{planning} introducing my 2020 diary

2020 diary

Compared to 2018’s back and forth on the subject of my 2019 diary, I am so pleased that this year there was none of that nonsense.

You can read about my 2019 diary here. Interestingly, it’s the most popular post in November 2018 of the 6 months since May 2018! And here are pictures of my 2019 diary in action on Instagram.

I saw all the diaries in my local bookshop, noticed a few that I liked but one stood out – this one. I thought about it for a few days and then went back to get it.

2020 diary

Things I love in a diary are:

  • goals page at the front, and one for each month
  • monthly events calendar at a glance
  • weekly format
  • not too big to carry around

This diary had all of these features and the best is that I’ve already played around with the same format in 2018, so I know it works for me.

I also like how it zips up so I can carry a thin bullet journal with me and zip the whole lot up so that it stays contained in my handbag.

2020 diary

For those who are new to me, I love a weekly planner because my brain thinks in weeks and no matter how pretty the daily planners are, I’d never use them as well as I use a weekly planner.

I also like that this diary has a prayer list if you’re so inclined (you can use it for your weekly intentions, which is almost the same thing!), your priorities for the week and the notes for the week section which I use for some of my weekend to-dos.

Perhaps this will be the year I’ll be able to restrict all my weekend to-dos to that one little section? 🙂

2020 diary

I prepared my diary by adding dates, school terms, public holidays, etc. and I started my to-dos yesterday too.

Do you use a diary? Which one are you using this year?

Here’s a useful post to help you make decisions if you haven’t decided yet.

{2019 review} What didn’t go well in 2019?

As important as it is to celebrate the wins of the year, it’s also important to look at things that didn’t go well so that you can either fix them going forward or go in a completely different direction.

So, what didn’t go well for me in 2019?

Weight and weight loss

I’m aware from my Oprah-watching days that even if nothing changes in terms of eating and exercise, we will put on 5 kg every decade because our metabolism slows down steadily as we age. I haven’t put on 5 kg this year but probably 2 kg, and these have been a very uncomfortable 2 kg. Before you get very confused, I’m a full 12 kg overweight but I’d be over-the-moon happy with losing 4 kg, and then another 5kg.

I’m currently trying to get into a regular habit of “eating for only 12 hours” and want to then move to 11 hours and hopefully rest with eating only within a 10-hour window. I heard a scientist on Dr Chatterjee’s podcast who made a lot of sense, so we’ll see.

Headaches

It might be the case for recency but it feels like I had more headaches from the heat this year. It is just not at all fun once it sets in, so I completely live inside my cold house for any temperatures of 28 C and above. I’m like a reverse cat, looking for cool places in my house to work.

Walks

I’m not even sure I went on 30 walks. For the last 4 years I’ve done 52 – 60 walks a year. There are a couple of reasons why: this has been an incredibly hot year and even thinking about getting outside makes me tense. I manage my 9am Zumba class by getting out, keeping well hydrated and getting straight back if the day is very hot, but anything in addition to that just feels like asking for (headache) trouble.

Photos

In 2019, we moved to a monthly family photo instead of weekly photos of the kids and occasionally of all of us. This was at Dion’s and Connor’s request and yes, there has been less moaning but it has honestly been quite soul-destroying seeing only iphone photos and very little photos of the kids, especially after we’d developed such good habits. Also, there has been a correlation in that because I’m no longer picking up the big camera on a weekly basis, I’m no longer picking up the big camera at all. I have already put a new goal on my list for next year – to schedule at least one photowalk a month with the big camera.

Care to share? What didn’t go well for you this year?

{time} 5 parts to a good evening routine

I have mentioned a time or two before that I’m no good in the morning because I’m a night owl.

This is exactly why I’ve set up my environment for success by doing everything I possibly can to prepare for my day the night before. Here are the building blocks of my evening routine:

lunch

Pack lunch

I typically pack mine and the kids’ lunches ( I don’t always pack theirs) while I’m preparing another meal. The kitchen is already untidy with various foods out so I might as well use the time so that there’s only one clean-up session instead of two.

Choose clothes

Years ago I realized that if I chose my clothes in the morning, I took much longer than if I simply chose and set them out at night.

If I do this, I can still change my mind if I really don’t feel like wearing whatever I set out, but at least I have some idea of where to start.

choose clothes

Set out all my bags and things that need to go to work with me.

Part of being prepared for the next day is to have all my things ready to go.

I have my handbag and laptop bag ready, together with any errand bags, in case I need to drop books off at the library, do a return at the shops, etc.

Family connection time

On the nights I have a 6pm exercise class, I try to spend time with the kids before I leave, otherwise I might only see them right at the end of their supper as they’re preparing for bed.

Other than those nights, we have supper together as a family every evening and then I clean the kitchen while Dion starts the bedtime routine (teeth, Bible, other reading).

I want to throw out a word of caution here – look at the time you spend with your kids throughout the week, not just that day, otherwise you’re likely to feel demotivated if you have a busy couple of evenings. I had someone in my workshops recently who said she couldn’t exercise after work because then she’d never see her kids. We explored it a bit and she realised that she spent plenty of time with them in the mornings and most evenings too. Bedtime is not the only connection time you have.

reading

Time for me

I have a mostly daily rhythm which I try to adhere to, because it serves me so well. I exercise two nights a week, do photos some nights, read for extended periods some nights, and do some side hustle work (coaching, workshop prep, blogging) some nights too.

There are also some nights when I update my budget or catch up with life admin, almost like a power hour. It evens out generally but it becomes very clear really quickly when I need some time to catch up with life because my wallet will be bulging with receipts, or my desk has too much stuff on it, etc. I try to pay close attention to the visible signs that I need some “house admin” time.

If you’re a night owl too, what forms part of your evening routines and rhythms?

PS here’s where you can catch up reading about my morning routine.

Update on The Four Tendencies workshops


Well, friends, I’ve now run 3 workshops and I’m enjoying them so much. My last workshop was a full one with 10 participants – 7 obligers, 1 questioner and 2 rebels. I also had my youngest participant who was only 19 years old. Don’t you wish you’d known at 19 what you know about yourself today?!

I’m also keeping a careful eye on the stats because so far, my stats are different to Gretchen’s survey. I wonder if that is due to the South African slant? 🙂 I have had way more than the 41% obligers but interestingly, my upholder % is far less.

As you know, one of my #19in2019 goals is to run 4 of these workshops, so that’s 75% done. 

Registration is now open for the next Jhb workshop on Saturday, 1 June. Check out the testimonials and reserve your place.

Use code FRIEND to get R50 off each of your tickets when you register two or more people. Bring a friend, spouse, sister, mom…

Here’s the link to read more to see if it’s something you’re interested in, and then to reserve your places. Space is limited to just 10 people, and this is the last in-person workshop this year – don’t miss out.

{goals} Word of year recap and new word for 2019

Before I start the recap, let’s have a quick walk down memory lane and look at my previous words:

2009 – simplicity
2010 – consolidate
2011 – courage
2012 – create
2013 – trust
2014 – shine
2015 – enough
2016 – joy
2017 – give
2018 – fun

My 2018 word was exactly what I needed coming off a year of giving.

I had a great year just by asking myself, “what sounds like fun?

Your mileage will vary, of course, but reaching a stretch savings goal for me is fun. Fun was also signing up and completing two courses, starting a kids’ book club, and re-reading books I loved. I had never been much of a re-reader of fiction before this but I’m looking forward to now taking that forward in my reading life.

Fun meant saying yes to Zumbathons even though it would inconvenience me and eat into my schedule. Fun also meant saying no to dancing in a Spanish show at an already very stressful time of the year for me at work.
Fun meant scheduling regular friend dates and not depending on connecting on the fly.
Fun also meant constantly evaluating what no longer worked, and letting that go. E.g. when I realised I was always bypassing a particular podcast, I simply unsubscribed as it was no longer fun.

When I thought about my 2019 word, I had the word YES in my mind from October. But suddenly as December approached, I felt like I needed to think about the word some more. I wanted to add something about caring for my body, marriage, relationships, etc. so I thought the word might be TEND.

And then I was 98% certain the word was CULTIVATE.

I did all my goal-setting prep work with the word CULTIVATE in mind until I listened to the Secret Library podcast with Susannah Conway and about 8 minutes in, she asked, “what do you need to be in 2019?”

And right there as I was tidying up my bathroom, I said, “I need to be bold”. Suddenly, I felt an excitement, a deep resonance, a yes-ness about that word.

That excitement was what was lacking about cultivate for me. It’s a great word but it didn’t excite me.

Bold (from Dictionary.com): not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring

I then looked up in my Bible app (YouVersion) some of the scriptures that referenced bold

Proverbs 28:1b …the godly are as bold as lions and
Proverbs 10:10 … a bold reproof promotes peace
2 Cor 3:12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold

Yes! This was my word.

So here’s what bold means to me:
1. I need to be bold again at work, take risks and step out. I’m now the longest in tenure in my position in our section and I’ll admit that I sometimes feel a bit stale.
2. I need to be more bold in asking for what I want. I’ve been very much about “holding things loosely” so as not to be vulnerable and get hurt, but actually, I want to be more bold with relationships in saying, “this is also what I need”. E.g. I don’t want shallow, superficial friendships. I want reciprocal friendships where we have fun, yes, but we are also vulnerable and can share our hearts.
3. I want to be bold and take care of my body the way I know I need to – eat better, drink enough water, move more. This is honestly the only area of my life where I’m this undisciplined!
4. I also want to be bold in speaking what is right in situations. That is who I am but in “speaking the truth in love” and “being gentle”, I’ve gotten too soft. Understanding my enneagram number this year has opened my eyes that this is how God made me to be and there is actually nothing wrong with being me.
5. And last but not least, I have totally wigged out on being bold with this part of my life – coaching, speaking, and workshops. I sort of let it be known accidentally that I do this but I don’t boldly market myself even though I know I am good at helping people in this way. An Instagram organising friend said she didn’t even know half the things I do because I never talk about them – it’s true. So even if my marketing efforts fail, this year at least, I’m determined to be persistent and keep being bold about these gifts I’ve been given to serve the world. Please hold me accountable because this is the area I’m most likely to slack on.

So bold is my word, and I’ve chosen tend and yes as supporting words.

Tell me, how did your 2018 word play out for you, and what is your 2019 word of the year? I can’t wait to hear!

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?



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