Better Than New Year’s Resolutions

It is the last week of January. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming?

I read a great article in December that changed my perspective on resolutions. The article, by James Clear, was Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. He suggests that it is more useful to create a system than a goal.

The article resonated with me. I realized that it was systems, not goals, that worked for me last year. I wanted more energy, more fitness, more fun. Instead of setting a goal around pounds or inches, I created a system of working out at the gym three times a week, and dancing at least three hours each weekend.

I wanted quiet time to think about my direction and plan for my future. I scheduled a silent retreat every month. I got the results I wanted because I set up a system to achieve those results. Plus, I got all kinds of spillover benefits.

BJ Fogg, director of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab, says behavior changes require three things: a trigger, ability, and motivation. If you are not getting the behavior change you desire, one of those three things is lacking.

Read all this article at Deborah’s Palm

How’s Your Energy?

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When I am energized, I feel like I can do anything. When my energy is drained, I feel stuck in the status quo. I can’t seem to make a decision or take an action step.

On my flight home from Virginia last week, I read a remarkable book called “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal”. I know all kinds of tools for managing my time. But how do I begin to manage my energy?

Travel days too often sap my energy. I landed Tuesday jet-lagged and short on sleep with knots in my shoulders from lugging a suitcase, and emotionally drained from five hours in the middle seat of an airplane, trapped between large, uncommunicative men. But I was equipped with new knowledge, and determined to put it to use.

The tools for managing physical energy are obvious: food, rest, exercise, breathing. I ate a healthy meal and went to bed on East Coast time.

I awoke on Wednesday after ten-and-a-half hours of sleep, ate a nutritious breakfast, and headed for the gym for a vigorous workout followed by a long soak in the whirlpool. I started to feel human again.

For me, the most fascinating part of this book was the discussion on emotional energy. The emotional competencies are self-confidence, self-control, empathy, and social skills. Isn’t it true that when we are emotionally depleted, our confidence in ourselves plummets, and we don’t control behaviors we know we should control? Our empathy and patience for others dip.

How do we recharge our emotional energy? By doing something fun. The more absorbing and enriching the activity is, the more it renews our emotional energy.

[…continue reading this article at Deborah’s Palm]

Uncover Your Stories

I spent a lot of time listening to stories over the holidays. I spent time telling stories, too. As I visited with extended family, we shared the stories of our lives — stories of victory and stories of challenge. Stories of wonder and stories of dismay. Stories of doors opening and stories of hopes dashed.

It seems to be innate, especially in the female gender, to tell stories. Stories are so much more than a recitation of facts. Stories have heroes (Okay, mine have heroines!) and conflict and resolution. Stories evoke an emotional response. Stories are memorable.

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Lemons and Resilience

Lemons are my personal symbol of resilience.

My first real house in California had an enormous lemon tree in the backyard. I made lemon bars, lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, lemonade. I added lemon to pasta sauce, soup, chilled water. We shared fruit with the neighbors, giving away grocery bags full of lemons. And we never ran out. We couldn’t out-give that tree.

Read full blog post at Deborah’s Palm.