It’s mid-July – my brain’s half-way-through-summer checkpoint. The kids have been out of school, the days are longer and brighter, and I’m appreciating my slower-paced life much more as the world safely emerges from months of COVID mayhem.
Well before summer began, I set goals for what I’d like to see happen in my life. Truth be told, I do this annually. But this time I set these goals using a new program introduced to me by a friend. Brooke Schiller is the friend. Barbara Fagan-Smith is the program catalyst, although I now think of Barbara as a friend too (#zoomfriend) after spending weeks online immersed in learning her simple yet effective program. The main gist of her program, Living ROI, which grabbed me from the onset, was this concept:
“Intentionally planning your days and weeks makes the difference between life happening to you versus you making life happen the way you want it.“
Damn. Who wants life to just happen to them? I’d much rather be in the driver’s seat and do what I can to make life happen my way. Checking in on my goals regularly has enabled me to make microsteps towards actually ticking things off my traditional New Year’s Resolutions list, which historically would’ve sat pretty un-dented come mid-July. Well not this year.
Planning a family trip to Kauai was top on my goal list, no easy task with everyone’s busy schedules, car rental ridiculousness, and COVID travel restrictions still in play. But my microsteps in planning and implementing were on it! My family hadn’t been on a flight bound for fun together in over two years and it was high time we dropped it all and enjoyed some awesomeness. And awesome it was – the perfect balance of adventure, relaxation, rainbow sightings, and piña coladas.
So, my fun family trip this year? Check.
I’ve also made significant progress on my first novel by working full speed ahead on a draft manuscript – mystery meets wellness fiction (and yes, for my devout blog followers, Mildred from book club will be making an appearance). This is something I’ve talked about doing for years but never quite got around to taking seriously. I finally made it happen by micro-stepping to check course registration dates early (this year not missing the deadline!) and taking the Jumpstart Your Novel class with the wonderfully-inspiring author Ellen Sussman at Stanford Continuing Studies.
So, my moving closer to becoming a novelist? Check.
There are other “checks” to report here, but I must pause to acknowledge there is no one size fits all solution to achieving goals. The key for me has been taking those microsteps each day, diligently. Microsteps don’t feel like much when you’re doing them, but when added together after months, you can taste the progress. This is especially great news for anyone still wanting to make good on their goals this summer, this year, or whatever time frame you originally set. And summer is not over, people! Just start with a microstep today.
Let’s pause again for a quick second, though, because I do believe the state of one’s mental health serves as a gage for whether or not you’ll be in a place to accomplish what you set out to do. If you’re grooving in a state of well-being, then yay! Keep going with your goals. If not, your well-being should instantly become your first goal.
There’s a lot of wellness trial and error needed to find what brings you more joy in life, which is why I choose to layer tools that have resonated with me over the years. For example, my morning Happy Tracker routine of listing at least one thing for which I’m grateful each day has welcomed my Living ROI program efforts with open arms. I begin each day with my gratitude ritual (just takes a few minutes) and then roll right into the latter before getting on with my day. They say the best way to create a new habit is to build on an existing one, so that’s been my point of success here.
What wellness tools work for you? Exercise, practicing mindfulness, meditation? Try leveraging an existing one to help begin another if your overall wellness needs a boost. Some examples might include: after you work out, write down at least one thing before showering for which you’re grateful, or before you pick up the kids at camp or start your afternoon conference calls, practice a few minutes of mindfulness and savor an herbal tea/coffee beverage to recenter your day.
Layering wellness tools is now a technique my brain does on autopilot when intrigued by a new concept. Learning from experts in a field helps with this, as exemplified by my experiences with Barbara and Ellen. In the hope of sharing some additional insight here, take a peek at the following resources and see if something interests you. There’s most definitely still time this summer to make it the one you had envisioned.
You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero – I bought this book with Kauai beach-reading in mind for the entire family, but couldn’t keep my hands off of it. I ended up reading it cover-to-cover before our flight even departed. It’s such an inspirational piece, and really makes you want to get off your butt and create the life you want. No.more.excuses. PERIOD (as my daughter and her friends would say). My favorite take away from Sincero’s valuable advice was how she gave me a new perspective to my already annual project of creating a vision board. She feels there’s value in creating a vision board because, “It’s like having a craft day with God.” Man, is she spot on. Vision boards really do work.
Another idea to explore is whether the time of day you chose to do something is important. According to the following book by Daniel Pink, the answer is yes. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing includes research supporting the concept that how you time your day can result in peak performance.
I was intrigued by this idea in wanting to make my days more productive, and this book has significantly helped – specifically with my manuscript writing. How, you ask? Well, I used to try and squeeze in an hour or so to write after lunch and before school pick up, which was totally useless. It turns out that was because I’m someone who is most productive in the early morning hours, which is when I should’ve been writing (not grocery shopping or running errands). So yes, that means I’m now getting up earlier to write before the family rises. One of my family members happens to be most productive in the evening hours, so there is value in researching your specific style. Pink helps you figure it out.
In summary, I hope you are enjoying summer and that it is already as awesome as it can be! But in case it needs a bit more badass, it’s not too late to sprinkle some in.
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