Word of the year – half year update

My word for this year is light.

It’ll probably give you a good idea of how things have been going if I tell you it took me a good 5 seconds to remember what my word is.

My word for 2020 is light – here’s where you can read more about how I chose it.

In 2020, I want to feel light

  • physically – I need to lose 12 kgs
  • mentally – I want to let go of things quicker and not hold tight so long
  • emotionally – I want to lighten up with some things

I also want to look for the light more, in other words, get out my big camera and go make beautiful pictures. Honestly, I’ve gotten lazy and yet, it’s something that brings me such joy and delight.

So how has it been going?

Physically – yes, I am lighter but I’ve not lost 6 kg yet. Still, I really do celebrate my progress because I feel fine in my clothes again and that was the motivator for the goal. It would be nice to have a specific number milestone but I honestly have bigger things to worry about right now than reaching an arbitrary number.

Mentally – the covid-19 pandemic has helped all of us let go of all the unimportant things, right?! I’ve had to pivot with my workshops and friend dates and all the out stuff I usually do, so I’m doing well here but….

Emotionally – well, this pandemic has been throwing me for a loop. I’ve cried more during the last almost 4 months (but nothing since 1 June!) but I’ve also experienced more love and connection from my family, which does add to that feeling of lightness of being.

One place I’m excelling at is looking for the light. I have been playing with my camera and iPhone, taking pictures of changing light, morning light, evening light, and as I suspected, it’s been bringing me such joy.

I have been bringing light (clarity) through my workshops, coaching, and speaking, hopefully, I haven’t been hiding my light and playing a smaller game.

If you’d like to experience the light of my workshops, there are 3 open workshops left this year – two Four Tendencies workshops, and one Five Love Languages workshop. Please book your place here.

I’ll give myself a 6/10 for my word of the year update, which feels like a 9/10 rating given the state of the world. I can do better though and this is my reminder to save my word on my lock screen to remind myself more during the next half of the year.

How has your 2020 word been working out for you? Has it been a good reminder? Have you been living it out? Have you forgotten your word?

{Covid-19} 5 things I love and 5 things I’ll miss about lockdown

As we close out this month, and there’s more talk of opening up, I thought I’d share my 3 lists of 5 things. Do join me. This is great for your own Covid-19 journalling 🙂 or your bullet journal.

5 things I miss (more here)

  1. Freedom
  2. Seeing friends face-to-face
  3. Going to the gym
  4. My dance classes
  5. Kids going to school

5 things I love

  1. No traffic going to work
  2. Not having to colour my hair
  3. Seeing the daily winter sunsets (I would usually still be at work or driving home)
  4. Everyone is doing their own laundry
  5. Seeing the kids relate to each other like they did when they were little

5 things I’m grateful for (more here)

  1. Zoom Zumba and our core group of workout buddies
  2. That my husband and kids love being at home (I think this family can take only one of me!)
  3. Audio books accompanying my cleaning
  4. Cooking healthy meals and using up everything so there’s no waste
  5. Excellent sleep (I’ve averaged 8 hours for the last two months)

What are some of the things you miss and love about lockdown?

PS if you want to do a monthly review, download your monthly review pack here

{Covid-19} Is there any point to having goals?

I was so excited about my 20 in 2020 goals. And when the effects of the pandemic started to affect us in South Africa, I waited a bit, and then I realised that I might as well scrap almost half the list.

So is there still a point to having goals? I think so. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Expectation and hope

We all want to be able to look forward to something, to have hope that things will be different in the future and to anticipate good things. Setting a few goals will help with this.

2. Most of your list has probably changed. Accept that fact.

I had many goals involving travel, my house (contractors) and running workshops. I had 6 workshops on my list – I managed to run 2 before lockdown, so there’s that. At least I can take the workshops virtual, so please book your place – I’d love to have you.

3. We’re not writing off the year. 2020 is still happening; it just looks different

I’m journaling every night so that I can remember this time in my life even though the days seem to run into one another. I’m also posting a photo on Instagram. Search my hashtag and you’ll see all my posts.

It helped me when I looked at my list and focused on the feelings I wanted from all those goals. Core desired feelings, if you will. I wanted togetherness, to nest, to create beauty, connection and to teach. Much of that I can still do, just in different ways.

Coaching question – how can I still create the feelings I want given my current situation?

the idea is that this is for 3 months… we’ll see if I need to make a new list after that

4. Make a 19 for Covid-19 list instead of the 20 for 2020 one

I didn’t even make a new printable. I crossed out 20 and wrote in 19. My list now has things only I can control. I don’t need to travel, I don’t need other people; I can do my list by myself, in my home. It’s actually quite empowering when you realise you have agency.

I may make a list for the newsletter subscribers of things you might want to sort out in your home. I’m holding my plans very loosely these days because I’m doing a ton of cleaning, all the cooking and food prep, and about 150% of my job.

5. Give yourself grace and permission to just survive if that’s what you need

I know we’re not all the same type of people. Some have lower energy, chronic diseases, more kids, etc. If you need to put three things on your list, and one of them is “shower, cook food and put on a load of laundry”, then that is 100% fine.

But if you do start to feel like you want something to work on, a little project or two, I have many suggestions – there’s the house, there’s organising, there’s a course (what about Discover Yourself?), there’s the Four Tendencies, or just read a book or two every month. All good ideas.

I hope you’re inspired to think about goals a little differently in this time of Covd-19.

Please share what’s keeping you going these days.

{Covid-19} Keeping sane by moving your body

We’ve been in lockdown (not allowed to leave the property) for a month. I am doing daily journalling for the first time ever in my life and I’ve noticed that the days I’m getting to move my body through a walk or actual exercise classes are the days I’m calmer, happier and a better human being.

Why is it important to move?

  • you sleep better
  • oxygen gets to your brain for clearer thinking
  • you feel better, and are a less anxious and overall happier human being

I wasn’t using the word “moving” as a euphemism for exercise; moving to me on most days means to:

  • get outside
  • notice the beauty
  • listen to the sounds
  • smell different smells
  • engage all your senses

(excellent mindfulness activities for an ESTJ, who needs to stay present and move slower through life)

I have found 4 things that help me get the most out of virtual exercise (my Zoom Zumba class)

  1. Dress as you would for a normal class at the gym – tie your hair up when necessary, wear a sports bra and sports shoes
  2. Tell yourself, I only have these 30 or 60 minutes, so I have to make it count, and then dance your heart out
  3. Keep the video on – it will keep you accountable and moving
  4. Set up your environment for success – have a big bottle of water ready, clear the space of chairs, etc. and close a curtain if necessary to block out sunlight
My Zoom Zumba set-up – phone, water bottle, untidy desk 🙂

I know all these things because I’ve done the exact opposite – forgotten the sports bra, had to run downstairs for more water, and had to take a couple of minutes to move the camera so I wasn’t squinting into the sunlight.

Interestingly, the Zoom Zumba is the only class I feel inclined to participate in. I have zero interest in doing virtual ballet – I want to have the class vibe for that. I may change my mind soon, but for now, let’s Zumba 😉

Are you moving enough? I’m probably not, but these days cleaning also counts and I’m doing plenty of that!

Do you participate in any virtual exercise classes?

PS Today Dion and I celebrate 25 years of marriage and I started off my day with Zumba 🙂

{Covid-19} It’s all flipped, hasn’t it?!

Our president made his first announcement about social distancing on Sunday 15 March, and then on Monday 23 March, he announced that lockdown would begin on Friday 27 March.

We were on holiday in a very remote area of the country at the time of the lockdown announcement so we drove back home and were safely inside when lockdown began.

Monday 30th was the first day of work during lockdown. It was crazy. Also I made this list of things I wanted to get done on a daily basis. I was so naive. I work in financial services, which is an essential service. I am honestly busier now than when i have normal busy periods at work. If I don’t set good work boundaries, I end up working late into the night.

So that little Project Life card was only partially completed for 5 days and then I hid it deep down in the papers on my desk. Out of sight means no guilt about not getting things done.

This was my daily list for the second day of work/ lockdown. By the way, that “write blog” entry is this very one I’m finally writing two weeks later. That’s exactly a metaphor for life. I’ve not felt like doing anything extra on the computer after spending so much time on it for my actual work.

So what’s the point of telling you how I’m not getting my list done? I wanted to…

share my real life with you (not that I don’t always do that)

show you my ideal day vs reality

tell you how I’ve adapted and how things are now going

My workdays are taken up with work, a Zumba class (which is saving my sanity!) twice a week, cooking daily suppers, keeping up with the laundry and basic daily cleaning. And occasionally checking on the kids to make sure they’re doing schoolwork.

The only time I actually have to do anything extra like extra reading, organising, deep cleaning, etc. is on the weekend, just like before. Except! I’m doing so much proper cleaning and cooking ahead that I don’t have much time for extra because I’m knackered.

It’s taken me a lot of time, and I still have to give myself a talking to because the truth is that my own standards for cleanliness are much higher than the rest of my family. Anyone relate? Everyone has jobs but I have the job of making sure the other jobs get done, and I do toilets because I’m the fussiest about toilets over just about anything else 😉

I’ll leave you with these two last thoughts:

  1. go easy on yourself during these strange times and remember, you’re doing the best you can

but also

2. figure out how you can have some small joys during your day (cleaning up while listening to a catchy song – I recommend Ricky Martin) amidst all the cleaning, dishes, work and schooling going on.

How are you doing…really? Are you in essential services? How are your days being filled during this time? What’s keeping you sane?

{Covid-19} GRACE to stay calm during a pandemic

I read somewhere that the secret to happiness is self-knowledge and relationships.

My tips to stay sane (personally) during this time are very simple and I asked myself a question I explore every year – what do I need to do daily to be my best self? This looks different for each person. Figure out what you need and do that. E.g. Dion is an introvert and an enneagram 5, and has been having an afternoon nap to replenish his energy.

Long-time readers will know I have a card in the front of my diary to remind me of what’s important for me – you can see that card here.

This morning on Instagram I saw on Melanie Dale‘s stories that she has something similar with an acronym, GRACE. I think she is also an extrovert 🙂

G – Gratitude – what are you grateful for?
R – Read – what have you read today (not about the virus!)?
A – Adapt – what do you need to do to adapt?
C – Create – what can you create?
E – Engage – who can you engage with?

Let’s use an example to work through this framework.

G – I’m grateful that I got to go out twice today (safely!), that I didn’t get lost on the way to book club (getting lost is my superpower!) and that we are all well and healthy.
R – I read for 30 minutes this morning and will read again for a couple of hours tonight.
A – we adapted by adding a Zoom call to our book club (other examples are me cooking favourite meals with substitute ingredients)
C – I’m creating right now as I type out this newsletter to you
E – I engaged at Zumba, at Weigh-Less and with my book club friends

Here’s to a great couple of weeks of nesting and connecting, and getting those cupboards sorted if you want 😉

If you look through this link, you’ll find tons of inspiration to play with Konmari concepts in your home 🙂

{Covid-19} Let’s be intentional about our at-home time

Let’s quickly talk about being intentional while the threat of Covid-19 continues. When I use the word intentional, I don’t mean productive unless that is what you want to be intentional about. The last thing I want to do is put you under pressure; I want to give you grace and a few tools to take this one day or week at a time.

While I’m a girl who loves a plan and to know what’s happening, I’ve decided to take it all one week at a time. It’s how I plan anyway and I’m reminding myself things change in an instant. I’m making a Three Things To Do Today list and that’s it. My three things usually have something physical/ creative, something productive and something connecting.

What would your Three Things list have on it?

Mentally

  • If you’re feeling anxious, stop and ask yourself, “what will make me feel less anxious?” If it’s something you can do something about, do it. Otherwise, severely restrict your social media and news time. I’m not an anxious person by nature and even I started feeling a tinge of anxiety, so I’ve been reducing my social media time.
  • Fill your head with affirmations (write them out on an index or Project Life card), encouraging podcasts and things that make you happy. Jennie Allen has a great book out (how timely!) called Get out of your head. I started the Bible plan a few days ago and so far, great!

Physically

  • If you’re working from home, make sure you keep specific work hours, and stick to those hours. It’s so easy to work all the time and because you’re naturally going to let your home things bleed into work time, you may feel guilty. Don’t do this. Work hard during work time, and then switch off (yes, use a reminder on your phone!). If you want, track your work time so that there’s no guilt about switching off when your day is over. This is an excellent tool for obligers especially, but will also work for upholders and questioners.
  • Get outside in nature and go for a walk or run, just not with other people. Find a form of exercise because when you get moving, you’ll feel better. There are plenty of free things on the internet these days; one of my favourite ballerinas, Isabella Boylston, is doing ballet from her apartment. A yoga teacher I know is doing virtual yoga classes. All of these are win-win; exercise for you, and you’re supporting a small business/ Dancers Emergency Fund.
  • Get plenty of sleep. I know it’s hard but some easy sleep hygiene is to get off your phone early in the evening, read a relaxing (physical) book and stop drinking caffeine at lunch time.

Organising projects

  • A fellow twin mom, a little ahead of me in the game, shared on her Instagram how their family is going to play all the board games they own while they’re quarantined. They will then decide to declutter the games they no longer like. I think this is an excellent idea, don’t you?
  • You know all those things you wrote on your list at the beginning of the year? If they still matter to you, now is an excellent time to tackle them. Involve the kids! This book might help! Print out the list 4 “things I could do in 2020” so there’s no pressure on you, and see how you go. I love to hear feedback – let me know and tag me if you’re on Instagram.
  • Download your customised Tendency to-do list here

What are the things that you’ve found to work well for you?

My secret superpower for getting so much done

Recently I posted a screenshot on my Instagram stories showing my sleep stats. This one, in fact.

I had a flurry of direct messages from people commenting that they couldn’t believe I sleep so much. How is it possible to sleep 9.5 hours?!

Well, it’s easy if you set your environment up for good sleep (no screens before bed, cool bedclothes, dark room, etc.). I’ve always slept well, ever since I was a child, and most importantly, I believe that sleeping so well is the reason I have such a lot of energy and can get so many things done.

On the other hand, it’s also why, when my twins were newborns, I felt so out of sorts. It’s because I wasn’t sleeping. The minute those two started sleeping better at 10 months it was like the sun shone brightly again 🙂 because my brain was clear!

When I start working with a new time management coaching client, I always check their sleep habits first. Sleep is so important and even if you’re not aware of it, your body needs good sleep to function well and you need to be well-rested to be most productive and effective. If you’re not well-rested, you’ll find yourself with fuzzy thinking and a brain that can’t focus on a task for very long.

We work with small goals until they’re sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and then we start working on goals. It works because it’s easy to get things done when you’re sleeping well.

I know that it seems counter-intuitive to go sleep instead of working more, but I’ve proven it so many times in my and others’ lives that if you go sleep, you’ll get your list of things done much quicker the following day because you’re rested. I have often said, “I feel like a new woman” when I tackle that to-do list and get things done from a base of good, uninterrupted sleep.

Try it and see. Sleep might very well be your superpower too 😉

Interestingly, I heard from two different sources that there is only a really tiny percentage of humans who need less than 6 hours a night, and how to tell if you’re one of these is that you never feel drowsy outside those 6 hours and you don’t need caffeine or other substances to get you going.

How many hours do you sleep per night, on average? Do you feel rested and energised in the mornings, or do you feel you need to work on your sleep?

PS My goal has been 7 hours 30 per night for years and years; this year it’s 7 hours 45 and I’m at 7 hours 42.

How to read more in 2020

If you’ve been reading around here or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m a big reader. (I even started a bookstagram account late last year – marciareadsalot).

I read 97 books in 2016, 120 books in 2017, 112 books in 2018 and I finished on 108 books last year.

I hover around the 100 books a year mark consistently, and thought I’d share 5 ways that we can all read more. It’s not like I do nothing but read (I’m a full-time employee, parent to twins, wife, friend and coach/ speaker/ workshop facilitator) but I do prioritise my reading.

  1. Have a compelling to-read list

If you only have boring books on your list, you’ll be less inclined to pick up a book and read. Therefore, decide what you like to read and add some fun books (for you) to your list.

If you can’t wait to read a book, there’s a very high possibility you’ll read faster, and thus read more books.

Tip – I create a To read – January collection within my Kindle so that I always have a great list of books to pick from. If I own the physical copy, I download the sample, and leave that in the collection so I remember what I wanted to read.

2. Stop reading books you hate

This ties into number 1 above. If you are not enjoying a book, stop wasting your reading time and pick up a book you want to read instead.

Did you know that you don’t have to finish every book you start? Please start freely abandoning books. I abandoned 7 books this year (yay!) – the faster I abandon, the more I can read 🙂

3. Always keep a book with you

Even if you don’t keep a physical book with you, have an audio or Kindle book on your phone. I like to keep a non-fiction book on my phone that I can read a short piece when I have a few moments. Things that work very well are essay-type books, or 100 days to …… or 365 days of …………..-type books too.

4. First read, then scroll

I realised that I was grabbing my phone in the mornings instead of my book, so a couple of mornings I didn’t switch on the wifi for a whole hour while I read instead. I nearly finished my book just from reading first instead of scrolling.

If you’re having trouble focusing, set a timer for 20 minutes and start reading. 20 minutes is the perfect time for a non-fiction read, and I guarantee that if you give a work of fiction 20 minutes, you’ll get into it enough to either continue or abandon.

I also want to point out my blog post from a few years ago where I recognised that with the 4 – 5 hours of phone time I have a day, I could easily read a non-fiction book once a week. See why you and I are not reading more books.

5. Join a book club

Most of the population are obligers and as Gretchen Rubin says, if you’re an obliger and you want to read more books, join a book club. A friend told me on instagram that she had a terrible reading year (14 books). She is an obliger so i suggested a book club. She is in a book club but they each read a different book. As a Four Tendencies facilitator, I’d suggest she join a book club where they all read the same book. My own book club reads the same book and we are mostly Obligers, with some Questioners, one Rebel and me, the Upholder, and this works very well for the Obligers.

Joining a book club is one way to read more and it’s a fantastic way to also build intentional friendships.

Are you reading more or less than you were a few years ago? How do you make sure you’re reading a lot?

What do I want less of in 2020?

When I start reflecting on this question, the answer is not just the opposite of what I want more of. Instead, I’m challenging myself to really think about things that I can control and take concrete action steps to create in my life.

Stress

Most of my stress this year resulted from worrying about whether the workshops would fill, especially in the beginning, but also stress about work that I absolutely could not control.

Unrealistic expectations

Granted, I placed many of these expectations upon myself, but I also felt that some clients had unrealistic expectations regarding timelines. This is a great time of year to remind myself that I can only control myself, do my best and then let go (here’s where my word’s going to be so useful).

Complicated systems

I generally like to keep things simple, but sometimes in trying out different planning tools or ways of doing things, I have tended to complicate matters that don’t have to be complicated at all. This year I have 1 diary, 1 bullet journal for lists and notes, and 1 master to-do list which I’ll review weekly. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll write more about that.

Weight

I have some ideas where I can change things. I tried a few things this year but they were mostly unsuccessful. It’s clear I probably have to invest in Weigh-Less completely and not just tell myself, “oh, I know how to eat properly”. I do, but doing it by myself is not working as well as I’d like so I need to do something different. There’s a tension between realising that I’m no longer 25 and also not just giving into the middle-age spread. I already contacted the WL group leader and told her I’ll return as soon as there’s a “no rejoin fee” special which should be soon 🙂

Clothes I don’t like

I recorded some instastories a few months ago because I realised that I’m in jeans 4 days out of every week and yet my wardrobe looks like I wear work clothes 5 days a week instead of just 3. I need to fix that and keep only the things that fit well, make me feel good and that suit my present lifestyle. I’ve already made a start – every time I find something in my wardrobe I’m not wild about, out it goes.

What do you want less of in 2020?

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