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.
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…