Happy 2019 y’all!
This year is almost over and all I feel is in awe. Awe for humanity, the amazing friendships and experiences I’ve built, and all the possibilities that lie ahead.
How would you summarize your 2019?
I am switching on my once monthly blog again!
2020’s theme word is: Challenge.
We’ll be sharing challenges all year to push ourselves, but first, December.
I’ve always had an interesting relationship with December. It’s either the last month to get it all in or get it all out. Over the past few years, my perspective has changed. Years no longer start and stop, like a circle is all a continuance. This shift has allowed for me to not treat December like an all-or-nothing month, but as away to sharpen my skills a little bit more. That said, it is still a great month for building on something you always wanted to work on.
Get this, a lot of people wait until January to make the next big change! I’m proposing you use December to ease into change. What is it you want to change by next December? Build a business, write a book, invent something, get fit? Whatever it is, don’t wait until January 1, because that’s when resolutions start. Start today. Start slowly and build up to full speed ahead in January.
How would you baby step into your big 2020 goal?
If you’re unsure, one practice is to build or break any habit at all. So the one more move December is to: Build or Break a Habit that supports your 2020 goals.
How to Build or Break a Habit:
- Decide exactly what you want to tackle. If you have an overwhelming habit, break it off into a digestible actions. For instance, one day I hope to give up dairy completely. Instead of going all out, I start with giving up milkshakes and pure milk products for the next 30 days. Instead of eliminating ALL dairy ingredients, we ease into the biggest culprits. If you are trying to break a habit, work to replace it with a healthier habit. Following the example above, one might go: instead of choosing milkshakes, I’ll make smoothies.
- Commit. A habit for one day, is hardly a habit at all. To really incorporate the habit change into you life you must commit for at least 22 days, preferably 30. You could do more than 100 days or anywhere in between. The goal is to give yourself some length of time for the change to take hold.
- Attach your habit to current habits. Find cues or triggers that you can use to remind you of your habit change. For instance, someone who wants to work out more, might find workouts that fit in between their favorite TV show break or during their lunch break.
- Plan for setbacks. Building a new habit may result in going back to the old one. We are what we repeatedly do, so forgive yourself if your path to change leads you back to familiar behavior. Find ways to acknowledge and accept your behavior, while nicely reminding yourself of your commitment. If you’re doing this in December, you could say, “This is a practice run for January” and get right back on track.
- Reset everyday and reward yourself for achievement. Whether you make a mistake or not, consider every day in your time period a fresh start. If you make it through the day and achieve the habit you are building, find little ways to celebrate it.
My sister and I will be going over our habits for December on CultivatedSisters. If you’re interested in the challenge calendar join our group to download the tool.
I recently revamped my monthly meetups with Cultivated Sisters. We switched from lesson-based format to more of mastermind format. This guaranteed we delved into everyone’s strategies towards success.
One shared theme was keeping consistent when the task list doesn’t create itself. This is a skill entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders must master to make progress in their goals. When no one but you is running the show, you must be able to give yourself action items, otherwise you might be stuck swirling in a sea of hopes and dreams, instead of swimming to success’ shore.
When we explored this idea forward I realized my knee jerk reaction to create a to-do list, but this wasn’t actually getting at the source of the problem. What we needed was the Source of the to do list. The foundation from where all those tasks blossom while you’re pursuing your own goals and dreams.
Here’s one more move to help you get closer to that list you are looking for:
Drag out the details.
A lot of my people in my circle definitely want to put projects into play and if getting it done seems like a barrier sometimes it may be due to a lack of clarity and one exercise that helps bring about clarity is being verify specific about the outcomes you hope to achieve.
Here are three exercises that can help bring about clarity.
First, figure out what’s in it for you.
Knowing what motivates you and drives you to put this project into play for no reason other than because you want to spend time on it gives you a source and a reason as reward for whatever task you’re about to take on. Sit down and truthfully drag out your personal vision of what the best day would look like for you if this project was fully in bloom.
What would your role be?
What would you be doing?
Who would be on your team?
Where would you be located?
These details matter and will be the fuel for your motivation.
Next would be to figure out who you serve.
If you are in the passion project area of starting a business or non-profit no matter what you must have a customer on the other end. Someone you serve someone has to buy or use your services in a sustainable way.
Drag out the details of the person you serve.
Why are they coming to you?
What is the problem you’re solving for them?
How did this problem come to be?
How do you solve this problem?
What is their hobbies, likes, and dislikes?
What do they think about in their free time?
Where do they go to find out new information?
How did they find you?
How did they connect with you?
Building all the ways you connect, know, and serve your ideal client or customer is a key tool for your nonprofit or business organization. It allows you to craft not only your mission, but also your message to the world and those that would want your help, product, or solution.
Finally leverage your time by dragging out the details of your project. Think about the next big move that is it going to move your project forward from where it is now to where you want it to be. What is the barrier you need to overcome today to take a step forward on whatever you’re working on? Write that down using whatever tools you can and then look at that project and list all the steps it takes to make this project outcome happen.
Dragging out the details of the project can give you a tangible view of progress. As a bonus set the smallest amount of time that you think you could truly work on your business or project and I mean be generous! For instance my least amount of time to work on a goal is 15 minutes, but you should choose what ever amount works for you. Then find the optimal space where you could squeeze that time in into your calendar. If you’re the type of person who wakes up early can you squeeze it in in the early hours. If you’re the type of person that has a lot of free time after work where could you squeeze it in there. How does this project fit into your schedule on a daily basis or weekly basis?Choose whatever counts as consistent to you. Find those little in-between spaces in your day where you can work on your business.
So that’s our One More Move for this month- Drag Out Those Details.
Stay tuned for our next meetup in Akron, OH last Monday’s of the month!
Join our Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/cultivatedsisters
This will be a fun list for me.
So, thirty is eyeing me hard.
As it approaches, I mostly think…age doesn’t matter as much as it did when I was 16, but the magnitude of adulthood grows heavier by the day. Friends I grew up with are now a part of raising our future. College buddies are becoming local leaders. Every day, I sense that now, more than ever, my involvement is needed in something bigger than myself.
That being said…
adulting is hard.
The pressures of leadership, the threads of consequential outcomes, and navigating the endless politics of people, and while just maintaining the basics of life could have oneself feeling stretched. Our entrenched responsibilities pulling our energy and focus away from our long-term vision of success. Making it so easy to lose focus on our most honest desires.
When I start to lose focus…I make a list.
This list will be a mix of fun things and things I should have mastered by the time I reach 30.
Think something’s missing? Let me know in the comments.
So for me, these are the 30 things I want to accomplish or master before I turn 30.
1. Accomplish: Taking a girl’s trip
2. Visiting a friend in a foreign city
3. Go to Trinidad
4. Read fiction books again (3 before 30)
5. Finish 2nd draft of the novel I started
6. Have a good parenting routine
7. Have a consistent quality beauty regimen
8. Improve my morning and evening routine
9. Memorize an at-home exercise routine
10. Memorize a yoga set
11. Drink mainly water
12. Pay off 1/2 my personal debt
13. Follow a house maintenance and development plan
14. Boost Emergency Fund
15. Have a quality capsule wardrobe
16. Work with self-critic and turn it into positive
17. Visualize my big goals every day
18. Meet more people
19. Maintain a quality circle of friends
20. Look into the family tree
21. Visit family I haven’t seen in years
22. Buy another investment property
23. Be a better baker
24. Be a better-informed voter
25. Write the first draft of my story
26. Face my fear of a video camera
27. Take a parent to dinner (or both)
28. Do something random
29. Take a self-care weekend
30. Complete this list 🙂
When you embark on your passion project path you find yourself having to pick up many new skills and experiences. One constant is that you find yourself asking a lot of questions. Asking questions is the brilliance of our humanity. It gives the world in front of us pathways to possibility within a seemingly random world.
The act of questioning is a skill, and like skills can be lost without use. Good news is you can also build mastery in this skill. What you find is a well-crafted question will yield more meaningful results.
For Ask April, get comfortable with our ask. Here’s a method to do it:
- Ask away: Give yourself time and space to ask without limits. Set a timer for five to ten minutes and ask your self for and about anything. Grow on your requests or ideas to make them wow you. Bring in details and paint a picture or a story around your asks. If you ask another question allow yourself to move with the questions and then build on that.This practice is a bit of an asking brainstorm that encourages you and stimulate creativity in your questions.
- Focus your ask: Now that your question creativity is flowing it’s time to put your skill to good use. Consider a specific question you are facing in your life.
What is the challenge you want to overcome or bring to fruition?
For instance, you could be passionate about educational programs in your community. You want to build a local environment where everyone feels empowered to prosper. You work with a nonprofit that organizes itself around that mission. Now you find yourself having to ask many questions. Now it’s time for your annual fundraising event and you’ve been charged with getting the community you serve to care.
When making the ask to have people commit to the organization’s success you should focus your question in three ways:
- Know the who: There may be many people involved with your question or there may only be a few. Take note of who they might be and why they might care.
- Know the why: What is your connection to this? What makes you feel good about the efforts in place and what do you hope is the ultimate accomplishment?
- Know how: When you are engaged in conversation with your person, know how they can take the next step. Give them the action that brings them closer to the move you hope they’ll take: making a commitment in this case.
- Cut in clarity: If you’ve been taking notes throughout this process, you should have 3-5 minutes of free writing and around half a page of planning. Of course, you could and should extend your research, but the last move before taking action would be to bring clarity to your ask.
Write your question in one concise, yet encompassing question. You may not always use this question exactly, but you will bring clarity to what your communicating should the opportunity ever arise.
*Bonus* To grow even more comfortable with the ASK think of little stories that elaborate what you’re saying.
What do you think about the importance of asking questions? Let me know below!
Currently, I am writing this blog, with Little Einsteins going on in the background for my daughter, and a part of me feels…weird. Well, I feel something. It’s been a while since my last blog post, and honestly, I missed writing, but I also appreciated the break. My life has changed dramatically, since the time I slowed down on writing. I started a new job and bought a house, which came with a move to a new city. While I appreciated all of these changes, I knew that I couldn’t stop what I believe my purpose to be, and that is drawing out the success of others around me, one small move at a time.
So without further notice, we begin the small moves that bring you that much closer to where you want to be. This one is a good move if you’re just starting out on your journey. It was actually the theme of the last workshop I did for my local meetup group Cultivated Sisters. This move is to lay out your deepest desires.
Really, Zinga, I know my deepest desires!
I get that, they may swell within you and you may think about them fairly regularly, but until you write down your deepest desire and write in a way that shows you are committed to achieving them, then they will always come and go as figments of your imagination. Make it concrete! Write your desires somewhere, declare it out loud, and put a date on achieving it.
Write your desires somewhere, declare it out loud, and put a date on achieving it.
This is a move that goes back to one of the OGs of self-help success, Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich. He writes, “whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, it can achieve” and that first step to believing that conception is realizing it on paper.
So for one more move this week, find a space and a place to write your deepest desires, write as if you’re writing on a magic paper that will fulfill whatever you wish. Then leave it alone for an hour or so and review it. Question what you wrote, make it more specific, add more details, bring it to life.
To help refine what you wrote here are some questions to stimulate your thoughts:
- What am I missing from my life?
- What is in overabundance in my life?
- What do I want more of?
- How is my life working?
- How could I change how my life is working?
- What would that change bring ideally?
Try not to underestimate this small move, it could be the difference between mediocre and magnificent.
What did you write on your “magic” paper?
Writing is a calling, not a choice.
I’ve written less since spring season.
New job, new challenges, and a big focus on the day-to-day of my passions pulled me into my introverted nature to sit back and take in my new surroundings.
So I made a decision, to give myself space from writing, while I adjusted to these rapid, yet pivotal, life changes.
After a while, though, the yearning returned. My true passion, writing to draw out your success. To make you, us, the world feel the inspiration and magnitude of pleasure from doing our greatest good.
These words do not come out, they escape, as if they were always there, a kyuubi, waiting for me to tap into its infinite power. No matter how far I push it away from my deepest desire to write it pummels back to me.
What is a calling that you can not ignore?
Finding your calling may not always be easy, but following your calling is twice as hard, but you HAVE to do it for it to be realized in your life. So what do you do as an alternative to putting-it-off forever?
Take a break.
Find time to walk away in a calm, controlled, and consenting manner.
You may think …now Zinga…how could you suggest putting-it-off as a remedy to putting-it-off?
At first the idea does seem like a contradictory, but taking a break, involves some key factors to keep it from falling on the dark side of the procrastination line.
Here are some quick factors to taking a break:
Have a reset time. The main difference between taking a break and procrastinating forever is that you get back to doing what you were doing. Maybe you use an exact date and time, maybe you use an event in your life, or maybe you have a season in mind. Just know, visualize, and even write down when you will return to your original activity. Please note, the length of your timeline should be set realistically to how important it is that you get back to what you’re doing. For instance, if it’s your goal to get an A on a test in two weeks, but you need to take a break, then a two week break wouldn’t make sense.
Choose honor over guilt. Find the admirable reasons for making your choice instead of reasons that make you feel guilty. If you are in a state of rest then respect your wish to let your body restore itself. If you need to reshift your priorities for pressing matters, then appreciate your ability to adapt to new situations and see things through. Whatever narrative you build, it should be one that is from a positive perspective.
Use what you learned. During your break, try to find one-to-two learning nuggets you can implement once you reset. Maybe it’s a shift in your schedule or reaching out to form new partnerships. This sets up two bonuses to your break:
1) You can be assured your break fits into your larger master plan
2) Your break serves an immediate purpose of helping to improve your your path to success.
So…this is how am I making an honest reset with writing for this page. I allowed myself to adjust to the pace my new situation before getting back to get back to writing. I committed to a goal to write again before the year was over. During my break, I learned that given the new responsibilities to be consistent, I will give myself time to ease into it, starting with twice a week!
Are you ready to hit the reset button on something in your life, what is it?
Til the next time,
Let’s say you’re starting from scratch.
Sure you’ve gotten things done in the past, but your reliability is 50/50 on your good days. You know you need to get more done to get somewhere, but life — ever-distracting life — draws you away from your personal bigger picture. It happens to the best of us, as we make room for new family responsibilities, changes in professions, a call to civic duty, or the gamut of things we have to deal with as we paint our life vision into reality.
What keeps you going?
For me, my biggest skill to develop has been the habit of discipline, which I see as doing something even though the thought of doing it brings one discomfort. Putting off that 50-page thesis or skipping a morning run all stem from the ideas that come into our heads when we think about doing them…
…ugh so many pages to write…
…but I’ll get all sweaty…
Whatever the situation or thoughts may be…it is the sensation of discomfort the forces us to choose whether to stay with the discomfort and do what is important anyway or find a way to escape the sensation by another binge session of Shameless on Netflix.
Discipline is the act of going forward anyway.
How does one use discipline?
While we can be sporadic about the ways we are disciplined (you should see me buy the whole town on Sims…), if you are interested in creating your authentic vision of success you exercise discipline in meaningful ways otherwise, you run the risk of life molding your discipline muscles for you. Creating a routine for yourself allows you to apply your discipline to your personal mission.
So here goes, here’s the simple way to create that routine:
- Figure out what you want to do with your life (i.e. write your vision)
- Write out what you want to achieve in the next 10, 5, and 3 years
- Develop goals to get done within 1 year
- Figure out what you need within 1 month
- Write down what you need by the end of the week
- Jot 3 things to get done by the end of your day
- Check 1-2 (once a year), 3 (once a month), 4-5 (once a week) and update 6 every day.
And we’re done. Sure there are tons of tools you can use, and please remember, you have to actually do the things on these lists for them to be real, but if all you had were a pencil and paper, this list is all you would need.
Build your routines around finding time to achieve what is on these lists and let life fill in the blanks.
Here’s a great article from ZenHabits on mastering discipline.
PS Posting are switching from Tuesday Mornings to Thursday mornings.
It’s been a while as I like to step back and observe during major life transitions.
What’s the big change?
Well, I managed to land a new role in higher education! Working with the College of Communication and Information to help serve our graduate student community. A dream opportunity, I am thrilled, excited, and pumped to embrace the new waves of change.
Working with the College of Communication and Information to help serve our graduate student community. A dream opportunity, I am thrilled, excited, and pumped to embrace the new waves of change.
A dream opportunity, I am thrilled, excited, and pumped to embrace the new waves of change.
Yet, at the same time, being an INTP (and a Taurus) I find sudden instances of change to take a lot of energy from my spirit. As an act of self-care, I go into Reflection & Rest mode.
I find ways to delegate projects, streamline tasks, and lighten up on meetings and events. I use the time to connect fully with family and take in the situations as they come.
Before this Rest & Relax phase, I do one critical task:
Set a deadline for when your “rest” phase ends. Eventually, you should get back up to your full speed.
Rest is a beautiful gift, but it is best balanced with the energy of creation. Creating your future, your business, your brand or whatever drives you forward towards your goals.
So…here we are…
Building back up to full speed for me means taking the time to build on my mission to draw out your authentic success. To remind you of the hunger your ambitions ignite and give you the tools that satisfy your desires.
So I share one more move that gets you a step closer to where you want to be.
So my one more move is a review of how to reset after an extended period of rest. Disclaimer: This is the method I’ve observed over time and I fully encourage your customize a process that works for you. With that here are some actions to take.
How to Reset
Set aside 5-10 minutes to free write or map all of the things important to you and what you want to achieve.
Organize and Prioritize
Group what you wrote in the first part into major domains and then order the importance of what you should achieve first.
Review Your Vision
Does your latest brain dump align with your ten-year vision? Use your long-term look to further refine your current priorities or re-strategize the long-term goals as needed.
Get to it.
Things won’t get done unless you do them. If after the first three steps, you’re still frozen in the act, let’s chat about it.
There was probably a point in your life when you had more time than you do now.
Time and freedom to buy the entire Simsⓣ town or spend all day with friends at the mall, but then something shifted. You emerged hungry for the fulfillment of your true purpose…whatever it may be. And as you claimed it, soon the encounters and opportunities for you to will blossom before you…and soon…you may find yourself busier than usual. Then while you grow in experience your life pivots too, you may find yourself married, with greater family/community responsibilities, or just committed to what some may think is a full plate.
You know better, you’ve got this, but you also get the fact that there are so many hours in a day. If you had more time, you could do more and still build healthy relationships with yourself and others. While time is only a figment of the human imagination, it is still a valuable tool for measuring our movement through the day. If you find yourself searching for more time to focus on your higher-order priorities then you’ve found the right post.
You can find more time in your day, some ways are easier than others, but we’ll go over some that have worked for me in the past decade or so. Check out below for ways, by challenge level, to free up more time so you can continue seeking your authentic success.
Know Where Your Time is Going
The simplest of all is to first analyze and assess your typical week. Try your hardest not to change anything you would normally do and just keep track of your activities by the hour or half/hour. This honest assessment will help you understand the flow of your day and potentially identify some time sinks.
Do you come home after work and hop on Facebook for 3 hours? Is the first thing you do in the morning is play a couple of rounds of Call-of-Duty? Find gaps in your time, and places where you spend time doing low-priority activities. Next, make the decision to shorten or replace these slots with your top priorities.
Commit to Smaller Increments
Switching from the broad view to the specific. What is your main goal for freeing up time? Just how much time do you need to achieve this goal and by how soon? Set realistic numbers for the goal you want to accomplish. For instance, if you’re studying to become a real estate agent, but can’t find the space to study for 2 hours in the day, switch to 30 or 40 minutes to start. Set a timer and then congratulate yourself for sticking to it. Have your bare minimum amount of time to spend on an activity and commit. As you grow comfortable focusing on your passion regularly you will find your time will expand.
Set your priority boundaries
A lot of time can feel pulled away when you begin to commit to something you are not truly interested in doing. While some things may have to be done, you need to consider what brings you joy and pleasure, and what you really are not committed to doing. If someone is requesting something of you that goes outside of your priorities then consider letting it go. This can be more challenging because if you’re used to saying yes to everyone, they may be taken aback by a no, but be honest with yourself and others and you will save even more time in the long run.
Freeing up time in your schedule may or may not be an easy feat, but if it is to find more time for your greater search for success then it is a worthy challenge. While there are many other ways to free up time, these are some of the small adjustments you can make. What challenges do you have freeing up time in your schedule?
If you’re interested ask me about the time discovery worksheet I created to help analyze where your time is going.