21 Day Challenge, Day 7

Congratulations! It’s day seven. You are 1/3 the way through your 21 Day Challenge! How does it feel? I have two thoughts for you; if you’ve been successful, made some progress – celebrate! Seriously. Reward is important. You’ve been working hard. Acknowledge your results.

And, if you’ve been struggling, finding it hard to progress – don’t get discouraged! We’re not measuring perfection, we’re seeking personal advance. Realize that a) you have two whole weeks left in this specific challenge, b) the only failure is quitting – and “quit” is not a word we are allowing to be a part of this, c) you can do this! Just the fact that you are trying to stay on board with this is encouraging. So be encouraged! Every day is a new day, and a new opportunity to begin, continue, and to win.

Keep this in mind too – if you’ve been at this from the beginning it’s possible the euphoria of the early stages is waning. Maybe you’re tired of oatmeal every morning for breakfast or frustrated by the slowing of progress. It’s okay. That’s part of the process. It’s almost like withdrawals. Your body has gotten used to a particular pattern, and now you’re upsetting the old routine. When the alarm goes off an hour earlier than it used to so that you can make it to the gym, your body reacts and your mind says, “what are you doing? We still have another hour.” But your subconscious is trainable, and that is the reason for the 21 days of repetitive effort. So, while we are seeking a specific goal that is measurable, we are also retraining the subconscious mind to interact with life differently. It just takes time.

We are ultimately on the path to creating lasting change, not just short term results. And that you can be proud of.

21 Day Challenge, Day 6

Often times, pursuing our goals requires us to get outside of our comfort zones. I have two goals that I’m personally working on; losing 10 pounds, and writing 21 articles in 21 days. Both of those goals are challenging my comfort zones. It’s easier to keep eating the way I always have – I like late night snacks … and it’s easier to wait until the last minute and write all of the articles at once – I’ve trained myself well in those habits. So I have to push outside of those old habits and form new ones if I’m going to reach my goals.

Writer Bob Gass puts it this way; “Think of your comfort zone as a prison you live in – a largely self created prison. It consists of cants, musts, must nots, and other unfounded beliefs formed from all the negative thoughts and decisions you have accumulated and reinforced during your lifetime. Every fear is like a bar in that prison.”

In order to break free from the prison of our comfort zone, we have to break out and find a way to neutralize the belief system that holds us there. Can you identify some shackling beliefs that hold you captive? Write them down on one side of a piece of paper. On the other side, write the opposite – in this case it will be the positive interpretation of the current negative belief. Now, tear the sheet down the middle and throw away the negative side. The positive side can now be used as daily affirmations.

Challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zones. In the movie Shaw Shank Redemption there is this great line – “get busy living or get busy dying.” Getting stuck in our comfort zones keeps us from much of life’s possibilities. Don’t allow them to rule you any longer. You’ve got a lot more living to do.

21 Day Challenge, Day 5

I have a question for you?

What are the unintended results of not setting a goal and following through?

When we set a goal, you know well that it takes intentional effort to follow through. If you’ve been keeping up with us on the 21 Day Challenge you also know that it takes real effort to make this work. But think for a minute about what happens in the future if you choose not to proceed.

For the one who decides it’s just too hard to lose weight; high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes could be an unintended result. What if you give up pursuing that dream job? How many folks won’t get to experience your passion and gift because you decided it was too difficult to achieve? The smoker could end up with lung cancer …

Those are extreme examples, I know. But every choice, even the small ones, come with a consequence – even the choice to not persist into a desired change in your life. The late Zig Ziglar wrote, “Every choice you make has an end result.” And I love this line from the band Rush and their song, “Free Will,” “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” That decision still produces results.

So, what are the unintended results being produced in your life right now? Maybe they’re not centered around your immediate goals, but there’s something else that needs to be addressed. Jot it down in your journal and take a few moments today to consider the future results.

21 Day Challenge, Day 4

So the question comes; “why am I having such a hard time getting out of the gate? Why is this so difficult?” The answer could be any number of things, and we’ll take a look at some of them over the next few days.

The first and probably most important is our mindset; how we look at a given situation. Sadly, we’ve been trained over our lifetime to look at things from a mostly negative perspective. Some studies suggest that nearly 80% of our thoughts are negative. Why? Well, consider what you encounter on a daily basis as visual and audible input. Newspaper, talk radio, cranky boss or co-workers, evening news … get the picture?

Add to that our experiences growing up. Our mentors passed along perspectives, unintentionally of course, that shape how we respond to life now. As author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield points out in his book, Success Principals; messages like these below plant mental disabilities within us that will last a lifetime if we allow them.

“Don’t touch that!
Stay away from there.
Keep your hands off that.
Eat everything on your plate whether you like it or not!
You don’t really feel that way.
You don’t really want that.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
Stop crying. Don’t be such a baby.”

Any of those sound familiar? I bet you can add a few of your own too. (I know I can.)

What messages are replaying in your mind as you work towards your 21 day goal? Write them down. It could be they have been disrupting your life for a long time and you didn’t even know it. Awareness is the first step to transformation. Once you realize there are thought patterns hampering the process, you can begin to understand how to replace them with positive, productive thinking.

21 Day Challenge, Day 3

Day 3

As we move into day three, I want to take a moment to encourage you in this journey.  Ernest Hemingway wrote, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Remember to have fun, and don’t get frustrated by the details. It’s really not as much about the goal as it is about who you become on your way there.

Write It Down

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start tracking your progress. Somewhere, hopefully, you’ve written down your goal. (Remember, we talked about putting it on a note card and taping it to the bathroom mirror.) One of the best ways to keep track of this journey is to start a log book, or journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can spend a dollar or a hundred dollars – the key is having a designated book where you can write down your experience.

Your story matters. And this 21 day leg of it is an integral part. When you write down your experience it gives you a benchmark to gauge your progress. Tomorrow you might remember you lost a pound, or walked a quarter mile further, but in two weeks it is unlikely those details will be that fresh. When you jot them down you can go back and remind yourself how things were, and you can see how far you’ve come.  French author and journal writer Anaïs Nin wrote “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

Start recording your journey. Nothing fancy – and don’t worry about the grammar. “I’m not a writer” is not an excuse. Start by writing a sentence a day. It’s not about the quality of the content; it’s the exercise of recording your story that will matter in the end.

21 Day Challenge, Day 2

We’re two days into our 21 day challenge – how are you feeling? Off to a solid start? Awesome! Keep at it. A little tough getting the engine fired up? It’s okay. Stalls and setbacks are part of the process. Today is a new day with a fresh set of 24 hours. Refresh, reload, and restart.

I’m supposed to be working on losing 10 pounds but I went to a high school ball game and ate two hotdogs and a bag of popcorn – not the best diet food. But I’m not going to feel guilty either. I have come to the realization that I don’t need a diet – I need a new attitude about food. So, I’m also re-educating myself about proper food choices. And tomorrow I’ll improve. I’ve planned to eat differently.

Much of what we need is the willingness to be in this for the long hall and the courage to do what’s necessary, in spite of the difficulties, stalls, and set-backs. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Yes, we want to reach our goals. But what we’re really after is a mind shift. Prove to yourself that you are willing to hang in there and accomplish your goal. That teaches your mind that change really is possible.

21 Day Challenge, Day 1

3 … 2 …1 … Here We Go!

If you’re just dialing in; we’re kicking off the 21 day “Yes, You Can” challenge. By the way, conveniently, it works out that it’s 21 days til Christmas – so we’re working on a Christmas present to ourselves;  A goal we’ll accomplish over the next 21 days.

Here’s a key – Keep it simple. Don’t over complicate this, and don’t over reach. If you’d like to lose 30 pounds, you’ll be disappointed if that’s you’re 21 day goal. Break it down. Shoot for 10 pounds (I am). If you set the bar too high, you’ll set yourself up for a let down. Choose a SMART goal (Simple, Manageable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.)

Write it down. There is something powerful about writing down your goal(s) and placing it where you can see it each day. Make it in the form of a positive statement. (I am losing 10 pounds over the next 21 days.) Put it on an index card and place it on your bathroom mirror; someplace where you can easily see it.

Make a plan. If I’m going to lose 10 pounds I probably need to adjust my eating habits, and incorporate a little exercise. Under your goal statement, jot down the steps you need to take to get there. Imagine a stair case and each landing representing  the “steps” needed to reach your goal.

Don’t get discouraged! You can do this. And the sense of accomplishment you will feel will set the stage for the next round. Obstacles will arise. Doubts and temptations might lead you astray. Don’t quit. The fact that you are choosing to do this makes you a winner. Lao-tzu wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take your first step, then another, then another. Yes, you can!

Join the Facebook community, Yes You Can, and participate in the conversation.

Questions, comments? Email me! (coach@freedomliving.org)


Change, I Dare You

I woke up this morning at five AM with an epiphany. Wednesday (12/5) marks 21 days til Christmas. Various research suggests that it takes 21 days to change a habit; or at least initiate positive change. If that’s true, 21 days would certainly also be a good time frame to accomplish a desired goal. And I have a few goals, changes, bad habits, etc., that I’d like to address. So I grabbed my journal and a pen and captured as much of the incoming information as I could (hoping I could go back to sleep). Following is the deciphering of my notes and idea:

I am offering a 21 day challenge. Give yourself a Christmas present. Challenge yourself to focus intently on one or two specific goals for the next 21 days – quit something, start something, change something – lose a few pounds, begin an exercise routine, learn a new craft, adopt a new hobby … Change is difficult, and oh, how we resist it. But the only way for something to change is for you to change something. We cannot change something we are willing to continue to tolerate. What are you tolerating? What change would you like to make in your life? What goal would you like to accomplish? If it’s a smaller goal like painting that room you’ve been putting off – make a commitment to paint it this weekend, and then pick a new goal. How much can you get done in 21 days? Create a list of small projects that have been haunting you – and knock them out. You have two days to think about it.

I came up with a list of 21 attributes of change. Each day I’ll pass one along to those of you who decide to participate, as a way of encouragement. They will be the beginnings of the manuscript I am preparing for a new book; “Yes You Can! 21 Attributes Of Personal Change,” which is one of my two personal goals – the other is to lose 10 pounds. I believe (which is one of the attributes) I can accomplish both. But here’s an important piece; IF we fall short, we haven’t failed. We have only failed if we never try. If we don’t completely reach a specific goal, we celebrate the progress, reset the due date, and continue on.

I will set up a facebook community page (Yes I Can) for those of you that wish to receive some daily encouragement. Your presence and participation will encourage others as well. All of this is a big undertaking for me, but it’s been on my heart for some time – probably like many of you with your own goals. But there’s no time like the present. And why not wake up Christmas morning with the personal gift of knowing you did it!

Email me if you’re interested in joining the “Yes I Can” challenge. I’ll add you to the list, and fill you in on the details as we go. (By the way, there’s not cost for this – it’s my Christmas gift to you.)