Make a Plan

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Make-a-Plan-erd99n

While it may seem motivating to state the goal, write it down, or even make it public knowledge (hello social media!), is that enough? For most people, figuring out the goal is challenging…and for some, once the goal is set, we have a misconception that it will just happen.

But goals aren’t magic. They take work to accomplish. And while you may have the best intentions at the start, without a firm grasp on how you’re going to get there, you may go down a path of futility, frustration, and eventually abandonment.

Never fear! There is a way to move forward, keeping your eye on the prize. Make a plan. A very detailed plan. Take 10 minutes per week to create a plan that will complement your lifestyle and then keep it in a visible location. The easier and more convenient the plan is for you, the more likely it will get done.

For example, say you want to work on your health. The simplest method is to state what the ultimate goal is first: lose 10 pounds. From there, create a calendar. Write out what you’re going to do per day (at a time that is most convenient for you to actually do it). “X” off each day once you complete the task. Add in milestones (“2-week weight check!”). Add in boosts & rewards (“If you lose 3 pounds by Saturday, purchase that new sweater”). STICK to the plan.

At the end of the month, you can pat yourself on the back if you’ve adhered to your plan. If you fell off, try again, perhaps with modifications and different milestones for subsequent months. Either way, you’re trying. It’s certainly better than relying on the genie to grant you what you want.

Keep up the good work!

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Future Self > Resolutions

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Future-Self–Resolutions-erd96t

With the new year finally here, it is easy to get caught up in the notion of setting resolutions. It is part of our culture, it’s almost expected.

However, the vast majority of folks with the best of intentions tend to fall off their resolutions by February…if not sooner. Interestingly, a recent episode of the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin suggested that some people who chose a word for the year 2020 (to represent their resolutions) completely forgot what the word was by December!

Therefore, instead of setting a resolution this year and then feeling defeated in a few months if you can’t keep up, let’s reframe our thoughts to future self.

Future self is envisioning what the future you would look, feel, and be like. In the case of a new year, you can project out 6 months or the entire year.

How will you feel in 6 or 12 months if you achieve XX? How will you be positively impacted if you make that change? Will you feel happier? More fulfilled?

What happens if you don’t achieve XX? Will you be disappointed in yourself? Will you wish you could go back in time and try again? Or maybe you’ll be content – and the goal that you once thought was super important was likely not the right goal for you?

Future self can be a powerful tool, especially if you’re interested in making a big change. And attempting this process can also be more forgiving if you stray from the path…just make sure to get back on it!

Remember – a little bit of progress is better than no progress.

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Biggest Stressor

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Biggest-Stressor-erd942

Out of 37 surveyed adults, aged 18-65, the majority noted that the biggest stressor in their lives was being productive and positive – in so many words, happy and fulfilled. This item beat out fitness, work/life balance, finances, work, parenting, AND COVID, which was quite eye-opening.

In a 2020 poll by Associated Press, only 14% of US citizens consider themselves to be happy. While this poll is unsurprising as it was gauged during COVID, political turmoil, and nationwide protests against police brutality, it aligns with an overall unease in most American adults.

Looking at the open-ended responses in my small survey, folks noted that they longed to create positive routines, stay in the present, get more organized, be more productive, and find purpose. All of these areas are certainly affected by our work, home life, and financial situation, but they are obviously geared to self satisfaction – a place we often ignore to deal with the aforementioned list of responsibilities.

I’ve harped on this topic before, but when it comes to self satisfaction, we need to hone in on the ‘self’ component. As a parent and wife, I can relate to needing to take care of a family and a home, but at the same time, ignoring my own goals never leads to happiness.

I encourage you to write down what would make you happy and contemplate how to make it happen.

Specifically carve out time to do this activity. If the answer is finding a new job, then you know where to begin; if it’s relationship or financial woes, it may be time for some tough decisions; if it is literally a goal to be more productive, stay accountable to yourself (or someone else 🙂 ) and keep a running to-do list.

Small steps can lead to big results. Take the first step to being happier and more fulfilled.

Polish Your Strengths

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Polish-Your-Strengths-erd918

From the time we were young, we have been trained to improve on our weaknesses. As a society, the key to growth has always been attributed to bettering ourselves, especially in areas where we fall short.

Think of the last time you had a performance evaluation at work. Do the phrases ‘Shows Improvement’ or ‘Needs Improvement’ still haunt your daily thoughts?

Sure, there are circumstances where folks can get lazy and not perform to the best of their ability. But, if you’re holding down a job, more often than not, you’re trying YOUR best…and if being a team player is not your strength, it will be hard for you to ever jump head first into a project where you have to voice your opinions and work in a group.

Instead, as eloquently expressed by the father of “CliftonStrengths” Don Clifton, we should be focusing on building our strengths.

I recently bought the book “Discover Your CliftonStrengths”, the StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Gallup and Tom Rath and took the test. Sure, I was skeptical…what would this assessment really do?

WOW.

In 30 minutes, my eyes were opened…to myself. I guess I always thought I knew what I enjoyed doing, but I never had defined that as a strength. In fact, I had never defined it, period. It was such a breath of fresh air knowing that my, for example, affinity towards lists and collecting info is an actual human tendency known as Input.

Additionally, I am a Learner (someone who enjoys the process of learning) and Relator (someone who finds satisfaction in working with others to achieve a goal) – all of it makes sense. More importantly, it’s now my motivation for continuing to do what I like to do most.

No need to focus on Command or Strategic. No need to beat myself up for not scoring high enough on Positivity or Harmony.

They are not my strengths, but not my detriments either. We all have a little bit of each human quality (hence, we’re humans), but it’s better use of my time to polish my available skills.

I strongly encourage anyone who is interested to take the test. It is worth the time and money.

If you do try the test, here is my take away: Your strengths should be harnessed during both personal and work time. Once you know them, think of ways in which you can utilize them to better your life.

Live up to and expand on who you already are, don’t try to recreate yourself.

Learn to Love Yourself

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Learn-to-Love-Yourself-erd8l3

The noisy alarm goes off. I roll over, back aching and body just not ready to get up. Begrudgingly, I stand and walk to the bathroom. Flip on the light switch. Yikes. The mirror reflects tired eyes…dry scalp…blemishes…a stuffed nose. Sleeping with my mouth open has left a nasty breathe. Lovely.

I could stand here for the next 5 minutes and criticize. I could feel bad that I didn’t accomplish enough yesterday. I could be angry at myself for not getting up earlier today. I could go down an endless path of degradation. Wishing I was more XX and hoping I could be less XX. But what good is that? How does putting myself down help anything? Making me feel bad will not solve any problems…and worse, gives other people the freedom to confirm my faults.

Instead, take a deep breathe. This is you. The only body you will get. The only mind you will get. The only life you will get. It’s time to take care of you.

Maybe there are changes within your control. Perhaps you want to eat better? Get more sleep? Start a daily skin routine? These are possible.

And maybe there are changes out of your (easy) control. Don’t like your nose? Short of plastic surgery, embrace it. Don’t like your family? Have a discussion with them…or if that won’t work, limit your interaction.

Anything you’re not entirely happy with, begin to make small steps towards a positive change. And remember to be kind to yourself.

Today is a NEW day.

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Use It or Lose It

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Use-It-or-Lose-It-erd8if

Who doesn’t have a box of ‘maybes’ shoved into the back of their closet? Or better yet, an entire drawer of ‘ehh, they’re ok but I have nowhere to wear these’?

While well-intentioned, perhaps you’ve lost a little bit of reality. Are you ever going to need these items? Are they absolutely irreplaceable? What are you saving them for?

Now more than ever, we are intimate with our home…and our precious space within those 4 walls. And the last thing we need is for the items in our home to rule us or add to any chaos.

As coined by tidying guru Marie Kondo, does the item “spark joy?” Though intensified through her book, Netflix show, and overall pop culture impact, this simple phrase holds a lot of power.

Is the item something that makes you feel good? Is it sentimental? Is there any point in the future where you’d miss it if it were gone?

If you’re still on the fence, I urge you to ask yourself one more question:

Would it bring joy to someone else?

If the answer undoubtedly becomes “yes”, put a box in plain sight and start filling for donations.

The amount of joy in paying it forward will far outweigh that box of forgotten t-shirts and barely worn skirts.

No Longer a Fit

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/No-Longer-a-Fit-erd8fr

Growing up, it seemed like you were inseparable. Every crush, every outing, every piece of gossip was shared. You spent the weekends at her cousin’s house, she spent countless nights sleeping in your parent’s basement on a not-so-comfortable sofa bed. You told each other stories, secrets, and most importantly, your life goals. Or, at least you thought you did.

But then somewhere around your early 20’s, you noticed your paths diverging. You became super serious about your education, while she was tied up with her latest fling. You were eager to invest money in a house, while she jumped from job to job attempting to make ends meet. You still reached out consistently, but when she stopped reciprocating and worse, stopped listening when you did get her on the phone, it became clear.

The bond that was strong in your formative teenage years was no longer there.

It takes many a painstaking month to realize that you no longer have anything in common. You can’t confide in her, and her reliance on you to pick up the pieces can no longer exist. The mutual understanding is gone. The friendship is dwindling. And you start to question if it really ever existed in the first place? What did you ever have in common?

Many years later, you’ve come to terms with the lost relationship, and more importantly, the lost time. Sure, it hurt at first. You were actually a little angry to have invested so much of yourself during critical stages of life – and for what? Empty promises? Missed milestones? Her to never really ask you anything substantive? Was it all a big waste?

But instead of making things worse, you take the high road. You wish her the best during all of her milestones, you wish her well on the journey, you sincerely hope she finds what she’s looking for. And you come to terms with knowing that she’s no longer a fit.

What once seemed like an unbreakable connection all those years ago was certainly history. There is no erasing the past. However, there is only acceptance and progression forward. Making new friends, forming new relationships, surrounding myself with people who understand and sincerely care. If she pops up in my future, maybe I’ll let her in.

But until then, I’m enough without her.

Friendships come and go. Don’t place blame. Understand that you can move on.

Just Ask

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Just-Ask-erd89i

Perhaps it all started when 2 career homes became the norm? Or maybe when families no longer lived together as a community and instead, relied on a car to get from house to house?

Help.

A word that carries so much weight. A word that for some reason, we don’t like to utter. A word that immediately seems to paint us into a diagnosis: “What’s wrong with you?”, “Maybe you should quit doing XX?”, “Why can’t you handle it?”.

Needing help, no matter what the reason, is absolutely normal. We shouldn’t let fear of stigmas or judgement hold us back from asking.

Think about your job. Most likely, you’ve been asked to help someone – your manager, a co-worker, or a customer. For some reason, when we’re being paid to do it, we don’t question the asker.

However, when it comes to our personal life – domestic tasks, kids, family/marital issues, schooling, goals, and general overall happiness – it’s a huge hurdle to inquire. Maybe we feel like we don’t want to burden someone else with our problems; but more often than not, we feel guilty. Guilty that we can’t do it all ourselves.

As a working mom, I can especially relate to this feeling. We’re supposed to be able to do it all. We put on the cape in the morning and don’t take it off until the kids are tucked in, the dishes are washed, and maybe our hair is shampooed. But the burnout quickly follows. Attempting to do it all can cause stress, strain, and a resentful feeling towards folks that seemingly do have it all together (refrain from Instagram comparisons during these times!).

But life is hard. The everyday tasks can pile up if we’re having a rough time. And as much as stress management can certainly help, there’s still only 24 hours in a day. Set a conscious decision to take life more like a child would – by asking for help when needed. Ask a friend, ask a family member, ask a neighbor.

It certainly takes a village.

Normalize help.

Do Good, Feel Good

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Do-Good–Feel-Good-erd87d

In the time of social distancing, it seems hard to make a connection – whether it’s with a tried and true friend, a long-distance relative, or with literal touch (I don’t know how many times I’ve had to hold back from shaking hands or hugging someone).

Despite these challenges, there are many ways to feed connection without being in the same physical location. They all center around the concept of doing good, feeling good:

  • Drop a line – the power of a written letter should not be overlooked. If you have a grandparent that is living in isolation, a friend on the other side of the world, or someone down the block that you used to see frequently, send them a short note. Written on a piece of paper. Via snail mail. I know it seems like an antiquated concept, but think about how much joy the receiver will get from a surprise in their mailbox. You could also send mail to a elderly penpal, women’s shelter, or children’s hospital – just make sure you read their current acceptance policies.
  • Give a gift – any range or style or cost. Sending a gift to someone you care about could be simply a thoughtful gesture or hold additional meaning – maybe they’ve had a rough few weeks, maybe they’re celebrating an important milestone, maybe you were inspired by something you saw. And gifts don’t have to be extravagant or even bought. Cooking a meal, crafting from scratch, writing a poem, picking a bunch of wildflowers, or simply offering your services to a friend in need (grocery pickup anyone?) are amazing, unexpected gifts.
  • Donate/volunteer – help a local, national, or international organization by volunteering your time & energy or contributing monetarily. Spreading the word about the organization to friends and family is also a huge way to do good for the community. Find an organization you’re passionate about and see how best you can donate, even if it’s only once a month.

One simple act could not only make another person feel that much better, but it can also boost your own spirits. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

A Body in Motion Stays in Motion

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/A-Body-in-Motion-Stays-in-Motion-erd851

Day in and day out. Slugging behind a computer desk, especially in the primarily virtual world. Posture failing, legs cramping, eyes drying. Sitting certainly lends to more sitting.

But we know the risks. With the promotion of X-minute breaks per hour, FitBits and other step trackers, and plethora of reports on the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, why is it still such a struggle to get moving?

As Newton described, a body at rest stays at rest.

We are creatures of habit. If we continually remain in a seated position, it is harder and harder to get the body moving for a number of physical and mental reasons.

On the physical side, the body becomes weak. Muscles start to wither, blood flow to the brain is decreased, and the lungs compress, making it harder to breathe in enough oxygen.

On the mental side, lack of blood flow to the brain certainly adds to the sluggish, fatigued feelings. However, there has also been research noting the effects of inactivity and possible risks of anxiety and depression. Sitting for >6 hours a day is especially provoking.

When we are focused, or at least trying to focus, on work for >6 hours per day in a seated position, our concentration starts to wane, our stress levels increase, and the notions of isolation may also be enhanced. All of these factor into feelings of anxiety. Furthermore, with sedentary lifestyles, sleeping becomes a challenge. And lack of sleep certainly fans the flames of depression.

On the contrary, it is not recommended to put insurmountable goals on your plate. Don’t promise that you’ll run for 30 minutes 5 days a week, especially after being primarily sedentary for months, if not years. The likelihood that you will make this change overnight is slim, and disappointment in yourself is not a good motivating tool.

Instead, as Dr. Rangan Chatterjee suggests, take the 5-minute change approach. Tell yourself that you’ll exercise for 5 minutes per day, ideally during your workday. This can be a short walk around the block, a few lunges, a couple of yoga poses, a set of reps with hand weights, or some jumping-jacks for a burst of cardio. You can even bundle this exercise with something work-related (if you must), such as taking a call or listening to that training video you’ve been putting off. And with time, you may be able to increase the duration. But if not, 5 minutes still counts…and is certainly better than nothing!

Adopting this method may not only help curb your workday sitting habits, but it could also be a nice boost for your days off. When you find yourself sitting and not doing work, try 5 minutes of movement. I have a feeling you may want to keep going once the body is in motion.

Need someone to help you out of the slump? Let’s chat about being an Accountability Buddy.