December 31st, 2014 by Katie Morton
Photo credit: Miquel Angel Pintanel Bassets / Creative Commons
Happy New Year! This year I’ve got a super-charged way of creating motivating resolutions, and a method that helps you stick to your plans every day. There are 8 Steps:
Step 1: List 25 Lifetime Goals
Go ahead and be audacious. You don’t need to share these with anybody, but you do need to go ahead and write down the 25 things you’d most like to see happen in your life.
Step 2: Boil Down Your Lifetime Goals to 5
Take a look at your big list and prioritize the five that are within closer reach in terms of timing, and that most reflect your values and what’s important to you in life.
Step 3: List 25 Goals for This Year
Write down 25 things you could resolve to do this year that could bring you closer to these 5 lifetime goals.
Step 4: Boil Down Your Goals for This Year to 5
I know it seems crazy to make these long lists and then cut them down, but your goals and lists are far more inspiring when you need to reach for more—and then hone your focus to your priorities. It reminds you that you have options and that you’re free to choose how to spend your time; and it reminds you of what actually matters to you.
Step 5: Create a Daily Routine
Based on your 5 goals for this year, create a daily routine that incorporates small daily habits that will move you towards your goals.
Personally, I love my daily walks in the woods for both stress relief and fitness, so that’s staying in my routine.
Step 6: Create a Daily Worksheet
Based on your anticipated daily routine, you’re going to create a worksheet that you can look at every day so that you can be reminded of what you need to do to reach your goals.
My daily worksheet includes a series of charts and checklists that cover the different times of day and different goals I have, like:
- An early morning routine so that I get my meditation, journaling, and novel writing done.
- An exercise chart so that I know what physical activities I have planned for which days.
- A dinner section so that I know what to shop for and prepare each day of the week.
- My work schedule so that I can fill in my to-do list for each day.
- A chart to remind me to spend 10 minutes tidying each floor of our home every day.
Step 7: Decide How to Use Your Daily Worksheets
When will you refer to your worksheet? Where will you keep your worksheets so that you remember to check off your goals every day?
If you prefer paper, you could keep your worksheets in a binder on your kitchen counter or desk. Or you could put one worksheet inside a clear plastic holder and write on your worksheet each day with a dry erase marker. Or create digital worksheets and keep them in a folder on your computer. Create a calendar reminder so that you remember to use your worksheets.
Whether you prefer paper or digital, keep copies of your progress so you can look back at the end of the month and evaluate how well your routine is working for you. Then make adjustments to your worksheet if necessary at the end of each month.
Step 8: Swap Perfectionism for Persistence
This is the most important step. It’s easy to make a mistake on a resolution and to use that one screw-up (or even a series of screw-ups) to toss the whole enchilada. Instead, it’s imperative to remain curious to find out where you went wrong and correct course.
For example, if you cheat on your resolution to eat healthy—because you’re human and you will—don’t beat yourself up and then quit. Instead, do a post-mortem to see how the mistake happened, and then make an adjustment, either to your attitude or to your plan. Repeat, ad nauseum.
Keep tracking via your daily worksheets, and adjust as necessary. And voila! You’ve got yourself a winning resolution.
Are you making resolutions this year? If so, sign up for Katie Morton’s newsletter to get a free copy of her ebook 10 Steps to a Blissful Life to learn how to break bad habits and live bigger.
October 20th, 2014 by Katie Morton
Photo Credit: Valerie Hinojosa / Creative Commons
About a year ago, I was waking up before dark every morning. I had a set of rituals that I knew would put me on course to the life of my dreams.
The only problem was – and this was a big one – I was chasing the wrong dream. At the time, I was working at being a life coach, and I was thinking that I would write novels once I retired. I actually wrote this to a friend in an email a year ago, that I would write novels when I retire, and not long after that, my coaching business circled the drain. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my prayers were being answered. The Universe always has our backs.
Cue the sound of a needle scratching a record. Is there anything you tell yourself you will do more of “when you retire”? If so, then there’s a big chance you should be making more time for it NOW – not some far off time that might never come.
There’s no final resting place during this life when you’re free to prance through a meadow. It’s imperative we make sure to have fun now, along the way, or we waste the whole shooting match on boring obligations.
Here are the 10 Easy Steps to Making Your Dreams Come True – today!
1. What’s your dream?
This is honestly the trickiest step. We complicate the heck out of it. We think, “What’s my life’s purpose?” and then we break out into a cold sweat. Start with the easy stuff. What feels good to you?
If you aren’t sure, then pick up a magazine, and without thinking too hard, tear out pictures that speak to you. Now you’ve got the start of a vision board (or box – if the thought of hanging a vision board on your wall makes you cringe, just collect photos in a box. Easy peasy.)
You don’t need to decide everything right this instant, but just start collecting ideas for your life that make you feel excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities. If you don’t feel like working with images, then write some things down. Just keep some kind of simple record of what your dream for your life is.
Without having to consult a magazine, images that come to my mind are sunny nature scenes. I also like the idea of someone wrapped in a cozy sweater and sipping coffee while they smile at a laptop. (That’s me right now.) I’m a writer, so I’m now committed to writing every day. One day I will own a beach house. That’s about it!
2. Decide and believe.
Many of us will pick a delicious dream for ourselves and then immediately start pecking furiously at the edges with a list of ways it can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t work out for us. Stop that!
If there’s a word for both deciding and believing in one fell swoop, the word would be commitment. You have to commit to your dream. Don’t just put it in a box and close the lid, never to see the light of day. You have to take it out and fondle it…every…day. Take it out, play with it, give it some air.
Decision + Belief = Commitment
Decide you want your dream to happen. For real. Believe it will and can happen. For real. This is the magic sauce that will help propel your dream into reality. If you don’t decide and believe, and therefore commit, well then…as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
3. Release fear.
This next step isn’t a one-time event. It’s probably something you’re going to have to do over and over, every time you notice you’re stuck and you’ve stopped forward momentum.
We disguise fear under logistics all the time: “Oh, I don’t have time to go after that dream, I need to make money!” Sure ya do. So get up earlier.
“Well then I don’t have time!” Sure ya do. So get up earlier.
“But then I’ll be exhausted!” Here’s the thing. Last year, when I was getting up early, it was a bit of a battle. I was always feeling like it took heroics to drag my limp carcass out of bed that early.
It’s all in the attitude. This go round, I decided it was going to be easy and exciting to get up early to write every day. I decided it’s not going to be difficult. I decided to get the sleep I need, and not be so dramatic and sacrificial about getting up early.
Choose the right attitude. Release fear. Repeat.
4. Take action!
Eegads, finally, the part where we actually DO stuff. Figure out what you need to DO to make your dream happen.
Then go do it.
To sum up step four, take action daily.
5. Love yourself.
It’s really easy to lose the plot in the frenzy of daily living. Just slow down, pump the breaks, relax. Listen.
Take quiet time alone every day – again, early morning if need be – to reflect, read, write, and to hear yourself think. Give yourself the time and space to feel your feelings and organize your thoughts so that you may stay in touch with your own needs and desires for your life.
6. Use other’s success as inspiration.
When you notice someone more fortunate, practice saying to yourself, “You know what? I want that, too! I’m going to figure out how and make it happen!”
If we want good things to happen to us, we have to stop judging others negatively for the good things they bring into their lives. Judging and criticizing others is such a silly energy drain. I will go out on a limb here and say that the majority of people who judge others negatively for their success don’t realize they do it, or they don’t realize there’s anything wrong with doing it.
I saw a Facebook comment the other day that basically said all rich people are thieving, greedy liars and that all poor people are generous and would give you the shirt off their backs. Nonsense. NONSENSE. That’s a waste of breath right there. Bill Gates has donated $26 BILLION to philanthropic causes. I would rather imagine all the good Bill’s money is doing out there in the world than to take one second to consider accepting the smelly shirt off some guy’s back.
Instead of being Judge-y McJudge Pants, use others as inspiration: see what you want, and figure out how to make it happen. When you paint everyone who is rich with one brush (bad) you are going to repel money like it’s your job. Money isn’t imbued with magical good or evil qualities. It’s just money. It helps you live comfortably. Accept it without making bizarre value judgments.
7. View mistakes as lessons, not an excuse to give up.
This happened to me last year when my coaching business took a nosedive: I panicked, and then I gave up. Which was fine, because I realized that coaching wasn’t my dream after all. When things didn’t go well, I didn’t think, “Just a bump in the road, let me fix this.” Instead I thought about all the hours and days I’d spent on the administrative junk: the web pages I developed, the excruciating task of writing sales copy, and the PDFs I’d created, and I realized that this wasn’t my dream. I hated that stuff.
I just like writing.
I didn’t learn that lesson right away. Instead I spent lots of time saying, “Woe is me,” and panicking about money, and panicking about finding work, and just generally spending all of my time panicking. In case that’s not clear: I panicked.
It took me a really long time to simply view my mistakes as lessons. Instead, I did all the stuff I coached other people not to do. Like when you make a mistake, it’s not a reflection on your character. It’s just data about what you should do next.
Finally, after close to a year of panic followed by wallowing, I’m back!
8. Value tiny decisions.
The decision to get up early every morning is a momentous one. The tiny decisions happen every single day, when I look at the clock. Do I get up, or do I stay in bed? Every little decision, everything single thing we do, matters. Because what you do determines who you become. And who you become means either your success at achieving your dream or your failure. Choose wisely.
9. Don’t let bad habits win.
It’s so easy to blame our small lives, our tiny, chronic failures on our bad habits. We get sucked into the couch for TV marathons. We get sucked into pizza boxes and chip bags and some of us (ehem) even get into the habit (and then out of the habit and into the habit) of using beer or wine “to relax” when the going gets tough.
Then we spend all our precious energy on CRAP like trying to lose weight or break these bad habits. What you think about is what you get. If you spend all your time obsessing about your bad habits, your whole life is going to be a Sisyphean task of rolling the boulder up the hill while you resist, followed by getting steamrolled when you get tired and give in.
And yes, I’m speaking from experience. I say this with the utmost kindness and respect to both myself and to you: GET A LIFE. It’s only when our habits stand in the way of the life of our dreams that we will be compelled to chuck the now-annoying habits to the curb. Dream big, take action, worry about your habits some other day, like when they prevent you from getting up early.
Oh, and see step 3: release fear. Usually our bad habits are nothing more than a tepid attempt at escaping fear, but then we’ve really gone down the rabbit hole INTO fear when we do things that are self-destructive as an escape. Release fear, don’t try to numb it; it doesn’t work that way.
10. Believe the Universe is friendly.
Here are two quotes for you:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
– William Hutchison Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I could really boil this post down to 3 steps:
1. Dream big.
2. Act consistently.
3. Be amazed as the Universe conspires to help you achieve your dream.
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August 1st, 2014 by Katie Morton
This morning I was on my way to a coffee shop to do some work, when I noticed cars lining the road on the woodsy side of the street. When I slowed down to see what all the hubbub was about, I noticed an opening through the thick greenery marked with the signage of a state park.
I thought of everything I needed to do today and why I shouldn’t stop. Then I remembered how, when Ghandi was pressured to drop his hour of daily meditation because he had too much to do, he replied, “Well, then, I now need to set aside two hours a day to do meditation.”
When I give myself these pockets of silence, I can see more clearly and act more quickly because the clarity I receive greases the wheels of productivity. So I parked the car and headed into the woods. I wasn’t 20 feet down the path when I walked straight into a spider web. UGH. That has got to be one of the grossest feelings to be all sticky and webby, and OMG, where is the spider!?! Is it in my hair?!? So I did that whole dance.
When I calmed down and began walking again, only a few feet later I spied another web stretched across the path. This time I saw the occupant, sitting smugly in the middle of his web, waiting for an unsuspecting idiot like me to get all tangled up. Ha. Not this time.
I picked up a long stick with lots of branches and twirled it in front of me while I walked. I took down a few more webs, relieved that I figured out a system to avoid this common hiker’s pitfall…and so it is when we start on any new path. We walk into proverbial spider webs, meaning we feel some sort of discomfort, but if we keep going, we figure out how to make our lives easier. But if we quit, we never learn those clever little tricks that get us to the good stuff.
I’m glad I didn’t quit walking when I hit that first web. I had a feeling there was payback coming. And there it was. This gorgeous tree with its gnarled roots fanned out across the bank of a stream.
I’ve noticed lately a movement of people like me growing online, people who don’t have a big problem with alcohol, but who might be able to live a more extraordinary life without it. Maybe we don’t need to give it up forever. But maybe we choose to leave it behind, if not forever, then for periods of time so that we can do things we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.
Things like get up insanely early in the morning so we can write a novel in our spare time. So we can exercise like we’re 20 years old when we’re really 40. Or to just be here now, more presently and more in tune with our bodies and our lives without one more distraction or craving — whether it’s for food, wine, TV, or Facebook — pulling at us.
I was PUMPED yesterday when I saw Tim Ferriss’ 30-Day Challenge – no, not the part about being the Master of Your Domain, but the challenge that focuses on no booze and no complaining for a period of 30 days.
For me, that combination of No Complaining + No Booze = Magic to bump my life to the next level. As I discovered over my Year Without Wine, when I’m forced to take action to fix every little annoyance in my life instead of letting myself whine (or wine) about it, then amazing things happen.
Here are 4 perks to joining me:
1. Become Open to the Unknown
When we surrender our time wasters and our mind suckers (overeating, TV, Facebook, alcohol, etc.) we create a vacuum so that better things can fill the space. We might be afraid to give up our coping mechanisms because we love that quick hit, that feeling of relief that it provides. However, the cost to us is our ultimate happiness in exchange for a brief moment of pleasure. Happiness and pleasure are definitely NOT the same thing, and we often confuse them in our culture.
Turning towards pleasure often disguises underlying problems that continue unsolved. This breeds unhappiness and creates a disorganized mind. When we resist the short-term hit and instead set about leveling up and improving our lives and our circumstances, we can hit an upward spiral of happiness and inner satisfaction.
2. Create a Daily Routine That Reflects the Life You’re Meant to Live
If you want great things to happen in your life, you’ve got to build your routine around it. Create a daily routine that reflects what matters to you.
Do what matters first. Make it happen. If you’re having trouble, problem solve until you make your routine work for you.
3. No Complaining, No Numbing
I’ve noticed a tendency. When I’m annoyed by something, I want to get distracted. I turn away from the discomfort. But when I resolve to stop both complaining and numbing, then my only option is to just solve it!
Change what you don’t like. Frequently, what needs to be changed is our own attitude or perspective, rather than our circumstances. Keep a sharp focus on gratitude.
4. Build Resilience
We often don’t give ourselves enough credit, but the truth is: We Can Adapt to Anything. For some weird reason, we resist change, even the small day-to-day changes that can solve problems and make our lives feel right!
What might seem like a BFD (big freakin’ deal) or a sacrifice now will feel good over time. The challenge starts NOW! Let me know if you’re in.