Tag Archives: wellness

Bring Your Life into Balance

The ability to find and maintain balance in your life is a skill. Some people may be more or less skilled at keeping up with all the responsibilities in their lives than you are. If you already feel pretty good about this, you probably can share this article with someone who may need it more than you. If you feel overwhelmed, and not sure how to keep it all running smoothly, then you’re in luck. Finding and maintaining balance is a skill, and because it’s a skill, you can learn or improve it. It’s also a habit. and once you learn a new habit, it gets easier and easier to keep it up. Ready?

beamazingSimplifying life is the easiest way to find and maintain balance. This means finding ways to streamline all areas of your life, so you are not using all your time and energy in only one or two areas to the detriment of others. For instance, you may be working long hours at work, and continuing to work once you get home. As a result, your relationships with family, friends, and your physical health may start to suffer.

It’s like the Plate Spinner at the circus. Perhaps he is capable of successfully spinning 6 plates at once. He starts with one, gets it going smoothly and adds another, and another until all 6 are aloft. Each requires minimal periodic attention to keep it going.

If he skips a plate, or spends more time on another than necessary, the others start to wobble, and eventually fall. Life is like spinning plates. You have your work, your home, your relationships, your physical needs, your spiritual needs, your social responsibilites, and perhaps others.

Take a quick look at how you utilize your time each day, and week to get a glimpse of how many plates you successfully have spinning. This is not to make you feel inadequate if you have only one or two up in the air. It is just to help you determine if some of the plates-or life areas- which aren’t spinning are keeping you off-balance. You’ll notice if you find yourself getting frustrated or angry about situations which you wouldn’t have before, or are feeling tired, out of shape, lonely or unhappy with work or life in general.

Simplifying life then is to find a way to include the missing relationships or needs. To find a way to spin a couple more plates will require you to spend less energy on the one that demands too much time. This could mean finding ways to delegate responsibilities, or saying no to nonessential requests, or combining activities that can spin plates in more than one area. For instance, taking a walk with a spouse or friend  adds relationship and physical value to your life. Enlisting help at work can be social as well as working. Make a list of some activities commitments you can drop, and some ways to combine your life areas.

Simplifying life is like cleaning out your closet. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need and doesn’t suit or fit you. Keep only the things which you love. You and your closet will have more space to fill with the activities which make you feel fulfilled and happy.

 Get simplified, and enjoy more…life.

Move Forward


The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Gets you nowhere fast. It stands to reason then, that if you want different things to happen this new year, like losing weight or making more money, you will have to take different actions to meet those goals.

The best thing about your past, is that you can look at it with objective eyes and learn a lot about what was successful for you, and what was not so much. You’ve heard that people who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. This is very true, so your purpose for looking back is to learn from your mistakes, and figure out how not to repeat them.

Now you can use this new insight to move forward to more success. What have you done in the past that worked well for you? How can you use this to further your success for losing weight? What have you done that kept you stuck? How can you replace that with a new action? Ask friends for suggestions, if you have none. They know you and will probably have great ideas to try out.

You may also want to look into Coaching as an option. A Life Coach is someone who works with you to keep you focused and accountable to your Action Plan. It could make the difference between repeating your goals for next year, or moving on to new ones. What could your life look like if you met all your goals? Think about it…

This month the topic is Goal Setting. If you haven’t already read the article in the last newsletter “Making Your Plan for Success”, I highly recommend you do that ASAP. If you don’t set goals for your life, you end up being swept along with the current and whatever problems, crises, distractions cross your path.

Making Your Plan For Success


Most people will pause at the start of a new year to think about the upcoming months and what they would like to accomplish. Many people approach a new year with a list of Resolutions, those big items that can be life-changing if completed. Too often they are not.

It makes sense to first take stock of what you have already completed from your list of goals. Actually, reviewing and updating your goals should be done at regular intervals, say quarterly or monthly, depending on the length of time needed to complete your goals. This process helps you see where you are right now in relation to where you want to be. And we all know that having a map won’t help you get where you want to go if you don’t know where your starting point is.

Once you have reviewed your progress and where you are now, you can begin the fun part of goal setting. Yes, the FUN part! This is where you get to brainstorm and think BIG about what it is you want in your life. Do not censor your ideas, just take out some paper and ask yourself this:

What do I want my life to look like in 5 years? In 3 years? In 2, or 1 year? And just write down everything that comes to mind. Here are some examples:

  • Live in a house with an ocean view
  • Successfully support myself working from home
  • Be 30 pounds lighter
  • Travel to Machu Picchu
  • Attend Wimbledon with 3rd Row seats
  • Be a published author

These are some of mine, off the top of my head. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to get out all the big dreams that are covered in cobwebs, as well as the continuing goals you already have.

Now, look over your list. Pretend that this list is in the present. If your life is now everything you have on your list, how would you feel about it? If you aren’t dancing or jumping up and down or at least smiling, you need to add some bigger, better stuff to your list. If you are, then you are ready to take the first step to making it all reality.

Remember that there are various areas of your life that you may want to set goals in. These areas are:

  • Career/Financial – how you earn, spend and invest money
  • Social – your relationship with friends, family, community
  • Personal – your mental health, self-esteem, happiness
  • Intellectual – stimulating your mind, learning, trying new things
  • Physical – health, exercise, eating habits, medical care
  • Spiritual – your values, beliefs, life purpose

Let’s start by putting your list items into each of these categories. It is important to be happy and healthy in each area, as problems in your work, for example, can spill over and wreak havoc in your relationships or your health. All of these parts of your life are interdependent, so it is recommended to have goals in each of them.

Next, pick the most important items from your list and write them as goal statements. This means writing it in a way that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed (this is the SMART way to set goals). As an example, here are a couple of mine:

  • Have my finished Happiness eBook for sale on Amazon by March 30 (Career/Personal)
  • Lose 30 pounds by June 30 (Physical)
  • Save $100 or more each month in my Machu Picchu fund (Spiritual/Intellectual)

These are SMART goals. These are the statements you should write up and hang on your refrigerator, or computer and see them every day. They can still seem bigger than necessary to ensure your success. For instance, Lose 30 pounds by June 30 is a goal statement that meets all the SMART criteria, but it may make more sense to set mini-goals to reach it.

  • Walk/Gazelle for 20+ minutes 5 times each week
  • Eat 5-7 servings of fruits/vegetables each day
  • Have a protein shake each night at 8 pm- then brush teeth
  • Yoga stretch for 10 min in AM/PM 5 or more days/week

Now there are more specific goal steps which will make the larger goal easier to achieve. I know what to do, and I can keep track of when and how often I do them. Do this for any goals which will benefit from breaking it down into smaller, easier steps.

Use these goals and mini goals to keep track of your progress. You may want to reward yourself when you meet mini milestones along the way. This will do wonders for your confidence and motivation to keep going.

Lastly, having accountability to yourself and your success can make all the difference in the achievement of your important goals. The moment you commit to anything, the moment you believe you can do something, things in the world start to happen to help you along. But, you have to take a step, do something every day to make it happen. You are the winner, the beneficiary of the benefits of completing your goals, so make a promise to yourself that you are worth the time and energy required to enjoy the rewards waiting for you. You are also the one who loses out when you don’t reach your goal. How will you feel next year when you do this again, and have the same goals? Either they aren’t what you really want, or you do not think you deserve them.

And you’d better believe that you are capable and deserving of much more than you can even imagine. So, start today to make your ideal life your reality. Here’s to your massive success!

You, In Review


Here we are, at the end of another year. It’s the perfect time to take stock of what you’ve done, and not done over the last twelve months. Is this idea scary to you? Or fun?

Whichever way you look at it, it pays to take a look at what you’ve accomplished. It helps you see where you are on your path to your big goals. Now, if you don’t have those figured out yet, that’s OK. Most likely you still have ideas and plans rolling around in your head that you keep track of, right?

Today we will look at what you’ve done this past year, and next time we will go through the exciting process of setting your plans and goals for next year. Did you know that the act of putting ideas and goals down on paper gives them more power? It makes them more real to you, and subsequently makes you more committed to your successful accomplishment of them.

It’s alright if you feel less than thrilled with your success for this past year right now. By the time we’re done you will be able to pat yourself on the back for the work you have complete, so read on. It may also help you clarify what you want to tackle for next year.

First, let’s take a moment, and look at the areas of your life that you will want to review.

  • Career/Financial: This includes how you earn money, spend it, and invest it. It also covers how you feel about your work, or plans you may have to change careers or get a promotion. What were your financial goals, and which ones did you meet?
  • Social: This is all about your relationship to your friends, family and the community at large. What did you do to improve, or initiate relationships, or to help others? How also did you care for your surrounding environment?
  • Personal Growth: This covers your inward mental health; self-esteem, confidence, happiness, and the like. How did you work to improve yourself?
  • Intellectual: Stimulating your mind, learning new things, trying new things is part of this.  This is an important way to keep you young. What courses, activities, and books did you tackle to learn something new?
  • Physical: Here we include your eating habits, exercise, and medical care, everything that helps you keep your body healthy. What accomplishments do you have in this area?
  • Spiritual: This includes any work or clarifying of your values, beliefs or life purpose you may have done. Do you know how you fit in to the big picture of life, and what your gift is to the world? What have you done to explore or understand this?

Now let’s start reviewing these areas. If you have your goals you set for this year, or for the longer term, you may want to use them as a reference. If you don’t, that’s fine; you just may need to think a bit harder about what you’ve completed.

Take out a clean sheet of paper, or open a new word document. Label the top: My Accomplishments for the Year 20__. Next, start with the first category, Career/Financial, and just jot down everything you have done this year in this category. Nothing is too small- -paid off first credit card, saved up for a new computer, got a bonus at work. You get the idea. Only write down what you have actually done this year.

When you start to come up blank, move on to the next category until you have completed all six, Career, Social, Personal, Intellectual, Physical and Spiritual. You can always come back to one whenever an idea pops into your mind. Don’t worry about putting your successes in the right category either. They are just guides to help you cover the major areas.

Give yourself as long as needed to pull out as much as you can. If you like, you may take out a highlighter and color up your results with the successes that you are MOST proud of.

There you have it. The year in review, based only on the positive steps you made. Are you surprised by how many there are? That happens a lot. If you want to remind yourself of how well you did, hang it on your refrigerator or by your computer- it will spur you on to do even more next year.

For next year, we will start with this accomplished list and set some new goals. It‘ll be fun. But first, do something to celebrate having a great year.

Well done, YOU!

Personal Wellness 101




You may hear the words wellness, holistic wellness, personal wellness and other similar descriptors tossed around. What do they mean, and are they all the same thing?

Maybe. Professionals in various fields use them, and usually take a slightly different view of the definition. Physician’s may generally be interested in your physical health. Counselors and therapists are looking at your emotional or social health. Pastors, yoga instructors and the like are concerned with your spiritual health. Bankers, loan offers and credit card companies look at your financial health, and so on.

Today what we are talking about is your whole health, the sum total of the seven areas represented on the Wellness Wheel illustrated above. There are also a variety of options you may find on a wellness wheel, but generally these seven categories are found on most if not all of them. Let’s look at them individually:

Emotional Health: Wellness in this area means maintaining good mental health, a positive attitude, high self-esteem, and a strong self-image. It includes  the ability to respond appropriately to emotional states in life every day.

Intellectual Health: Means you actively strive to expand and challenge your mind with creative endeavors. It is responding to challenges and opportunities to grow, making plans, developing strategies, and solving problems. Always being a student of life.

Physical Health: Physical Wellness encourages consumption and activities which contribute to high level wellness, including medical self-care and appropriate use of the medical system. It means eating and engaging in physical activity which encourage your body to be at its best.

Social Health: Social wellness is having positive relationships  and enjoying being with others. It means becoming more aware of your importance in society as well as the impact you have in your community. It is recognizing the need for leisure and recreation and making time to include those activities.

Environmental Health: Wellness here means it is important to lead a lifestyle that is respectful of our environment. This includes respecting not only nature but also those species living in it. Respect for others living in our environment is just as necessary as respect for the physical environment itself.

Financial Health: Financial wellness is having an understanding of your financial situation and taking care of it in such a way that you are prepared for financial changes. The mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of money for you work together in a way that you feel positive about your financial life. What you do to earn money falls into this category.

Spiritual Health: This dimension of wellness involves seeking your own meaning and purpose in this human existence. Being well means your actions, how you live, becomes more consistent with your beliefs and values.

Since total “Wellness” is multi-dimensional, it means that while the dimensions seem separate, they are all inter-dependent. When you feel stressed at work (Financial Wellness) it will affect other areas. You may not be able to sleep well (Physical Wellness), you may get angry with family quickly (Emotional Wellness) and may withdraw from friends and activities (Social Wellness). You can see that one seemingly small problem can have a ripple affect.

By the same principle, when you work to improve one or more areas of your life, it improves the others as well. Eating better or going for a walk at lunch (Physical Wellness) can mean you have more energy to play with your kids (Social Wellness) and more clarity to solve problems at work (Financial Wellness).

Making a habit of taking stock of how you feel about each of the dimensions of wellness, can keep you on top of your overall health before it gets out of sync. Making small changes in each area can in turn have a profound improvement in many areas. Got you thinking? Great, it’s a start!

To practice improving your wellness, do the Think Outside Challenge to the right. And for more information and tips on improving any dimension of wellness check out the Wellness pages on our site.

To your Wellness!

How Do You Present Yourself to the World? Part 1


This is not something we generally think about. Or even think that we need to consider. But it is a critical question to spend some time on.

You may have heard others talk about people in terms of their ‘business persona’ or their ‘outside of work persona’, which may be radically different. Or you may also have heard people describe the masks or the hats that they wear in reference to their different roles and the face to the world that each may require. Does it seem strange to you that there should be a difference?

I used to feel that there was a clear shift in my demeanor when I put my mom hat on, versus when I was away from my family. When my kids were younger, I didn’t put much thought into this, but as they got older I started to wonder why I would choose to act so differently. With my kids, I felt as if I had to be ‘on’ and in charge of making sure everything got done and nobody got lost, or hurt. I felt like I was missing the enjoyment I allowed myself when I wasn’t wearing my mom hat.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy doing things with my kids, but that always in the back of my mind was the feeling that I had to remain vigilant, and not let myself relax in the moment. Looking back, I realize this perhaps  robbed me of some of the joy of raising three fantastic kids.So, somewhere about twelve years into the process I decided not to be so strict with myself. Obviously as a parent I worry that I am doing my best, but I do not want to worry so much as to not live and enjoy the rest of my life. I was wearing my mom hat almost exclusively.

Having multiple hats or masks to wear and keep straight can be exhausting, and really when you think about it, not very authentic. Part of the energy drain comes from trying to juggle all the hats and keep straight the behaviors, vocabulary, and presentation that each one calls for.At work, it isn’t always best to share personal stories, and most people talk and act very differently there than at home or when hanging out with friends. At home, it may be OK to drink out of the milk carton (except at my house), but not at a friend’s house. Seems pretty simple, but is it? Consider this…

Have you ever met someone who seems so real, authentic and comfortable in their skin that it flows into all that they do. When you work with them, or meet them outside work you get the same person? And you feel safe, that whatever they say or do is because they meant to do or say it? How awesome does it feel to be around someone who greets life from who they are inside?I know I am inspired when I spend time with people like this. It doesn’t always mean we agree on everything, but that as a person, we are both respected and acknowledged. This is a person who has hung up the hats and put away the masks. And has so much less clutter in life as a result. This is a person who will say no if the request isn’t right, and you are appreciative of their honesty.This is a person who can command the attention of a room without saying a word, because they live and speak from the place within that is their truth. This person would naturally do the same thing no matter where or with whom they are.

Personas, then, seem necessary when we are not sure who we want to be, or when what we spend our time doing does not mesh with who we really are. This leads to feelings of discontent and longing for something else, even if we can’t quite put our finger on what that is. If that is you right now, it may be time to do some soul searching for those activities and people who make you feel alive and useful. It’s the way we were created, to do something in the world which means something- if even only to ourselves.

For now, let your thoughts run wild as you consider what it means to be YOU. Next time, we will follow up with what to do to help you clear your vision and combine some of your hats.

Improve Your Environmental Life


Going green is the current trend. From hybrid cars to reusable bags to recycling, we all have ways we can easily pitch in to help reduce our carbon footprint. This is an important component of our Environmental Wellness, but in truth it encompasses much more than this.

More specifically it means to lead a lifestyle that is respectful of our environment, not only the natural environment, but also those species living in it. Respect for others living in our environment, whether two, four or more legged is just as necessary as respect for the physical environment itself.

The world is getting much smaller every year; things that happen in other parts of the world have an effect on our air, water and wildlife as much as what we do here. We are all neighbors. As neighbors it behooves us to think and act in ways which shows that we respect our neighbors right to use all the magnificent wonders this spinning globe has to offer.

Makes sense, right? It’s the battle cry of politicians and environmentalists over time, “Let’s leave the world a better, healthier place for our children and grandchildren”. But now we need to think about those children in China and Africa and everywhere.

And we all have to do our part. But what is the most important thing you can do? Well, start with a mindset shift. Think using the golden rule, but applied to all of God’s creatures.

This picture reminds me of a story about a relative of mine, who had a farm and a bar in Minnesota. It was off the beaten path in the land of 10,000 lakes, but I was fascinated as a child because I learned that on the roof of this bar there was grass growing. And one of the animals on their farm was a goat. In a marvelous cycle of ecology the goat kept the grass on the roof trimmed, gained nutrients, and the dirt and grass provided much needed insulation for the building in the harsh winter weather.

A perfect example of respecting nature, animals, use of heating fuels and recycling all in one.  Every creature and plant has its purpose, which leads to growth and health of other creatures, which leads to more health and growth in the natural world, which eventually leads to us humans. We have all seen how reducing the population of honey bees can lead to poorer fruit, flower and vegetable crops due to insufficient pollination. It’s all related. As are we.

Time to think about how what we do every day effects this precious cycle of life. For our children, grandchildren, and all the creatures that delight us out in their world.  Plant a tree, turn down the A/C by a couple degrees, ride a bike or walk when you can, unplug things when not in use, stop paper bills and statements; the options are endless. Be bold, be thoughtful, be respectful, but take action. You will feel better, not to mention your neighbors may follow your lead.

Where’s the FUN?


Ever have those days when it seems like everything you did, and everyone you had contact with, and all you felt was Serious? Complete lack of joy, humor…FUN? Hopefully you don’t have too many of those days each week. But some days are like that.

Consider this scenario:

You awaken to a blaring alarm, not quite feeling rested. No chance to finish that sweet dream, too much to do today.  You quickly corral the troops and send them off to their respective destination, and then it’s off to conquer your day. You encounter questions, problems, needy customers or colleagues, and piles of work that won’t be finished today. There’s no time to think, let alone have any fun, right?

Before you know it, it’s time to move on to the next  obstacle- traffic on your way home, or to the grocery store, or favorite take-out place. Next there may be homework, or work brought home and the usual round of house chores. Still no fun? If you’re lucky, maybe you have time to watch your favorite sitcom, or funny movie. How many days do you experience like this? If you answered “too many” then this wakeup call is just in time.

We all seem to live for the weekends when we get to relax and enjoy the fruits of our week’s labors. But how often do we find the weekend to be spent in catching up on errands and chores and family engagements?  And like a blink of an eye, the alarm is blaring once again…

Sound familiar? We humans are creatures of habit, and as anyone will tell you, all habits are not created equal. What we have here is a habit of moving through the days and weeks with the hope that one day we will get to have fun. Those fun days are probably few and far between.

But luckily habits can be changed. It’s actually easier than you might think. But there are different ways of going about it. The hardest approach is the cold turkey-just not gonna do it anymore -plan. As anyone who has tried to give up smoking or eating red meat, or biting their nails, to be successful you have to replace the bad habit with a new, better one.

Like chewing gum for the smoker. Or eating more fish and chicken, or having a lollipop when you want to bite your nails. You need to find something you enjoy and that is better for you as a replacement. And changing a habit means you need to form a new one. Forming new habits requires that you do something repeatedly over a period of time until it becomes second nature. Learning to ride a bike, or play an instrument, for instance. Practice it until it feels natural.

Can we do that with our daily routine to add more fun to it? You probably at times in your life had some built in fun in your day- singing or dancing while you get ready in the morning, or while cleaning up. Playing games as a family while driving or eating. You know, stuff that makes you smile, or dare I say, laugh?

Start first with a little bit of searching your archives for things you have done in the past- they are easy to put back into play. Then add some easy things you don’t have to think very hard about:

  • Sign up for a funny quote or comic strip to be delivered to your inbox every day.
  • Carry a couple snapshots in your wallet or on your phone of fun times you’ve had.
  • During your break or lunch, watch a silly pet video on YouTube.
  • Play practical jokes on family or co-workers (harmless ones…).
  • Belt out your favorite song in the shower- everyone sounds awesome there.
  • Write silly notes to your kids or spouse…see what happens.
  • Record some of your favorite funny shows and movies, and watch regularly.
  • Laugh for no reason, even if it’s in the car alone.
  • You add some ideas to the list.

Pick one or more things from your list and add to each day. Repeat daily. Be creative, and you’ll be adding fun into the everyday stuff before you know it. Laughter is good for your health, both mental and physical.

And so much easier than crunches, don’t you think?

Tis the Season to Be Stressed(Free)!


The holiday season brings with it a hodgepodge of feelings for me. I love the anticipation of spending time with friends and family, of watching the faces of my kids when they open their gifts, or the warm feeling I get when driving or walking through neighborhoods decorated with lights.

I also dread the traffic as the days pass by, and the rush to get everything put together, wrapped, baked, and cleaned on time.

Along with all of those feelings comes a healthy dose of STRESS. Most of us toss that word around like we’re talking about the weather. Yes, stress is common, and some stress in our lives is even healthy. But before the season gets out of hand and leaves in its wake a frazzled, let’s-get-this-whole-season-over-with-soon mindset, here are a few things to stop the stress overload in its tracks.

S – Schedule the Important Stuff

To be sure you don’t miss the things you really want to do, put those front and center on your calendar, and work around them: the Holiday School Concert, the Cookie Exchange, etc. Keep up with yours and your families’ activities, to prevent last minute panic.

T – Take a Breath

Any time you feel anxious or overwhelmed, stop and just take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose until your lungs, and then your diaphragm are filled. Exhale through your mouth slowly. Repeat for one minute and you will feel much more relaxed, and your blood pressure will go down as well.

R – Relax

Taking a breath is one great way to help you relax, and can be done anytime. When times are especially stressful, more relaxing activities can pre-empt the cortisol that is released when stress builds up. That can be as simple as listening to  calming music, to taking a bath or meditating. Yoga or Tai Chi are very stress-reducing stretching exercises with great health benefits. Pick an activity that makes you feel good, and do it regularly.

E – Exercise

Physical Activity releases endorphins in the brain which relieve anxiety and stress and even lessen depression. The best part is that as little as five minutes of exercise can start the chain reactive effect that endorphins have on the body. Go for a brisk walk, or an extra lap around the mall, just walking. Jumping jacks, stairs, or even dancing around the house are great options.

S – Stay Focused

Here is where the wheels can easily come off the bus. Try to stick with your important items, and say NO to anything that will not help you stay focused on your goals. Of course, things can come up that you weren’t expectiog, just take the time to ask yourself if you really want to take on the task, go to the event, or spend the time on it. You will thank yourself later.

S – Smile!

This is the easiest one to do, and my personal favorite. There are numerous studies that link laughter with increasing all the positive healing hormones in our bodies. There are even documented cases of patients healing their cancer with hours of watching belly-laughing comedies every day. How awesome, and so much cheaper than medicine! Curl up with your favorite movie or TV comedy, or visit a local Comedy Club.

These are just a few simple, quick ways to keep you in the holiday spirit. Pass it along, and spread a little cheer wherever you go this season. Enjoy!