Energy Management

A Simple, All-Things-Considered Approach to Gaining Clarity & Getting After Your Goals in 2019

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When 2019 rolled in, I considered having the tree down and decorations put away a great win. Coming out of the whirlwind of the holidays, I really hadn’t given much thought to my 2019 goals yet.

What I did know on January 1, however, is that I needed to do things differently than last year and I wanted to give myself some extra time to plan.

As much as I am happy with the progress I made last year, there was room for improvement in all areas.

I needed to continue doing some things, stop doing others, and start doing some other things. The question was, what exactly were those things?

Rather than come up with a few typical goal and resolution ideas and start diving in, I knew I needed a better strategy this year. Otherwise, I’d probably just repeat the results I’ve been getting for the past few years.

So in this post, I’m going to do my best to clearly communicate the process I went through to think deeply about my 2019 goals.

This post starts with the steps I took to decide what I’d focus on this year, and continues with how I’m working toward my goals daily.

Of course, it remains to be seen how well this process will work for me, but it felt great to gain clarity, clear some clutter, do some planning, and have somewhat of a roadmap before diving in. One month in— so far so good!

So grab some clean sheets of paper and set aside a chunk of time (1-2 hours) when you can think deeply about these questions. Ten minutes here and there parsed together isn’t the same as a continuous block of time to think deeply. It’ll be worth it!

I hope what I share is worthwhile for you too!

First … Gain Clarity

First, we need to know exactly what it is we want to achieve in the future. This way we will know the necessary baby steps we have to take every day to work toward this year’s goals.

But rather than write our goals FIRST, let’s look at the many areas of life where we possibly want to improve, peel back the layers a bit, and see what’s going on and why we’re stalling progress. This exercise is something we can refer back to during the year.

1 | Take Inventory

Think of all the areas of your life where you want to succeed. One option is to write each area at the top of a blank sheet of paper. (For example, for me, my areas are Mind, Body, Spirit, Heart, & Career. I thought of adding “Home” too but decided not to. This year I am focusing more on “internal” goals than “external.”)

(Another way to organize this info is to use index cards, which is what I did. Then I hung them on a wire rack with clothespins so I can refer to it all year.)

Next, for each of these areas, consider the following:

  • WINNING: What it means to you to be WINNING in that area.

    For me, “Mind” would be Learning, Inner Peace, and Mindset.

  • HOW TO: Now list the ways you can achieve success in that area.

    For me, “Mind” would be Meditation, Gratitude, Self-Care, Self-Educate and Daily Inspirational Reading.

  1. What’s GOING WELL for you in that area

    • This will reveal what’s already working for you in that area— the things to continue doing.

  2. What’s CHALLENGING you in that area

    • This will reveal where you are being tripped up and what’s blocking you from further success in that area— the things to lessen, simplify or (better yet) stop doing.

  3. What’s MISSING/BEING NEGLECTED in that area

  • This will reveal the things that you are neglecting in that area— the things to start doing.

2 | Look At Findings & Distill Info

Now, look at your challenges. Do any repeat across several areas?

What I realized after going through this exercise is that many of my challenges were the same across multiple areas— things like everyday demands of life, distractions, lack of planning, clarity, and specific action.

  • What this told me is that first I needed to look at my environments and remove clutter and distractions.

  • I also realized that I needed to identify areas where I could simplify my actions and/or plan better to guide my actions toward my goals.

Next, look at what’s being neglected in each area and these are possibly some new habits or practices you may want to incorporate into your weekly schedule.

3 | Make Your Short List Of New Habits/Practices To Implement & 2019 Goals

I believe we can only tackle so many new habits and goals at once, so it makes sense to pick the top new practices to implement and goals for each area.

I then listed on an index card the key new practices and year-end goals to focus on to move me forward in each of the areas listed above (Mind, Body, Spirit, Heart & Career).

Keep this list close by because you’ll need it soon!

Then … Clear The Clutter, Remove Distractions & Simplify

As I mentioned above, because distractions and clutter were plaguing me across many areas, I tackled this first.

Clutter blocks clarity and tugs at our attention, and our environments play a part in our productivity so this is a great place to start!

These may differ for you, but some of the areas where I was getting tripped up by distractions are:

1 | Home

I started with the common areas of the home and tidied up. Now, I’m gradually going through closets, drawers, and cabinets to thin out my possessions.

I think some of this distraction is due to my kids getting older and continually evolving, which leaves items they no longer use hanging around.

My goal for the remainder of the winter is to have our storage area in our basement totally cleaned out. Right now I’m giving some items away and what’s left at the end of March will get donated.

Cleaning out stuff can be both exhausting and daunting so in order to avoid overwhelm, make a list of mini projects and tackle them one by one. Consider giving yourself a deadline to get them done.

In the end, we feel so much lighter and that’s what we’re going for!

I recently cleaned out the bookshelves in my workspace and it feels great. I donated lots of books that I had already read or that no longer resonated with me, and all of the ones I kept I either love or can’t wait to read.

Daily reading is one of the practices I’m implementing this year, and now that my books are thinned out, I’m already making progress with my reading.

2 | Digital World

Some of the ways to eliminate digital clutter and distractions are: removing social media apps (even for a short time), turning off some/all notifications, deleting old phone contacts, removing last year’s photos from our phone, and unsubscribing from email lists that no longer serve you.

3 | Workspace

How do you feel in your workspace? Maybe it’s time to reconfigure or reorganize the entire space or areas of it. Do what you can to set it up so your work flows best, you feel inspired and can remain focused.

4 | Car

I consider my car to be another room, and I enjoy being in it so much more when it’s clean and tidy.

5 | Last but not least, simplify.

Think of tasks and processses that you repeat daily or weekly and how you can simplify and/or batch your actions to be more efficient.

Finally … Get After Your Goals!

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1 | Look at the short list you created of new habits to implement & year-end goals. What goal(s) do you want to accomplish by the end of this year or in the next couple of years? What habits and practices practiced daily will help you chip away at those goals?

2 | Design & plan your life each day & week. Decide the best way to apply and schedule in the new daily practices and habits you want to make part of your routine. Maybe make a habit of scheduling things in on Sunday nights? See where you have an extra block of time or consider waking up a little earlier to start your day with a morning routine. In order to avoid overwhelm, consider implementing one at a time and add another once one takes hold. Keep this list handy and scan it daily to make sure you’re hitting on these areas regularly.

3 | Craft a “See, Feel and Believe Statement” where you list in detail what goals you want to achieve (include a $ amount, if applicable,) by what specific date, your plan of how you are specifically going to achieve it/them, and why it/they is/are important to you. Read this to yourself upon waking and before going to sleep every day/night. (This is another thing I wrote on an index card and keep it handy with my morning routine materials.)

4 | Start your days with wins. I recently reintroduced my morning routine, which takes about 15-20 minutes. I start with deep journaling about one thing I’m grateful for (I go into detail on that one thing;) I read one entry in the daily devotional I’m currently reading; I do a quick free-form “check-in with myself” entry in my dream journal; and finally, plan that day’s activities in my Productivity Planner. I end by reciting my “See, Feel, and Believe Statement,” while engaging my senses by seeing, feeling, hearing, and believing it to be already realized and in the present tense.

I leave my routine in a positive frame of mind, knowing exactly where I need to focus my energy that day. The best part is this positive feeling stays with me throughout the day, and I trust I’m on the right path.

5 | Aim for baby steps toward your goals every day. Baby steps translate into momentum and progress over time.

6 | Maintain a balance of grit and grace. Push yourself daily as well as be understanding with yourself on the days you fall short. All that matters is that you are growing and making progress over time.

Conclusion

Taking the time to get clear on the best areas I needed to focus on and uncovering what was holding me back was time well spent. I can already feel my actions being guided more purposefully. I hope what I shared in this post gives you a general framework to gain more clarity on what you’d like to achieve this year and beyond.

Be patient, keep pushing no matter what, and all the best to you in 2019!

A Simple Lifestyle Approach To Consistent Self-Care

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When we hear about self-care, there’s usually a list of recommended things we could or should be incorporating into our days.

We’re all familiar with them— Eat right. Exercise. Manage stress levels. Spend time with loved ones. Laugh. Get enough sleep. Hydrate, etc.

But rather than feeling lucky to hit on just one or maybe a few of these areas each day, wouldn’t it be great if we started and managed our actions and decisions during the day to hit on most, if not all, of these areas?

It all begins with having a mindset of making yourself a priority (without feeling selfish,) and being ok with spending a little extra time on yourself here and there throughout the day.

Take the extra 60 seconds to cut up a lemon for your water. Spend the extra five minutes cutting up some veggies for a healthy breakfast, rather than a quick fix like a bagel or even skipping breakfast. Or, how about giving yourself permission to kindly say no to a time commitment that will cause you stress or isn’t a priority to you?

Most importantly, when we care for ourselves, we’re also better equipped to care for others— now and for the long term.


In this post my goal is to share an easy-to-implement approach to self-care that works for me. I believe that by being consistent with this simple approach, you will not only feel the difference over time, but you’ll also expand upon it in your own way.

Your approach to self-care should be customized to your needs, personality, likes, dislikes, what’s important to you, and where you are on your own personal journey.

It’s a matter of paying attention to what you need and what works for you.

What works for me may not necessarily work for you in all instances, but hopefully you’ll walk away with at least a few new ideas to incorporate into your approach to self-care.

And by consistently practicing your own approach to self-care, you’ll realize how you are more in control of how you feel than you think!

Without further ado, let’s get into it …

My Approach

I view self-care as being intentional about everyday decisions and actions so they work together, are dependent on each other, and over time ultimately guide me to how I want to feel and where I want to go.

The most important thing I’ve realized is that I can initially elevate my mood and energy levels in the morning and keep them elevated throughout the day by the decisions and actions I take. Not only do I enjoy my day more and have more energy, I’m also more inclined to stay aware of practicing self-care consistently over time.

Gravitate toward what fuels you, and avoid what depletes you and what isn’t important to you.

Morning | Priming Your Mindset & Energy Level

The minute you get out of bed is the most critical time to kick your self-care routine into gear.

Because we our mood and energy level varies from day to day, we have to be proactive about priming our mindsets and energy levels as we begin our days, especially on days when we wake up tired, in a funk, or uninspired.

This involves making conscious decisions to do some things and avoid others.

1 | Eat a healthy breakfast of protein, power foods, and healthy fats. Ever since I participated in a 21-day clean eating challenge at my gym, I realize that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it primes my energy level for the rest of the day.

Rarely do I eat carbs like bagels and muffins. I also stay away from sugary yogurts.

My go-to breakfast is fresh veggies (including 1 or 2 power veggies), two eggs, and a healthy fat— either a handful of unsalted nuts or a few slices of avocado.

To make this as easy as possible, I always have the veggies partially prepped so all I have to do is cut them up, toss them into the pan, and saute them for a couple of minutes before adding a couple of beaten eggs.

Some of the veggies I frequently use are red and green peppers, red onion, and my two favorite power veggies— baby spinach and shiitake mushrooms.

I highly recommend doing a little research on power veggies to figure out which ones you like the most. The nutritional value of these foods is incredible, and some are even a good source of protein.

Steel cut oatmeal with dark berries and nuts is another option if you’d rather not eat eggs every day.

Consider investing the extra time and effort to eat a healthy, satisfying breakfast because the boost it will give your energy level and mood should last for hours.

2 | Listen to peaceful, uplifting music, a positive message, or if time allows, start a morning routine. To get my mental state on track, I usually start my day by asking Alexa to play music that I find easy to listen to but positive and uplifting. After breakfast as I’m getting ready, if calm music seems too calm, I’ll switch to something more energetic.

The key is to listen to something that elevates my mood and doesn’t bring me down.

I find it best to not even turn on the news because (by design) it’s filled with stories of tragedy that don’t serve me and I don’t even need to know about. If I want to know the weather, I check the weather app on my phone.

At the beginning of the day, whatever I listen to should help me lock in a positive mindset and fuel my energy.

On days when time allows, I’ll indulge in a morning routine, which is always time well spent.

3 | Make the final rinse in your shower cool (or gradually cold!) There’s a lot of research about the benefits of exposing our bodies to cold, and they make sense to me. An easy way to make this part of your routine is by making the final rinse of your shower cool (or even better) gradually cold. To be honest, I often forget to do this, but by writing this post and re-reading the benefits, this is something I want to do more often.

4 | Use a hydrating facial mist. After I get out of the shower, the first thing I do is mist my face with a rosewater facial mist. It feels great. It smells great. And it makes me feel a little pampered as I start the day. When considering buying one, take a close look at the ingredients.

Throughout The Day | Maintaining & Resetting Your Energy

5 | Take breaks. Spend a few minutes to get some fresh air, sun, and take in the sounds of nature. There’s also a lot of research out there about how taking breaks boost our productivity. One school of thought on this is the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re interested in trying it, an online timer can be found here. I think this is a great tool when working on specific types of longer projects that require focus. Taking breaks is also a great way to solve problems and come up with new ideas. That’s because our brains “chew” on the things that are on our minds even while we’re not engaged in them. This is why we often wake up in the morning with a solution to a problem or get the best idea while walking the dog.

6 | Spend some time in nature by yourself. Spending time in nature by yourself is a great way to reset your mind and energy level and to also get answers to questions you may not even realize you have. This summer I did quite a bit of running at places where many people walk, and I was always surprised to see so many women walking in pairs rather than by themselves. The women walking in pairs were typically engaged in a heated discussion that involved complaining or gossiping, and they were missing out on most of the benefits of their walk. Every now and then, consider getting outside by yourself.

7 | Gracefully say “no” to things that don’t serve you. When you get a request to do something or an invitation to go somewhere and that inner voice says, “ugh,” listen to it. It’s telling you that if you say yes, you’ll regret it; you probably won’t have a good time; and you could quite possibly miss out on something that’s more important to you. It’s ok to listen to your gut and pass. If you want to dive into this topic more and learn about essentialism, here’s a great Tim Ferriss podcast episode entitled, “How to say no gracefully and uncommit.” This is a wonderful episode filled with so many strong examples that further support the overall message of this post.

8 | Avoid gossip and drama. It’s amazing how one quick comment or conversation can derail one’s mood or even the entire day. As much as you want to support a friend or relative about their problem, if it can wait, it might be better to save a conversation until the end of the day. Another source of drama can be social media so train yourself to think twice before checking it.

9 | Run your errands during off-peak times. This has come to be one of the best strategies I’ve learned to adopt. Whenever possible, I run my errands when the masses aren’t. For example, I avoid Costco on the weekends as much as possible. Instead, I go after dinner on a weeknight. I practically have the place all to myself, and lines are short. If I must go on the weekends, I try to get there right when they open or just before they close. Another thing I do is avoid stores that tend to always drain me and shop at stores where I have a better experience. Once you start paying close attention to this, it’s pretty eye-opening.

10 | Avoid multi-tasking, especially while doing something you enjoy. I am the first to admit that I get caught up in multi-tasking. I make myself a nice lunch, and then I’ll decide to fold a load of laundry while I take a bite here and there. I’m really trying to stop myself from doing this even if it slows me down a little. It’s worth a few minutes to sit down, relax, and enjoy my lunch. On the other hand, I think multi-tasking works when we’re doing something that is not as enjoyable or even tedious. For example, while prepping dinner, I may turn on a podcast to listen and learn. This actually helps me enjoy the process of prepping dinner more and before I know it, dinner is prepped and I’ve learned something new and feel inspired.

Evening | Winding Down, Reconnecting & Resting

11 | Get comfy. At the end of the day, as soon as you can, put on your most comfortable clothes to start to unwind a little.

12 | Make your phone calls to family & friends. Because I have my day behind me, I find the evening the best time to call family and friends. I find I’m a better listener then too!

13 | If you watch TV, keep it light. Again, I really try to stay away from the news unless there’s a story unfolding that I want to follow. I don’t want to begin or end my day learning about tragic events. I also stay away from violent, disturbing, or criminal shows. I once heard someone say that we eat with all of our senses, meaning we take in what we listen to and watch and that sounds logical to me. Instead, if I watch television at all, I’d rather watch something positive or funny.

14 | Put down your phone about 2 hours before bedtime. This article does a great job of explaining all of the reasons why looking at your phone close to bedtime or even in bed prevents you from getting optimal sleep.

15 | Get the amount of sleep you need. Easier said than done sometimes, but this is huge!

16 | Sleep in a completely dark room. Personally, I need to sleep in a completely dark room. Even the tiniest presence of light can disturb my sleep. Here’s an article with a link to a research study about how sleeping in complete darkness is good for mental health.

Conclusion

So there you have my approach to everyday self-care, which basically involves gravitating toward what fuels me and avoiding non-essential things and situations that deplete me. I find that if I begin my day with this approach in mind, it stays with me throughout the day and carries over into the next. I’ve found that the more that I’ve practiced this, the more it becomes a habit or a lifestyle. As always, good luck with it!!