Inspiration #7

Sopot, Poland // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • Can moving house change your life? Apparently, it can. In her blog post, Michele Connolly writes about how her life transformed with the decision of selling her apartment. She discovered the joy of living with less and realised that she should live more in the present moment.
  • A while ago, I read Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. While I liked some of the tips, I found her advice to have a ‘joyful’ relationship with every item you own a bit comical. However, if you haven’t read the book but would like to know what the buzz is about, read the summary here: ‘8 Decluttering Lessons Learned from the Marie Kondo book’.

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

There will never be a better time so what are you waiting for?

A note found in Copenhagen // own photo

 

Why is it sometimes so difficult to get started with things? Why do you often keep on thinking about doing something but never actually do it? Why do we often think it is better to wait for a better time? What if this better time never comes?

There are probably a lot of things that you would like to explore, learn or do. You might be considering getting a new hobby or you might want to change your career path. You might be thinking how good it would be to learn a new skill. Or while browsing images on the internet you might be planning that one day you will redecorate your bedroom so that it will eventually resemble the one from the pictures you dreamingly look at.

Stop making excuses

But you never actually do anything, Instead, you come up with excuses or conditions. You say that you don’t have enough money to buy a new camera and so you have to put your interest in photography on hold. Or you allow yourself to start learning a new language on condition that you complete the course you are currently taking. Or you promise yourself that you will start jogging if you find a reliable jogging-mate. The thing is that if you continue thinking this way you will never do the things that you want to do.

Stop waiting for a better time

You cannot keep on waiting for the perfect time to start a new chapter of our life. What if this time never comes? So stop imagining the perfect moment and start acting because the best moment is now. Had I waited for ‘the perfect moment’ and for the time to feel 100% ready, I would have never started this blog. It was a new and unfamiliar territory that I have been exploring along the way. I have learned a lot by doing. I wouldn’t have learned a lot by waiting and reading about ‘how to’.

Take action now

Think about the future and how grateful you might be to yourself for taking the action now. Don’t postpone whatever it is you want do. Some preparation is always needed but, in my opinion, we learn best by action and by trying things out. And even if you are not successful, see it as a valuable lesson. At least you have tried your ideas out and don’t live in a ‘what-if’ land.

It is ok not to feel ready and it is ok to start things even if you don’t feel you are fully prepared. Be braver and forget about the urge to be perfect. Stop thinking ‘I wish I could’ because you can if you really want to.

 

What has been the best thing you have recently done for yourself?

 

Why I already failed at keeping my New Year’s resolutions

Winter morning in Göteborg // own photo

 

I have already failed at keeping the resolutions I made for the year 2017, and January hasn’t even ended yet.

In one of my previous posts (here) I wrote that I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I also wrote that I believe that any time of the year is great for making changes. However, this year I decided to do something different. I changed jobs at the end of December and I thought that I should start the year in a more powerful way. You know, ‘the new and improved me’.

My resolutions

These are the two resolutions I made:

  1. I will not buy a single piece of clothing for myself in the month of January.
  2. I will stop eating meat completely.

Why I failed

And I failed beautifully at both… And I think I know why:

  1. The new job is a part-time one which means a lower salary so I needed to rethink how I spend my money. I thought that I should just cut on buying clothes. Yes, it is a very smart decision to limit your expenses when you work less and earn less. It is also a good idea to rediscover your wardrobe and use already owned clothing in more creative ways. But I already am a conscious shopper and I am good at decluttering. I regularly go through my clothes and get rid of the ones I don’t use, usually by selling them via eBay. On the other hand, I really like clothes and am interested in fashion so making such a resolutions seemed like a real sacrifice. However, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it. And so I failed. About two weeks ago I bought a leather jacket on sale. In my excuse I can say that on the very same day I sold an old leather jacket I didn’t use any longer. Well, I did feel a bit guilty about this but then the thought that I used my old ‘one in, one out’ rule made me feel better.
  2. In my family we already eat very little meat. Most of the meals I prepare I meat-free. I thought it would be a great move to stop consuming meat completely. I knew that I could live without meat because I had had two longer vegetarian/pescatarian phases in my life. So what I thought I did. And I failed, and now we have meat in the fridge and the freezer. Why? My daughter was reluctant to eat my meat-free dishes every day.  She wasn’t ready to switch and simply missed the meat. After preparing two or three vegetarian alternatives nearly every day for two weeks I gave up. I realised that for her the change was too sudden. I should have taken it more slowly and first make her like vegetables more before she was ready to stop eating meat completely.

Conclusion

  1. I should not be too strict with myself. If something truly gives me joy, why should I resign from it? Why should I restrict myself to not buying anything and feel guilty if I do so? So I am still going to follow my well-established shopping rules. Maybe I will be more reflective and think not twice but three times before I purchase anything. And I promise myself not to feel guilty!
  2. My plan to change our eating habits needed some revision. From now on I am going to try out new vegetarian recipes and introduce more vegetables to my daughters menu. I hope that by doing so the amount of meet she consumes at home will be gradually reduced to… nothing.

General thoughts on introducing changes to your life

  • Have a genuine reason for a change. Wanting to prove something to yourself might not be a reason strong enough to keep you motivated.
  • Don’t be too strict to yourself. Be more forgiving whenever you stumble and give yourself second chances.
  • Don’t feel guilty about your mistakes or stumbles. Guilt is a negative feeling and doesn’t lead to anything productive. Instead, see your mistakes as learning opportunities.
  • Be realistic with your resolutions and with what you can achieve within a specific time frame. Go for smaller steps to give yourself a feeling of success or accomplishment, i.e. instead of deciding not to but clothes for the whole year start with one week. Perceive a change as an evolution, not a revolution.
  • Before deciding on introducing any changes think about how the ones around you might be affected and always take them into consideration. How will your resolutions affect your closest family and friends? How will the changes you want to implement affect your relationships with others? What can the others do to support you?

 

What is your best tip to keep yourself motivated when going through a change?

 

The importance of writing things down

Lisbon // own photo
Lisbon // own photo

 

When do we write? Do we make use of writing in our lives?

Our writing skills develop mostly throughout primary and secondary years of schooling. We learn the first letters when we are just a few years old. It is usually our parents or kindergarten teachers who show us the letters and who teach us how to write a few familiar names. As we continue education, we learn how to build sentences, how to write coherent paragraphs, and then how to produce compositions, descriptions, essays and reports. We study the structures and practise using conjunctions and linking words to make smooth transitions between paragraphs. A few of us start diaries or journals, others try to express their feelings in poetry or songs.

As life goes on, we ditch the diaries and personal notebooks. We still write, though, now mostly ‘to-do’ and check lists, CV’s and personal letters, or reports and presentations for work. We text, write e-mails, fill in calendars with appointments, make status updates on Facebook or write captions under Instagram photos. Some of us might pick up diaries or start blogging, but, sadly, most of us tend to forget that we could use writing in many more ways.

I would like to encourage everyone to start writing. Or to start writing more if you already write.

In my teenage years I used to write diaries and short funny poems. In high school and at university there was so much writing involved that I didn’t even think of writing for pleasure. I picked up writing after a long break in January 2016 when I decided to start this blog. My original idea was to use blogging as a tool to promote myself as a coach. I did not know, though, how exciting my adventure with blogging would become. I had not idea how much I would enjoy the process of creating posts, from the moment of coming up with an idea to the laborious process of editing and polishing every sentence. I discovered a pure joy of writing, and I didn’t even know I had it in me.

Writing for self-improvement

When I look at my first posts I can see that they are rather short. The moment I started the blog I realised I wasn’t quite sure whether I could express myself clearly in writing. I had a lot of ideas but when I started to create first posts I had many doubts. Firstly, I wasn’t sure if my writing was precise and coherent enough, or whether what I wanted to write about would be found interesting. Secondly, I was not writing in my mother tongue. It was quite a struggle in the beginning, and the fear of exposing myself was adding to the anxiety. However, after some time and a lot of work I realised that I truly enjoy writing and blogging.

Yes, writing means work and it takes me hours to compose each post. And yes, I am never totally pleased with the outcome. But I can also see that my writing has improved a lot, and that my thoughts have become clearer and better organised. Hard work has been paying back!

Writing for creativity

To me, writing is like a self-propelled machinery. Once I started, I cannot stop, and the ideas keep on flowing and developing. One things leads to another, and not only do I have more ideas for the blog posts, but I also start to think of other ways to channel my writing. Writing has proven to be a fantastic outlet for my creativity, and just thinking about new posts has enabled me to explore many ideas not strictly connected to writing. I have, for example, taken a course on social media marketing and started to take more photos. All these activities allowed me to reconnect with my inner self; something I had missed since my life had changed with the arrival of my daughter.

Writing for problem solving

Writing can be a fantastic tool for brainstorming and for problem solving. When you have an issue you don’t know how to deal with, I suggest that firstly you describe your problem in writing. Then write down ideas how to solve this problem. Write down as many possible solutions as you can come up with, even unconventional or unrealistic ones. Don’t limit yourself here; often looking at unrealistic or even crazy solutions can be a source of new ideas. After you have completed your list, review all the options and choose the most satisfactory ones.

Writing for keeping goals

Each company has a vision and a mission statement. How about you? What is your personal mission statement? Do you know what your vision is? What do you aim for? I think it is important to keep a written reminder of own values to get to know yourself better. It is also a good idea to formulate your own mission statement and to review it every once in a while.

I keep my goals and my mission statement in a small notebook. I believe that writing down my goals makes me more accountable for them. Also, just taking the time to formulate my mission statement helps me define who I am. In the same way, being clear about my values helps me navigate my way through life.

Writing tools

Here is a list of writing tools that I use on a daily basis:

  • a small notebook (currently a squared pocket notebook by Moleskine) – for writing down ideas, for keeping my goals updated, for making plans, and for brainstorming,
  • Notes (an application by Apple) – for keeping shopping lists, to-do lists, to-read lists, etc.,
  • Google Keep – for writing down ideas, for drafting blog posts, and for saving links and web articles,
  • Google Docs – for drafting blog posts, for planning coaching sessions, for working on own coaching tools, and for creative writing,
  • Strides (an application by Goals LCC) – for tracking progress with achieving goals and habit change,
  • WordPress – for blogging, obviously, but also for storing well-developed drafts.

This probably isn’t a very impressive list but I like to keep things simple. And the most important thing is TO WRITE, for which all you need is a pen and a sheet of paper.

 

What is the last thing you wrote? What is the next thing you are going to write?

 

What if nothing in your life ever changes?

Tjolöholm // own photo
Tjolöholm // own photo

 

‘What if I told you 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same? Doubt you’d be happy. So, why are you afraid of change?’ – quote by Karen Salmansohn, author of ‘The Bounce Back Book’

 

Imagine your life in 10 years’ time. Where are you? Where do you live? What is your family situation like? Where do you work? How does your day look like?

I guess you are imagining some advancements and some changes for the better.

What if I told you that nothing in your life would ever change…

That you would wake up one morning in 10 years’ time only to find yourself in exactly the same situation as you are in today.

Your day looks the same. Your daily routines are the same. You wake up at the same time, you take the same bus to get to the same job. You still occupy the same desk at work, only that it has more coffee stains and more ink marks on its surface.

At lunch time, you go to the same place. Or you bring your packed lunch from home and eat in the same lunch room at work. The only difference is that there are more new faces around and most of your good colleagues are long gone.

Your job duties haven’t changed much. You hold the same position and perform a set of familiar routines. You don’t feel inspired and inspiring any more. Every time someone new starts working at your office, they raise their eye brows when they hear how long you have worked there for.

You take the same route back home as you have done for the past decade.

At home, your and your partner’s arguments take the usual, well-exercised path. You still haven’t resolved how to divide household duties and the issue of unloaded dishwasher comes back every other day. However, the unpainted walls in the kitchen don’t bother you any more. You have grown a habit of not noticing the faded shade of blue.

Your social circle haven’t changed much. You haven’t learned a new skill, discovered a new hobby or gone to a new place for holidays.

You look back and wish you have done thinks differently. If you had, you would probably be in a very different situation today.

What to do not to end up there?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to suddenly wake up in 10 year’s time only to find out that I wasted years of my life. This vision is exaggerated, but I am pretty sure that there are plenty of people who wish they made smarter choices or better-informed decisions when they still could.

So start changing now! Don’t wait till next Monday, next month, or next year. All it takes is some reflection and then willingness to change.

 

Which aspect/aspects of your life would you like to dramatically change in the coming years?

 

Inspiration #5

Stockholm // own photo
Stockholm // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • I really like the three pieces of advice shared by Rachel Thomas, the co-founder and president of Lean In Foundation. The best one: you have zero chances of being successful if you don’t try! By the way, check the LeanIn website for many more inspiring articles.
  • If you wonder how to become a high achiever, I recommend that you read ‘It Only Takes 6 Steps to Plan Your Success’ written by Jim Rohn. Jim Rohn was an American entrepreneur, mentor and speaker who influenced many motivational authors popular today. According to him, success is ‘a few simple disciplines practised every day’. I like this definition!
  • How to build a child’s self-confidence? One small change in how you talk to a kid can make a tremendous difference. It is called ‘a growth mindset’ and you can read more about it and the research behind it here.

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

The power of habits: is what you doing today contributing to your tomorrow?

habits
Carinthia, Austria // own photo

 

Do you live consciously and are aware that even one small everyday decision might change your future? Or are you just letting your days go by? Have you ever reflected upon your daily routines? If so, what were your findings? Have you got rid of an unnecessary habit? If so, how has it improved your life?

The above questions are worth pondering about, even though the conclusions of such self-conversations might make you feel uncomfortable. If you want to be successful in life, regardless of how you define ‘success’, it is valuable to reflect upon such matters and give honest answers. Because both you and I want to be in control of our lives and not let the circumstances, habits or other people control us.

I want to live my life with full awareness therefore I often reflect on and evaluate my everyday routines. I also often ask myself: ‘Is what I am doing now going to bring me closer to achieving my goals?’

I believe in the power of everyday habits and routines. Firstly, once we develop a habit, it becomes our second nature and we don’t really need to think about it, we just do it automatically. Secondly, every little step made every day takes us closer to where we want to be – and what a great feeling that is: knowing that every day you can do something to positively affect your tomorrow!

My current habits

Here are some of the habits which I have developed over the years and which I am proud of:

  • I put things away. Also, as soon as I purchase a new item, I find a place to store it. I make sure that everyone in my family puts things where they belong, after each use. Such a system helps us avoid mess in the house.
  • I clean my closets on a regular basis which helps me live a fairly decluttered life.
  • When I was about 10 years old my Mum taught me how to crochet, knit and mend clothes. Since then I have been repairing not only my own clothes, but also my friends’ and my relatives’. Whenever the damage occurs, I repair it straight away. This habits helps me avoid unpleasant surprises, like discovering a broken zipper on a pair of trousers I want to wear when I am just about to leave the house.
  • I save up. I always have. This habit helped me, for example, to make a down payment on my house.
  • I use my commute time (about 1 – 1.5 hours every day) wisely. I either do something useful for my career (participating in webinars, taking online courses, studying and reading) or do something for my pleasure (watching films). For me, fiddling with the phone or staring out of the window is a waste of time.
  • I often think of my career and reevaluate my professional goals. I keep a document where I write what I would like to do next and which steps I need to take to get there. For me, it is very useful to have a plan like this, and I learned that writing things down helps me visualise my aims and makes me feel accountable for them. Thanks to this habits in the past 3 years I did four courses, including coaching, project management and marketing, and I am planning to learn more.

Some things I want to try

I enjoy reading about habits of successful people and here are some routines I want to try and see if they would work for me:

  • As cruel as it sounds, I want to try to get up at 5 a.m. on week days. I work full time, I commute, and I have a small child. After getting back home from work I don’t have much possibility to do anything creative on my own so this would give me an extra hour just for myself to read or to write.
  • I would like to start a journal. Maybe 5 a.m. would be the perfect time to start writing down my thoughts?

 

It is important to realise that changing habits is a process and that implementing new habits takes time. While we might not always enjoy where we are, our habits can lift us and take us to new places. On the other hand, you might be enjoying what you do today, but if I told you that you would be in the same position in 10 years’ time, would it make you feel content? Is this contentment valuable enough to last your lifetime?

 

What are your daily routines that bring you closer to your life or career goals? I will gladly read about them in the comments.

If you would like to read more about everyday routines, you can check one of my previous posts here.

 

Inspiration #4

inspiration
Vrångo // own photo

 

A handful of inspirational articles:

  • Here are some interesting thoughts on using technology when on vacation. I agree that technology might be disruptive and I rather spend my summer holidays without it.
  • I am a bit too old to call myself a ‘millennial’ but am totally into living a simpler life with less stuff. Here is a Washington Post article explaining why a younger generation might be loosing sentimental attachment to things.
  • A story on how becoming a minimalist can change your life for the better.

Do not forget to check my previous posts with inspiration:

 

What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

How to fill every day of your life with more purpose

purpose
Öresund Bridge // own photo

 

How often do you feel that you don’t have time for anything? That the life you live everyday has little focus or little purpose? That all you do is wake up, go to work, come back, do some chores, go to bed, wake up, go to work and so on? That all weekends are spent on catching up with some housework and not even on catching up with friends or spending time relaxing?

And how often, when you complain to your friends about not having the time, they would advise you, ‘Well, you just need to MAKE the time’. Easier said than done, right?

At times we all experience the feeling that the real life is happening somewhere next to us. The good thing is that such situation can be improved by introducing some changes. Some of these changes could be so small that they might seem insignificant at first, but when introduced on everyday basis, with determination and consistency, they can have a huge positive impact on our lives. And, obviously, no change can happen without thorough reflection that allows you to identify what and how could be improved.

If you would like to fill your everyday life with more purpose, do the following exercise. I am going to guide you through the process of redesigning your day using the GROW model (you can read more about this method in my previous post here).

Redesigning your day using the GROW model

I suggest that you assign some time, find a quiet place and give yourself the luxury of reflecting on your life. Take a piece of paper and answer the questions below in writing. You don’t have to answer all the questions, and you can mix their order within each category. However, it is important not to mix the order of categories.

Goal

  • How do you want your ideal day to look like? Write everything down, and be as specific as you can.
  • How do you want to feel in the morning after waking up?
  • How do you want to feel when you are at work?
  • What do you want to do when you come back from work?
  • What would your favourite activity after coming back from work be?
  • How do you want to spend your weekends? With whom?
  • How would you feel if could live every day close the your idea of a perfect day? What would it mean to you?
  • What everyday activities would make your life more meaningful and make you feel that you are getting closer to reaching your goals?

Reality

  • How does your average workday look like?
  • How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Why?
  • What are your morning routines?
  • How do you spend your working day? Be specific.
  • What do you do when you get back from work?
  • How can you describe your evening routine?
  • How do you relax?
  • What do you do when you have nothing else to do?
  • What do you do, on everyday basis, to achieve your goals?

Options

  • What is stopping you from living your ideal day every day?
  • What routines have you tried to change and why?
  • Why were/weren’t you successful?
  • What could you do to improve your day at work?
  • What activities would you like to do after work?
  • Which hobbies would you like to pursue?
  • What else could you do in your free time?
  • Who could you ask to support you in improving your daily routines?

Will

  • What small changes to your daily routine could you introduce as off tomorrow?
  • What small changes would be the most effective to put you in your best mood every morning/afternoon/evening?
  • How much time are you willing to spend everyday on an activity that can help you reach your goal/goals?
  • What one improvement in your daily habits would have the biggest impact on making you feel that your day has a purpose?
  • What else?
  • When can you start implementing the changes?

I hope that after you have gone through the above questions you should be able to identify what even small changes can do for you. Congratulations, you have just made the first step into filling your days with more purpose and into living more intentionally!

The key to truly experiencing the changes lies in staying consistent. Always think this way: you make choices every day, and you know that your choices come with consequences. Do you want to live more fully and intentionally? Then make the right choices, stay focused and be consistent. And remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day; it takes a lot of time, effort and determination to improve.

 

What changes in your day are you going to make? What improvements have you already made? Please share in the comments.

 

The art of letting go – how to accept changes?

letting go
Smögen // own photo

 

Letting go should come naturally as is an integral part of life, isn’t it? Life goes on, we move places, people come, people go, we change jobs, we evolve. Yet, we often desperately try to hold on to the past. Somehow we find it difficult to just let go – of people we met, of objects we own, of events that already happened. Why is this? Wouldn’t it be easier to accept the fact that the past is the past and to move on? How to learn to let go? How to overcome the fear of missing someone or something you decide to leave behind? I believe that a slight shift in attitude could help with letting go and not feeling regretful.

I have met many fantastic people in my life and have experienced countless wonderful moments together with them. I have met and lost a few really close friends in the course of my life. I am not in touch with most of these people and I haven’t got the slightest idea about where they are and what they do. Do I miss them? In a way. I think about the fun times we shared and the great talks we had. Do I regret that that we lost contact? Not really. I still keep those great memories and am thankful for having met all these people. Of course, it would be interesting to meet them again at some point, but then, on the other hand, I do meet a lot of people who bring so much value into my life that I don’t really miss these connections any more. What is the key for me here is changing how I view the past: I focus on the past experiences and how they have enriched me rather than on the friendships I have lost. Learning to let go starts with accepting that changes are, indeed, an inevitable part of everyone’s life.

The other crucial factor in learning to let go is, in my opinion, patience. Changes take time and we cannot rush them through. It is a process and it takes the time it takes. I am still learning how to let go of missing my ‘old life’, that is the time before my daughter was born. Becoming a mother has been a gigantic change and I feel I was very little prepared to this. To be honest, I am still going through the process of changing how I see myself and how I view my role as a mother. Obviously, it is difficult just to shift my attitude after thirty-something years of not having to be responsible for another being. But I understand it is a process, however frustrating it might be, and it is not going to happen overnight. And yes, I do miss the independance and the spontaneity but in the monents like these I remind myself how much value my daugher has brought into my life, and if I were to choose, I would choose having her again, without a doubt. Acknowledging the change and accepting it are the first steps. Being patient with yourself and allowing yourself sufficient time to deal with the change is another one. No one says it is easy, but I am saying it is possible, just be patient.

Now think about your possessions. Do you have too many unnecessary items at your home? Too many clothes you don’t wear? More kitchen utensils that you need? Storage boxes full of books/DVD’s/childhood toys/unused Christmas decorations lying somewhere in the attic? Do you have difficulties parting with these items? Why is this? Do you keep them out of guilt, or maybe you think you might use them one day? Do you keep a lot of objects for sentimental reasons?

I don’t have any problems with letting go of physical objects and I rarely ever regret getting rid of things. I know that I can always find a replacement should there be a need (it hasn’t been the case, though). I also realise that I don’t need to be surrounded by an extensive number of items to bring back my memories. Shifting the focus have enabled me to get rid of things.

To summarise: let’s remember about the good times, let’s accept and welcome changes, let’s deal with the changes by shifting our focus, and let’s try to be more patient. I believe by following these steps we will learn to deal with letting go.

 

What can you let go as of now? Let me know in the comments.