The company you keep

The company you keep

We’ve talked a lot about goals this month and are going to move onto February’s topic, relationships.

But first, we are going to recap what we covered in January with goal setting, so you have it all in one place.

can i buy prednisone at walmart Burn your resolutions:

Write out a list of resolutions, which will probably consist of things you constantly beat yourself about and want to change, but haven’t. One you have your list written out, on paper, burn it. And then listen to your favorite breakup song because for the new year, you are letting it go and moving on.

Read it again here!

source Do you need goals?

This week, I want you to think about what it is you really want. For now, I want you to focus on what it is you want. Not your family, not your boss, not your significant other, not the bully from middle school whose taunts you’ve internalized. Think about what you want.

Read it again here!

http://kidtreehouse.org/programs/action~agenda/page_offset~1/time_limit~1489258801/request_format~html/ How to set goals:

You want to break goals up into short, medium, and long term.

For your short term goals, figure out what your obstacles are from reaching your goal.

Taking the time to gain the insights into what your trouble spots are. Spend a few weeks really thinking about what has and hasn’t worked for you, what your current obstacles are, and what your strengths and supports are. If you’ve heard people talk about learning from failure, this is how you do it.

Medium term goals are where the action is- they are your action plan into making the changes you need. You will likely find that there is more to this than it seems like or that you had thought of. It’s ok. Even if you start out with a list of say, ten things, it is likely that after a little work your list will be much shorter.

Your long term goals are the things you want- to lose weight, be organized, have better relationship, or whatever it is you want.

Read it again here!

How to implement goals:

When you implement your goals, you are trying to set yourself up for success. So often, we undermine ourselves because of poor preparation. As you saw with goal setting, to do one seemingly simple thing, like losing weight, there is often a lot more to it than it seems. Looking at change through that lense, it is much easier to see why we fail so often.

The easiest way to think about implementing your goals is that this is the step where you transform them into something you can put on a to-do list or your calendar.

Read it again here!

Now, I want to talk about something that bridges the gap between relationships and goals: the company you keep.

This is an area that you might or might not be familiar with, but you have definitely encountered it in your life on multiple occasions.

For me, when I was trying to quit smoking, once of the reasons it was so difficult was that everyone I knew smoked. Trying not to smoke with the constant temptation was more than I could handle and I kept smoking. When I moved to Texas, by the time I quit, very few of my friends smoked and my husband had made it clear he was going to quit with me (he ended up quitting two weeks before I did). It was much, much easier when I did quit, although it was still really hard.

Being aware of the company you keep is a foundational part of so many things- religion, education, work, hobbies. It is something that we often take for granted, but can play a large part in our success or failure.

There are many relationships we can’t chose, like our family and coworkers. However, you can control your professional network and how often you see your family.

Over the next month we will talk about romantic relationships, family and friends, coworkers, and being introverted or extroverted.

While we talk about these different relationships, be mindful of how the people around you influence you and your life. We all influence each other, so that in and of itself isn’t a big deal.

Our relationships become problematic when we ignore red flags, assume we deserve the treatment we have always received, or are around people who undermine us. Sometimes, the worst people we know are the closest ones to us.

What I want you to do is just think about the kinds of relationships you have, the people you see the most, the people you are closest to, and the quality of your relationships in general. Are they fulfilling and satisfying? Do they leave something to be desired? Most likely, you have a mix of all kinds of relationships in your life.

Think about it and let me know! Email me, comment, find me on Twitter and let me know if the people around you will support you being happier and healthier, or supportive of whatever changes you want to make.

Thanks for reading- I appreciate you.

Best,

Gabrielle

P.S. If you like this, tell your friends about it! They can sign up for this newsletter and get it sent directly to their inbox every week. If you’re reading this on my site, you can sign up to get this awesomeness delivered to your inbox every week too! Sign up here:)

 

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Setting yourself up for success: How to implement goals

Setting yourself up for success: How to implement goals

Setting yourself up for success is a concept that was introduced to me when we got our first puppy, Miles, and started his training. The general premise is that puppies are wild, distracted by everything, very food motivated, and they are teething at the same time they go through puberty.

So puppies might be cute, but for a while they are a hot mess. It also makes a little more sense of why so many dogs who are between one and two years old are taken to shelters. If you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort when puppies are that cute little ball of floof, they will grow into adult dogs who are wild and destructive.

But here’s the thing. Dogs really want to please their owners. They want to be good dogs, but they just really need help.

This is how you start to set them up for success. So you do things like put your shoes away where the puppy can’t get to them, making sure your garbage can has a lid or is in a pantry, not leaving food on low lying tables, and you put them in training, so they are learning how to be a good dog and what your expectations of them are.

There’s more though- setting your puppy up for success also means not beating them if they have an accident inside or don’t listen to you. If you punish them harshly or use physical discipline, all they will learn is to be afraid of you. You won’t actually be teaching them the things they need to learn.

As we worked with our trainer, who was a fantastic and amazing person, our puppy very slowly went from being very cute, but awful on walks, to a handsome grown up pup who is now great on walks. Don’t get me wrong, there were months when I would come back from walking Miles almost in tears and I was convinced everyone who said dogs were great were complete liars. Miles chewed through two leashes and two harnesses while we were training him to loose leash walk. He used to knock me down and then run into traffic, more than once. It was terrible and mildly traumatizing.

However, all our work paid off in the end. Miles recently turned 5 and we get so many compliments on his behavior. Now, he is a gentleman who, for the most part, walks like a well-behaved dog, loves to cuddle and give kisses, and will give you his paw just so he can hold your hand. It’s all very sweet. But it took intensive work and required a great deal of consistency and persistence between my husband and I. We also had to listen to everything our trainer said.

This matters because when people try to change or learn new things, we could not be more different. We give ourselves no slack, are cruel when we make mistakes, we frequently abandon our goals completely when we run into the slightest setback, and we compare ourselves to people who are in a completely different stage.

For whatever reason, we pretty much make things as difficult for ourselves as possible and then beat ourselves up when we fail. We fail to grasp that life is inherently difficult and will inevitably throw all sorts of obstacles in our way.

There is a lot of research in psychology about some called locus of control. Essentially, if you have an internal locus of control, you believe that you have control over the events that happen in your life. If your locus of control if more external, you believe life sort of happens to you and you don’t really have any control at all.

There isn’t one right or wrong way to approach life. Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare and plan, life will throw something at you that you couldn’t possibly control, like a natural disaster, a serious illness, a car accident, or company wide layoffs.  So if believe life is completely within your control, you are bound to be disappointed and unduly hard on yourself.

However, how you respond to life changing events like natural disaster or serious illnesses is completely within your control. So what really matters is finding a balance between recognizing when you can do things versus when you should cut yourself some slack.

If this is reminding you of the prayer from AA, it is very similar. But, I try to avoid cliches and worn out sayings. Anyways, regardless if you attribute events to internal or external circumstances, the constant exposure and noise we get from social media makes it incredibly to develop and listen to our internal compass.

So how, then, do we implement goals to set ourselves up for success?

I’ll continue to use weight loss as an example.

As you know, I am trying to lose about 50 lbs. There are a lot of things within my control, like my diet and activity level, and some things that are not, like my metabolism, which went from being a great friend to the ultimate frenemy.

If you look up how to lose weight, there are billions of results, many of which are completely contradictory. It is annoying, confusing,  and unhelpful.

I am not a fan of diets and of all the many “diets” recommended by experts, I lean closest to the Mediterranean diets, although I really like beef and Mexican food (thanks, Texas!). What I’ve found works for me is not restricting food- if I want french fries or pasta, I will have it. Besides, when you are trying to not do something, that often ends up being all you think about. Furthermore, there is research indicating that using willpower takes a fair amount of physical energy, so if you are not eating regularly, you are setting yourself up for failure, and most diets are low calorie.

What no one tells you is that your brain runs on glucose, which is sugar. So if you try to cut sugar out of your diet, you are depriving your brain the energy it needs to function well. I’m not saying you should constantly be eating candy, but cutting out sugar is not really the great solution it is made out to be. Eating more fruit is a way better way to feed your brain, instead of cutting sugar out completely.

So here is what I have found works for me, and the principles I am using to set myself up for success:

  1. Eat more vegetables, in a range of colors.
    1. Vegetables are great. They don’t have a lot of calories, so you can eat a lot of them in one sitting. You have to be mindful not to cover them in cheese or ranch dressing, but there are a lot of delicious ways to cook and eat veggies that don’t involve cheese or ranch. Trying to eat a range of colors is good because that gives you a better variety of vitamins and nutrients.
  2. Eat some vegetarian meals every week.
    1. I try to eat two or three vegetarian meals each week. Pretty much all of the snacks I eat are vegetarian.
  3. Watch portion sizes.
    1. Portion sizes are out of control. This is something I am constantly trying to do. Having smaller plates and bowls helps a lot in making sure that I am not eating too much in one sitting.
  4. Eat more fruit.
    1. Fruit is a great natural source of sugar, that comes with vitamins and fiber. I still eat sweets, but eating more fruit is a healthier way to get the sugar I love.
  5. Drink more water.
    1. I am really bad about staying hydrated and since I have moved to South Carolina, I have gotten into the bad habit of drinking sweet tea all the time. Sweet tea is great, but it is full of sugar. I would much rather have iced tea with a sweet and low, and then eat a brownie, than drink three brownies worth of sugar in one glass of sweet tea.
    2. Instead, I have gotten a lot of those packets you can mix with water that don’t have many calories and I have found a brand of flavored seltzer water that has really good flavors, with no calories, and have been drinking a ton of that. I feel way better staying hydrated and am not doing as much mindless eating- did you know that a lot of times, we eat because we are thirsty?
  6. I manage my stress.
    1. This is so important, because when stress is killing you, you don’t have the energy to cook and the food you crave is worse. Until you manage your stress, you will crave things like fast food and not have the energy to make yourself healthy meals.

There are two other main things I am doing, which are the big changes I have made in the last months:

  1. I am planning meals now, which I never done before. This is helping me to eat more regularly and is helping make sure I get enough veggies. Instead of going to the store every other week, I am going once a week, which further supports me eating more veggies because I constantly have fresh veggies.
  2. There is a great gym about 10 minutes from where I live that has a ton of great exercise classes and the monthly membership is very reasonably. I used to do all my workouts at home, but I have enough going on now that I really need someone to just tell me what to do. Now, I am trying all sorts of group classes and can go to yoga regularly.

Anyways, there is more, but I think this should give you a better idea of what it looks like to set yourself up for success. At no point do I decide everything I eat is wrong and instead go on a super-restrictive eating plan. I am not going to be a slave to workouts I don’t like or force myself to run on the treadmill like a hamster.

Instead, I am focusing on eating healthy food, cooking more, managing my stress, and being active pretty much every day of the week. Considering to maintain weight loss, you have to make lifestyle changes, I have decided to start with lifestyle changes. I am not sure how long it will take, but I already have more energy, am eating more veggies, have exercised a lot more than I normally do, and nothing feels like a chore or something I can’t wait to stop doing.

Think about it and let me know! Email me, comment, find me on Twitter and let me know how you are setting yourself up for success.

Thanks for reading- I appreciate you.

Best,

Gabrielle

P.S. If you like this, tell your friends about it! They can sign up for this newsletter and get it sent directly to their inbox every week. If you’re reading this on my site, you can sign up to get this awesomeness delivered to your inbox every week too! Sign up here:)

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How to set goals

How’s your week going? Well, I hope.

Setting goals is one of those things that seems like it should be easy, but it really isn’t. There are a lot of reasons why goal setting is more difficult than it seems.

We have already talked some about how a lot of the time, our expectations are not really ours, but often come from our family, friends, boss, society, or that bully from fifth grade.

You’ve been thinking some about what it is that you want, not all those other people and influences.

Now you are going to make your goals into an achievable reality. This week you are going to set your goals and next week you are going to work out a plan on how to best implement them.

Although it might not seem like this should be a two-step process, it really makes it easier in the long run.

Have you heard people talking about short, medium, and long term goals? That is what we are going to be doing this week.

Implementing them, which will be next week, is how you are going to make your goals into reality and where you can get some good trial and error learning in.

For now, I am going to use some examples to make this easier. Let’s use weight loss and getting organized. Weight loss is a fairly major change that touches on many aspects of our lives, while getting organized is much simpler.

So goal setting for weight loss seems straightforward: lose weight. That is definitely the end goal, but losing weight is a little more complicated than that.

So let’s try setting short, medium, and long term goals for weight loss.

Short term: Figure out what is going on that has caused you to gain weight. Are you sedentary? Did you get a new job with a longer commute? Is your stress level out of control? Has your diet changed? Have you been overweight for most of your life?

These are some of the many reasons you might need to lose weight. In my case, I had a huge increase in stress and started eating way more sweets than I had before. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but it got out of control a year ago. The stress and dietary changes led to a 30 pound weight gain last year. I’m not so happy about it, but at least I know why.

Medium term: Make a plan to address the underlying issues, which often have little to do with food. You might be surprised what you find.

As an experiment last fall, I weighed myself every day for a month and learned that I am a big emotional eater at the first and middle of the month, which is when rent is due and I pay my bills. Figuring this out was a big deal because since then, instead of eating away my financial worries, I started talking more to my husband and spent more time with my budget to minimize surprises.

I also realized I am not active enough and I have been eating too much takeout, on top of the increase in sweets. I’ll talk more next week about what I’ve been doing to address these issues in implementing goals.

Long term: Lose weight, of course! But keeping the weight off is important. Lots of people lose weight, only to regain it. This doesn’t sound very interesting to me.

A lot of my work in this area has been to figure out what my goal weight is. There is what I weighed in my 20’s, when I was very slender. At this point in my life, I am just not willing to put the work in to get to that weight again, considering I am older, my metabolism is slower, and I am 80 pounds heavier than I was then. However, in my 30’s, I was not as slender, but had filled out some. My boobs and butt looked great and I was three sizes smaller. I thought I was fat at the time, but looking at pictures, I realize I looked great.

So using pics of when I thought I looked great and my weight was about 175, which is 50 pounds lighter than I am now. Furthermore, because 175 is not as slender, it is a more realistic weight for me to reach and maintain.

Getting organized is much simpler, as long as you aren’t a hoarder. If that’s the case, you need loads of professional help and perseverance.

So on to short, medium, and long term goals for becoming more organized.

Short term: Figure out how you are disorganized and what exactly you want to change. Do you pay your bills late every month because you lose them? Do you constantly lose important documents like your car insurance or birth certificate? Does your desk/office look like a recycling bin threw up on it?

What you might find is that you have internalized nonsense that passes itself as “good organization” and then realized you don’t measure up.

Inbox zero? A load of crap.

Working 12 hour days because all your friends are? Pointless waste of time.

Trying to be Martha Stewart’s mini-me? For the love of god, why?

A good medium term goal for getting more organized is pinpointing how you are disorganized and what is really bothering you. You want to make sure your goal is in line with your life, your personality, and your actual situation. If you are a parent with five kids and a full time job, your organizational demands are going to be different than someone who is single with no children. It is important that your goals reflect your life and needs, not what you think your needs are.

Long term would be living the organizational dream and not feeling bad or guilty for being who you are.

Think about it and let me know! Email me, comment, find me on Twitter and let me know what how setting short, medium, and long term goals has been for you.

Thanks for reading- I appreciate you.

Best,

Gabrielle

P. S. If you like this, tell your friends about it! They can sign up for this newsletter and get it sent directly to their inbox every week. If you’re reading this on my site, you can sign up to get this awesomeness delivered to your inbox every week too! Sign up here:)

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Do you need goals?

When you’re young, your goals are pretty much laid out for you by your parents and society. Go to school, get a job, get married, start a family, buy a house.

Society has changed a lot though. Outside of finishing school and getting a job, the getting married, starting a family, and buying a house have all changed quite a bit.

Most people want relationships, but a growing number of people don’t want to get married or have children. A sizeable number of people either don’t want to buy a house or can’t afford one.

Societal changes aside, goals change when you’re an adult. Sometimes it can be nice to not have any goals, to just relax and sort of let life happen.

But after awhile, what starts as a break can turn into looking back and wondering what you did with the last year or the last five or ten years.

Maybe you achieved what you set out to, but your family doesn’t view it as success and they constantly pressure you to do something other than what you are doing.

Or maybe you don’t have children yet, because you haven’t met the right person or because you don’t want children. Your family might still be pressuring you to have children, as though your only worth as a human is to reproduce. Maybe you do want children and everyone you know is constantly trying to talk you out of it.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, it will never be good enough for your family, friends, and coworkers.

After awhile, you internalize all the criticism and become increasingly discontent with whatever it is you are doing. Maybe you started out like that, growing up with a family who is constantly critical of you and everything you do.

Goals end up being way more complicated than they should be, oftentimes because of the people around you and the expectations your family has. Maybe you are aware of all the mental baggage you carry and the expectations foisted upon you, but maybe not.

This week, I want you to think about what it is you really want.

Don’t worry about how you’ll make it happen, we’ll work on that the next two weeks. For now, I want you to focus on what it is you want. Not your family, not your boss, not your significant other, not the bully from middle school whose taunts you’ve internalized. Think about what you want.

Not sure what you want? Think about it like this. If you died tomorrow, what on your deathbed would you regret the most? That is a good way to figure out some goals, things you want to do but have been ignoring or minimizing for whatever reason, or what really matters to you. It can be a little anxiety provoking at first, but when you work through it is actually comforting. We really don’t know when we’re going to die, so meditating on what really matters to us is the first step towards making it reality.

From there, you can actually start working towards the things you truly want. Then, if something happens, you know you are working towards what matters the most. When people talk about the journey being what matters, that is what they mean.

The goals I am currently working towards is losing weight, starting a family, relaunching my coaching business, and finishing grad school. These are all multistep goals, that I have been working on in one form or another for months, years, or decades. I keep tabs on my progress, adjust, and set new goals accordingly.

There are some things I’ve spent years on and had to set aside, because that’s how life went. It can be frustrating for sure, but ultimately, I’ve learned from everything I’ve done and I know that I’ve tried.

When I was in my 20’s, I was not ready to start a family but I knew I wanted to get married and have kids. The first step to making that happen was to have a  good relationship. So I read everything I could about what made relationship succeed and fail, and after a string of long-term, but failed, relationships, I took two years off of dating and went to therapy to work through some of my issues. I kept working on myself, figuring out what I did and didn’t want, and faced my fears of being alone head on. I became comfortable with myself, much more clear with my preferences, and I refused to settle when I did start dating again.

After all that time, energy, and work on myself, I met the man I ended up marrying. Even when we got together, we didn’t rush things. We dated for eight years before we got married, living together for almost the entire time. We have done over a year of couples counseling, which has been crucial in learning how to communicate better. Counseling has made us both better people and better partners.

Now that we have been married for a year and together for nine years, we are trying to start a family. Our relationship is great, but we have both put in the time and work. We have met our goals at each stage and progressed as it has felt right for us. We have learned to disregard our families expectations of us and our relationship, because we aren’t them. We have carved out our own path and we are much happier for it.

I share this because it’s a good example of how goals change with time. Having a good relationship takes a lot more work than most people acknowledge. Maintaining a happy relationship is also a lot of work and relationships are an area loaded with family and social influence. It can be really hard to figure out what you want and go for it, while making yourself even the littlest bit happy.

Think about it and let me know! Email me, comment, find me on Twitter and let me know what it is that you actually want.

Thanks for reading- I appreciate you.

Best,

Gabrielle

P.S. If you like this, tell your friends about it! They can sign up for this newsletter and get it sent directly to their inbox every week. If you’re reading this on my site, you can sign up to get this awesomeness delivered to your inbox every week too! Sign up here:)

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Burn your resolutions

Resolutions are a waste of time

It’s New Years, so time for everyone to make a list of all their resolutions. Who wants to miss the fun of turning their perceived flaws into a to-do list for the new year? After all the proclamations of going to the gym, eating better, spending more time with friends and family, quitting smoking or drinking, getting out of debt, and becoming more organized, we all just end up right back where we started.

Maybe for a month or so, you’ll change. But then it’s right back to normal.

I would like to take this moment to point out that people think it only takes 30 days to make or break a habit. Yeah, I call bullshit. If that were so, we would only have to make resolutions once.

We would live in a country of people who don’t need to lose weight, eat all their vegetables, call their mom and grandma regularly, are organized, have no debt, and don’t drink or smoke.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? If I woke up in a world like that, I would seriously suspect I had been abducted or drugged.

Based on my experiences, both personally and with clients, really changing takes way longer than 30 days. There are usually lots of starts and stops, which get overlooked and shouldn’t be.

Instead of feeling like a failure because you keep doing the exact thing you are trying not to do, you should know that you aren’t alone.

Everyone struggles with change, yet everyone pretends that it’s no big deal.

This video really sums up what it can feel like. Before you read any further, please take a moment and watch the video. It’s less than two minutes long.

I’m pretty sure that dog is my spirit animal. Might be yours too.

Everyone around you is breezing through, no problems, but for some reason every single thing that can possibly distract you does.

You know what though? That dog looks like it had the most fun of all the dogs. Picking up and throwing the toy, eating all those bowls of food, and near the end, eating that giant sausage.

The dog hit the jackpot, but sucked so bad at the obedience course. I wonder if the other dogs watched that dog and started questioning their life choices.

It’s an important reminder that failure and success really depend on perspective. That dog had no regrets. Its owner surely did, but that looked like the happiest dog in the room.

I think it’s similar with failed resolutions. We see the people at the gym who are super fit and only drink protein shakes and eat kale salads, while we prefer video games, Netflix, and takeout.

Success, and happiness,  are relative.

Constantly trying, and failing, to do something is demoralizing. We get so busy beating ourselves up and comparing ourselves to people who have the successes we think we want, while success continues to elude us.

Sometimes success isn’t really what we want, or at least not the way we are defining it.

For the new year, instead of making a list of resolutions that you know you aren’t going to keep and then feel bad about later, try something new.

Here’s your meditation for the week:
Write out a list of resolutions, which will probably consist of things you constantly beat yourself about and want to change, but haven’t. One you have your list written out, on paper, burn it. And then listen to your favorite breakup song because for the new year, you are letting it go and moving on.

I’ve quit lots of bad habits over the years, like a pack-a-day smoking habit, gossipping, and ditching toxic relationships. What I’ve been working on for the last few years is losing weight. This has been on my list for a while, and in 2017 I gained 25 pounds. Not so happy about that. But I’m less happy about all the energy I’ve been using to beat myself up about not losing it.

The resolution I’m burning is losing weight. I need to be done with all the anguish, guilt, and shame and reclaim my mental space and energy. I’m not giving up on weight loss, but there are much better ways to approach it, which I’ll start getting into next week.

Think about it and let me know! Email me, comment, find me on Twitter and let me know what resolutions you’re burning.

Thanks for reading- I appreciate you.

Best,

Gabrielle

P.S. What’s motivating me this week are the protesters in Iran. There are tens of thousands of Iranians tired of living under oppressive rule and have taken to the streets to demand more freedom. The government is silencing various media and internet platforms, so I am paying attention to as much as I can on Twitter.

P.P.S. If you like this, tell your friends about it! They can sign up for this newsletter and get it sent directly to their inbox every week. If you’re reading this on my site, you can sign up to get this awesomeness delivered to your inbox every week too! Sign up here:)

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