I am as guilty as anyone of falling into pessimistic thinking. I can throw a killer pity party…although no one ever wants to come. Sometimes I can even be downright judgmental. I think it is our cultures default to be negative…which is why we MUST exercise the muscle that allows us to find contentment.
Please hear me, the goal is not to turn you into Susie Sunshine…rather, my goal is to be a Neutral Nelly. It is a reality that no one wants to be near Negative Nancy…and that all humans are wired for connection. It isn’t a difficult equation to see that pessimism won’t yield a great deal of relationships (especially not any enjoyable ones). Learning to see the “ok”, “not awful”, “possibly decent” parts of life can be a difficult journey. It only takes one check-out lane to prove that point. Our media tends to be overly negative and overly panic-inducing. FEAR sells!
Initially, trying to be less negative for me was like trying to strengthen a muscle that I didn’t think I had. I would get so frustrated and I found myself thinking that other people were naturally born more optimistic and that it wasn’t a choice. WRONG! While biology (nature) and your environment (nurture) certainly play a role, we are all humans with free will! This means we can train ourselves to think differently! With (a lot of) practice and persistence, you will find your inner Positive Polly and begin to see the world in a less hateful way!
Here are my life hacks on how:
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every.Damn.Day. Every single day you need to jot down and really savor a few things that you are grateful for. These can be really big things or really simple things. They can be things you noticed in the world or things you accomplished. Sometimes (on hard days) I ask myself “what doesn’t suck right now?”. There are several apps that exist for this. I prefer an old school journal or the Bliss app.
2. Follow more positive on social media. Almost everything has a hashtag, consider following #mindfulness, #positivepsychology, or hashtags related to uplifting interests such as #abstractart or #nature to increase your enjoyable scrolling. You can also look up and follow businesses such as mine that put out encouragement and uplifting content.
3. Limit your time around Negative Nancy. She isn’t good for you.
4. Take walks. It matters, trust me. Het away from your desk, get our of your head, avoid the couch slump. Go play Wizards Unite or Pokemon Go if that helps! Download an app that helps you raise money for charities based on your steps, challenge yourself or a friend with a steps challenge…find ways to incentivise yourself!
5. Get enough sleep (8-9 hours in a row)! You need a solid foundation.
When you find yourself sinking into a negative headspace, try to become aware of it without beating yourself up. Over time you will learn which hacks work for you, and you can say to yourself “You’re getting negative. Go for a walk, it always helps…”!
I thought it would be fun to play a game with this bucket list. I’ll share what I’ve done and you can comment what you’ve done or want to do!
The Typical Bucket List
1. Skydive – Nope. NOPE. Never gonna happen. 2. Road Trip – Yep. I’ve taken a van trip across America (Ohio to San Diego, up the coast to San Francisco and back) with 12 artists. It included a few nights on a Navajo Indian reservation, painting a mural on the side of a bridge, staying in a hostel, etc. I also flew to Phoenix and road tripped back to Cincinnati with a friend. I’ve also road tripped all over the Midwest and southern United States. 3. Raised farm animals – do chickens and ducks count? 4. Watch Sunrise – yes. Many times. Camping, on a cruise, at home. 5. Roller coaster – little known fact: I LOVE them! I didn’t ride a single ride until age 15 because I was so scared, but when my friends drug me on one, I was hooked. I laugh hysterically while on them! 6. Snorkeling – yes. It’s amazing. I’ve done it twice in the Bahamas. Unfortunately due to my asthma, I won’t be able to snorkel again. 7. Scuba Diving – never tried. 8. Play an Instrument – No, and I regret it. I learned the fancy recorder in grade school and at the time was able to translate the skill into flute, clarinet, etc but I never actually tried. 9. Learn Another Language – yes. I was fairly fluent in both Spanish and American Sign Language; however, its a skill that you loose if you don’t use. 10. Fall in Love – yes 11. Donate to Charity – yes. Many ways and I believe it’s a very important task for ones mental health. 12. Disneyland – yes. I went to Disneyland AND Disney World when I was 24. A friend worked there and got me in free. It was fun but not something I’d be eager to do again or with kids. It’s over-stimulating, expensive, and so…much…walking….. 13. Get Married – yes. 14. Buy a House – yes. 15. Go to a Concert – yes. I have been to quite a few. The top ones in my book: Less Than Jake, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Incubus, Nickleback, and most recently: Kane Brown. 16. Slept on the Beach – no…but that’s going to change next month! 17. See the Northern Lights – not yet! 18. Met Your Idol – I’ve met and trained under Marsha Linehan a number of times. She isn’t my idol but I do have a lot of respect and gratitude for her work in the mental health field. 19. Climb a Mountain – not a real summit hike but I’ve been to Clingman’s Dome which is the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountain’s National Park. 20. Ski in Aspen – Nope. Not a huge fan of the cold. 21. Hopped a fence – yes 22. Storm Chasing – no. I’m a scardy cat…however, I was in my house when a tornado jumped through my yard! 23. Protest – nope 24. Go on Safari – nope 25. Visit the Giza Pyramids – nope 26. Visit the Taj Mahal – nope 27. Visit the Grand Canyon – nope 28. Ride a Horse – yes, during a girl scout outing in elementary school…I am afraid of them as a result. It bucked up on two legs and freaked me out! 29. See the Ballet – yes. It’s enjoyable but not my favorite. I prefer Broadway. 30. Go to the Opera – yes, same as ballet 31. See a Show on Broadway – yes. So many! I get season tickets with my mom. I’ve also seen Wicked and The Lion King in NYC! 32. Visit the Eiffel Tower – no 33. Visit All the Countries in the World – no! 34. Visit the Great Wall of China – no 35. Walk the Kakoda Track – no 36. Have Children of Your Own – 3 adopted girls! 37. Set a Guinness World Record – not to my knowledge…who knows! 38. Learn to Surf – no 39. Hot Air Balloon Ride -no 40. Gamble in Las Vegas – nope, not a fan of gambling 41. Swim With Dolphins – yes. a very cool experience. 42. Helicopter Ride – no 43. Shower in a Waterfall – no 44. Ride an Elephant – no 45. Visit the Seven Wonders of the World – no 46. Whale Watching – no 47. New Year’s Eve in Times Square – no, but I have been to Time’s Square. All of those people in the cold doesn’t’ sound fun to me. 48. Donate Blood – yes numerous times, and I pass out every time, so I’m not able to do that any longer. 49. See the Mona Lisa – no 50. Bungee Jumping – NO NO NO NO 51. Ride a Camel in the Desert – no 52. Fly First Class -yes! I got an upgrade once and it was great! 53. Go to Mardi Gras – no, but I’ve been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Again, the thought of all those people at once sounds terrible. 54. Zip Line – nope 55. Paint Ball – nope 56. Get a Tattoo – yes 57. Ride in a Limousine – yes 58. Paraglide – no 59. Go to Oktoberfest – no 60. Swim With Sharks – no 61. Run a Marathon – not a formal one. I’ve done a few 5k races though. 62. Go on a Cruise – yes…3. Once solo. I’m not a cruise person, I get bored. 63. Get a University Degree – yes (2) 64. Publish a Book – ALMOST! I am in the process of finishing the book and then trying to get a publishing deal! 65. Grape Stomping – no 66. Backpack Europe – no 67. Hold a Tarantula – no 68. Hold a Baby Sloth, in the Amazon Rain Forest – lol, no 69. Hold a Koala – no 70. Float in the Dead Sea – no…but I have done a float loft. A cool experience! 71. Go Zorbing – not even sure what that is? 72. Cliff Dive – yes 73. Fly a Plane – yes! A small 4 passenger. 74. Walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge – no 75. Attend Coachella – no 76. Be a Part of a Flash Mob – no 77. Visit Niagara Falls – when I was 2…I don’t remember it at all of course 78. Drive Route 66 – no 79. Gondola Ride – no 80. Volunteer – yes! a lot… It’s amazing for a person’s self worth! 81. Trek the Inca Trail – no 82. Water ski – no, I’m fearful of water… 83. Jump off a Bridge – no, but I have been cliff jumping 84. Cooking Class – no 85. Sleep in a Castle – no 86. Ancient Ruins – no 87. Ride an Ostrich – no, do people do this? 88. Parasail – yes, a great experience! 89. Host an Exchange Student – no 90. Build a Treehouse – no 91. Learn to Ballroom Dance -no 92. Sit on a Jury -not yet 93. Sleep Under the Stars – yes! a few times at my families cabin 94. Ride a Bull – no
This book was recommended to me by a client and I am so glad it was! Last Lecture is a phenomenal memoir. It follows the last few months of life for Randy Pausch. He was an esteemed professor at Carnegie Mellon University. When Randy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he embarked on the journey to write his “Last Lecture” (to an audience of peers and students…although his intended audience is really his three young children).
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture was focused on helping others achieve their childhood dreams. I was most amazed at the life lessons tied into this lecture. I found myself highlighting, underlining and taking notes throughout. Since reading it, it is a book that I gift to people I love for big life events!
I strongly recommend you read the book AND watch the last lecture here!
No really …stop being overly apologetic! We live in a culture that expects constant apologies, which leads to a nation of people who struggle with establishing boundaries. I wonder, if you take a moment to reflect, how many relationships you can come up with that feel unbalanced: work, in-laws, friends, neighbors, siblings, parents, etc.
Consider the examples:
“I’m sorry to be annoying, I was just wondering if you could take out the trash”
“Sorry I’m late! Traffic was a mess!”
“Hey, I’m sorry to bug you…but when you finish your homework can you come help me watch your sister so I can run to the grocery?”
“I’m sorry, I know you’re busy but I was wondering if you had time to meet with me today?”
“I feel terrible for asking but is there any way you could call that client for me?”
“Sorry I wasn’t here for that meeting, my kids were sick and I had to stay home from school with them.”
(You accidentally bump into someone and they aren’t mad) “I’m so sorry! I lost my balance.”
“I’m sorry to be a bother but do you have the time?”
“Sorry! I didn’t know you were sitting there; I would have never invaded your space like that.”
Can you see what all of these statements have in common? Yes they all start with an apology. But also notice how common they are…AND they are also all scenarios that do not require an apology! Think of the purpose of an apology: to convey to another person the guilt that you feel as a result of an action you chose to make. I hesitate to think that anyone should be made to feel guilty in any of the above scenarios. Guilt is only justified if your own behavior violates your own morals or values. Examples being if you have harmed another person or you damage another person’s property. Missing work as a result of caring for your child, having to ask a stranger for the time, asking a person to do something that falls within their job description, and requesting the help of a family member are all appropriate actions that should not make you feel guilt.
I offer you a suggestion, say “thank you” whenever you want to say “I’m sorry”. I realize this sounds strange; however consider the same scenarios in reverse:
“Can you take out the trash?” (after they do) “Thank you”
“Traffic was really stressful, thanks so much for being patient”
“When you finish your homework I would appreciate if you could come help me by watching your sister so I can run to the grocery”
“I was wondering if you had time to meet with me today?” (if/when they do, say you appreciate them taking time out of their day for you)
“At some point today, I need _____ called. Thanks, you’re awesome!”
“It means a lot to me that I was able to stay home since my kids were sick, thank you.”
(You accidentally bump into someone and they aren’t mad) Laugh it off and strike up a conversation.
“Do you have the time?” (When they tell you the time, thank them)
“I didn’t know you were sitting there. Let me slide down and make room”…then introduce yourself and exchange pleasantries.
Even imagining the second set of situations, I feel a calmness and lightness in the air. I feel we have become so apologetic and so fearful in our culture, that we lose out on opportunities to chat with strangers/neighbors/coworkers. In the workplace, people villainize upper management and don’t share their personal lives at all which makes the job feel cold and impersonal. And in the home, resentments build because there is a lack of teamwork. If we can begin to share ourselves emotionally, connect with those around us and work together, I believe we could experience a much greater enjoyment in life.
THANK YOU for taking time to read this! Try putting it into practice this week and keep an eye out for how frequently you end up apologizing to others.
Mindfulness is about being fully present, in what is happening, TODAY. Mindfulness is choosing to pay attention in life, to fire your auto-pilot and really wake up to your experiences and interactions with the world, without judgment. We, as a culture, tend to be very roped into seeking the “next best thing”. Think about it…we want the next smartphone before we even figure out how to work the one we have, there are dating apps that make small talk and polite conversation irrelevant and take you straight to the bedroom, there is a drive-thru or mobile ordering app for darn near everything you could want! We live on fast forward. It doesn’t work and it is causing a decline in life satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, all the while creating an increase in depression, divorce and suicide rates.
The anthesis of mindfulness is living in anxiety. I am wondering why we are we so obsessed with the post-apocalyptic worlds that we think would be generated after the fall of our modern civilization? They all have something in common: NO technology and a “takes a village” mentality. Ironically two of the tenants of our current society that we say we like (our tech toys and our individualism).
The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games, Divergent, 2012, Lost, Jericho, The Book of Eli, World World Z…the list is really quite expansive. And yet, we continue to live IN our phones and in isolation from one another. I do wonder if one purpose of these shows, aside from entertainment, is to warn us/show us what COULD happen if we do not change our ways…and yet…
Take a moment to read this age-old fable:
The Fox and the Goat (Aesop’s Fables)
A Fox one day fell into a deep well and could find no means of escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. Concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend. The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just as he drank, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested a scheme for their common escape. “If,” said he, “you will place your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards.” The Goat readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying himself with the Goat’s horns, he safely reached the mouth of the well and made off as fast as he could. When the Goat upbraided him for breaking his promise, he turned around and cried out, “You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape.”
Look before you leap.
Perhaps mindfulness could remind us to look before we leap. Look at the data trends before you buy your 4 year old an IPAD, do some research the health risks/benefits of a product before jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s “trending”, look at these movies as more than just random entertainment…see them as a warning as what could happen if we don’t change! Dare to be different. Dare NOT to download every popular app. Dare NOT to give into every urge you have for instant gratification. Dare NOT to pay hundreds of dollars for the “cool” shoes/boots. Dare NOT to pay $5 for the logo on your coffee mug when you could put that money away for a rainy day. Dare to have an opinion that is DIFFERENT than the masses…afterall, isn’t that what Catniss did? And she became a hero…
Social media may seem unavoidable in the 21st century. I want to show you how you can use it for mental HEALTH instead of mental anguish. There is an analogy that everyone has a good and a bad dog within them (although I dislike the judgments there). This is similar to the angel/devil on your shoulder analogy…however take a moment to consider which dog you feed more often? If they are your pets, which one do you spend more time nurturing?
Social media can be used for both good or evil. You can subscribe to blogs that fixate on negativity, make you feel worse, and fuel your pity party or you can subscribe to those that are POSITIVE!
As a challenge, on all sites you are on, I want you to intentionally follow pages, hashtags, and topics that uplift you:
On all networking sites, the users and topics that you search, subscribe to, and follow are up to you. Try following inspiration, funny pictures, cute animals, users that make a point of being encouraging, and/or appropriate family members. There is even a sub-network called “Fitspo” which is a type of posts that are fitness inspiration, these would be an example of something great to follow. Most sites even give you the option of “blocking” other users or “hiding” them so you don’t have to worry about hurting their feelings. A big NO-NO here is following triggering topics, users that bring you down, encourage behavior you are trying to stop doing, or highly judgmental users, and topics that normalize behavior you don’t want to continue. If a user or topic makes your conscious put up a red flag or if it’s something you feel ashamed to follow…REMOVE It!!
*these statements are made after my own investigation and use of each site. This may or may not be the policy of each website and/or app.
If it were easy to make radical lifestyle changes…we would all do it! Set SMALL goals (and larger goals) and then start taking steps toward the small steps. Sometimes the success of those small steps becomes self-reinforcing, and you will find yourself taking larger steps than planned.
(Example: I wanted to read for one hour this week; I found time to read three times for forty minutes each time!)
Did you know that today, July 15th, is officially #givesomethingawayday? I must tell you that I am here for it! Most people that know me personally know that I am not the most sentimental person when it comes to keepsakes and storing away items that once meant something to me. I accept this about myself and I do not see it as a fault; rather, I see it as a nod to sustainability, minimalism and whatever the opposite of greed is. I believe that less is more and that if something doesn’t serve a purpose in my life, then it is better off being loved and used by someone else.
I don’t take it as far as some (ahem Marie Kondo…); after all, I do have two totes of keepsakes from my childhood (my old girl scout sash, my first rosary, a high school uniform, my first “cool” watch featuring Tweety Bird, my piggie bank, etc) stored in my basement! I kept all of my Barbie’s and their accessories from childhood and my girls currently play with them! I think there is value in being able to pass down and reflect back on these items; however, as the present moment is where I choose to live, I want to minimize the likelihood of falling into the past accidentally.
In honor of #givesomethingawayday I am asking you to do a few things for me and then I will gladly give you a SIGNED copy of my book, shipping is on me as well!
Share one of my blog posts to a social media account of yours. Any post is fine, whichever you prefer. Bonus points if you tag someone else who might want to read it.
Go follow me on another social media platform (links below) and interact with one post. Bonus points if you tag someone who might enjoy the content!
Actually read my book if you are chosen and then tell someone about it!
If you want to be entered into the drawing for a free, signed copy of my book Adulting Well, please comment a self care action you enjoy below on this post and then follow me on any of these pages in addition to following my blog here on WordPress!
Let’s face it…change is difficult, complex, and overwhelming at times. Everyone struggles with different parts of the change process, and I have found a visual reference (no citation was given for me to provide) that will help you find where you might missing the stepping stone to achieve the meaningful change that you want in life!
If you have read this far then I know you want change. Change is the outcome of the top row; if you follow the equation provided, you are likely to experience change. The reality is though, that we often end up trying to change but get confused, anxious, resistant, frustrated or we end up preparing to change but never actually doing it (false start)! I will walk you through the grid below; however, you first need to identify what one situation is that you are struggling to get change with, and which of the 5 outcomes you keep ending up with (aside from the change).
After defining the concepts below, I will walk you through my problem with consistent exercise as it can be an uphill battle for me, and I have experienced all of the listed outcomes during different seasons of life!
Key concepts needed:
Vision is what you want to see your life become. It is the goal you set for yourself. Your personal vision is an idealistic future that you are setting for yourself related to one facet of life. Your vision helps for you to identify what to strive for and what you want to achieve. Having a vision will empower you to steer all relevant decisions toward achievement of the idealized future. This is important it will allow you to know when you’ve achieved your goal! Articulating your vision should ideally help you feel motivated and will comfort your anxiety by defining the goal.
A vision statement is generally short, sweet and to the point. It is generally simple enough for anyone to read and understand; this is important for you as well, I do not want you to read it months later and forget what you meant by the words you used! Vision statements will require time to achieve; I’d suggest setting personal goals that take at least one year to achieve but don’t extend beyond a five-year goal. We need to set something that is achievable in a time frame that keeps us motivated AND that is realistic. Change does not happen overnight and I see many people stumble with this…we all want the quick fix.
An ideal vision statement contains measurable components, a personal component that makes sense based on your circumstances, and how it will improve connection to others.
As you can see in the grid, if you do not have clearly defined vision statement, you will end up with confusion! You are likely to jump on fad bandwagons (fitness, diets, trends, etc.) and you will lack direction overall in life. A vision statement is a necessary part of change!
For my vision related to my physical fitness, I state: My vision is: I will feel able to keep up with my kids and husband when hiking the National Parks and will live my life with minimal joint pain and exhaustion. I will be saying “yes” more than I say “no” as it relates to physical activities with those I love.
Skills, skills, skills. We are taught a lot of things in elementary school. I can sing the 50 United States in alphabetical order, I can tell you random facts about history and I can tell you about primary, secondary and tertiary colors…but did we learn how to problem solve, budget or communicate….? (nope!). It is not your fault if you are lacking in the skills needed to achieve your goal but it is something you can work to change.
I love how normalized self-help books, blogs and topics are in our world. If you feel that you need the skills associated with achieving goals, I’d encourage you to check out my book Adulting Well for practical and relatable help in different life domains (if you tell me you are buying as a result of this blog post, I will gladly sign it for you)!
Skills are required to gain the confidence needed to tackle difficult goals and not end up in the pit of anxious despair, beating yourself up! There is not one magic skill; rather you will have to continually assess and reassess where you are in life and alter your course accordantly.
I gained the skills needed to achieve my goals in several ways: I consult with personal trainers every few years to fine tune my plan, I have accountability buddies in my life to help remind me to get to the gym and eat well, in seasons where my motivation is lacking I find fitness classes to be helpful.
Humans are animals. Animals can be trained. To be trained, animals need reinforcement. A reinforcer is anything that is likely to increase the odds of the behavior happening again. A positive reinforcer is something given that you want (treat, item, kind words, sticker) and a negative reinforcer is the removal of something that you want removed (removal of an unpleasant task, removal of discomfort, removal of guilt). The reinforcer can come from an external source such as an accountability partner, a spouse, a friend, or a paid professional or from within yourself. I suggest building in both!
I have noticed that we are quicker to jump to self-punishment instead of reinforcers. We think that it will help motivate us; however, research and your own experience continues to prove that idea WRONG. If beating yourself up with your words and actions helped, we would all be perfectly productive in our goals! Scientific research has shown again and again that punishment is the least effective method for changing behavior. If you would like to learn more on this, check out Karen Pryor’s book Don’t Shoot The Dog.
Without incentives animals/humans do not engage in behaviors that are difficult or cause discomfort. Without incentives, you will be resistant to change and can end up being resentful of the change! Resistance is not the desired outcome, change is.
In order to reinforce myself for my goal of increasing and maintaining consistent physical exercise, I use a few reinforcers. I have a behavior chart in my journal in which I check off the days that I exercise (my definition of exercise is important. Initially I gave myself credit if I went to the gym, went on a hike or bike ride, or walked 7000 steps per day. As I found myself achieving the goal most days, I raised the bar and separated exercise from 7000 steps per day. I wanted 7000 steps to be my baseline and wanted to do physical exercise at least four times per week. My other rewards have included but are not limited to a new water bottle/workout clothes after hitting pre-defined goals, allowing myself to watch a show only after I exercise, certain “gym-only” playlists, encouragement from my friends, kids and husband, positive self-talk and self-encouragement, and noticing my gains such as improved energy and stamina. Please notice that there is not one answer, there will need to be a variety of reinforcers that come together for the benefit of incentivizing your success.
What in the world do we mean by resources? Resources are assets that can be pulled from by a person or function effectively. Without resources you will be very frustrated because you will not be able to achieve your goals! If your goal requires you to pay a fee, the needed resource is money. If your goal includes producing artwork, your resource would be the art supplies. If your goal includes socializing, your resources might include therapy to learn the anxiety management skills.
Your resources are the items, funds, and/or people required to achieve the goal. I say required to highlight the fact that without the appropriate resources, you will not be able to achieve the goal! You can have a clear vision, great motivators, and amazing skills; but without the resources required, the goal will be intangible.
The resources I needed to achieve my goal included: the money required for a Beachbody on Demand subscription for at home workouts (as I have three kids and cannot always get to a gym), the money for a gym membership to Planet Fitness for days that I can get to the gym, weights and at home workout gear which I purchased used, workout clothing and a water bottle. Money was a resource needed for each step of the way. When money was tight, I skipped the Beachbody subscription and used free workouts on Youtube which was adequate; however, Wifi and a device were still needed resources. Time is also a needed resource, so I have had to hone my time management skills to make time.
Our action plan needs to take reality into account. It is not realistic that you will move from A to Z with ease. It is not likely that you will avoid the storms and unexpected barriers that life throws at us (which often require skill and resources to overcome). Full acceptance that there will be unpredicted upsets will allow you to develop and action plan that builds in the needed coping skills and reinforcers to move past the storms without giving up.
Examples of these pitfalls include but are certainly not limited to family crisis, financial difficulties, medical problems and injury, hormonal fluctuations, dips in motivation, temptations to engage in other activities. I encourage you to do introspection on what has gotten in the way in the past to be sure you add them to your plan.
Aside from your awareness and plan for the pitfalls, your action plan needs to be a specific set of steps that attend to all logistical concerns you can think of the where, what, when, how, and who of your goal. An action plan needs to be broken down into a simple, easy to follow set of guidelines and steps. Your action plan likely needs to include:
a list of people you can delegate tasks to.
the logistics of who, what, when, where and how.
your supporters and reinforcers and how/when you will use them.
a clearly defined outcome so that you will know whether you met your goal.
clearly defined steps to take to achieve identified tasks.
Without an action plan, you will end up experiencing “false starts”. You might hear yourself say “I intending to change but never actually change” or “I’ve wanted this for years; I don’t know why I can’t get myself to do it”. Without an action plan, the goal remains too vague and abstract.
My action plan includes sitting down on Sunday evening to review my schedule (including my kids and husband’s) and the weather. I plug in times that I can get to the gym (bearing in mind that I need a two-hour window at minimum to be able to drive to and from the gym, workout, shower and do my hair and make up for the next part of my day. If I have a shorter window, I often do go to the gym still but have a plan to only do weights and to try not to sweat since I will not have time for the shower. The weather comes into play because we look for a few “pick days” to engage in outdoor activities which count as exercise: hiking, biking, swimming. My action plan for the night before includes planning what I am going to wear at the gym, whether I need to take it to work with me, and planning food so that I have the energy to go. My action plan includes communicating the proposed schedule to my husband so that he can let me know if he sees any barriers. I have also noticed that I have a habit of driving to the gym but sitting in my car and scrolling social media before I go in (thus wasting my time resource). I have addressed that by making social media an incentive: if I work hard at the gym, I allow myself down time on the stationary bike to cool down and scroll.
I believe you can do this. I believe you can make meaningful change. This grid can help guide you and help you to identify stumbling blocks PRIOR to them causing you to face plant. I encourage you to take some time to journal on the points mentioned here so that you can make the changes that you want to see in your life!
Thanks to Calm for producing this calendar! May is Mental Health Awareness month, I challenge you to join me in this idea for improving or starting your own daily mindfulness practice.
I am setting an alarm in my phone for 8am and 8pm every, reminding me to attend to this calendar. I have also printed it and posted it on my fridge so that it crosses my mind more often. We all need “cues” to remind us to engage in new patterns of behavior. A cue is something that will pop up in your day (such as an alarm) that will remind you to attend to the behavior. This blog, the calendar, a reminder and friends can all join together to serve as cues for one another to practice and learn.
I will do my best each week to blog on the experience, I hope that you can join me and we can hold one another accountable!