meal-plan

How To Plan 90 Days Of Dinners In 60 Minutes

I enjoy writing to you in the early hours of the morning. This quiet time is best for thinking about what is working in my life that could also help you feel a little healthier, happier and more content in yours.

Today, my mind wanders back to last Friday in Napa, where I was speaking with my sister-in-law about meal planning. If you remember, I used to be an avid meal planner, before the whole thing became a little time-consuming. Since then I have focused on one meal at a time, rather than a weekly menu. Flying by the seat of our dinner pants did suit our schedule for a surprisingly long time. But recent life changes — namely my pregnancy penchant for eating at 6 pm — have required us to go back to the tried-and-true meal plan concept.

Which is why my little tete-a-tete in Napa was such an eye-opening conversation. My sister-in-law, a spreadsheet whiz, decided to make a monthly meal plan to use on repeat. She created four weekly menus, with many nights following a similar theme, and has been repeating it each month.

Aside from the time she saves thinking about food, the benefits of this routine include:

  • Having a ready-made grocery list
  • Knowing how much food will cost each week
  • And not defaulting to cooking the same meal night-after-night.

I imagine that Steve Jobs would have like this method of menu organization. The billionaire computer genius may have been famous for creating Apple, but he also makes a fascinating case study of daily habits. Jobs’ uniform of blue jeans and black turtleneck wasn’t a fashion statement, but rather a statement of intelligence: limiting the number of (useless) decisions one needs to make every day leaves more brain power for thinking, conversing and deciding on things that honestly matter. The choice to wear a turtleneck or a button-down pales in comparison to figuring out how to create the most revolutionary tech company in history.

Decision fatigue is a real thing, and when it comes to healthy eating, it can be your downfall. Figuring out what to eat every meal of every day is exhausting, but not pre-planning is a recipe for living on takeout, packaged food or grilled cheese sandwiches. 

My sister-in-law’s strategy is excellent for anyone who wants diversity on their dinner plate without reinventing the wheel every single night. On the hour-long flight back from Sacramento to LAX, I actioned her suggestion and came up with 28 dinner recipes to repeat for the next three months.

(I used this same technique to pre-plan my prenatal workouts and can see myself getting addicted to Excel organization charts…Sorry, Nate!)

Interested in making your own batched meal plan? I hope so! Here’s a video that shows you exactly how to do it:

 

 

Until next week, stay healthy, happy and content.

 

With love,

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,

holiday stress

Seven Strategies For Soothing The Holiday Stress

The turkey has been gobbled, which means it’s on to the next big celebration…yep, it’s Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa time folks! If that sentence awakens your inner Grinch, then this post — How To Let Go Of Holiday Stress and Find Those Festive Feels — is right for you.

So far in this four-part holiday series we have talked about:

How To Navigate Holiday Social Gatherings If You’re An Introvert

and

10 Tips To Avoid Overeating (Even Though Baked Treats Are Just Lying Around The House)

Today I’m hoping to help you find some more inner peace, with seven easy tips for staying relaxed, in control, and dare I say merry, all December long. Let’s jump to it!

Personally I love this time of year. I sew stockings, paint cards, go to bed ridiculously early and play Celine Dion’s rendition of O Holy Night until even the neighbors start banging on the walls — for the love of carols, skip to the next track! Of course I’m also not immune to the stress of the season: last minute gift shopping, navigating safe conversation in a minefield of relatives, and getting out of my normal life routine can all make me a little tetchy.

But if your tendency to get tense at this time of year feels all-encompassing, you may be affected by excessive seasonal stress. AKA the holiday blues.

Numerous studies have highlighted that women in particular will experience overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety during the holiday season. This is often caused by a combination of factors: end-of-year fatigue, financial worries, the over-commercialization of what should be a time of gratitude (this one gets me), unrealistic expectations of what can/should be achieved, the demands of social events and hosting relatives, or not being surrounded by loved ones. Additional stress comes from not getting enough sleep, excessive eating and drinking, and the post-holiday let down.

So what’s a gal to do? Can December really be merry and bright? It can. These seven proven strategies will allow you to thrive, not just survive, right through the final New Year’s toast.

Make This Season Significant For You

Keeping up with The Jones’ is never a good idea, and the holidays are no different. From Pinspiration to direct marketing, people have a lot of opinions about what you need to do to make your holidays special. Instead of listening to them, focus on what makes this time of year special for you: Spending time with family, observing religious traditions, volunteering, or simply taking time to slow down and reflect on the year that has been.

Find your focus and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Any time you’re faced with a decision to do more, buy more or be more, you can ask whether or not it enhances your interpretation of the season.

Take To Your List With A Big Red Pen

Reality check: completing everything on your December To-Do list is a recipe for major stress. Reduce your list to your top priorities — what are the things only you can do or that you love doing? Keep these tasks and ditch or delegate the rest. If this strategy (of not being in control) makes you feel little uncomfortable, its time to learn than other people really can do things as well as you, or at least well enough. Still struggling? I recommend reading “Drop The Ball” by Tiffany Dufu…Perhaps ask for it in your Santa Stocking.

Lower Your Expectations

Perfect is the enemy of the good. So you burnt the bread rolls, who cares?! When you strive to make everything look like a Martha Stewart magazine you will find yourself very anxious or very disappointed. Do your best, but remember what really matters: the conversation, the awkwardness of the family photo, and your gratitude for being given another year here on earth.

Start The Day In A Healthy Way

Skipping your movement routine because you feel short on time is a big mistake. Exercise improves your mood and helps you manage stress, not to mention aiding digestion after heavy meals. Commit to 10 – 15 minutes a day at a minimum. Similarly, eat a nourishing breakfast every single morning. This ensures that you have started with a healthy choice, despite what might transpire later on.  Next week I’ll be back with some tasty holiday breakfast recipes for you to try.

Be Thoughtful Not Flashy

This need not be an expensive time of year. Do you really need more stuff to clutter up your home? Not likely. Nor do the people you’re buying for. It really is the thought that counts, and in particular, the acknowledgement that someone in your life matters to you. This year think of spending time rather than money: gift a small homemade something with a hand-written note saying how much that person means to you, or organize a catch-up or phone call with a relative that you haven’t seen for some time. 

You Are Responsible For You

You’re not responsible for the joy and contentment of your family and friends (especially when they arrive at your home in hordes). You can do your bit to make everyone comfortable, perhaps preschedule some activities or have games on hand to play, but at the end of the day everyone needs to take ownership of their own good time. That said, it’s essential that you set aside some personal time to do the things that will keep YOU sane and sociable.

Breathe

Easy, no? Not always. Stress makes us forget to breathe properly, which limits oxygen to the brain and increases that blood-boiling feeling. Whenever anxiety creeps in, stop for 30 seconds to inhale and exhale through your nose, fully and deeply.

It’s never too early to start practicing these seven tips to reduce holiday stress. Put them into play at the office, at social events and especially in your own home. And as always, let me know how you go. 

With love,

Socializing For Introverts: How To Navigate The Silly Season With Aplomb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

When Andy Williams sang those lyrics I have to assume that he wasn’t in charge of preparing Christmas dinner, buying presents, hosting far-flung relatives, or sending “Happy Holidays!” cards by the final delivery date.

Of course the holidays CAN be magical, but for many of us (most of us over the age of 25?), they also bring waves of anxiety, hair-frizzing stress, and the tendency to give in to food cravings with reckless abandon.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, this year I’ve got your back!

To help you navigate the Navidad season, I’m wrapping up a four-part blog series with strategies to make this November & December one that feels both welcome and well-balanced.

Here’s what we’ll cover over the next four posts:

  1. Holiday socializing for introverts
  2. How to stop over-indulging on holiday treats (even if they’re lying around the house)
  3. A guide to letting go of stress and finding those festive-feels
  4. A tantalizingly tasty, anti-inflammatory breakfast recipe for mornings that require a reset

In each post I’ll also link you to one of my simple, at-home workouts that you can easily squeeze in to your busy schedule.

If you’d like more support and accountability over the coming weeks, please come and join us in my free private Facebook group. I’m in there every week answering questions, doing live videos, and chatting with our 500+ lovely members.

Moving on to today’s post.

Holiday Socializing For Introverts : Tips For Navigating The Silly Season With Aplomb.

I can appreciate that this is an odd way to start this wellbeing guide, but there’s a method to my madness. For those of us who:

  • Struggle with small talk
  • Prefer to wear slippers over stilletos
  • Get sleepy after a single glass of mulled wine…

…attending Christmas parties can be seriously draining.

When we’re drained, and cortisol levels have spiked, we tend to turn to unhealthy habits as a means for comfort. Think: eating sweets or salty snacks, staying up late watching TV shows (“to wind down”), engaging in negative self talk, and over-analyzing every action that we took at the party.

Of course, next Thursday, Friday and Saturday it starts all over again.

As appealing as it sounds to hang up your anti-social shingle, getting out there and sharing real life moments with other people is essential for your long term health. Connecting with friends may boost brain health (1), lower your risk of dementia (2) and even help you live longer (3).

With that in mind, here are five foolproof strategies that will help you work the room like the belle of the ball.

Strategy #1: Ask questions.

Most people love talking about themselves, and they love it even more when they have a captivated audience nodding along and asking thoughtful questions every now and again.

I started playing with this strategy a few years ago and quickly learnt how happily a new acquaintance will gab on about themselves without so much as a “what about you?”

On the one hand it’s frustrating, on the other it makes conversation really easy!

The key here is to listen to their answers. Not only will this get you out of your head — you can’t think about yourself and pay attention to them at the same time — but it makes it easy to respond.

Example:

Them: “I live in Wisconsin but I was born in Argentina.”

Jenn: “Oh really! I’ve heard the steak and wine in Argentina are second to none. Mind you, the cheese coming out of Wisconsin is pretty good too!” (*toothpaste ad smile*) “Do you ever go back to visit Argentina? I guess that’s a good 10 hour flight from here?”

The Breakdown: you confirm that you heard what they said, you make a comment and you ask another question.

Strategy #2: Be enthusiastic.

When it is your turn to talk (I know, shudder), try and put a little theatrics into it. If you sound excited about what you’re talking about, other people will be excited to listen.

Example:

Jenn being terrified of holding the conversation: I’m from Australia but I live in Los Angeles. (Cross arms and button lips.)

Jenn being confident: I’m actually from a small town in rural Australia…there’s about 25,000 people and three times as many sheep…hahaha! But I’ve been in the States for the past 7 years, I first lived in North Carolina and now we’re in Los Angeles. What an amazing country this is! Where are you from?

The Breakdown: I added a little bit of flair to my response, gave them enough information that they can ask more questions if they wish, but then redirected the conversation back in their direction.

Strategy #3: Hold a drink, but stay away from the snack table.

Small talk and having my photo taken are two things that make me feel really awkward. They make me very aware of my mouth and I have no clue what to do with my hands.

I’m yet to figure out my photo-fix, but in social situations I’ll hold a glass in one hand and use the other to gesture about my small town sheep population.

Yet while a drink is good, standing near the snack table is not. When you’re nervous — or bored — it’s easy to mindlessly make a dent in the chip bowl, which isn’t going to make you feel better about this situation. If you want to eat, make a plate and then remove yourself from grazing distance.

Strategy #4: Remember that most people feel the same way.

If you’re worried about how you look, what you’re wearing, or if you have enough fascinating talking points since the last Christmas party, just stop. Chances are very likely that most people in that room are feeling the same way and having the same thoughts. You can make it your mission to help others feel more comfortable, and by default you’ll get there too.

Strategy #5: Set yourself a time to leave, but don’t make an excuse to do so.

Knowing that you only need to stay for an hour or two will make any situation more bearable. You can walk in, grab a glass, ask some questions, nod thoughtfully and be out of there before you realize that the whole experience could have been a little awkward.

The only caveat here is to not make an excuse when you leave — that reeks of insecurity. Don’t say that you have to feed the cat or get up early, just say goodbye. If anyone questions why you’re departing, feel free to use my line:

“I turn into a pumpkin after 9pm! But it’s been a blast, enjoy the rest of your night!”

You might think that these tips are simple, but as with all healthy habits the simple ones are usually the best. I hope that you’ll try them in your next social setting, and do let me know how they go!

Your workout for today is a series of Feel Good Hip Openers. Get it here.

With love,

We burnt the bras. Let’s sell the scales.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with your bathroom scales? You love them when they reaffirm that you’re the right weight — it literally puts a spring in your step for the rest of the day — and you hate them when they reveal a number that you don’t want to see.

For many women, the wrong number can negatively impact the rest of the day. Unexpected weight can make a woman doubt her beauty and intelligence. It also leads her to assume that maxi dresses are back in style*, and that it’s ok to order a double-bacon-cheeseburger for lunch “because the damage is already done”.

(*Are maxi dresses back in style? My mum asked me this the other day and all I could do was shrug. My dreams of being a fashionista went out the window yesterday when I tried on a pair of leggings and had to be told by the sales clerk that I had put them on back-to-front! Woops!)

Muumuu’s and greasy lunches aside, what really concerns me is that our mood can be ruined by the uptick of a number. I know the feeling of standing on the scale (shoes off, of course), waiting for the screen to settle, so that I could confirm whether I would have a good day or a bad day…a day filled with confidence or shame.

Not exactly a pleasant morning ritual, is it?

Somehow the digital scale has become a tool of both satisfaction and suffering. But it shouldn’t be that way. Some cheap and nasty electronic device should NOT hold sway over your emotions, nor should it impact your sense of self worth.

If it does, well that’s on you.

>>> It is YOU who gives the scale such power.

>>> YOU are allowing your happiness be hijacked by a couple of pounds.

>>> YOU are insisting on bringing the scale into your home and engaging in the agonizing debate: to weigh or not to weigh.

My use of the Uncle Sam “YOU” isn’t accusatory, it’s just a gentle reminder that we all have a choice. You actually don’t have to weigh yourself. You can indeed extricate yourself from the obsession of knowing your body weight.

I believe there are better methods of tracking body shape and health. Start by asking how your clothes fit, how much energy you have, and how you generally feel in body, mind and spirit.

You know if you need to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. You don’t need a numerical reminder.

My Dad has worn the same size Levi’s for as long as I’ve been alive. When they feel a little tight he cuts back on his Sunday croissants for a couple of weeks, and when they feel a little loose he adds a bit more food to his dinner plate. It’s a pretty simple method of tracking, and it’s a lot less mentally manipulative.

Dad made that choice and you can too. If your relationship with your bathroom scales is an unhealthy one, then it’s time for a break up. We women are far stronger and more intelligent that we often give ourselves credit for…we burnt the bras, we CAN sell the scales.

This week, ask yourself HOW a regular weigh-in actually benefits you. What would happen if you could stop weighing yourself? Then consider what else you could do track your healthy body weight.

As always, let me know how it goes!

With love,

Jennifer Dene xo

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,

Why it’s essential to make your own decisions (or how not to be a fickle wife)

Remember a while back that I told you that I struggled with healthy decision making? Well, I’ve been working on it and wanted to report back.

To quickly recap, I used to outsource certain lifestyle decisions (usually those that may be seen as “less healthy”), so that I could have the experience without being responsible for the outcome.

Whether the question was to get takeout for dinner, skip a workout, watch a movie instead of doing housework, or have a glass of wine on Tuesday night, while I may have wanted to do the activity, I didn’t want to be the one who suggested it.

So instead of using my voice, as an independent thinker and 21st century woman, I relied on my sneaky wifely ways to make my husband choose — this was basically an insurance policy that said it was his fault if I felt crappy later on.

I mean, how crummy is that? I shouldn’t even be admitting it publicly, but I decided to fess up incase you’re doing it too.

Every week I speak with women who blame their situation on circumstances outside their control:

  • “My co-worker brought donuts to the office…”
  • “My husband wanted to get popcorn at the movies…”
  • “The weather wasn’t nice enough to go for a walk…”

Sure, these external challenges may impact your decision making, but at the end of the day it is still your choice to eat the donut, share the popcorn or skip the walk.

And you know what? Making that decision is fine as long as it’s YOU who makes it.

Since I wrote about this concept earlier in the year I’ve been very intentional about making decisions that will benefit my long term health goals while also nourishing my short term lifestyle desires.

What I’ve found is that I feel more in control of my actions and outcomes by simply being the one to choose.

I feel confident saying NO to certain things without feeling deprived, and I can experience great satisfaction from saying YES, without the situation then spiraling out of control and leaving me worse-for-wear.

Because by making the first decision, to say yes or no, I then give myself permission to make all the following decisions. For example: how much I eat, how long I participate in an activity, and when I want to do something different…that’s all up to me.

As it turns out, decision making is liberating!

This new habit is definitely one that I’m sticking with, so now I want to throw the gauntlet to you.

  • Have you been “going with the flow” a little too regularly in your own life?
  • Are you outsourcing your decisions (and then feeling regretful and perhaps even resentful)?
  • Are you willing to do something about it?

This week I challenge you to pay attention to both the decisions that you’re making AND those that you’re avoiding.

What choices do you shy away from, and why?

Finally, commit to making a new decision, just one to start, and put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your own health and happiness.

Of course, as always, let me know how you go by leaving a comment below.

 

 

With love,

wellness-obsession jennifer dene

Perhaps you’re overcomplicating this health thing?

The Los Angeles wellness obsession has gone bonkers.

This isn’t new information— I live in a city where people pay thousands of dollars to have their fat frozen and spend a week’s take-home wage on juice cleansing — but it’s gotten out of control.

The straw that has broken this camel’s back came last night when I popped into the supermarket. As I quickly dashed about filling my basket with veg, milk and eggs, my inquisitive-journalist ears picked up the sounds of a conversation that would only take place in a city like L.A.

Following the treble tones, I turned into the aisle to find two women having an anxious and in-depth conversation about which brand of water they should buy.

I kid you not.

It went like this:

“This one is reverse osmosis”, says the brunette wearing a red neckerchief and holding a $6.99 bottle of H20.

“But this one has added electrolytes,” counters the blonde, pointing her manicured fingers at a label that has flown halfway across the world to sit on this mid-Wilshire shelf.

“Perhaps we should buy the glass bottles?” suggests the first. “To avoid BPAs.”

“Sure, that works…just make sure you read the nutrition label,” replies the second, a little more quietly as she catches me watching, transfixed.

I tear my eyes away, stash a few (home-brand) club sodas into my basket and head to the self service checkout, trying not to giggle at the scene I just observed.

Read the nutrition label on your water? Now that’s a new one!

Look, I’m not scoffing at these women’s determination to hydrate — drinking clean water is very, very important. And if you have the luxury of being able to afford the brand that is alkalized, charcoal-filtered or lovingly bottled at a cold mountain spring, and drinking that type of water floats your boat, then power to you.

But the reality is that it’s totally unnecessary to take a simple health habit — drink more water — and make it something complicated, and frankly a little bourgeoisie. Honestly, do YOU have the time or mental bandwidth to deliberate the pros and cons of various water brands? I sure as heck don’t!

As your wellness coach I suggest that you spend more time drinking water and less time worrying about the ideal way to do it. (Insider tip: the tap turns to the left.)

This goes for any new healthy habit…the easiest way to make progress is by simply starting.

Want to get fit? Lace up your sneakers and walk around your neighborhood.

Want to eat healthier? Load up your basket with fruit, veg and whole grains, and stop buying brightly colored boxes plastered with words like “healthy!” and “fiber!”. (These words are often there to disguise the whopping amount of sugar, sodium or trans-fats that the product contains.)

I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I will continue to beat the drum until we all get the message that being healthy is actually very simple.

The healthiest people that I know are not the ones who agonize over every last detail to make the perfect choice. They don’t obsess over what they eat, how they move, or what they weigh. They don’t trap themselves into rigid lifestyle habits or overload their days with unrealistic goals and expectations. And they certainly don’t spend Sunday evening in the supermarket, analyzing the merits of drinking water.

So your goal for this week is to commit to becoming one of the healthy ones.

You can do that in three steps:

  1. Pinpoint an area of your life that is being held back by perfectionism, analysis-paralysis or straight up laziness.
  2. Set an intention to change one single habit related to that area.
  3. Take swift action, today, tomorrow, the next day, and so on; improve as you go, and know that each day you choose to do something different is the day that your life will change.

As always, let me know how it goes…

 

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,