{Annual review} What went well in 2017?

If you’ve had a rough year, you may be tempted to just scroll on by but hang in there – there are things in your life that went well this year.

I know this because even in my worst years, there were things that were good about it, and so it will be for you too.

Step one of any annual review process for me is to note down what went well about the year.

This year, I wanted to get going and build some momentum before working through my Let’s Do This workbook, which is free if you’ve signed up to my list. If you haven’t yet signed up, go here and I’ll send it out again on Friday, and then I’ll take off all the old freebies and put up this guide for the whole of next year (remember there’s no rule about when to start working on your goals!).

I get my best momentum with thinking things when I start mindmapping. So I wrote in my bullet journal “what went well” and made some spokes for God, family, fitness, fun, friends, house and word of the year. And then I let myself loose and under each spoke, I wrote whatever was on my mind.

Try that and let me know if it works to get you loose with your thinking because sometimes the getting started is the hardest part.

That’s my tip for you 🙂

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As for my 2017, what went well?

  1. I’m hearing God better this year than I did last year. I started journalling and am really enjoying that process too.

2. The kids had great years at school and loved their teachers, we had two lovely family holidays and because they’re a bit older, we’ve been having more family lunches out because they can now behave 🙂 Dion and I have also had date afternoons most months. This month we went to see Bryan Adams so we’re ending on a high!

3. This has been a great year of reading – I will probably end up with about 120 books for the year, and it’s definitely the most non-fiction I’ve ever read in one year (I’m trying to finish on 40 so that it’s nice and neat :)). This alone deserves its own post but do leave a comment if you want to know something specific. These days, I get more questions about reading than I do about anything else

4. I also had a great year of sleep. I track my sleep to keep myself on track (strategy of monitoring works great for Upholders) and I will end the year over my goal of 7 hours 30 per night. It still amazes me that one has to actually be in bed much longer to get real and good sleep of 7:30.

5. I finally started a barre class and will probably end the year with about 60 walks. I’ve tried something the last two months on increasing my steps but let me work on it for another month and I’ll share next year. It’s really working for me though and if you’re not one of those 10 000 steps a day people, it may work for you too. I’ve just started back at Weigh-Less to lose some weight (I do have an actual number but I’m not putting it on the internet).

6. This year I started a book club with a friend and it has been so much fun for me. I still mostly read books no-one else reads but at least once a month, there’s something I can talk about with friends.

7. Speaking of friends, I haven’t had the best friend year but things that have worked really well is scheduling recurring meet-ups/ phone calls (again, the strategy of scheduling works great for upholders), my internal rule of always saying yes to out of town/ country friends, and I’m realising as I write this – this should probably be a post too 🙂

Now tell me, what went well for you in 2017?

Please feel free to leave me questions in the comments.

{Four Tendencies} Worth it even if just for this one insight

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by [Rubin, Gretchen]

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Gretchen Rubin’s new book for months and months. Basically, I talk about the Four Tendencies to all my friends, colleagues and clients who are into these things.

And really, I bought and pre-ordered because I’m a fan, but also to understand those around me better. Since I’m an upholder, I thought I knew everything there was to know about being one.

But not!

First, an upholder is someone who readily meets both inner and outer expectations. They have no problems meeting work deadlines/ friend expectations (outer expectations) but they also have no trouble setting and achieving their own goals (inner expectations).

Right, this is me to a T.

 

I learned a ton from buying the book but today I want to talk about upholder tightening.

 

She had mentioned upholder tightening before on the Happier podcast but really delved into it in the book. In a nutshell, it means that upholders decide on their own expectations and get to it (no problem so far) and then, even if the thing no longer serves them, they keep on doing it even if there no longer is a reason to continue doing it.

I had some aha moments while reading that section and now, two months later, I can see this playing out in so many parts of my life.

I even told Dion (a fellow upholder) about upholder tightening and he told me how he definitely sees it in me when I keep flogging a dead horse 🙂

So where have I noticed this in my life?

At the start of this year, I decided to do my year of happy where I focussed on a specific theme for the month, and I’d blog the goals at the start and the feedback at the end.

The intention was to do this with other people joining in. Not one person did, so really at that point, I should have just said, “oh well, no-one’s interested, let’s move on”. But I didn’t.

I was happy enough to carry on for a few months, still hoping others would join in, but then it really got very boring for me.

But I pushed through every single month.

Upholder tightening!

On the bright side, the minute I read about it and recognised it in myself, I stopped.

The awareness gave me the permission to stop.

And so I did.

Isn’t that amazing?

I realise this is more amazing for me than for anyone else but of course I see it happening all over in my life.

Now I’m questioning (I lean towards Questioner) all the things that I decided I should do, that no longer feel right but I haven’t stopped doing yet.

I changed one other thing too.

But watch this space – one of my new goals is to evaluate basically everything in my life (aren’t I fun?!) and see if any of that upholder tightening shows up, and then stop it if it’s no longer serving me.

Are you an upholder? We’re the 2nd smallest group after Rebels.

If yes, where have you noticed upholder tightening show up in your life?

Otherwise, have you read the book yet? Do you intend to? What’s your tendency?

PS Better than Before is currently on sale. Pick up your copy here.

 

Reading according to the season/ What I read in November

So it seems there is interest in talking more about books on the blog. This is last month’s post if you want to catch up.

But today, I want to talk about reading according to the season and then I’ll run through the November highlights.

I’ve always enjoyed a good summer beach read when I’m actually on the beach, and I definitely enjoy Christmas-themed books in November/ December.

In fact, I store up a few books throughout the year so that I’m ready when the Christmas season is here.

I don’t only read Christmas books but a good percentage of my fiction reads from about the second last weekend of November are themed.

This year I’ve already read 3 books, I’m currently half-way through this very photogenic book and our book club read also awaits.

Do you read according to the season?

And now, onto the books I read during November:

6 fiction/ 4 non-fiction (this year has been my biggest non-fiction reading year ever)

4 Kindle/ 3 Audible/ 3 Physical

Best fiction read: Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty. This was our book club read for November and I absolutely LOVED it. I was the only one in the book club who gave it 5*. I heard a podcast after that (No filter by Mia Freedman where she interviewed the author and she also LOVED my favourite character in the book). Have you read this one? Who was your favourite character?

Best non-fiction read: Frientimacy – Shasta Nelson. If you’re passionate about the subject of friendship like I am, you’ll enjoy being challenged and provoked into deep thinking by this one.

I read my first fiction book on audible in November. I chose The restaurant critic’s wife and it was a good read. I enjoyed the process especially when I figured out it’s exactly the same as reading a non-fiction on audible 🙂

So next year I’ll put a couple of fiction books on my reading goals list 🙂

Most of the books were just 3 – 3.5* to be honest, but Truly Madly Guilty totally made up for it!

What were some of the books you read last month? What was your best fiction read? What was your best non-fiction read?

PS for those who are interested, here are my 12 days of bookstagram

Things I’m loving lately

This is the last month of spring for us in the Southern Hemisphere and I must admit, it’s not been awful.

That’s in part due to some cooler weather we enjoyed this spring, and also in part due to the jacarandas which infinitely improve about 6 weeks of spring for me.

I told Dion recently that this is the first season where I have absolutely no regrets because I got all the photos of jacarandas I could possibly want. I pulled over in many different parts of Johannesburg to take pics, and took about 10 dedicated photo walks and even about 3 photo drives. That’s serious dedication for the cause of jacarandas 🙂

However, today I want to tell you about 5 things I’m loving lately:

Sterling Silver arrow studs

I can’t wear any costume jewellery no matter how hype-allergenic the piece is – my ears swell, itch and I have to throw the item away.

Recently I saw these earrings and bought them. I love them. I’m wearing the bars currently but the little arrows have had such a lot of compliments at work.

The Enneagram

This one needs a full post but I took an enneagram test recently on this site. Turns out I’m a 1. They say you know when you’ve hit it because you cringe when you hear the bad stuff and boy oh boy, I cringed. Anyway, I listened to a couple of podcasts (The road back to you) episodes where they interviewed 1s and yep, nailed.

Do you know your type?

My kids’ double bunks

We recently put the bunk beds next to each other in the kids’ room and not only do they love it, but I love it too. I can now take turns laying in bed with both of them (no way was I climbing to that top bunk).

Because of the room re-configuration, we had to move the bookcase out into another room so we took the opportunity to declutter some books – yay!

Leather ballerina pumps

I am very fond of flats. But I’m also a little but fussy in that I don’t want to see any toe crack, I don’t like too sharp a toe and I need a heel at least 5 mm.

These ones do it all.

Since I bought my pair nearly 4 weeks ago, I’ve been practically living in them 🙂

Loreal magic retouch spray

A friend told me about this magic spray and that it stretched her hair colouring from 3 weeks to 4 weeks. Clearly I’m a lot lazier because I spray this stuff for weeks and weeks 🙂

And now, please tell me what you’re loving lately – foods, clothes, products, pens, stationery, anything!

The quick and dirty monthly review

Monthly reviews are one of my life rhythms that I didn’t think I needed, but I love doing so much.

They force me to slow down and reflect on what’s been, instead of just racing ahead to the next thing.

I’m the type of person that’s always looking forward and while that’s mostly good, at times, I know I need to stop and enjoy what I’ve accomplished first before moving forward.

My monthly review helps me do that.

Over the years I’ve refined my process, and I ask myself 6 questions that you can find on a free printable here.

Suzanne Moore interviewed me on her podcast and we spoke extensively about that monthly review form and my process. Listen in here on itunes or stitcher.

Some months I make my process even longer (when it’s been a particularly busy or eventful or stressful month and I need to unravel it) and sometimes I do the quick and dirty version.

The quick and dirty monthly review process

1.In my bullet journal, I write down 4 questions:

  • what went well this month?
  • what could have gone better?
  • what did I learn?
  • what do I need to let go of?

2. Then I go make a cup of tea or do something totally different (pack lunch bag/ set out clothes, etc.) This gives my brain time to start thinking about the month.

3. I then return to my bullet journal and answer those questions. Because I’ve given myself a chance to have a quick think, the writing it all out is easy when I return.

bonus questions

  • how did I live out my word of the year?
  • do I have any in-progress projects to be carried over?

 


Tell me. Do you do a monthly review? If not, I’d like to challenge you to do one this month and see how you enjoy the process (or not!). Let me know what happens 🙂

Switching up what’s not working for you

I’ve had a goal on my list since the beginning of the year, and that was to increase the amount of exercise I get in a week, in particular, to strengthen my core.

This was not happening despite wishing it were so. Imagine that.

Then my usual Zumba instructor had an operation and she was off for 6 Saturdays. One of those Saturdays we had a visiting lady do a Pound class.

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That pound class opened my mind to new possibilities and reminded me that I had a fitness goal I’d made exactly 0% progress in.

Another gym in my neighbourhood opened earlier this year, still in the same network. So I checked their classes and phoned them to see if I could try out a Barre180 class.

I tried the class, loved it and have been going ever since.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, I’ve been in a habit where we, as a family, go to the gym together every Saturday morning for years and years. I love the time together, that we’re prioritising fitness and health, and I still (two months in) miss going to gym with them. It’s complicated, but basically, there is no kids’ programme at the new gym and in order for me to go with them on a Sat and still go to my new one during the week would cost me a lot of money, which I just can’t justify.

I’m trying not to focus on the missing part too much, and I’m going for more walks with the kids 🙂

And the best thing is… two of my jackets can now close and my flexibility has increased such that I can easily touch the floor again. Yay.

Over to you.

Think back to the goals you wrote down at the start of the year. Are there any you’re completely stuck on? Do you need to shake things up?

Do you need a goals re-set? There’s still time to make inroads into a couple of your goals. If you need a goals brainstorm and strategy session, email me and let’s set that up on Skype or Facetime.

3 kinds of lists for your bullet journal

Do you know what I’m really excited about these days? It’s how bullet journalling has made it cool and trendy to write things down 🙂

When you write things down, it frees your mind for more big picture thinking and you don’t have to worry too much about the details because they’re written down so they’re not disappearing anywhere.

Here are 3 types of lists you could use to help manage your time effectively. You can make the lists in your bullet journal or download them from my website.

Master to-do list

1. Master list
This is a place for a “brain dump”, a place for ideas you might want to pursue in the future or possible projects you need to tackle.

You can work off one master list for months, like I do with my business or blogging ideas.

I also have a master list of things to do in the house. I write up a new list every year and I work on that list the entire year.

To-do list

2. To-do list
This list can be monthly, weekly or daily. I post a weekend to-do list to Instagram every weekend.

The difference between this list and the master list is that this one has a time deadline attached to it.

I have a monthly to-do list, which is really my monthly goals list. I keep this one with broad goals like go to the gym 8 – 12 times, a weekly to-do list with about 3-5 business tasks to get done and then my daily to-do list which spreads out those 5 tasks so that I have only 1 or so to do daily.

Sometimes 1 task is very big and takes a couple of days so I’ll leave a couple of smaller ones to do all on one day.

I want to caution you to only put a maximum of 6 items on your daily to-do list so you don’t become overwhelmed!

My checklist to live my best life

3. Checklist
This is a place with a list of items which you check/ tick off.

This list is ideal for anything you need to do regularly, like the order in which you do your photo backups, a list of weekly business tasks, travel checklist, shopping list, etc.

My favourite checklist used to be my “newsletter” checklist which walked me through a process of ensuring I repurposed every bit of the content I create. These days, the one above is my favourite checklist 🙂

Once you start using the correct list for the task at hand, you’ll be flying!

You can download a variety of lists in the free pack on my website.

Do you prefer to print out your lists or to write them into your bullet journal?

The Year of Living Danishly – a review

I know many of you are like me in that you love a good project. Even better when someone else does a great project and writes about it, right?

Examples of this genre that I love are The Happiness Project (for a few years after, some of my clients did their own happiness projects which I coached them through, and then I could re-live the book many times over – LOVE!!!), Happier at Home and the one I want to talk about today, The Year of Living Danishly.

In a nutshell, Helen Russell’s husband gets a job in Denmark at Lego (!), they go for the year. Helen is a journalist and during this year, she freelances while doing her Living Danishly project, one focus area each month. The Danes are known to be some of the happiest people in the world so the book explores that too – each person she interviews gets asked for their happiness score on a scale of 1 – 10.

I read the book through Audible and it was fabulous – the narrator is really, really good.

There’s a lot of talk about hygge – one of my favourite topics – because the Danes do this really well.

I wrote about hygge here and here, if you’d like to have a read.

The 10 concepts she explores in the book, and why Danes are so happy are:

  1. Trust more
  2. Live Hygge
  3. Use your body
  4. Address the aesthetics
  5. Streamline your options
  6. Be proud
  7. Value family
  8. Equal respect for equal work (I’d heard some of this research before from “Overwhelmed” – Brigid Schulte, a book I gave 5 stars)
  9. Play
  10. Share

I don’t want to say too much more, except if you’re going to read it, I recommend the audible version if you like a good English accent. However, if you’re not sure about audible, then get the kindle copy.

Hope you enjoy reading.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Which of the 10 do you most resonate with?

PS if you know of other similar project/ memoir-type books, do leave me a comment so I can check them out.

All links are affiliate – at no extra cost to you, I get a few cents for each book purchased via this blog

Technology and your Tendency – part 2 (personal)

Technology in my personal life

I find that these days my behaviour seems “strange” or “weird” in such a highly connected world.

You see, I check Whatsapp, texts and personal emails when I want to, which is not all the time. And it seems to me that many other people respond to everything as it comes in.

I disable all notifications because I don’t want to be distracted from the task or activity at hand. This includes Instagram, Facebook is off my phone, and of course, Whatsapp, texts and email.

I don’t even keep the ringer on my phone on unless I expect a call, like if I’m expecting a delivery at home or a client to arrive. My Fitbit Flex2 vibrates when there’s an incoming call and yes, I do think about whether I want to answer or not 🙂

In South Africa, most people pay much more for texts than they do for Whatsapp, so 99.9% of people use whatsapp over texts. I get 300 texts free on my phone plan and so I try texting as much as possible. However, I never expect people to respond quickly unless something is truly urgent,  e.g. we’re meeting and you’re going to be late, or we’re meeting and the restaurant has closed (this has happened far too many times!) Interestingly, my nanny doesn’t get free texts so I text, she responds on Whatsapp, and so we go on our merry way 🙂

I find typing on a smart phone very cumbersome so my preference is to never do it 🙂 but when I do, I prefer short messages.

I love Whatsapp for groups. We have a book club group, a Bible reading group and one of my kids’ teachers has set up a group for their class notices. What I don’t love about Whatsapp is that feeling of being checked up on with the ticks going blue (this is something I only found out about in the last couple of months!). I then added a note to my profile saying I only check Whatsapp once a day, and to call if something is urgent.

On another note, I sometimes have friends email me to say “I sent you messages on Whatsapp but I see you haven’t read them” 🙂

That’s correct. I check my phone quickly once I arrive at work as an hour has elapsed… and then my phone goes back in my bag 🙂

On another note, I have in the past responded quickly to a message, and the friend was upset that my response wasn’t considered enough…that is exactly why I like to wait and take my time, and why I can’t respond when I’m at work. I will often think, “do people actually work at work?” Maybe I’m old-school but I don’t feel it fair to my employer to be on my phone when I’m supposed to be working 🙂

With email, I read them morning, noon and night but I only respond when I’m at a real keyboard so that I know I can type a proper response.

Image result for four tendencies picture

How the Four Tendencies plays into all of this technology

The Four Tendencies talks to how we respond to expectations, both inner and outer, which is perfect for this discussion.

Obligers

I asked Sarah in the instagram post if she was an Obliger since she felt pressure to respond to messages. She clarified that once she understood that texts didn’t necessarily mean she had to respond quickly and could treat them as email, they were now on her agenda and, as an Upholder, she’s much happier since. Awesome.

If you’re an Obliger, my guess is you’re the one quickly responding to texts/ whatsapps/ emails, etc.

Upholders

As I explained in way too many words above and in the previous post, I decided what role technology plays in my life (inner expectations), have told all friends/ family/ clients (outer expectations) and so I manage it all very nicely (in my view).

Upholders need clarity about a situation (usually inner) and then they’re good at following through.

Questioners

Questioners respond to inner and outer expectations as long as it makes sense for them to do so.

I would imagine that if a Questioner had to set up their technology boundaries, there would be a lot of why and who said so in their reasoning.

I checked my thinking with a Questioner colleague and she pretty much confirmed that she has (internal) rules for all technology and basically questions everything. Who said I need to respond to text messages? So she never responds to texts (that was news to me so I won’t be texting her :)) She doesn’t think Facebook is useful so has a profile but never goes there and loves Instagram for a few reasons so uses that extensively. She loves an empty inbox so works hard to keep it manageable all the time.

Rebels

Rebels reject both inner and outer expectations. I know they don’t like anyone or anything to be the boss of them, so they need to decide how they identify and then they will do accordingly.

Amanda, a Rebel, told me something interesting. Being good at her job is something she’s internalised so she’s great at email, keeping track of projects, and phone calls that are urgent. Please notice she decided this is who she is so it’s easy for her to manage.

I love what she told me about her personal life. She’s good at making meeting times, etc. Usually she plans to get back to emails and phone calls when she feels like it, but it takes a while, if ever, to feel like it. Brilliant! She feels like it more when the people are people she’s close to or care about. Again, she’s decided who the important people are, and those expectations she has no trouble meeting in a reasonable timeframe.

Thank you so much, Amanda, for emailing me.

And last but not least, there were some questions on the podcast:

Does a text imply urgency? (Well, as an Upholder leaning to Questioner, I do question if it actually is urgent first, but generally, it doesn’t imply urgency to me.)

Do you ever let your mind wander anymore? (I do, in my Barre180 class and when I go walking by myself or with the kids. When I shower, cook, clean or organise, I listen to podcasts and when I drive to work, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts)

Which social media fits your life best ( . . . or worst?) I love Instagram the most because it’s visual (I’m highly visual), I can say as little or as much as I want. I also find it to be a very positive environment.

Where is your mental white space? I like to think that I’ve designed a life where I have enough mental white space in my regular life. I only ever feel overwhelmed about once or twice a year, and that’s usually during very busy times at work.

Tell me what you think.

What role does technology play in your personal life? And if you haven’t mentioned it yet, what is your tendency?

We all have 15 minutes

One of the biggest organising myths is that you need a big chunk of time to organise anything.

That’s simply not true.

I actually don’t know many people who happen to have hours and hours free for the purpose of organising.

The thing is, with anything in life that is important to you, you have to make time. I wrote a whole book about this concept – get it here.

One of the ways you make time is by using up all the little bits of time throughout your day.

Even if you think you have no time, I guarantee there are bits here and there.

If you start looking for those treasured moments, you’ll realise you can get a lot more done.

I remember when my kids were just newborns I thought I’d never have time to myself again.

Then I realised that I had 5 minutes here, another 10 minutes there and so on.

I could read one article in a magazine in those 5 minutes and maybe even churn out a blog post in the 10-minute stretch.

All that time adds up if you’re ready to take advantage of it.

It’s the same with organising.

You may not have an hour to organise a chest of drawers but if you find 15 minutes a day for 4 days, you do have that hour.

A change of perspective = opportunities

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”.

Here are a few quick ideas:

• Straighten your cutlery and/or utensils drawer
• Edit and delete photos (one of my ongoing projects to use a “spare” 15 minutes) from your phone
• Declutter a pile of paper
• Tidy your handbag or wallet
• Organise your spices
• Declutter your recipe folder

See? There are indeed 15-minute slivers of time all around us if only we’ll just look for them.

Make a list of 10 or more quick organising projects you can do in 15 minutes and get started today.

Are you an all or nothing person? Do you tend to look for the big chunk of time versus the little bits?

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