourself.  Instead ask the question what could I do/be/have.  There is no right or wrong answer, just the one that resonates with you.

Life is a journey, not a destination. Your interests, passions and who you are will change and develop over time and that's ok.  Things that you loved in your 20's might not have such a strong interest in your 30's and that's ok.  It's ok to let go of things you once loved.  Don't try holding on.  Cherish it for what it was and allow yourself to grow into something new.

For me the most important thing to do is to remind myself that every day is a new day.  It's an opportunity to reevaluate who I am and where I want to go, and to take the steps that I can to move slowly in that direction.  Oh and most importantly to have fun doing it.  Life isn't chore.  It's a wonderful experience that unfolds day by day.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Be you

It's #motivationmonday time.  Are you ready for it?

Photo taken from the 'Now is the Time' book from Kikki.k
I love the sentiment in this one.  Last week in #stuffsallysays I was pondering what it is I really want to achieve this year.  Well this quote is a good place to start.  Even though I know myself well, as I grow and change each year it's good to stop and pause, and reflect of who I have become.  And even more importantly who I am becoming, and want to become.

Who are you today? This week? This year?

Friday, January 4, 2013

#funfriday - champagne cupcakes

It's the end of the week and it's time to have some fun.  today I baked cupcakes.  Not just any ordinary cupcakes though.... they were champagne cupcakes.  That's right champagne cupcakes.  There was champagne in the batter, and champagne in the frosting.  What better way to pair it that with some rasberries and champagne.

TGIF & cheers everyone.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to have it all in 2013?

January 1st.  It's that sweet spot.  The year is brand new, full of potential and opportunity and you have big plans.  Every article in a magazine is telling you to think big, plan for the year, and how to reach those lofty goals you set.  How to have your cake and eat it too.  How to have it all.  But what's it really all about anyway?

I've been thinking about resolutions and what I want to do in 2013 for a few months now.  For those of you who've been reading my blog for a while you'll know I've set some goals for myself this year.  Some were big, and some were small.  Some I successfully completed.  Some not quite.  And some I didn't even attempt.  So what have I learnt and what am I going to do this year.

Well the first thing I've learnt is that resolutions are wonderful.  They challenge you to dream big.  To set lofty goals.  To think about the big scary things that you want to achieve in life.  Resolutions are also crap.  They are occasionally not achievable.  Sometimes they are plain daft.  They can leave you wrung out and feeling like a complete failure by January 3 when you've failed (for the third day in a row) to stick to a too rigid plan you created to achieve them.  Often they are influenced by others - friends, family, media.  It seems like every second article I read at the moment is about how to have 'it all' this year.  You can and probably should be thinner, healthier, have a great job, be a perfect parent, have more holidays, be thrifty, recycle, buy more, buy less, buy organic, eat clean.  You name it you 'should' be doing it.  And article after article tells you not only can you do this, but lays out roadmaps and 3, 5 and 10 point plans on how you can achieve it and have 'it all'.  But what if you don't know what you want?  Or what if you don't want 'it all'?   And what is 'it all' anyway?

Right now I find myself at the stage of life where I'm ticking some of the boxes that 'they' say I should as a young woman.  Good job? Check! Stable loving relationship? Check!  House?  Check.... well with the banks help still.  Dog?  Check! Healthy? Well I could stand to lose a few kg, but check!  Work life balance?  Mostly, check! Kids?... Umm can I get back to you on that one?  For so many years I've grown up hearing I can be anything I want.  I can have a career, a family, I can do 'it all' and have 'it all'.  'It' being usually defined as kids, job, spouse, house... oh and too look good doing it.  I've blindly followed along with some of these social norms and for the most part have been pretty happy.  But I find myself this year wondering what is it that really matters to me?  What is it that I want?  Do I really want 'it all'?  And why can't I redefine what 'it' is anyway?

So that brings me full circle to new years resolutions?  This year I'm keeping it simple.  I'm going to commit to redefining 'it' in my life. I'm going to commit to deciding one thing at a time about what I want to achieve and make some small changes to get there.  Oh don't worry there will still be some big, hairy, audatious goals set.  But instead of doing it the traditional way.  Instead of buying into what everyone else things I should be doing by now, I'm going to pause and take stock.  And rediscover the joy of living life & discovering what 'it' is all really about.

Who's with me?