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Journalling for Anxiety

In case you haven’t notice – I journal.

Journalling for anxiety is one of the reasons I started, and definitely the main reason I keep at it.

For everything from organisation and brain dumping to creative outlet and gratitude log, my Bullet Journal has – quite literally – saved my life.

When you’re living with mental illness, or journalling for anxiety specifically, this practice can help control your symptoms and improve your mood by:

  • Helping you prioritise your day-to-day problems, fears, and concerns.
  • Tracking any symptoms over the longer term, so that you can recognise your personal triggers, and learn ways to better control them.
  • Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk, and identifying negative thoughts and behaviours.

Where to start though?

I dunno about you, but sitting and staring at a blank screen or a sheet of paper is often quite anxiety inducing, rather than soothing.

The Right Tools

First off, make sure your Journal system is something you’re comfortable with.

I like the Bullet Journal because it helps me keep everything together in one place, so I can spot patterns in context of the rest of my life.

Learn More about the Bullet Journal Here.

Secondly, an excellent support when you’re journalling for anxiety is ‘The Anxiety Journal Prompts Generator’.

It’s a serious little tool for generating journalling prompts for helping you deal with your anxiety.

It’s not a therapy or a treatment, and beyond potentially helping you to journal more resourcefully, they don’t make any big claims that it will definitely help you.

BUT…

What the app does do is translate certain Mindfulness/Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) coping strategies into positive, loving, and forgiving writing exercises for anxiety.

The idea isn’t to change the way you journal, but to use the Anxiety Journal Prompts Generator for positive guided journal prompts when you think they might be helpful.

For example:

Do the words “I’m unlovable” mean anything to you? Begin by writing a message of compassion to yourself, valuing your inherent worth as a human being.

What does the part of you that wants you to Have Patience With Yourself, want you to say right now?

In what ways have you felt Angry with yourself recently? Write a message to yourself from a place of forgiveness, that helps you to let go of blame.

https://journalmonkey.com/anxiety-journal-prompts/

You can just keep clicking the ‘Get Prompts’ button and see what shows up.

Go to the Anxiety Journal Prompts Generator.

Comment below and let us know how you use a Journal to cope with Anxiety? Or any other reasons you have for Journalling!

Meditation Daily Challenge in Our Facebook Group

OK, so it’s not an official ‘Meditation Daily Challenge’… but over in the Facebook Group I’ve started posting about keeping up with my daily meditation practice.

Forming and keeping a habit can be hard, especially when there’s mental health issues in the mix. So, I thought we’d get some accountability and support going in the group.

My first post about it went something like this…

So, September was shit. I stopped my daily meditation and have slid into October in a mental health nosedive. These things are not unrelated. I’d love an accountability buddy (or a few) to get back on track with. I’ll post my morning profile screenshot and you can join in the comments with how you’re getting on in your practice. I use the Calm app and they gave me 5 guest passes for 30 day free trial https://www.calm.com/gp/ys3she (not an affiliate, I just like the app!) If you want to use that til they’re gone 😊 but feel free to meditate however is best for you! Let’s just do it every day?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/dotheworksystem/

And I’ve been posting each morning (usually!) since then.

Accountability in a Meditation Daily Challenge

Accountability is really important when taking on any daily challenge… but why does it have the power to move the needle from failure to success?

  • We perform better under observation.
  • We get honest feedback from others.
  • It forces us to follow through on commitments.
  • It creates firm deadlines for important tasks and habits.
  • It keeps us grounded in reality.
  • We can learn from each others’ successes (and mistakes!).
  • It prevents little problems from turning into big ones.

(Read More Here)

So far, it’s been really helping me stay on track again, and Regular Routine is so essential to my well being!

Now granted, it’s only been a few days, really, in the grand scheme of things…

Meditation Daily Challenge Progress - 8 days

But there’s a couple of awesome folk who are stepping up to the Meditation Daily Challenge with me, and it’s great to check in each day and get that feedback on everyone’s progress.

Want to Join Us? – Click Here for the Facebook Group!

And if you’re seeing this after October… please feel free to join the group anyway, and throw up a post asking for an accountability buddy for this habit (or any others you want to get locked in).

Daily Affirmations – Do They Work?

I’m a bit of a skeptic, by nature, believe it or not, and daily affirmations sounded pretty hokey to me, at the start.

Things have to make logical sense to me before I can really invest in them, get behind the ideas, put it into play in my own life.

That being said, experience has taught me that there is definitely more to this world, and beyond this one, than we currently understand. More than can be explained by logic and the factual reality we believe we are experiencing.

Psychology has taught me that there are ways in which we can create our own reality.

“So much of our experience in life is a direct result of the thoughts we have. When something good or bad happens, we have thoughts about it, and those thoughts will lead to feelings, good, bad, or indifferent. Those feelings might make us take action, and those actions are going to be good, bad, or indifferent as well. Since all of these life experiences and actions originate in our brain, and our brain is like layers of software that spits out thoughts, what if we could change the software? Do we have to swallow everything that comes out of our brain hook, line and sinker? Is our brain so perfect that we are absolutely 100 percent certain our thoughts are always spot on perfect about everything we think about?”

Who Is Programming Your Brain? – Psychology Today Article

So, what if we started to actively programme our own brains?

This is where Daily Affirmations come in…

There is a wealth of information online discussing daily affirmations, and whether they work or don’t work. Google that shit and see for yourself.

At the end of it all though, you’ll probably find as I did; that the majority most successful people in the world – in a wide range of fields and disciplines – use some variation of daily affirmations, every day.

And there’s reams of advice and examples about what to actually say, write, and/or think for your daily affirmations.

1,132 Positive Affirmations: The Ultimate List of Daily Mantras

With regard to the “Do They Work?” question in this article, I can only tell you that they are working for me.

My Daily Affirmations

This is part of my summer morning routine – which may change, admittedly, when we get in the back to school cycle again come September.

For now though (and I recommend it especially if you’re trying to establish new programming), I’m writing my affirmations out each morning.

They go into my bullet journal each day. I include my goals for the month, and the daily affirmations, right alongside my daily tasks.

The affirmations themselves are mainly prosperity and abundance based, currently, but also include self worth (“I serve, I deserve”) and self care (“Rest is necessary”) elements.

As I write them, I say them out loud, creating a feedback loop from eye to ear to mouth to hand to mind, and around again.

I use my yellow pen for goals, my gold pen for affirmations… except for the one I’m writing out multiple times each day.

That one goes in red. It says:

“My affirmations work for me, whether I believe in them or not.”

Well, no harm in having a solid foundation programmed into the brain code. Right?!

Learn How to Start Your own Bullet Journal

How To Create Your Summer Morning Routine

You might think of a summer morning routine as having a more relaxed, low energy kinda vibe; and they can be, for sure. But we need some structure too!

When you’ve got kids (or at least when everyone around you seems to be moving in the same school season rhythm), it’s all well and good to be disciplined and structured in the mornings.

I mean, you might not be… but you can probably see a more pressing need at least for a bit of order and routine when it’s below freezing outside and the very last thing you want to do is set foot on that cold floor and start your day.

For some of us, getting the kids to school on time is a rather pressing need on those wintry mornings, and it keeps us on track. But then the summery mornings hit… and that impetus disappears like snow under sunshine.

I found myself in this position at the end of May, after a month long illness when my usual routines were all askew anyway, and to be honest, I floundered.

Knowing it was coming, I tried to mentally prep myself for it. Nearing the end of my last Bullet Journal and setting up a new one for June, I started with a brain dump of all the things I’d IDEALLY like to have going on in a Summer morning routine.

This is what I came up with (the parts in pink pen came first)…

Morning Routine Brain Dump in the Bullet Journal

From there, I moved over to the blue pen, and began numbering out the order I wanted to do them in, and blocks for where the things might be happening, eg. Block A is while I’m still in bed, before I get up.

It got quite messy, but that is really OK.

A Bullet Journal is supposed to be functional first, and it can be pretty or creative or arty or neat after that, if you want it to be. It’s really, truly alright to mess it the feck up any time you want or need to.

That being said, my next phase was to sort out the Summer morning routine page so that it was usable and didn’t make me itch trying to read and make use of it.

Summer Morning Routine Sample

As you can see by my “Use the Loo” entry, I got very specific and step by step – including everything I could think of and trying to move from one space to the next in a natural flow of what made sense for each item and area.

Now.

We’re in week 2 of June as I write this, and I can honestly say I have yet to complete an ideal summer morning routine, as per this plan.

I’ve hit some of it some mornings, and most of it on some other mornings. And I’m ok with that.

This Summer Morning Routine, Schedule, Plan or whatever you want to call it is really just a guide.

My main problem is that I faff about, not really knowing or remembering what I should be doing or what I want to be doing (thanks, Trauma Brain!), and end up reverting to procrastinating on the phone.

Sometimes that’s on social media, but most often it’s work stuff that I just fall into before I even get out of bed, and that is just no good for me (or really, for anyone else I’m trying to serve or support – it’s not my best work!).

With this plan, I have something easy to refer to, as my Bullet Journal is always to hand… because part of my night time routine is to bring the BuJo and some water up to bed with me!

If you need a hand setting one up for yourself – you can check out this class – Bullet Journal for Beginners.

Hope that’s been helpful!

Procrastination… or, Overchoice?!

We all know the feeling. So much to do, so many places to be and things to accomplish, so we do… nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Ok, maybe not entirely nothing. We might convince someone they are wrong on the internet in a heated Facebook debate. Or, find a terribly important thing to clean thoroughly, in minute detail. Or, give ourselves repetitive strain injury because we refresh the Instagram feed so often.

Sound familiar?

Then begins the downward spiral of further overwhelm, panic, guilt and shame, leading to further overwhelm, panic, guilt and shame… Yeah. You get it.

The thing is, it might not be procrastination. Or rather, it might be procrastination due to overchoice. What’s that, you say?

Overchoice (choice overload) occurs when many equivalent choices are available, and making a decision becomes overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice.

Having too many approximately equally good options is mentally draining because each option must be weighed against alternatives to select the best one.

It’s very much related to Decision Fatigue – the deteriorating quality of decisions in any given day or other long session of decision making. We have a limited number of quality decision making ‘tokens’ each day, as it turns out. And when we spend them, they’re gone, til we can re-set and accrue new tokens (ie, sleep).

Author Tim Ferriss recommends a Choice Minimal Lifestyle, with 6 basic rules or formulas that can be used to limit overchoice and decision fatigue, and seriously cut down on the resulting procrastination.

  1. Set rules for yourself so you can automate as much decision-making as possible (see the rules I use to outsource my e-mail to Canada as an example of this)
  2. Don’t provoke deliberation before you can take action.
  3. Don’t postpone decisions or open “loops,” to use GTD parlance, just to avoid uncomfortable conversations.
  4. Learn to make non-fatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible.
  5. Don’t strive for variation—and thus increase option consideration—when it’s not needed. Routine enables innovation where it’s most valuable.
  6. Regret is past-tense decision making. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret.

Why not start this path by setting a very simple set of steps you can do in an unthinking Morning Routine? Same hygiene practice, same sort of clothes (or set them out the night before, or 5 outfits ready on hangers at the weekend!), same breakfast.

Try it for 7 days, and see how you get on.

Executive Dysfunction in Depression & Anxiety

I just can’t do the things I know that I need to do…

Sound familiar?

It’s something I hear time and time again. Something I’ve repeated myself regularly. Executive dysfunction hits those of us who live with anxiety and depression, and it hits us hard.

What is Executive Dysfunction?

First off, we all know I’m not a medical professional. You know that right? Not a doctor.

That said, I’ve lived with this shit for years, and a lot of them were years when I’d no clue what was going on. No idea that what was happening to me every day wasn’t normal. Wasn’t my fault.

Coz that is a big thing. We’ll come back to that one.

Executive dysfunction is a term for the range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Executive functioning is an umbrella term for many abilities including:

  • Planning and organisation
  • Flexible thinking
  • Monitoring performance
  • Multi-tasking
  • Solving unusual problems
  • Self-awareness
  • Learning rules
  • Social behaviour
  • Making decisions
  • Motivation
  • Initiating appropriate behaviour
  • Inhibiting inappropriate behaviour
  • Controlling emotions
  • Concentrating and taking in information

Source: https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/effects-of-brain-injury/executive-dysfunction/

Depression and anxiety have been found to be associated with dysfunction in these executive processes, and an inability “to generate or implement adequate performance strategies has been postulated in depressed participants”.

Source: https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/66/2/162

Insomnia is a common symptom for both depression and anxiety, and sleep deprivation makes executive dysfunction even worse.

Some Coping Strategies for Executive Dysfunction

I know, you’re sick of hearing about it. But in all honesty, my Bullet Journal (what’s a Bullet Journal?) has been the absolute saving of me with regard to coping with executive dysfunction in my own life.

If you’re dealing with this recognised medical difficulty or disorder, please understand that it is not your fault.

Please don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do the simplest of things. The things you know you “should be doing”. Or “should be able to do”.

Stop that. Try this.

Here are some tips based on those from the U.S. National Center for Learning Disabilities:

  • Take a step-by-step approach to work.
  • Rely on visual organizational aids.
  • Use tools like time organizers, computers, or watches with alarms.
  • Make schedules and look at them several times a day.
  • Ask for written and oral instructions whenever possible.
  • Plan for transition times and shifts in activities.

To improve time management:

  • Create checklists and estimate how long each task will take.
  • Break long assignments into chunks, and assign time frames for completing each one.
  • Use calendars to keep track of long-term assignments, due dates, chores, and activities.
  • Write the due date on the top of each assignment.

In short, I manage my executive dysfunction by writing everything down. And I mean – EVERYTHING. I store and organise all that written stuff mostly in my Bullet Journal, which is a useful system for doing that. But any analogue planner that you like will work just as well. I just love the complete flexibility of the Bullet Journal.

I also have huge wall calendars, digital calendars with notifications set to give me plenty of time to work in stuff I’ve forgotten, and a series of phone alarm reminders that tell me things like “Take a Walk”, “Eat Lunch”, “Tech Off at 10pm”, and “Take Your Meds”.

My best advice though, is to start where you are, right now, and take a tiny step forward. You don’t have to get all this figured out right now. Go easy on yourself?!

Pick just one thing that you know will improve your life if you’re doing it every day, and pick a sensible time at which to do it. Transition times are a good idea – see this post for more on developing good habits.

Now, do it for 2 minutes. Seriously. Just 2 minutes – but do it every day. For a week. For 2 weeks. Just for 2 minutes, every single day.

If you miss a day? That’s ok. Just start again the next day, and rebuild your streak. Mark it on a calendar. Tick a box in your Bullet Journal. Cross it off a daily to do list. Whatever works for you to show your progress.

Because every single time you do that small 2 minute thing, you’re telling yourself that this is something you can do. You’re rewiring your brain to understand that this is something that you do. Every day.

Don’t worry about not seeing progress by only doing the thing for 2 minutes. You’re moving in the right direction. You’re 2 minutes better off than you were yesterday.

You are the type of person who can do this thing.

Take THAT, executive dysfunction.

Smart Goals for Quarterly Goal Setting

Quarterly Goal Setting works in 3 month blocks, and is useful for when you’re just beginning to get a handle on either business or personal goals – working with a whole year can be a little overwhelming. Or, for when you have been doing this Goal Setting thing for a while, but you just want to grab a little tighter focus and work through your plans in a smart, step by step kinda way.

As I write this, we’re moving from February to March, which is the end of the first quarter of this year. Personally, I plan in Long Term (5 years, currently), Medium Term (1 year), and Short Term (Quarterly) goal setting blocks.

You can begin this way if you already have long or medium term plans, or spend some time and sketch them out. This is useful for being able to sort of work backwards, and break things down into what needs happen in the short term to achieve them. This can also help to get it in your brain that this stuff is achievable, as the leap from here to there can seem HUGE, at times.

If you just want to do something today though, you can just begin now with setting some quarterly goal setting. All my goals are broken down into categories that make sense for my life, and I encourage you to do the same. For reference, my categories are:

  • Finance
  • Business
  • Mastery (skills development and education)
  • Health
  • Personal

When it gets to your quarterly goal setting within each category that makes sense for you, make sure each goal is as actionable and specific as possible. Ideally, you will define the specific steps to take, who is responsible (eg, any collaborations etc.), what tools are needed or available to be used, and a very particular deadline.

Time Frames for Your Quarterly Goal Setting

  • January to March
  • April to June
  • July to September
  • October to December.

Within these time blocks, the process works in cycles.

Begin with a Review – what has been working for you so far? What hasn’t? Is it worth figuring out how to make those things work better, or is it time to focus on and develop the things you know to be effective? What has been holding you back? Do you have tools or resources available that you’re not making use of?

The answers to these questions can be written in Your Bullet Journal, or just thought about. But we all know which will be more useful… spoiler alert, it’s the one where you physically write things down and have them on file for future reference.

Next you can Dream – what do you really want? Which category/categories do your dreams fit into? What would you pursue if you had unlimited time and money? What does your ideal day look like? If someone was watching the film (movie) of your life, what actions would they be thinking were the most obvious, and willing you to take?

Now you make a Plan – write out some goals, and don’t forget to make them Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely – SMART. This will give you a clearer sense at the end of the quarter of whether or not you’ve hit them, or not.

Congratulations! You now have a Plan based off your quarterly goal setting. Each week, you can look at these goals to see where you are, where you want or need to be, and what the next obvious step to take is. It also helps to pick out the top 3 goals you want to progress this week, and then work them down into daily action steps.

End with a Review too. As you near the end of a Quarterly goal setting period, you get to look back and see what’s working and what’s not. Some useful things to consider include any habits you want to start/remove, milestones, obstacles, ways to overcome obstacles (plan to succeed), and a reward for hitting your goals!

As ever, I recommend the Bullet Journal system to keep yourself on track with Quarterly Goal Setting, and life in general. Read More Here.

5 Things that Helped Me Build My Business – Guest Post

In 2015, I was a University lecturer at a UK institution.

I had completed a PhD, three postdocs, and was in my first permanent academic job. I was also being discriminated against by my employer and ultimately left academia with a settlement that I’m not legally permitted to discuss.

In the period leading up to my exit from the academy I had a lot of choices to make about my life.

One important one was about how to do work that was fulfilling, joyful and would pay the bills. I thought about my values, desires and talents and narrowed it down to two fields: law and therapy.

Since I have the travel bug and wanted to be geographically mobile, the law wasn’t a good fit, so I embarked upon the journey to becoming a therapist. Fortunately for me, I had a decade of experience of teaching and coaching, and even facilitating support groups. I had run workshops in multiple countries on sex, sexuality and kink. In many ways, my journey had begun years earlier.

Nevertheless, I still lacked some of the skills and the support network to embark on a career as a coach or therapist. It is a mere three years later and I now have a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and a full coaching and therapy practice.

Here are 5 things that helped me to build my business.

 

1) Hiring the best mentor I could afford to help me build my business

I asked for recommendations and I paid for the best supervisor that I could afford (which is actually not saying there is a better one out there if I paid more!). He is well connected, experienced and generous with his advice. He is effective at directing me to useful resources and was invaluable in the period before I had clients or much of a business.

He helped me to consider what I already had and what I needed to achieve in order to be an effective therapist. His support gave me the confidence to interrogate what I really needed before launching my business in terms of accreditation, training, insurance and experience.

I certainly made more informed decisions about my future because of his help – and as a result got off the ground with a great start to build my business.

2) Building a network of supportive working relationships

I have a friend of many years who is a marketing training specialist. She and I have a mutually supportive relationship which helped me to make the work plan, get the website up and to keep up my momentum when times were tough. I provided her with a case study for her fledgeling business and help to refocus and getting back on track.

Other people have supported me in choosing the right degree course, finding the best hosting service, choosing my email provider, and grappling with GDPR. I am grateful for these relationships because they provide important stimulation and growth.

The reciprocal nature of them is really important too, because it reinforces my own competence as I build my business.

3) Acknowledging and accepting that imposter syndrome happens

Academia gave me a lot of experience with imposter syndrome. As someone that is dyslexic and dyspraxic, and for whom names are often difficult, academic writing has always been a challenge. I often thought someone might realise my limitations and realise they should never have given me the PhD in the first place.

Fortunately, I also knew that I was a gifted researcher who research subjects opened up to easily.

Within the context of running a brand new coaching and therapy business, imposter syndrome can arise in all kinds of  sneaky ways. It can accompany worries about the aspects I’m less confident about, the client I am struggling to connect with, the no-show, the accounting.

Sharing my experience with others, and seeing their insecurities reflected has been invaluable to me. To reap the peak benefits of this I have set up a peer supervision group with others at a similar point in their careers, and it is a wonderful support resource as I build my business.

4) Finding ways around the ‘impossible task’

The ‘impossible task’ is that thing that gets impossibly difficult for no good reason. It is the task that you know that you have to do, and that isn’t that practically difficult, but that is paralyzing right at this moment.

For me, the impossible task is often about completing expenses or accounting or making a phone call. That’s right, I spend hours every day talking to people online, hearing their stuff, but making a phone call to a doctor, airline or employer gets impossible sometimes. It makes no sense, but it is my reality – and apparently the reality for plenty of other people too.

Before I knew about the ‘impossible task’ I could spend days fixated on the fact I wasn’t doing it. I didn’t get anything else productive done. I just focused on the fact I couldn’t do the thing.

Since I recognised that I have this occasional temporary paralysis, I have learned to handle it differently. I’ve learned that it isn’t something I can just ‘push through’ and that in order to get to it I need to have some successes first. I need to do a few other tasks that give me a sense of accomplishment or joy.

With that in mind, I have created a ‘happy leaves’ exercise of tasks that I know will make me feel either accomplished or joyful. I have written one idea on the back of each leaf postcard and included how long it takes and how difficult it is for me when life is hard. Doing one or two of the exercises on my leaves makes me feel better, usually better enough that the ‘impossible task’ is no longer impossible.

You may need to find your own route, but recognising if you have impossible tasks is a good way to start working out how to make them possible again rather than getting stuck.

5) Finding ‘good enough’ as I build my business

Part of what I do is put together blog posts. I write a lot of these.

Working out when to stop working in a particular piece of writing is a skill. Sometimes I get it wrong, and there are still spelling errors, or my meaning isn’t clear enough in a post, but that happens rarely.

More often I hold onto something far too long, and I should just have posted it. My website doesn’t have to be perfect, my writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Even my business plan doesn’t have to be impeccable.

What it does have to be is functional and fit for purpose. Learning the difference between those ideas has been absolutely essential to learning when to stop ‘improving’ something and to just press POST.

 

My therapy practice is now full.

I have a client base that I generally connect well with – and I am grateful that I really only attract the kind of clients that I want to work with. Clients that like coaching as much as counselling, that are quirky in all kinds of ways and that need to work with someone open to the idea that there are many healthy ways to be a person in the world.

If you’re interested in knowing more about what I write about (generally sex, relationships, self consent and mental health), or just more about my quirky brain, please pop over to my site and take a look.

My practice is currently full, so I’m not looking for new clients – but my blog is www.loveuncommon.com/blog
I am inviting new clients to my DBT course though. The link for that is: https://loveuncommon.com/services/dbtgroups/

Setting Goals – See It Done with Effective Visualisation

Setting Goals is something that most of us at least WANT to do, but don’t really follow through on.

Either we set to it with great gusto which results in a full and meaningful list of goals… that then just sits there. Judging me. I mean us. It’s not just me right?

Or, we don’t even know where to start.

For example, “My Goal is to have a better relationship with my family”. That’s great and all, but what does it actually mean?

How do you measure it? What does it look like when it’s achieved? How does it improve your life?

 

Setting Goals that are SMART

Ok, there’s a LOT on S.M.A.R.T. Goals elseweb. If you’re not familiar, google that shit. You’ll be there all day, if you want.

But very briefly, here’s what the letters stand for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Basically, setting goals like the above – a better relationship with family – becomes something like:

I will make a phone call to a family member once per week (for at least a half hour chat), and send a daily WhatsApp message to the family group (updating on my life and enquiring about theirs), so that by the Holiday Season our relationships will have improved enough to ensure no arguments or unnecessary tensions.

Like, it might not work out perfectly in that particular scenario. Families are weird.

But it’s good to have goals, and be doing what you can to make things better.

 

Setting Goals as Future Memories

Visualising your goals is important too though. When we mentally ‘walk through’ a scenario before it happens, we are far more likely to a) do it, and b) do it well.

One way to do this is to think of the goals you’ve set as memories, but of the future not the past.

So, if you’re setting goals that are SMART, you can also take the time each day to build them into a memory of the future.

If I ask you what you did yesterday, and you tell me – I sent a WhatsApp message to my family group, that’s grand. I mean, we might not be that good of friends, that you’d share the details. B

But if we are close friends, and you’re telling me about what happened, you’re likely to be adding detail; what you said, who responded, how you felt before, during and after sending the message, and maybe even what reminded you to send it in the first place, or what you did directly afterwards.

See what I mean? I’m much more likely to remember, be invested in, and believe the second scenario, with all the details. Right?

The same goes for your brain, when visualising your goals.

 

So set up a page in your Bullet Journal for ‘Setting Goals’, and get started for this month, or this quarter.

Be SMART about setting goals, and build those future memories by touching base with them every day.


 

If you haven’t set up your Bullet Journal yet, you can Click Here to Find Out How.

Gaining Mastery – a Daily Investment

“I would not have a god come in
To shield me suddenly from sin,
And set my house of life to rights;
Nor angels with bright burning wings
Ordering my earthly thoughts and things;
Rather my own frail guttering lights
Wind blown and nearly beaten out;
Rather the terror of the nights
And long, sick groping after doubt;
Rather be lost than let my soul
Slip vaguely from my own control —
Of my own spirit let me be
In sole though feeble mastery.”
― Sara Teasdale

I like that poem. It highlights, for me, my own struggle to gain mastery of my life.

That starts – always – with me coming back to centre, and continuing my work to gain mastery of my self.

What is Mastery?

The definition we’re going for is more ‘comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity’, than ‘control or superiority over someone or something’. Although both can fit, depending on what mastery is needed in your life.

For example, I would like to gain mastery in the area of my professional expertise – Irish heritage – that is a ‘comprehensive knowledge or skill’. I already have authority, both professional and personal experience, and a certain amount of expertise. But I’m not yet at ‘mastery’, to my mind.

Now, this does beg the question of when is enough, enough?

Some folk will tell you that to gain mastery, you need to practice a thing for 10,000 hours and you’ve got it down, but that’s debatable. You can read some of that debate here.

For the second definition, I personally apply that to myself only. I mean, I’ve no interest in control or superiority over someone else. That’s a LOT of hard work right there, even besides the obvious ethical considerations.

And it usually pertains to controlling my ‘negative’ aspects; post-trauma and mental health problems, and all the associated issues that come with that.

So mastery can mean ‘becoming a master’ at something, or ‘mastering’ your personal issues in a positive way. For either of these, doing a little every single day is the right way to get started.

Daily Investment in Mastery

For the first challenge, to become a master in a particular field, requires practice. That seems obvious, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Practice for mastery requires not just Naive Practice (repeating what you already over and over), or Purposeful Practice (with well defined goals, focus, and regularly pushing past your comfort zone).

To truly gain mastery, you’ll need Deliberate Practice; which is purposeful practice, but with the element of coaching or teaching added to it, through a clear training program with a professional in the established field.

[You can learn more about that here.]

And the second challenge is truly an ongoing thing (for me at least), and a constant process of improving little by little, going off track a bit, and just continually bringing myself back to the process again.

For this, I keep coming back to my daily routines – particularly the Morning Routine.

I can’t emphasise strongly enough how vital a routine is for me, in my quest for mastery of my personal issues in a positive way.

What works for you?


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