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Encouragement for When Your New Year’s Resolve has Fizzled

Tiny Changes: What to do When Your New Year's Resolve has Fizzled

"92% of people won’t make it to February with their 2019 goals. Don’t be 92% of people."

~ Jon Acuff

Depressing, isn’t it?

We, humans, create grand expectations for a brand new year and for ourselves, but so often we’re busted before we even get used to writing the new date.

It’s even worse than we think it is because for every wrecked resolution, every habit that never fully hatches, and every promise to paint a healthier, happier, harmonious portrait of our lives, we - in the words of author James Clear - “…lose sight of who we are and what we can become.”

When we don’t do what we say we will do, we lose a little more hope. What we say we will do is pretty often an unrealistic expectation.

When we don’t do what we say we will do, we lose a little more hope. #tinychanges

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Jon Acuff in FINISH: Give Yourself the Gift of Done tackles perfectionism.

One person described it this way: “I start with the belief that I could do something. Then I get all excited and start dreaming. At first, I feel confident and like I know what I am doing. Then my dreams get big. Then I want perfection. Then all of a sudden I feel inadequate to do the job because I don’t know how to do it at that level. Then the dreams die, and the goal is forgotten. The best part is most of the time all that I mentioned above is mental. I never actually started anything.”

Y’all…

This has been me, but I’m changing my tune.

How? Lots of ways. Mostly, though, I’m learning how to set reasonable expectations for myself and other people.

You know what? It doesn’t happen overnight - just because I “decided” to live life differently. Don’t get me wrong, the decision to be different and to do life differently is important. But lasting change comes as a result of a series of daily choices.

You know, habits.

The RIGHT habits! Not like the ones a lot of us have already messed up on this early in the new year. But simple ones. Practices that don’t require us to be perfect and only take a couple of minutes to do. (Keep reading to learn more about some new tiny habits that are WRECKING me for good.)

But first, let me ask you a question...

What’s the number one frustration you have with yourself? The thing you tell yourself the most?

  • Is it that you’re a failure?
  • That you’re not smart?
  • That you’re a quitter?
  • That you’re weak?

One more question…

What could happen if you learned to stop beating yourself up?

What could happen if you learned to stop beating yourself up? #tinychanges

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James Clear is a habits guru who wrote the book Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones.

Clear explains how our identities and habits are intertwined:

This vicious cycle of beating ourselves up spirals and spirals and we no longer know how to be kind to ourselves. We no longer know how to set reasonable expectations and achievable objectives with weight loss, fitness, career goals, family objectives, and standards for behavior. We lose sight of who we are and what we can become.

Clear talks about building tiny habits that change the way we see ourselves, giving us the confidence to stack habits and routines onto our first habits, and ultimately improving our lives for the better.

A few weeks ago my friend Tracy Winchell of the Reboots Podcast told me about one of her favorite journaling habits. Every few days she writes a note to her next day self (maybe you’ve seen me practicing this on Instagram and Facebook). Tracy tells me this singular habit has helped her change the way she sees herself.

Through this exercise, Tracy has learned to encourage her next day self, and to set expectations for her attitude toward herself and others. She shared one of her notes with me, and I was blown away! No really, I freakin’ LOVE this exercise (almost as much as I love my friend, Tracy.)

I knew right then that my people HAD to learn how to do this.

Because if James Clear and Jon Acuff are right and that our identities are wrapped up in our habits, then building a habit designed to change the tapes we play in our heads ABOUT OURSELVES is a freakishly powerful method for creating clarity!

For some of us, mid-January means a return to the same old same old: a return to bad habits, and giving up new ones we said would bring us a better 2019.

But we can choose a better way by making a decision to stop the negative self-talk. And then setting up a ridiculously simple method - that takes no more than 10 minutes a day - to change the tapes in our head.

Oh, yeah. And the method still works if we only do it 10 to 15 times in any given 30-day period.

It’s my friend Tracy’s “note to next day self” journaling technique, and it’s helped her send the lying jerks in her head back to wherever the hell they came from. And it can do the same for you and me.

On Friday, January 18th at 11 am CST, I'd love for you to join my friend, Tracy Winchell and me for a free webinar. We’re gearing up for a workshop to show you exactly how this works. It’s called TINY CHANGES: What to do When Your New Year’s Resolve has Fizzled. It’s Friday, January 18, 2019, at 11:00.

If you haven’t signed up yet, do it here.

  • You’re not alone if your New Year’s resolve has fizzled.
  • You’re not alone if you expect way too much from yourself.
  • You’re not alone in unnecessarily beating yourself up.

My friend Tracy found freedom from the negative self-talk during a time of massive change in her life. She was walking through the hell of losing a job, selling her house, moving in with her mom, and dealing with the loss of a close friend. And we’re going to show you a ridiculously simple method (that will take less than 10 minutes, a few days a month) that will help you kick your negative self-talk to the cub.

"My soul sometimes feels like a Twitter feed where I’m following a million of the most annoying people ever, and I can’t find the Unfollow button."

-Steven Furtick in Crash the Chatterbox

Is this you?

It’s no way to live, is it?

If you're ready to take a bold step toward choosing NOT to FEEL THIS WAY ANYMORE, sign up for our free webinar.

My friend Tracy and I will teach you how to unfollow the annoying voices in your head and learn to follow the voices who will tell you the truth about yourself - compassionately and with love and grace.

If 2019 feels a lot like 2018 all over again, sign up.

If you're feeling like this year is a lot more of the same old stuff: procrastinating on building new habits, failing to give up old habits you don’t want anymore, and beating the crap out of yourself, you’ll want to hang with us for this webinar.

  • If you’re ready to stop beating yourself up because you want to change but can’t quite make it happen…
  • If you’re ready to set some reasonable expectations for yourself and get past the fear of failure - or success…
  • If you’re ready to FINISH something excellent in 2019
  • If you’re ready to change the relentless tapes in your head that say you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve a reasonably happy life…
  • If you’re ready to tell yourself the truth - the good, the bad, and the ugly - about who you are and who you want to become in 2019…

Click here to join us in the LIVE workshop - where we’ll show you how.

TINY CHANGES: What to do When Your New Year’s Resolve Has Fizzled is Friday, January 18th at 11am CST.

Click here to grab your seat.

If you’re already beating yourself up because the New Year is a lot less shiny and bright, please join us.

For now, though, rest easy. Don’t worry about it if your New Year’s resolve has already fizzled. You’re normal!!! And it’ll be okay. I promise.

If 2019 feels a lot like 2018 all over again, sign up for this free webinar, "TINY CHANGES: What to do When Your New Year's Resolve has Fizzled." with @iamsteveaustin & @rebootspodcast #tinychanges

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Everything You Need to Know about a Gratitude Journal

Once you get into the habit of contemplating what you’re grateful for each day, it’s time to consider making it a written activity. This can be intimidating for people who don’t like to write or who feel they may not have time to dedicate to such a practice. In all honesty, it really doesn’t take much more time to write it down than to just think on what you appreciate.

You don’t even have to have strong writing skills to jot down three sentences. Let’s see if we can’t make the process seem less stressful. There truly are some fantastic benefits that come from the physical process of creating a record of gratefulness.

More About Gratitude Journals

While it’s called a “gratitude journal,” it’s actually a tool or a record. You don’t have to write in a paper journal. You could put it in a file on your desktop, or save it in the “notes” app on your phone. The important part is that you take the time each day to record a few things that make you feel fortunate. Doing so can actually help to manifest more positive things.

Writing down what you’re appreciative of each day brings that sense of gratefulness to the forefront. It allows you to focus on the positive, helping you to spot opportunities you might otherwise have missed. When I think about the sacred journey from chaos to calm, gratitude is one of the most important stops on the journey. And the great thing about keeping a gratitude journal is that you now have a written record to pull out and reflect over any time you’re feeling down or needy. It can provide you with motivation in the toughest of times.

Benefits of a Gratitude Journal

There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. Instilling a writing practice in this way ensures that you maintain a focus on positivity. Sure, sometimes bad things may happen, but this overall emphasis on finding the good can help to provide you with the resilience to keep going.

Your stress levels will decrease as you begin embracing an attitude of gratitude. Plus, the act of writing can be therapeutic in itself. Writing also helps to give you a different perspective on things that you might not see as readily without engaging in the process. You can identify patterns and insight into your life that might help you to identify opportunities and to grow.

Tips for Using Your Journal

The most important thing when it comes to a gratitude journal is the consistency of practice. Some journal twice daily. Others prefer once. Regardless, it will only be useful if you use it regularly.

One of the best ways to help yourself want to use your journal is to choose a format you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to write in a journal by hand if you prefer to use electronic methods. You can keep your records in a simple word processing spreadsheet or use one of many apps that are available for this purpose.

On the other hand, if you are inspired by a beautifully-bound paper journal, find one that speaks to you and start writing your thoughts down immediately. One member of the Facebook group said she keeps her gratitude journal in a Day Planner, so it’s easy to chronicle what she was thankful for each day of the year.

No matter what you use, keep it handy by your bedside or on easily accessed devices. Turn your routine into a ritual. Make it a process that feeds your soul. Incorporate your morning coffee into your journal writing or light a candle with a lovely aroma to accompany your routine.

Just make it yours.

A gratitude journal can be an insightful and life-changing tool. Remember, you only have to write three simple things you’re grateful for. There’s no need to make it complicated. Start your record keeping practice today and see what it can do for you.


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New to Gratitude? 5 Simple Ways to Notice Every Blessing

Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne was absolutely right. We don’t need to wait a single moment to improve the world… or to improve ourselves. When it comes to starting a gratitude practice, if we expect the “perfect moment” to show up, you can bet it will never happen. Life gets in the way. We create more excuses. Our goals keep piling up, and gratitude keeps getting shoved to the back burner.

So forget about waiting for the perfect moment to begin, because that moment is NOW…

One quick and easy way to get started on a gratitude practice is to make a habit of noticing your blessings both morning and night. You don’t even have to write them down, as in a gratitude journal, if that seems too overwhelming. Just taking a few minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed is enough to begin cementing this new practice into your routine. Before long, you’ll be easily noticing that blessings are all around you.

Here are 5 tips to help you start a gratitude practice today:

Start Small

In January, countless people will make the same resolution they’ve made for the past five years: lose 20 pounds. They’ll try to do it by the latest extreme dieting fad, or think they’re suddenly going to start showing up at the gym at 4am, when they haven’t worked out once in the past 5 years. The truth is, 90% of them will quit by Valentine’s Day.

Easing into any habit is usually the best approach. By making this new gratitude practice easier on yourself, you’ll be more inclined to continue moving forward. So, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to come up with grand examples of gratitude when you’re just starting out. Just appreciating the bed where you’re starting and ending the day can be something to add to your initial list. Sometimes merely recognizing a tiny blessing can have a significant impact.

Add It On

A helpful method for remembering your new gratitude habit is to add it on to your existing routine. Whatever you usually do in the morning and night, be sure to include a few minutes to think of what makes you feel fortunate. For example, if you have tea every morning, this would be a good connection to make. Sitting down to tea will soon become a reminder to contemplate on your three things.

Create Visual Reminders

If you find yourself forgetting to do it or skipping out on your new task, add some visual cues to your environment. Post-it notes are great for this. Stick one on your nightstand. Add another to your bathroom mirror. Technology comes in handy for reminders, as well. Set the alarm on your phone so that you don’t leave the house or fall asleep without taking time to consider what makes you feel thankful.

Turn It Around

You can also try the opposite. Turn complaints around into something positive. Maybe you wake up with a sore back and don’t want to get out of bed. It may seem obvious, but reminding yourself that you’re in overall good health and that you have a safe place to sleep can do wonders for your outlook. Try to find the silver lining. It really works.

Take Notes

A good habit can be jotting things down during the day as they happen. It only takes a few seconds to make a note of what you feel grateful for in that moment. You can reflect on it later during your quiet bedtime routine.

Hopefully, you now see how getting into the habit of recognizing the good things in life really isn’t all that difficult. A few small changes to your routine, and you’ll find it’s actually quite easy to implement this practice.

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How Gratitude Can Make All the Difference

Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.

— Brene’ Brown

One Sunday morning a few years ago, a friend asked, “What’s exciting in your life this week?” Without thinking, I said, “You know, most days I just want to get the kids in bed in one piece and pay the power bill. That’s my main calling.” I said it tongue-in-cheek, but I meant it.

The question (and my response) weighed heavy on my heart for several days. I knew there had to be more to life than just working to pay the bills. But most days, I felt like I was just dragging my wife and kids behind me, as I kept trying to climb the ladder of success.

Gratitude can be broken down to appreciating the good things in your life. It doesn’t always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the silver lining can be challenging. However, learning how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your happiness. Being grateful offers a host of other benefits you’re probably not aware of, too. Let’s take a closer look at the concept, ways it can improve your life and how to practice it.

About Gratitude

There are many definitions of gratitude. Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion. Others look at it as more of a mood. Still, some folks think gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits.

These can all be correct.

In essence, gratitude elicits satisfaction and appreciation in a person through feelings, actions or even inherent qualities. But here’s the thing: even those of us who may be more inclined to feel grateful about particular things still probably need to work on establishing a regular gratitude practice.

Gratitude can be viewed as a practice or something you embrace regularly. Most people practice something because it benefits them. This is true of gratitude. As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.

Benefits of Embracing Gratitude

There are many benefits of gratitude that have been scientifically proven. Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset. Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.

Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality, self-esteem, and energy levels. Being thankful for your blessings can enhance your emotional wellness. You’ll deal better in crisis situations and find you’re more resilient when you’re able to look on the bright side. This can contribute to better relationships, too.

Appreciating the positives in life can simply make you feel happier.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

Recognizing your blessings may not come easily at first, but there are some ways to help make it a habit and a regular part of your routine. One of the most convenient and impactful methods for cultivating appreciation is through keeping a gratitude journal. In this practice, you’ll write down three things each day that you’re grateful for, which makes it easier to notice and recognize those good things.

Meditation has also been shown to help. Also, making an effort to thank someone each day, for even the smallest thing, opens your eyes and heart to abundance. Giving back and doing good for others can provide great perspective, as well.

In a different season, my marriage nearly fell apart, due to my constant busyness and drive to do something “big.” These days, gratitude urges me to recognize the privilege of making my wife’s coffee in the mornings and helping with household chores. While I’m prone to complain about my four-year-old’s knees in my rib cage when she crawls into our bed in the middle of the night, gratitude reminds me that she won’t always be this little. The shift for me is trying to breathe in all these memories. Instead of viewing my wife and children as additional baggage – one more responsibility – I now realize they are my greatest gifts.

Gratitude has changed my life. And now you have a better understanding of how noticing every blessing can change things for you, too. Embracing and expressing gratitude are more critical than many of us realize.


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How Stillness & Gratitude Work Together

“You ever heard of the reticular activator?”

My friend Sue and I are sort of like characters from the 90’s sitcom, Home Improvement. I’m Tim Taylor, and she’s Wilson (the neighbor on the other side of the fence). Sue is used to my confused looks and mile-long stares as she pontificates about profound and mind-boggling truths of the Universe.

I sat across from her at the kitchen table at her house, “The reticular what?!” I asked, my voice an octave higher and full of confusion.

The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience defines the reticular activating system this way:

Humans have three sleep and arousal states: waking, asleep (resting or slow-wave sleep), and asleep and dreaming (paradoxical, active, or rapid eye movement sleep). These states are controlled by the reticular activating system located in the mesopons, which interacts with descending reticulospinal and ascending hypothalamic, basal forebrain, and thalamocortical systems.

Can we all breathe a collective WTF? Basically, the reticular activator is the part of your brain that notices things.

 

Sue went on to tell me about buying her red convertible a few years before. She had never noticed so many red convertibles on the road until she owned one herself. Her reticular activator had subconsciously been weeding out unnecessary information, allowing Sue to focus on driving and getting to her destination. But now that she owned a red convertible of her own, suddenly, it seemed there were many more!

I don’t notice the hum of my air conditioner the majority of the time. But when it’s time to hit “record” on my next podcast episode, you can bet I know exactly how loud the vent is in my office. Damn reticular activator.

Stillness sharpens the reticular activator of the soul. As you engage your reticular activator through a daily stillness practice, you hone your ability to notice. And the opposite is true, too: you fine-tune your skills at culling distraction. Coming to stillness, you filter through the white noise of busyness and unnecessary bullshit so you can notice what your soul is trying to tell you. It makes space to allow the truth of your being to grow. It is watering the ground of your soul, allowing goodness and truth and light and calm to grow.

Stillness & Gratitude Work Together

Engaging your reticular activator via stillness also has one other significant benefit: it helps you practice gratitude. When you reduce your busyness, cut out the noise, stop engaging in numbing behaviors, and allow yourself come to stillness, you begin to notice the beauty in your everyday life.

When I get quiet enough, I can sit in my brown leather recliner and notice things I might typically miss. I hear the hum of the ceiling fan in my living room, it’s breeze against my skin. I feel my cotton shirt as it brushes against the hairs on my arms. I hear the little bird singing its song outside on the tree branch. I can sense the tightness of my shoes on my feet, and feel the warmth of my coffee cup in my other hand.  Without stillness, I might never recognize these tiny little gifts – the gifts of presence.

Slow Down and Look Around

My challenge for you, right now, if at all possible, is to close your laptop or put down your phone and sit still for five minutes. Do nothing other than getting quiet and observing. What do you notice? Is it sunshine through the window? Your partner snoring in the next room? The buzz of a fluorescent light fixture above you? Your children laughing in the backyard? Or the rump-a-tum-tum of your heartbeat? Note every single thing you observe for five minutes and when you finish, take a moment to write it all down. If you want to cultivate gratitude in your daily life, it starts by getting quiet.

As I sit in silence, more often than not, a smile curls around my lips and I think this is good. All of this may sound silly to you. Maybe you read these words and think, who cares about your recliner and the hum of a ceiling fan? The ceiling fan is not the point. Wax on, wax off. The purpose of this exercise is to realize how many opportunities we have to practice gratitude. We miss them, more often than not, because we’re too damn busy.