Getting Stuff Done

Getting Stuff Done Do itI have received lots of lovely comments about my latest blog post – thank you! It’s weird, for a while I seemed to lose my “blogging mojo”, if there is such a thing. Every time I sat down to write, nothing came out. Well, very little. I never seemed to feel like writing. Admittedly, I am working on another project that is taking up a lot of my creative energy. Not to mention a new role contracting that is totally awesome but taking a lot of time. I don’t want to say “I didn’t have time”, because we all know there’s no such thing right? I also think saying “I didn’t feel like it” doesn’t give it justice. It was really one of my most recent posts about being uncomfortable that got me thinking about why I wasn’t getting stuff done. I eventually wrote the post by promising myself I was not allowed to leave my desk until I had written SOMETHING. It was like some sort of weird, solo, silent protest/torture thingy. Then I just typed some stuff. Then more. And before I knew it I had the makings of a blog post.

Michelle Bridges tells her clients “don’t wait until you FEEL like exercising! That day is not going to come! Do it anyway!” Many writers write anyway. Stephen King writes something every day. I’m not sure how many words, but it’s something. Every. Day. So, if I was waiting for a nice, warm lovely feeling to wash over me that was going to inspire me to write, I would not have written. At all.

What is a feeling anyway?

Well, feelings come from thoughts. So, what we are feeling is a direct reflection of what we are THINKING. Scary when you think about it. If you are feeling bad, it is because  you are thinking bad thoughts. If you are feeling unmotivated, you are thinking thoughts of low motivation. Sometimes it feels like our feelings are out of our control. But, that is not the case. Because we can always control what and how we think.

Oh my goodness, I have control!

Imagine a situation where you arrive home to find your house flooded. The carpet is wet, your sofa is ruined and a “wet dog” smell is evident. And you don’t even have dogs. You have no control over this situation. Accidents happen. You weren’t to know a pipe would be blocked and it was going to pour with unseasonal rain. What you do have control over is what you think about it. There are going to be a few expletives, and that’s okay. When you’ve had a rant, think your next thought starting with “I’m so lucky that…” Okay, now this can be difficult but trust me. Just start thinking the words and listen for what follows. Some things that might come out are:

  • … we have insurance
  • … we get to buy a new sofa (I didn’t like that one anyway)
  • … upstairs wasn’t affected as we have so many precious things up there
  • … this didn’t happen when we were on holidays and it went un-noticed

You get the idea. If you’re thinking this is too “Pollyanna” for you, think of the alternative. Negative thoughts, bad feelings and still, the situation is unchanged. The wet dog smell remains. The choice is yours. The key is to THINK something good first, THEN the feeling will come. It is impossible to feel bad when thinking good thoughts.

How to get more stuff done

In summary, don’t wait for the feeling. It will never come. Instead, think a thought that is resourceful for you right now. In my case, I wanted to write, so my thought was “I am so motivated to write right now!” I believed it (eventually) and I immediately felt good about writing. Another thing you might like to do is exercise. Think “I would love to exercise right now!” even if you don’t. Think good thoughts about exercise, and before you know it, you’ll be pounding the pavement, lifting weights or cutting laps in the pool. Or any other number of activities.

So in summary, getting stuff done comes down to this 6 step plan:

  1. Think about what you need to do
  2. Think positive, encouraging thoughts about this task
  3. Imagine how good you’ll feel when it’s done (optional bonus but highly recommended)
  4. Start to feel that feeling now (because you will)
  5. Do the task
  6. Celebrate!

Okay, now step 6 is not a joke. Seriously, we do not celebrate our achievements enough. We move onto the next. Celebrate with anything from a happy dance in your study (I cannot confirm or deny I did this…) to a special treat like a favourite food or massage. Because you deserve it!

How do you get things done? How would changing your thoughts change your outlook, and ultimately, your results? Go ahead and share using your favourite button!

Be Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

Comfortable with being uncomfortableThe other day I was in a cycle class when the instructor said “I know this feels hard now. It feels uncomfortable. What you need to do is get comfortable with being uncomfortable!” My eyes were bleary with sweat, and my legs were shaking, so I didn’t immediately ponder on the metaphor of life our wise instructor had thrown at us. I just got through the class. Just! But when  you think about it, it’s very true. Anything great was never achieved by sitting on the couch eating chocolate chip biscuits. It was done through a combination of blood, sweat tears, or just sheer determination. We look at successful people and thing “wow, they’re lucky”, and some of them are. Most of them, however,  profess that the harder they work, the luckier they get.

Nothing changes until something moves

Albert Einstein once said that “nothing changes until something moves”. But what has to move? Well, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be your legs on a spin bike. Not immediately anyway. The FIRST thing that has to move is a thought. Our thoughts become things – and the more we think, the more things we can create. So, the cool thing about this bit, is we just have to think. Create a thought that will lead to something amazing. Then move in a way that is consistent with what we are thinking. Some might call it goal- setting. Or manifestation. It’s all about deciding what it is we want and going after it. What are your goals? What do you want?

Most of our goals are smaller than what is actually possible. We think small because we want to be “realistic” or “not greedy”. We aim small, and we reach small, not realising the un-tapped potential awaiting us. There is another reason. We set goals that are small so it’s not too hard to reach them. We want to reach our goals but we don’t want to get too uncomfortable. We don’t want to sweat TOO much. We can be like the casual joggers of the goal-setting world. Just taking it nice and easy. Slow and steady. And while we are actually moving, we are not uncomfortable.

Feeling uncomfortable yet?

It doesn’t mean that every day has to be a hard slog. It doesn’t mean that every workout needs to be a marathon. It means that in order to achieve our goals, we need to be putting in an effort that makes us feel uncomfortable, and is consistent with the results we are after. And the really great thing about this, is the more we make ourselves uncomfortable, the more comfortable we get with it. Our comfort zone expands. Think about the first time you rode a bike on two wheels. At first (well, for me, anyway) it was scary. I thought I was going to fall (and did). It took all my concentration to stay upright. Now, I ride my bike easily, and while I’m still concentrating, it’s more comfortable than it was when I was learning.

Push the boundaries

It’s not about going from being terrified of heights to jumping out of a plane within a day. It’s about doing something every day that makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. Slowly pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone out so it becomes huge! Opening up your world to more exciting things to try that you never thought were possible before. Take a night class. Go to a networking event. Offer to speak at an event. Introduce yourself to someone you admire. Sign up with a Personal Trainer or Coach. Someone who can help you through your fears and limitations. There was a time when I would give the cycle studio a wide berth – it was scary (still is). Now I go to class regularly. I remember the first time I presented in front of over one hundred people. I was terrified. Now I’ve done it numerous times. And it has opened doors to opportunities I have never imagined.

What could you do that is uncomfortable but could get you outstanding results? What can you do today to expand your comfort zone?

April Challenge Two Weeks later…

I have to say I’m pretty proud to have achieved my goal of 30 minutes of exercise every day in April, over 1000 minutes in total! I initially thought it would be physically challenging, which it was to a point. But it was more a challenge mentally. It challenged my behavioural flexibility and creativity. Muscles that should be stretched as much as possible! There was many a day I was challenged to think well outside the box due to limitations placed on me that I simply had to work around. These days especially made me proud, and they weren’t necessarily physically hard. Although, I would have to say that walking in heels is harder than one might think! I’ll take a 5km run any day!

So, I finished the month of April feeling fit and healthy, and I also finished feeling like I could take on ANY challenge I set my mind to, even if I don’t actually know HOW I’m going to achieve it. I learned that the ‘how’ will actually present itself once I set a goal. Weird, isn’t it? This has totally changed the way I think about setting goals. I have always thought about ‘how’ very early in the process, often discounting goals because I could not see the whole process and how to achieve each part of the goal. That made logical sense to me, but now I know it’s wrong.

What assumptions have you made in the past that could be challenged? And will they help you set and achieve even more amazing things?

Wii the bad weather blues away

Today the weather turned dark and dreary, and I could feel the atmosphere almost slow down from the moment I stepped out of the house. Winter is here. On a bright note, it means more opportunities to accessorise, but it was harder than usual to think ‘glass half full’ today that’s for sure. I had my gear for the gym at lunch in case there was an opportunity, but I ended up prioritising a session with one of my colleagues to debrief on a coaching session. Time very well spent, as we both got a lot out of it.

To balance things out, I left the office a little early with the intention of doing something, but I wasn’t sure what. The temperature outside was cool, and I was feeling a bit flat, so I jumped on the Wii for some obstacle course, snowball fight and Segway action. Awesome fun, and it shifted my fatigue, setting me up for an evening of being productive.

My success today is attributed to trusting that there is always a way to achieve a goal, even if circumstances make it look like it might not be possible. Having that trust, and knowing it’s possible, is all I need. I think I might trust myself more often!

Think outside the Park…

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the park with my friend Priya, but with the detour in place, it wasn’t as easy to walk through the park as it usually is. Before we left I was trying to think of an alternative way to get into the park and do a similar walk to the one we did a few weeks ago, but in the end we just headed out the door and trusted that something good would emerge. Priya walking with me was great, as her walking pace is nice and brisk.

We skirted around the park, which also has a golf course (so many options), but in the end we walked on and ended up in a completely different park. This park has a walking track going around the outside with a whole array of new things to experience like beautiful trees, a trumpet player and a dog training school. And of course, it was a lovely day. I had never considered this park. I knew it was there, as I have been there before, but it always seemed a bit far away for a regular walk. Mind you, with Priya’s walking pace, even the most far off things seem possible.

6.3 kilometres later, we had completed a lap of the park and returned home within the hour, and saw a whole new part of my neighbourhood that I had not fully experienced. The unfamiliar was now looking more familiar. The combination of being pushed a little bit harder and doing something different ended up with a great new experience for the day. How else can I push myself that little bit further in something unfamiliar? How many unfamiliar things can suddenly become familiar?

Rest and Gratitude

It was supposed to rain according to the forecast today, but the morning was bright and sunny, so I headed to my favourite sports oval to do intervals. I know I have talked about intervals being so much like life; periods of effort followed by well earned rest, and it really is true. When it was time to go fast, I ran as fast as I could. Then, during the rest, I sucked in as much oxygen as I could and mentally rewarded myself for my effort during the sprint. The day continued in a similar spirit: after exercise, I rewarded myself with some time in the city and a great lunch. After a full on week, I am really enjoying a chance to catch up on some relaxation time. As part of that reward, it has been important to spend some time acknowledging the hard work and achievements during the week. Even the little things deserve to be counted.

Acknowledgement and gratitude are wonderful ways of rejuvenating. Resting the body is one thing, resting the heart, mind and soul is another. What are you grateful for, that if you allow yourself to feel it, would make the biggest difference for you?

Fascinating Behaviour…

I took no chances and packed my rain jacket today to ride to work.  I always feel pretty good about riding to work on a Friday, like it’s worth double points or something because it’s the end of the week. And I can ride home feeling pretty smug that I’m exercising while everyone else is drinking.

I noticed something that both fascinated and disturbed me on the way to work. My normal bike path has been completely closed due to re-surfacing work, so I was forced to ride a different way. It wasn’t a big detour, and gave me the chance to ride a different route. I didn’t think twice until I noticed there were people picking up their bikes and stepping over the fence that had been constructed and riding on the path that is pretty much dirt and mud. While I appreciate that it was probably their regular route, why did they not choose to take the detour? Why risk yourself on an uneven surface, not to mention risk ruining the good work going on to make the bike path smooth and even for everyone? I was struggling to understand. Especially, as my detour added on an extra 300 metres in total to my commute.

So, why don’t people change? Why do we do the same thing over and over? Why aren’t we open to trying new things? I don’t have the answer. All this experience taught me was how important it is to being open to new things and never continue to take the path of least resistance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said ‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’. Hear, hear. Happy Friday!

What is your fire alarm?

My 30 minute a day commitment to myself was looking tenuous today… It was a pretty busy day. Work was hectic and I had some webinars for my learning I needed to dial into in the evening. I arrived home in time to go for a walk before my webinar, but I really wanted to get some extra work done, so I thought I get stuck into that, do the webinar, then exercise later. Hmmm…  I realised I had not eaten lunch as I had worked through due to meetings so I thought a piece of toast would be just the thing to tide me over. I then got distracted by a mixture of the report I need to read before tomorrow’s workshop and a YouTube ad with a fireman and a kitten. Next thing I knew, the living room was full of smoke and the smoke alarm was sounding. An effective smoke clearance plan was required, so doors were opened and the fan turned on full. The kittens ran for cover. No firemen came.

The whole living room smelled terrible, and it was still 40 minutes to my webinar. I made a quick choice. I put some sneakers on and raced out the door for a power walk listening to an educational audio. This satisfied a number of needs: I felt like I was learning, so not wasting time, I was achieving my 30 minute commitment to myself AND escaping the smell of burning smoke.

It’s funny, I’m not sure I would have made my 30 minutes today unless I had been literally smoked out of my house. Suddenly, the need to exercise was urgent, as opposed to something that could be put off. It got me thinking. How many things do we put off until they become urgent? And often does that urgency come from external sources? What sort of internal sources could we tap into to create our own ‘fire alarm’? Smoke out our own house so to speak and do the things we need to do before we absolutely have to?

Take massive action. And take it now. Don’t wait for the smoke alarm to go off.

Keeping warm on the Wii

Today started early with the Anzac Day Dawn Service. A great opportunity to feel grateful for the men and women who have died to protect our country. Getting up in the cold and rain was a small effort in comparison to the sacrifices made by them to keep us safe.

It rained pretty much all day apart from a brief opportunity to walk to the movies from the tram to see the Avengers (awesome movie!!!). Although, it kind of counted as an urban walk in heels, I was keen to move a bit more after the movie so I jumped on the Wii for 30 minutes of skiing, flying, jumping over barrels and skidding on the ice as a penguin. Great fun.

I’m so grateful I have so many options to exercise. Even on a cold and rainy day, there is no excuse not to move, even if it is just for a short time in front of the tv. Today is a grateful day all around, and I have to say it feels pretty good. I’m sure feeling grateful releases all these great feel good, healthy hormones. So, what else can I feel grateful for to make today even better? What can you do now to make your day even more outstanding?

No rain jacket…

Today it poured with rain. All day. And my bike was at work. And, yes again, no rain jacket. When will I start listening to Lance Armstrong? Seven Tour de France victories, he knows a thing about cycling! So, I cycled home in the rain. The great thing about being in the rain, is once you get wet, you can’t really get any wetter. And it’s only really the getting wet that is the hard thing. Actually being wet is easy after that. The best thing was getting home, knowing I had achieved my 30 minute a day goal, even when it rained. And having a hot shower. Actually, the hot shower felt better.

Now I am warm and dry, the cold, wet ride home is a distant memory. I remember telling myself as the water dripped down my neck ‘this too will pass’. And, of course, it did. I’m not sure the self talk was super helpful at the time, but I’m wondering what other experiences I can get through by telling myself that. Frustrating meetings? Annoying people? Boring car rides? It’s true. Everything, in time, passes. Nothing is permanent. It just makes you want to hold onto the good things for as long as possible, but also feel relieved that even the truly horrible things are only temporary.  I think that makes me feel better.

Stay warm. Stay dry. But if you can’t, get warm and dry when you can.