Achieve Your 2018 Fitness Goals

imagescae2vkgaWill this be another year of half-hearted attempts at getting fit, or will this really be the year begun with a new attitude? Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit gives us hope and a way to make changes that can break-up the old routines. The following is a mini-plan to begin.

1. Create a Routine: Teach your brain that it’s time to exercise by devising a cue, like putting your sneakers next to the door, or packing your lunch the night before. “A routine gives your brain something to latch onto,” says Duhigg. Establishing a new habit is far easier than changing one.

2. Set Small Goals: You want to run 5 miles 3 x weekly? Week one; wear your workout gear. Week two; walk around the block. Increase slowly until you reach your goal. “Habit formation is built on small wins, according to the author.”

3. Choose a Reward: When you reach your daily goal, regardless of what it is, treat yourself to a piece of chocolate, 20-minutes of Web browsing or whatever you genuinely like. “This works because you are training yourself to associate a behavior with something you actually enjoy,” states Duhigg.

4. Write it Down: List your cues and rewards: “Monday- put on workout clothes + one square of dark chocolate.” This works because by identifying your routine, you significantly increase the chance that the habit will take hold,” according to the author.

Change requires discipline, patience and your personal buy-in. Think back to times when you have been able to consciously shift your thinking, modify or eliminate a behavior. Redirect your focus into replacing old actions with new behaviors for success!

©MWeisner2017

Change Your Mindset…Change Your Life!

noregrets-movingonWhat if the only directional gear your car was equipped with was forward? You will still have control over the rate of acceleration, yet reverse will not be an option for the driver and neutral has a time limit. This would certainly impact your route planning and preparation. Would it slow down your process, or prompt faster decision making? Would it limit your choices or expand your vision? How would you adjust?

“Life is a one-way street. No matter how many detours you take, none of them leads back. Once you know and accept that, life becomes much simpler.” Isabel  Moore

Changing your mindset is not like changing your shirt. Preliminary to making a change is choosing a goal, creating a plan and committing to a course of action. Having good intentions does not get the job done and it is far too easy to lapse back into old actions that supported old behaviors. Once you set the intention, you must schedule the actions and honor the intention to incorporate change into your revised routine. Your calendar, like your road map is the tool you will use for incorporating new activities/destinations into your master plan.

Picture yourself standing at the base of a mountain, looking up and wondering how you are supposed to make it to the summit. Climbing the mountain may seem insurmountable, yet once you commit to the challenge, you commit to a shift in thinking and the knowledge that in order to accomplish this goal, you must make a plan. You hire a crew, make necessary purchases and proceed forward. What may have been an overwhelming goal, can now be broken down into doable, incremental tasks. Designing a strategy is the best defense against the potential of “analysis paralysis” and those accompanying fears.

If you are still having trouble breaking down a big goal into smaller tasks, imagine you’ve already achieved your goal. For example, visualize yourself taking photos from the top of the mountain, surrounded by your climbing team. How did you get there?

By imagining that you have already accomplished your goal, the path to success becomes crystal clear. Rather than seeing obstacles, you see results and what you previously imagined to be powerful roadblocks may even disappear.
©MWeisner2017

5-Tips for Career Changers

binoculars1. Look at the issues that make you crave change and outline your goals
What are you satisfied with about your current situation? What are you dissatisfied with? Is it your boss or the culture of your organization? Or do you really want to change careers? Outline your goals- for example, more money, more time off or more flexibility. Write it all down.

2. Work to understand your inner critic
Observe thoughts that trap you with fear and prevent you from achieving your objectives. Write these down on a piece of paper, then crumple it up and throw it away to symbolize your freedom from thoughts that interfere with your goals and dreams.

3. Recognize recurring patterns in your life
What makes you happy? What are your recurring interests and social needs? What makes a work environment feel good or not so good to you? Write it down.

4. Network and investigate career interests that map to your goals and needs
Once you’ve identified your patterns and desires, start thinking about careers that make sense for you. Give yourself one to three months to explore your curiosity by finding people who do these jobs and talking about the pros and cons of their work. Explore anything and everything until you’re satisfied — or until your time runs out.

5. Make a plan that takes your financial situation into account
Change is never simple, but having a plan that outlines your steps and financial requirements makes it doable. Will your new career require additional education, a small business loan, time off from work or relocation? Make a plan with financial considerations and a realistic timeline that you can follow through on.

©MWeisner2017

Managing E-mails

imagesCA83X7I0Most of us cringe at the mention of managing e-mail, save for the occasional person who claims to have it completely under control and with a ZERO inbox. To those outliers, I marvel at their organizational skills and raise a glass to toast this accomplishment.

According to Jocelyn Glei, author of Unsubscribe, the rest of us generally fall into two categories; reactors or batchers. The former constantly monitors messages, whole the latter sets aside specific time to power through them. Because reactors will interrupt the work flow to check messages and respond to e-mails, their other work suffers. Glei suggests devoting 2 or 3 daily time blocks to your inbox and otherwise, keep it closed.

On the other hand, batching all communication doesn’t always work if there are individuals who must be responded to immediately. You can set special alerts on g-mail or your iphone for priority contacts enabling you to concentrate on your work and be responsive as you’ve prioritized your contact list.

E-mail can be a powerful and productive tool while also a distraction and an easy way to get lost and caught up in a feeling of making progress. With a goal of maintaining a zero inbox, you may believe that you are closer to an ongoing accomplishment. Should that be your goal or is it really the completion of tasks that lead to the successful conclusion of a meaningful work project?

If you are a reactor, old habits die hard. This is akin to a Pavlovian response
• Turn off audible alerts to incoming messages (except your VIPs)
• Block 3 times daily for checking e-mails
• Note the difference in your level of anxiety when you are not in responsive mode

©MWeisner2016

Strengthen Your Core

Strong-CourageousOver 40% of our behaviors are habits. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Some practices are good, like tooth brushing for healthy oral hygiene and some are even fundamental to our ability to function. But there are those things we do that are far from mindful as we react to the initial cue to engage, knowing the end result will make us feel better in some way, if only for the short term. Habits, good or bad, make us who we are. The key is controlling them. If you know how to modify your habits, then even a small effort can create significant changes. Eating what’s convenient vs. what you know is healthier or watching TV because you are too tired to take a walk are the default behaviors that can be changed when you have a plan to short-circuit the familiar cause/effect patterns.

We all learned early on that the “Three Little Pigs” had some construction challenges and that the house built on the strongest foundation was most resilient. If you attempt to drive a golf ball far down the fairway with your feet together, you will get mixed outcomes ranging from losing your balance to not connecting with the ball at all. Taking a wider stance puts you in a far better position to maintain your stability which will likely result in better shots.

So how is this image transferable to behaviors that we have placed on auto-pilot like gym workouts? In my case, I feel better after my 60-minute program is over, but I know it is one that could use some updating by scheduling a session with a trainer to plan and review my current goals. I love doing sit-ups, hundreds of them, and not even break a sweat in the process. However, as soon as I moved from the bench to an exercise ball; not so easy, and in fact, not only was it harder, but my attention was now completely focused on each sit-up. I could not zone out and just go through the motions and when light weights were added, I quickly went from being stable to shaky as new muscles were engaged.

It takes practice to make a change and with the specific goal in mind of getting stronger by building my core, I am looking forward to hitting better golf shots and recording those favorite TV shows for post-gym workouts. An added benefit is that with a sturdier mid-section, my posture is improving and I feel more confident and energetic. Yes, a simple change in process can indeed yield broader results than expected.

How will you strengthen your core?

• Identify 1 activity that focuses on your core
• Plan it
• Do it!

© 2016 Maureen Weisner

Is Your Career on Life Support?

worryWhether it’s a matter of boredom or limitations in your organization, you have mentally checked out. The job may no longer engage you or the landscape has changed in other ways. Perhaps there is a new manager and the workflow has shifted. Other colleagues may have left for better opportunities or been promoted while you continue doing more of the same work you’ve always done yet with tighter deadlines. You no longer look forward to Mondays and you believe the compensation is below the industry standard.

Remember; do not turn a bad moment into a bad day, a bad week or more. You have the power to choose and there are always 3 options before you:
• Change it
• Accept it
• Leave
If you choose to change it, you need to create a game plan to include achievable goals.

1. Get paid more for the work you do. Check on-line resources like www.payscale.com before approaching your boss for a raise. When you research and strategize beforehand you are in a much better position to negotiate an increase.

2. A promotion. Again, research the industry standard for the job you have and the job you want. Have you been doing the work but without the title? If so, you need to produce data to support that your job title and responsibilities are out of alignment and it’s time to negotiate both the salary and title.

3. Self-improvement. You’ve become lackadaisical, stuck and just getting by. It’s time to pump up your resume. Choose one skill to improve. With even a minimum of 15-minutes of daily focused attention, you can brush up on skills like writing and social media. Also, check out other industry game changers that will enhance your professional profile.

4. Work less. Has your workload morphed in to enough for 2+ people without a peep from you? Then it’s time to revisit your job description and how you and your boss can work together to determine a better way for the workflow to be managed. From temporary assistance to a full overhaul of your responsibilities, you need to negotiate for relief.

The workplace has also become a much bigger influence in our lives, from professional identity to social relationships, the lines are blurred making it that much more difficult to create strong boundaries. Yet, having that other life with other people does help to underscore the need for work/life balance and the importance of nurturing outside interests and relationships.

©MWeisner2016