Category Archives for Mind/Body Health

Accomplish More with Rules & Habits – The Secret to Personal Effectiveness!

The Busy-ness of Living

We are busy people. Whether you are in charge of growing a business, managing a department, project or team, the days don't seem long enough to get it all done. In addition to work objectives is your personal life. Surrounded by decisions to make daily, the last thing we need is to get bogged down with senseless minutiae.

We know how to delegate specific tasks, which we will not cover here. This article aims to show how creating rules or habits can support your everyday needs and eliminate repetitive decision-making. We invite you to consider how you can simplify your entire life and achieve your goals with greater ease.

A familiar concept - solving the "what to wear" conundrum

Streamlining decision making is not a new concept. We know famous people who solved the daily "what to wear conundrum" by having numerous copies of the same ensemble in their closet. In particular, Steve Jobs filled his wardrobe with the same black mock-neck sweaters, jeans and sneakers that he came to love. Deciding "what to wear" is personal and best determined by the person wearing the outfit and their needs. The ensemble suited him well and having eliminated one daily decision simplified his life. Photo courtesy from Reddit

Lifestyle By Design

Consider other areas of your life that need simplifying, such as lifestyle choices. Today's VUCA world demands the focus, energy and stamina like that of a "corporate athlete." To rise to leadership demands, we need to support our physical self with healthy diet, daily exercise, and times of rest. We need a lifestyle by design.

To design your ideal lifestyle, consider your current state of health and identify areas of concern. State the goal and decide on realistic activities that you will do to achieve the goal. To assist with creating your list, the following are some of mine.

List Goals & Design New Habits to Achieve Goals

Business

Goal:

Direct my best efforts on activities that bring new business. Work on my high impact, top priorities each workday before doing anything else.

New Habit:

Each weekday, I complete 90 minutes on my most important work, free from all distractions before anything else. I may also do another 2.5 hours later on. I will know I have made this a new habit after doing this consistently for nine weeks.

Personal

Goal: Improve my sleep quality and quantity. Fall asleep within five minutes of laying down, sleep uninterrupted for 7.5 - 8 hours minimum each night.
New Habits:
  •  Work only on weekdays 9 - 5 pm. Turn off computer by 7 pm, phone by 8 pm.
  • Journal daily: unpack the day's events, writing out accomplishments, what wasn't done and why. Detail tomorrow's plan with specific tasks.
  • Abstain from wine or alcohol on weekdays.
  • Limit daily caffeine intake to the equivalent of two cups of coffee.
  • Exercise every day, either yoga, walking or hiking, an hour before lunch/dinner.

Could you test it out? Assess & Calibrate over the long-term. 

Test run the new habits for a short time to assess for improvement. If there has been little to no change, try to determine what may be getting in the way. Create a new rule to support the habit. Test and repeat until there is noticeable change.

 Read below to see how I applied this method to improve my sleep patterns.

Root out the Problem: Identify Obstacles to Success

Issue: Difficulty falling asleep or, waking up too early.

1. Too much caffeine is a likely culprit with my inability to fall asleep. When I'm tired from not sleeping well the night before, and because I like Chai tea I give into temptation and have a cup, which puts me over my limit.

2. My mind won't stop thinking about what I need to do. I forget to journal.

The Solution: Create New Rules to Overcome Obstacles!

New Rules:

Reduce morning coffee to one cup to allow for a cup of Chai tea. Should I want a hot drink beyond my earlier choices? My options are hot water with fresh lemon juice or Dandelion Root tea because I enjoy them both.

Tweak schedule to be able to address current work demands:

  1. Extend working time from 9 - 6 pm. Begin journaling at 5:30 pm.
  2. Turn off the computer at 7 pm, phone at 8 pm.
  3. Sleep at 11 pm.
  4. Adhere to it!

I journal before I leave my desk. Unpack daily events, new record ideas, tasks, tomorrow's itinerary with details of what is reasonable to get done. Starting at 5:30 pm gives me a reasonable amount to time to unpack and  close my day; then shift my attention to find personal enjoyment and rest.


Follow Your Rules; it's Your Lifestyle by Design!

Last but not least, follow your rules. Rules followed become new habits; they support your mission to achieve your goals. There may be exceptions from time to time,  but afterwards, always revert to your rules.


You design the rules to simplify your life and amplify your success ratios that reach much higher levels than ever before. 


Having the ability to focus on things that matter is how greatness is born and how you become the person you were born to be!


Do you need help creating space in your life?

Discover how we can help you become more efficient, effective & find balance.

Learn How to Manage Stress & Improve Outcomes with a 7 Minute Meditation!

Life is Stressful

Stress is an inevitable part of the human experience. Although the world has significantly advanced technologically from decades past, the human condition remains the same. We have work obligations, monetary needs, relationships with friends, family & significant others to nurture and grow. Add in extras such as a big project, an unexpected expense, a struggling business, post-secondary workload, a severe illness or estrangement with loved ones leads to stress overload. Continual stress that is left unchecked can slowly take away from our health and well-being.

Humans have been seeking external ways to alleviate internal stress for generations, often resorting to quick-fix addictive substances such as smoking, drinking alcohol, emotional eating, drugs, sex, gambling, retail therapy, and the like. The relief they bring is short-term and long-term reliance leads to new problems. A better solution takes us inward, to our mind and energetic body where our power resides.

We access our inner (higher) self through healthy personal practices such as mindfulness, journaling and meditation. There are scores of information on these topics online, in books and courses on offer. However, this article focuses on tools one can access to get the needed relief as a busy person.

Meditation has been proven through numerous studies to reduce stress and helps one create desirable change. This article showcases a simple meditation that's easy to remember and works well. It is a breathwork meditation that Preetha Krishna calls "How to Create a Beautiful State of Being," and takes less than ten minutes time.

The Reality: Short on Time to Learn New Skills

The key to starting a meditation practice is to find one that works for one's needs. To start, it should be simple, easy to learn and do, does not take too much time, does not require the need to purchase special equipment or tools, i.e. subscription apps, meditation cushions, and fits with one's belief system.

The "How to Create a Beautiful State of Being Meditation" is simple, easy to remember, can be used to address any situation or concern, takes seven minutes to complete, and is adaptable to individual preferences & beliefs.

The "How to Create a Beautiful State of Being" Meditation

When human beings improve their state of being at a spiritual or emotional level, they find a sense of calm; their higher self emerges, which expands creativity, improves thinking (efficiency); they become productive.

People are easier to be around, and they inspire leadership in others.

To try the meditation, find a comfortable, private place to sit; remove all distractions, i.e. turn off the phone/computer notifications, close the door, for the next 10-15 minutes.

Sit comfortably in a chair with the back erect but not rigid, hands resting on thighs with the fingers upward ready to count the top of each finger with a thumb for a total count of 8 breaths for each set (4 fingers x 2 hands). To prepare, relax with a clearing breath: a slow inhale through the nose, and a slower exhale out the mouth.

The breathwork that follows is done exclusively through the nose; e.g. slow inhale through the nose/slow exhale out the nose. Use a thumb and each finger on each hand for each count of eight (4 fingers x 2 hands).

When ready, the process is as follows.

The Meditation: 

  • 8 breaths counting with thumb & finger
  • 8 breaths "hum" on exhale - continue counting with thumb & finger...
  • 8 breaths noticing pause between inhales/exhales
  • 8 breaths, "ahum" on exhale - ("I am that - unlimited consciousness")
  • 8 breaths notice yourself melding into pure light, connectedness, spaciousness
  • 8 breaths thinking of a heart's desire - envision the positive action unfolding, happening, becoming real. Examples, such as:
    • an improved relationship - embracing the person
    • a healing from disease - envision a healthy body 

Adaptable to Different Situations & Beliefs

Students in Post Graduate studies frequently use this meditation, and executives and business leaders who need to bring their best self to work.

Feel free to adapt this meditation by trying out different body positions or change the mantra to one that has a stronger connection to individual preference. The results are encouraging and impressive.

Try the Meditation & Notice the Results

  • Give the meditation a try, and notice changes.
  • Journal the experience. What changed physiologically in the moment, plus any new outcomes. 
  • Drop us a comment below & let us know how it went.


  • Set up a regular meditation schedule; aim for sustainable change.


To Find Out More

To learn more ways to become your best self, connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook



Systems: the key ingredient of Efficiency!

The Goal: A Healthy Lifestyle

Last fall, my husband and I embarked on a lifestyle change. We had both gained weight (once again) and were fed up with repeating the yo-yo cycle of losing and regaining weight. Knowing how difficult it is stay on track long term, especially during busy times, we needed a strategic plan. The plan required fail-proof strong systems in place to overcome our obstacles and achieve our goal, once and for all.


The process of what we did and how, can be applied to anything you want to achieve in life or business. We had a history of weight loss/gain to learn from; we knew when and how we would slip, so our plan had to mitigate risks; organization was key.


Our story provides a case study on subject matter that many people can relate to. It outlines how to create a strategic plan and illuminates why you need systems in place, if you're serious about success. Discover the 5 steps we took to create our strategic plan, and the systems we used to support our eventual success.


The Problem: Designing a New Healthy Diet for a Lifetime

After researching and trying out several restrictive diets over the years, I knew that the key to being healthy over the long-term was to adopt more of a whole-foods, plant-based eating plan. I was used to cooking meat-based protein meals and my husband enjoying eating such meals whole-heartedly. I had to learn how to make delicious whole-foods, plant based meals so that we would embrace it.


I bought a new cookbook and discovered that some meals were quite good. It was also more work due to all the washing, chopping of vegetables and spices.


The Solution: 80% Whole-Foods, Plant-based Eating

An important step in the transition to a new way of eating is understanding why a whole-foods, plant-based diet was much healthier to meat based meals. I had attended an information night on the topic of whole-foods, plant-based eating. That night, listened to testimonials from people who had beat heart disease, high blood pressure, stage four cancer and lost/kept off excess weight for years. I decided that 100% was too restrictive, but 80% would allow us to include wild fish, eggs and chicken. 


We watched the documentary, "Forks Over Knives" which fortified our decision to move forward. I knew that long-term change of this magnitude would be challenging, so I created a strategic plan to make it happen. The process I used can help you create your own strategic plan in five steps.


How to Write a Strategic Plan in 5 Steps

Step 1 - Create a Compelling Vision

We wanted to be healthy, lean and fit more than anything. We started to see ourselves as slim and strong into our old age. To us, failure was not an option. 

Step 2 - Set Goals using SMART objectives

The first thing we did, was determined our weight loss goals using SMART parameters. My goal was 7 lbs. at 0.5 lb. loss per week, my husband's was 14 lbs. at 1 lb. a week; which meant 14 weeks to achieve our goal. 

Step 3 - Create a Fail-proof System

Define What Has to Happen

We needed to exercise more and eat food with value: unprocessed, provides energy, balanced diet, delicious and readily available.

We examined what we were consuming in our diet and where we fell short. In our case, not enough protein and cardiovascular exercise. Yoga and lifting weights was not enough. We each found exercise that we enjoyed and was convenient; if not, it wouldn't work. Luckily, we live near a park with over 64 kms of hiking/biking trails. I hiked most days and practiced yoga; while my husband lifted weights and went biking with a friend.

Set up Support Systems to keep you on track 

Now came the tricky part: the food. We were creating a new lifestyle; a permanent change so specialized diets were not an option. We decided that any food brought home must have value or was needed to make delicious soups/meals. 90% of my shopping consisted of fresh fruits and vegetables, and included plant based proteins.

I prepared healthy snacks such as ready-washed fruit or smoothies in the fridge, all ready to eat or taking along on an outing. Bananas, jars of walnuts, almonds, and other healthy snacks were all positioned within site. Our meals and snacks were colorful and fresh, nutritious and delicious. We were starting to feel good inside and out.

Create Rewards for Quick Wins

We brought in a "treat day." One day a week we allowed ourselves to indulge, go beyond our calorie targets just for the day. By doing so, we could participate in family gatherings and celebrations without guilt, and still maintain our commitment.

Determine Key Performance Indicators to Monitor Progress

I found an app on my smart phone to track everything I ate, my workouts, my steps, my water intake, my sleep; this became invaluable towards balancing nutrition and monitoring our total health. We learned to budget our food intake and avoided wasting calories on high calorie, low food value choices. 

Yes, it was work; but I found joy in the challenge of creating healthy, delicious meals. I made a lot of hearty soups that could be frozen in jars for emergency meals. I started sharing photos of some of my favorite dishes through Instagram, and it encouraged others to try. I scheduled my day so that the right meals were available and ready. 

Seven months later, this new way of living has become our lifestyle. What's more, we love how we feel. Two months ago, we were surprised to discover that we lost double the weight we had aimed for. The primary reason? We were serious. How do I know? We had a plan and built systems to keep us on track; we committed to true change.

Step 4 - Notice, Calibrate, Direct Resources to actions with Greatest Impact 

While working any plan, notice any significant shifts, such as activities that have great impact and do more of it. For example, making hearty soups was a winner for me because it was nutritious and delicious and provided several meals out of one batch of work. 

Step 5 - Celebrate Your Achievement; Share with Others!

We celebrated our wins by cheering each other on, getting new clothes, and taking a trip. But the best celebration was through sharing our ideas with other people. When you share your knowledge, others are encouraged to go-for-something-big also. The joy you have, grows.

The Results

We doubled our goals; which was beyond what we thought possible! Our experience showcases the power of having a strategic plan supported by strong systems.

Regardless of whether your goals are personal or business, the road to success begins with a well-thought-out strategic plan, but robust systems ensure the big win! 

If you would like to discuss how A Strategic Edge Coaching can help you achieve your short or long term goals, book a free consultation by Telephone or Zoom here.

>