"live with intention. walk to the edge. listen hard. practice wellness. play with abandon. laugh. choose with no regret. continue to learn. appreciate your friends. do what you love. live as if this is all there is." Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Importance of Habits

I'm taking a little left turn today.  Still on the discussion of habits, but not specifically about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

It is so easy sometimes to let our good habits slide.  I have a very specific routine to my day.  I eat at specific times, for the most part, my breakfast and snacks are pretty much the same and lunch and dinner differ every day.  I also work out at specific times, wake up and go to bed at roughly the same time every day ... I even have my bath nights 3 days a week on the same days.  That all works for me.  That way I don't go off track.

Yesterday (Sunday), however, I was so off track with my habits, it was a brutal day for nutrition.  I left at 11 a.m. to attend several seminars on ... ironically enough ... nutrition.  I took some food with me to try to keep my blood sugars stable and prevent me from eating what I shouldn't.  That worked during the day.  But after spending 3 1/2 hours in seminars and 1 1/2 in transit home, and not drinking enough water, then going for a walk before dinner, I was very hungry.  Dinner itself wasn't terrible.  The salad and quinoa were great ... the bacon wrapped scallops ... not to much.  Especially since I had a little feed of them.  WAY too much sodium.  To make matters worse, I munched away in the evening on gluten free crackers and roasted garlic hummus.  Granted, that was way better than my old habit of eating chips, smartfood, party mix.  However, by the end of the night, my stomach was so bloated, I felt like I looked like I did 4 months ago.

So ... this morning I woke up at 5:30 (my usual time while I'm not working and not going downtown) ... had an awesome workout followed by my protein shake ... then I made my usual healthy breakfast, espresso and lots of water (1 litre in so far and it's only 9:30 ... 2 more to go during the day).  I'm back on track today. Practicing my good habits.

Most of the time, I love my routine.  It seems restrictive and boring to a lot of people I'm sure.  I, however, need structure in my life.  I can't be trusted otherwise.  I make poor choices and I suffer for it.  But occasionally, I rebel ... and that's OK if it's only for a couple of hours or even a day.  But it's so very important to get back into good habits ... bad ones are lurking around the corner, ready to pounce.  And they are so much easier to stick with.

Next week's topic (which I promise will be on Sunday as it's supposed to be) ... ironically enough is about being proactive ... and about sticking to promises ... especially self promises.

I wish you an awesome day and an fabulous week.  I hope to post about some other stuff that's going on.  It's shaping up to be a very busy week.

All the best my friends :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

7 Habits - An Overview

(from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)

Habits ... the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Habits ... good or bad ... are so much easier to develop than they are to break. But it's not impossible. I'm living proof of that. When you make a decision to make a change ... changing habits becomes so much easier. A habit is defined in the book as the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire. Knowledge is the "what to do", skill is the "how to do" and desire is the motivation, the "want to do".

Stephen Covey talks about the Maturity Continuum which takes people from the paradigm of dependence to the paradigm of interdependence ... "dependence is the paradigm of you ... you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn't come through; I blame you for the results; independence is the paradigm of I - I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose; interdependence is the paradigm of we - we can do it, we can co-operate, we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together." Common sense tells us that interdependence is by far the best of the three paradigms ... and yet it seems so rare. People are either dependent or independent. Interdependence provides us with the opportunity to share ourselves deeply, meaningfully, with others ... to collaborate ... the old adage "2 minds are better than 1" comes to mind.

An example of this is my journey with Andrew. I tried for years, independently, to get into shape ... not just my body ... but my mind ... my life in general. I had some success. But once I started working with someone who understands me ... understands the challenges I face ... who gives of himself so freely ... combined with my willingness to learn ... my ability to understand what he's getting at ... by applying that knowledge ... we've achieved such great things ....

Another example is the collaboration that Barry and I did when renovating our house. Both of us had good ideas ... and as we talked them out and combined our ideas ... the results were so much better than either of us had come up with independently.  In fact, most of what Barry and I do together is a collaboration.  We feed off each other … push each other to think outside the box.

The book is arranged in sections ... Habits 1, 2 and 3 are private victories ...work on ourselves … habits 4, 5 and 6 are public victories … how we relate to others ... habit 7 provides for constant renewal.

 Stephen also talks about the P/PC Balance. He refers to the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs. P stands for production of desired results ... the golden eggs. PC stands for production capability ... the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs (the goose). If we fail to take care of the goose (or your relationship), we lose the ability to obtain golden eggs (co-operation, healthy relationship).

 The PC principle, as applied to business, is to always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. This applies in your personal relationships as well. We should always treat others as we wish to be treated. When you focus too much on results without balancing it with building relationships, you end up with ruined health, worn out machines, broken relationships.

Marilyn Ferguson observed "No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal."

I challenge you to look a little deeper … think about how you can improve your relationships with others (don’t forget about yourself first though) … not what you need from others.  Too often we run into the situation of “if they really want to be my friend, they’ll keep in touch with me”.  But are you keeping in touch with them?  I went through this with my mother … a LOT … she would say “Jane doesn’t call me”.  I’d say “have you called her?”  Of course the answer was no.  So many people expect the other person to do the relationship work.  Perhaps we all need to do our own part.  And if you try … and get no response … then is that someone you really want to have in your life anyway?

 Sunday is Habit 1 … Be Proactive … stay tuned J

Sunday, January 8, 2012

7 Habits Series – Inside Out

This is actually going to turn out to be about a 9 part series.  Anything I’ve written in quotes is taken directly from Stephen Covey.  I will indicate if the quote is from someone else.  I hope you enjoy this series and encourage you to pick up a copy of the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.  It has the potential to change your life.

This is the introduction to The 7 Habits.  Stephen speaks of an “inside-out” approach to life.  We are so quick to look at external forces as an explanation of why things happen.  When we don’t get along with someone, when life throws us a curve ball, when people don’t do what we want them to do, we think it’s all their fault.  Personally, I do not believe that any situation is ever only one person’s fault.  I believe there are too many other factors at play.  Our outlook … our attitude … how we perceive the situation.

“We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.”

“We began to realize that if we wanted to change the situation, we had to change ourselves.  And to change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”

While Stephen was researching success literature over the past 200 years, he noticed a trend.  The first 150 years or so focused on the “character ethic as the foundation of success … things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty and the Golden Rule”.  Shortly after WWI the basic view of success shifted to the “personality ethic … a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviours, skills and techniques, and positive mental attitude”.  You can see how this difference has changed how people act and react.  Previous generations were more concerned with who you are rather than what you do.

Emerson wrote “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say”.  How incredibly true.  When there is a disconnect between how you act and what you say … there is no trust.  “Without trust … there is no foundation for permanent success.  It is fairly easy to tell the difference between someone motivated by the character ethic as opposed to the personality ethic.  You can instinctively trust someone motivated by the character ethic; personality ethic … not so much.

Paradigms.  They are “a model, theory, perception, assumption or frame of reference … it’s the way we ‘see’ the world”.  We are all influenced by our paradigms … the more aware we are of our basic paradigms, “the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view”.

Albert Einstein observed “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”.   We need to change our thinking … our paradigms … before we can begin to make significant changes in our lives.  Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  It’s just not going to happen. 

We need to start working from the inside out.  This approach says that “private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promised to others.  It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves”.  How can we possibly expect others to change if we, ourselves are not willing to look deep inside and make changes to our own self?

T.S. Eliot observed “We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time”.

In a nutshell … I believe that in order to improve our lives, before we can expect others to change, we must first look inwards …. Look at who we are … how we can improve ourselves and our lives and the lives of others around us.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

Beginning of a new year.  I can't wait!  I just know that 2012 is going to be a phenomenal year.  Partly because I decided it was going to be.  And I'm taking proactive steps to ensure that this happens.  No more sitting around.  No more procrastinating.  Just "get off my arse and get it done".

I've taken this past week or so more or less off of my usual routine.  Even though I'm still eating healthy, it's not at regimented.  I've been moderately active, although I have had days where I've turned into a complete couch potato.  And I'm totally OK with all that.  I desperately needed the break.  I think we all needed a break this past week or so.  But as of tomorrow (Monday), even though I'm not going back to work (although Barry is ... sniff sniff), I'm getting up early, working out and following my nutrition plan, getting some work done around the house.  I'm feeling very rejuvenated and ready to hit things hard again.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to announce a 7 part series that I will be posting every Sunday.  I have been so inspired by Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that I am re-reading it.  And I wanted to share what I've learned with you.  It's had a profound effect on my life.  So stay tuned ... and we'll see what this book has to offer all of us.  And if you get even just a fraction out of it that I did.... I will be very happy for you.

Here's to an awesome 2012!