A few random things

  1. 1. I didn’t announce the winners on Friday because I had some blog maintenance issues. The winners (Sarah & Audrey) have already received their copy of the books.
  2. The blog maintenance issues were related to me migrating over to a self-hosted WordPress website, which I am very excited about because now I have complete control over what goes down here – no more paying WordPress for them to put ads on my site (I know, right?).
  3. You wont be able to follow my website within WordPress.com anymore (I don’t think?). The other option is through RSS or subscribe to receive my posts by email. You *may* need to update your RSS stuff? I have no sweet clue how this stuff works. I know just enough to make things (sort of) work.
  4. Happy Easter! I’m seriously loving my 4-day weekend. Went for a run this morning, then ate a our first Easter meal at our own place, not visiting any parents this year. It was nice.

The role of ‘productivity’ in reaching our goals



Don’t forget the giveaway that finishes tomorrow. Click here for more details.

As I’ve been working on this blog and flushing out my ideas, I’ve realized that maybe I haven’t really been clear about the link between productivity and reaching my goals. In my head it’s clear, but you might be thinking “if this blog is about reaching her goals, why does she talk about productivity so much?”

Why productivity?

When I was thinking through topics I know about and enjoy learning more about productivity was on the list. I didn’t want my blog to be just another talking about the exact same things as everyone else, but more importantly, I wanted it to be something that was true to me. Over the last few years I’ve learned things about working more efficiently that I’ve tried to pass on to others, but didn’t really have one place I could send the people I was teaching. This blog is now that one place.

More than that, I do believe that if we can harness some of our wasted energy we have more to put in other places that require more energy. This is where productivity comes in. If I build good habits now, I’ll be that much more likely to have success in accomplishing my goals as my life becomes more and more complex. I’m still in the early stages of a lot of these goals, as you very well know. I’m determined to do my best to make them happen, which involves tweaking things in the process to achieving those goals.

What do you mean?

Here’s an example: if I have a weekly routine of work, meal planning and prep, getting groceries, running, my morning routine etc. then I don’t have to think about it. I have a lot less resistance due to less decision fatigue. If that freaks you out because it’s too repetitive, I agree. However, I’ve learned that there is tremendous freedom in structure.

Your turn

Have you had an experience where you found yourself running on optimized performance or running on all cylinders because you had planned and structured your life well? Do you think you could never organize yourself well enough to do that? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.


Developing Keystone Habits


Don’t forget the giveaway that’s going on right now. Click here for more details.

I’ve already gushed about Lift App before. This time, it’s not because I’ve actually received the T-shirt they sent me to say thanks for the first post (though I did). This time, it’s because I’ve experienced some cool psychology that I had only read about until now and I believe it’s thanks to Lift App.

Remember when I read The Power of Habit? I learned a lot from that book including about what Duhigg calls Keystone Habits. Research shows that committing to one keystone habit can improve and bring positive results the rest of your life. One example is food journaling. You can read in detail about it in this HuffPo article but the summary version is this: ask a group of people who want to lose weight to track their food intake. At the beginning they may forget a lot. Slowly they’ll remember to track one meal a day or maybe one day a week. Over time, they’ll remember more and more until they’ve started tracking everything. Then what happens? They become more aware of what’s going in their bellies.

“The researchers hadn’t suggested any of these behaviors. They had simply asked everyone to write down what they ate once a week. But this keystone habit — food journaling — created a structure that helped other habits to flourish. Six months into the study, people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone else.

“After a while, the journal got inside my head,” one person told me. “I started thinking about meals differently. It gave me a system for thinking about food without becoming depressed.” (article)

I’m totally experiencing this with Lift. I have a list of thirteen habits I’m tracking. Not all I’m trying to do daily, but ideally I would get to that point. I had an 18 day streak with reading my Bible until we did a lot of travelling this past weekend. I’ve been writing and reading more because I’m tracking these habits.

But flossing?

I’ve flossed 5 times since I started tracking in January. Three of which were this month.

In February I had had enough of the “Floss!” at the top of my screen always taunting me. “You should floss,” it said. “I don’t want to,” I would reply and then consider deleting that goal from the list. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Probably because my dentist wouldn’t be very happy with me and neither would my wallet for having to pay my dentist so much.

As I saw everything else on my list being lit up in green as I checked them off, the 1 minute it took to floss started seeming less daunting. I became more and more motivated to get the Floss lit green too.

So I decided: I’ll try to floss once a week. That is SO manageable.

Then when I did that two weeks in a row, feeling on top of the world, I decided I could manage twice a week. See where this is going?

Last night as I looked at where I was in my list as I was thinking about my evening and I realized: if I plan things right I can knock them all off. Providence agreed by getting a giant piece of apple (Eat More Fruit) stuck in my teeth, forcing me to floss.

All this to say: you should try Lift, or figure out a system that works for you if an app doesn’t. It’s worth it!

Interview + Giveaway

About Us photoToday my friends Tim and Olive Chan are launching their book Then Came the Baby: The Wonder, Mayhem, and Hilarity of Our First Year as Parents this week. I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy which I really enjoyed. My husband, Willy, heard me laughing from across the house on a few occasions. The way they open up their lives to the reader, showing the highs and the lows, the funny and the difficult is really refreshing and helpful, especially for a not-yet-parent like myself. Tim has kindly agreed to an interview. As someone who also wants to publish one day, I was thrilled by the opportunity to learn from them

So without further ado, here’s the interview:

Describe how you guys decided you were going to write for a living.
There were a few factors involved. The first was that both Olive and I felt like we could not authentically live out our callings in our previous jobs, and were looking around for something else to do. The second was that the blog we started in November 2011 had been getting positive response from friends, family, and even people we didn’t know.

We felt it was a good time to take a risk, and trying writing full-time for a year. Writing allows Olive to be able to interact and influence people while having to expend too much social energy (which she does not have much of as an introvert). Writing full-time also gave me a chance to launch our own business, which was something I’ve been itching to do. Lastly, writing gives both of us the flexibility to work part-time and take care of our daughter part-time.

What has been the highlight and the lowlight for you guys in the process?
The highlight has been the chance to work together. Many people say that they cannot work with their spouse, but we’ve found it to be a positive and enriching experience so far. Working together has allowed us to see each other in a different context, and appreciate the strengths of the other person. As new parents, it gives us something to do together that does not revolve around our daughter.

The lowlight has been the stress and worry of attempting to make a living through writing. Often I struggle with the fear of failing. Though it’s difficult, it’s given me a chance to exercise living courageously.

What is one thing that has surprised you (good or bad)?
One thing that’s surprised me is the impact we’ve been able to make through writing. We’ve had many people tell us that they like reading our blog, and that it’s helped them with their marriage or as a parent. We’re humbled and grateful knowing that we’re making a small difference in the world.

What is one thing you would go back and do over if you had the chance?
One thing I would have done differently is to work on our blog sooner. Olive and I have been blogging for over 8 years, but it’s been something we do in our spare time. We’ve never really worked on building it until a year and a half ago. If we had started earlier, our impact might have been so much more today.

What advice (if any) do you have for someone who wants to publish an ebook like you are?
Write a little every day. Writing a book seems like a daunting task, but if you spend time every day to write, soon your book will be done.

Another piece of advice is to get people to help you edit the book. I’m not talking about someone to find grammatical errors (although that is important too), but someone to give you feedback on the direction and message of your book. We’ve been blessed to have many friends help us with this. The first draft of our upcoming book had 52 chapters. The final version of our book has 41 chapters. Through the editing process we cut out 11 of the weaker chapters, and most of the chapters that remain we rewrote. Our book is many times better because of the input of our editors.

What’s your next goal?Our next goal is to apply for the Aikman Opportunity Award. It is a book writing competition where the winner is awarded $20,000 and the opportunity to work with a publishing company. Our goal is for both Olive and I to submit book proposals for this competition. More details here: http://aikmanaward.com/

Big thanks to Tim and Olive for answering these questions!

To celebrate their launch Tim and Olive have graciously given me two copies of their book to give away in Kindle format (which you can read on your tablet or smartphone if you don’t have a Kindle). Details of the giveaway are below the interview.

The Giveaway

  1. Entry method #1: leave a comment saying you want a copy.
  2. Entry method #2, 3, 4+: Share about the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, G+ or on Pinterest (by pinning the book cover linking to this post) and come back and leave a separate comment for each social media share.
  3. Entry method #5ish: Follow my blog by email.
  4. Be generous! This book may not reflect where you are in your life now, but maybe you have a friend who is planning to have kids soon, trying, or about to pop! Share this with them.
  5. I’m looking into getting a self-hosted WordPress site so I can actually use Rafflecopter and none of this annoying make-you-comment-a-lot stuff.
  6. Go and share!Cover (Final)

Overcoming resistance


Source: Herr Olsen

Forgive me if you’re sick of me making reference to Michael Hyatt. He’s clearly an influencer in my life right now and if that annoys you, maybe this isn’t the blog for you! Michael recently did a podcast called How to Overcome Resistance that I found helpful. You can listen to the whole thing here or skip down to the summary.

What is resistance?

Michael brings up a subject that I face on a regular basis and I’m sure you do too. Resistance’ according to Hyatt is, “that invisible, destructive force that opposes you every time you try to start a new project or make an improvement in any area of your life.”

Sound familiar? Know why I’m bringing it up? We all face it.

“You might not experience resistance if you decide to eat dessert but you will experience it if you decide to go on a diet.”

True words, no?

How to overcome it

Michael says we typically have 3 responses to to resistance. They are fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Also sound familiar? Hyatt does a great job in his podcast through telling a story of how he persisted in getting one of his books bought by a skeptical publisher after tons of rejections, only to have it hit the best seller list. He advises a response for each of those ugly responses: to start, focus and finish.

  1. I’ve heard this before in reading The Now Habit. The response to fear is procrastination and the response to procrastination needs to be: to start.
  2. The typical response to uncertainty is distraction and the counter-measure needs to be to focus. Remember when I was doing Nanowrimo last November? In a millisecond, without thinking, I learned that could open a new tab and be on Facebook without thinking. It’s a habit I have unwittingly developed for the moment when my brain has a lull. So thanks to the recommendation of my friend Diane, I installed StayFocused in my browser and blocked Facebook and Twitter during my writing hours. It worked.
  3. The third response to resistance is to doubt (should I really be doing this?) and the counter-measure should be just to finish. Push-through. This is where going public with things helps, you have a bunch of people who you can turn to help you finish.

If you found this post helpful, I encourage you to listen to the whole podcast. He finishes the podcast by answering questions that his listeners have asked him.

Can you think of a time when you overcame resistance? I’d love to hear a story from you! Don’t be shy and leave it in the comments here.

10 Questions About Your Goals


Photo by Seán Venn

Time Management Ninja had an excellent post on friday about goal setting. It was helpful and clarifying to me as I consider and evaluate my goals. I wanted to share these 10 questions with you.

10 Questions You Must Answer About Your Goals:

  1. Are They Written Down? – Writing your goals down is a magical act. It makes them real. It clarifies them, and helps bring definition and accountability to them.
  2. Are They Your goals? – Before you pursue them, make sure that your goals aretruly your own. Or are they goals that have been put upon you by expectations of your family, job, or society?
  3. Do They Have a Deadline? – Goals without deadlines are like a race without an end. You need a finish line to define your goal and when you will accomplish it by. (You can always adjust later… see #7.)
  4. What is the Cost and Are you Willing to Pay It? – Every goal has a cost. Whether it is time, money, or sweat. Make sure you are willing to pay the price to achieve your goal.
  5. What Help Will You Need to Accomplish Your Goals? – Truly great goals require us to go beyond ourselves. Every successful person learned from someone else. Plan in advance how you will get the assistance you need.
  6. Are You Focused on Your Goal? – Many people fall into the trap of unfocused goals. Or perhaps, they have too many goals at once. You must have laser focus on your big goal. It must be front-and-center in your life. It must get constant attention.
  7. Are Your Goals Adaptable? – Life changes. You can’t control that. So, your goals must be adaptable. This is not to be used as an excuse at the first sign of difficulty. Adaptable goals change, instead of break, when life throws you a curve.
  8. Do Your Goals Stretch Your Limits? – If your goal is to do something that you have already done before, then you will get the same results. Your goals should stretch your abilities. That is how new capabilities and limits are reached.
  9. Do Believe in Your Goals? – More than anyone else, you have to believe in your goals. There will be critics, doubters, and people who want to see you fail. Don’t listen to them. Listen to the inner voice that drives you.
  10. What Did You Do Today? – You must act on your goals every single day. It is not an optional activity. If you truly have the determination and focus to reach your goals, you will not only think, but act on them every single day.

My reflections on these questions

  • I’ve already thought through most of these. When this blog was first just an idea in my head, I considered “do I have the money to make these goals happen?” and “Is it selfish to focus on these goals?” (question number 4). We don’t want to set ourselves up for failure, but we don’t want to be pessimists either.
  • I hope you know by now that I love, love, love question number 7. In certain areas of my life I can be a perfectionist (cleaning my house is not one of those areas) and I tend to hold myself to a standard of performance that isn’t helpful or healthy. I’m learning to be flexible and give room for the unforseen changes of life.
  • The last question was a big kick in the butt! It’s unusually cold this week, though the snow is gone and the sidewalks are clear for running. I told myself I would start again but I don’t want to go out in -10ºC after being accustomed to +1ºC! Sigh. Out I go for my first run of spring, reminding myself I was running in -10ºC last November.

Have you thought about these things as you first planned for your goals? Had you forgotten to consider any of these questions? Leave a comment here with your thoughts.

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