All In Good Time

"Holy cow!  Was that really day 100?  That was really interesting... and fun!  I'm so grateful for all the awesome people and experiences in my life... "  Were some of the thoughts I had when I recently finished a 100 Happy Days challenge. Beyond some of the cool things I did, the challenge provided a great way to reflect and be grateful for each day.  If I noticed I wasn't having a stellar day, I felt empowered to make a change.  For example, I could: go for a walk in the sunshine, eat a piece of dark chocolate, do a workout, make popcorn, call a friend, try a new restaurant, etc. and I knew it could make it better.

We all have the power to shape our own lives and happiness.  I am reminded of the quote by Mary Engelbreit, “If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ”  The late Maya Angelou shared a similar thought: “What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.” 

Creating a challenge for yourself can be empowering, rewarding, habit-forming, interesting, help you grow personally, professionally, or spiritually, and even create a topic of conversation, if you choose to share it.  

When is a better time than now to challenge yourself?

Inspiration

In case you need a little more convincing - or if you just want to see something fun and inspiring, watch the 3 minute clip below!  Matt Cutts's TED Talk on 30 day challenges: Having trouble loading?  Find the clip here.



For more great TED talks and ideas, head to TED.com.

Selecting a challenge

To help get your wheels turning, here are a few questions to consider:
  • What have you been putting off?
  • What project remains unfinished?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • What do you want to start?
  • What have you always wanted to do?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • When was the last time you did something new?
  • When was the last time you broke out of your comfort zone?
Perhaps now you have an idea of something you want to accomplish - or stop doing.  Even if you have the tiniest idea ("I should climb 10 flights of stairs every day.") hold onto it!  No idea is too silly, too big, or too small.  Remember, you don't have to share this with anyone.

If you are having a bit of trouble coming up with your idea, I have a number of resources at the bottom of this post.


Setting a time frame

Depending on what study you find, how difficult a behavior is to implement or break, and your level of dedication, researchers have found it can take anywhere from 10 to 30 days (or more) to make or break a habit*.  You can find challenges of all lengths:  Morgan Spurlock (starting with Super Size Me, then his 30 Days TV series/documentary) helped popularize 30 day movements, we all make New Year's Resolutions, religious traditions (Lent, Passover, Ramadan), and you can find fad diets or tricks from as little as 3 to more than 90 days!

Set a time frame that feels right for you.  I would recommend 30 days as a starting point.  If you don't think you can make a month (you can), give yourself 2 weeks of solid dedication. If you have trouble prioritizing or have multiple goals, check out my 2.014 Page for some ideas!

Before you get started, a few things to consider...

If you are looking to make a lifestyle change, commit to a personal challenge that has meaning.  It can be a great story to say you did "something fun" for 30 days - but unless that has meaning behind it, like you want to be more active, try new things, or become a more adventurous person, the habit is unlikely to stick.  Of course, if you want to try something new or fun for 30 days to add spice to life, go for it!  Before you start be clear on your intention:  is this challenge just something fun to do, do you want to start/stop a new life habit/practice, or something else?

Make a plan.  How will you count the days?  Will you post or share with friends?  Will you write about it?  Will you log it anywhere?  It can be helpful to set-up the tracking mechanism before or in the first few days of getting started.  Also, if it's something that requires additional planning, like training for a race, sketch out weekly goals so you stay on track.

If you miss a day, don't give up.  You are working really hard at starting (or stopping) something... it takes a lot of effort and will power.  Be easy on yourself.  If it is important to you to have consecutive days in your endeavor, then start over with a smile.

Along the same lines, evaluate the challenge, or future challenges based on current progress... can you keep going at this pace?  Is it too easy?  Maybe you had a new idea!  Keep experimenting!

Last, you might get hooked!  Near day 90 of my own 100 Happy Days challenge, I realized I had started another habit and decided to make it into a 100-day challenge... doing at least 1 mile a day for 100 days.  The mile must be physical activity other than walking.  The challenges are fun and are helping me to create the person I want to be/am.



What will you challenge yourself to do?  What time frame will you use?  Have you recently completed a challenge?  Share your thoughts below!


Resources


Ideas:
Cold Shower Therapy (original)
---> Cold Shower Testimonial from my friend, Phil, at The Feel Good Lifestyle 30 Challenge Ideas (various in level from easy-hard)

Other Challenge ideas - remember the best are your own!:
  • Study a new language
  • Catch up with one friend or family member per day
  • Wake up at a specific time - or go to bed at a specific time
  • Don't eat a specific food (i.e. pop/soda or chips)
  • Do one new thing each day



Originally written and composed by Lauren Myrick on June 26, 2014.

What's Your Speed Limit? Find Your Groove.

Depending on what state you are driving through, there could be speed limit maximums of 65, 75, or (if you live in one Texas county) even 85 mph! Have you ever thought about your own personal speed limit? Do you exceed it often or are you on cruise control? Although a state trooper might not pull you over for speeding in life, you can suffer other consequences, like missing a deadline, over-booking yourself, letting someone down, or going through life like a zombie - none of which are desirable! Stay on the road and find your groove.

Inspiration for this topic came from Brigid Shute and Mark Strong, who penned works with slightly different themes, but complementing messages: Schedule your life to create balance. Brigid stresses finding the balance between Work, Love, and Play while Mark asserts that “A Scheduled Life is a Productive Life.” By incorporating scheduling in our lives, we can perform better at work and be more present in life.


Think about your daily routine and habits…
--Are you always in a rush?
--Are you productive or just busy?
--What time of the day are you most productive?
--What are your top 5 values? How do you prioritize them?
--How often to you re-charge or disconnect from technology?
--Do you have a good balance of work, love, and play in your life?
--How well do you set boundaries?
--How well do you apply the principles you use at work (plan, implement, evaluate, etc.) to your life outside of work?


Top Five Ways to Find Your Groove:
1. Pause, take breaks – Slow down. Attempting to cram more in can result in getting less accomplished. Schedule down time. Take breaks in between tasks.

2. Brainstorm, brain-dump, make lists – Write down the things you need to do, separate between or categorize work tasks, errands vs. purchases, home activities, etc.

3. Plan, do, review – Once you have your lists, make time to schedule & prioritize… if you take a few minutes to map out a plan, you can accomplish things more efficiently. I.E. Bring your gym bag to work, go to the gym when the day is done, then stop by the grocery store or post office on the way home. (Side note: Don’t forget to review!!! How did your plans go? Are you feeling spent at the end of the day? Did you cram too much in?)

4. Chunk time, focus – Experts agree, breaking up activities is key… multi-tasking takes away from your productivity. Have morning meetings? Plan to do easy, quick tasks and save the bigger projects for later. Brigid recommends working on one task for no more than 90 minutes then step away with a ten minute break minimum, more is better here. If you aren’t on a tight deadline, come back to it the next day.

5. Take care of yourself – Sleep habits, eating right, and working out all fall into this category. Research proves that you can give more when you are well rested and healthy. You might get the job done while sleep deprived but imagine how much better the end result could have been!



Still having trouble? Learn to say “no” - politely!
Feel like you don’t have an inch of wiggle room? Be spontaneous. It’s OK to bend the rules from time to time!
Are you on cruise control? Pick up the pace. Start a new activity, join a club, ask for a side project at work, volunteer, do something fun – this is your life, live it to the fullest!


One last thought: 

Everyone has their own personal speed limit – yours may even change from day-to-day. Notice what works for you, be open to other (people’s) paces, and occasionally try something new. I am often reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s wise observation, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

What tools do you use to schedule? Share your tips and experiences!


Additional Resources:Quizzes and Planning Tools from Brigid Schulte
Being Productive vs. Being Busy
27 Ways to Get More Done
Multitasking & How to Stop



Originally composed by Lauren Myrick on 20 May 2014.  References within body.
Image courtesy of http://wallpaperswide.com/high_speed_on_the_road-wallpapers.html