Documenting my life

Tag: consistency (Page 1 of 2)

The 100 day challenge – end 2022 with a bang

There are 100 days left in 2022. How are you doing? If there is something you wanted to accomplish this year, but haven’t gotten round to it, this is your reminder that it’s not too late: you have exactly 100 days before the end of the year. 

What could you do in 100 days?

100 days is a great timeframe to achieve significant goals. You can go from being a literal couch potato to being able to run 5K easily (you can read my week by week experience including setbacks, learnings and tips, here). You can start a blog, finally get your business up and running. What would your life look like in a 100 days, if you committed to doing a 15 minute workout every day? Or if you did the 5 minute journal daily and set the main priorities for the day, then followed through and reflected on what you could have done better? What would happen if you stopped being on your phone from 9 pm and read a book or picked up another hobby instead? Maybe you want to use these 100 days to go to bed one hour earlier or have an energizing morning routine. 

Why 100?

A hundred days is a great milestone for any habit or activity you want to do regularly. It’s enough time to make a significant impact, but it is also doable, a challenge you can take on, knowing it can be completed successfully. It will allow you to say goodbye to 2022 with a bang, proud of having achieved something cool in a short amount of time!

Focus on one thing

What is the one thing that would have the highest impact?

Focus on that, let that be your one priority. Sure, you can have multiple goals and other things you want to improve, but it’s important to define the one that is the most important and impactful. On the days when you will be tired, busy, or something else gets in the way, being able to know what to focus on, while dropping the other tasks, will allow you to maintain momentum


Find something you are passionate about, and make it measurable

This point is self explanatory, but it’s obviously important to set yourself an inspiring challenge. Pick something you really want to do, something you know will help you moving forward and something you will be proud to have accomplished. Take some time to reflect on why this goal is important to you and how it will benefit you. 

The other important point to consider is how you define the goal. Wanting to eat healthy or exercise more are great things to strive for, but it is difficult to know exactly what to do and it is not easy to figure out if you have done it or not. Instead, a measurable goal, like “go to the gym three times a week, for 30 minutes minimum” is a clear goal, that will take away the stress of figuring out what to do, and allows you to focus on actually doing the thing. And you will be able to know if you have done it or not, with no doubt

Track and review

As with many things, tracking will help you see two things.

  • 100 days is a finite and relatively short amount of time
  • You have already accomplished your goal for x many days and you can be proud of that.

Tracking will also come in useful when you do your weekly review, to know what went to plan and why something might not have gone as you had imagined. This will allow you to get curious and brainstorm how you can improve the following week.

If you liked this article, please sign up to the newsletter for monthly round ups and extra interesting snippets, and follow lauraslearnings on twitter to be updated on the latest post. 🙂

If you decide to take on this 100 day challenge, I’d love to know what your goal is, please leave it in the comments below!

How to deal with criticism Bravery and the Man in the Arena

I came across this quote from Theodore Roosevelt in Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, a book I highly recommend. The quote touches on others’ judgement, criticism, self-worth and expecting and preparing for hardships.

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

There are three key messages in this text, which I will detail below.

Pick whose opinion you value

This is something to keep in mind when trying something new, taking up a new project or putting yourself out there. Especially if you are worried of others’ opinions and judgement or people criticise you. Ask yourself who the negative comments are coming from. Is it someone who is in the arena? Are they as courageous as you, or do the not have any first hand experience? It’s important to consider all feedback if it is constructive, but usually the unnecessary and unwelcome comments that are not helpful come from folks who do not have more or, at least, equal experience or knowledge as you. In this case, their opinion doesn’t really count.

It will be tough, be prepared

The second takeaway is the acknowledgement that being in the arena will lead to sweat, dust and blood and you will probably come short, i. e. have setbacks multiple times. If we expect messiness, hardships and fatigue, we can prepare ourselves and try to put some strategies in place to pick ourselves back up. If we don’t know this is to be expected, we might find ourselves doubting our capability and wondering if we should give up 

Know your worth

Closely linked to both points above is the fact that you need to be strong in the knowledge of your abilities and resilience to be able to ignore criticism that is sterile. You must also be willing to fight and spend a lot of time and energy into the project you are tackling, which is easier to do if you have faith in yourself and your capacity to overcome issues.

I have found the image of the man in the aren useful in multiple occasions and hope it can be helpful to you too

The GAP and the GAIN

I recently read the book The GAP and the GAIN by Dan Sullivan and Dr Benjamin Hardy, as I was intrigued by a review I saw about it.

In this post I will share the main takeaways and how I personally relate to the topics the authors discuss.

The definitions

You are in the GAP when you measure yourself or your situation against an ideal.  You are in the GAP when you think that “happiness” and “success” are something you “pursue” and will have in your future. The problem is that due do the hedonic adaptation process (discussed in the next paragraph) nothing ever will be enough, probably.

It’s human nature to be in the GAP. The GAIN is the antidote.

You are in the GAIN when you see the positives of a situation, when you learn from negative experiences and you measure yourself against your own past self and identify progress, instead of comparing yourself to others or an ideal.

Hedonic treadmill/adaptation

This is a term generally used in psychology to describe the fact that people tend to get used where they are at, what they have, etc. For example, if you want a promotion to buy yourself a new car, the new car will seem amazing at first but, soon, you will consider it your new “normal” and you will want something more. This cycle can easily become never ending, since there will always be something you don’t have if you compare yourself with others or an ideal.

You should, instead, measure your own progress and be proud of what you have overcome, what you have achieved and the steps you have taken already.

Transform an experience into a GAIN

Whenever you transform an experience into a GAIN— by creating new lessons, insights, or standards for yourself— you become better and your future becomes bigger

An experience gains value when you learn or reflect on it and you use these thoughts in the future. Of course an enjoyable experience has value in itself, but even then acknowledging this might encourage you to repeat this experience in the future. For unpleasant experiences, it’s easy to want to avoid thinking about them, but I have always found something to learn, when I have made the effort to reflect on them. I have a journal I write in, as I have found putting pen to paper helps me process feelings and thoughts calmly and I always come up with next steps and things to do to improve.

Progress not perfection [ok]

“When you’re in the GAIN, your progress becomes increasingly measurable to yourself and everyone around you. Yet, the more you’re in the GAIN, the less you compare, compete, or even care what other people think about you. 

You’re seeing new progress every day. You’re defining what your own experiences mean.” 

Psychology has shown that confidence does not create success, but rather, prior success creates confidence.

You should aim at having goals and working towards them with commitment, without becoming so attached to the destination that you don’t appreciate the journey. By having confidence and making progress, you will learn and improve and move forward, while being in no rush.

This is why, in some cases, I will set my goals so that they are output based rather than objective based. Instead of saying “I will do this by this day” I focus on how I plan to reach that deadline and focus on building a habit or routine that is measurable and that I track. And building and sticking to that habit becomes the goal itself.

Define your own success

The authors suggest spending 20 to 30 minutes reflectjng and writing about what success means to you and to figure out your personal success criteria. They suggest starting with the prompt “I know I’m being successful when…”. The idea behind this is to detatch yourself from the usual definition of success that society has taught us and to think about your own personal experience and values instead. This will allow you to feel successful without external validation and comparison. Another thing they highlight is that this definition might evolve overtime, as you gain new experience and knowledge.

Personally, I will reflect on this and on my values – I am curious to see if they are aligned and if they are in alignment with my day to day life. I suspect that I will find small things to change that will make me happier.

Plan for the real world

There is no point in being unrealistic and hoping everything will go smoothly. Things don’t always go as planned. What the authors suggest is to use a technique called implementation intention to guide you in these moments.

The idea is you come up with a plan for negative/not ideal situations you might find yourself in. This way, you will not have to think of the best action on the spot, but you will simply follow the steps you have planned. This might then lead you to creating a habit. In an example, they share how a sports coach would allow the players to be upset for 5 minutes after a lost match, and then they would have 10 minutes to think of the positives and improvement ideas.

I used to do something similar when an exam didn’t go well. I would be sad and upset and sometimes angry at myself for a short about of time, and then I would naturally start thinking about what went wrong and why. This made me learn from my mistakes and always led to actions to take to improve.

How to get out of the GAP?

The previous example shows how to get out of the GAP. It is a given that you will find yourself there at times, the goal is to get yourself out as soon as you can.

As they write in the book: “Here are five examples: After I compare myself with another person, I will say to myself, “Are you in the GAP or the GAIN?” After I feel discouraged, I will list 3 specific GAINS from the last 30 days. After someone tells me about a setback, I will say, “What did you GAIN from this experience?” After I start my weekly team meeting, I will ask, “What was your biggest GAIN yesterday?” After I open my journal, I will immediately write about one GAIN in my life.”

This section made me think of the weekly review I regularly do and how reflecting back on recent events always makes you see them in a more positive light and gives you the possibility to learn, especially if you use curiosity instead of judgment.

Track progress – always be learning

This section of the book is about tracking progress- it’s extremely important to be regularly reminded of past GAINS, so that you can look back and see how far you’ve come and the progress you have made.

In a way similarly to the hedonic treadmill, it’s easy to forget that you were previously struggling with something that might have become easy for you. Or you take for granted how far you’ve come and effectively ignore your progress.

The authors suggest thinking about recent wins and desired wins for the future. Reflecting on what you were focused on one year ago, how your life has changed since then and what you have learned in this last year ensures you are in the GAIN and you are growing as a person. An interesting prompt is about how your beliefs and definition of success have changed. 

I usually do this at the end of the year or at the half year mark, and it is always interesting to look back on.

Night routine

Throughout and especially towards the end of the book, the authors share practical tips on how to implement the ideas in the book. One of the topics is the daily routine around bedtime. They suggest putting phone on airplane mode 30 to 60 minutes before bed. This time should be used to wind down and reflect about the day, as well as plan for the next day. 

The first thing recommend is writing down three things you’re grateful for each and specific “wins” you had that day (they recommend 3) as it boosts your gratitude and your confidence.

Writing down three wins daily is one of the most effective ways to stay out of the GAP. You feel like you’re always winning and making progress. It keeps you in a state of momentum and confidence

Then you should write down the three wins you’d like to accomplish the next day. It’s important to not overdo it, but to be realistic, so writing more than three is discouraged. Of course you can do more than three things in a day, but it’s good to focus on the top three things in terms of impact when it comes to measuring success.

In the 5 Minute Journal, the last daily prompt is related to what could have made your day better. It’s phrased so that you reflect on how you could have improved things personally. I think this is a great way to learn from the past and improve

As you can see from the extensive post, there are many interesting points made in the book and it touches upon several topics. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in having a more positive outlook and wants to understand the importance of measuring progress rather than comparing yourself or your situation and is looking for ways to do that.

How to get out of a rut

As a few people have noticed, I have not been consistent with posting new articles on this blog lately. I must say that I have made significant progress in other areas of my life and I am very proud of it, and it’s natural to shift priorities from time to time. In the previous post I discuss a few reasons as to why I stopped posting.

In this article I will go over what I have done to get myself out of this rut, if you will. Only time will tell, but I think I have identified a few key points that have been helping me lately. Of course, please be mindful that every situation is different. In this case, this blog is a personal passion project of mine, so the stakes are low and I know I enjoyed publishing the first articles.

Go back to the why

The first thing to do is to reflect on your motivation for why. In my case , thinking back to the reasons for starting a blog in the first place, what I wanted to get out of it and why. This concept is something which is well known and it could seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to remind ourselves to check in with our why. In some cases you might even re-evaluate your core motivation and reasons for doing a certain thing and start going a new direction. This could be as extreme as deciding to quit/pause the project altogether: I think this demonstrates a lot of perspective and bravery and will allow you to focus on higher priority things. Or will find that a reminder of the initial goals and motivation is what you needed to fuel your next steps – great!  In any case, you know what you want now, where to focus your energy, and why.

For me, the first article published is conveniently titled Why am I starting this blog?. Reading it back and thinking about it was a good reminder of why I started the blog and how I believe consistency is key. So I decided to get back into the swing of things and really focus on the blog in the upcoming weeks.

Another thing to do is to talk to a friend or family member, as this can help evaluate the situation from an outside perspective. They will be able to offer their point of view and support and theh can help you figure out your next steps.

Get clarity 

When a task feels daunting, I stop and reflect. Often I find it’s overwhelming because I am unclear on what the different steps are and how I can break down the project into smaller tasks. In this article arguing if motivation is what we are missing, I quote James Clear

Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action.

This can happen without you realising. It’s usually good to take a step back, realize you don’t need to go from 0 to 100% in the next hour or day, but you can anyway make good progress, that will compound. 

In my case, I saw “restart blogging” as a huge task of publishing weekly posts for months in a row, sharing the content on different platforms, planning articles in advance for when I went on holiday and so on. Of course, these are all separate tasks. I don’t have to have months worth of articles ready by tomorrow. I can set up some time to share the content. All this was now not an overwhelming project, but a series of activities to plan and tick off one at a time. 

Plan

Once you know what you need to do, it’s important to define when you are going to focus on different things. I think having a strict schedule works in some cases, depending on your personality and the task at hand. But even if you prefer to be inspired in the moment, it’s useful to block your calendar to ensure you will dedicate this time to this project.

This is also helpful because it means you have a default response for what you will be doing on Tuesday evening, for example. No need to think about it, it’s already been decided by past-you. It could sound weird, but it has worked for me in the past.

Track

I find that tracking my progress is motivating, as I can see what I have accomplished already, how much effort I have put into something and the results that came with it. I suggest writing it down using either a notebook or a digital tool. I usually pair this with the plan I do every week as part of my weekly review (which I had also stopped doing, unfortunately).

Enjoy the journey 

You decided to work on this project for a bunch of reasons, which are now clearly defined, as per point 1. This is something you want and hopefully like to do. Of course there will be parts of it that will not feel easy or interesting, but it’s important to try and enjoy the journey as much as possible. And appreciate what you are doing and accomplishing along the way.

For me, I had forgotten that I actually enjoy writing. I like focusing on something which is challenging but not extremely tough and seeing the progress made. Writing helps me think and connect the dots. It’s tiring but also relaxing, in a way, because you are forced to put all your attention on one thing. Link to Deep Focus and Astronaut book.

For other parts of this project which I might find less interesting, I can set up a timer and challenge myself to complete a task in 25 minutes. I can make myself a coffee and eat something while chipping away at whatever I need to do. I can go to a café and sit outside in the sunshine for an hour, before seeing some friends. 

You can buy yourself something you wanted for a while as a reward for completing a big and challenging task.

Find ways to make the process fun, if it isn’t already, and appreciate it!

Find pockets of time

Hopefully you’re having fun and enjoying the process most of the time.  In the moments when you are not enthusiastic about a specific task, you will probably be able see progress and this will be motivating. So much so that you will start to look for time in which you can work on these tasks that build up your project.

It is 22:06 at the moment, I have just finished an online class and I felt slightly tired and could have easily started putting on my pjs and spend the rest of the evening on my phone. Instead I know I want to write this article and get back on track with this blog, so I opened Notion and started working on this draft instead. And now that I’ve started, I am actually enjoying it.

Another thing I noticed is that sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “it’s too late now, what is the point” trap. Something had gone wrong at 10 am and now the whole morning is ruined. You couldn’t go for a run because it was pouring outside and so you lay on the couch the whole day. Or, in this case, I had a class until 22 tonight, so the rest of the evening is gone. In some cases it’s good to have a buffer between different activities and time to reflect, relax, do nothing. But I find it’s incredibly easy to dismiss a portion of thr day because of something else that happened or will happen around that time. In these cases it’s useful to remind ourselves to find pockets of time and take advantage of this, since it all adds up and you will feel satisfied in the end.

Get in the flow of things 

I find that the more I leave a task and procrastinate it, the more difficult it seems. Once I start, instead, I often find that it is not, in fact as tough as I imagined it to be. The weird thing is this happens also related to activities you already know. I have been writing this blog for months and I liked the act of writing, elaborating my thoughts etc, but it still seemed so hard to start again. Probably I’d just gotten out of the habit. I have noticed just how simpler it feels once you are back in the flow. As mentioned before you start looking for opportunities and your perspective shifts. One thing leads to another also in terms in inspiration and ideas, topics to discuss and things to share. When writing one thing I think about another topic that could also make a good article and so on.

I hope you can take some of these pointers if you are in a rut – I know I will come back to it if needed 

Why I stopped posting

I have not been publishing new blog posts. To be more precise, I have been procrastinating publishing new blog posts

Using this as an example, I will try and unpack a few thoughts on the topic, related to perfectionism, progress and habit building.

Perfectionism

Probably the main thing that is stopping me is this: I am trying to make sure everything will go smoothly from now on. This means no more lengthy breaks, always sharing on social media, continuously thinking about new topics and ideas to share or things to document, just to name a few things. I am waiting until I have enough drafts, ideas, knowledge to feel fail-proof.

Making sure everything is perfect from the beginning is generally very difficult. In reality, publishing a post is the key action. The main thing is to write something I am proud of and hit publish.

  • For some aspects, the marginal gains are usually small after you are 95% there – it’s only through experience that you can have significant improvements, in my experience. 
  • In other cases, there will be things you can’t control or things that change for various reasons, so there is no point in worrying about those and procrastinating.

Progress not perfection

As mentioned above, in hindsight there will always things I could do better and I’m sure I will look back on the first posts and find ways in which they could be improved, once I have more experience and knowledge.

Having a blog means I am able to document the progress, but this is possible only if I actually publish. This is actually one of my main goals for this website.

As the quote says: “Done is better than perfect”. I always strive to do my best, but I like this saying because it reminds me that the real improvement happens through repetition and continuously challenging yourself to learn from your mistakes and move on and create something new.

Break it down

If I think about maintaining a blog, a bunch of things I need to do come to mind. I find this can feel overwhelming because you somehow think you must to everything at once. In reality, each task is a separate thing and recognising that you don’t need to do everything right now is simple yet effective, and it can be easy to forget, especially if you are trying to pick a project back up.

Keeping up the habit

Another reason why this now feels so much harder than a few months ago is that I am not in the habit of writing and, especially, posting, anymore.

I used to write new posts on Saturdays or Sundays, then publish them and sometimes share online. It was something I “just did”, it was part of my weekend routine and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I still really like writing and taking a moment to reflect and share my thoughts.

Although this is a specific situation, this applies to many other scenarios: meal prepping or eating healthy, exercise, doing a weekly review, etc. It’s important to not lose the habit, or starting again will be more difficult.

This is why yesandyes suggests to have so-called “bookmark habits”, i.e. simpler versions of your usual habits that you know you can do no matter what. This way, you are sure you don’t lose that muscle memory you can’t keep up with the “complete” habit for a while. For example, Sarah, the author, will make her bed even when staying in a hotel on holiday. 

In summary, I am happy I tried to dig a bit deeper and I thought about how I can help myself, now and in the future. I will probably come back to this post sometime in the future. 

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