Stop endless to do lists. Create a MAP to your goals.

Hello, and welcome back!

Today is Day 2 of the 7-Day “Transform Your Body, Transform Your Mind” Challenge, and I’m so happy you’re here with me!

Yesterday, I talked about the first step of creating goals you will actually accomplish, and that was: Outcome. Specifically, we said to ask yourself “What is the Outcome I want?”

This question is then followed by asking “Why?” Why do you want this goal? Why now?

So, now that you know what you want and why you want it, let’s talk about the next step: How? Easy! We create a MAP!

7-day-challenge-map

Now, this is where you might be tempted to break out your planners and bullet journals and go to town scheduling tasks and activities that could potentially overwhelm us. We won’t do that yet, but when we do, we will feel a lot more in control over our day.

Creating our MAP: Massive Action Plan

Instead of figuring out where you can fit tasks into your overloaded days, do a brain dump of all the stuff that’s cluttering your head. Write out all the tasks that you think you’ll need to get done or the activities that you know you need to do on a piece of paper.

(One piece of paper per project is best!)

Don’t censor your thoughts. If it’s a phone call to the doctor or writing a marketing campaign or going to the office supply store, whatever to-do’s that need to get done today, this week, this month, etc, write them out.

It may seem like I just created more stress for you because you just vomited out 30 activities that need to happen before the end of the day, but this step is important because your Why changes your How.

First, look at all the stuff you just vomited up, and look at it through the lens, “What is the outcome I want?” or “What outcome is more important to me?” (In case there’s a situation where two projects may be vying for your time and attention.)

Then, go through the brain vomit and group together activities and tasks. Maybe they can be grouped together by location, time, deadlines, or they could even be delegated out. And some could be crossed off your list altogether because you realize that you don’t need to do that activity after all.

So now, instead of 30 tasks staring back at you, you actually only have 3 or 4 activities because they have been grouped together.

After you do that, you calendarize the activities, complete with assigning a time budget to the activity as you would a monetary budget.

How is this easier?

Perception around the degree of difficulty of a project or goal circles around how many steps it takes to complete a task. When we complain about a new goal, like working out or cooking whole foods, we go through an elaborate story about all the intricate steps that need to happen in order to complete our routine.

For example, if working out is too difficult we may say something like: Driving to the gym is tough during rush hour; the parking is a mess; then I have to fumble for my scan card; the lockers are a hassle; the changing room is gross; the exercise equipment needs to be cleaned; I have to wait for my favorite treadmill; then I have to wait for the showers…

You get the drill. It becomes lengthy and intricate. Yet, we think nothing of going to an event or activity that we like to do, like the movies or going out to eat. When describing those activities, we’d probably wrap it up in 2-3 steps max. “I get in the car, and drive to the theatre, and boom, I’m there having a good time.”

MAP-ing as a Skill

Creating a MAP like this make take a lot longer than scheduling appointments and tasks into your favorite planner, but what you get out of it is a system that tells you if you even need those appointments or tasks in the first place.

Maybe you realize that the way you were told to do a project is actually not efficient, and you could probably cut a lot of steps in the middle and still come to the same outcome. Or, maybe you realize that the project that seemed to be the Hot Project, should actually be delayed and traded up with another project that could give you better leads or return on your investment.

When you are guided by your Why, the How to get to your outcome will feel freer and dynamic. You’ll feel more in control over your time and decisions, instead of feeling like the day is running you.

When you know your Outcome and Why you’re doing it, you can easily filter all the white noise of your life into manageable groups of activities. Your processes will become more efficient, and you will eventually make quicker progress toward your goals.

Your Turn: Please share your insights in the comments below, or feel free to use the image to post on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter with the hashtag #TransformIn2017.

Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Liza
 

PS

I will be moving to a self-hosted site soon, and I don’t know if I will be able to move my blog subscribers with me. So, I’m collecting email addresses just in case. I’d love it if you would enter in your name and email address just to let me know that you’d like to move over with me. If not, that’s cool! 🙂

 

PPS

For those of you who wanted daily workout inspiration, here is the workout + smoothie for tomorrow’s 15-Minute Fix.

TUESDAY’S 15-MINUTE FIX

(Click HERE to get details and links to instructions/form tutorials!)

todays-workout-2

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, or you could also fill out this form!

Thank you and I’ll see you again tomorrow!

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Transform your body. Transform your mind.

I believe that dreams are worth pursuing.

Whether it’s becoming a best-selling author, owning your own business, or living your best body now, your dreams can become your reality.

The trick, if there is one, is acting on it.

Action Eliminates Anxiety

Two years ago, Operation Freedom was just a desperate scribble in a notebook. I never once thought I was crazy for wanting all the stuff I wrote down, I just knew I wanted it.

I wanted Change.

I wanted Freedom.

And if I worked hard enough, I knew I would earn both.

Instead of hemming and hawing like I usually would have, I just acted. I pushed myself to act as if I already had those things, and never looked back.

Inspiration starts the action. Momentum finishes it.

I don’t know about you, but I love newness and beginnings. I can start new projects all day long. What I was very aware of, though, is that I only finish half of the projects I start. And most just die after a few days or weeks. The ones I finished were done so with Herculean effort toward the end.

(I tried to trick my brain into looking at the old, forgotten projects as if it were a new project. No go. Restarting old projects didn’t have that same glow and new love like starting brand new projects. I would rather ignore it and start something new or work on a current project than revive an old project left to rot.)

Daily action was how I gained momentum on the dreams that were just scribbles in a notepad two years ago. I’m still a long way from accomplishing what is a 5-year plan, but I am already a year ahead of schedule.

I have learned to lean into any fear or anxiety I felt along the way with action. I would brain dump onto paper any of my thoughts or anxiety. I would create systems and plans from the word vomit. I would tap a trusted friend for feedback, advice, and encouragement.

Whatever I did, I didn’t stay idle. I stayed in action, and through it, gained progress, however small the steps were.

With each bit of progress, I gained confidence and belief in myself that I was going in the right direction. Every time I felt resistance, I leaned into it. Every single time, I pushed through the other side and was rewarded with deeper clarity and heightened courage to keep going for my goals.

Everyday Efforts

I noticed a theme in my journals, though. The projects I finished, I worked on nearly every day. When there weren’t long gaps, I was able to push through and finish the projects with a manic glee.

That’s when I started really embracing the idea of everyday efforts. It’s so much easier, and feels so much more rewarding, to devote little bits to a Hot Project daily than it was to return to it whenever I had a three-hour block in a day.

Not only have I been able to embrace my process, it also became the name of my new program and brand.

{It’s not quite ready to launch yet, but you can sneak peek it here: Everyday Efforts}

The 7-Day Challenge

I know how rewarding it was for me to start 2015 with a bang. So, I thought to invite anyone who wanted to join me for my planning session this year.

Starting Jan 1-Jan 7, I’ll be posting my fitness and planning tips here on the blog and on my facebook page. I would love to hear from you each day if you choose to follow along!

change-starts-with-you

Until then, enjoy your New Year’s celebrations!

xoxo

Liza

 

Failure is a stepping stone not a stopping point.

“Obstacles are put in your way not to stop you, but to call out your courage and strength.”

In my quest for mentors and role models to guide me in this new realm of entrepreneurship, the ones who seem to resonate with me the most are the ones who have failed the most on their journey. They are the ones who seem to have lost everything on their road to success but still kept going. In fact, their failures seem to pivot them toward another path that eventually would propel them to a higher level of success.

How a failure launched another dream.

For example, Dave Ramsey is a name brand in the finance coach arena, but his past isn’t perfect nor does he hide it. He used to be in real estate, and at one point needed to file for bankruptcy relief. Around that time, he started coaching small groups around money matters, and soon, Financial Peace was born.

I don’t know how he found the grace and grit to rise, but I’m thankful he did. Because of his teachings, I am free of credit card debt, and am on to the third baby step of his process (save 3-6 months of expenses in savings).

What may have seemed like a huge failure at a time, actually became a new beginning and calling. I have been blessed by his financial coaching, and I know millions more have been as well.

The Success Halo

There’s this halo, at least in my mind, that if someone is successful then they did the right thing all the time perfectly. In the process, I automatically disqualify myself from anything because of my perceived failures. I would hit an obstacle, and assume it meant “Go no farther.”

What has taken me too long to understand is that an obstacle simply means: “Go a different way.”

(Or, it may even mean, “Not now, come back later.”)

The word success has such a positive connotation to it that we immediately equate it with: easy, done, perfect. The reality is that behind every success story is a string of struggles, obstacles, and failure.

Failing is part of success, not the opposite of it. The ones who have reached a modicum of success are just those who have learned to fail fast, and keep moving toward their goal.

How to Fail Well

I think part of success is developing your mental resilience like you would any muscle. In sports and fitness, you learn how to fall safely in order to prevent injuries. The same can be applied to our other non-physical goals.

Here are four practices to strengthen your mental resilience

  1. What did I learn from this? Re-align yourself with your outcomes. Are your activities aligned with your purpose? If not, then let go and feel good about it.
  2. What’s the next step? So often we look to our Big Goal and it seems like this immovable point in the distance always out of reach. Focus instead on the next step that you need to do, and gain momentum there.
  3. Remember your Why. Meditate and reflect on your Why so that you can be re-energized for your work and better serve those around you. Even the most menial or tedious task can be transformed into something joyful and rewarding simply by remembering Why you’re doing it.
  4. Gratitude. When you reflect on all the things you’re grateful for, you will feel better mentally and physically. You become more others-focused rather than self-focused. It will help you focus on the positive things in life that you want to protect and enable others to have as well.

Just like any exercise, the more intentional and consistent you are, the easier these practices will be.

I know it’s hard to see in the moment, but failures aren’t meant to stop you. Failures just show you that you need a different perspective both on your goal and of the failure itself. It gives you the chance to pause, reflect, and strengthen your vision for what you hope to accomplish.

I hope that wherever you are in your journey, that you’re still pushing toward your goals, whether you’re already in action or are still dreaming.

And, if you’re stuck, let me know. I can be a sounding board, accountability partner, or cheerleader. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

Liza

PS

I’ll eventually be moving this blog to a self-hosted site. I think I’ll be able to move my readers/subscribers with me via Jet Pack, but if not, I’ll make sure to add your email addresses to keep you in the loop!

PPS

I was thinking about doing a simple fitness and planning challenge to start off the new year. Like a “Transform your body, Transform your mind” challenge. I’ll be hosting it here for the first week of January. I’ll post details tomorrow–lemme know what you think!

A few of my favorite things

Whenever my life creeps into overwhelm, I find that I am quick to drop everything non-essential and focus on my one true foundation: my health.

One of my highest values is freedom. Having a strong body and mind is essential for me to create the freedom that I need in my life. This is why I am able to make the decisions that I make without guilt or apology.

For example, if something or someone is consistently negative, I excuse myself from that situation or learn to avoid that person. If I’m feeling under the weather, I make sure to sleep more and drink more water, tea, and green juices. I exercise regardless of my mood, and avoid foods that would stress out my body.

I don’t eat a perfect diet or always get 8 hours of sleep in. I have just learned to listen to my body and react quickly to biofeedback. Because I value freedom, I don’t want anything slowing me down, including a sick or dis-eased body. Also, when you believe that you deserve the best life, you treat yourself accordingly.

This method and philosophy has served me well. I’m rarely sick (last time was in May 2007); I have not missed a day of work in nearly ten years; I can go for long stretches with barely any sleep (not that I advocate forgoing sleep any longer); and, I have an iron stomach.

There are times, though, like during the holiday season, when I’m stretched just a little too thin and I start to feel a bit off. Thankfully, I’m quick to react to it. But instead of trying to cut corners to fill in all the extra stuff that creeps in to the holidays (longer work hours, more annoying phone calls, more demands on my time and attention), I become even more diligent about maintaining my health and boundaries.

Here are the things I focus on even more during times of overwhelm:

Real Food.

Junk food is a temporary fix with long-reaching consequences. So rather than reach for a stomach-cramping-and-bloat-inducing non-food, I turn to whole foods. I love soups of all kinds. I love grass-fed meats. Basically, food closest to its natural form.

Juice Feasting.

I own an Omega juicer and love juicing greens for a quick nutrient-dense shot of super foods. My favorite combo is spinach, kale, celery, carrots, ginger, lemon, apple.

Sleep.

This is usually the area of most temptation for me, but I have learned that I am more nimble and quick when I am well-rested (8 hours), so I get the best return on time investment with sleep.

Plus, sleep is the only time your brain has to release all the bad juju that builds up inside it all day. I know that doesn’t sound all that science-y, but google it and feel better about honoring your sleepy time.

Morning Pages/Evening Review.

Yet another place where there’s a temptation to skip because it doesn’t seem productive. However, these 10 minutes at the start and finish of each day are vital to setting me up for success.

At night, I do a brain dump of all the stuff that happened that day.I also make a to-do list for the next day, and I’m mentally preparing myself for the time I need to wake up the next day in order to get it all accomplished.

Then, in the morning, I clear out the junk from my head during morning pages, and ready to clarify my tasks and ensure they are aligned with my big picture goals. I always leave my house feeling in control of my day.

Exercise.

This is basically the best cure-all for overwhelm or stress. Strength training raises all the good-vibe hormones, increases immune system, increases muscle growth which in turn, makes you overall stronger and more equipped to face life.

It takes less than fifteen minutes to incorporate an effective strength training workout into my morning, and gives me the ability to serve at a high level every day. This is yet another habit that has given me an infinite return on such a minimal time investment.

So those are my favorite things! Feel free to share any of yours!

Thanks for reading,

xoxo

Liza

 

My Word or Theme for the New Year

I have always made New Year’s Resolutions or goals. Most of the time I’d achieve several of those goals, and made significant progress toward the others. However, I always felt a sense of disappointment or a feeling like I’d missed out on an opportunity or something important.

For all my self-reflection I still felt disconnected from my life. Like I was just on auto-pilot rather than paying attention and driving. It wasn’t until I changed up my New Year Resolution ritual that I started making progress toward goals that mattered.

MY OLD RITUAL

New Year’s Resolutions give me the same peace and reassurance I would get when creating any action plans. It gives me a sense of calm and focus in the scattered white noise of “What Might Happen.”

It’s not unlike looking at a blank white page. The yawning new year of possibility. The empty blankness of a potential story.

I used to sneak off and find a quiet moment in the hubbub of New Year’s Eve, and take a moment to write down thoughts of the past year. They were stream of consciousness and unguarded and (usually) filled with a lot more self-criticism than highlights. Then, sometime after the ball dropped, I’d go to my journal again, and write down my hopes for the coming year and what I want to accomplish, which would then be translated into SMART goals.

It was all so technical and textbook and exactly what I did for my day job to achieve success.

The problem was, I wasn’t achieving success. Not my definition of it, anyway. Yet, I kept achieving my goals.

I usually just chalked it up to my usual self-critical, high achiever nature. I was dissatisfied because I was never satisfied, and I believed I wasn’t supposed to be satisfied with anything. At least, not in this life.

AWAKENING

I wasn’t completely passive over the years, and I don’t think anyone would have characterized me as such. I’ve been told that I was confident and analytical and independent, all attributes that I admire. But, most people that I interacted with at the day job (which took up 90% of my waking life) would never have called me goofy, silly, or creative, which I also felt embodied the Real Me.

I had completely embraced this role of being the Professional (which is a role that I thought I needed to be in order to drive the sales results I needed), that I ignored, ridiculed, and suppressed anything else that didn’t conform to that view of myself.

(Most of my life I was textbook INFJ. Only in the last 10ish years did I flip to an INTJ).

I was enjoying success at work. I had a wonderful relationship with my husband and we would go on these epic adventures. I had a goal to write novels, and even though they weren’t quite polished or publishable, they were still being written, so that’s a positive, right?

I was doing all the right things, so why was I still feeling like I was missing out on my life? Why did I want more?

Of course, the first thing I did was chide myself for wanting more. That was materialistic and bad. But, I knew I didn’t want to stay where I was, so the only choice was continue going up the ladder and be promoted, right?

After (too many) years of self-doubt, I finally stumbled upon thought leaders and books that have changed the way I viewed myself and my accountability toward my life. I didn’t have to be unsettled or dissatisfied with my lot in life always wanting more. The “more” that I wanted wasn’t material wealth or gain. The “more” I wanted was living a life that used up my full potential and talents.

What I had been feeling was stunted growth. I always felt on edge, like I had to do and say the right things or be a certain way. Like I was playing a bit part in the story of my own life.

I had crammed all of me in a too-tight jacket and pointy-toed heels.*

In just a couple of years, I had attained success and awards that only 1% of my peers would reach. I was set up as a mentor and coach. I was respected and sought after.

I didn’t have a concept for it at the time but looking back, I realized my soul wasn’t getting fed.

The only time I felt true joy and light was when I was creating and writing, and I ignored it or wasn’t serious about it because I needed to make the practical and responsible choice of getting an income and providing for my family.

Thankfully, I stumbled my way out of that soul-crushing job into a place where I realized that I wasn’t the problem. It was the system. I didn’t want to move up in a corporate system that wasn’t feeding my soul. And only when I removed myself from that environment, was I able to see that I wasn’t wrong to feel stifled.

It’s OK to want other things. It’s OK to want a career that doesn’t involve moving up a corporate ladder. It’s OK to choose out.

It’s OK to choose me.

And what I realized I wanted was to be in business for myself. I wanted Freedom. Around 2 years ago, on New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote a new kind of resolution. Operation: Freedom.

MY NEW RITUAL

On New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote myself a story. It was kind of depressing, but it was a story nonetheless complete with highs and lows and learnings. But I didn’t end it with action plans for creating a better 2015. I continued writing the story, writing it in present tense. I described all I felt and saw and did. I wrote out what I created for myself and what I was known for, and I ended it with a “can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Then, I re-read what I had written, and saw a motif. I realized that in order to accomplish what I needed to get done, I needed to be fearless in action. I couldn’t play it safe or be stuck in analysis-paralysis. Fearlessness is acting in the face of fear. I would “feel the fear, but do it anyway.”

Everything I wrote out for myself in 2015 came to be, and it felt good because they were the Big Things that mattered to me. I was making progress on the goals that fed my soul, and gave me a sense of deep satisfaction. I became debt-free, which was a huge burden lifted. Talk about Freedom! My husband and I enjoyed an anniversary trip to Maui, where we got married. I was still working a day job, but it filled my creative and business side well, not to mention, paid me more than the soul-sucking one. I made progress toward my writing goals. And I laid out a strong foundation for my business.

I wanted Freedom for 2015, and I did it by embracing the idea of Fearlessness.

For 2016, I did a similar exercise, but instead of Fearless, I chose the word Curiosity. It was a subtle difference, one that I could relate to more authentically.I loved acting fearlessly, but I also know that fear is important and signals something, so I didn’t want to quite be fearless all the time.

Besides, I was tired of acting. I’d been acting for the majority of my adult life, and I didn’t want to pretend to be something I wasn’t in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

So, Curiosity would be the fuel that pushed my boundaries in order for me to grow. Curiosity would be the guiding thought that would empower me to “try it out.”

If I ever felt that body-cringe of fear when faced with a new and different idea, I would open up, and lean into it instead. Lean into new experiences. Lean into new challenges. Lean into vulnerability.

Because I did that, I have made strides to launch my business, write new content, create a passion project, and found a coach and mentor to accelerate my success in 2017.

I know 2016 isn’t over yet, but I already know what I want 2017’s theme word to be.

Why.

The last couple of years, and the experience of over a decade, has imprinted this truth into my life: that I need to absorb what is useful and aligned with my core values and purpose. Discard anything else. I need to ask Why? before I even think of adding something else to my vision.

I already know that I can accomplish goals. My question now is: Why is that a goal in the first place? Is it aligned to the outcome I want?

Simple. Efficient. Effective.

See the difference? I think of my outcome first. Then, I design my goals to get me to that outcome.

Thank you for your time today. Maybe in the future I’ll create a challenge around creating Simple, Efficient, Effective action plans. “SEE Your Goals, clearly” or something like that. Still an idea, of course, but it has merit, for sure! 🙂

xoxo

Liza

*there’s nothing wrong with business suits and stylish shoes. I love them! But I also love sandals, Converse, being barefoot…you get the drill.

Training for life.

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” Archilocus

I love how in the fitness community, those who live Fitness like a lifestyle call exercise or working out, Training.

I love thinking about fitness and work outs as: “I’m training for life.”

I’m using fitness as an example, but your training, your daily habits, your discipline (which I know is the least sexy word in the dictionary, right next to phlegm and mucous) in creating action in your life…is relevant for any part of your life that’s worth pursuing: financial freedom, business savvy, writing the Great American Novel, physical prowess, …

When Life Stuff eventually happens, all that unpredictable, unexpected Stuff that makes us stumble will make us want to fall back to your comfort zone. But how quickly you wallow, how quickly you recover, how quickly you can shake it off, how quickly you are even affected by the event at all, comes down to your training and what you have allowed yourself as a baseline.

You don’t need to start big to develop discipline. In fact I enjoy small wins. The discipline of making your bed is something tangible and productive, and starts your day out with a feeling of accomplishment. Small wins or what I call everyday efforts become more like synergistic actions. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. For Harry Potter nerds out there, I think training my nervous system like Gryffindor’s sword—it only takes in what makes it stronger.

Creating action toward a meaningful habit will amount to bigger changes in yourself than just the habit itself. In creating these small wins, you are giving yourself that new neural pathway toward the habit of winning.

Sidenote: When you have the discipline to take action around something you want in your life, something changes. You become more humble, coachable, teachable—you seek out mentors you admire, you seek out a group of people where you support each other toward a higher goal and purpose. You become focused on what truly matters to you and you will want to create more of that stuff in your life.

Someone once said that “Success is not about how much time you spend doing what you love; it’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.”

I hope you fill your day with what you love, creating so much action toward what you want in your life that it blots out those things you merely tolerate or hate.

Have a great day.

xoxo

Liza

Happy Birthday Month, Blog!

My blogaversary is this Friday, May 4th (Otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Yes, I’m THAT nerdy). It’s been a really fun two years, and I have to admit that even though I haven’t been the most consistent blogger in the world, I’ve really enjoyed the side effect of blogging, namely, the accountability I have to make progress toward my goals (writing or otherwise).

I’ve enjoyed the blogging community, and have met a lot of lovely writers, readers, and delightful nerds (and in a few weeks, I will actually meet many of you in real life!) who have become some of my closest friends. Because I believe in sharing the love and “paying it forward,” I want to celebrate the month by hosting a little giveaway.

Usually, I would normally host a giveaway for a book or two, but since there are so. Many. Awesome. Books out this month, like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities or Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, I thought it would be better for you all to pick the book you want!

So, for my Blog Birthday, I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) e-giftcard! (Winner’s preference, of course!) All you have to do is be a subscriber/follower of this blog, and comment below, and you’ll be entered into the raffle!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Michele S!

 

Also, because I want you to know how much I appreciate you, any comment on any post this month, will count as extra entries!

So, tell me…Why do YOU blog? If you’re not a blogger, please feel free to share your goals for this year! If you’re a fellow writer, anything fun and shiny you’re working on?