#MondayBlogs ‘6 Ways to Recover from Grief: A Letter to Myself’ #MondayMotivation

When I was in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one, it was like being in a dark tunnel. I felt alone, lost, and I had no idea how to get out of the darkness and devastation. I think this sense of desperation, loss and confusion at losing your bearings, was not a unique experience; many others I’ve spoken to have felt much the same.

My sister died over thirty years ago, and although other family members, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, and my father, have died since then, my sister’s death was the most devastating loss I’ve had to date.

It was 1989, the Internet was in its early years, so information was not as easily and readily available. I had no counselling, and no type of bereavement support. I read How We Die, which was helpful from a practical, medical and rational point of view, but not emotionally, at least not for me.

I was bought up a catholic, but the doctrines of the established church, which I am well aware of, did not help, although I picked up the Bible a few times, but could not find any consolation.

My depression lasted ten months, and I got through it if I was walking across a dessert, putting one foot in front of the other and trying my best to cover my head from the burning sun. No pills, no therapy, and no closure. I was working as a teacher and looking after my three children, who were under 4, until one day, ten months after the tragedy, I woke up and bought new clothes, and my mood started to improve.

I have no idea why or how this happened, but I can clearly identify the moment the love I felt when I thought of my sister was greater than the pain I felt for her loss. I was finally walking towards the light and away from the dark tunnel.

I imagined my sister’s voice saying, “You look dreadful. You need to go shopping” and it was true. I hadn’t bought any clothes in over a year and I had lost weight, so I can’t have looked very pretty. I hadn’t gone to the hairdresser’s either. I wore a pony tail every day and stopped wearing make up. This was not a conscious decision, I just didn’t care about how I looked, until suddenly it started mattering.

It’s not the anniversary of my sister’s birth or death, in fact, there is nothing to remind me of it, although she is always in my heart and on my mind. I write her letters sometimes, and think of her with love and melancholy, not sadness, every day. In fact, her photograph is on my desk in my study and I smile every time I see it.

The reason I’m thinking about death today is because it has struck very near home. Covid-19 has claimed the life of my neighbour of twenty-five years and a doctor, and my best friend’s father both in the same month, and their family’s devastation has reminded me of the inevitable pain they must endure in order for their memories to be full of love instead of sorrow.

Giving advice on personal matters is a minefield, you can help or lose a friend, so when I was approached for advice, I decided to be thorough and look carefully at my own pain and process of recovery.

Looking back, I believe there was little I could have done to improve or speed up the process, because we all have to walk through our own tunnel in order to reach the other side. Some of us will take a longer time, or may need the help of medication or therapy or both, but as I have learnt many years later, we all have to go through the stages of grief.

The advice I never received

As far as I remember nobody gave me helpful advice and I had no-one to turn to. My mother was in an even worse state then I was, and the adults around me were either unequipped or unable to offer advice, other than an attempt at a comforting sentence or two, which is nice to hear, but has no lasting effect on lessening the pain.

So, this is the advice I think might have helped me to feel less alone and distressed. It’s like a letter to myself and I’d like to share it with you.

6 Ways to Recover from Grief: Letter to Myself 

1: Acknowledge the Pain

Firstly acknowledge the pain, you have lost someone you loved. Your sadness is a natural reaction to your loss, and although your pain is unique to you, you are not alone. Go through the rituals you have chosen according to your customs, ideas or religion, accept the condolences, pray, cry, express your pain in your own way.

2: Be Aware of What Grieving Involves

Secondly, I wish I had known about the five stages of grief at the time, a wonderful book I read at a later date.

in 1969, a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying and On Grief and Grieving based on observations from years of working with terminally ill patients. She put forward the five stages of grief which became known as the Kübler-Ross model.

  • denial.
  • anger.
  • bargaining.
  • depression.
  • acceptance.

They may not always be experienced in the same order, and they may overlap, and some may take longer than others, but know that you will experience these feelings, and you are not alone in the process. If you don’t feel up to reading a book, you can read articles which summarise her theories or watch YouTube videos. Here are some excellent links. but a google search will also be helpful.

Finding Meaning:The Sixth Stage of Grief is on my TBR list. It was written in 2020 by David Kessler, coauthor of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s original book.

Knowing what is happening and that is a process which has happened and will happen in a similar way to everyone who loses a loved one, will lead to an understanding which could help us move forward and accept.

3: Writing letters and Journaling

Thirdly, although I have always enjoyed writing, poems, stories and thoughts, thirty years ago I had not yet understood the power of journaling. So, I wish I’d written a journal dedicated to my sister, like a scrapbook, including photographs, letters, memories. This is something I could still do, and may do. I could gather the letters Ive written, add photos and thoughts, letters and postcards she wrote to me, too.

If you are not used to journaling or would like more ideas, this article on grief journaling could be helpful there are books like Understanding your grief journal which could also help.

The Understanding Your Grief Journal: Exploring the Ten Essential Touchstones de [Alan D. Wolfelt]

Letters are another powerful tool which could be included in your journal they can be to your loved one, or a letter you imagine he or she would write to you.

4: Meditation and Spiritual Guides

If you are part of a supportive religious community, you won’t need to think about this, but of your religious beliefs aren’t helping or you need more spiritual support I’d recommend in the first place meditation, I have two favourite books on this topic, plus there are apps for your mobile which are also very useful.

Any book by Deepak Chopra will be enlightening, especially his book on Total Meditation, which is one of the ones discussed on this blog post.

Books like Heal Your Grieving Soul: 100 Practices for Mourners  can be helpful as it contains one hundred short activities to think about based on meditation, prayer, yoga, breathing exercises, etc are described and proposed.

Five:  Go for a Walk and take photographs

If you already have a favourite exercise, such as cycling, or if you practice a sport, don’t stop because your grieving. You may need to force yourself, but you have to do it because the serotonin you’ll secrete will help you handle your depression.

If you don’t exercise regularly, go for a walk, preferably anywhere in nature, a park, the countryside, and I’d recommend you take photos, because if you plan to take, say, five photos, you will be looking for nice things to photograph. This means you will be actively looking and thinking about your environment which is outside, instead of your pain, which is inside.

6. Humour and Not Moving On, Moving Forward.

This Ted Talk will make you cry and make you laugh. In a talk that’s by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny shares her hard-earned wisdom about life and death.  She encourages us to shift how we approach grief. “A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again,” she says. “They’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”

Unfortunately, as Nora reminds us, “Everyone we love has 100% chance of Dying” and so do we, and yet it’s probably the most heart-wrenching pain we’ll have to endure, and there’s no pill or magic wand to make it disappear. We have to go through the stages, walk through the grief, and move forward until the love we feel when we remember is greater than the pain we feel for the loss.  

To conclude my letter to myself and anyone who has or will suffer the loss of a loved one, reading and writing is the answer. Understanding our pain and what is happening by reading and expressing our loss in a coherent way by writing journals, letters, poems, or blog posts.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

 

#MondayMotivation ‘Happy International Women’s Day 2021’ Isabel Allende ‘Soul of a Woman’ #MondayBlogs #IWD2021

For the women I love,

And the women I have loved and will love,

For my mother, who fought to be free,

For my sister who died

Before freedom was grasped,

For my friends, whose love I crave,

For my colleagues, whose support I need,

For readers who devour our adventures,

For writers who spread their stories,

For my daughters who were born free,

For my granddaughter, who must remember

To share our journeys,

And for everyone who is lucky enough

to have a woman in their lives,

Happy Day and Happy Life,

I’m proud of you all.

****

Today I’m sharing a very special book, by a very special writer. Soul of a Woman by one of my favourite writers, the fabulous Isabel Allende.

The Soul of a Woman by [Isabel Allende]

From the Blurb

When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating,” begins Isabel Allende. As a child, she watched her mother, abandoned by her husband, provide for her three small children without “resources or voice.” Isabel became a fierce and defiant little girl, determined to fight for the life her mother couldn’t have.

As a young woman coming of age in the late 1960s, she rode the second wave of feminism. Among a tribe of like-minded female journalists, Allende for the first time felt comfortable in her own skin, as they wrote “with a knife between our teeth” about women’s issues. She has seen what the movement has accomplished in the course of her lifetime. And over the course of three passionate marriages, she has learned how to grow as a woman while having a partner, when to step away, and the rewards of embracing one’s sexuality.

I listened to The Soul of A woman on Audible. It is a short but intense memoir of her feminist journey and includes topics that would interest women of any age, such as womanhood, feminism, parenting, and she also discusses aging and love.

This wonderful little book is full of real-life experiences, knowledge and insight of one of the most fascinating contemporary authors writing in Spanish, although she speaks perfect English and all her novels have been translated into English.

Isabel Allende reminds us that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers paved the way for us, and there is still is a lot to be done, all over the world, but young women today, especially in countries which enjoy greater social freedom must be reminded of what previous generations have done and are still doing to further equality.

I like her inclusive idea of Feminism, which is not against men who are also victims of patriarchy, but in favour of women and our struggle to be seen and heard.

Listen to Isabel speaking about the Soul of a Woman.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #MondayBlogs and on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#MondayMotivation ‘Happy For No Reason’ by Marci Shimoff #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today I’m sharing my reflections on a wonderful book with an intriguing and motivating title, Happy for no Reason by Marci Shimoff, NY Times bestselling author, and motivational speaker. This is a link to her blog/vlog Your Year of Miracles.

Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out de [Marci Shimoff]

Part one explores the paradigm of happiness based on theories and experiments carried out, so we get a better understanding of what it means to be happy. She also discusses of happiness blocks and how she applies the Law of Attraction to lead a happier life. It also includes a 20-question test to help the reader assess and understand our level of happiness. You can download the questionnaire here.

Part II is about raising our level of happiness through the seven steps she proposes using an analogy of building a Home for Happiness.
1. The Foundation—Take Ownership of Your Happiness. Only you are responsible for your happiness.
2. The Pillar of the Mind—Don’t Believe Everything You Think. Question your thoughts, because your thoughts make your beliefs and sometimes they are negative, limited or simply untrue and they can sabbotage your life.
3. The Pillar of the Heart—Let Love Lead. Focus on gratitude, forgiveness and kindness. I love this chapter because it has many examples and simple practices for emotional growth.
4. The Pillar of the Body—Make Your Cells Happy. In this chapter she discusses taking care of our physical being, food, exercise, sleep etc.
5. The Pillar of the Soul—Plug Yourself In to Spirit. She talks about our connection to a higher power or the universe by inner listening through meditation.
6. The Roof—Live a Life Inspired by Purpose. Find what your are passionate about. this can be your job, career, calling, hobby. Do what you love and love what you do.
7. The Garden—Cultivate Nourishing Relationships. Connecting with and supporting others.

Part three is about building habits which will increase our wellbeing and guide us us in our path to happiness. It also includes a comprehensive bibliography and other online resources.

If you don’t have time to read the book, watch this interview where she explains it all in her own words:

I really enjoyed reading this book which is full of real life stories and examples of all her suggestions. There are also practical and thought-provoking questions, called ‘Exercises’ throughout the book, which make it a useful tool to personal improvement.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#MondayMotivation ‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today I’m sharing my reflections on Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine, a motivational speaker and coach who lectures at Stanford on Positive Intelligence.

Positive intelligence is one of the most practical and useful books I’ve read on leading a positive and happy life. Shirzad introduces us to our Saboteurs, who cause us stress and unhappiness, our Sages who embody our positive characteristics and our Superpowers who help us overcome the difficult moments we face in life.

Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential AND HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOURS de [Shirzad Chamine]

We all have Saboteurs, but if you take the test yourself here, you can find out which degrees you have of each one by measuring your PQ or Positive Intelligence Quotient. You are required to give your email to receive the results, but there’s no spamming, just your results and some interesting advice on being more positive.

This quotient is based on research in neuroscience, organizational science, and positive psychology and according to the author, the relationship between PQ performance and happiness are interrelated. PQ measures to what extent your brain is working positively with your sages or negatively with your saboteurs.

These are our saboteurs:

The Judge is the master Saboteur, and we all have this one. The judge constantly finds faults with yourself and others, and generates most of your anxiety, stress, anger, disappointment, shame, and guilt.

Other saboteurs are the Stickler, the Pleaser, the Hyper-achiever, the Victim, the Hyper-rational, the Hyper-vigilant, the Restless, the Controller and the Avoider.

Fortunately, we all have our Sage Powers to combat the Saboteurs, these are: Empathy, Exploration, Innovation, Navigation and Activation.

The book is full of many practical examples for finding and dealing with life’s saboteurs within ourselves which stop us finding happiness, meaning and purpose in life. There are also chapters about working and living with difficult people (I found this chapter very enlightening), health and dieting and managing stress, including case studies with examples and strategies.

His proposals are related to mindfulness, meditation and self-awareness, by being kind to others and ourselves.

Watch this video where he explains it all in his own words:

Once we have understood these positive and negative influences we all have to varying degrees, he gives us ways to intercept these negative impulses which cause us so much pain and stress.

I found the book, the test and his words mind opening, especially for understanding other people’s struggles and behaviour and how to cope with them. For example, imagine one of your dominant saboteurs arguing with someone else’s! It will lead to an explosive situation. The solution is to use one or more of our sages to handle this situation. The ideas are based on scientific evidence; they are clearly expressed and simple to implement, and the results are incredible.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#MondayMotivation ‘Twelve Rules for Life’ #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today I’m sharing my reflections on The 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology.

He’s a brilliant speaker and writer whose words and thoughts are sometimes controversial and always inspirational. I have to say that The 12 Rules for Life is the most intellectually demanding of all the personal growth books I’ve to read so far, as he includes many references to religion, ideology, anthropology, biology and psychology, and sometimes I felt the information and ideas were going over my head. It was a challenge to read, but I’m glad I did.

I humbly offer you a brief overview of his rules, which does little justice to the enormity and scope of the book.

I’ve added a question for you to think about for each rule and a very brief summary.

Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders straight

Do you value yourself?

Based on ample examples from the evolution of our species, he concludes that our whole universe and all known societies are hierarchal. Our confidence and demeanour will define our place in the hierarchy. If we straighten up, physically, emotionally and intellectually we can claim a higher position and subsequently more successful life.

2 Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

Do you treat yourself well? 

You have to figure out how you want to be treated and treat others in the same way, so you’ll get that treatment back from other people. The choice is yours to treat yourself and others well and receive the treatment you deserve in return.

3 Befriend people who want the best for you

Do your friends support you?

Learn to tell the difference between people who support you and bring you down. Move away from those who do not serve you because you are not helping each other in your respective journeys.

Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

Are you better today than you were yesterday?

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Acknowledge that wealth, intelligence, ability or luck never has been and never will be equally distributed. Don’t get bitter or jealous, work on yourself. You are on your own journey, not someone else’s.

He also suggests pushing yourself with gradually higher goals to do and be better than yourself. Divide big goals into smaller, doable pieces, so you’ll move forward each day.

Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

Do you want your children to fit into society?

We all have a capacity for evil, parents should help children understand and control their dark side. He suggests two actions for doing so: positive and negative reinforcement.

Praise the positive actions your children do so they will repeat them.

If your children do things which annoy you, they will surely annoy other people, too. So, by curbing their negative actions, the child will play and interact with other people more effortlessly.

Listen to Jordan Peterson describing the rules himself in 14 minutes on YouTube.

6 Set your house in order before you criticise the world

What are you doing to solve your misfortune?  

Suffering is inevitable. Life can be cruel and unjust, but you can recover from hurt and trauma, through therapy, forgiveness and gratitude. Do not blame others for your situation or problems. Learn from your misfortunes and do not judge others or be resentful or act out of resentment.

7 Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient

How can I improve my life in the long term?  

Short-term satisfaction is fleeting. We need to learn to delay gratification, because meaningful relationships and events take time and patience. We must learn to trade with others, which means both to give or share and receive in exchange.

8 Tell the truth. Or at least don’t lie.

Do you lie to yourself?

We sometimes lie to others to avoid pain, appear better, get what we want, etc. But the worst lies are those we tell ourselves when we are in denial. They don’t allow us to grow because we don’t acknowledge our failings.

9 Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t know

Do you want to be right or to learn from others?

This rule is about humility and listening to others. You don’t know everything, so listen to those who know more than you about a specific topic. Listen actively. One strategy is to summarise what the speaker said to see if you understand.

Avoid misunderstandings and arguments which are due to lack of meaningful conversations and listening to each other.

10 Be precise in your speech

Do you know what you want, and why you want it?

First you have to know and understand yourself and your beliefs and desires, and then you should express them clearly. Identify what you want and what your problem is and verbalise it correctly in order to solve it, improve the situation, or move on.

This one is a follow up of the previous rule, which was about active listening, this one is about clear speaking and will also help to avoid or overcoming interpersonal conflicts.

11. Don’t bother children when they’re ice skating

Do you overprotect your children?

Do not restrict children’s natural development in fun and games. You can’t protect your children from everything because the child will eventually have to face the dangers of the real world and find their own way in life. Shelter will not teach children to stand on their own two feet. Encourage honesty, responsibility and participation.

12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

Do you take time to appreciate the good things in life? 

Suffering is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find moments of joy in your life. Be alert to the unexpected simple joy in life, and remember gratitude, especially when things are bad.

He also gives us an important tip for a long-term or serious difficulty; cut your timeframe until you can cope. Don’t think of next year, next month, or next week even, think of coping until tomorrow, or for the next hour and so on.

I studied and admired the French existentialists in my youth, so I wasn’t distressed by this book’s pessimism, nevertheless  I find Peterson’s proposals more optimistic and useful, because although he acknowledges the inevitability of struggle and strife, he implicitly rejects life’s ‘absurd’ nature by offering us twelve ways to make sense of life so it becomes ‘less chaotic’.

I enjoyed reading about his personal struggles and the real cases he describes. It was engagingly written, although I was sometimes overwhelmed with so much information, but overall it was a pleasure to read.

By the way, which is your favourite rule? 

Mine is number 4!

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#MondayMotivation ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’ #MondayBlogs #WritingGoals #amwriting

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring The Miracle Morning for Writers, written by Hal Elrod, Steve Scott and Honoree Corder. As many of my readers are writers, like myself, I’m sure you’ll find the key ideas of this book useful.

The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income by [Hal Elrod, Steve Scott, Honoree Corder, S.J. Scott, James Altucher]

Hal Elrod also wrote The Miracle Morning, which I reviewed here, so it’s not surprising that in this book he gives us many examples of successful writers who get up early and do their writing in the morning. The first chapters are all about getting up as early as possible and establishing a morning routine which lasts an hour and comprises the following SAVERS: ‘Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribbling’.

He also insists that we set realistic goals, including intended word counts, eliminate limiting beliefs and treat writing like a full-time job by scheduling time for writing and finding an ideal place to write.

This book also discusses practical aspects such as ways of being more efficient, outlining, writing numerous drafts, editing, monetising blogs and books, advertising, self and traditional publishing, finding an agent, building a platform and social media presence.

I love his ‘Miracle Equation’. You have to believe in yourself, no matter which obstacles come your way, but that’s not enough. You also have to work as hard as you possibly can to fulfill your dreams.

Finally he tells us that in order to achieve our writing goals, we should become the person who can achieve those goals. In the end, it’s not about publishing a book, it’s about the journey of becoming a writer.

I found The Miracle Morning for Writers useful and motivating. It’s a brilliant book for writers in the first stages of their careers because it has everything a would-be-writer needs from inspiration and writing to publishing and marketing.

The authors touch on all the aspects of being a writer, from mindset and motivation to writing and making a living from your writing. Every author at whichever stage you find yourself in your career will find value in The Miracle Morning for Writers.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#MondayMotivation ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth #Goals #TimeManagement

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring ATOMIC HABITS, written by James Clear. Atomic habits deals with how we can gradually incorporate small habits into our lives, which will make a great impact.

In order to change bad habits or introduce new ones, we must believe it is worthwhile and possible and accept our personal responsibility in bringing this about.

Throughout the book, he insists on the importance of small changes. For example, if we improve by 1% each day, the accumulative effect in the long term will be considerable, and he gives ample proof of this in the book.

He links this thought to what he calls the two-minute rule, which is one simple and effective way to establish new habits.

This reminds me of Feel Better in Five by Rangan Chatterjee, which makes the same claims. Start small to get big results in the medium and long term.

Instead of starting by going to the gym for an hour, start by doing some exercises a few minutes a day at home and gradually build it up. Instead of giving up sugar completely, start with not adding sugar to your tea or coffee.

In this eight-minute talk, he explains the essence of his proposals.

James Clear tells us that our aim in changing habits is ultimately to change our lives and be the person we want to be.

If you want to ‘be’ someone, a writer, a doctor, a student, you need to build a habit or repeatedly do the actions of the person you want to become.

For example, if you want to be a writer you have to do something about it, which would be to write, because the habit of writing makes you a writer, just as the habit of studying makes you a student, or the habit of running makes you a runner, and so on.

Once we have decided which habit or habits we want to build in order to be the person we want to be, he suggests certain steps or conditions which will help us create this habit as part of our daily routine.

First, start small and make objectives clear and specific.

I’ll give you an example. If I want to be more healthy and decide I want to do more exercise, I could to start with 5 minutes a day and add one minute more a week, so in three months I should be doing at least twenty minutes a day.

The next stage is to make it as easy as possible, which he calls ‘the path of least resistance‘. That is to have the equipment, materials you need available and in sight. For example, I have my exercise bike in my bedroom, so I see it when I get up or go to bed and every time I use my en-suite bathroom. This makes it easier for me to actually use it. If I decide to use the bike for five minutes every time I brush my teeth, I’d pedal 15 minutes a day, which will make a difference and more importantly, build a habit.

Another requirement is to make it attractive. It can be boring to pedal on your bike looking at your bedroom wall, so you can place the bike by the window, or do something you enjoy while you’re doing it. For example, listen to an audiobook, watch a video on YouTube, or listen to your favourite song, etc. My trick is to phone a friend or one of my daughters, time flies!

Finally, we should reward ourselves for accomplishing our habits. One suggestion is to make a pact with yourself. For example, if you complete your week’s objectives, you can treat yourself to something, such as doing an activity you enjoy.

He makes many other useful suggestions such as, joining a group, because it’s useful to find support in other people who share our values or intentions, reading about the habit we want to create, to increase motivation, sleeping and eating well, for emotional strength, and choosing the ideal time and place for our habits, among other tips.

Atomic Habits gives us valuable reasons for building up good habits and tips to help us create these habits in order to improve our lives.

James Clear has a great blog and free newsletter you can sign up for.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth

#MondayMotivation ‘Design Your Day’ by Clair Diaz Ortiz #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth #Goals #TimeManagement

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring Design Your Day, written by Claire Diaz Ortiz, a book which has the advantage of presenting a synthesis and discussion of many other books on time management as well as her own contribution to the discussion, the DO LESS method. She proposes strategies to achieve goals in less time by enhanced time management skills, leading to maximum efficiency.

In this enlightening book, she uses acronyms to put forward her suggestions for best time management skills.

Listen to her talk about her proposals in this podcast.

The first acronym is DO LESS:

Decide what you want or need to do for a time frame.

Organise what you will do.

Limit to the essential. Make sure it’s all necessary.

Edit your time. Define your limits and stick to them.

Streamline or reduce your work time based on the 4 hour week principles.

Stop. Take time to pause, relax, detox and unwind.

She proposes a morning routine, because she firmly believes that doing as much as possible as early as possible can make your day more successful, and the acronym is PRESENT:

Pray or meditate to connect with your inner self.

Read something inspirational.

Express yourself by means of journaling.

Schedule your day by careful planning.

Exercise to energise your body and feel better.

Nourish by doing something for yourself, such as a treat or a hobby.

Tracking which she refers to as checking your routine.

She proposes using SMART goal setting to break down your strategies to achieving objectives, and focussing on the following life categories: God, Family, Health, Personal, Work and Money.

She discusses Pareto’s 80/20 rule and the 4-Hour Week as well as Parkinson’s Law which states that work expands to fill the available time for completion. So the longer you plan to do something the longer it will take.

Essentialism: A Conversation on Setting Human-Centric Goals With Grace for the Season Ahead - with Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Author, Speaker and Innovation Advisor - Rank & File Magazine

This books’ advantage is that it is unpretentious, short, practical and clear. It includes ideas put forward in many other personal growth books which she discusses.

The main new idea she proposes is to aim to do less by planning more efficiently and delegating where necessary.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth

#MondayMotivation ‘Your Best Year Ever’ by Michael Hyatt ‘Setting #Goals for #2021’ #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on the topic of personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today’s book is very appropriate for this time of year, because it’s all about Setting Goals for 2021.

I read Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever in 2018 and used it to plan my 2019, but I haven’t used it this year. I took careful notes, as I always do, and remembered that he included useful strategies and questions to help us look back on the previous year, and our lives in general, in order to make and plan goals for the following year.

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by [Michael Hyatt]

The first stage is taking the Lifescore Assessment Questionnaire in the book, which I’ve now found online as an online tool, which I had used in the book and scored 75% in 2019 and this year I scored 89% which is even better. You can take the test yourself here. 

I have had a complicated year, but the complications have developed favourably, so I am fortunate enough to feel fairly satisfied with this last challenging year. It hasn’t all been due to my efforts, I’ll admit that I have been lucky, or perhaps I’ve attracted luck through my visualisation and positive attitude. I have also adapted well to the imposed changes in our lives because of covid-19 and especially confinement issues. I believe that the vast number of books I’ve read and am sharing with you on #MondayBlogs and podcasts and videos on personal growth, time management and goal setting have helped enormously and I hope some of these books and authors will also resonate with you.

Returning to Michael Hyatt, he suggests that we divide our life into ten domains: Spiritual, Intellectual, emotional, physical. Marital, Parental, Social, Vocational/Professional, Vocational/Hobbies and Financial. At first I thought they were too many, but as I read on and applied them to my life, they started making sense, with some minor adaptations. The questionnaire is based on these 10 domains.

Then he suggests we follow these five stages to achieve our goals:

  • Recognising and Overcoming limiting beliefs
  • Leaving the past behind in order to move into your future.
  • Use a SMART(ER) framework to plan goal implementation. This is an excellent chapter on strategies to achieve your goals.
  • Understand why you want to achieve these goals.
  • Using activation triggers to overcome hurdles.

He goes into each one in great depth individually and proposes practical activities we can do to help us achieve our goals.

I’d like to tell you about Stage Two, Getting Closure of last year in order to move on. I hope it will be useful, now is the time to review the years which about to end.

He proposes we think about and write answers to the following 9 questions bearing in mind the ten life domains:

  1. How did you see your past year going?
  2. What were your plans, dreams, goals?
  3. What disappointments or regrets did you experience?
  4. What did you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
  5. What did you accomplish last year that you are most proud of?
  6. What were two or three specific things which kept occurring?
  7. What were the major life lessons that you learned this past year?
  8. What are you grateful for that happened last year?
  9. What are you grateful for in your life in general?

Hyatt suggests we write 7-10 goals including all the domains for the following year, based on the results of our test and our answers to the previous questions.

What do we want next year to look like in the 10 domains?

Which goals will help us fulfil our dreams for the year ahead?

Then he asks us to do a very powerful exercise: Visualise the end of the year when we have achieved our goals and describe our life and our feelings. We can also write it down, self-talk about it, or meditate and visualise our new lives.

To summarise and simplify this part of Hyatt’s proposal, I suggest that the following three activities will help us take the first steps in setting our goals for the year.

1- Taking stock of the past as something that has happened FOR us not TO us. We have to grow as a result of past experiences and make a conscious effort to learn the lesson and move on.

2- Setting goals for the year ahead based on prioritising our needs in each domain.

3- Visualising what our future looks and feels like with our achieved goals.

I urge you to read the rest of the book, or other books on strategies for achieving our goals, because a goal without a plan is a wish and we need to make our goals become real in 2021 by conscious strategies and visualisation.

I wish you all the best of luck for the year ahead. I hope you achieve all your goals in 2021.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth

#MondayMotivation ‘168 Hours’ by Laura Vanderkam #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth #Goals #TimeManagement

Over the past months I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on the topic of personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, written by Laura Vanderkam, a book which has helped me realise I have much more time than I ever imagined, and although I thought I was good at planning, this books has made me realise I can use my time much more efficiently.

In this brilliant book, the author reminds us that every week has 168 hours, which is plenty of time to do everything we want and need to do, as long as we  follow her advice and find ways to rearrange our schedules to make room for the things that matter most. This book gives us plenty of creative and eye-opening ideas, to do just that.

In the introduction, she suggests, ‘Looking at life in 168-hour blocks is a useful paradigm shift, because—unlike the occasionally crunched weekday—well-planned blocks of 168 hours are big enough to accommodate full-time work, intense involvement with your family, rejuvenating leisure time, adequate sleep, and everything else that actually matters.’

I took several pages of notes as I listened to her Ted Talk first, and  then went on to read her book, 168 Hours, so what follows is a brief synthesis of the ideas I consider most inspiring and helpful, but I urge you to listen to her and read her book, because it will help you to identify the things that really matter in your life, take control of your week and find time for everything you desire.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by [Laura Vanderkam]

A week has 168 hours, we work for 40 and sleep for 56, which means we have 71 hours left. That’s a long time! Some people commute 2 hours a day, that’s 10 hours less, 61. Let’s subtract say 2 hours to eat and 2 for housework and shopping, that’s 28, which still leaves us 33 hours a week of free time.

The secret to optimising that free time between family, friends, hobbies, exercise, and relaxation, is:

a) being aware of the time at your disposal and how you are using it every week and b) being intentional about how you use this time. 

In order to gain awareness of how we’re spending our time, she recommends using a spreadsheet you can download from her blog My168Hours.com, or create your own.

We should later analyse how we’re spending our time acording to categories such as child care, which can be subdivided into physical care, playing, education, and reading, for example. Housework, which can be divided into laundry, food prep, house cleaning, lawn work, and so on.

Another inspiring proposal is the suggestion that we write a list of 100 dreams and make sure we’re working towards one or more of them every week, and cross them off as we complete them.

Setting goals, prioritising from work to household chores, identifying what’s important, urgent and what can be delegated or postponed, long and short term goal planning, downtime, creating a weekly, block schedule and so much more is contained in these 271 priceless pages.

I absolutely loved this book! It’s useful for everyone and anyone, whether you’re a stressed CEO, a busy mother or father, or a student. There’s so much useful and practical information and food for thought that it’s one of the best and most useful books on time management I’ve ever read.

168 Hours is especially useful at this time of year when we’re more likely to assess our past year and plan for next year’s goals.

If you listen to and read Laura Vanderkam’s proposals, I guarantee you’ll have a greater chance of finding happiness and reaching your goals.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth