How to Make Big Changes When You Have No Time to Spare

What if I said that in a year you could learn 365 new words, write a short story (or even a book), learn a new language, increase your body’s strength and flexibility, and improve your sense of well-being without adding any more time to your day?  You’d think I was nuts, right?  Well it’s true!  Although we all have jam-packed, hectic, no-time-for-anything-else lives, we can still accomplish some of those wish list items we have floating about in our heads.  How?  By using those “wasted” moments in our day to focus on our goals.

How could you use your commute to reach your goals?

How much time do you spend in a line, in a waiting room, in front of the TV, or in a bus/train/plane/automobile?  How much time do you take getting ready in the morning, puttering around on your lunch break, walking from point A to B?  Probably quite a bit.  And how much of that time is spent staring into space, listening to music, trying to look busy, flipping through a magazine, or checking Facebook?  Facebook statistics reveal that the average user spends 55 minutes a day on the site.  That’s about 6.5 hours a week!!  Instead of spending all that time reading up on other people’s lives, shouldn’t we be spending some of that time advancing our own?

Now, if you don’t mind spending your time the way you are, that’s fine.  But if you’d like to create more, learn more, and improve more…then use those hours with intent!  Last week I realized I’d gotten lazy with my intentions.  I used to read, write, plan, or try to learn something during my waiting/travel time.  Once I set my intentions to get something done during those moments, that’s exactly what happened.  Over the course of a week, I wrote a poem, lyrics for a song, a passage for my book-in-progress, and a rough draft of this blog post…only while I was waiting in lines and on subway platforms, and while traveling on trains.  Without adding any more time to my day–without adding more stress or complication to my life–I’d increased my sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and well-being…and had tangible things to show for my effort.  I’m excited to see how much I’ll get done in 51 more weeks!

Here are some examples of goals you could end up checking off that wish list:

  • Increase my vocab – Get a dictionary app on your smart phone and learn one word a day.  To really make it stick, repeat the new word with the definition in your head throughout the day and try to use it in a sentence during a conversation.  Maybe save those really long words for family and friends:)
  • Increase my strength and flexibility – While watching TV, do squats, tricep dips, abdominal crunches, and finish up with stretching.  If you have a bike or cardio machine in your house, get on it while you watch your show.  Even if you’re a bit of a couch potato, you don’t have to look like one!
  • Increase my literary or language knowledge – On long commutes, listen to audio books, or learn a language on CD or mp3.  I recommend the latter only if you’re in the car to avoid stares or bothering others.
  • Increase my confidence, attitude, and sense of well-being – While you walk from the car to the store, from your desk to the water cooler, or while you look at yourself in the mirror (the point is you can do this anywhere) repeat affirmations you’ve created for yourself.  You’ll feel and see the changes they bring, and others will too.

So now it’s time to ask yourself: What can I accomplish if I just used those “wasted” moments with intent?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Revisiting Those New Year’s Resolutions

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

We’re more than halfway through the year.  Can you believe it? As summer’s end looms over me, I’m experiencing feelings of slight panic. Am I still on track with those resolutions and goals I declared in January? Have I accomplished what I set out to do, or anything at all? Have I fallen out of a disciplined routine during these warm months filled with summer fun? Anybody with me on this?  I thought so.  Which is why I felt the need to write this post.

Are you living those resolutions and goals you made at the beginning of the year, or are they merely fuzzy, quasi-memorable images that you’ve tucked away in a dusty corner in your subconscious? Since most people dropped all pretenses of goals a while ago–maybe even by February–I thought it might be a good time to revisit our goals, adjust them if necessary, and enter the last five months of the year with renewed vision.

For the purposes of this post, “goals” refer to the steps you need to take to achieve your big-picture dream.  Not “lose 5 pounds”…unless your dream is to become a successful fitness model or prize-winning boxer!

If your vision for yourself has changed (or you find yourself on a new path)…

You need new goals! It’s time to chuck them and create new ones. Life changes–we change, circumstances change–so it’s reasonable that our goals would change too. According to your new vision, set appropriate goals, sub-goals, and objectives.  Don’t hold on to goals that have no benefit just because you committed yourself to them, or already put in a lot of time and effort to achieve them.  Useless goals gobble up your valuable free time and distract you from your dreams.  That’s no good!

If your goals aren’t serving their purpose…

A tune-up might be in order. If you’re not energized when you declare your goals, take a look at how you’ve worded them. Use active verbs and rich adjectives to create powerful messages. For example, if your dream is to be the lead singer of multi-platinum selling band, some of your goals may be find x# band members who share my vision and live, eat, and breathe music; connect with a manager who is passionate about our music and will fight for our band’s best interests; book x# gigs per month to gain valuable experience and a loyal audience who will recommend our music and follow us to the ends of the earth. I have no interest in that dream, but I’m kinda psyched just reading those goals!

If you got sidetracked from your goals…

It’s ok, it happens! Just find your way back. But first ask yourself why you wandered off the path in the first place. Were you distracted by other things (or useless goals)? Did you lose your confidence or positive attitude? Did you get a little lazy? Knowing why you detoured will help you find the solution to moving in the right direction.

If you’ve hit a brick wall (don’t know how to move forward toward your goals)…

Are your goals too overwhelming? I’m not talking about your big-picture goals (a.k.a. dreams)–go big with those!–but the goals that lead to them. Make your goals big enough to push yourself, but not so big that they’re unmanageable. You want to build your confidence, not destroy it. Break your goals into smaller steps, however small they need to be.  Affirmations can be useful tools to help you think positively and focus in on what you’re aiming to accomplish. If you carry out one little step each day,  you’ll have reached your goals before you know it!

Closing thoughts

It’s easy to forget/ignore/lose sight of our goals during summer, when we spend our free time at family gatherings, friends’ barbecues, on vacation, and enjoying outdoor activities.  All fun stuff, and much needed!  But after getting into a routine of a crammed social calendar–and letting our goals fall by the wayside–it’s hard to get back on track once summer is over.  Enjoy summer while it lasts, but don’t stop reaching for your dreams. Try to do a little something every day to get you closer to your goals.  That way you won’t lose your mojo, and it will be a lot easier to kick things into high gear once summer is over.

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It’s Affirmative…Affirmations Are Powerful!

Most of us have heard of the benefits of affirmations.  I had never really taken the time and effort to construct them, and was skeptical that they would have any impact on me anyway.  Last year, while listening to Effortless Success:  Living the Law of Attraction, I was instructed to write powerful affirmations and repeat them daily.  And I did.  At first, I felt silly.  I also felt like I was fibbing big time.  My affirmations dealt with the way I wanted to feel and be, and I wasn’t nearly there.  But after a few weeks, I noticed a change when I spoke my affirmations out loud.  I was starting to believe them and that I could make these things I was saying true.  I shared the following affirmation with a few friends, and they wanted to adopt it as their own because of the power of the message:  I am effortlessly attracting positive opportunities, positive people, joy, and success. When I found myself in a mood that wasn’t to my liking, I would repeat this statement (and try to mean it) and it usually broke me out of my funk.

I have to say, as a former critic, that affirmations can be a very useful tool.  The power isn’t in the words.  The power isn’t in repeating them out loud.  The power IS in hearing yourself say the statement, taking the words in, noticing how you respond to them, and dealing with the reaction.  You can repeat affirmations over and over until you’re a nice shade of blue, but if you think what you’re saying is a bunch of baloney, it’s about as useful as repeating the alphabet.  When my inner voice laughed, cringed, heckled, or lashed out at me upon hearing an affirmation, I stopped and used the Sedona Method of release.  If you’re not familiar with this technique, here is a quick rundown.  First, notice how you’re feeling.  You don’t have to necessarily identify or categorize the emotion, just feel it.  Then ask yourself these 3 questions and answer honestly and without much thought:  1)  Could I let this feeling go?/Could I welcome this feeling? (Yes or No.)  2) Would I? (Yes or No.)  3) When? (Now.)  I like to answer the last question by taking a deep breath and saying “now” on the exhale.  I seems to enhance my feeling of letting go.  So using the Sedona Method in conjunction with my affirmations resulted in a gradual but significant shift in my thinking by dealing with my reactions.

I flipped back and forth on whether to share my current affirmations.  The only thing holding me back was fear of ridicule and judgement, especially by those who know me.  But in an effort to carry out my resolution to be more fearless, I decided to go for it.  So here they are, folks.  My affirmations…

  1. I am sexy, confident, and beautiful inside and out. I feel the need to explain.  I can do cute.  I’m comfortable with cute.  Being “sexy” is like unknown territory that I periodically try to enter but am stopped at the border as a self-proclaimed impostor.  I would like to add “sexy” to the list of characteristics I consider myself to have.
  2. I am an incredibly gifted writer who can successfully tackle any project. This is not something I go around telling others…but proclaiming this to myself boosts my confidence.
  3. The ingredients of my writing are inspiration, integrity, humor, passion, and soul. I want what I write to have meaning and make an impact in some way.
  4. I am effortlessly attracting positive opportunities, positive people, joy, and success. Love this!  While the affirmation doesn’t necessarily create this result more, I tend to see the positives and opportunities tenfold in my daily life.
  5. I am continuously inspired, enlivened, and fulfilled by my relationships with family and friends. Family and friends are incredibly important to me.   They contribute so much to my life and I don’t want to lose sight of that.
  6. I am an energetic, glowing vision of health! Reminds me to take care of and be good to myself.
  7. I have star power.  I act like a star and deliver like a star. In my opinion, all bona fide stars exude confidence, professionalism, and bankability.  They come to work ready to go and deliver an amazing performance/product every time.

I’ll tweak and tinker with my affirmations as my goals and needs change.  At some point, I might decide to let go of an affirmation that becomes part of me and doesn’t need reinforcement, and add another.  Do any of you use affirmations?  If so, what is your experience with them?  Have you found them to be beneficial?

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