5 Lessons from A Crappy January

 

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This January has been pretty rubbish for me. I like to get the new year off to a rousing start, but instead, this month was pretty much stuck in chores, issues, and to top it off a week of flu to end it with (I’m still in bed, recovering, while writing this). As annoying as it is – and I whined plenty – it is life. Life throws unexpected curve balls. Things come up. Tax returns have to be submitted. Flu virus gets you. Plans are derailed. And what was supposed to be a fabulous new start, is not at all fabulous. But there is silver lining. Always. That’s kind of the point of Kaizen Journaling. Once my whining is done – because you need to get it out of the system – I focus on the positives, on the lessons learned, on the things that I could do. No point dwelling or worrying. The point is to take action, keep going.

So here I would like to share lessons I’ve learned/re-learned/remembered this month while having a pretty shitty month. These are personal but I am sure you will identify with at least some of them:

  1. Appreciate and look after the body

    I have always been more cerebral. As a child I wasn’t into much sports either. That changed recently. I actually began to enjoy going to my gym, being fitter and stronger, and working on my physical body became about more than just weight loss / weight control. While I’ve been ill, I haven’t been able to go to the gym. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is in the sense that my body is currently unable to do what I want it do.This made me realize how lucky I am to have generally good health. It made me appreciate my body, and that I need to look after it too, and value it as much as I would look after and value my mind. It’s easy to go to extremes of current societies – either going with the side that says, “It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s the inner beauty that counts” or the other side, “You need six packs.” I’m not going with either.The truth is, to a certain extent it very much matters what your body looks like, because it represents your overall health. That’s not going to be the same for all of us, depending on age, genetics, body types and a whole range of factors. But it does matter. Not because of how the society may judge you, not because of what clothes you can wear, but because of what your body can and can’t do, and how its health affects your overall life. Your body is where you live. So you need to look after it.

  2. Sometimes, you just have to swim with the current even if you don’t want to

    I’m a planner. I have a colour-coded calendar, and I know when I am doing stuff, and when I want to do stuff. But I also know that the world, or even my life, doesn’t always respect that planning. January was one such reminder. It’s really irritating, but there are times, when you just bow to the inevitable, and go with the flow. Fighting against it is waste of energy, and probably more stressful. So you just go with the current, and remember that you will get through it.That’s most important part when you are stuck in situations you don’t want to be in: IT IS NOT PERMANENT.

  3. Keep taking action. However small

    Alongside some unforeseen issues, I also had to deal with the known issues this January, such as doing my tax return. A tedious job that needs to be done, but it’s exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to do when you have other boring stuff going on in your life. Yet it’s not optional. So as much as I hate to do it, I kept taking action. In baby steps, doing whatever I could at the time. Same with all the other unavoidable stuff. You can procrastinate a little (I say that, having just procrastinated writing this article by browsing every available social media channel), but never procrastinate long enough for it to cause you additional problems.

  4. Keep yourself inspired. Look forward to something

    Sounds simple right, but this is a very important step. This is your light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, you don’t see the light, so you have to make it. Think about things you are looking forward to, things you will be doing whenever you have control of your schedule again. While I’m ill and unable to exercise, I keep looking at pinterest for fitness motivation. This serves two purposes: (1) it keeps me in the fitness mindset, as opposed to getting used to the week off, which may turn into a month off (2) it keeps me inspired that I will soon be getting off my behind, and moving, and feeling fit again – which is a powerful desire, particularly when you are ill and feeling weak.

  5. Keep writing in your journal

    You knew this was coming right? Things going off the rails? You feel cranky? Pissed off? Frustrated? Plans not working out? Keep scribbling. You don’t need to write long essays. I haven’t written more than two pages in last week, but a paragraph here and there that captures essentials is enough. Don’t neglect it. It’s good both for your present and for your future. 

 

So there you have it. Life lessons from a crappy month. If nothing else, just remember that there are always lessons to be learned, always positives to look at, and always light to chase :-) 

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

In your journal, write at least one lesson that you’ve learned from your first month of 2016. 

 

 

Developing Daily Journaling Habit for the New Year

 

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It’s the middle of January, which means we are now firmly in 2016. I hope you’ve now stopped scribbling 2015 by mistake, and that the New Year’s Eve hangover is properly gone. Welcome to 2016!!

If  you haven’t already begun, now is the time to think about what positive changes you want to make this year, and what goals you want to accomplish. And developing a journaling habit, is both a good habit and an excellent goal.

A quick list of 10 reasons why you might want to develop this habit:

  1. Create headspace by emptying out your thoughts
  2. Catharsis
  3. Make sense of what’s going on with you
  4. Understand patterns of behaviour
  5. Get unstuck
  6. Learn more about your self
  7. Learn more about your environment
  8. Set goals
  9. Record your journey towards achieving your goals
  10. Leave a legacy

Of course benefits of journaling are not limited to just above reasons, but even those ten reasons are pretty impressive. It’s a testament to just how much journaling can achieve. Look at majority of successful leaders – either historical or modern day – in all fields, from business leaders, to writers and artists, from presidents to solopreneurs: they all keep a journal. Some may call it a notebook, a log, a diary…but regardless of the name, they keep a journal that supports them in their endeavors. Journaling has survived through centuries in all its different forms because IT WORKS! If you need more convincing, read 10 Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal.

I am going to assume that’s convinced you that you should develop a journaling habit. So now, let’s think about HOW you can do that.

Here are 7 quick ways to instill a journaling habit:

  1. Schedule 5 minutes a day. Don’t get over-ambitious. Start small, but remain consistent.
  2. Buy a quality journal that you like. And a nice, comfortable pen. This enhances the experience of keeping a journal.
  3. If you don’t know what to write, use journaling prompts. You can find them all over the internet, including this website (just use the search phrase – journaling exercise.) You can have a year’s worth of prompts – and some more – from my book 365 Days of Journaling.
  4. If you skip a day, don’t obsess about it. Failing one day doesn’t mean there is no point in carrying on. It means you let it go, and pick up your pen the next day, and keep writing. 
  5. Treat yourself with a time and place. For example, make a date with your journal in your favourite café. Have that latte you love, while you journal.
  6. Journal with a friend. You don’t need to share your entries, you don’t even need to talk about what you write, but you can share the experience of doing it – such as set a target to write together for 10 minutes, or set exercises that you both do together. Make it a social thing, and hold each other accountable.
  7. Try new things. Journaling is not supposed to be a chore, or a boring process. Try different prompts, different styles. Experiment. There are no rules. Go with whatever you feel like, and you will eventually discover what works the best for you. 

So, if you haven’t already got one, get yourself a journal and get writing. 

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Create your own daily journaling  challenge, and start NOW. 

 

 

One Tip to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2016

 

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The beginning is the most important part of the work.

– Plato

 

It’s the first day of the New Year. I hope you are starting it with optimism and positivity. Whether your 2015 was a rousing success or a year you would rather forget, it’s a new day, a new year, a new beginning.

Yes, it’s not possible to have a blank slate, but that doesn’t prevent you from starting fresh. Instead of worrying about what you don’t have, or what you haven’t achieved, or what you can’t do, focus on where you can go from here, and what you can do now.

And one of the best things to do is to set yourself up for success from the beginning. As of today, be ready to make your 2016 a rousing success. Now let’s clarify: it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will suffer no failure or setbacks. It does not mean that you will get absolutely everything you want. It does not mean that you will not have to overcome challenges.

No – instead, success means that you will strive for the things you want, you will do your best, and on 31st December 2016, when you look back at your year, you will feel the satisfaction of having done your best, of having worked your ass off, and of having achievements (even if they are not exactly what you envision today) to show for it. 

Yes, there are multiple steps to this, such as setting goals, taking action, not giving up when the going gets tough – but there is one single thing that can aid you in doing all of that. 

There is one thing that you need to do today, to set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. 

 

HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF 

 

Here are 10 reasons why it is THE thing you need:

If you don’t have faith in yourself, 

  1. Your goals will reflect it. Your goals will not be ambitious enough.
  2. You will approach your goals, believing you can’t do it. 
  3. You will listen to the negative voice in your head that tells you you are wasting your time.
  4. You will focus on other people’s needs rather than your own.
  5. You will believe that it’s realistic to settle, and too unrealistic to have everything you want. You will therefore settle. 
  6. You will believe you don’t deserve it.
  7. You will believe you are not clever enough, or beautiful enough, or strong enough, or lucky enough.
  8. You will continue to wallow in “What Ifs” without actually changing things in your life.
  9. You will get defensive and resentful.
  10. You will push away the people who are trying to / capable of helping you achieve your dreams. 

All of these above reasons can be eliminated, either completely or partially, if you have faith in yourself. So start this new year with just that – Faith! 

Believe in yourself.

Believe in your abilities.

Believe in your dreams.

You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to have all the skills and knowledge you need to achieve your dreams. You just need to be willing to work hard, and you need to be dedicated enough to not give up until you reach your desires. And throughout this journey, you need to keep believing that YOU CAN DO IT! 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Grab your journal (come on, no procrastination. Start the year as you meant to go on), and scroll on a page, “I have faith in myself. I believe in myself.” 

That’s it – and keep reminding yourself that as and when you need to.