The habit of reading… and the Four Tendencies

This picture is apt as it was indeed a “change your life” book.

A very kind colleague told me recently that I always inspire her to try new things to make her life better.

This time, I’d told her that by doing almost nothing anyone can get through at least one non-fiction book a month. This is true… using just 20 minutes a day. We are all scrolling Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. for way more time than that – why not take just 20 mins, set your timer and read something to stimulate your brain?!

This is how I read 32 nonfiction titles last year and how I’m already at 27 nonfiction titles this year, all by doing “nothing”. I will surpass 32 books this year, and very easily.

My 20 minutes of reading nonfiction every morning started as @gretchenrubin’s #read21in2021 and is such a good fit for me that I will probably do this forever as I’ve now found a way to get through so many nonfiction titles.

VERY IMPORTANT – the rest of the day (cooking, driving, bedtime reading) is mostly fiction; I tend to read about 60-70% fiction.

Do you want to read more nonfiction? If yes, try the 20-minute timer and tell me how it works for you.

Upholders love the regular scheduling of this hack, Obligers like the accountability of having to check in so please come back and tell me how you’re doing, Obligers. Questioners who feel that they want to read more might want to try it at whichever time of day makes sense for them, and Rebels? If you want to break the IG algorithm and shake up the endless scroll, this hack may suit you. You decide 🙃

PS If you want to follow me on Goodreads and see what I’m reading, invite me to be your friend.

PPS this book was a 5-start book for me

{Goals} So how am I doing with my own goals?

After last week’s post on how to do a half-year review, I have now finished my own half-year review. Let’s break this down with some concrete numbers and then move into the intangibles.

I set a certain number of goals every month and I track the progress at the end. According to my spreadsheet, I’m at 79% of my goals for the year – two months with 90-something, two months with 60-something and a month each with 70- and 80-something. That’s what resulted in the 79% average.

It feels accurate and like with life, some things go very well and others go very badly.

Things going very well:

  • My reading and fun stuff like photos. I have read so many fun and delightful books this year already and am above my target with 60 books to end June.
  • Sleep (I’m averaging 7:30 and a sleep score of 80) and exercise (in a good rhythm of 3 workouts per week – any more and other areas of my life fall over).
  • Work – I had a great performance discussion. This is especially nice since I’m in a new role.
  • Speaking of work, working at the office two days a week since March has been amazing for this extrovert. I am simply happier 🙂
  • Project Upgrade/ Fix. Things other than what I planned have jumped onto the list but the good things is since my project is top of mind, I’m attending to things quickly, even boring fixes like plumbing!
  • The kids seem to have settled well into Grade 7, both for academics, sports and friendships… just in time to go to high school next year 😉
  • We’ve had all the holidays we planned which is honestly surprising since I’m a) very fussy and b) disorganised this year.

Things going badly

  • #rest 22 in 2022 (I rate myself only at a 43% success because I only consciously rest 3 out of 7 days). As Sarah said on the BOBW podcast, I do rest very well by sleeping every night. I’m considering just…giving up!
  • Our laundry routine still needs lots of work. It feels like a small thing but it affects my weekends more than I’d like.
  • We have made 0% progress on renewing our passports or reapplying for the kids’ passports (we got about halfway just prior to 2020 lockdown).
  • I feel more anxious when out with the general public now that South Africa’s mask mandate has been removed.

What do I want for the second half of the year?

  • Better health
    1. I had two scary episodes of vertigo in the last three months; I was actually so sick at work one day it was awful.
    2. I’ve had full bloods done and I am nowhere near menopause yet but headaches, etc. I mean, honestly.
    3. I also have my mammogram scheduled for tomorrow and want to check one more thing with my doctor.
    4. I also need to keep my cholesterol in check; after two elevated reports, I went for proper blood tests and not only was the result good, but my LDL was low and my HDL was high. According to my goals list, I will check this quarterly.
    5. I also want to read/ follow a good menopause doctor – there are so many symptoms…. how do people know if it’s something else or a menopause symptom?
  • To make a good dent in my life admin – I need to upgrade my phone and I already have decision fatigue so I will put it off til I can’t anymore and then just decide 🙂
  • Get updated wills done

Now, I kind-of feel like I need to have a birthday party next month (also, my birthday’s on an actual Saturday this year!) but do I have the wherewithall to organise it?

So… how are you doing on your mid-year review? What has been working well for you? What do you need to change? What are you looking forward to?

{Goals} Here’s how you do your half-year review

I know I’m not the only one who is truly shocked that half the year has already elapsed.

If you don’t currently do a half-year review, I’d like to encourage you to at least think about how the first six months of 2022 have gone.

What went well? What worked?

You can think about both big things like relationships and small things like “I now do a Zumba class on a Wednesday evening instead of on a Tuesday, and that works really well for my schedule”

What didn’t go well? What’s not working?

Same story here. Maybe you tried to get a new job and didn’t get it? That’s possibly a bad example because I think any action is good as you’ve learned something from it.

Don’t dwell on the outcome but do acknowledge it.

What energised you?

Think about the things that brought you joy and gave you energy. Was it getting together with people? Was it the removal of the mask mandate? (fact- this gave me personally more anxiety but I heard from some friends that I’m an outlier) Was it hosting a party?

How is your word of the year working/ not working for you, and why?

Do you even remember the word you chose for 2022? If you do, great! Is that word still working for you? Why? How have you tried to live it during these last 6 months?

If your word is not working for you, for whatever the reason, consider this your big permission slip to change your word. Here’s how to choose a word of the year.

Are you doing any other annual projects? How are those going?

Maybe you’re doing a reading challenge? I’m doing Project Upgrade and trying journalling for the first time.

I hope that’s enough to prompt your thinking for now. I plan to write a newsletter later this week where I will share my half-year review. If you’re not on the list yet, here’s the link to sign up.

{Goals} Line-a-day – a different way of journalling

I’m not a fan of journalling… at all. But I do love a project where I can look back and see what I was up to at the same time last year, three years ago, seven years ago, etc.

An example is the photo challenges I participate in on Instagram with Susannah Conway.

The challenge has a hashtag, for instance #Aprillove2022 and then I usually add my own hashtag to each of my photos, like #marciasaprillove2021.

I love looking back and seeing how different each April has been for the last so many years.

Aside from Instagram journaling (a photo with a short caption, if any) is all I’ve ever been able to keep up with. I’m just not a writing in a journal every day kind of person.

I have been intrigued with line-a-day journals though.

I figured, “how hard can it be?” and so when I saw that a local stationery story carried a line of journals, I bought one.

I started mine on 17 January and so far, so good.

I am still not a daily journaller but I catch up every 3 days or so. The trick for me is:

  1. Keep the journal handy and in plain view (it lives on my desk and doesn’t get put away at all)
  2. Schedule time every weekend to catch up (some weeks I’ve caught up with a whole week in one sitting)
  3. Give myself permission to write just one sentence and only write more if I feel like it.
  4. Keep my phone handy throughout the day so I have some photos to prompt my memory.
  5. Let go of needing it to be insightful or cute (I tell myself that in a few years I’ll appreciate knowing that it rained for 5 solid days in Jhb – unusual for us at this time of year)

I’m still more of an Instagram journaller because I see the world in visuals but I figure that my three months a year with Susannah Conway is just going to have to do.

Are you a daily journaller? Would a line-a-day journal work for you?

PS Laura Tremaine has often said that bullets and lists work just as well as free form writing. I might resort to this method in the busier months 😉

{Goals} 2022 goals – a quarterly update

We’ve spoken a few times about setting quarterly goals which is a really nice way to take stock sooner than just every year and readjust your sails if necessary.

You might even like the idea of seasonal goals.

If you do set annual goals, now is a great time to reevaluate if you…

  • still want to continue as you have been doing
  • know what’s working well for you
  • haven’t even set goals for the year

When I took the time to write down what’s working well, what’s not going well and what I want to work on for the next quarter, I realised that things felt busy for a reason as a lot happened and went well. Here are some things I noted down:

  1. I read more than 30 books so far, and listened to a very fun audiobook at least once a month, like Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and currently I’m listening to Rachel’s Holiday.
  2. We had four high school visits and we’re now ready to apply to high schools when the application portal opens.
  3. I’ve successfully carved out writing time every week (I’ve now had 12 weeks of successful writing time every Sunday).
  4. We took two family holidays – one just after Christmas til into the new year, and one during the March school holidays.
  5. The work from office transition is now going well and helping me to maintain reasonable work hours – yay!
  6. I started Spanish again this year and am loving it.
  7. I am up to date with Project Life from Sept 21 to Feb 22, am almost up to date on my holiday collages (two to go!) and enjoying my photography (delight is helping me!).

There are three things which have not gone well, one of which is friendship. I think that some of my friendships have fallen by the wayside. Some I feel inclined to tend and some I don’t. This is actually growth for me as in years past I’d take all the blame for any distance; now I realise that there are two parts to every relationship.

Still, I need to check that my friend dates are successfully scheduled now that the work-from-office situation is a hybrid one.

A few things I have as goals for the next quarter:

  1. check if my regular friend dates are still on the correct schedule and day
  2. send quarterly treats to my parents
  3. finish my collages
  4. apply to the high schools for both kids
  5. book next holiday!
  6. apply for passports!
  7. update my will (last one done when the kids were 7 months old)

How has the first quarter of 2022 been for you? Did you set goals? Are you going to start setting goals now? What worked well and what didn’t?

The week that was…weekly reflections 11

St. Patrick’s Day 2022 – Johannesburg

Well, that was a fun week – the first week my WFO/ WFH schedule went exactly to plan.

  • St. Patrick’s Day supper went off well. Johannesburg’s weather also played along and was grey, overcast and raining in the early morning.
  • I always listen to classical music when I’m writing because I can’t listen to words when I’m writing words, and yet I still need something to block out noise (in my head). Today I chose Tchaikovsky and I was reminded that the Chinese Dance from The Nutcracker Suite is a dance I’ve won prizes for before… in my youth. It’s so fun how a piece of music can take you right back to a memory in the past.
  • I had two bad nights of sleep. Usually I sleep very, very well and seldom wake once I’m asleep. This week, I woke in the early hours of the morning – one morning at 2 am and the other at 3 am. After an hour of tossing and turning, I got up and read my book, a much better and more restful idea than staring at the darkness, thinking.
  • Speaking of reading, I read A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino. If you haven’t read any of her books, (I think) they’re all set in Italy and the way she writes makes you want to jump on a plane and go visit immediately.
  • Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes arrived this week so I started listening to Rachel’s Holiday, the first one. It’s a 16-hour listening experience and I’m enjoying every single minute!
  • The work balance continues to go well except for Friday night but then again, I always try to clear as much as I can before I go on leave. Yes, I’m on leave and we are going away as the kids are also on school holidays.
  • I plan to write a lot, read a lot, reflect on the first three months of 2022 and see where a reset is needed, catch up on family phone calls, and connect with my little family.

How was your week? Have you started thinking about the tweaks you want to make going into the second quarter?

How I’ll be setting goals in 2022

Before I tell you about the change, maybe I should tell you how I used to set goals.

I have a number of areas of my life and I’d set goals in each of these areas every month, e.g. family, friends, finances/ home, fun/ play, fitness & health, work, Organising Queen/ coaching, etc.

I think you’ve already worked out the reason I’d end up with at least 30 goals every month. Fine in a pre-pandemic world but it started feeling like it was a lot and I was adding extra pressure to my life.

For this year, that feels too much. It doesn’t feel as fun as it did a few years ago to set 36 goals a month and I LOVE GOALS.

I’m an upholder so I started asking clarifying questions, like what makes sense for me to do, and that’s when I arrived at my answer.

I decided to set goals with my word of the year (delight) and my work word (balance), and then another top two things on my mind for that month. For January, this was home (I mentioned before that we’ve had a few changes) and health (getting back to basics with eating and establishing my exercise routines).

With this pared-down version, I ended up with 20 goals for January and I will get to almost all of them.

I now feel more accomplished (we all need motivation) and inspired, and much more focussed!

A note on the mind map – I love starting any planning with a mind map because it gets me out of my head to just “free flow” and when I’m clear on how I want to move forward, if I want, I can then make a list. These days I just leave my mind map as my goals list.

How are you setting goals for 2022? Have you set goals for February yet?

If you feel like you want to aim for a little something, why don’t you consider using just one or two areas of your life to start.

PS I’m available for four tendencies coaching if you want to understand how to make your tendency work for you this year, both to reach your goals or just to improve your work or personal life. Contact me now.

How to choose your word of the year

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll know that I have chosen a word of the year for a long time, in fact, every year since 2008. This is year 15! If you scroll down to the end of this post, you’ll see a list of all my previous words.

Gretchen and Elizabeth, on the Happier Podcast, use either a word or theme for the year. 

It’s all good; the idea is that your word will guide you, inspire you and motivate you.

So how do you chose a word? There are many ways – also, let’s be honest, sometimes my word has come to me in a flash, sometimes it’s taken a few weeks of pondering, sometimes I think I have it and I change it at the last minute when “trying on” my word doesn’t feel right, and sometimes I’ve known months in advance.


Here are some thoughts and questions which I hope will guide you.

  1. Your word can be more than one word; it can be a phrase or even a short sentence.
  2. Your word should call you to something (perhaps you want to create more of something in your life that is currently lacking)
  3. What do you need? What do you want? How do you want to feel? What do you think is lacking in your life? That may be your word.
  4. Your word doesn’t have to be cool or trendy. One year (the year after my twins were born) my word was consolidate (seemingly the most boring word of all) because I needed to get back to basics in myself, home and routines.
  5. Your word might feel like it is the exact opposite of who you are. Go with it. Last year my word was play. Playful is not who I am naturally but I needed some lightheartedness from the pandemic.
  6. Is there an area of your life that could use an extra boost? You might need a word just for your work or for your family.

(at this point, some of you already know what your word is but some need more help)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Reflect on 2021 – what worked, what didn’t, what needs to change, what do you want more/ less of?
  2. Write these answers down on paper.
  3. Look over your answers and see the words that seem to pop out. Or, see if any themes emerge (maybe there’s a lot pointing to health, or to taking charge, or boundaries).
  4. Write down all the possible words. Do you land on one that resonates deeply? Great. If not, keep looking. Check for synonyms in the dictionary.
  5. When it feels like you have your word, share it with a friend. Does it feel right?  Great. If not, maybe sit with it for a few days.
  6. Remember this is a moment in time. You can change your word anytime. A podcaster lost her dad and changed her word in September because she said, “now is the time of restoration for me”.

Please share your word with me; I love to hear everyone’s words!

{goals} Half-year 2020 goals update

We’re half way through the year and it’s a really good time to talk about goals.

If you haven’t seen this post where I ask if there’s even a point to goals anymore, take a few minutes and pop on over. There’s a lot of different ways to think about this time and still feel a little bit accomplished.

Let’s talk about my original 20 in 2020 list

I took some time to update my list this weekend and much to my surprise, I’m on track with exactly 10 out of 20 of those goals done. Much of the things that are undone involve travel and people things, so I’m under no illusion that I’ll even end on 15 but here’s to the half-year mark.

Thankfully I was able to pivot with the workshops so I had two in-person and 3 virtual. There are three workshops left – two Four Tendencies and one Five Love Languages. The Four Tendencies workshop on 22 August will work for those in South Africa, Europe and the USA.

Now, let’s talk about my 19 in Covid-19 list. A few things to note:

  • I actually put 20 things on the list
  • I made a list that does not depend on people or travel.
  • It may be a more boring list, but it’s all within my control.
  • I made the list on 18 April and (naive Marcia!), believed that it would only be needed for up to 3 months. We now know there’s a new normal we all have to get used to (more in the next couple of posts) but I’m still aiming to finish by 18 July.

Here’s a picture of my list…

And the good news is I’m up to nearly 17 out of these 20 that are complete. I’ve read 4 books from my bookshelf; and 28 overall as at the time of writing, but will finish those last two books by 18 July.

I have two questions for you, friends:

  • How are you going with your 2020 goals?
  • Did you make a 19 for Covid-19 list, and how is that going? Did you make your list to replace the 2020 one or just for a specific period like mine?

(for noting, I’ll have to make a list for the remainder of the year again – this is the first year I’m making THREE goals lists :))

A few posts to help with your pandemic goals

{planning} 3 things to do to prepare for 2020

1. Review 2019

Take your bullet journal or any piece of paper. Write these headings:

What went well?
What could have been better?
What have I learned?
What do I want to let go of as I move into 2020?

2. Anticipate 2020

What do you want more of in 2020?
How do you want to feel?
What do you want less of?
What do you want to learn? (I hope more about your tendency :))

3. Make a 20 in 2020 list

Here are a few ideas. Use one, some or none 🙂

1. Choose a few things you can get done fairly quickly (I had “buy a new watch” on my list this year; what about trying a new restaurant?)
2. Choose a few fun things just for you (I’m putting a course, Discern and Decide, on my list, as well as listening to the audio version of a favourite novel from 2018)
3. Choose a few things you can do with other people (go see a movie with the book club, go on a holiday, go hike a specific trail, etc.)
4. Choose a few necessary things (get rid of excess furniture, declutter your clothes, declutter excess kitchen stuff, etc.)
5. Choose a few stretch things (do a two-week eating reset, apply for a new job, finish a photobook)

Tip – if you have a good mix, it will feel satisfying when you get them done. If you’re on Instagram, click the hashtag #19in2019 to see what other people did this year, and to get ideas for next year.


Bonus – use the printables on my website

Let’s Do This 2020 – to close off 2019 and set some intentions for 2020. It’s free and the shortest quickest printable I’ve seen around. I know that some of these 20-page printables, while beautiful and useful, can seem like just one more enormous thing on your to-do list.

20in2020 list – this year, I designed a list specifically for each Tendency. Yes, there’s one for upholders, obligers, questioners and rebels. I would love you to download them, try them out and let me know how they work (or don’t!) for you. And then, post them to Instagram or Facebook and tag me – I’d love to see your lists and get some ideas.

Hope you found these tips useful to prepare for 2020!
Have you downloaded the free 20in2020 list yet?

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