Achieve Your Summer Fitness Goals

imagescae2vkgaWill this be another season of half-hearted attempts at getting fit, or will this really be the summer 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.

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 take pleasure in. “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 require 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!

• Are you a biker, runner, walker, swimmer or outdoor enthusiast?
• Is variety important to you?
• Learn a new skill or mix in what you already know?
• Is your best time morning or later in the day?
• If equipment is necessary can you borrow it first?

Trying something new requires patience. As a rule of thumb, I suggest trying an activity at least three times. You will have low expectations at first. The next time, you are a still a beginner and on the third attempt, you will have a better feel for the activity. Perhaps you may look for something else or sign up for lessons with a pro, purchase the bike or dust off those old roller blades and get moving!

©MWeisner2017

Wherever You Go, There You Are!

career-changeThe Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu told the following story:

“There was a man so displeased by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased
with his own footsteps that he was determined to get rid of both. The method he hit
upon was to run away from them. So he got up and ran. But every time he put his
foot down there was another step, while his shadow kept up with him without the
slightest difficulty. He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast
enough. So he ran faster and faster, without stopping until he finally dropped dead.
He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would
vanish and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.”

When we make the decision to stop and be still rather than running away, we have the opportunity to connect with ourselves. Uncomfortable as it may be, “Wherever you go, there you are,” and then what?

Avoidance, denial, and anxiety get in the way of moving forward unless your image of progress is a hamster on a wheel. It may feel like a lot of activity is being generated yet it’s far better to take that energy and get to the gym for a true workout.

So, rather than run away, or play the blame game…STOP!
• Slow down
• Assess your situation
• What changes do you need to make?
• What changes are you willing to make?
• Choose one action
• Commit to doing it
• Take a selfie and record your success!

©MWeisner2016

Hope is NOT a Strategy!

imagesCAGH4OS8“All we are is a result of our daily thought” – Buddha

So what are you hoping to achieve, change, fix, alter or revise in your life? What makes this “wish” to change have any greater likelihood of follow through now than before?

What prompts change as delineated by the 4-stages that we all enter and exit at different speeds? In pre-contemplation the seed of a possible notion to perhaps shift something occurs. If there is enough interest, we then move to contemplation where the thought takes on added importance. This is followed by preparation for the big step and lastly moving on to the actual change.

Where are the battle lines drawn? Who will win…the old habit or the new behavior? Unless we traverse the process and internalize the stages, the truth is that it’s not happening. Too often it is much easier to skip along, falling back on old behaviors like “wishing, hoping and praying” for divine intervention and the magical solution to reveal itself.

What’s at stake? Improved health and/or appearance, stronger relationships, financial stability or an uncluttered desk may all be goals we set for ourselves. What’s the reward? More time, a new wardrobe, clearer boundaries and a cleaner work area are all tremendous benefits. Most importantly is the personal satisfaction of seeing ourselves as a number one priority; capable of change and deserving of attention, love and care.

• What is one area of your life that needs immediate attention?
• What are you willing to do to about it?
• Choose one action that you can take TODAY?

©MWeisner2016

Starter or Sustainer?

girls-starting-lineAre you the person who loves the start-up process? Whether it’s a new business, reconfiguring your office space, writing the next great novel, or getting the junk drawer organized, some of us get our greatest boost when we make something new happen. Nothing is better than playing with the newness and the possibilities that you envision for the future are exciting.

You love innovation; new ideas, collaborations, activity and creating something from nothing. You can envision what needs to happen, pulling in resources, making connections and multi-tasking throughout. Everything is bright and shiny as you engage others in seeing your vision and joining you. There is energy, excitement and nervous anticipation. No matter, once it is up and running, regardless of the time it takes, be it months or years, you have checked out. You are done and have little interest in maintaining or sustaining it.

Now what??? Look for the people who have no interest in the nascent stage of development. They want to come in once something is established, avoiding the often drama infused start-up process. They are skilled at maintaining and growing something already existing.

You love to train, oversee, organize and develop actions that can take this business to the next level. You are skilled at implementation, overseeing and documenting what needs to happen. You are the anchor and the person who anticipates repeating patterns in the life cycle of an organization. You refine, tweak and strengthen operations.

We all have preferences and while we are not always able to choose 100% of what we do, it’s important to know what we are good at and what we favor. Some of us want to be at the head of the line, in the spotlight, performing at the out-of-the-box/creative level, yet we also will incorporate some sustainer methodology in our work. Likewise, the steward of the business will also be utilizing the skill-set of the creative/visionary in order to be successful. Yes, when we understand our preferences, we can better make meaningful, sustainable and personally satisfying contributions to the success of an endeavor AND the stress level is greatly reduced as well.

• Think of a time when you had your most positive professional experience
• Starter or sustainer?
• Was it by choice or by chance?

7 Mascaras and Counting

mascaraRight now I have a drawer filled with mascara tubes; at least seven and counting. Some are duplicates and range from moderately used to brand new and still in the package. They have found their way to the makeup drawer from CVS or Bloomingdale’s and everything in between. I am not on the hunt for the perfect product that promises to be waterproof or lengthening or lash thickening. No, honestly I had forgotten about the six previous purchases entirely. Mascara, as with most makeup, holds the promise of fun, adventure and different. It’s something that always “fits” and can also fall into the “necessary” vs. “frivolous” category; satisfying with little risk or financial cost.What an instant mood lifter… or is this seemingly unnecessary purchase an example of a thoughtless act? If only I had an image of what I already owned and armed with that visual, torn myself away from the makeup counter. What did I need vs. what was I responding to? Had I been suckered in by the lights and glamour of the aisles? Was I just another shopper transfixed by desire vs. need? Does it require such an in-depth analysis? I think not, in fact, all it requires is a magnifying mirror and a steady hand.

• What is your low cost way to have fun?
• When do you over-analyze your actions?
• How does this diminish the pleasure?
• Whose permission do you need?

©2016 Maureen Weisner

Longings of a List-Maker

todolist“Taking on new projects is not necessarily a positive change. It may be a sign of recklessness and non-fulfillment. But going back to all the levels of non-completion and completing them is a sign of positive change.” – John Roger

How many lists do you have? Are they short and long term, numbered and highlighted in order of importance? Are they color coded? Has their creation and maintenance taken on a life of its own? Are you living with annoying post-its everywhere that only increase your level of anxiety and multiply mysteriously? Does it feel like you are pushing back the ocean, while conflicted about this selfish waste of paper or electronic data? Are these overwhelming and unproductive activities? Non-completion takes up a great deal of psychic space, often accompanied by finger wagging and other judgmental posturing and is very taxing.

“Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by canceling the agreement, keeping the agreement or negotiating it.” – Author David Allen

Begin by clearing out and collecting your thoughts, assessing each one for importance and then review your options. Here is a 3-step approach that can get you out of being stuck and on the road to taking charge.

1. Find your preferred method of recording information. Take 5 minutes and dump
everything that pops into your head. Do not censor or evaluate it, just write!
2. Assess each particle. What’s the next action? What will you commit to?
3. Which things will you do to fit the time, place and importance?

A constant part of worry is the nagging feeling that there is always something else to be managed. While that may be true, for now you have cleared out the cobwebs and dumped the brain drains to a place where they can be “seen” and not just “heard”.

• Make your list
• Dig deep…no self-censoring
• Notice how it feels different than usual

10 Things You Can Do Better Today

 

how-to-time-management-300x225I am a list maker. It helps me to synthesize my thoughts and organize my activities rather than to operate free-form, without a plan. It is too easy to be in action for the sake of feeling like there is accomplishment. Yes, at the end of the day it is better to have cleaned closets, gone to the gym and emerged from the darkness with the purchase of proper wattage light-bulbs. However, task driven busyness is not a substitute for long term measurable results, improved relationships and clarity. Thinking in broader terms may be useful in creating your own list. Below is a sample of a place to start and #10 is a reward in and of itself.

1. Increase your response time to requests.
2. Improve the brevity and simplicity of your electronic correspondence.
3. Connect with 5 new people and 7 existing colleagues or friends each day.
4. Inspect your business process cycle from start to finish for improvement.
5. Rethink your approach to helping others succeed.
6. Increase the number of times you connect others to build new relationships.
7. Resolve 3 pieces of unfinished business, no matter how painful.
8. Live closer to your goals and your main points of focus, and less by reaction.
9. Take time to thank the people who make your life possible.
10. Rest and unplug!

Your list may be quite different and it must be one that makes sense for you. Who wouldn’t want to be better at understanding the value of designing a process, an internal plan that is uniquely yours? How effective will you be when the questions you ask, the calls you make and the level of engagement you choose are consistently in alignment with your list!

• What are your most fundamental guiding principles?
• Too big? Begin with 3 or even 1 and add as you choose
• Notice the shift in your focus – what’s different?
• Notice the response of others to you – what’s different?

©MWeisner2015

Procrastination: The Thief of Time

How much do we actually accomplish when fully engaged in avoidance mode? What does it take to get back on track?

                               Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
                                                     How many are left? FIVE
                                  That’s the difference between deciding and doing!

Even the most motivated people are not always on task. Often the most seemingly busy people, those constantly occupied, are in reality accomplishing very little. Yet, the TV watcher, who we can readily identify is perhaps the most honest of all…doing nothing.

When you are in action; cleaning, reorganizing, or purging the space, you feel industrious. Activity like this is measureable, producing immediate results, unlike the outcomes from other endeavors that may not be so obvious.

One client, who dreaded tax season, always scheduled a major home renovation simultaneously, compounding her anxiety. Her assumption was that as long as she was going to be sequestered in her home office anyway, she could also supervise the other projects too. After the “dust” settled, we looked at the consequences of her actions and how this compromised her relationships, health and overall well being. The physical upheaval around her made it easier to avoid focusing on the task at hand, her tax filings, which were the priority. Once she was able to see that it was possible to do some preparation monthly, her calendar became her most effective tool. With long term goals in place for the year ahead, she was able to space projects, arrange her time commitments accordingly and vow never to have a contractor near her home in the spring.

•What are you procrastinating about?
•What is one small step that you can take now?
•Write it down
•Put it in your calendar
•Do it!

©2015 Maureen Weisner

The STOP “To-Do” LIst

imagesCAUIW14SHow many lists are you actively working on today? Most of us have multiples from daily lists to long term/big-project versions. According to author, Barbara Alevras, our short term memory starts to empty out in 10-15 seconds, so unless it’s recorded somewhere, the thought is likely gone and may be replaced with generalized anxiety about missing something.

With various forms available to capture tasks, yours may be the old school, long hand version in addition to notes on your phone or the spread sheet you keep updating but not reducing. Some are handy and invaluable uses of technology to keep you on task, but the flip side is the constant reminder that you are NEVER getting it all done, merely making a dent in the onslaught of actions that realistically may or may not be important after all.

For clients who are feeling overwhelmed there are various strategies that may be useful.

• If your list is of the “forever” version, break it down into short and long term and limit the number to FIVE entries in each. This may be a challenge, but it does help to prioritize. Think of it as the single piece of luggage you are permitted to board with.

• If accomplishment is important to you, include even the most mundane activities under a broader header so that crossing off many tasks keeps your motivation high. For example, if GET HEALTHY is your long term goal, you might include, eating breakfast, shopping for groceries, gym time, etc. This can serve as a daily guide, and create new habits to support you.

• However, if you find yourself bogged down in busyness, eliminate this “expanded” list creation as it can be a slippery slope to a lot of action without moving forward. Test it out to see what works best for you.

• Reflect on your successes and SHRED your list at the end of the day…no carry-overs are permitted. Tomorrow is another day!

©MWeisner2015

Journaling- To Write or Not to Write!

imagesCA38GE3VWhat happens when we assign a name to an activity that was once not formalized as more than just writing? There is a seriousness, a decisiveness attached to it that is different now. You can find journals for travel, calling out to you with the illusive guarantee of a record to be kept alongside photos, ticket stubs and other mementos of trips taken. Baby books are timelines of another journey, so precious it is impossible not to note milestones on their pages. Fill in the blanks and your diary will come alive, your thoughts preserved for future reflection…or not.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the myriad of options. After all, an abundance of stores and sites are dedicated to selling beautifully bound journals, pens and more. I should know better by now. I have shelves and drawers filled with them, gifts from friends or purchased by me, begun half-heartedly or abandoned to a newer addition. Each volume beckons with a promise of being the one that will be the keeper of my words, the container of my thoughts, the chosen one…or not.

At its best, journaling has a meditative quality. It is a peaceful activity, a grounding experience, an internal process that stops time for the moment. It is a good habit and once engaged, provides a platform for expression that is very personal. Likewise, there is no end to the self judgments that abound when not doing it in the proscribed form.

What are some other ways to get going when you are not inspired?
• Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write, sans punctuation, only stream of consciousness
• Select a single thought, object or memory and write-dig deep and just write
• Go backwards. Start with the end of your day and complete with the beginning.

If the “written” word is not the best way for you to express yourself:
• Speak or sing your thoughts into a recording device
• Draw, collage or use color in ways to convey your inner feelings
• Use music/instruments as a medium

Access your creativity in ways that support you best and perhaps intersperse one method with another. After all, it is about YOU finding YOUR voice and the best way for YOU to express yourself is changeable!

©2013 Maureen Weisner