I lost a lot of money on Saturday. I wasn’t gambling. I didn’t make a bad business deal. I simply…misplaced it.
Subsequent hours were spent in a somewhat frantic search. Did I lose it in the house? Perhaps I dropped it during errands? Could I have accidentally put it in the mailbox?
My concern for losing the money was matched by the unsettling thought that I simply couldn’t remember why. What had I been doing before, during and after that time? I mentally tried to retrace my steps, only to hit a brain deadend at every turn.
And so it went…All weekend.
While I’m not thrilled at flushing away a week’s hard work, the outcome could have been so much worse.
I didn’t lose my health or ruin my relationships. I just lot some cash.
And as sore as it might make me feel, part of me is grateful. This was an important (albeit expensive) reminder that I haven’t been living mindfully, and I needed to slow down.
Lesson Learned: If YOU don’t slow down the universe will send something that will slow things down for you.
2017 started with a bang; from early January I hit the ground running and I haven’t really stopped. Even though I’ve been very conscious of checking the seven core boxes of my basic health, this one thing was obviously still lacking.
Mindfulness is the mental state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s the ability to focus your awareness on the present moment, while calm acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.
In contrast to this description,I’ve spent this year multi-tasking and multi-thinking. Sometimes I imagine that my brain is hosting a national ping-pong tournament; where ideas, to-dos, memories and premonitions bounce through my cranial arena with alarming speed.
And even though I’ve been working on being more mindful of late, I clearly still have a long way to go.
Which brings me to my focus for this week: For the next 10 days I’m going to spend 10 minutes in meditation to live more mindfully. (This won’t be meditation like “om” and flying elephants, but simply a practice of bringing awareness to my breath, body and physical surroundings.)
I’m committed to this every day for 10 days…probably in the early afternoon, when those ping-pong players are warming up their paddles.
Perhaps you’d like to join me.
To make it easier I’m going to use an app called Headspace. Headspace offers a free 10 day guided meditation series, narrated by buddhist monk (and juggler extraordinaire) Andy Puddicombe. I’ve used the app in the past and I like that it keeps me centered and focused on what I’m doing.
Sharing new resources is something that I’ll try to do more of this year. I’ll also start sharing some of my own little life experiments with you, both to invite you on the journey and to remind you that none of us have this healthy living thing completely figured out.
Starting with Jenn’s self improvement strategy #1 = live mindfully (especially before more of my retirement fund goes down the gurgler).
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
Do you ever feel like you can’t keep up with your brain? Are you living on autopilot, or getting stressed over little things, for no apparent reason. If so, are you willing to join me on this 10 day experiment?
Or perhaps you already take mindfulness seriously and have established a daily practice. If you do, I’d love to hear about what that looks like for you.
Please join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.
Hello again! I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for the last few weeks, as I spent a month frolicking in the beautiful Australian countryside. Taking that time away from my normal routine (and not feeling like I had to come up with all the answers to life’s questions) allowed me to have a good think about who I want to be in 2017, how I want to live my life, and how I can help you do the same.
During my month-long musings I noticed something about myself that, truth be told, surprised me a little. I realized that I’ve become a “when this will happen, that will happen” kind of person.
Let me explain…
Over the past few years I’ve taken to thinking that I need external circumstances to change before I can really accomplish the goals that I’ve set myself. I’ve assumed that it will be easier to achieve what I want to achieve once XYZ happens.
For example, I thought that:
When I got that job at the new Pilates studio… I would automatically become fitter.
When I reorganized my kitchen… I would happily cook more at home.
When I went on that holiday… I would return happier and more motivated than when I left.
When I relocated…I would naturally be more confident and make more friends.
When I reached my goal weight…I would love myself.
But it rarely turned out that way.
Saying that something will be different, doesn’t make it so. Nothing comes from words or thoughts that aren’t followed by actions.
I’ve known this, I’ve experienced this, but until now I haven’t truly internalized it.
The truth is, that for something in our life to change, we need to make a change first. You can’t think your way into a better body, a happier marriage, or a more fulfilling career, if all you do is think about it. Thinking, writing or speaking goals, aren’t worth a dime if they aren’t followed by action.
So, as we start the new year I want to ask you this: Are you ready to take action? Are you ready to take action to create a body and a life that you love, even if all the pieces of the puzzle haven’t yet fallen into place?
I’m ready to take that challenge, and I invite you to do the same.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You:
Have you ever relied on external circumstances changing before you can become the person you want to be?
Or, perhaps you’ve never experienced the “when this happens, that will happen” thought process. If that’s the case, what’s your secret to taking purposeful action?
I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
It’s great to be back with you.
*PS Remember that massive blue planner that I lugged across the world? Other important items that made their way into my suitcase included: curry paste (a lot of curry paste), Kraft peanut butter, tins of tuna, leaf tea, and, somewhat awkwardly, three crushable boxes of salt and vinegar chips. I packed those in my carry on, of course. Now if I can just figure out how to transport a couple of legs of lamb…
I have a thing for planners. Specifically paper planners, or “diaries” as we call them in Australia.
One of the most exciting things about starting a New Year is having a brand-spanking new planner. The pages crisp and clean. 12 months of unwritten potential.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Maybe not…my husband doesn’t.
In fact, just the other day he actually laughed at me when I told him that I bought a (rather oversized, rather heavy) planner here in Australia, to take back with me to L.A.
Yes, it may be as long as my forearm. And yes, it may be two inches thick. And yes, it may be pre-filled with all of the Australian public holiday dates, not the US dates. But it’s a beautiful blue and it fills me with optimism for the year ahead.
Frankly, I see it as a practical and economic way to take up suitcase space!
Which brings me to the point of today’s post: how to make New Year’s Resolutions Stick.
Now, I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions…vague promises of self improvement aren’t necessarily an effective way of achieving personal goals.
But there is something about the transition between years that makes goal-setting seem more achievable. So let’s ride that wave of motivation and set some clear and practical resolutions, to make 2017 your healthiest, happiest year yet.
How To Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick
Step One: The “Mini Year”
Rather than thinking of 2017 as one 12-month year, break it down into four 90 day mini-years.
12 months is too long to commit to anything — except marriage I suppose — so let’s shorten the playing field. I learnt this concept recently from a friendly fellow by the name of Todd Hermann. It’s my first year putting it into practice too, so we’ll be experimenting together.
Step Two: Have A Quarterly Focus
Only pay attention to the first 90 day period, the rest can be neatly marked in the planner as “the future”.
Step Three: Make A Goal List
Take some time to think about your top health, lifestyle or personal goals. These might include weight loss, weight gain, stress reduction, spending more time with family, getting fit, eating less sugar, cooking more at home, feeling professionally fulfilled…or something different altogether.
Step Four: Choose Your Top Priority
From that listchoose the one thing that is absolutely your top priority. This becomes your main goal for the next three months.
Next Steps >>>
Now, if you’re anything like me you probably think that you can achieve more than one big goal in 90 days. Right?
It’s too complicated and too overwhelming to try and change everything at once, and splitting your efforts across multiple endeavors makes it less likely that you’ll have achieved anything come April.
So keep it simple and effective by choosing one main goal to focus on, and follow through with it until you have success!
Now that you’ve gotten this far, you’ll need to think about exactly WHAT you need to do to reach that goal in 90 days. This part is crucial; breaking your big goal down into simple bite-sized pieces is the difference between success and failure.
And I can help!
If you’d like to set and achieve your number one health, lifestyle or personal goal in the first 90 days of 2017 here’s what you can do:
Book A Strategy Call With Me
This one hour call is all about YOU. Together we’ll work out the exact steps that you need to take to reach your number one goal.
(Can’t figure out your number one priority? I’ll help you with that too!)
As always, my advice is personalized and super simple, so you can start to see results straight away. You’ll also get a recording of our Skype session to replay at any time, and a full set of notes.
If you’d like more guidance and support throughout your 90 day “year” then you will love Weight Loss That Lasts — my signature 1:1 fitness, nutrition and lifestyle program that shows you how to transform your body and life in the simplest way possible.
I was at the supermarket the other day and I wanted to buy a bag of chips. I headed into the snack aisle, my eyes scanning the shelves, my hands not knowing whether to reach for potato or corn. (I adore them all.)
“Are we getting chips?” my husband asked.
“Ummm, maybe. I was thinking about it. Do YOU want some?” came my response.
Our conversation continued…
Him: “Sure, if you want them.”
Me: “I don’t really mind.” (I did.) “We’ll only get them if you feel like them.”
Him: “Let’s not worry then, I don’t really feel like chips tonight.”
Me: “Are you sure? You might want some later. Maybe we should get them just in case…but only if YOU want.”
Can you see what was happening here? Despite the fact that I wanted chips I wasn’t willing to say the simple words “I’m going to buy myself a bag.”
Because I didn’t want to be responsible for making that decision.
I catch myself doing this from time-to-time, outsourcing my decisions so that it’s not my fault if things don’t pan out.
It’s a habit I don’t like and one that I’m changing, but it still catches me out every now and again.
Home cooking is a simple decision: you either cook or you don’t.
Drinking wine on a Tuesday night is a simple decision: you either drink it or you don’t.
These are some of the decisions that I battle with, and that I might pass off to someone else, even though the “right” choice is both personal and situational. Some days exercising is the best decision, other days it’s not. Sometimes getting take-out is great, other times it’s not.
In today’s post I’m talking about overwhelm, and I’m going to share with you one simple strategy to help you stop feeling stressed right now.
But first I want to assure you that if you’re feeling overwhelmed you’re not alone. In fact, according to a 2016 survey from the American Psychological Association, over 40% of Americans feel stressed on a regular basis.
And lately I’ve been one of them. (Well, I’m an honorary American I guess…)
Here’s a little glimpse into my life over the past 20 months. Here I am, a 20-something Australian woman with a degree in journalism, working in the health and fitness industry, husbanded-up, and driving a little red Mazda across the USs from North Carolina to Los Angeles.
A little interesting perhaps, but not too out of the ordinary. That is, until you take into account the following:
We had never visited L.A. before deciding to move
We didn’t know anyone there
Neither of us had jobs in California — Nate would continue to fly back to the East Coast (poor chap) and I would… figure it out.
Fast forward to 2016 and we’re happily settled in, loving life in our beautiful home and making great new friends. This is also when I decide to expand my business online — hello jenniferdenewellness.com!
And that’s where overwhelm kicked in.
In addition to my work in the health and fitness industry I had suddenly become… a web developer, a graphic designer, a marketing and sales director, a bookkeeper, and so much more. I’m also still trying to become somewhat fluent in social media speak >>> #progressnotperfection >>> #whydowehavetousehashtags
It would be an understatement to say that there’s been a lot to learn, and some days the stress levels have gotten kind of high. Like, 1960s flower-child-at-a-music-festival high.
But stress is just stress, and overwhelm is just overwhelm, and it happens to us all. The key is getting a handle on it before it spirals out of control, which is why I love today’s stress management exercise.
So grab some paper and a pencil and let’s do this thing.
How To Stop Feeling Stressed NOW
This exercise works so well because it gets the mess out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Having all those thoughts bumping about in our brains, like dodgem cars at a carnival, can often make situations feel more overwhelming than they actually are. Seeing things written out allows you to logically categorize and start dealing with each individual item.
I definitely recommend that you do this exercise on an actual sheet of paper; the physical act of writing engages different parts of our brain and helps us better process the information that we’re working on. Plus, taking a break from your computer is a quick stress-buster in-and-of-itself.
So let’s do it!
Step One – The Brain Dump
Write down everything you can think of that is making you feel stressed or overwhelmed. This might include actual tasks that you need to complete, goals that you’re working towards, and even less tangible thoughts and worries, such as feeling stressed about what the weather will do tomorrow. Spend no more than 3 minutes on this step.
Step Two – Make Four Categories
Take four different colored pens and circle your items according to the categories below:
Must fix now
Future self will deal with that
Someone else can deal with that
Not within my power
Be really clear about what items absolutely have to be done now, those that can wait for another time, and those that you don’t personally have to do. Items that are “not within my power” include worrying about the weather, worrying about the plane being delayed, or worrying about something else just for the sake of worrying. Spend no more than 5 minutes on this step.
Step Three – Consolidate Your Lists
Take a new piece of paper and write out only those items that you circled “must fix now”. This list should not be very long and only contain your highest priority tasks. Wondering what goes here? Ask yourself which tasks will make the biggest positive difference to how you feel about yourself and your life.
Then, take another piece of paper and write out only those items that you circled “future self will deal with that” — this is where all those non-urgent tasks go. You’ll probably notice that a lot of the items on this list are not really important… so why are you stressing about them? It’s likely that these are your procrastination-tasks, the ones that make you feel busy and productive but actually prevent you from completing items that really matter.
Spending too much time each day focusing on your “future self” list is draining your energy and limiting your potential for success. Focus on today, spend time completing the tasks that matter, and use that feeling of accomplishment to override overwhelm.
Step Four – Delegate:
Ask yourself which items from these two lists can be done by someone else. For example, if cleaning the house is a regular source of frustration then have a cleaner come in and help you, it’s cheaper than paying for a therapist! Make moves to outsource those tasks immediately.
Step Five – Trash Your Stress
Quickly scan the very first list that you made, the brain dump, and read the items that you circled “not within my power”. Place your hand over your heart and say out loud: “I have no control over these situations and worrying about them isn’t benefiting anyone”. Then burn that piece of paper and let those concerns go up in flames with it.
Step Six – Moving Forward (Calmly & Gracefully)
You’re now left with two lists, your high priority list, and your future self list. Read the latter and make a note of when you would realistically need to revisit the items here. Are they going to become important at a future date, or will they remain to be non-urgent tasks that you can complete at a later stage? You can make a note on your calendar to review this list in a few weeks, or just return to it if you find yourself with some extra time to kill. Now put it out of sight (and out of mind).
Finally, return to your high priority list. These tasks are the only items that have even the smallest claim on your stress levels, but we’re fabulous and feminine women, and a little to-do list is not going to get the best of us.
Here’s what you can do:
Choose the task that is the fastest to complete and make a mark next to it.
Choose the task that is most important to complete and make a mark next to it.
Acknowledge that these are the only two tasks that you need to focus on (not worry about) right now, and take action to complete them in the most timely manner possible.
Once both of these items have been checked off you can return to your priority list and choose another two.
Continue in this way until you’ve crossed off each item on that list.
But there is a method to this list-making madness. Doing this exercise has hopefully helped you realize how many things you’ve been worrying about that you either can’t control, or you don’t need to worry about right now. It should also have cleaned up your mental clutter and shown you that even those things that might seem a little overwhelming at the moment can be tackled simply and methodically.
As you continue with your week I would encourage you to let go of stress for the sake of stress, and channel that same energy into being focused, productive and content.
See you next week!
P.S. I recorded this video on Facebook live, which is why it’s a little less clear (and why I said “hi Nate” as he popped into the live video recording!) Join me on Facebook here.
I hear a lot of “failure” talk in my coaching business. Women will come to me after another failed attempt to lose weight. Another failed attempt to stick to a diet. Another failed attempt to strike work-life balance.
Which got me thinking about the concept of success and failure, and the clinical way in which we set goals and expectations for ourselves.
And I’ve realized that we’re going about it all wrong. It’s not the women that are failing, it’s the process they’re taking.
You see, the standard way to set a goal is to think of a desired outcome (rather intellectually) and then take specific actions to get there. While being smart about goal setting is important, there’s a downside to being too strategic about the whole thing.
When we think too far ahead, and have a laser focus on how we’re going to achieve something in the future, we’re overlooking one of the most important aspects of success. That is: Will I enjoy the journey of reaching this goal?
If the answer is no, then you don’t have a hope of success.
Because successfully reaching a goal isn’t just about the outcome, it’s about enjoying the process that gets you there.
The key to staying motivated is to find joy in the journey. I don’t know about you, but counting calories, eliminating food groups or doing exercise classes that I hate is not going to motivate me to follow through on my health and fitness goals. If anything, it’s a one way street to failure.
But that’s the way we go about this whole goal-setting thing – we make choices that look good on paper. It’s intellectual, but it’s not effective. And ladies, that’s what makes the diet industry a billion dollar business.
So What Can You Do Differently?
Instead of thinking about something you’d like to achieve and immediately asking how do I get there, start by asking why.
Why do I want to get to reach that goal?
Why do I want to make that change?
Why does this really matter to me?
Only after you’ve found your why, should you start on the how, which should be created in a way that’s realistic, sustainable and (most importantly) enjoyable.
Remember this: Goals aren’t reached overnight. Life is in the journey. Start with why. Build your own how.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
Weigh in on this discussion by leaving a comment below.
P.S. Are you ready to break through walls of self-doubt and commit to reaching your REAL goals, once and for all? Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free consultation.
But if that bird wakes only to dive, beak first, into social media, emails and caffeinated stress…well, perhaps it should have stayed in bed.
The exact time that you wake up is less important than the actions that you take immediately after waking.
So in today’s video I’m sharing the five habits that make up my morning routine. These actions help me feel more productive, more centered, and less frazzled for the day ahead.
This routine doesn’t take long (you can complete it all within 10 minutes) and it’s really easy to implement. Below the video I’m sharing some extra tips on how you can get started with each of these steps.
But before you press play I want you to think about your average weekday morning. Is your overall AM vibe one of relaxation and awakening? Or is it a mad scramble to get ready and out the door?
How would you like to feel at the start of each new day? Why would you like to feel that way?
What’s getting in the way of that?
While adopting new habits don’t always happen overnight — although, to be fair, this is one that could be — understanding why you’re making a change will help you follow through.
Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So please stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.
To Recap, Here’s What We Covered
Habit #1 Appreciate The Act Of Waking
Even when I really, really don’t want to be getting up I put a smile on my face and say: “thank you for another wonderful day”. It’s a simple act that only takes seconds but sets the tone for a positive and grateful day ahead.
Habit #2 Drink Water
Room temperature is best, so leave a large glass of filtered water on the bench before you go to bed each night. Drink it all before that first sip of coffee or tea.
Habit #3 Read Something Inspiring
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body and prayer is to the soul. We become the books we read.”
Set aside 2 — 5 minutes to read something that energizes your mind. It might be a chapter from a book, a poem, a quote, a bible passage… It might be a positive note that you wrote to yourself the night before.
Habit #4 Make A 3-Point To Do List
This is even better to do the night before. Numerous studies have shown that we can only expect to achieve three main tasks each day, and adding more to the list makes us feel overwhelmed and decreases productivity. Choose the three big rocks that, if you can cross them off, will make you feel satisfied at the end of the day.
Habit #5 Move Your Body
Doing cardio before breakfast can actually help to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Which is cool, but the main reason that I do it then is to avoid getting a cramp from exercising after eating! Don’t sweat it if you don’t have time for a full workout, just repeat one move continuously for 60 — 120 seconds. This might be a plank, lunges or wall pushups. Anything to get the blood pumping.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Do you have a healthy morning habit that you couldn’t live without? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
When was the last time that you stepped outside of your comfort zone?
Do you regularly have experiences that make you feel truly alive and inspired?
Have you forgotten how to live boldly and say YES to new opportunities?
While routine is important, to keep life buzzing along, it can be easy to get caught up in the humdrum of daily living. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we can do anything – be anything – if we just put our minds to it.
“There is enormous value in spontaneity, exploration, and living outside of your comfort zone.” Click To Tweet.
And to live a life that you truly love you need to be excited, challenged, educated and inspired on a regular basis.
Which means reigniting the fire that allows you to live boldly and burn brightly in everything you do.
And I want to help you do just that.
Today’s video will, hopefully, inspire you step out of your normal routine and embrace new experiences and opportunities with open arms.
Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you.
What might you say YES to, this week, that will reignite your creative and adventurous spark?
Please join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.