Posted by: Cathy | July 18, 2018

Willpower doesn’t Work

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know that willpower doesn’t work.

Our will comes from our ego. At its core, it usually looks like rigidity and stubbornness. Our will is a set of rules established by the ego for black-and-white situations. I will do this or I will not do that. There is no flexibility, no gray area. Life isn’t black and white, and this is why willpower doesn’t work.

Creativity is a great problem-solver, and creativity comes from the subconscious, not the conscious/ego mind. Rather than setting a rule with the mind, try creating a container with the heart.

Say you are procrastinating on something, like finding time to do your fiction writing. By taking the problem into your heart, you can begin to unpack it. Why are you avoiding your project? The more you unpack it, the more you take your power back. Rather than trying to think through a problem, you can unpack and dissolve the problem. It won’t stay unpacked if it’s an old problem, but you can keep chipping away at it and building new habits to support your new outlook on the issue.

Heart-power is stronger than willpower, because it is receptive, understanding, and forgiving. The next time you’re struggling with a problem, try using your heart-power.

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Posted by: Cathy | July 16, 2018

Pay Attention and it will Pay Off

Pay attention to your strengths, weaknesses, habits, routines, and personal resources like time, energy, and focus. The more familiar you are with these elements of your life, the more you can make them work for you and improve your quality of life.

  • By being aware of your strengths, you gain confidence and competency, and you know when you can say “hell yes” to new projects.
  • By being aware of your weaknesses, you know where to seek more knowledge and experience so you can transform those into opportunities for improvement or ask for help.
  • By being aware of your habits and routines, you can set up your life and environment to help you be successful and minimize distractions or less-than-optimal behaviors.
  • By being aware of your personal resources, you can manage your time, energy, and focus to the best effect, getting more and better work done on your goals.

Get to know yourself and how you operate in your day-to-day life.
Pay attention and it will pay off.

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“Overworking is compensating for a lack of focus.” Robert Holden

I’m sure at some point or another, you had a busy day where you felt like you were running around from one thing to another at the mercy of “fires” popping up. Hopefully, those type of days are rare. If you’re having too many of them, you should stop and refocus.

Even the best day planned with intention is subject to emergencies or the unexpected, but you can’t and shouldn’t live your life only dealing with emergencies (unless you work as an EMT or medical professional!).

Here are three kinds of focus that can help you avoid overworking or dreaded busy work:

1. Focus on your priorities: Try to schedule your top priority action in the morning or first half of the day. That reduces the amount of unexpected events that can pop up to take you off track.

2. Focus on your breath: When you are assaulted by the unexpected, take a time out to just breathe for a minute. When you are calm, check in and see, is this really urgent? Can it wait until later, or can I ask someone for help with it? Don’t just blindly accept responsibility for unexpected things that blow into your sphere.

3. Focus on quick wins: Author Jennifer Louden has something she calls “conditions of enoughness.” Not everything needs to be perfect, and these conditions of enoughness help you determine what is acceptable to you so you don’t do more than you need to when you are busy or overwhelmed. Sometimes, it’s okay to half-*ss a thing. Notice what you can do minimally and what really needs your full attention.

Work smarter and not harder by using focus.

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Posted by: Cathy | July 9, 2018

Reinforce your Systems for Q3

How are your healthy habits going?

Healthy habits help us create containers for what we want to cultivate in our lives. For example, I told you about my morning and evening routines, which help give me more time and energy for my creative pursuits. These systems make it easier to choose my creativity by streamlining common things I want to do each day.

As you begin tackling your goals for the third quarter of the year (Q3), check in with your healthy habits, routines, and systems. Have you stopped doing something you know is beneficial? Recommit to it. Is there something you want to tweak to make it more effective? Implement it. Do you want to try a new habit to strengthen another facet of your life? Go for it, but try to only initiate one habit at a time to improve your chances of success.

Continue making progress on your year’s intention by reinforcing your systems for Q3.

What systems do you find especially effective for you? Let me know in the comments.

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Posted by: Cathy | July 4, 2018

Q3 mini-goal, what do you want to create?

I like to do my annual planning quarter by quarter. This way, I can make course-corrections as the year progresses and not feel behind on my overall goals.

For example, my Q2 mini-goal was to do my FiNoWriMo (Finish my Novel Writing Month) challenge for April. My goal was to write about 1,600 words every weekday. Then in May, I wanted to begin revising it.

I was successful with this goal! I finished my first draft and hit about 80k words overall. I began revising it on May 7. I was very proud of myself for completing the first draft and I was excited to dig into the revision. I’m still working on the revision; it’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going well. Originally, I had wanted to finish the first draft by the end of March, but it’s all good. The FiNoWriMo challenge was just what I needed to get myself back on track.

So, looking forward for the next three months, what is a mini-goal you want to set for yourself? It can be a subset of a larger goal, or it can be a stand-alone goal. Try to focus on only 3-5 mini-goals at a time, one for each priority area of your life for the year. For example, you might have a fitness mini-goal, a creativity mini-goal, and an education mini-goal. What do you want to create for yourself in Q3?

For Q3, I want to enjoy my Italian vacation and then get back to my revision. I would like to have my second draft complete by the end of August so I can pass it to some “friendly readers” for feedback. Then I can brainstorm my next story in September, outline it in October, and write the first draft for National Novel Writing Month in November! So I’m already thinking into Q4 for my writing goals.

What will you focus on in Q3?

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Posted by: Cathy | July 2, 2018

Do you have your own back?

I’ve been pushing values and personal alignment recently and this quote encapsulates my reasoning.

Louise Hay: “Until you have your own back in the world, you can’t really be your authentic self with other people.”

You can be yourself with your best friends because you probably have similar values and interests. Day to day, though, we may not work or interact with only our best friends.

If you let external environments (work, family, etc.) change who you are, your values, or your interests, you will feel deeply unsatisfied. For various reasons, though, you may need to stay in a restrictive work environment or keep relationships with discordant family members. This is why it’s important for us to do our creative work every day, to keep our creative muscles warm in less-than-ideal environments, so they don’t atrophy. Creativity is our armor, it keeps us strong and centered.

If you work a job you don’t love, try to do your creative projects before work, at lunch, or as soon as you get home. If you need to spend time with a difficult personality, try to do a little creative work before or right after you talk to them.

By doing your creative work, you protect yourself; you surround yourself with love and imagination. You have your own back when you do your creative projects.
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Posted by: Cathy | June 27, 2018

What have you made yet this year? Q2

We’ve finished the first six months of the year! It’s time for review.

  • What have you made so far creatively?
  • What were your “highs”, personally, professionally, creatively, etc.?
  • What were your goals for the year? How did you progress on them?
  • What worked well for you so far? What do you want to keep doing?
  • What tripped you up? What could you change about those things/situations so they go more smoothly in the future?
  • Who do you want to be in Q3 and what do you need to do to make that happen? What do you want to change or add in Q3?

If you have other favorite review questions/prompts, let me know in the comments!

Regardless of what you did or didn’t do in Q2, tomorrow is a new day and you can start fresh. Take what serves you forward and leave what doesn’t serve you behind, and recommit to yourself and your goals each day.

You can do it! You’re creative; you can do anything when you combine vision and action.
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Posted by: Cathy | June 25, 2018

Two Kinds of Imbalance

There are good kinds of imbalance and less-productive kinds. Today I’ll talk about one of each.

When you are pushing your own boundaries and trying something new or challenging, that is the very definition of being off-center; you are trekking a new path in uncharted ground. You’re learning tons about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. It can feel good but also overwhelming, so take care to pace yourself and rest occasionally.

When other people are making demands on you, whether you’re ready to step up or not, you are also off-center. Someone is trying to push you to do something. Whether you do it or not is your choice depending on the situation, your capabilities, and your values.

Both of these scenarios are uncomfortable but one is active and one is passive.

If you are being pushed off balance, you can decide how you handle it. If you need to take action, you can reframe the problem and make it about pulling yourself forward rather than being pushed. Take back your power, set boundaries to protect yourself, and move forward from your center rather than letting someone push you off-balance.
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Posted by: Cathy | June 20, 2018

Solstice Mid-year Check

Tomorrow is the summer solstice! It’s a great time to take a mid-year check.

On the longest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere), take a walk or just stand in the shade for some fresh air and notice the energy of the year around you.
* Are you where you thought you’d be by the end of June?
* What surprises have come up in the first half of the year?
* What haven’t you experienced yet this year that you’d really like to experience?
* What could you release that wasn’t serving you in the first half of the year?
* What could you change or shift to have an even better second half of the year?

Take the solstices and equinoxes as a moment to pause and look around. They’re major “quarter” celebrations in the pagan calendar, and they’re a natural time to check in see how our personal year is going.

How is your mid-year treating you?
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Posted by: Cathy | June 18, 2018

Being Level-headed

The goal for personal balance is to be level-headed most of the time. It’s fine to go high and low, but aim to rest somewhere in the middle.

If you’re trying to go-go-go all the time, you’ll burn out. If you don’t go enough, you won’t get anywhere. It’s good to reach some days and really rest other days, but most days you’ll want a balanced approach of work and recovery.

Sometimes it’s fun to have a bunch of great things happen at once, and we know that bad things come in threes; but too much good all the time will lead to complacency and too much bad will stress you out.

Notice swings like these when they happen in your life and make time to get back to level-headedness.

  • If you’re go-go-go, schedule a vacation.
  • If you don’t go enough, plan a focused project weekend.
  • If you’re enjoying great things, take a timeout to process and reflect.
  • If you’re swamped with bad things, give yourself a self-care day.

Encouraging level-headedness in your life can help you get more balanced.
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