Maybe you’ve got a rockin’ body and doing a full nudie run
through your office will get you that promo. But when I say “streak your way to
success” that’s not the kind of streak I’m talking about. Although, hey, if it
works for you, I ain’t gonna hold you back!
I’m talking about a streak of consecutive wins. A winning streak.
The small things we do every day can lead to bigger results
than the big things we do once in a while. It’s all about training your brain
to recognise what you’re doing as “normal”.
You clean your teeth everyday right? Things start to feel a
little furry if you skip this task. Maybe you have days where you’re so tired
you think about skipping it, but usually you’ll still do it anyway. Even if it’s
a half-arsed effort. And even if you do skip it, I bet you’re unlikely
to skip it twice in a row.
This is how it can be with any good habit you want to build.
It can sometimes be easier to do something EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY than it is to do
it three times a week or once a week. Because it becomes part of your daily
routine, and because you quickly start to see a winning streak. And nobody
likes to break a winning streak.
Tracking my winning streak was the most effective tool I used when I quit smoking. I literally gave myself a gold star on the calendar for every day that I didn’t smoke, and it started to look so pretty and sparkly… As much as I wanted to head-butt someone (thank you nicotine withdrawals), I was motivated by the streak of sparkles on my calendar. Plus it was on my wall for everyone else to see as well, so I didn’t want to have a gap in the stars.
Some suggested rules for streaking:
Keep your clothes on
(unless the habit you’re building involves sex or showering, then I guess you can ignore this rule).
Set yourself an achievable minimum accepted “win”.
For example, if your goal is to write everyday, set a minimum word count of 50 words. If the goal is to run everyday, make the minimum 1km or 10 minutes of running. This way, even on days when everything is against you, it’s still achievable to keep your streak going. You can also get the minimum over and done with first thing in the morning and then anything else you do that day is a bonus.
Set yourself a daily target.
Maybe the target is to write 500 words a day or to run 3km every day. If you get there, great. But if you don’t, that’s okay – as long as you’ve achieved the minimum it’s still a win. The daily target might even be something that you need to work up to over time.
Track your streak.
Having visual proof of your streak is motivating and a great daily reminder. As I mentioned before, I used gold stars on a calendar to track my progress when I quit smoking.
Never miss two in a row.
The goal here is to keep the streak going without a break. But of course there might be days when it just doesn’t happen. You’ve got the flu, or you’re on a 15 hour flight, or you just simply can’t be effed. The idea of streaking is that you make the minimum win achievable even in these sorts of circumstances, but I know sometimes it might just not happen. Don’t quit altogether just coz you missed a day. Get straight back into it the following day and keep going. Just don’t allow yourself to miss two days in a row because that’s when it gets really hard to get back into it.
Set an end date (optional).
Depending on the goal or the habit, you might want to set an end date or a target date. This way you can choose at that time to stop if you want. The end then isn’t determined by you ‘falling off the wagon’ so to speak. And it gives you the power to choose if you want to continue, change it up, or just stop altogether. It might also help you to not get too obsessive about the habit if you know it’s only going to be daily for a certain amount of time.
Get freakin’ streakin’!
What types of habits could you try
Spending time outdoors
Making your bed
Reaching out to potential new clients
Contacting a friend each day
Going to bed with a clean kitchen
You could also try streaking for
quitting a habit, of course!
Let me know what you’ve tried streaking for and if it worked for you.
Difficult people have the power to ruin our day… but only if we let them. Now, I know that’s usually easier said than done. But I recently discovered a way to reclaim my power when dealing with a jerk.
The next time you’re dealing with a difficult person, I want you to think about what they’re afraid of.
This particular A-hole that I dealt with several months ago was so aggressive, abusive, and intimidating. I lost sleep because of this dude, and anyone who causes me to lose sleep and is NOT my toddler, becomes my number 1 enemy.
Anyway, fast-forward a few months and I have to deal with him again. I got the sweats, the racing heart, the shaky hands. I started trying to think of ways to get out of it. But then I stopped and thought about why he was such a jerk. What was driving his shitty behaviour?
The answer was FEAR. He was advocating for his son, and he was so terrified of what life has in store for his young guy. The fear of losing control of things as his son got older was just too much for him to bear.
Hey, I could relate to fear. I would also feel desperately afraid in his situation. And I’d also probably forget my manners if this fear was overwhelming me. I’ve got no doubt that can be aggressive and intimidating if I feel the need to protect someone I love.
So now I was on the same page as this man. It didn’t make his previous behaviour okay, but I guess it made it a bit more understandable. I could now work with him and try to keep the conversation reasonable, or at least end it with some respect and empathy. Which is what I did in the end.
The common factor
So then I started thinking about some other ‘difficult people’ I’ve come across. Fear was a common factor. There was always something I could identify that they were afraid of and that probably drove their behaviour.
In none of the circumstances did understanding their fear suddenly excuse their behaviour. But it gave me a different perspective, and a new way of approaching them… or walking away from them.
Give it a whirl
If you’re dealing with a difficult person, I’d really encourage you to take a step back and think about what it is they might be afraid of. You don’t have to call them out on it. Just keep that thought to yourself and see if you can approach them a different way. Or… walk away confidently knowing that they may be afraid of something, but they have no right to make you feel afraid of them.
Let me know if you try this exercise and if it helps you deal with a douchebag. If you need some targeted help with conflict management, feel free to get in touch.
Today I found myself wondering, “where is the year going?!” It’s already the middle of April and it feels like Christmas was only last week! The first quarter has just disappeared, and I’m not sure I’ve used my time effectively. Sure, I’ve been ‘busy’ and things have been happening, but am I where I thought I’d be at this time of the year in terms of my goals? Not quite…
So of course I go into self-protection mode and remind myself that I’m a working mum and the toddler makes things tricky. I remind myself of all the things I HAVE achieved so far this year… and there’s actually a bit there to be proud of. But I’m not letting myself completely off the hook.
Time management can make or break us. I know I’ve heard from
a lot of readers who have said this is their weakness, so I’d like to focus more
on this in coming posts. I have so many thoughts on time management and it’s a
bit of a love-hate relationship for me!
Sometimes I’m pretty good with my time management, but at other times it all falls apart and I end up wasting a lot of time or being pretend-busy. The last few months have been a little bit of a blur, so these are the things I’m going to focus on to get myself back on track, and I’ll be back soon with some more specific time management thoughts and tips.
The best way I’ve found to manage my time better is to actually
think about time. Focus on it. Be honest with yourself about how you spend each
chunk of time in your day. And the most accurate way of doing this is to track
your time in half-hour blocks. It not only helps you to see where you’re losing
time, but also helps to keep you accountable and motivate you to do something
productive with your time. You don’t really want to write down that you just
spent an hour scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.
Make your down-time worthwhile
Using time effectively doesn’t mean you have to be constantly doing something. Rest is important too. But if you don’t feel refreshed or energised after your chill-out time, then you’re doin’ it wrong. If I spend an hour scrolling through Facebook and I come away from it with nothing but a headache and general feeling of annoyance, then I’ve wasted my time. But if I watch a 1-hour episode of a TV series with my husband and we connect over it and laugh about it or chat about it afterwards, then the down-time was worthwhile.
Switch to something
When you catch yourself doing something that’s not serving a
purpose, switch to something more productive. Think about what you could be
doing right now that’s going to get you closer to your goals. Whether it means
getting your shoes on and going for a run, Googling a healthy recipe for
dinner, putting a load of washing away, or doing some research for a project
you’re working on, there’s always something productive that you can fit in
right now with the time and the energy that you have. Put down your phone and
just do something. One trap I fall
into is thinking that I can’t do anything while my toddler is around because he
slows me down, gets in my way, wants me to pick him up all the time etc. And
sure, I can’t write an essay or clean the whole house while he’s around, but I
can probably put a few things away or write up a meal plan for the week.
Time to wrap it up…
Just being conscious of what I’m doing and what my goals are
helps me to use my time more effectively. But it takes practice to maintain
this consciousness. It’s so easy to get sucked into the busy-ness and
exhaustion of everyday life, but then before you know it, the year has slipped
away and you haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve.
Increase your awareness of where your time is going. Let’s start thinking about it now so that we can still fit everything we want to do into the rest of the year. Leave me a comment to let me know your best time management tips, or your biggest time management problems!
One of my #19for2019 goals was to plan a weekend getaway for me, my husband, our toddler, and our two dogs. Now the reason this was a bit of a challenge for me is that I’m usually a bit resistant to changing my routine or stepping outside my comfort zone. Weekends away just sound like a lot of hard work! All that packing, all the decisions about where to eat, trying to wrangle a toddler in unfamiliar territory… Not to mention the cost involved!
But my husband loves to go away, and he knows that once I’m there I love it too. So whenever we do go anywhere he’s the one that does all the planning work and I stay right out of it. Which, I think sometimes makes him feel like I’m just not interested in spending time with him. Not true.
So I challenged myself to plan a weekend getaway. And I
learnt some interesting things!
What my weekend
getaway taught me
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to have a break.
I found a reasonably priced Air b’n’b which was pet friendly. This meant we could take our two dogs and didn’t have to worry about finding pet sitters or burdening family with the responsibility. Knowing that with the dogs and the toddler it would be tricky to go out for meals, I took our meals with us. I had a curry and a bolognaise in the freezer from a while back when I did a big cook-up. So I took those and some pasta and rice to cook once we were there. Super easy! Some basic essentials got us through breakfast and lunch, and all we bought once we were there was some milk, bread, and some cheese & crackers to have with our wine.
It doesn’t have to be action packed.
Just being away from home is relaxing, because you don’t have to worry about all the housework you should be doing, or anything else on your to-do list. Getting away from all the clutter in your home gives you breathing space, space to think, space to just be together and enjoy each other’s company.
Kids are adaptable.
My toddler has certain routines that I don’t dare mess with. For example, when I get him out of his cot I must kiss his moo cow first, then play peek-a-boo with moo cow, then Archie is ready to get up and moo cow can bugger off. All hell breaks loose if I forget to give moo cow some lovin’. But other than that, the tiny tyrant was totally cool with his new digs. He loved exploring the back yard and was mostly just ecstatic that there were several sliding doors he could play with for hours. He slept well in the portacot, loved sitting outside to eat, and had plenty of space on the deck to practice his new walking skills.
The housework can wait.
One of the reasons I’m reluctant to go away is because I’ll get so far behind in all the daily routine stuff. I worry about not being able to catch up again and that things will get too far out of control. But it really isn’t the end of the world if we get a little bit behind in this stuff. It can all wait. Making memories with your family is much more fun (and important) than having a clean and tidy house. It may take a little while to catch up and get back into the daily routines, but that’s okay!
So all in all, our weekend getaway was a success. Sure, it
was a bit of work to get organised and get us all there, but it was totally
worth the lovely memories we have now. We didn’t do a lot, but it was
guilt-free chilling. And it was a good warm up for our next holiday… Fiji, here
Get in touch
Am I the only one who stresses about going on holidays? I’d love to hear your tips for making family holidays easier! Leave me a comment or share your thoughts on my Facebook page.
Life has really been kicking my butt lately. I’ve been scrambling to keep my head above water, and just between you and me, I’ve been running a lot. Not the kind of running that’ll give me a good butt, either. Just running from that ol’ Black Dog that’s been chasing me for a while. So Fly Life has taken a back seat, allowing me to focus on the essentials of self care and basic life management.
The problem though, is that it’s been so long since I posted
a blog (maybe 5 or 6 weeks?) that I have found myself feeling really stuck
about what to write about! When I’ve been struggling myself, I start doubting
that I’m the right person to be dishing out advice on personal development and
But then I try to remember that when I’m having a hard time
being a parent, I’d rather hear advice and stories from other parents than from
an ‘expert’ who’s never actually had kids. So maybe in the same vein, I am the right person to share my ideas and
learnings, because I’ve actually had to apply them.
So this is just a post to say, “hello, I’m back”.
While I’ve been gone, I have been thinking about the future
of Fly Life and I’m excited about the possibilities. I’m putting together some
workshops, thinking about an e-book, and really wanting to get the blog pumping.
I would love to hear from you. Is there something you’d like me to write about? Something you’re struggling with in your own life? What topics of workshops do you think would be useful? It would really boost my motivation and help me to home in on what you’re interested in if you’d get in touch via the comments, Facebook, or a private email.
Life gets busy. So busy in fact, that some days you skip
breakfast, drink too many coffees just to try and keep your energy up, and snap
at your loved ones because they just don’t get it. You probably don’t even mind
being a bit busy – it’s better than being bored, right? But you take on more
and more… and more… until you’re completely overwhelmed and heading straight to
Every now and then you need to remember to stop and reassess your priorities. It can be so easy to get caught up in what’s urgent, what you feel obliged to do, or what other people need from you. When this happens, we tend to forget what actually matters most to us. And what matters most is what we should be spending the majority of our energy on.
For example, my family and my health & wellbeing are two of the top most important things to me. But when life gets busy, I tend to spend LESS energy on those things, and in fact sabotage them! When work gets really busy and stressful, I’m less inclined to spend quality time with my husband and I get frustrated with the baby being so needy. I spend all my energy on work and then I’m too tired to make healthy meals so I eat crap and don’t fit in any exercise.
What makes it so tricky is that my work is important to me too. But is it MORE important than family and health? Nope. So why does it get more energy than those things? It shouldn’t.
How you spend your energy should reflect your values.
Rank your values
Take a few minutes to list all the things that are important
Now rank the top 5.
This can be really hard, but be honest with yourself. No one
else needs to see this.
Here’s an example, but your list might contain totally
different things, or in a totally different order.
Rank your energy
Now you have to be even more honest with yourself… how are you currently spending your time and energy? Again, rank it from highest to lowest, and remember you’re just looking at the top 5 energy consumers in your life.
If it looks like this:
Sobbing into my wine glass
Commuting to and from work
… then you’ve got a problem to fix.
Match ‘em up!
Once you’ve identified what’s important to you and how you’re
currently spending your time & energy, it’s time to make some changes.
How can you re-structure your time and prioritise the things that are most important to you?
Sometimes just becoming aware of the difference between your priorities and your energy expenditure is enough to start making small changes.
But sometimes you need to make some really big, tough decisions. For example, if your job is sucking the life out of you but doesn’t even rank on your Top 5 values, it’s time to start looking for a new job. If your family is draining all of your energy but they’re not the number one value, you might need to start setting some boundaries and putting other things first.
This is a great exercise to do when life is getting busy or
overwhelming, or when you just can’t seem to fit in things that are important
to you. You might like to do this exercise as part of a regular review of your
life and goals.
Remember that the point of the exercise is not to rank things that you think should be important to you. It’s not about ranking what other people value. It’s about what YOU value. If you really value reality TV more than work, GREAT! Make sure it ranks higher and find ways to put more of your energy toward that. This is all about identifying what you value most, and living for those values.
I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear what you think of the exercise.
Ahh the fresh start of a new school year. An exciting time for academic high-achievers! Your study motivation is high. This’ll be the term you stay on top of everything, submit stuff early, and get top marks in every assignment.
Your new books are just waiting to be filled with neat, organised, colour-coded notes. Your desk is clean and tidy. The unit outline reassures you that this subject is totally manageable… as long as you keep up.
But those first couple of weeks are a bit of a chore to
settle back into school/uni life. The sun is still out and there’s too much
stuff happening on the weekends. You’ll catch up next week.
Before you know it, your desk is scattered with junk, you
don’t even know what week you’re up to on the unit outline, you haven’t started
reading the textbook yet, and you’ve got two major assignments due next week. Panic
and dread sets in. It’s so hard to catch up now.
I’ve been there.
It’s not just the bludgers that experience this cycle. Even nerds get the blues. In fact, I’d guess that nerds especially get overwhelmed, fall behind, and lose their study motivation.
And just so you don’t feel offended by me calling you a nerd – I’m a nerd. I love nerds. I think we should embrace our nerdiness. Plus “nerd” is easier to write than “academic high-achiever”.
There were so many times in my degree that I
thought about quitting. I always got great marks, but I had to work so hard
for them. And that made it hard to keep up with the rest of my life.
But instead of quitting, I used these strategies to get my way to the finish line.
8 TIPS TO GET YOU THROUGH THE SEMESTER
Alter the deadlines.
If you’ve got several assessments due at the same time,
stagger them out a bit. Obviously you can’t extend
the deadlines without getting approval, but you can bring some deadlines
forward. By marking the due date in your calendar as a week earlier it a) gives
you buffer space in case you get sick or something goes wrong, and b) separates
the due dates out so that if things do
get left till the last minute, it’s just one assignment at a time.
Obviously there will be some situations where it just can’t be avoided, but if you can, resist the temptation to ask for an extension. All it does is kick the can down the road and make it a problem for your future self. Just get it done, even if it means sacrificing some social stuff, or some sleep, or some marks. I can hear the nerd in you gasp. Yes, I said you might lose some marks. In reality, you probably won’t, because you’re a nerd and you’ll do a great job anyway, even if it is last minute. Just get it submitted and move on to the next assessment so you don’t lose time on that one as well.
Break it down.
Have a look at the separate parts of the assessment and try
to break it down into manageable chunks. Make each chunk it’s own mini
assignment and set a due date for each part. Have a rough plan of how many
words need to go into each part to make up the entire word count. Use your
calendar or diary to plan out when you will work on each part. Leave time at
the end to pull it all together.
There are so many different ways of taking notes and it
really is up to you to find a way that works for you. Personally, I prefer to
hand-write my notes. Otherwise I just mindlessly type out the whole textbook
and that’s kinda pointless. I ended up with a pretty good system for
note-taking but it took me ages to get there. Let me know if you want more
info on how I did it. But once you find a way that works, and start taking
great notes, pulling the assignment together is actually the easy bit!
Keep your eye on the prize.
There’s nothing worse than having to give up things you love
(ie. time with friends, sleep etc) to work on a mind-numbingly-boring
assignment. It makes you hate your course, your teachers, your non-studying
friends who are free from this shit, and your life in general. So the key is to
look past the immediate pain-in-your-arse and remember what the final goal is.
Why are you even doing this course? How’s it gonna feel when you’re done? Picture
yourself with that silly hat and gown at the finish line. And get
the boring-ass assignment done so you can get back to your life!
Sharpen your focus.
Don’t spend ALL your time thinking about your studies. But the time you do spend, make it laser focused. Use the time well. There’s nothing worse than spending the entire weekend “studying” when realistically you’ve spent half of it on social media.
My favourite method of focusing is the Pomodoro technique. You set a timer for 25 minutes and work your little butt off. Then when the timer goes off, set it again for 5 minutes and do whatever you want in that break. Then set it for another 25. There are apps available for this – just search ‘pomodoro’.
Another tool I use is music. I can’t listen to anything with words or I start singing and paying too much attention to the music. So I just listen to instrumental playlists on Spotify. If you search for ‘study music’ or ‘focus’ or ‘concentration’ there’s heaps to choose from.
Sometimes it also means working at a different time of day to what you’re used to, or in a different physical environment. Perhaps at the library or a café. Find what helps you focus and keep doing that.
Have a countdown.
Sometimes keeping a countdown can be motivating. Total up
your assessments for the term/semester and feel the satisfaction of crossing
each one off. Or, countdown the weeks left until the next holiday. Count down
the units you’ve got remaining in the course, or the days until you graduate. Seeing
continuous progress can help to keep you focused and motivated.
Find someone who has a similar study motivation as you do. Someone who takes it seriously and will support you in whatever way you need. Just talking through your assignment with someone who’s willing to listen will help you to clarify what it is you need to do. They don’t even need to be studying the same subject… or studying at all… but if they know it’s important to you and they’re willing to support you, even just knowing they’re on your side cheering you on can be enough to keep you going.
Most importantly, keep some perspective. My friends will choke on their wine when they see ME giving this advice… but it’s really not the end of the world if you don’t get the High Distinction. I know it’s tough, and it may reduce your future options if you don’t have the marks your aiming for, but it’s more important that you finish the course with your sanity and health intact.
If you’re looking for professional support to get through your studies and keep your study motivation up, I’d love to help you out. My Study Coaching is tailored to your needs and we can do a one-off session here and there or a whole semester package to keep you on track. You let me know what you’re looking for and we’ll work it out from there. I’m not gonna get all salesy on you coz I know you’ve got bigger things to worry about right now. So feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call and we can work out a sweet deal. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep that new-semester feeling all semester long?
Okay, now stop procrastinating and get back to work.
5 things my yoga teacher taught me that changed my life
My first yoga teacher was a gentle, earnest, spiritual, and funny woman. When I started yoga, it was because I had quit smoking and was trying to find some other way to calm my mind and improve my body. I was at the beginning of my path to self-improvement, and Penny, my yoga teacher, was a strong supporter and guide. Without even realising it, she did so much to inspire me.
We became friends and she followed my progress with interest.
I was honoured when she asked me to do some early editing of her audiobook, and
I was always inspired by her constant search for ways to improve herself and to
learn as much as she possibly could. She was in her late sixties, but had so
much enthusiasm and zest for life.
I was so sad to learn this past week that she passed away recently. We hadn’t kept in touch these last few years after I moved away, so I wasn’t even aware that she was ill. I regret that I didn’t do more to stay in touch with this wonderful woman. Despite not staying in touch, she frequently pops up in my mind. She was such a positive influence for me, and there are many things she taught me that are always coming up in my day to day life.
5 things my yoga teacher taught me (that aren’t yoga postures):
Never stop learning.
Penny had such a thirst for knowledge and made me realise how fortunate we are to be able to learn pretty much anything we want. She struggled with technology but there was no way in the world she was ever going to let it beat her! I used to think I’ll just finish my degree and I’ll be done with education. But Penny inspired me to think of all the things I’d love to learn one day, and now I can’t ever imagine not working at learning something. I’ve developed her enthusiasm for constantly learning. Whether it’s through formal education channels, or teaching yourself something through YouTube and online tutorials, the possibilities are endless.
You can control your mind.
There are so many things in the world that are beyond our immediate control. But Penny taught me that no matter what is going on around you, the one thing you have full control over is your mind. With focus and practice, you can take yourself to where you want to be emotionally and spiritually. In times of intense fear and danger, I was able to remain somewhat calm by using this skill.
You don’t have to be the best, but you do have to be better than your previous self.
I’ve always been a bit of a high achiever, but I’ve never been the best at anything. The feeling of total inadequacy has been a constant thing in my life. Penny taught me through yoga that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or achieving. Their experience is different to yours. What matters is that you are working on being better than you were previously. I have taken this and applied it to all areas of my life. Instead of the constant feeling of inadequacy, I now have a frequent feeling of achievement because I know that however far from perfect I might be, I’m still better than I was before. And that’s progress. Penny was always far more excited about progress than she was about complete mastery!
Be true to yourself.
Penny was passionate about a lot of things. A lot of those things were a bit weird. She had some spiritual practices that would raise eyebrows simply because they were out of the ordinary. We would go out for lunch to a café and she would bring out this little gadget and put a tiny portion of her food inside it. The first time this happened I was very confused. Was she taking some home for a pet mouse or something? No, it was an offering to the Gods, she explained nonchalantly, then proceeded to say a prayer and then urged me to eat. While I did not feel the need to take up this practice (mainly because I don’t like to share my food), I loved and respected that it was an important practice to her, and she would not allow others to modify it.
I’ve since learned that this is a pretty common practice in some religions, but it was very rare to see it occurring in a public place in the country town I lived in.
You can teach others even while you are still learning yourself.
Penny had an expansive knowledge of yoga, but she was very open about the fact that she was still learning herself. There were some postures that she could not quite master, but she would still teach them to others and would show great excitement about the fact that we were all learning together. By being open and upfront about what you do and don’t know, and by continuing to learn with your students, you can in fact be a better teacher than one who believes they have mastered the subject and has nothing more to learn.
I will continue to miss Penny and to think of her often, because she truly helped to change my life. The principles I’ve mentioned in this post are some of the main drivers of Fly Life.
A challenge for you:
Sometimes it’s not until someone is gone that you realise what a huge influence they have been in your life. So today I challenge you to think about who inspires you, and why. What have they taught you, or how have they changed the way you do things? If you want, you can just do this as a private exercise, but I’d love it if you would share your thoughts in the comments!
Personal development is such a huge field and probably means
different things to different people. My interest in personal development started
at a time when I realised that I couldn’t always change a situation, but I
could change how I respond to it. I could change myself. So I started making
tiny changes that rapidly built up until I was actually quite a different
person to who I started out as.
This doesn’t mean that I’ve reached the end point in my
personal development journey. I think it’s a lifelong pursuit to be a better
person, to be someone you’re proud of, to live a life that you love and are proud
I’m not out to “fix” anyone or tell people what’s right and
wrong. I’m just enjoying my own path to self-improvement and I like to share my
own experiences and some things I’ve learned along the way through my studies.
My view on personal development, and what I hope to bring you through my blog,
Always try to be a
little bit better than the person you were yesterday.
Try to make someone
else’s day a little bit better than it was before they interacted with you.
Be conscious of what
kind of person you want to be, and work toward it.
Make gradual changes, have a go at new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking.
Life is a constant
experiment. Have fun testing what works for you and what doesn’t.
If you don’t like something, change it, or at least change how you respond to it.
What it looks like in practice:
Some days you might experiment with developing a small
habit, like say for example, making your bed or doing meal prep for the week. Other
times you might experiment with something huge like starting a new career,
studying a new field, or ending a toxic relationship.
I’m focusing big this year on just trying to always be a
little bit better than I was before. Personal development is NOT about being better
than someone else. It’s not about proving anything to anyone else. Really, it’s
just about being who YOU want to be.
Even when I’ve had a bad day, I feel okay when I can go to
bed knowing that at least I tried to do something positive about it.
You with me?
So if this seems like your version of personal development, self-improvement, growth…. whatever you want to call it… come hang out with me. Follow my blog, subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, or send me an email now and then. Let me know what you want to read about or talk about. Tell me what you find useful. Share your tips or experiment findings with other readers! Let’s make each day a little better than the one before.
I had my first cigarette behind the chook shed with my best friend when we were maybe 13. It’s such a funny memory now. We had stripped down to our underwear so that our parents wouldn’t smell the smoke on our clothes. But I was still convinced three days later that mum might smell it on my breath. So I vowed after that first smoke that I would “quit smoking” because the stress of hiding it was just too much for me.
I think I was 16 when an older friend bought me a packet of smokes to help me get through a break-up (who does that?). With a whole packet of my own to practice on, and older friends to impress, it wasn’t that long before I was hooked. From the age of 18 I was smoking about 30 cigarettes a day. I tried to quit smoking on many occasions, using many different methods. It just never lasted.
I was in a relationship where my boyfriend smoked (even more than me), many of my friends smoked, and I spent a lot of time in the pub (when smoking was still legal inside). Smoking had just become part of my life.
What made it so hard to quit smoking?
I guess the hardest part of quitting was that part of me loved smoking. I loved the feeling of
calm that came over me when I lit up. I loved that it was a good excuse to withdraw
from a group for a brief period to step outside. It gave me something to do
while I sat on my veranda for hours at a time. I loved the feeling of a fresh
new pack each day in my hands.
All of this sounds so crazy now. But I was so attached to
smoking at the time that the idea of quitting was just torture.
Deciding to quit smoking
In 2011 I decided once and for all that I wanted to quit. I
thought about it for a long time and argued with myself. Sick of going through
the pain of quitting only to take it up again, I wanted to be sure this time
that I was ready. So I thought hard about why
I wanted to quit.
At the time, a beautiful woman with a connection to my
family was dying of smoking-related cancer. She had been one of the most
vibrant, dazzling women I had ever met, and though I didn’t have a particularly
close connection with her myself, her situation had a huge impact on me. She
wrote about her cancer experience, and her regret for smoking. I read every
word and thought about the fact that this woman had lived such a wonderful life
and positively impacted so many people, and her impending death was going to shatter
so many hearts.
And here I was, living a very-less-than-ordinary life, not making a positive impact anywhere,
but smoking my little lungs away. I didn’t expect that my death would have quite the same impact on people, but I also
realised that it wasn’t fair to put my family through it in any case. Smoking
was something that I could choose to do or not to do. To quit smoking was one
small way that I could show my family I loved them – not because they wanted me to quit, but because I
didn’t want them to suffer the pain of watching another loved one die an
But that wasn’t my only motivation.
Other reasons I quit smoking
It was getting bloody expensive! I was spending a huge amount of money on smokes and missing out on other things. It sucked being broke all the time.
I was a bit ashamed of being a smoker, so I spent a lot of time trying to hide my smoking and to make sure I didn’t smell offensive. This was effort that I realised I could spend on more interesting tasks and activities.
I would get very anxious if I thought I’d be in a situation where I couldn’t easily have a smoke. I would even avoid certain situations if necessary. It was tiring having to plan ahead for smoke breaks all the time.
I never had enough time for things I wanted to do. But I was smoking around 30 cigarettes a day. Each smoke would take about 5 minutes. That’s something like 2.5 hours every day that I was spending just on poisoning myself! Ridiculous!
I don’t like being dependent. Whether it’s depending on a person or a thing, it makes me uncomfortable. I like to know that I’m in control of myself, and I certainly wasn’t when it came to smoking. I was entirely dependent on Peter Jackson. While I sometimes tried to fool myself that I was smoking because I chose to and because I enjoyed it, the reality was that I was smoking because I had come to depend on it.
I was sick of being sick. “My immune system is weak” I would moan every time I got sick. Colds, flu, and chest infections were so frequent, and they would be severe and last a long time. I would be embarrassed every time I got sick, because deep down I knew that I would be a lot healthier if I didn’t smoke.
9 Tips to Quit Smoking Once and For All
Focus on why you want to quit.
No matter how big or small, think of as many reasons as you possibly can that you want to be a non-smoker. Forget about the things you like about smoking. Don’t worry too much about all the things you hear about how bad smoking is (although it’s all important and valid). Really focus on your own reasons for quitting, like I did in the list above. Also, it helped me to think about it as “reasons I want to be a non-smoker” rather than “reasons I want to quit smoking”. It just felt more like I was moving toward something positive rather than moving away from something that I had somewhat enjoyed. I’m a big believer that you can’t quit an addiction until YOU want to and until YOU are ready. It doesn’t matter what everyone else’s reasons are – you have to convince yourself that YOU want to quit.
Give yourself a time frame.
Rather than just aiming for one solid quit date, give yourself a time frame in which to quit. You might aim for a week or a month (you probably don’t want it to be too much longer). As I spoke about in another post, I knew that telling myself I’d quit on the 1st of January was a mistake. That time of year is still too relaxed and full of social activities, and that’s when I knew I’d find it difficult to quit. The possibility of falling off the wagon once or twice was also strong, so I decided I’d give myself until the end of January to be a non-smoker. This worked. On the 9th of January 2011 I had my last smoke.
Identify linked habits.
What do you do that is linked to your smoking habit? Is it something that you can give up or change, perhaps temporarily? I quit drinking at the same time as I quit smoking. The two often went together for me, so it would be much harder to stay off the smokes if I was having a beer or wine. Giving up drinking and smoking was effing hard, but it was easier than only giving up one at a time. I drank soda water from a wine glass to make it feel like I was still enjoying a special drink until I got used to not drinking. I stayed off the booze for about 9 months I think, and by the time I allowed myself to drink again, the association had been broken. By then I loved being a non-smoker.
Track and reward your progress.
Do something that will help you see and celebrate your success. I literally gave myself gold stars. I had some pretty, sparkly gold star stickers like these ones. It might seem like such a small thing, but I think it was one of the key drivers for me. The satisfaction of putting that sticker on the calendar at the end of the day was huge. And gradually, my calendar started to look SO FREAKIN’ PRETTY! It sparkled and glowed and congratulated me every time I walked past it.
Focus on a project.
Distraction is your friend!I focused on decluttering my house. With all this extra time on my hands, I needed something to keep me occupied. So I worked on going through each room in my house and getting rid of anything that was just clutter. Not only was my body starting to feel cleaner, but so was my house. Admittedly, in the early days I was such an emotional wreck from the withdrawals that I probably threw out more than I normally would. My thinking would have been along the lines of “If I can’t smoke, then what’s the point having all these things? Life is going to be miserable anyway – INTO THE BIN!!!” (It wasn’t my most rational period).
You’re going to feel pretty crappy for a little while, but I promise it gets better. In the meantime, do things to pamper yourself and make yourself feel good.I made a habit of regularly having a long luxurious bath with candles and a book. Also, I started eating better because I had more money for good food, and more time to cook it. There was a huge cupboard in my house full of lovely pampering products like hand creams, moisturisers, bath gels, etc. So, I started trying to use some of those each day. Now that I didn’t stink of cigarettes, I could appreciate the beautiful scented products on my skin.
Even in five-minute blocks, it can be a great replacement for smoking when it comes to stress relief. When I quit smoking, I joined a yoga class. I was so nervous and made sure I got a spot in the back corner. But it soon became my new addiction as I developed an appreciation of my body, extended my skills each week, and learnt beautiful relaxation techniques which were much more useful than smoking.
Have a trusty sidekick.
Find a non-judgmental support person who will encourage you. The day I quit smoking, I had a brand new packet of smokes in my bag. My best friend, a non-smoker, was always supportive of my efforts to quit, without being a bully about it. I knew I could trust her to guard my “emergency pack” and that she wouldn’t let me have them unless it was really, really desperate. Knowing that I already owned a pack prevented me from going and buying more in the weak moments. But knowing I’d have to ask my friend to give them to me made me consider whether I really needed them. She was so strong – there were times in those first weeks where I was crying and really struggling to break the addiction. It would have been much easier for her to hand me the pack and shut me the hell up, but she never did. She just kept telling me how proud she was of me, and how well I was doing. You need to have someone on your side.
Acknowledge the difference.
Try to be really conscious of how different you feel. The first few days were usually the hardest for me, but even several months later I’d have weak moments where I’d really miss smoking. So I tried to always be mindful of how nice it felt to breathe fresh air, to have time that I could use productively, to not be sick all the time, to have more energy. Even now, eight years later, I’ll occasionally walk past someone who’s smoking and I’ll get a bit of a craving. So instead of thinking about how smoking felt, I force myself to think about how I feel now.
How I feel now, 8 years later
I’m so glad I quit when I did. Without a doubt, it was
bloody hard. Addiction is a beast of a thing, and I was so heavily addicted to
cigarettes that there were times I thought I didn’t want to live if I couldn’t
be a smoker. Crazy huh? I’d tell myself things like “you’ve gotta die of
something, may as well be something you enjoy.” But since quitting, I’ve
discovered things I enjoy even more, and they’re not even gonna kill me!
I rarely get sick now (although that changed recently when
my baby started day care and started bringing a heap of germs home). Even when
I do get sick though, I recover a lot quicker.
I now own a house, a car, and plenty of nice things and I go
on real holidays. Yeah, so I have a mortgage, but even that would have been
impossible with how much I was spending on smokes.
With all the extra time (and self-esteem) I had when I quit, my life started to turn around in so many more ways. I took up study, I joined volunteering groups, I got a job I loved, I left a toxic relationship and built a loving, respectful relationship. It was such a huge turning point for me.
Most of all, as a non-smoker for 8 years, I FEEL FREE.
To sum it up:
If you’re considering quitting smoking, or some other habit that you don’t want in your life, do it.
Start by focusing on reasons you want to be a non-smoker.
Set a time-frame where you will work on quitting. Aim to quit as early as possible in that time frame, but give yourself some leeway if needed, and then keep trying the next day.
Identify your habits that are linked with smoking, and either change them or quit them as well.
Track and reward your progress. This might be something as simple as gold stars on the calendar, or perhaps you’ll buy yourself a treat with the money you’ve saved on smoking.
Focus on a project to keep yourself distracted. This will also give you something to show for all the extra time and energy you have.
Introduce self-care and pampering to get you through the crappy feelings of breaking the addiction.
Practice yoga or meditation. Even if you just use YouTube to find some quick 5- or 10-minute videos, it’s a great replacement for the stress relief that you once got from smoking. I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but at least give it a try.
Have a trusty sidekick. Having someone to support you is really important. Also remember that there are resources like Quitline to get counselling and support.
Acknowledge and focus on all the positive differences throughout your quit journey. Every time you have a craving, think instead about the things that have improved since you quit.
I’m not saying that you’ll never feel like smoking again.
But using these strategies has helped me to remain a non-smoker, even through
some really difficult times.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any
other tips to suggest. Or feel free to email me if you have any
questions or would like some support to begin your journey toward being a