A Jar of Gratitude and Joy!

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Day 115

I have been ‘posting’ butterfly notes into my Gratitude Jar for a few months now and it’s getting quite full.

Today, after a week of being unwell, I needed a little perking up. So I took a sneak peak at the contents of my jar. After fifteen minutes I was feeling pretty awesome! I was surprised at how quickly I had forgotten some of the fantastic things I have achieved, and some of the equally awesome things that have happened over the past few months.

Reading through my notes was a bit like looking through a stack of precious photos…you can’t help but remember the stories and the feelings you had on the day or in that moment in time.

I have a large jar that I bought at the $2 Shop and I decorated it with butterflies, red hearts and ribbons. Then I cut out a few purple and pink post it note pads in the shape of butterflies. I keep them next to my jar on my book shelf with some sharpie pens ready for the next ‘instalment’!

The plus for me is that the small shape of the butterfly keeps my note short and to the point. It also encourages me to document my achievements and experiences because I know it will only take me 15 seconds. Once I have written down my experience or achievement, I pop it into the jar. I’m saving them for a moment with my husband on New Years Eve when, over a glass of champagne, I can read the contents of my gratitude jar and look back on all of the wonderful moments and achievements of 2014.

Sometimes though, it’s great to have a sneak peak. It helps clarify what you want to write and record. What makes your heart sing, or burst with pride? What fills you with warmth and joy? What gives you an utter sense of love and pure bliss?

Today, when I was feeling a little tired and vulnerable, (and to be honest a bit cranky and frustrated that I am still unwell), taking the time to meander through some brightly coloured butterfly notes was…well a bubble of joy. It reminded me to be grateful. And excited. I am living an extraordinary life.

How are your gratitude or happiness jars going? Are you writing all of your amazing achievements down? Perhaps you have a bucket list jar instead and each time you achieve one of your dreams on your list you write that down and pop it into your jar. Perhaps you have had a few sneak peaks, or perhaps you are saving it all up for a special date.

Or maybe it’s time to finally set up your gratitude/happiness/ bucket list jar…it’s not too late!

“May you live every day of your life.” 
― Jonathan Swift

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Achieving ‘once in a life time experiences’ with every day goals

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YAY! It’s time to talk about goals! I know that it probably sounds like hard work but I promise that by the time we’ve finished you will be writing up goals for everything! Every day goals!

Firstly, lets be up front and say that there are many ways of achieving your dreams.

Some of us are just so determined and focused that once we have decided that ‘this’ is what we are going to do, we just do it. Most of us however need a bit of help. It’s not that we don’t want our dreams to be a reality, we just get distracted by jobs and family and the latest episode of Vampire Diaries. So we need a plan, a bit of support and some very clear goals.

Over the past few weeks we have worked through a few key steps leading up to this moment:

  • We took some time to day dream! We established what our dream is and we fully connected to the emotion and passion it brings us.
  • We minimised the panic and self sabotage – before we overwhelmed ourselves and put our dream in the “too hard” basket, we considered undertaking the challenge for 30 days. Just a little 30 day trial…
  • We pledged to be an eagle, and shed our chicken status! We also looked for the amazing and extraordinary eagles around us; the ones who both challenge and support us, and thought how we would support and challenge them back. They need us eagles too!!
  • We mapped out our perfect life! We got a bit brave and thought about some of the things that we really wanted to achieve and experience this year and we….wrote it down!! eeeek!!!

Now we are up to cementing the process with establishing some very clear goals.

There are a few ways to write up a goal. We are all quite different, so some will resonate with you while others wont. Test them out. Give them a bit of a trial or mix them up. If one way doesn’t work for you don’t give up! Check out Google! There are many ways to support your dream.

Today we will look at two goal setting models:

1. SMART Goals

This is how most workplaces and coaching programs will develop goals.

While SMART goals are probably the most formal model, I find that they give you a great base for thinking about goals and achieving them. So lets start here.

S.M.A.R.T stands for:

S – SPECIFIC  What exactly will you accomplish or achieve?

M – MEASURABLE   How will you (and others) know when you have reached your goal?

A – ATTAINABLE  Is attaining your goal realistic with effort and commitment? Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? If not, how will you get them?

R- RELEVANT   Why is this goal important to you. Be very clear about why achieving this goal matters.

T-TIME BOUND   Exactly when will you achieve this goal by?

So just say that one of your dreams is to visit a relative for a special occasion. Or this year you want to extend your business online. Perhaps you need a bit of help with making this happen. Here’s some examples of how you would write this up as some basic SMART Goals:

  • By 30th June, 2014, I will create a Facebook store to sell horse feed and products on line.  I will employ a contractor to develop the site and payment interface.
  • On November 7th 2014, I will travel to UK to visit my grandmother for her 80th birthday. I will do this by saving $100 every week from my salary.

LIVING Goals

The LIVING Goal model is a way of strengthening your basic SMART Goal and also connecting it to your emotional commitment. This is where goal setting becomes heaps of fun, because you are writing down your dreams and visions!

We write up this goal as if it has already happened, or happening right now! As if you have travelled forward in time. So while your goal still has all of the elements of a SMART goal, it also has all of the elements of your dream.

Close your eyes for a moment. Perhaps your goal is to lose 15 kilos. Close your eyes and think about that moment that you step onto the scales and you have achieved you goal. How does it make you feel? What are you saying to yourself? Who’s there with you celebrating with you? In your mind look at your reflection in the mirror. Are you wearing a special outfit? How will you celebrate? Are you losing the weight to feel healthier or for a special occasion? Perhaps you imagine walking into your Zumba class feeling great in your skin? Or perhaps its to attend a wedding or to be able t get back into those awesome pre-baby jeans! Whatever the vision, take a moment to imagine how it feels to have accomplished what you set out to do.

Now you are going to write down your goal in a way that connects with the emotion that your vision. This is also a great way to differentiate between what is really meaningful to you. So for example if you have written down a goal of saving up $5,000 with a clear purpose, such as travel or enrolling in a course, or purchasing a new bed, then you are emotionally invested, and will work hard to make it happen. However if you have set a goal to save $5,000…for the sake of saving $5,000, you may be finding it difficult to get excited here. Sure you may envision looking at your bank statement and seeing $5,000, but if it’s not attached to something that you are emotionally committed to, then you will find that this goal will start to drop down on your priorities list.

Once in a life time experiences have a funny way of turning into multiple life time experiences once you get the hang of this.

My husband, Cristian, had dreamt of traveling to Japan since he was a little boy watching anime on the families black and white television. He grew up on a housing commission estate and as you may imagine, money and resources for his family were hard to come by. While his parents did the very best they could to give their children a good life, this definitely didn’t include overseas holidays, or family holidays at all. By the time Cristian and I started going out, he had resolved in his head that he would never actually visit Japan, and would have to make do with the visions of Japan he saw in games and movies.

I’m sure you can imagine what happened next…

We wrote down his goal as a living goal. It read:

‘It is the 24th March,  2010 and I am about to board the plane to travel to Tokyo for a three week holiday. As I step onto the plane, I am feeling really excited and so proud of myself that I have accomplished this dream.’

(Then we put his goal up on our wardrobe door with a photo of Tokyo in Cherry Blossom season…but we will talk more about ‘actions’ next time!)

We did indeed travel to Tokyo on 24th March, 2010, for three weeks in Cherry Blossom season, and travelled around Japan. As we left Australia to fly out to Tokyo Japan on the 24th March 2010, we took a fantastic photo of Cristian about to board the Jetstar flight from the Gold Coast. His massive smile says it all! This was exactly what he had imagined doing eight months prior when he wrote down his LIVING goal. Since then, we have travelled to Japan three more times, and that initial trip has forever changed the direction of our lives!

So this is it! Your our homework, or ‘dreamwork’ as I like to call it, is to choose one achievement or experience from your Perfect Life map, that you want more than anything to happen this year. Write it up as a  LIVING GOAL. If you feel a bit inspired, write up at least one LIVING GOAL from each area of you Perfect Life map.

Remember to give yourself some space to focus on yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea, put on your favourite CD, light a candle, sit in your favourite char in your house, or go for a walk to the park or your favourite cafe. Make sure you create the space in your life to think.

Most of all have some fun, and don’t be afraid to dream lovelies!

My Perfect Life – Mapping

DAY 16

Thursday 16th January 2014

Today I sat down and wrote up all of my dreams and goals for this year. I use a few different models and ideas these days when I am writing up my plans for the year.

I usually start with creating a ‘map’ of my perfect life. This is a way of getting everything down on paper before I forget. It usually covers a range of aspects of my life. The dreams I have for my relationships and family, my health, fitness and well being, my career, finances, personal development and my big ticket dreams.

I used to just write this up in list form, but a few years ago I got a fantastic little work book called “Goals” from Kikki K, and it has a visual version of this model that I use now.

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The book is great, but if you can’t get a copy, it’s just as good to use a big sheet of butchers paper, some coloured pencils and textas. I usually settle down with a cup of my favourite tea, some good music, a few yummy smelling candles and brainstorm away! I put a key heading in each of the circles and then write down all of the different things I want to see happening in each area. You can change the key topics around, or add if you like, but if you are a bit of a virgin to this sort of thing, then stick to the basic key themes first until you get the hang of it.

The rules are that there are no rules, and no idea is a bad or wrong idea. This is meant to be your perfect life. So what does your perfect life look like? What kind of things would be happening if each aspect of your life was on fire? Don’t limit yourself. Or think “this will never happen” because if that’s what you’re thinking then I assure you it won’t. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”

So have a bit of fun! Go wild! Write that dream down!

Mapping

Once you have written everything down, pop your Perfect Life Map somewhere that you will see it at least twice a day. You might like to put your map up on a wall, a mirror or wardrobe door. A friend of mine also takes a photo of her map with her mobile phone, so she can ponder over it while she is public transporting everywhere. Another friend puts his map up on his fridge, so every time he goes to the fridge for something, like milk for his cup of tea, he is also checking out his dream life. Give yourself a few days to consider what you have written. Over the next few days you might want to add something, or take something off.

Once you are happy with your map, it’s time to start developing goals. Don’t be too freaked out. They are not as scary as they sound. Tomorrow we’ll look at developing ‘Living Goals’ and the SMART model…and how to make your Perfect Life Map a reality.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France

A Recipe for Disaster

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Day One

Wednesday 1st January, 2014

It occurred to me last night, as I was watching the fire works over the Melbourne skyline and sipping on my glass of champagne, that there should be some rules and boundaries to this adventure I am embarking on. I’m not just saying this because I am a ‘list girl’. Or a control freak. Honest.

I just think that it may get messy if all I focus on all day for the next year is everyone dying before midnight. You can see that this could be a recipe for disaster. A rather large disaster for me I think. The thing is, I am not the sort of girl who does things half heartedly. If I am committed then I’m there for the entire ride. My husband says it’s something to do with me being a scorpio, but I think it has a little to do with determination and mindset.

Last month in our office, our entire team agreed to take on a planking challenge. The idea was that we would build up the time we planked from zero up to 5 minutes, over 31 days. We put in place a few supports, including a star chart (we’ll talk about this later), a team member who took on the main coaching role, and lots of crazy mini challenges to keep us focussed. On day one we had all eleven of us on the floor of our main office planking for 20 seconds to the wild cheers and encouragement of our resident coach Daniela. Twenty seconds done, we all headed back to our desks feeling like we had made a start. Yep, we were on our way. In a month we would be planking for 5 minutes like champions! Well that was the dream. Did I really think I was going to be planking for 5 minutes. Not really. I was hoping for one minute. I was also hoping that I would plank for longer than most of the guys in the team.

Four days later I planked for a whole minute, and two of the guys dropped out. Then I made it to two minutes. Within two and a half weeks I was planking for three and a half minutes, then four. There were just a few of us girls left hanging out on the floor during our lunch break.

In the end I planked for five minutes, and have planked for five minutes quite a few times since. I’m telling you this not to brag about my planking achievements, but more to illustrate how something clicks in my head, and I become determined to go all out. If I say I am going to do something, then I’m damned well going to do it. I just like to be really clear about what exactly I am going to do. And I really don’t want my life to “never be the same again” because I have passed out from emotional exhaustion.

So I have come up with the following parameters to avoid a recipe for disaster.

1.  Clear goals

Treating everyone I meet as if they are going to be dead by midnight, and treating them with all the care, kindness and understanding I can muster may seem fairly straight forward, but I foresee some disasters ahead if I’m not specific and clear about what I’m trying to achieve. I still need to hod down a job, and I have  family to care for and some very dear friends that I would like to keep!

Most of you would already be familiar with goal setting, (SMART GOALS) and would know that it’s important to start with a clear idea of what you want to achieve. In my case, the real goal is to change who I am and how I live in the world.

The next step is to break it down to short term, medium and long term goals.

So, I’m going to keep this simple at first. My first short term goal will be to treat at least one person, every day, as if they will be dead before midnight – and I will extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding that I can muster.

The other short term goal will be to undertake this challenge for the next 30 days. I’ll talk further about changing behaviours or habits in 30 days in another post, but for now, it’s my first milestone.

2.  Champions and Support

We all need champions who support us no matter what. They’re the people who stand in the pouring rain cheering us on, on the sporting field, or drive us to endless dance lessons, or art classes. Often they are our parents or an awesome uncle of grandmother. When we get older though, we sometimes need to find new supporters, or champions who will support us around specific tasks or achievements.

Whenever I take on a new challenge, I’ve learnt that I seem to be much more successful if I have someone on my side. For the planking challenge we had a coach, who kept us on track. Daniela reminded daily of our commitment, held us accountable and celebrated our successes. Quite possibly she was our biggest and proudest fan!

What I also noticed was that I need someone who I am prepared to pledge my intention to. This is a way of making a commitment. Apparently if you say out loud what your intention or commitment or goal is and you tell just one other person of significance, then you are much more likely to see the task through.  For me, it was important to live up to my commitment to Daniela and the rest of the team.

I also need someone who is just as determined as I am that I will achieve my goal. Not just someone who tells me that’s a great idea, but someone who is along for the ride and is prepared to kick me up the bum if I get slack. Lets face it, we all need a kick up the bum sometimes.

In this case, it’s my husband, Cristian for the blog, and my friend Diana for the task at hand.

Both are two of my biggest supporters and also won’t let me drop the ball. Cristian is also blogging expert, ( you can check out his blog here ) and Diana is a fellow scorpio. No further explanation necessary.

Incentives

I know, you are all thinking, “Wait! Og Mandino said to undertake this challenge without thought of reward!”and I promise you intend to uphold this. However I think incentives are a little different. They are the things you put in place to keep you focussed and committed to the challenge. The thing or things that remind you why you took up the challenge or goal in the first place and keeps you connected to that bubble of inspiration that made you take the leap of the cliff into the fathomless waters below.

Reaching for stars

When my team at work were doing the planking challenge our coach set up a star chart, tracking every time each of us planked and how long we held the plank for. It wasn’t the gold stars, as much as knowing that I didn’t have any gaps on the chart. The stars represented an effort, and documented my journey. Okay, I like gold stars too. But I am sure elephant stamps would work just as well.

The point is that the chart kept me focussed  and on track, and ultimately led to me realising that I absolutely could plank for five minutes if I was determined and believed I could…and didn’t want any blank spots on my star chart.

So my initial incentives will be:

  • a star chart to track each day
  • this blog

and I will add more incentive to this over the coming months.

There is every possibility that i will collapse from exhaustion, or get sick, or feel overwhelmed, but I think I will have to just realise that sometimes you can’t control absolutely everything. An adventure is, by nature, about heading into the unknown being as prepared as you can be but knowing that you will meet the unexpected.

So, here we go…time to jump off the cliff into those waters below…