What’s the Plan?

AdobeStock_116466425.jpeg

I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.

It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.

Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.

As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.

So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.

So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now?  What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?” 

The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!

Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”

Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.

I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top  10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.

The other was Nourished the daily planner for a well-fed life.  I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.

As much as I love  each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.

For example, every morning it helps me to ask:

  • What is this day about? 
  • What wants to come forward?  
  • What needs to get done?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What am I willing to do to feel that way?

Every evening it helps me to figure out:

  • Where was the magic hiding?
  • Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
  • What was lost? 
  • What was found?
  • What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
  • What brilliant ideas surfaced?
  • What thoughts consistently hound me?
  • What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
  • Where did I excel?
  • Where can I improve?

The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.

What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dreamspeech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.

Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.

One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*

I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.

resolve_to_evolve_new

*P.S. –  There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead.  Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan.  Keeps it interesting!

Save

Save

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “Q”

AdobeStock_36149935.jpeg

It’s letter “Q” quietly makes its debut in today’s plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer.

Before Midlife Macgyver, there was the Quirky Quill where I explored the quandaries that quite often confused and confounded me. I thought it might quench my thirst for the quantum leap of consciousness required to quadruple the answers available to me.

But I discovered that answers are overrated.

It’s the questions that keep things interesting. One of the best ways to live an adventurous life is to constantly query the universe.

The quantity and quality of our questions determine the quality of our lives. You can quote me on that.

We may offer a quick quip from our queue of credible answers, but the questions that we keep quarantined that cause us to quiver and quake are what our true quest is about. When we get quiet enough to hear the quickening of our pulse, we cannot quell the call to adventure.

If you are quarreling, quibbling, or quacking like an angry duck, question what’s making you crazy. Quit pretending your quest doesn’t matter. And then let’s start to get clear about where that quest might be calling you in the New Year. (Stay tuned for specific tools on how to do that at the end of this challenge.)

As I was mentioning to Bob how aware I’ve become of all the letters in the alphabet since we started this challenge, his suggestion was to quit. 

Not the whole challenge, of course, but my self-imposed rule of using as many letters from the plan as possible in the post. He figured if I could get through Q, I could get through any letter. And since I don’t normally write or talk in alliteration, he was never quite sure what I was trying to say from day to day.

For the remaining Plans R to Z, I’m going with the less is more approach. Instead of sharing all the words I can think of that start with the letter of the day, I’ll share the most meaningful ones.

This brings me to today’s tip, which if it’s the only one you implement, could save your sanity over the holidays – or any day for that matter.

Question what doesn’t work and quit doing it. Stage your own quiet riot. And then get on with doing what you need to do and create something you love in an even more interesting way.

What do you need to question, quit, or change up in order to get a better result? Plan Q is all about not getting caught in the quicksand of convention or business as usual and finding what works for you. It’s the part of my Read It & Leap! process I call course correction.

I’d love to hear what you are questioning these days in the comments below.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

Save

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “K”

Empty wishlist for Santa

Hello, kindred spirits. The letter “K” has arrived to kick off the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge today. You might want to read this post out loud because the constant “k” sound is so fun to hear. I kid you not. Try it!

Words that begin with the letter “k” are kind of sparse, but here’s one I know you’ll relate to in more ways than one. It just so happens to be our keyword of the day.

Drum roll – or better yet – keyboard player, please…..

KISS! Or as I like to translate it during the holidays, “Keep It Simple, Santa.” 

Of course, you are welcome to engage in the lip-locking thing, too, but I’d like to save some “L” words for tomorrow.

As you can see from the empty list above, there are no good karma flags from Katmandu,  koalas or kookaburras from Kangaroo Gully, kryptonite from Kuwait, kaleidoscopes from Kiev, kites from Kalamazoo, katydids from Kingston, or kittens from Kauai. No kooky or kinky requests to kidnap your keen sense of control over the Christmas budget, my little kumquat.

Call me a killjoy, but I believe the key to not going coo-coo crazy throughout the holiday season is to knock out the distractions, knuckle down and knit together a schedule that won’t lead you to accidentally serve kamikazes to your kids or your canine Kojak.

Kudos to the wise men who kept their gifts to the essentials – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Although kettlebells and kickboxing gear might make you feel like you can kick ass – especially while consuming kegs of kimchi in your kitchen singing kumbaya-the keys to conquering the crazy-makers is to keep calm and carry on.

To put it musically, koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson. Keep on truckin’ and killing me softly from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. And always be humble and kind.

I’d love for you to share your “k” comments with me below.

 

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 6 – Plan F

Composite image of christmas caroler fingers

It’s Day 6 of  the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Today’s tension tackling tips focus on the letter “F” and feature five fabulous fingers frolicking and fa-la-la-ing just for the fun of it.

Today is all about freedom, so pick the concept you find most fulfilling, flattering, or fashionable that enables you to forfeit any full-on freak-out during festive gatherings.

If all else fails and frustration sets in, fetch a friend and free yourself from feeling flustered, frazzled, or flummoxed by facilitating a field trip to your family farm.  There you may face fascinating adventures from feeding feathered fowl to following finicky felines as they feign indifference toward their favorite food.

To foster more good cheer you may flirt with flower arranging, or if none are to be found, try arranging the furniture instead for an instant feng shui fix.

If all of this seems foolish, I fear you may have forgotten that time is fleeting and we frequently forgo fresh experiences that allow us to flourish because we are afraid to fumble, fall, or fail.

From Here to the New Year, follow your fascination.  Even if it seems far-fetched, fearlessly forge ahead and let it frame your future. Flamboyantly fake it until you make it, if you must. Just don’t forsake the inner fire that edges you forward.

I love fan mail so please share your favorite “f” experiences with this fantastic flock of followers in the comments below.

here_to_the_new_year_in_good_cheer

 

 

 

Go for Your Own Kind of Gold

Swimmers

The Olympics are here! This song has been running through my head since the opening ceremonies, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Since I only knew the first line, it was high time for me to Google the rest of it. I discovered this fabulous video of Peter Allen and his pink pants, maracas, and joie de vivre that screams of all things Rio – at least in my imagination.

The Olympics are a grand global get-together. They allow us to be a part of something spectacular, break down the barriers that separate us, and for a brief time intricately connect us to the stories, hopes, and dreams of those who live all over the world.

It’s thrilling to be alive in times when humans are faster, stronger, smarter, and more determined than ever.

The competition compels everyone to perform better. Even the caliber of the commercials rival that of Super Bowl Sunday.

But on the other hand, it seems to bring out this unchecked need to grab for the gold. The time or points between first and second or even first and seventh are so minuscule, and yet the difference somehow declares one person a winner and another a loser.

These athletes have all made it to the Olympics, for goodness sake! If they feel bad for not getting a medal, imagine how the rest of us feel for not getting off the couch.

Of course, no one expects us to perform physical feats like an Olympian. However, I suspect we all have Olympic expectations of ourselves in fields where we could be contenders.

For example, it isn’t enough for me to write a blog post. To go for the gold, I should also write for O magazine, More magazine, the Huffington Post or other trendy publications. I should also have a book on the New York Times best seller list and be booked on several talk shows. At the very least, my followers should number more than a few friends and family members.

Or so I’m told. Personally, I feel like I win every time I connect with you.

How do we let Olympic achievements guide and motivate us to become our best? How do we write our own stories based on what we’ve learned from theirs? How do we go for our own kind of gold, silver, or bronze and know that is enough?

I’d love to hear what events you’d be competing in if you participated in an Olympics dedicated to all the things you excel at.

For example, would there be a trivia contest, a baton twirling with fire fest, a dog walking decathlon, a poetry slam, a bubble bath battle, a coffee drinking debate, or a clothes changing charge?

Which of these events – if not all – would you be favored to win? Which would you be delighted just to get to participate in?

Your Olympian efforts matter. I’d love to play your anthem and hear about your achievements in the comments below.  Or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

Begin Again

Ruby 2 069

So what do you do after 31 days of getting stuff done?

You begin again.

You get more stuff done. Just keep swimming. Or writing. Or working on your projects, relationships, fitness goals, wedding plans, dream vacation, degree, or whatever your thing may be.

Because life isn’t just a sound bite of the sensational or a slice of nice, consistent progress. It’s the whole enchilada. It’s a series of fits and starts. It’s one step forward, two steps back. It’s continuously changing the toilet paper roll.

I keep this Begin Again stone on my writing desk to remind me that no matter how many words I’ve written, every day is an opportunity to write more and improve my craft.

Just as you would never expect one meal, one night’s sleep, or one workout to fuel you for life, you can’t expect to do a difficult thing once (like a 31 day challenge) and be good to go indefinitely.

Challenges catapult you out of your comfort zone and into your evolutionary zone.

This is where things get interesting. This is where the ordinary becomes the extraordinary because you have become extraordinary in the process. You may not have noticed the transformation because it occurred in the context of your ordinary life.

But somewhere along the way, the discipline, desire, and doing became ingrained in your brain. Not doing what your new habits dictate now probably feels stranger than doing them did in the beginning.

I have to admit, on Monday I felt a bit like our new puppy Ruby feels when she goes in her crate and Bob or I disappear for awhile. Although my house, my hubby-to-be, and my dogs were happy to have my full attention once again, I was feeling some separation anxiety from this community we’ve created together.

So this morning when Ruby woke up at 4:55am, I decided to use her wide awake time to begin again and write. Ruby also informed me that she would like her own blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account. Stay tuned for The Life of Riley (Ruby O’Riley). A zen dog with a blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account.  🙂

Habits are fascinating things. They shape our lives for better or worse. If you’d like to learn more about them, here are a couple of resources I recommend.

If you participated in our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge, I’d love to hear what new habits you formed.  If you didn’t participate but have some insights or experiences with learning new habits or breaking old ones, please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

Be Here Now

small step

It’s Day 31 of the Get Stuff Done 1 x31 Challenge. Today’s challenge is to be here now and savor the success of consistently doing something small but significant to move your life forward. That means before you rush into the next big thing, you take some time to articulate, enumerate, and celebrate all the stuff you’ve done in the last 31 days.

While I could go into detail about the impressive things you’ve accomplished, I’m going to share something I posted after last year’s challenge with a few extra insights from this year. This helps explain why taking on a challenge that catapults us out of our comfort zone and into our evolutionary zone is so significant.

The reason for doing anything that challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally, spirituality, financially or all of the above is because we forget what we are made of. We lose sight of our superpowers. The only way to reactivate them is not to just dream the impossible dream but actually do something about it.

While it may seem like trying something for a few weeks, twenty-one days, or a month  or two won’t change  a lifetime of bad habits, you may be surprised what a little forward momentum will do for you.

Here are ten terrific reasons to act on your desires and take on a time specific challenge.

#1 – Focus is required.

Whether it’s 3 days or 30, knowing you have a finite amount of time to achieve certain results definitely clears your calendar of any unnecessary clutter or distractions and allows you to focus on the goal at hand.  If you think you have all the time in the world to work on your website, draw up a will, or lose twenty pounds, that’s how long it will take. If you have a timeline, a plan, and a schedule that’s non-negotiable, you’ll get down to business.

#2 – Resources rush to the rescue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” The universe will meet you halfway but you have to take the first step.

When you are committed to the challenge, synchronicities occur. From random songs on the radio to books that fall off shelves to old friends who suddenly call with the exact information you need, assistance is all around you. Tune in to it.

#3 – Activation energy is unleashed.

In her TED talk, Mel Robbins talks about “activation energy” or the energy required to overcome the inertia you will experience when faced with the physical reality of changing your behavior.

Whether that’s throwing off the covers and getting out of bed a half hour early to write instead of hitting the snooze button or walking away from the chocolate chips crying out to you from the cupboard, conquering the gravitational pull to old habits will most likely be the hardest part of your challenge.

#4 – Next steps are revealed.

The great thing about taking the first step is that in order to get anywhere, you have to  take another. You do not have to know where it will lead or how long it will take to get there. You only need to pay attention and take the next step when it is revealed. Attempting to blast through all of the steps at once is not only incredibly destructive but hides the treasures that can only be found in navigating  a tricky terrain. (See Day 13)

#5 – Perfection is not an option.

The quickest way to learn a something is to fail a few times. Just like getting lost helps you find your way the next time, failing is a sure fire way to help you continue to refine and define your reason for wanting to master a skill or challenge.

You don’t know what you don’t know when you begin. But you get leaner, fiercer, and smarter as you gain experience. Or you soften, become more compassionate, and wise.

As most people training for a marathon will tell you, they are not in it to win it. By qualifying, participating, and completing, they achieve something beyond winning.

You are not taking this challenge to become perfect.  You are taking this challenge to become more of who you know you can be.

#6 – Expect the unexpected. (See Day 29)

At some point during the challenge, something will surprise you.  Whether it is something you learn about yourself or an opportunity that presents itself, your efforts will be rewarded when you least expect it.

#7 – Freedom comes through discipline.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets to Adulthood is, What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” The biggest lesson I’ve learned from any challenge I’ve completed in the last year is this. Freedom comes through discipline.

Discipline makes those hundreds of decisions that could derail you so much easier to make. You just say no. Not for the next 21 or 31 days or however long it takes.  Doing what you need to do every day instead of once in a while or when you feel like it makes all the difference.

#8 – You are capable of more than you imagined.

Until you activate your superpowers, you don’t know you have them. Until you do what you say you want to do, you’ll never know you can do it. And so much more.

One of  Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs encourages us to “Love the necessary hard work.”  While it may be difficult to believe in the beginning, you will come to respect this advice. Once you have walked through the fire, felt the heat of the challenge, and come out on the other side, you will not only understand the wisdom of these words, you will be an example of them.

#9 – You are not alone.

While it may feel like you are the only one making the supreme sacrifice of giving up junk food, bad tv, or online shopping in order to achieve your physical, mental, spiritual, or financial goals, you are not alone. Support groups abound. Find others who are doing what you are doing and learn from them. Someone a few steps ahead of you can tell you what’s coming and help you prepare for it.

Just when I would tell myself I could skip a day or doing this didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, one of you would leave a comment or like the post. Then I’d remember that how you do anything is how you do everything. It mattered a great deal that I kept my word, did what I set out to do, and never stopped believing it mattered.

#10 – Nothing succeeds like success.

The reason today’s challenge is to be here now is because success is fleeting. Savor it. Write down what worked. Write down what didn’t or work you could do instead. I would dearly love for you to share those things with me, so I can do better as well. But if you don’t share them with me, please share them with someone.

By tomorrow you will most likely be on to something bigger and better and forget what made this challenge so challenging. Crossing the finish line is huge! Raise your arms up above your head in the victory pose and definitely add this song by Jason Mraz to your playlist. Or put on the theme song from Rocky.

Remember this quote by A.A. Milne.“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” 

You have just proven what you are capable of and no one can take that away from you. Let this experience fuel your next big adventure.

Thanks so much for completing this challenge with me.  I’d love your feedback in the comments below or email me at penny@wellpower.com.