Want to know how to make 2018 great?

Happy New Year! No doubt your inbox is already overflowing with advice on how to make 2018 great. Full disclosure: this is NOT one of those emails.

I learned years ago that any resolution made through the effervescent lens of a bottle of bubbly is fairly unlikely to come to fruition

Plus, when you consider that 92% of resolution-makers quit long before they reach their goals, it begs the question — should we make them at all?

In my opinion, we should not.

Rather than planning out the next 12 months, what if we just focused on the next 12 hours instead? After all, 365 pretty good days will turn into a damn good year before you know it.

That’s my plan for this year. Instead of spending time thinking about how I can improve myself and my life, I’m choosing to take it day-by-day and week-by-week, with the intention of being rather than becoming.

I have to admit, the idea of taking each day as it comes makes me feel a little untethered. The little Negative Nellie voice inside my head is already berating me for not doing more and being more. But I’m going to practice what I preach…and tell her to zip it!

Being rather becoming doesn’t mean you won’t make progress. In fact, I have a hunch that in doing rather than deliberating you will move ahead in leaps and bounds.

When we take life one day at a time we will quickly realize that we’re actually good at it.

It’s easy to forget how simple it is to be healthy, how easy it is to “choose happy”, and how valuable we already are, sans resolutions to lose weight, be better people, make more money or improve our relationships.

Instead of worrying about the rest of the year, start living for today. Today you can make a change for better health. Today you can choose to laugh instead of cry. Today you can be great!

In the words of our old mate, Albert Einstein:

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

 

 

Until next week,

There is no joy without gratitude

There is no joy without gratitude. 

These words are Post-It-noted to my vanity mirror, and act as my daily reminder to be thankful.

The quote – spoken by one of my favorite authors and the renowned research professor, Dr Brené Brown — was borne from the realization that many people can’t experience joy without fear. 

The fear is that something will go wrong, because at the present moment it all feels so right. Furthermore, in experiencing the joy we will only experience a greater level of loss. 

A sad idea, but one that makes sense to me nonetheless.

It’s human nature to protect ourselves from vulnerability…

And I can think of few things more vulnerable than allowing ourselves to fall head-over-heels into joy, while being keenly aware that the feeling could disappear.

Yet shielding ourselves from hurt doesn’t make the suffering any less. In fact, the opposite may be true — pain is compounded when we’re left feeling the ache of loss, and also living with the regret of not choosing that moment of deep, unbridled satisfaction.

So how does gratitude help?

In the words of Brené Brown it lets us “soften into joy”. Gratitude is a practice of vulnerability…we are appreciating moments of contentment without waiting for the other shoe to drop. And while it can’t protect us from loss and sadness, it does help us lean more deeply into the present moment, and allow us to feel the happy without needing to protect ourselves from the sad.

Most importantly for me, gratitude brings with it clarity. Acknowledging the gift of the present moment, coupled with the awareness that it won’t be this way forever, allows me to fully participate in joy without pessimism or fear. Gratitude has shown me how to feel more deeply, engage more mindfully, and be truly thankful that I get to experience the moment and keep the memory.

Gratitude takes a magnifying glass to every moment of contentment and elevates it to one of unbridled joy.

And that’s why there’s no joy without gratitude.

So I’d like to offer up a suggestion for your week…

Look for those small moments of pleasure in your day-to-day life and then really live them: breathe them, engage with them, create them and remember them. Most of all, be grateful for them.

As always, let me know how you go.

 

With love,

Negative self talk

Negative self talk is negative narcissism

Negative self talk is negative narcissism. 

This idea recently popped into my earbuds as I listened to a podcast interview with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh — literary agent to radical female thinkers such as Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and Brené Brown. It’s an interesting take on a topic that I often talk about; you can find me wailing against negative self talk here and here, and I offer healthy ways to break the habit in my Soulful Self Love Challenge.

But negative narcissism? Well, I hadn’t really ever thought about it that way.

On the one hand, negative self talk — the inner dialogue that harshly narrates your life — could be seen as self indulgent. Is it not egotistical to analyze and criticize every one of your thoughts and actions, or obsess over every physical flaw and personal failure?

I would argue that it is a little selfish to live our lives through the lens of self doubt. Here’s why:

  • You decline an invitation because you think you’re not good in social situations. The Result? You leave a friend with one less guest at their party.
  • You don’t ask for a promotion because you doubt you’ll get it. The Result? Your company suffers from missing the opportunity to have you in a leadership position.
  • You can’t appreciate how a gorgeous designer dress floats over your body because all you see are your (too wide, too narrow) hips. The Result? You steal appreciation from the designer…and from the fact that you have a beautiful body and access to beautiful clothes.
  • You constantly turn to your partner for reassurance that you look / act / ARE ok. The Result? You risk losing the delicate give-take balance of relationship, where moments should be experienced together, and are not, in fact, about either of you as individuals.

Food for thought, eh?

Of course, you don’t have to agree.

If you are one of the millions of women who battle the daily rhetoric of negative self talk you probably think that narcissism is NOT a trait in your personality toolbox. You almost laugh as you imagine Narcissus peering at his perfect reflection in the water…you try to avoid mirrored surfaces at all costs!

As a recovering negative self talker I initially took Walsh’s statement as a personal affront. I spent half a life thinking that I wasn’t as good as everyone else, how on earth is that narcissistic? But as I thought about it some more I realized that (perhaps) the idea could hold a nugget of truth.

The most kind and generous people I know don’t strive to be like everyone else or sacrifice themselves for others. They are content in who they are and with what they have. This contentment is both a resource they can share and a quality that attracts others to them. Do they struggle with their own insecurities and have their own vices? Undoubtedly. But what they don’t do is shape their lives around their personal doubts, limit themselves with their own beliefs, or compare themselves to other people.

Ultimately I won’t equate negative self talk with negative narcissism, but I will acknowledge that it’s both a selfish and self-restricting practice. Negative self talk is a crutch for women who aren’t willing to look inward with self compassion and step outward with intention.

We can all make the decision to be a little kinder and more encouraging to ourselves every day. The question is: will you?

I hope you’ll weigh in on this week’s discussion by leaving a comment below.

 

With love,

How To Find Your Purpose & Unlock A Meaningful Life

We all need a purpose — something that fulfills us from the inside out, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, lets us stand on our own two feet throughout the day and fall asleep wrapped in the warm hug of contentment.

But here’s the kicker: your purpose, or at least part of it, must resonate only for you. Your PERSONAL purpose is different from your role as a mother, wife or daughter, and it’s different from your profession. Because, while worthy, if the entirety of your fulfillment is intricately linked to the needs of another, you’re leaving yourself open to the risk of one day waking up, purposeless.

Heavy, no?

I’ve known many women who have lost their sense of purpose once their children had grown or they left their careers. I’ve experienced it too, and it’s an aimless (and suffocating) feeling that, in the words of Bart Simpson, “both sucks and blows”.

We women, nurturers at heart, tend to be chameleons — in our desire to make other people happy, we arrange our days (perhaps our lives) to support THEIR likes, needs and hobbies, often at the expense of our own.

But to be our best selves, and live our best lives, we also need to achieve something that is just for us. This personal purpose is what keeps our lives meaningful on the individual level, but also gives us more to contribute to the world at large.

So it begs to ask, what does your personal purpose look like?

Read on for my simple four-step framework that will help you reconnect with your purpose this week.

Step One: choose your purposeful adjective

Before setting a specific goal or making a to-do list, I want you to first describe how you will feel at the end of a purposeful day. This will help you separate the tasks that are meaningful to you — those that will move the needle forward on your purpose-driven life — from the one’s that you think you SHOULD do (such as folding the laundry or wiping the top of the refrigerator).

Here are some words to get you started: healthy, content, feminine, thoughtful, grateful, courageous, organized, kind, relaxed, energized, satisfied…

Step Two: pick a goal of purpose

What is one thing that you would like to learn, do or achieve, that would give you the feeling that you described in Step One? What goal would make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning (or at least feel keen to give it a go once the coffee has kicked in)?!

This might be something completely new to your lifestyle, such as planning a trip, learning a new skill or volunteering; or it might be following through on tasks and hobbies that you had once started but never got around to finishing, such as completing a photo album or scrapbook, donating clothes to charity, or landscaping the garden.

Choose just ONE personal purpose goal for the week, and make sure that it’s something that will add meaning, satisfaction and joy to your life.

Step Three: decide your daily tasks

Now that you’ve narrowed down a weekly goal, you’ll choose one or two daily tasks that will help you achieve that goal, and give you the essential satisfaction of success.

Research has shown that consistent progress — achieving small bits every day — is more satisfying than completing everything in one big surge of effort. The daily progress makes us feel more fulfilled and motivated to follow through on our promises, and ultimately sows the seeds for a purposeful life.

After all, a purposeful life is nothing other than thousands purposeful days, quietly and consistently stacked one on top of the other. 

Let me give you an example of the three-step process thus far:

I want to feel organized and artistic.

My weekly goal is to complete the family scrapbook from our trip to Italy. This is something that I’ve wanted to complete for months; it will spark my creativity and remind me of the joy that we had on that trip (that makes me feel grateful for the life that I live, and the memories that I’ve created).

Monday: print trip photos

Tuesday: decide on color theme and layout of scrapbook

Wednesday: buy materials and set up my working space

Thursday: set aside two hours to complete scrapbook

Friday: make any final adjustments and pack away crafts

Saturday: share it with the family and reminisce about the trip (Step Four)

Step Four: reflect and validate

Reflecting on a job well done is what separates a successful day with a busy day.

Many of us have a tendency to focus on what we need to do, or on what we didn’t get to, which makes contentment hard to come by; it’s very hard to feel satisfied and fulfilled when you always feel weighed down with expectation of what comes next.

Instead, start acknowledging what you HAVE achieved by giving credit to your successes. In doing this you are creating a record of everything that you have accomplished, and staying connected to the meaningful life that you are creating, bit-by-bit, every single day.

I’ll leave you with the stirring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

So please, go out today and live your purpose. And then as always, let me know how it goes.

 

With love,

best healthy lifestyle habits | Jennifer Dene Wellness

The Best Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Sophisticated Women

I’ll be the first to admit that I was no math whiz growing up. 

In fact, I remember sitting in 9th grade advanced mathematics, tears streaming down my face, while my very intelligent, but not at all understanding teacher, Mr Patel, stood over my desk and pointed at the unanswered equation on my page.

“What’s the answer? What is it? What does this mean?” 

I guess he figured that by repeatedly jabbing the end of his spindly finger onto my ink-smudged page — and asking me the same question over and over, in slightly different ways — that the Albert Einstein-esque lightbulb would switch on in my brain, and I’d be able to provide the correct answer.

As you can guess, that didn’t happen. 

Mercifully, the next week I was dropped to basic mathematics with the tolerant Mrs Dwyer in room 17J.

Now you may be wondering what this story has to do with your health and happiness, which is a fair question to ask.

Well, scarring childhood memories aside (and the fact that I still struggle to multiply anything that doesn’t end in “0” or “5”), I’m actually a rather big fan of financial books.

And in my readings I’ve realized that my healthy living philosophy is very similar to my take on finding financial freedom. That is to say: a simple and sustainable strategy is going to reap more rewards than a flash-in-the-pan investment with the promise of a quick return.

Play the smart game and you’ll be set up for success…

But try to cut corners for an overnight win and you’ll ultimately find yourself $10,000 in the hole, or in this case, 10 more pounds overweight.

I came to this conclusion after comparing my wellness programs, and health and nutrition philosophy, to those currently making headlines in the glossy magazines.

The popular stuff is very sexy:

  • Add butter to your coffee and lose 10 pounds by Friday!
  • Restrict calories two days a week and eat whatever you want the rest of the time!
  • Train so hard that you want to throw up, and you only need be in the gym for 10 minutes a day!

My stuff, it seems, is more like what your mum might have told you growing up:

  • Eat your greens…
  • Get good quality sleep…
  • Be nice to yourself…
  • Don’t eat directly out of the chip bag…

It’s ok, you can admit that it seems less cool…

I know it too. 

But if you’ve been following along with me for a while you’ll realize that I actually have very little interest in being cool — largely because it’d put a cramp in my “pajamas by 6pm” evening routine.

My main concern is with creating a healthy lifestyle that is simple, effective and sustainable.

And the problem is that “cool” and “sustainable” tend not to go hand-in-hand.

So you have a choice to make, my dear friend. Here are your two options:

  1. Be cool today and then commit to staying up to date with the latest trends, fads and quick fixes. (Warning: results not guaranteed.)
  2. Buck the Hollywood trends, and trust that my “back-to-basics” approach is guaranteed to help you reach and maintain all of your wellness goals, and attain life long health and happiness in the process.

Gosh, that last option almost sounds a little sexy, don’t you think?!

So press play on the video below, where I’ll walk you through 14 of the best healthy lifestyle habits so that you can become a wellness Wonder Woman from the comfort of your own jammies. 

 

The Best Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Sophisticated Woman (like you and me)

Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you!

  1. Which of these 14 habits are you going to focus on first?
  2. Are you willing to invest in your health by making simple and sustainable changes to your current lifestyle?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

 

With love,

 

P.S. Join The Soulful Self Love Challenge Today (it’s free!): jenniferdenewellness.com/self-love-challenge
self love language | jennifer dene wellness

The Language Of Self Love: A Practical Approach To Body Positivity

Today we’re going to figure out your self love language, which actually starts with your family tree.

If you think about spending five straight days with your favorite family members, what comes up?

Probably thoughts of cheer, sitting around a table sharing food, drink and laughter…

Perhaps a slight feeling of frustration or annoyance — ruffled feathers are bound to happen when you put relatives in a room together for days at a time…

And also indescribable love.

Now, if I ask you to think about your body (specifically your physical appearance), what comes up then?

What are the first three words that come to mind when I say, tell me what you think about your body?

Say them out loud…

I’ll wait…

Hopefully you just heard yourself say something along the lines of: beautiful, healthy, fit, appreciated, strong, unique, consistent, feminine, comfortable, pretty good or bloody brilliant! 

If not, I’d like to offer up an idea:

Try viewing your relationship with your body in a similar way to your relationship with your favorite family members. Some days you love its comfort and reliability, some days it annoys the heck out of you, and some days you adore and admire it so much that you can’t believe its actually yours.

Being body positive doesn’t mean unquestionably adoring yourself at every waking moment. If that’s what you’re working towards, you’re going to be disappointed.

Even those people you love the most can still get on your last nerve from time to time. (And just sometimes, on rare occasions, you might even feel tempted to trade them in for a newer model!) But that doesn’t mean you would go around berating them every day, nor would you constantly compare them to others.

If I asked you to describe your most cherished friends in three words, it’s unlikely that those words would be cruel or critical.

So why do it to yourself?

The average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her own body every day — that’s one for almost every waking hour. Many have upwards of 100.

If you spoke so venomously towards another person chances are you’d be in therapy (or have a restraining order taken out against you). Unfortunately, no one is policing what we say to ourselves. So it’s up to you to take a stand and change your self love language. 

It’s important to realize that the language of self love needn’t be hippy dippy or woo-woo. You don’t need to self-identify as a “goddess” to love yourself (despite what social media influencers might tell you). In fact, I believe that using these labels is just another shield to hide behind…it’s easier to throw your hands up and yell “I am a goddess” than it is to look in the mirror and say, “you know what, I’m pretty ok”.

You can be body positive and:

  • Complain about your creaky knees
  • Desire to lose or gain weight
  • Feel a little frustrated that you over-plucked your right eyebrow
  • Even think that in an ideal world you wouldn’t have cellulite

Body positivity comes from loving yourself despite your imperfections (or perhaps, because of them).

Being proud of who you are means being real about who you are… 

So its time to use real language, speak real words, and have real thoughts and opinions about yourself — just like you do with Uncle Fred.

When you can love yourself unconditionally — even if somedays there are certain things you don’t like — then you have won the body positivity battle.

I thought this was an important point to make as I see more and more women desire to improve their self love practice and fall in love with their body and life. I know this journey takes courage and persistence (I’ve walked its path too), but I also know that once you find the right footing, your life really does change.

So my suggestion for you as you enter a new day: treat your body the way you’d treat a favorite family member, with the self love language of respect, kindness, adoration, frustration (and even the occasional whinge).

 

Let me know how you go.

 

With love,

HEALTHY LIVING

29 Nuggets Of Healthy Living Gold

Today is my 29th birthday.

In just a little while I’ll be celebrating with the handsome Nathaniel, a glass of Moet and some very good cheese. But before I kick off my shoes and pop open that bottle of bubbly, I’m taking some time to reflect on the last (almost three) decades.

I sometimes look around at my life and think: huh, who would have ever thought that’d happen. Every year brings with it new surprises and adventures, and we never really know what will transpire next.

Growing up as girl in a beautiful yet small Australian country town, I never would have expected that I would find myself living in Los Angeles, married to a Southern boy, and teaching women how to feel fit, feminine and fabulous through healthy living and self care.

In fact, this life that I’m living never really crossed my mind…it just sort of happened!

At various times throughout my childhood I wanted to be: a gas station attendant (I loved washing windshields with a squeegee); a bank teller (I got a real kick out of counting coins and shuffling notes); and for a few years my aspiration to become a lawyer (which would justify the owning of a briefcase) butted heads with my desire to be a marine biologist (and swim with the dolphins every day).

What actually happened was that I got a degree in journalism and started teaching fitness.

Since then, a series of unforeseen events, saying yes to new opportunities and rolling with the flow of life has brought me to where I am today…sitting in the Miracle Mile, thinking that pre-breakfast mimosas sounds like a very civilized idea.

The road that takes us to where we need to go is rarely clear and often tricky to navigate. But what we discover with every step will shape us in ways that we could never have realized, had we not dared to step off the beaten path. 

With that in mind, and in honor of turning 29,  I wanted to share 29 things that I’ve learnt about healthy living and loving the skin you’re in.

And then I’d love to hear from you.

What one nugget of knowledge would you tell your younger self?  Like a rising tide lifts all boats, sharing our words of wisdom with one another makes us all stronger. So please, leave a comment below!

29 Things That I’ve Learnt About Healthy Living (And Loving The Skin You’re In)

Choose progress over perfection

There’s always room for improvement, so get comfy on the journey and take one new step each day.

Invest in your sleep

Clock enough hours in the land of nod, buy a great mattress and make your bedroom a serene sleep space (the preferred option is dark and quiet, with clean air).

Eat well to feel well

Making healthy food choices isn’t about dieting, it’s about showering your body with love and nutritious bites of goodness.

Define healthy for you

I know what a healthy life means to me and I don’t let other people impinge on that vision; this helps me make the right decisions for my body and life in any given situation.

Self care is what empowers us to give back to the world

By nourishing your own body and spirit with good food, water, movement, and me time, you’ll have more of everything to give to others.

Some is better than none

A five minute walk, a one minute meditation or two bites of broccoli…some will always be better than none.

Give up your need for control

Allow people, situations and events to simply be as they are, and notice how much more present and relaxed you become.

Breathing deeply is the miracle pill for anxiety

Inhaling and exhaling through your nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body rest, digest and recover.

Stop counting calories

That old myth is officially busted; the new kid on the block is to count nutrition, not calories.

There will always be more food

Farewell Clean Plate Society! Choose to stop eating when you’re satiated and keep your leftovers for another meal.

Exercise is a form of stress; approach it mindfully

A gentle 20 minute walk or a few mobility stretches is enough to feel the benefit of exercise without adding to your stress.

Fear is temporary, regret is permanent

It can feel really overwhelming, and even scary, to change your lifestyle habits. But it’s worth it.

Start before you are ready

Whether that’s cooking at home, exercising or learning a new skill; you don’t need to be a pro to be a participant.

What concerns me is my health and not the opinion of others

I choose to take care of my body rather than trying to change it in unhealthy ways to meet other people’s expectations.

Negative self talk is polluting your mind

You would never say that filthy stuff to your friend, so why do it to yourself? Being trapped in your own mind is holding you back from loving your body and life.

Listen to your body

The human body is wildly intelligent, with an innate capacity to heal and regenerate itself. Once you get out of your head you can listen to what your body needs.

There’s no one-size-fits all

The same set of rote recommendations won’t work for a 40 year old woman in Florida and a 65 year old woman in Minnesota; you need to put on your detective hat and figure out what works for you.

Fat is wonderful

Sugar on the other hand…

 If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got

Change happens outside your comfort zone…consider spending some more time out there.

It’s about building a lifestyle, not painting a finish line

There is no such a thing as a right or wrong decision when it comes to your wellness, there is only the decision that you make.

Sitting is the new smoking

Seriously! Get out of your chair regularly, park further away from the stores, shrug your shoulders up and down…just move your body.

Give up the need to label yourself

You’re a unique human being, regardless of the lifestyle choices that you make. Don’t trap yourself in to being “vegan” or “Paleo” or “a Yogi”. Just be you and do a bit of anything that enhances that

Trust your gut

Listen to your intuition and eat fermented foods!

KISS

People insist on making things difficult, such as healthy living. Don’t be one of them. Keep It Super Simple.

Find movements that fill you with joy

Exercise should be energizing and rewarding for your body and mind, so get out there and find some kind of activity that make you feel great.

Women need to put their health before their physique

Get healthy and you’ll love how your body looks; force your body into looking a certain way and chances are you won’t be healthy (or happy).

 Connect with nature

It reminds us that our place in the universe is bigger than our immediate problems.

You have more time that you think

Figure out your key life priorities and then make time for them.

Pantene was right

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen >>>

 

With love,

P.S. For the record, I still get a kick out of washing windows, counting coins and carrying a briefcase! Oh, and I did swim with dolphins one time!

Your Healthy Rules JDW

What Should Healthy Look Like?

Healthy. It’s such a loaded word, isn’t it?

Once-upon-a-time being healthy was as simple as feeling well, getting good results at your annual check-up, and being able to do the things you want to do — physically, mentally and emotionally.

Today? Not so much…

It seems that being healthy in 2017 is no longer just about how you feel, but is also defined by your ability to complete a long list of the latest *cough arbitrary cough* healthy rules.

So while it was once simple to gauge the old health barometer, these days it’s much harder to know if you’re in good shape or need to shape up.

I mean heck, what does healthy even mean anymore?

If you had asked me that question at different stages of my life I would have given you very different answers.

During my childhood and early teens I defined being healthy as having a clear mind, an active body, and no runny nose or belly ache. Add to that sleeping well and eating my vegetables, and I figured I was doing just fine.

It wasn’t until my late teens that things like body-shaming and dieting really came to my attention, but boy did I catch on fast. At this time I would have described being healthy by my pant size, weight and rapidly receding reflection.

In my mid-twenties I worked hard on redefining what healthy meant for myself, yet the little voice inside my head — the one that then drove most of my decision-making — still came straight from the pages of a women’s health and fitness magazine.

At this time I also confused the need to be healthier with the need to be the healthiest, a mistake that you might also be making and one which is preventing you from loving your body and life.

Yet now, as I peer over the edge towards my 29th year, I’ve made a discovery that will make you smile.

Can you guess what I’ve decided, after more than a decade of wading through contradictory advice on what it means to be a healthy woman?

Being healthy is having a clear mind, an active body, and no runny nose or belly ache!

(Don’t you love when things in life come full circle?! I know I do!)

Is that a simplistic statement? Sure.

Am I actually more healthy now than I was as a teenager? Undoubtedly.

Do I think we all need to be more proactive about our health, and feel encouraged to make gentle changes every day that make us that little bit healthier? I do.

But the truth is that we can do that without making healthy feel harder. We can define this term for ourselves and recognize that there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to creating a healthy life.

So if you’ve been feeling behind the eight-ball in trying to figure out what healthy means for you, here’s what I recommend you do:

  • Close the magazine or shut down that social media app that is trying to define YOUR health on their terms.
  • Take a breath.
  •  Then, think about what your 12-year-old self would have told you, had you asked what healthy meant to them.

Start there and the right actions will follow.

As always, let me know how it goes.

With love,

HAVE MORE TIME JENNIFER DENE WELLNESS

Want To Have More Time? Here’s How…

Have you ever wondered why it can feel so hard to take time for yourself? Even when you promise yourself a little bit of r&r there’s often something — another task, request or responsibility — that snatches that time away.

The truth is that modern life — our work and responsibilities  —doesn’t always leave us with much breathing space; but it’s also true that some people seem to have more time than others.

So what’s their secret, these women who have the time to simply sit down and enjoy a cup of tea? The answer is less about the way they DO things, and more with how they THINK about things.

In today’s exercise we’ll explore how your attitude towards time is holding you hostage to that never ending to-do list (and preventing you from feeling satisfied with what you’ve achieved at the end of the day).

This exercise is taken from my three part audio series: Take Back Your Time: Practical Lessons In Creating Time Freedom For A Healthy, Happy Life. Download the full series  here (videos and worksheets included)

 

“Should”, “Could” & “Get To”

How often do you catch yourself saying or thinking the words: I should…

“Should” is an expression of something that you think you have to do; an obligation or an expectation that you need to meet to view yourself as successful, generous, useful, important, etc…

I should fold laundry while I’m sitting on the couch…

I should get a head start on dinner to make things easier later on…

“Could,” on the other hand, expresses a conscious choice; it’s the start of a dialogue about how you spend your time.

I could go for a walk…

I could try a new recipe…

At the end of a “could” sentence is the unspoken “or”…this is you giving yourself options. By its very nature, “could” is a word that implies positivity and choice; you’ll even notice a difference in the inflection of your voice when you say it.

Compare these two:

I should go for a walk.

Golly, even writing this makes my feet feel heavy. It makes me wonder why I should go for a walk, which leads to me listing off all those unhealthy habits that I need to rectify with exercise. Yuck!

I could go for a walk.

Yep, definitely feeling more inspired. That could fit into this sentence: It’s a lovely day, I could go for a walk! Or this one: I’m going to exercise tomorrow morning, I could go for a walk or I could go for a swim.

In example number two, the walk becomes the reward and not the punishment. This sentence also reminds me that I’m the decision maker, and it gives me an option for how I spend my time.

Which brings me to your first challenge…

Step One: be a COULD person (not a SHOULD person).

You CAN choose how you spend your time and how you experience your everyday life.

But should every “should” become a “could”? (Ha, writing these sentences makes me feel like Dr. Seuss!)

Of course not!

If you’re a high-achiever it’s likely that you have a LOT of should’s floating around in your mind at any one time. I can hardly sit on my couch without thinking I should: water the plants, get rid of that cobweb, organize the DVR recordings, send an email, file my fingernails, plan a vacation, fold laundry, book a dentist appointment…apparently it’s exhausting to relax at my house!

But just because there are should’s that could be done, doesn’t mean you have to do them. Filling your day to the brim with “should” tasks doesn’t necessarily:

  • Move you closer to your three key life priorities (learn about these by downloading the full series here)
  • Create free space for the future (there will always be more should’s)
  • Make you a more important/interesting/useful/insert-adjective-here person. It just makes you tired.

Step Two: Shelve some of the should’s…

Here’s how:

  1. Look at your current To-Do list, or think about all of those odds and ends floating around in your brain
  2. How many of these tasks made it on to that list because of the sentence: I should do…?

“I should clean out the linen cupboard.”

“I should sort the winter clothing.”

“I should get a head start on Christmas presents.”

“I should attend that community meeting.”

While (in an ideal world) you would be able to cross these arbitrary tasks off that list, they’re actually not critical to the functioning of your day-to-day life. In fact, spending time on these “should” tasks could actually be taking you further away from reaching your healthy living goals.

Can you guess my simple solution? Just cross them off your list…right now. Liberation!

Your list will now have a sprinkling of could items, to be kept as options in your back pocket, as well as those activities that you couldn’t cross off, even if you wanted to (hello work obligations, mammograms and flossing your teeth)!

These remaining obligations are necessary for the functioning of your day-to-day life, and there are two ways of looking at that…

Step Two: living with a “have to” mindset versus a “get to” mindset

I have to go to work…

I get to go to work…

I have to meet (name) for a coffee…

I get to meet (name) for a coffee…

I have to workout with my personal trainer…

I get to workout with my personal trainer…

While this positive language trick won’t necessarily buy you more time, it will help you feel more enthusiastic about the way you’re spending that time. And who knows, spending less time procrastinating on things like work and exercise could free up more free space each day after all.

Try this one on for size: I get to workout with my personal trainer and then I could have a relaxing bath or read a book!

The solution?

Commit to adding a positive spring to your language step to make your “get to” activities even more enjoyable.

Let’s summarize today’s exercise!

  1. Use the word “could” in sentences, to remind yourself that you do have a choice in how you spend your time
  2. Cross off all the arbitrary “should” tasks on your to-do list (if they haven’t been done yet the world won’t end if they stay that way)
  3. Be positive in your language when describing tasks you get to do

A thought to ponder as you move throughout your week: what you do is less important than WHY you do it. What’s your reason behind your should’s, could’s and get to’s? If the answer doesn’t move you, consider letting it go.

 

With love,