Kindness in the midst of disaster

If there’s one thing you can be sure of during any crisis in Australia, it’s the amazing display of human kindness that comes out.

Right now, we are experiencing bushfires like nothing that’s ever been seen before. The fires are wiping out massive areas of land, property, animals, and human life. People are losing everything they’ve worked for and everything they’ve known. Areas that aren’t currently directly impacted by fire are instead impacted by heavy smoke, road closures, and the constant threat that fires could start nearby at any moment. Anyone with TV or internet is exposed to 24 hour coverage of devastating images and stories from the fire grounds.

I have shed many tears over the past days as I empathise with those who have suffered this trauma. But you know what really gets the ugly sobs going for me? It’s the incredible compassion and kindness that is being shown all over the country.

People are opening their homes and businesses to those who have been evacuated. Donations of money and goods have been overwhelming. Individuals and organisations are doing what they can to ease the suffering of the animals that have been affected. Truckies are travelling long distances to deliver donated hay bales to affected farmers. Journalists are offering comfort and compassion during emotional interviews.

The outpouring of compassion is beautiful and touching. But it’s not endless. For in a few weeks when (hopefully) this disaster will have settled down, people will get back to their own lives while others are left to rebuild what is left of theirs. The images and stories will decrease over time and we will begin to forget the high emotions we all felt in the early days of January 2020. We’ll go back to road raging each other and complaining about mundane things.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

But wouldn’t it be nice if we could all continue to share some of this kindness and compassion throughout the year. We have seen that we all have the capacity for extending our love and generosity beyond our own families. Perhaps now is the time to think about what goodness you can contribute to the community as the year goes on. Join a community group like Rotary? Regular donations to charity? Volunteering? Maybe you just want to put a reminder on your calendar each month to check in with a lonely neighbour and take them a meal. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but lets take this feeling of goodwill and carry it on beyond the current disaster. People who have been directly affected by the fires are going to need support for much longer than the news cameras are on them.

There are big changes that are needed at the Government level in terms of climate change. But instead of only focusing on that, I hope we can all focus on what we can do as individuals to bring more kindness into a world that is suffering. What are you achieving by spewing blame and hate about one Prime Minister from behind your keyboard? Try spreading something positive instead. Do some good in the world, and commit to carrying that beyond this moment of crisis.

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Why set a yearly reading goal?

I am obsessed with hearing and reading about people’s goals. I think it’s fascinating to hear about different ways people are striving for change or improvement in their lives. And one of the really common goals I see is a reading target. People seem to like challenging themselves to read a certain amount of books in a year, or simply just to “read more”.

I’ve always been a book worm. But the last few years I decided to jump on the bandwagon and set myself a reading goal. I didn’t even know why… guess I just thought it would be an easy and enjoyable goal to aim for. But then I started discovering some unexpected benefits of setting this type of goal.

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash
Reading goals can bring unexpected benefits.

How a reading goal can impact your life:

Reading opens your mind.

Whether you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, books can open your mind to new ideas, cultures, and experiences you never would have known about otherwise. Studies have shown that keeping an active mind may help to ward off Alzheimer’s.

You’ll use your time better.

Having a difficult reading goal encouraged me to get the hell off time-wasting social media apps and read books instead. At all those little moments when I’d normally open Facebook and scroll mindlessly, I’d remember my reading target and switch to my Kindle app or BorrowBox instead. I always felt much more satisfied with spending 5 or 10 minutes reading a book than scanning rubbish on Facebook. I even ended up deleting my social media apps so now I only get on Facebook for around 10 minutes a day on my laptop when I’m doing it with purpose.

You’ll take more time for yourself

On days when I arrived to work early, I read. When I was finished my lunch and tempted to end my break early to go back to work, I read. Finding opportunities to have some me-time can feel rare, but only because we are always rushing to the next thing. Having a goal of reading a certain number of books helped me put me-time above donating my time to work or other unnecessary demands.

You might make new friends.

My strong interest in reading has helped me make great connections with new friends who also read. Any reading nerd will understand the excitement they feel when they come across someone who shares the same favourite author! And apps such as Goodreads allows you to connect with others simply over books. No need to see what they ate for dinner or what political crap they’re rabbiting on about… you can just see what they’ve read recently and how they rated it! I’ve found heaps of great new books (and friends) this way!

You’ll experience mental health benefits.

When life gets a bit rough, getting lost in a book for a while can be excellent medicine. At the time of writing this post, there are devastating bushfires raging through Australia, wiping out huge areas of land, wildlife, property, and human life. It’s terrifying, heartbreaking, and as with any kind of crisis or natural disaster, addictive to watch the coverage on TV or social media. We can get hooked on following the live feeds which just repeat traumatic images and stories again and again. Waiting for new information, you are exposed to such extreme emotions and it’s hard to switch off. So today I’ve reminded myself of my reading goal and switched off from the repetitive live feeds for a while, giving my heavy and anxious heart a break from it all.

You’ll increase your intelligence.

I can get totally wrapped up in the story for the whole time I’m reading it. But as soon as I move on to the next one I completely forget the last one I read. Sometimes I can’t even remember if I’ve read the book at all! But every now and then I’ll come out with some little fact or piece of knowledge that shocks myself as much as everyone around me. ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ I find myself wondering. In most cases, it was from a book I read. Even the fiction books I’ve read have increased my awareness of stuff that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. This helps me to contribute to conversations, occasionally know an answer at a trivia night, and stay interested in the world around me.

My reading goal for 2020

My goal for 2020 is to read 28 books. These will be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, and I’ll be tracking them on Goodreads. Last year my goal was 25 and I reached 28, but it was challenging to get to that number so I thought I’d increase my target to that this year.

Do you have a reading goal for 2020? Even if it’s just 3 books, try setting yourself a goal and see how quickly you can tick it off. You might just find some unexpected benefits like I did!

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Reviewing my #19for2019

At the beginning of 2019 I set myself 19 goals rather than one New Year’s Resolution. Now we are almost at the end of the year so it’s time to do a review of how I went!

I was doing great until I stopped tracking my progress. For the first 5 months or so I kept a detailed chart and it helped keep me on track and remind me constantly to keep working at my goals. Once I let that go it was harder to stay focused on those goals. But I still think I went okay.

Here are the results:

  1. Start swimming lessons with Archie – Achieved! He has participated all year and made the most amazing progress. For the first 6 months of lessons I bitched and moaned every week because it was a hassle and he didn’t seem to be enjoying it or getting anywhere. But then he started loving it and making great progress so now I look forward to it every week and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it.
  2. Rejoin Rotary – Achieved! I have joined a Rotary club again and I am enjoying being back in this community organisation where I can help make a positive difference in the world while making good friends at the same time.
  3. Write an e-Book – Not yet. I didn’t get around to this one but it’s still a long-term goal.
  4. Learn & use Pinterest better for my blog – Not really achieved. I dabbled. I’ll get back to it.
  5. Catch up with a friend at least once a month – I think I would have achieved this but I stopped tracking it so I couldn’t be sure. Tracking this one definitely helped me to make social plans when ordinarily it wouldn’t have taken priority in my mind. And I think I’m getting better at doing this now.
  6. Run my first workshop/seminar for Fly Life – Not yet. Maybe 2020! I had big plans, but then life got weird and this got sidelined until I can put all my energy and focus into it.
  7. Get my backyard sorted – Not yet. My backyard still looks like a sad little neglected desert. Maybe 2020. I thought I’d be able to do a lot of this myself but as is always the case when men get involved, it got too complicated and I lost interest. I just wanted to stick a raised garden bed in a corner, but no… first we must install drainage and blah blah blah… too hard.
  8. Get security screens installed – Achieved! Well, my husband really achieved this one but only because I nagged enough so I’m still claiming the victory.
  9. Have a weekend away by myself for writing – Not yet. Still definitely on my list though.
  10. Plan a surprise weekend away for my little family – Achieved! We had a lovely weekend I would like to do something like this more often.
  11. Read 25 books – Overachieved! At the time of writing this post I think I’m up to 28 and now I’m trying to see how close to 30 I can get, but I don’t think I’ll quite get that far.
  12. Declutter my house – Definitely not achieved! Every now and then I would work towards this a little bit but it was a drop in the ocean. Still so much work to do on this one!
  13. Cook a new recipe once a fortnight – I think I would have achieved this one or at least come very close to it. I have been trying heaps of different recipes and really enjoying cooking. It’s a bit harder now that I’m working full time again, but I still try to throw something new together as often as possible.
  14. Attend a blogging/business event – Not yet. This one will remain on my list.
  15. Have my women’s health check up – Achieved. I got this one out of the way early in the year.
  16. Move more – steps, yoga, swimming, SOMETHING – I did pretty well with this one, particularly while I was tracking my progress. I was going for walks most days before I started working full time a couple of months ago. Things have slipped a bit since then so it’s something I want to focus on again in the new year.
  17. Weekly gratitude practice – Not really… tracking this one helped but then I just kept forgetting. It makes such a difference though, so again, one that I will continue to work on in 2020.
  18. Write every day – Nope. I need to identify my barriers to this because I just found it really hard! But it’s still something I would like to be able to do.
  19. Experience something new with Archie every week – tracking this one was helpful because once I stopped tracking it I forgot to keep searching for new things. Also, when I went back to work full time it became much harder to fit new things in every week. But we did pretty well with this one and discovered some new places and fun activities!

Overall I did pretty well with my #19for2019. Focusing on this list for the year truly made me enjoy life more. The year had its challenges but looking back on what I achieved and what I enjoyed showed me that it was a pretty great year overall.

Achievements don’t have to be huge or impressive. Tiny positive tweaks are still life-changing.

Now to start planning my #20for2020!

What were your goals for 2019 and how did you go with them? I really love to hear about other people’s goals, so please share with me in the comments. Are you setting any new goals for 2020?

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Streak your way to success

Streak your way to success

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.

Tracking your wins on a calendar provides visual motivation to continue your winning streak.
Photo by Adam Tinworth on Unsplash

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 streaking?

  • Writing
  • Running
  • Meditating
  • Drinking water
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Making your bed
  • Reaching out to potential new clients
  • Contacting a friend each day
  • Reading
  • Going to bed with a clean kitchen
  • Stretching

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.

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That jerk is just afraid: a tactic for dealing with difficult people

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.

The story…

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.

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Time Management Tweaks to Get Back on Track

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.

In the meantime, check out 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think if this is something you’re really into!  

Track your time

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.  

Relaxation time can still be useful and productive
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Switch to something more productive

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!

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Learnings from a family weekend getaway

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!

Stressed about planning a family holiday with toddler and dogs. Picture is a woman sitting on a bed with her head down, holding a coffee cup.
The thought of planning a family holiday causes me more stress than excitement.

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.

Eating on holidays with a toddler.
Taking food with us cut down on costs and made meal times with the toddler easy.

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.

mum and toddler relaxing on weekend getaway.
Nothing else matters on family weekend getaways except spending time together.

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.

Toddler playing with a door on his weekend getaway.
The toddler loved exploring new places and playing with all the doors!

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!

A west highland white terrier relaxes by a pot plant on his weekend getaway.
Teddy was glad to have a break from the housework!

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 we come!

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.

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HELLO AGAIN

HELLO AGAIN

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 positive psychology!

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.

I’M BAAACK….

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.

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How to use your energy for the things you value most

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

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 Burnout Boulevarde.

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 to you.

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.

List your top 5 values in order of priority

Rank your energy expenditure

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:

  1. Work
  2. Facebook
  3. Reality TV
  4. Sobbing into my wine glass
  5. 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.

Wrapping up…

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.

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How to keep your study motivation

How to keep your study motivation

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.

Avoid extensions.

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.

Take note.

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.

Imagining this moment is what got me through so many crappy assignments! (I looked a lot better in my visualisations though…)

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.

Buddy up.

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.

KEEPING PERSPECTIVE

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.

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