Welcome Friends

Welcome to my funny little world. Sometimes it's a bit sad, sometimes it's a bit mad, but I try to give you some uplifting words every day. And in amongst them I'll give you a little philosophy and celebrate just being. If you like a good bedtime story or you are just curious about your life or mine or you want to be encouraged, then come on in, the water's lovely!

Monday, 25 January 2010

It's that "Diet" time of year

So I wrote a whole post on this topic and it disappeared from the draft. I'm not angry, really I'm not. I just have to go and scream very loudly for 20 minutes. I'll be back...

Monday, 18 January 2010

The Blog Post I wish I had written

The title says it all, but this blog post from Kim Ayres (Ramblings of the Bearded One) describes in one post what I am trying to achieve for you in my own blog. Please read it as I don't want to copy and paste, and I cannot take credit for Kim's work.


You may enjoy his blog too.

Progress your Goals

Did that title sound a little Americanised? Well never mind, it works!

How have you got on with SMARTening up your goals/resolutions for the year? By now you should have determined what your goals are and have them all written out, in SMART format. There should be details and timeframes for all your realistic and achievable goals that are going to fit in with your life.

Now comes the part where you make those goals happen.

Every week you must look at those goals and assess whether you have made progress on them. Write this down on the page. Write down what you managed to do - and NOT do. This will focus your mind. It will remind you to feel good about the things you have done and give you a pointer or reminder to make progress on other goals. There may be a good reason why you have not done certain things and that's fine too, just make sure you are not procrastinating and putting things off for no good reason.

It's a good idea to make time for this goal review. It really only takes 5 minutes. Try scheduling it for the same time every week, Monday morning or on the train home or any other convenient time. Scheduling it in your diary makes it far more sure that you will do this.

Do try and you are already on your way to achieving your 2010 goals. Good luck!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

It's that snowy time of year again

Well the country is "gripped in the throes of winter" with inches of snow on the ground and everything coming to a standstill. I wrote a very similar post last February:


And yet again I am shocked at how quick people are to stay at home. Here in Northamptonshire we have 2 or 3 inches of snow. It's enough to make my car slide around on our little road getting in and out of the driveway. It is not enough to close the main roads.

So I took Squeaky to nursery and found all the staff there, nursery operating as normal. Yet 70 schools in the county are closed. Everyone who owns a business and therefore wants to make some money has gone into work. But everyone with a child is struggling to get to work because they have to stay home to look after children. And some of them are livid.

I think the argument goes that the schools have to make sure that staff and pupils can get home safely too as well as arrive. But when I was at school that just meant sending everyone home early if necessary. If you could get there, you damn well did.

I think the inhabitants of this country have lost their way over the past 20 years. We used to struggle in, walk if necessary or walk part of the way. But we always tried to get there. In the winter of 1981/82 there were huge dumps of snow and we did have a lot of time off school. I remember days when there were drifts of over a metre high. Clearly no one was going anywhere on days like those. Living in the sticks at the bottom of several hills meant that school buses struggled on many of the snowy days. So the bus company would send a landrover for us and transfer us to a bus further along the route. I can't see that happening today.

But what I do see happening today is that schools are closed and everywhere else is open. What would happen if healthcare workers didn't bother trying to get to work? A district nurse lives next door to us. She keeps her driveway cleared of snow at all times because she always has to go out. She has an ordinary car. And she always gets to work.

My topic for today was supposed to be change but I have rambled instead. If I get time, I will come back later and write what I planned. How are you getting on with your goal setting?

Monday, 4 January 2010

New Year's Resolutions and how to keep them

Happy New Year to you all in 2010. Today's blog is about how to get to the end of the year feeling great, having achieved what you wanted to achieve.

In common with many others born before the 1980s, I do think that the year 2010 still sounds a long way in the future rather than really today. Do you remember that programme "Space 1999" where they lived on the moon or some such planet?

But I digress....

How to start the year and carry on in a good groove? I find that there are a few big depression points in the year. One is when the clocks go back in October and it feels like winter. The next is Christmas for some, then New Year, which some people detest. Thereafter the stretch from the Christmas holidays to Easter and the clocks going forward again can seem very long and cold.

When you add to that stretch the disappointment that many people feel when they realise that they have failed in their New Years resolutions, it can make for dark days indeed. So how can you make those resolutions and actually stick to them this year?

The first option is not to bother at all! This will achieve the aim but may also set you up for a depressing New Years eve at the end of the year. I'm going to give you a new alternative.

I now assume that you have a few "resolutions" for the year ahead. Firstly, don't put yourself under pressure. There is no magic about the date of 1st January. How many smokers have resolved to quit and by the morning of 2nd January are back ont he smokes? Mainly because there was too much pressure put on a date that is only a mark in the calendar after all and the smoker was not ready on that day. That's why I am writing this post today. If you have alreday slipped up, don't sweat, start again tomorrow, or on Wednesday, it really doesn't matter so much.

Your first task is to get hold of a blank book, notebook, a small folder, file, page in your filofax, note in your Blueberry etc. The next is to note down your goals for the year on the front page. Write them quite briefly and succinctly eg. Improve my fitness, Lose weight etc.

Then take another page for each of your goals and now comes the interesting part. Each goal now needs to be made SMART. Smart goals are:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Timebound

So my weight loss goal is to lose 12lb (specific & measurable) by Easter (timebound). Now I do my reality check and ask whether I CAN achieve this goal. Is it a realistic goal to set? Don't over-stretch yourself or you will set yourself up for failure. You want to be setting yourself up for success at this point. The question to ask is, "If I put some effort in, which does not impact negatively on the rest of my life, can I do this?"

If you have a goal which has a negative impact elsewhere in your life, it might not be a goal that you really want to achieve. Hence you most likely won't see it through. If running a marathon means that you spend a lot of time at weekends running and don't see your family, you may have derailed one of your values of spending time together. At some point this conflict will result in a change and the change may be that the marathon is not as important as family therefore you drop the marathon and feel disapointed in yourself. Goals MUST be realistic and fit in with your values and beliefs.

Now you have your SMART goal, put some detail into your plans as to how you are going to achieve this goal. It's all very well to have a goal but you do ned to understand HOW you will achieve it. A goal on it's own is not enough. So plan all the parts and tasks that have to come together to get to the timebound end with your goal having been achieved.

Again, each part of the plan must be SMART. For my weight loss goal I might write down that I will go to the gym. I will go once per week in January, twice per week in February, building up to a habit of going to the gym 3 times per week, which I want to achieve by May. Think about everything that surrounds these plans, make them achievable. I know for a fact that if I try to start off by going to the gym 3 times per week from today, I won't be able to keep it up. So my goal is realistic and increases with time. Too much change at once is not realistic for our poor little brains!

We are creatures of habit and the mind loves habit. So if you have a couch potato habit, the mind is going to be very resistant to a sudden change to a gym bunny habit. It will do everything in it's power to stop you going to the gym and holding on to it's couch potato life. After all, you have survived this long by lying on the couch.

Go through each goal in excatly the same way so you end up with a few pages of SMART plans, one for each goal. Now you are ready to put it all into action.

Every day or two, look at your plans and goals and check whether you have made prgress today or this week on your goals. If you do this systematically, you will jog yourself into taking action. The idea is to make progress weekly so you must review weekly at least. It is a good idea to set time in your diary to do this, just 15 minutes is enough. If you do it at the same time every week, you will soon establish this as a habit too.

You can note down your progress as you go through the months and then you can see, record and keep track. By the end of the year, perhaps you won't have achieved everything you set out to do but I know for sure that you will have made progress on each one. That will feel very satisfying to you by the time 2011 comes round.

OK, I'm off to the gym!