Why you should create your 20 for 2020

“Trying new things and breaking out of your routine is a great way to improve your satisfaction with life.”

– Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps

One year ago, I made a list of things I could do to bring more joy and greater satisfaction to my life. You can find my 19 for 2019 here. I hope this year in review will inspire you to plan for 2020.

My list was ordered so that one-time items were at then top and recurring activities were at the bottom. By then end of 2019, I completed 11 items on my list. It was fun to cross off one-time items like a new professional bag, taking a class with my daughter and vacationing in a new city.

It was surprisingly effortless to meet with friends and go to a new restaurant every month. So was the quarterly goal of visiting a museum or attending a live theater performance. Apparently I do a lot of these activities more often than I thought.

Likewise the quarterly goal of “reading one book for pleasure and one for professional development.” This year I listened to 10 Audible books (half were non-fiction/professional development), read 6 paperbacks and listened to a few dozen book summaries on the Blinkist app.

In addition, I read one young adult novel aloud with my 12-year old daughter and we listened to 10 audiobooks together in the car. This has been a great way to pass the time together and spark conversations. As much as I enjoyed reading as a child, I hadn’t considered myself an avid reader as an adult. It turns out, one of the greatest happiness boosters this year was dedicating at least 15 minutes to pleasure reading each night. It’s amazing how much more consistent I am with an early bedtime when I have a captivating book to look forward to.

However, some items were just not in the cards. The timing didn’t work out for a family meditation retreat in California, although we did start going to our local meditation group more consistently.

A knee injury kept me from training for an indoor triathlon (or running at all) and I had to “retire” from martial arts. But I did meet my goals of weekly yoga and biking to the office in warmer weather.

As a substitute for the activities I gave up, I joined a water aerobics class. I enjoy the benefits of low impact cardio and interacting with my classmates. Since the class is at 6:30 am, these days I’m up a little earlier, complete my exercise and can be even more productive and positive throughout the day.

I fell short on reconciling my finances weekly but did change to a more user-friendly accounting system. The goal of filing paperwork more consistently was also not met. I’ve decided not even bother adding this back to my 20 for 2020.

I learned that I underestimated how much I was already doing activities that make me happy. The novelty of pushing myself to go to visit new places added another layer of satisfaction.

For 2020, almost half of my list will carry over either because I didn’t complete the items or I enjoyed them so much I want to ensure I complete them again. Maybe this year I will clear the happiness stumbling block of decluttering my basement or the fun goal of taking a girls trip. Or perhaps add the arduous challenge of giving my website a makeover? Maybe this last one should go on my Annual Review which takes a deeper dive into business planning.

What are a few items you plan to add to your 20 for 2020? This year I’ve decided to share my list with the Creating Time group and I invite you to join the conversation!

Thanks to @GretchenRubin for this activity to help our year become “happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative.” You can listen to her podcast episodes #250 and #255 on the subject.

Photo credit: Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

 

 

 

2020: The Year of Vision and Clarity

December is an ideal time to plan for the year to come. A friend of mine recently shared her theme for the year as “2020: the year of vision and clarity.” I love the clever wordplay and clarity is a crucial way to shape our plans regardless of the year.

If you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past and had trouble lasting through the first month or even first week, it’s time to try something new.

The top reasons why so many people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions are:
1) they don’t have a clear plan of action
2) they don’t assess their progress

When a colleague introduced me to the Annual Review almost a decade ago, it immediately made sense to me. Chris Guillebeau, entrepreneur and author of The Art of Non-Conformity, addresses these challenges in his Annual Review. While it sounds like a retrospective of what you’ve accomplished this year, this resource facilitates planning for success with clear and actionable steps.

A summary of the steps to complete your Annual Review:
1) Make a list of what went well and what did not go well
2) Choose categories to focus your plans on such as Business, Friends/Family, Health and Service
3) Identify “Actions Required for Each Goal”
4) Plan for monthly and quarterly assessments of your progress and add them to your calendar
5) Optional: Choose a theme for year
7) Optional: Metrics you want to track such as Income, Charitable Giving, Number of books read, Number of new cities visited etc.

For a spreadsheet and more details on how to make use of this framework, read Guillebeau’s original post:

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! I am setting aside a few blocks of time to complete this process in late December. This is an investment of time that will provide great returns by helping you more successfully complete your personal and professional goals. Having an accountability partner can help. Reach out to someone in your inner circle and invite them to complete their own Annual Review.

If you’d like support in completing your first Annual Review, message me on the Optima Results Coaching Facebook page!

Photo by Andrea Davis on Unsplash

How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Fressh Connection on Unsplash

Several months ago, I began a nightly gratitude practice. I listened to a simple 5-minute meditation that tells you to recall something that happened that day that you were grateful for and recreate how the experience made you feel.

There is a ton of research demonstrating the benefits of a gratitude practice. In particular, it helps us to overcome our natural negativity bias by noticing more of the positive. This in turn improves our outlook and helps us to be more optimistic. Studies have shown benefits for physical and mental health as well as for our social and professional lives.

In order to get the most benefit, however, it’s recommended to journal about three new things each day that you are grateful for. Keep in mind that it take at least 21 days to develop a new habit.

Since this was going to require a little more effort, I decided to recruit some accountability. I knew Erica, who is always up for trying something new, would be the perfect partner for this project. She is one of my oldest and closest friends but because we live in different cities, we don’t always connect as often as we’d like.

Fortunately, I was visiting Erica in New York City and we were able to share our first day of the gratitude project in person. It was also my birthday and I had plenty to be grateful for. I had just shared a wonderful weekend with family and friends in my favorite city.

For our gratitude project, we completed these steps each day for four weeks:

  • Texted each other about an experience that day we were grateful for.
  • Wrote in a journal (on paper or in our phones) about at least three experiences, including the one we had shared.

The accountability helped me pay extra close attention and seek out the positive. I was excited to share with Erica about my day as well as hear about her experiences. Some commonalities that we shared were the connections we made with people and opportunities to enjoy nature. Re-reading my gratitude journal was a nice boost and I can see the benefit of having a positive lift to look back on after a difficult day.

Something that may have been unique to our project was that Erica was on vacation for one week. When I asked if sharing daily with me in the US took away from her experience in Mexico she replied, “If anything, the gratitude challenge makes you more present no matter where you are! And I had time to think about how lucky I was to be there.”

So there you have it, a resounding endorsement for practicing gratitude. Speaking of which, thank you, Erica! Are you ready to get started? Do you want to recruit someone for accountability? Let them know. You can also get in touch for me for resources and support!

The most important way to achieve work-life balance

I recently read a Forbes article on work-life balance that validates exactly how I help my clients. Kevin Kruse writes, “Tips From 24 Entrepreneurs Boiled Down To 1…Reflect on your top core values and then create recurring time blocks on your calendar.” The way we spend our hours and days becomes the way we spend our months and years. Nobody wants that time to pass without being present for what really matters in life.

Sounds simple, right? However, it’s not always that straight-forward. The first step that I recommend is to track how you are currently spending time. One benefit of this is to create a visual of the potential disconnect of your values and how you are actually spending your time. In business as in science, you must have a baseline measurement that is quantifiable in order to create a process for improvement. The next step is to create small incremental steps to make shifting your schedule more achievable.

For example, if your office values late afternoon meetings or evening face-time, it may be difficult to be home for dinner every night. An alternative could be to carve out more intentional time with family in the mornings. This may mean spending time together over breakfast or driving the kids to school some days instead of rushing out the door to be at work at 8:00 am. If you want to exercise without sacrificing sleep, block out your calendar for a longer lunch break and fit in a brisk walk.

If your job puts an emphasis on metrics of productivity, schedule time on your work calendar to focus on a project undisturbed. When the task is done, allow yourself to leave a little early. Plenty of research shows that more time at work does not equate to increased productivity.

If you want to convince your employer that you can be just as productive working remotely, experiment with completing a project while working from home to demonstrate the benefit of a flexible work environment. Working from home means less time getting ready and commuting and ultimately more time for your personal priorities.

Want to get started applying these changes in your own life and have some accountability along the way? My passion is helping busy professionals like you. Together, we create strategies to align your values with your schedule so you have the time and energy for what matters most.

 

What I learned from tracking my time

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

According to Laura Vanderkam, time management and productivity author, if you want to be more productive or intentional with your time, you need to know how you are currently spending it. I decided to put this to the test.

In July of 2018, I tracked my time for two weeks. I used a paper log to track 15-minute increments. Since my daughter was visiting her dad and I had a break from parental responsibilities, I knew I would have plenty of time to dedicate to my business.

Indeed my tracking showed a lot of time was spent on my business. However, without a set stopping point to help get my daughter to bed, I found myself doing work some nights right until the moment before I brushed my teeth at night.

In August 2019, I experimented with tracking again. Instead of using a paper tracker, I downloaded the Toggl app. This made it easy to track my time from my phone or laptop. Toggl also shows your time use in a colorful pie chart and sends a weekly report.

Since I am employed by a corporation almost full-time, my goal was to dedicate only 6-10 hours per week to my coaching business. I was surprised to discover that I was actually spending 18 hours per week. However, these were the final two weeks before announcing the September launch of my new coaching program.

At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised to see I was spending even more time with my family. Time with my daughter or my partner individually or together as a family totaled 24 hours per week. Much of the time spent with my daughter was helping her get ready, transporting her to activities or running errands together. However, since we were listening to an audiobook together in the car and discussing the story, the time often felt richer and more enjoyable.

Over the year between tracking periods, I have made several changes to ensure that the way I spend my time aligns with my personal values and goals. For years I have been scheduling just about everything I do on my Google calendar. I already had a recurring Friday Night Date with my partner. But we all agreed that we wanted to have more intentional time as a family. So, we scheduled evenings for playing cards or watching a movie together a few times per week at home. This was in addition to longer activities on the weekends such as bike rides, trips to the lake, outdoor music and festivals. With the exception of occasional networking events, I have also committed to protecting family time by not scheduling work tasks evenings and weekends.

Thanks to Gretchen Rubin’s idea of the 19 for 2019, I created a clearer vision of what I wanted to do on a regular basis to bring greater enjoyment to my life. These included activities like eating at a new restaurant each month and visiting a novel museum or theater venue each quarter. I set a goal to meet with friends monthly and found that I was actually meeting with friends much more often than I realized.

In the last few weeks, I’ve found that reading to my daughter as she gets ready for bed is a ritual she looks forward to. My daughter is 12 years old, and it had been several years since I stopped reading to her nightly. She chose a young adult novel. I was curious about the book and thought it would be fun to read together. After a few nights, she was asking me to read to her without prompting and it felt like a good way to slow down and connect before bed.

Another major shift was deciding to carve out a longer period of time to unwind at night. There is so much research that demonstrates the negative impact on sleep caused by the blue light from our computers and phones. Light from these devices suppresses melatonin for longer periods of time than natural light so we don’t feel as sleepy as we should. My bedtime has been consistently around 10:30 pm for several years. However, I’m now aiming to get to bed earlier to dedicate 15 minutes to reading a paperback book. As much as I love self-improvement books, I decided that my bedtime reading had to be purely for pleasure. Reading this book only in bed has created some anticipation for my bedtime. Since the evening wind-down has lately begun with reading to my daughter, I have created an even longer buffer of time between ending my work tasks, disconnecting from devices and going to sleep.

Laura Vanderkamp emphasizes that we are allotted 168 hours each week and it’s up to us to choose how we spend them. Even after 56 hours of sleep and 50 hours of work, there are still 62 hours where we can be intentional with our time. It’ not surprising that when I track my time I am more productive. Tracking helps me stay focused on a single task and make better choices, just like when I track my foods I eat better. Just as importantly, I discovered that by making some small changes I am dedicating my hours, days and weeks to the people and activities that matter most.

Bring your passion to the table!

The following are excerpts from Tamara’s interview with ProudMary.

Tamara is  personal coach offering individual and group coaching and support services.  She brings a unique background of health and wellness into her new profession. Her busy schedule balancing family and work requires that she finds the right motivators and tools to make it through her day. I was lucky enough to spend some time getting to know Tamara — mom, busy professional and entrepreneur, and to learn from her firsthand how she got to where she is today and how she stays there. 

What four words would you use to describe yourself?

I prefer to see myself as aligning with certain values. This helps me to schedule my time so that I am really doing what’s important. I can see how day-to-day, week-to-week, I am fulfilling my values and what’s important to me. These values are growth, balance, service and community.

With your busy life, what do you do to take care of yourself? How do you balance intense work, stress and the rest of your life? 

I exercise and meditate and make time for sleep, every day. My work schedule varies from day to day, but I make sure that I get 7.5 – 8 hours of sleep. If things get too busy, the exercise would be shortened but I will never sacrifice the sleep. Unless I have to catch an early flight. Sleep is really key. That’s a foundation for me.  Getting the sleep I need is going to give me the energy to start my next day.

The meditation helps me to balance and get grounded. I can be a very high energy person, so my meditation usually happens at the end of the day, when I’m preparing for sleep. It’s also really important for me to make time to connect with family, my daughter and my partner, here at home, and my mom and siblings in town as well. It’s important to have time for everything and some people think it’s very odd, but I literally schedule everything. So I don’t have a to-do list. If it’s on my schedule, I make sure it happens.

I have 30 to 60 minute blocks throughout my day. They might be things like client calls, interviews, or networking meetings, but I also have things like yoga a least once a week on my calendar, or going to the gym or to swim. Family activities are also on the schedule. It’s also a good way to communicate with my partner. I schedule more than the average person. It keeps my life running!

Can you tell me about your background and experience in naturopathic medicine? Let’s start from the beginning, what is naturopathic medicine?  

Naturopathic training includes all conventional medicine, with an emphasis on treating the root cause of the ailment. We treat the whole person. We have guiding principles that we call therapeutic order to begin treatment with the least harmful measures such as changes in diet, lifestyle, and then we progressively use more aggressive strategies, such as pharmaceuticals and minor surgery, as necessary.

I graduated from naturopathic medical school in 2007 while living in Phoenix, Arizona. I completed a residency in family medicine at a primary care clinic, where we provided conventional treatments like medication management. We had a full scope of practice, including prescribing medications and doing minor surgery. I was doing what people would do in a regular primary care setting, like a doctor or physician assistant.

One of the most important things I learned was that we really have to understand all of the conventional treatments and diagnostics in order to treat our patients, because people live in a conventional world with conventional therapies. The environment that I was in served a population who knew what they wanted; they were paying cash, they wanted their medicines, they wanted their injections and they wanted to be able to get back to work the next day. This really informed my training and guided me toward a very holistic view of healthcare and wellness.

Shortly after completing my degree, I returned to Minneapolis and joined a corporate wellness company. I began coaching clients with chronic medical conditions through the wellness programs provided by their employers. This is all very conventional in terms of “What medications are you taking? How are you managing your asthma or diabetes?” but at the same time, I learned an entirely new skillset that I hadn’t learned in medical school — and it was coaching.

Previously with my new patients in Minneapolis, they would leave my office with a laundry list of things that they needed to do, anything from changing to an anti-inflammatory diet, drinking a certain amount of water, getting a certain amount of exercise, to following a supplement regimen. What I didn’t realize at the time was while it was very easy for me to do these things, for a new patient, struggling with a medical condition, it wasn’t. He or she didn’t necessarily had the same amount of time, energy, or motivation that I had.

Coaching the employees helped me better understand different personality types and different behavior change tendencies. By learning that, I was better able to meet people at where they were, and to provide more “small step” approaches, which is very much a coaching approach concept.

I really enjoy coaching people within the corporate wellness context, but what was missing for me was the opportunity to do things how I wanted to do them. Working for a corporation, there are certain products and services that we can’t endorse. I use lots of things that help me, such as technology like Fitbit or apps to track diet. These are valuable tools for people to better manage their health and habits. When I work with people privately, or with people who contract with me directly, they have the opportunity to get my full scope of experience.

My focus has moved on from medical conditions. My demographic is people like myself who are entrepreneurs, who may still be working, and who probably are balancing competing priorities with work, and family, and self care. I work mostly with people around my age, in their 40s, and what is different in my practice now is that I am able to bring more of myself. I have a lot of experience trying different businesses and learning more about what helps people become successful, whether it be managing their time, managing their energy, or developing certain habits.

My coaching approach focuses on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. She’s the author of “Better than Before,” and she has podcasts with her sister called “Happier.” There are so many different personality frameworks, like Myers Briggs. I like the Four Tendencies because it specifically addresses how we respond to inner and outer expectations.

To read the full interview, visit: ProudMaryOwnIt

Open Streets Minneapolis

I’m excited to be participating in Open Streets Minneapolis!
The event takes place on Sunday, June 2.
You can find me at Khazana:
2225 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405
11 AM – 4 PM
Stop by and learn key steps to
achieve success without sacrificing balance.
Get a free laser-focused mini coaching session!
I look forward to seeing you there.
Here’s to Health, Wealth, and Your Best Self!

Create Your 19 for 2019!

Create Your 19 for 2019!

This activity is fun, and easier than the Annual Review for goal planning. I made a list of all the things I could do to bring more joy and greater satisfaction to my life. I then ordered the list so that one-time items were at then top. Since some of these items are easier to complete, I will have the satisfaction of marking them done sooner. Here’s my 19 for 2019:

One-Time

  • Family meditation retreat in MN or CA
  • New professional bag
  • Complete an indoor triathlon
  • Organize basement
  • Donate Maya’s old toys
  • Take a class with Maya
  • Redecorate home office
  • KonMari my clothes or get rid of one clothing item for every new item
  • Take a girls trip
  • Vacation in a new city

Ongoing

  • Automate finances and reconcile weekly/monthly with Mint
  • Simplify filing and file weekly
  • Get another yoga mat and do yoga weekly
  • Bike to office April-October weekly when temps above 40F
  • Meet with at least 1 friend each month
  • Go to a new restaurant or venue every month
  • Quarterly museum or live theater visit
  • Read 1 book for pleasure 1 for development each quarter
  • Give 4 coaching talks

For some of these I did not set the bar very high because I really want this entire list to be achievable. My theme for the year is “Embrace” so there is an emphasis on relationships, enjoyable activities and simplifying.

I want to give credit to Gretchen Rubin for the idea of the “19 for 2019.” You can hear more about it on her Happier Podcast – Episode #203.

I’m wishing you a wonderful and satisfying 2019. Get in touch with me if you’d like some strategizing and accountability along the way!

When is it time to give up?

Some coaches (in life, health or business) will tell you “never give up.” But sometimes it is important to know when to give up, or at least adjust your goals.
My annual goal is to run 500 miles. For the past few years I have put in my miles even while traveling for business or pleasure. I have run some weeks despite physical pain that slowed me down.
When I injured my knee this May in martial arts, I continued to push through it for weeks. After completing our annual belt ceremony, I put the martial arts training and running on hold to let my body heal and turned my focus to lower impact activities. Soon after, I had an accident while biking that sent me to urgent care. I realized the universe was telling me to take a break.
If you set a goal to train for an athletic event and then realize it’s not a good fit for your body or you simply don’t enjoy the training process, find another challenge that you do enjoy.
If you are at a job and realize you’re not passionate about the work you do, it may be time to change course.
For me, it was not worth continuing to push my body and risk being permanently sidelined. In the meantime, I have been focusing on walking to maintain my physical and mental health and slowly integrating swimming, yoga and kayaking. By doing what’s right for my body right now, I’m confident that I can count on my body to meet challenges in the future.
Sometimes obstacles will tell you this is not the right path for now. This doesn’t mean you give up, it just means that you must find another route to reach your destination or goal of better health, job satisfaction, etc.
How do you envision the life you want?
What are you next steps towards that goal?
How will you handle the obstacles you face?
I look forward to partnering with and supporting you in overcoming any obstacles along the way. My goal is to help you achieve Health, Wealth & Your Best Self!