How to have the best Christmas ever


I started reading all my old posts about Christmas and realised that I have actually said everything I want to say, so let me link to those posts.

Easy Christmas decorating

Lower your Christmas expectations especially with social media

The Christmas Card controversy

Keep Christmas simple but meaningful

Clever gift ideas for Christmas and throughout the year

and last but definitely not least, my favourite Christmas post ever!

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

What does the “best Christmas” look like for you?

Tell me all your questions and I’ll answer in the comments.

Let’s talk about values

Connection

I was reminded of something I love talking about recently – values.

Values are the things that shape our decisions and therefore, our actions.

When we feel conflicted or resentful about something, 90% of the time it’s because our values are in conflict or not showing up clear in the situation.

For example, maybe you’ve had a conversation with someone and you have this niggling feeling afterwards. If you stop and ask yourself, “what’s really going on here?” (a question I’ve started asking myself a lot), and you give yourself a few minutes, you’ll know what it is.

  • Maybe you didn’t stand up for someone who was being discussed, and one of your highest values is integrity?
  • Maybe you felt put upon and that resentment indicates your value of family is being pushed aside?Maybe you realised that actually no, you are not feeling connected and that’s what’s missing in your life?

Connection

I have a whole section on values in the Discover Yourself course (use code MARCIA til the end of August and you’ll get 30% off  the price) where I walk you properly through a values exercise.

However, if you want the quick version now, start like this:rite down 10 of your highest values

  1. narrow those down to your top 5
  2. now choose your top 3, and then your top 1.

bonus – ask your partner/ a friend to do the exercise too and compare notes.

What are some of your values? Are you living out these values in your life, work, with your family?

 

Creativity

(the words underneath the 3 photos in this post represent 3 of my top 10 values)

PS It’s interesting to me (now!) that the mantra for the Upholder is “discipline is my freedom”. I would add, “self-imposed discipline is my freedom: 😉

PPS I do work with clients to take them through a comprehensive values exercise to aid them with decision-making and understanding why they behave in the way they do. If you’re interested, please send me an email.

What a bullet journalling experiment taught me

A few months ago I decided to make a list of all the podcasts I listened to during that week.

I didn’t choose a particular week; it was simply a random week without any forethought.


At the end of the week, I totalled up the time spent listening and I had a big shock:

11 hrs 45 minutes

A few thoughts flashed through my mind:

  • I could have listened to 1 long fiction book or 1.5 non-fiction books.
  • I worked from home 3 days that week and about 3 hours a day is not unreasonable. I also listen to podcasts while tidying and organizing on the weekend.
  • Hmmm. What would happen if I tried some new things?

This is fascinating because I’m both the subject of the study and the scientist.

I also have a phone storage problem because I only have a 16 GB iPhone which means I have to delete photos off my phone twice a month. I actually don’t mind this because it keeps me in a good photo routine.

I also have to be diligent to only download one audio book at a time and only my subscribed podcasts.

Do you know what I decided as a result of all this thinking?

I unsubscribed from all but two podcasts.

No prizes if you guessed one of those podcasts is Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The other is the 5-word prayers daily with Lisa Whittle.

The other podcasts are still there but they’re below the subscription fold so I see them update but I only consciously download an episode when I’m ready to listen.

This decision…

1) freed me up because I don’t feel any podcast guilt (similar to Feedly guilt when you see 172 unread blog posts ;)) and in true upholder fashion,

2) I decide how much I want to listen to and when, and

3) if I don’t feel excitement about the episode, I don’t even download it. Before, the episodes would drop automatically and I’d feel almost compelled to listen immediately because of the aforementioned storage issue.

4) I’ve also listened to lot more audio books!

Yes, this post is about me listening to podcasts but it’s really about tracking behavior and making changes to align to your goals.

I have a few questions for you:

Have you ever tracked your time for a day or week? You’ll be surprised how much time you spend doing mindless tasks.

What have you learned as a result?

Is there something niggling at you? perhaps you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram?

(our pastor said something this weekend that has stuck with me – people spend approximately 4 hours a day on social media, and other people are making money from those same people scrolling their feeds. Wow!)

On being intentional with internet usage

I have spoken a little about this on my InstaStories but we are now on router number 5 in the last 7 months.

Our routers keep getting struck by lightning. We do have one of those lightning surge adaptors but, to be honest, when I follow the instructions on the pamphlet, the internet doesn’t work, so obviously something’s going wrong.  I then attach it how it makes sense to me (which is also incorrect).

After the last new router, I just decided I cannot go on like this so now I manually switch on the router and insert the phone cable every morning. And when I go to bed, I do the same thing in reverse.

When it starts raining and there’s lightning, we switch off everything and so far, so good – the router’s still working.

What this has done for me:

  1. Intentional living because when it does rain, I actually get real things done in the house instead of getting caught in an internet coma.
  2. Better sleep because of not scrolling a screen before bedtime
  3. More real reading at night especially as the evenings cool down because I just switch the internet off early realizing that I’m probably not going to want to get up later to switch it off.
  4. Less mindless scrolling in the mornings when I wake up and many mornings, I just grab my book to read and only switch on the internet an hour or so later because I have to physically get up and out of bed.

The only thing is – I often get to my phone and see 18 or 25 WhatsApp messages. I actually just get to those whenever because as you know, I’m not a big fan of responding to anything on demand 🙂

Is there anything currently in your life that is technically an inconvenience, but yet holds special positives too?

Where are your yellow flags showing up?

One Sunday morning a few years ago I was enjoying a mug of tea while reading blogs.

I happened upon a friend’s blog where she mentioned her hard drive crashed and she lost everything. Fortunately for her, her husband backs up weekly.

Right there and then (I didn’t even finish reading her post!), I got up, fetched my external hard drive and backed up my computer.

You see, my computer had been running a bit slow and that, for me, is a yellow flag.

The next thing that would happen is that programmes would stop responding and one day I’d find a blue screen or something similarly scary.

I’d be kicking myself then because when my computer completely stops working, that’s my red flag.

We all have yellow flags in our lives.

They’re usually about much bigger things than just a computer (although that’s big in my life – the thought of losing all my lovely photos makes me feel physically sick).

Things like our health, our relationships, our work, our finances.

Let’s talk about health.

Yellow flags are constant feelings of being stressed, headaches, pain, anxiety, etc.

They are indicators that we need to deal with something in our lives.

I was recently in a job that was very stressful for me. I knew I was feeling stress but a yellow flag for me was when my doctor picked up something in my bloodwork indicating the stress.

I tried to manage the stress as best as I could but when nothing had changed for me physiologically 6 months later, I knew I had to make a drastic change, so I left.

As a friend said to me, “you can always get another job – you’re smart and talented – but you can’t always get your health back”. Too true.

If you ignore these yellow flags, they could lead to a red flag where you’re forced to stop and take note of things, like a serious disease, an operation, and so on.

So have a think.

If you’re honest with yourself, are there any yellow flags in your life you need to deal with?

1. Constant feelings of stress and overwhelm?
2. An odd noise in your car
3. A relationship that needs tending
4. Finances that need to be looked at
5. Boundaries that need to be discussed

Can you identify any yellow flags in your life? How can you take a step or two to deal with it?

Being intentional with friendship

What does intentional friendship mean to me?

It means being purposeful about cultivating relationship and connection with like-minded friends. It also means making time for friends even though it might not be convenient. Read half of my friendship manifesto here.

What does intentional friendship mean to you?

As an upholder, these are some of the things I do to be intentional with my friendships

  1. I decided what I needed to do to feel happy about seeing people enough, and once I had clarity, I got busy executing on it. I’m an extrovert and I want to have at least 4 friend dates a month, preferably 6.
  2. I schedule recurring friend dates to connect with some friends and I leave space to meet up with about 2 – 3 friends every month outside of those set times.
  3. I am the initiator about 90% of the time. I would prefer if that percentage was different but I’m looking on the bright side in that at least if I initiate, I actually get my extrovert fix in. I will say that I only initiate these days as much as I am comfortable. I have learnt over the last 2 – 3 years that I am enough and if I don’t feel like I’m getting any reciprocity, I won’t keep inviting.
  4. Monitoring my friend dates works for me. You can read more about my friend spreadsheet here. I’m sure it seems a bit over the top to some of you, but it really works for me, and helps me to be more intentional. Also, as an upholder, the strategy of monitoring realllllllly works for me.

Obligers

Here’s how you make yourself accountable to your friendship needs. Set up recurring friend dates (first Wed of every month, or last Saturday of every month) and you’ll naturally pitch up.

To prevent your boundaries being crossed, also decide what you want and don’t want from your friendships, e.g. since my budget is Rx per month, I can’t eat at restaurants with mains of more than Rx. Otherwise you’ll just say yes and feel resentful the entire time.

Yes, a friendship is give and take, but since obligers lean towards meeting other people’s expectations first, boundaries are definitely something to bear in mind.

Questioners

Questioners are the first ones to abandon friendships that no longer work for them. They don’t have problems hanging on like some of us …. but would always want to make sure that they’re in a specific friendship for the right reasons.

I know a questioner who is very specific about meet-ups. If people cancel on her at the last minute, she gives them one more chance and then stops initiating. I know another questioner who is also very clear that some friendships will probably not continue once circumstances change, e.g. work friendships.

Rebels

Rebels approach friendship according to their identity. If they think of themselves as someone who makes time for their friends, for example, then they will live up to that identity. if they’ve decided that they’re terrible at initiating, then they just won’t initiate.

As a rebel, consider defining your friendship identity. Or not 😉

If you’re friends to a rebel (I have two friends! possibly 3!), try not to box them in. They need their freedom!

And that’s it for now.

Tell me again, if I don’t know, what is your tendency?

How can you be more intentional with your friendships?

What I want more of this year

This is always a fun post to mindmap and then to write. It’s even more fun when I ask friends and colleagues and I hear everyone’s responses.

This year in 2018, I want more…

  1. consistent sleep

I’m getting to my sleep goal but last year I’d skimp on sleep during the week and make up on the 3 weekend nights. This year I want to work on getting more consistent good sleep.

2. good, discussable books in book club

A good book is not necessarily a highly discussable book, especially if everyone liked all the characters. Some of my favourite book club meetings have been the ones where our ratings are all over the place 🙂 My favourite fiction book of last year was not well received by 60% of our members at that meeting.

3. recurring friend dates

I put the scheduling on my January goals list and have already scheduled some recurring friend dates for the year. This doesn’t mean I’m not open to spontaneity – of course I am – it just means I’ll at least have 4 times of connection every month.

4. to deal immediately with emails, decisions, etc.

In the name of crafting the most tactful email, I have been known to put off answering an email quickly. This year, I want to make sure I have a better balance of tact and speed 🙂

5. organisation at work

I’ve gotten a bit lax with some of my work routines that I know work wonderfully for me when I use them. This year, I bought myself a separate diary to use at work and I’m doing weekly planning (I’ve always done my daily to-do list) the same as I do at home, and even monthly goals 🙂

6. more going out of stuff than coming in

I listened to Lisa Whittle on the Jamie Ivey podcast and she said that she has a rule for herself – if she brings something into her house, she has to let go of 5 things. This means she has to really, really, REALLY love the thing that she brings in. I just love this idea so much and I want to adopt a looser version of it this year.

7. more family time

Always. I’m so aware that my kids are getting bigger and I want us to enjoy our times together even more. I usually tidy the kitchen and pack my lunch for the next day while Dion does bedtime reading, but I’ve started doing a quick tidy, joining the bedtime reading and then packing the lunch afterwards.

Do tell me at least one thing you want more of this year.

PS Here’s my what I want more of post for last year

Good news – you get to choose

I have a couple of coaching spots available. If you’ve been wishing/ hoping/ dreaming for more time and less overwhelm, this is your time. Email me and if we’re a good fit, I’d love to work with you.

The first rule of time management (and life, really) is realising that you have a choice.

Often people tell me they don’t have a choice because of x, y and z reasons.

And actually, that’s not true.

You always have a choice.

Of course these choices are sometimes Super Hard but they’re always available. It also takes courage to admit that those choices exist in the first place.

Let me explain.

1. I’ve said before that I can’t go to Weigh-Less and gym on a Saturday morning. Then I realised that I was lying to myself. Technically I could do it. It’s just that it was super hard and really tight time-wise with the kids’ breakfast and gym.

But I could do it if I really wanted to wake up 30 minutes earlier.

2. A lady told me she didn’t have time to do anything for herself.

When we explored a little more, she did, in fact, have time, but she was too tired at night after the chores were done.

It’s not true that she doesn’t have a choice. She does. She could, technically, do something for herself first if she wanted to and then finish the household chores. She could even leave some of those chores for her husband.

It takes courage to admit, “I’m choosing to do household chores with my time instead of my own hobbies”.

3. Still someone else was talking to me about a work situation last year.

She said she didn’t have a choice in leaving her employment because she couldn’t find another job.

I suggested that she accept responsibility for where she was at. To stop complaining and realise if anything was to change, she had to make it happen.

If she didn’t want to go out and find something else, then she had to consciously say to herself, “I’m choosing to stay at my current company because of X, Y and Z” or otherwise realise she had a choice.

Well, this same lady sent me an email last week. Apparently I kicked her butt and she decided to go out and look for another job. She told me she was so happy and was glad I talked tough to her.

Your coaching challenge is to…

1. Identify 1 – 3 situations where you’ve been saying “I can’t” or “I don’t have a choice”.

2. Change your words and say, “I’m choosing to do __________ because of ________________” When we tell ourselves the truth, we realise that we either have to accept our circumstances or and it will empower us to change our words and start making different choices.

I fully realise that this is not a popular thing to tell you because all of us don’t like facing our stuff, but I know that in my own life, when I’ve accepted that everything is a choice, I’ve been happier doing or not doing things simply because I felt more empowered.

Where have you realised recently that you have a choice?

Lovely things to do this year

I have some routines I like to do around my birthday every year which I thought I’d talk about and link to, so that you can be reminded to do them too, if you’re so inclined.

If your birthday’s at a completely different time of year, put a link to this post in your calendar, a week or so before or after your birthday.

If you’re reading on a mobile device like an iphone, tap the square with an arrow pointing up, copy and paste the link into your calendar.

Here’s my annual birthday routine:

1. Organise a celebration. I believe that every year on this earth is a blessing so I like to celebrate my birthday every year.

2. Do a birthday review. This year I changed one or two questions but the main 4 questions are the same as my monthly review: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what did I learn, what do I need to let go of?

As a reader mentioned in the comments last year, it is a brave thing to do, to face up to things may not have consciously considered, but it’s always good to take an honest assessment of things. If you need some hand holding as you do this work, please book a coaching session with me.

3. Make a list of lovely things to do this year. This is purely a fun list 🙂

I put things on this list like books I’ve always wanted to read, restaurants to try, fun things to do like take a photowalk with a friend to take photos of the jacarandas, things I want to do with Dion or the kids, and recipes I’ve wanted to try.

So far on my list I have to (finally) buy new frames because I’ve had my current frames for about 3 – 4 years (lenses have changed, but I kept the frames).

I also have some fun books I want to read, and I think I finally need to read the Total Money Makeover. I also want to listen to Andre Agassi’s Open.

Keep checking my Instagram because I’ll be sure to post my list when it’s done.

I have a friend who schedules a massage on her birthday, another who always takes a day’s leave to “think about her life” and still another who books all her appointments like gynae, eyes, mammogram in her birthday month. Fun, thoughtful and practical.

Please tell me about your birthday rituals and if you’re not signed up to my list yet, please do so if you want the free “lovely things to do this year” printable. My next newsletter goes out on Tuesday 15th.

Have you done your annual birthday review yet?

If it has to be done, you might as well enjoy it

I’m learning more and more that everything in life comes down to perspective.

And we can either get really annoyed with things, do something about them or do the best we can.

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A few examples:

1. I really don’t enjoy driving in peak hour traffic at all. And that’s a very polite way of stating how I feel.

So since I have to do it, I make it as enjoyable as I can – I listen to podcasts or audio books on the way to work.

It has to be done so that’s one way to enjoy it.

These days I actually look forward to my days in the car to listen to a current book or catch up on my podcasts.

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2. Related to driving, some days I don’t have early morning meetings. Instead of still rushing into the office, I take some time and have slow mornings.

Once D and the kids leave, I make a mug of tea and go read my book for a half hour before getting ready for work. It’s such a gift in my busy day because it feels really decadent, almost like I’m on holiday.

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3. I don’t know why I hate packing my lunch bag so much. It’s got to get done though because we don’t have a canteen at work and no way am I walking to the mall to spend unnecessary money on food.

So I make sure I’m listening to a podcast and I focus on how all that walking up and down my kitchen is also good for my Fitbit steps 🙂

Over to you!

What do you have to do, but hate doing?

How can you make it more enjoyable? Music? Get a friend (or kid) involved?

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