May 7, 2017
Founder of E|B|M Angela has a birthday coming up this week, so in celebration of this we’re talking all things related to milestones.
You’ll commonly see lists like “30 by 30” or “50 by 50” that people set themselves as goals to achieve by a certain timeline. Not only do these lists help to set plans and timelines in place, but they are a fun way to put together a bucket list to do by yourself, with your friends, or with your significant other.
Today we’re putting together a top 10 list that you may find some inspiration for your own list no matter what age you are! The important thing with lists like this is that you only put elements on there that personally relate to you and that you consider important! Find yourself a comfortable space in the sunshine or rugged up on your lounge and get creative.
NOTE this is not a typical “achievement list”; this is looking through the lens of ENERGY|BODY|MIND of creating a healthier and happier YOU.
#1 Set a five and ten year plan: if the word ‘plan’ makes you run in the opposite direction then this one is DEFINITELY for you. As we get older the years seem to absolutely fly by. Before you know it, Christmas is here again and another year is over, but you can’t seem to think about what you’ve achieved in that last 12 months. Having a longer term plan can help time to slow down, with smaller milestones set along the way to achieve the bigger plan. It also means that your decisions become geared towards this goal on a daily basis, and instead of floating through each day, week, month or year, you can depend on your life goals to guide you. You may even put some of these things from the list in it.
#2 Find your significant other: You don’t need to have an engagement or marriage on your list (although if that is important to you then you definitely can!) but finding your significant other is an honourable quest. Finding that one person that you want to spend a majority of your life with and who has similar goals and values to you can make life just that little bit sweeter. However, a huge realisation is that this significant other cannot fulfil ALL your desires from another human. They cannot act as your best friend, confident, lover, philosophical dreamer, lifelong partner, or whatever is on that never ending list. Your significant other is the person you want to share a life with and follow your dreams simultaneously with. They will inherently understand you, respect you, and want the same life goals as you. You’re going to need a whole tribe for everything which takes us to #3.
#3 Create your tribe: They say it takes a community to raise a child so we believe it takes a tribe to raise an adult. You are the result of the top 5 people you spend the most time with, and with time being so precious, choosing those people is crucial to your overall mental and physical health. We talked about finding your tribe but for your list it’s great to seek out people who are in a similar position to you, or ones that are where you are striving to be as an inspiration. Having people in your life that push you and support you will help make this life much more fun.
#4 Fire up those neurons: The neurons are like trees that have beautiful leafy branches stemming off them when we are young. Unfortunately as we get older, these branches start to wilt and some even die and fall off UNLESS we use them. The best way to fire them up and stimulate new growth is to learn a musical instrument or learn a language. It’s a difficult concept for our brain and the effort required is what fires up those trees to be sustainable and grow. Plus it gives you a great excuse to travel!
#5 Travel somewhere you find a little uncomfortable: We’d all like to spend time on a European holiday relaxing in the sunshine with not a care in the world. While those holidays are great, it’s also good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a holiday that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. It can be somewhere with a different culture, a different language, or maybe just a different timezone but in any case, it’s somewhere that will help you to develop a cultural awareness and give you personal growth. Ideas include spending time meditating in India, or volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! We’re not saying find somewhere unsafe, just something that pushes you a little outside your comfort zone; that’s where the magic happens.
#6 Start saving and pay off your debt: In the day and age of credit cards it seems all too easy to just buy things that you can’t afford “right now” in the hope/anticipation that you will get the money in the future. Some of the most successful people have cut up their credit cards and live ONLY off what they have in the bank. Having debt on a credit card not only puts you behind the eight ball for future savings but it acts like a constant dark cloud of any spending. Work out a 1 month, 6 month, 12 month plan of paying off the debt and then start to put away savings each week for something in your longer term plans. It’s amazing what just a little bit now adds up to.
#7 Find an interesting hobby: Do you have a hobby at the moment? You’d be one of the few. It’s amazing to talk to people who HAVE a hobby compared to those who don’t. The passion and flow of conversation that a hobby can create is contagious and extremely attractive. It could be something extravagant like sailing, or something simple like cooking. In either case, it’s something that inspires you and drives you to learn.
#8 Learn how to cook: You don’t have to be on Masterchef but learning how to cook can change your life. Not only will your finances be much better off if you’re not having weeknight dinners out and brunches every Saturday but you’ll know what’s going into the foods you’re eating and be in a greater position to meet your health goals. Plus, doing a cooking class or course is a fun outing to do with friends!
#9 Complete a sporting event: This doesn’t have to just be for the fitness fanatics out there! There are LOTS of sporting events available for any level from a 5km fun run to an ironman triathlon. Participating in a sporting event gives you a goal to work towards and also provides a great personal sense of achievement when you complete it. Once you start, it often creates the momentum for bigger and better ones in the future and you can introduce some fun competition with others to get involved.
#10 Give your time: Purpose and passion are two of the greatest traits that we are all in search of. While it’s not possible for us all to have our dream job that means we wake up looking forward to Monday’s, we can however determine what happens during our own time. Volunteering your time for a cause near and dear to you will heighten your own sense of worth but also provide an invaluable asset to those in need. Even better, make it a regular occurrence; do it once a week, a month, or even a year.
This list goes fundamentally to your self development to help you to be a better person not only for others, but also for yourself. If we stop growing, we die, both in the physical and the mental sense. So keep striving for better.
Jennifer Scott did a Tedx Talk on her form of minimalism in the wardrobe. She talks about how we constantly add to the wardrobe yet don’t throw out things that are currently in the wardrobe. Despite this paradox how many of you have those mornings before work when you think “I have nothing to wear”? The struggle is real to find an outfit that feels comfortable but also looks good. We often have to end up picking something last minute so we’re not too late, and for the rest of the day end up feeling slightly uncomfortable in our choice. My partner – who wears a suit everyday – still has the conundrum of picking out what colour SHIRT (he only has one choice to make!) he’s going to wear that day.
So why does this inverse relationship exist between the number of clothes and the ease with choosing what to wear? Behavioural economics will tell us that it primarily relates to the notion of choice. Research shows that increasing choice actually overwhelms our brains, and too much choice has a negative impact on us. So how do we overcome it then?
Well Jennifer proposes a 10-item wardrobe. She advocates for having a small high-quality wardrobe that is in heavy rotation. There seems to be quite a stigma in Australia about wearing the same clothes. But this isn’t the case in all cultures. Look at any European film; the main lead women characters wear only a few items consistently. It allows them to demonstrate their own unique style everyday. Whereas American films are all about having a different outfit in each scene!
Let’s just think for a moment about what a 10-item wardrobe for Summer / Autumn could look like:
· 2 pairs of pants
· 1 pair of jeans
· 3 dresses
· 4 shirts
· 2 pairs of trousers
· 2 pair of shorts
· 4 shirts
· 2 jackets
Seems reasonably do-able? You are also allowed some ‘extras’ on top of your 10-item wardrobe, such as: t-shirts, blazers, and special occasion wear like for weddings or specific occasions.
I’m not going to stand here though and say that I have a 10-item wardrobe (maybe one day!) but I do a wardrobe cleanout twice a year. To make things easier, I turn all my coat hangers to face the ‘wrong way’. When I wear an item, then it is turned back the right way. This helps me identify what clothes are not being worn regularly. This cleanout has four rules that a piece of clothing has to pass before it gets to stay in the wardrobe:
1. Does it fit me today: don’t wait till you lose/put on that weight and think ‘then it will fit me’. The rule stands for ‘does it fit me TODAY’.
2. Is it age appropriate: there are some items that can last decades and still be timeless, but that tiny leather skirt you bought when you were 18 is probably not appropriate to wear to your friends 30th birthday anymore.
3. Is it my true style: I find as my wardrobe starts to shrink, it also starts to develop. You know the typical clothes that you feel most comfortable in and that look good, so I keep items that follow that trend. If you think that biker jacket looked really great in the shop but you’ve never worn it, it’s probably not your style.
4. Has it been worn in the last 6 months (you can tell by the coat hanger flipping trick!): this is the best rule for the bi-annual clean up. If you haven’t worn it in the last 6 months then it’s got to go.
On top of this, I also enforce the rule that if I buy something, then the equivalent in the wardrobe has to go. Realise that RIGHT NOW you have enough of everything, so anything you buy is excess. So for an easy example, if I buy a new pair of socks, then I throw out an old pair. If I buy a new top, I know that I need to throw out a top at home. This requires a little more thought now in the buying decision. So rather than just impulsively buying items, I now think about what will be sacrificed for this new piece.
So you may still be asking ‘why bother?’. Well despite having a lot more room in the wardrobe and not having to squish everything in, there are some real benefits to having a condensed wardrobe:
· When you need to get dressed for work, you should now be able to pick 2 items and they’ll go together.
· You can let your true style shine through that is classic and unique to you, not like everyone else.
· You will save money because you won’t be impulse buying.
· A clean wardrobe means a clean mind.
· You’ll always be able to look presentable and not default to your ‘active wear’ even though you’re not exercising.
See how you go with de-cluttering your wardrobe!
How does your day usually run at the moment? Do you have time for breakfast? Do you catch yourself at work wearing a top and skirt that don’t match? Or odd coloured socks? Do you get stuck in the rain without an umbrella? Left your keys/wallet/phone at home?
Or are you the complete opposite? Have everything together and the day just runs smoothly and seamlessly? There seems to be a spectrum where people fall between the Planners and the Free Spirit, but no matter where you fall now, there is always another tip or trick you can steal from these organisational hacks to up your own planning mojo.
Below are the top three hacks that other Planners are using everyday to make sure they’re on top of things, have more energy, and reduce their stress levels:
1. Prepare Prepare Prepare
There’s three of them because it relates to three levels of preparation depending on the situation. The old saying rings true that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” so below are some of the best ways people plan ahead. Creating healthy habits will get you a long way, but if you can create rituals (basically a series of habits strung together) then you really set yourself up for success.
Level One: Daily Preparation.
Planners believe that getting organised the night before is key to having a smooth running morning and reducing stress throughout the day. They check the weather forecast before going to bed to help decide what to wear and whether they need any wet weather accessories. They choose what they’re going to wear (plus all the things you need underneath!) from top to bottom and lay them out the night before. Your morning self may not pick up that two different shades of blue don’t actually match! They have their lunch and snacks in a bag ready in the fridge to just grab and go in the morning. It’s a seamless process!
Level Two: Weekly Preparation.
Planners spend time early on to save precious hours later by carving out their weekly schedule on Sunday’s with everything they want and need to achieve in the upcoming week. They schedule in meal preparation, workouts, “me time”, stretching time, meditation, appointments, presentations; all of it goes in. They treat everything as EQUAL so the practices they deemed important at the start of the week can’t be compromised on. They also allocate some ‘spare time’ for catch up in case unexpected things pop up.
Level Three: Monthly and Yearly Preparation.
This is the next level for Planners. Not only are they kicking goals on a week by week basis, but they also see the bigger picture. They set out their goals and intentions for the year broken down into the months so they know what’s next on their list. Because it’s so easy to run through life day by day, week by week, month by month, without achieving anything significant, overcoming this requires forward thinking and an understanding of the big picture to project yourself to where you want to go.
2. Embracing Minimalism
When I say “Minimalist” I don’t mean throwing out all your most prized possessions and going to live in a tree house in the middle of a rainforest. Planners are Minimalists in their daily lives. An example is their wardrobe. One of my clients Sara* is a Minimalist with her wardrobe. Most people only wear about 20% of the items in their wardrobe, so knowing this, Sara does a 6 monthly clear out of her wardrobe. If it hasn’t been worn in the past six months, it goes, to a worthwhile charity. The tip for knowing if it’s been worn or not – turn the coat hanger to face towards the front of the wardrobe and if it’s still that way at the six month check up, it goes. Having a clean and minimal wardrobe takes the stress out of making decisions on what to wear as well!
Planners also tidy as they go. Spending 10 minutes every night before bed tidying up around the house is PLENTY because there isn’t a whole heap of ‘stuff’ in the first place. A great tip is to apply the philosophy that if it takes less than 60 SECONDS to do something, do it at the time IMMEDIATELY. This frees up your weekends too so you’re not spending the whole time cleaning and tidying before the new week begins!
3. They take notes on EVERYTHING
The stores like Officeworks, Kiki K, and Typo are not just making money because their stationary looks good. There are so many things that we need to remember throughout the day that it’s easy to forget or become overwhelmed.
The process of writing notes down as reminders on either post-it notes or digitally in your phone, having an open calendar in the kitchen for everyone to see, or your meal ideas for the week, helps Planners to stay on top of everything and have others in the household also informed!
There are so many templates online and sites for advanced to do lists like Trello or Google Sites, or if you want the hard copy there are lots of amazing options within stationary retailers. Writing things down frees your mind for the more important areas you need to focus on!
Planners always seem less stressed, they have more energy, and despite their massive ‘to do lists’ they manage to get it all done. We can’t all be Perfect Planners, but we can all learn a little something from what they do…
*names changed for confidentiality
October is World Mental Health Month. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as the state of well-being in which every individual with their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to their community. Nearly half (45%) of all Australians will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime, and those that don’t will likely know someone who does. I have several close friends who suffer from anxiety and depression, and while they often can present as a fully functioning adult, there are times when they are crippled with it. The worst part is, this health issue is almost invisible. There’s still a lot of stigma and confusion around mental health, and that’s where this years theme of Learn and Grow comes in.
Suffering from a mental health issue doesn’t necessarily mean being locked in a room 24/7 refusing to leave. My friends usually meet the WHO criteria above, except its not consistent, and there are days when they don’t want to leave their house. It is a weekly and sometimes daily struggle for them to be productive at work. The stress of work, home life or their own self-confidence makes acting as a ‘productive human’ much more difficult.
That is why this year in particular is so important for mental health awareness, as the theme is encouraging people and communities to learn more about mental health and use that knowledge to grow personally and empower individuals to be in control of their mental wellbeing. The social network surrounding people suffering in their mental health is crucial for support. The workplace is one of those key areas.
Stress, daily demands, and burnout are all key precursors in the workplace for a potentially negative impact on workers mental health. Those that ‘work the hardest’ or ‘work the longest’ are often championed and praised for their dedication. But at what cost?
Beyond the emotional and physical toll it takes on the individual, mental health conditions present substantial costs to organisations. My previous blog breaks down the costs of absenteeism, productivity loss, and turnover, of which mental health conditions are a significant contributor. However, through the implementation of an effective wellness program to create a mentally healthy workplace, organisations are showing a positive return on investment.
In light of this, Energy|Body|Mind are hosting a free Mindfulness event in Sydney at Observatory Hill on October 31st. It’s during your lunch break on a Monday from 12.30-1.15pm so come along to engage with some stretching and powerful postures, learn some breathing techniques, and undertake a short meditation. You will leave feeling recharged and re-energised! Registration details below.
So what are some of the ways that you can start to integrate a healthy work environment to help you and your colleagues to reduce and prevent the ill-effects of mental health issues?
This is an important issue, and one that seems to be on the rise. But we can do something about it, and taking action in the workplace can be one of the best methods for this.
Registration for the Mindfulness event is from the Home Page of this site. Spots are limited, and the first 10 to register will receive a special gift! Look forward to seeing you there.
Ever wanted to go to a wellness retreat? Be it yoga, meditation, massage, holistic health, the choices are endless. Retreats can be an expensive expedition, and you often feel amazing while you’re away, but then come back to reality and forget to implement all your learnings into your everyday life. Before you know it, your phone is again attached to you like a third limb, your mind is wandering all the time, and you’ve been to yoga only once this week.
I recently spent a long weekend up at the Byron Yoga Centre. In light of that retreat, I wanted to share how I’ve learnt to create my own retreat here at home, and how you too can create your own oasis to escape anytime you like.
If you’re currently experiencing an overwhelming urge to pack your bags and permanently escape reality (while a supported idea!) there are a few ways to bring the retreat to your life here, and prepare you to confront the world refreshed, renewed and revitalised.
Set Aside 4-7 Hours A Week for YOU
While the movie “Yes Man” taught us a lot about embracing new adventures, society has almost gone too far in saying “yes” to everything. When was the last time you said “yes” to something, but really didn’t want to go? Learning to say “no” is both empowering and one of the main ways to help you recharge. But it is also hard! Having scheduled downtime is key to rebooting the system and making sure that everything you have said “yes” to is enjoyed. Schedule time in your diary for YOU that you treat like any other important meeting – it is non-negotiable and cannot be moved. This may just be 30 minutes before bed where you read your latest book, or an hour on Saturday mornings before heading out for brunch. Use this time how you like it and sometimes to do NOTHING. It is amazing what an hour a day can do for your overall wellbeing.
Give Yourself a Technology Detox
While in Byron, I turned off my phone for a whole 56 hours (not that I was counting!). It was blissful. Not having to answer to anyone. Not feeling the desire to check what I’d missed on all social media channels. Not needing to take a photo of everything I was doing. Heaven. It’s probably not realistic for us to all throw our phones away and revert to snail mail to communicate. However, you can integrate a technology detox into your day. Have set hours where your phone is OFF. 8pm-8am. They are my new hours. I am uncontactable in that time. I do not access any social mediums in that time. My brain is switched off from technology. Giving yourself the permission to switch off is like your own recharging time. See what hours you can play with and start to build it up till you have 12 hours of detox a day.
Work On Your Sleeping Patterns
With all the time you’ll now have away from your phone you can use it to work out your sleeping patterns. I used to be a night owl, up all hours, but felt terrible waking up in the morning. The retreat had us up every morning at 5.30am which was a big shock to the system! But its a trend I’ve continued in my daily life, and its revolutionised how I spend my time. That’s not to say everyone should be waking up at 5.30am, but it is a good reminder to look at the quantity, quality and patterns of our sleep. Figure out what your ideal hours are and stick to them like an appointment!
Integrating Meditation and Yoga
Coming home after spending four hours a day practising yoga and countless hours in the depths of meditation, I vowed that it would cross over into my life at home. None of us have the time to be spending hours in the strength of Warrior 2 pose or on a grassy patch meditating with our thoughts. But we can find small snippets of time. I now meditate on my commute – 20 minutes on the bus ride in and 20 minutes home. There is something tranquillising about the hum of the bus, and with my earphones in and sunglasses on, no one else knows the better! You also don’t need to join a prestigious yoga studio to feel the benefits of a daily practice. Even the franchise gyms have caught on, and places like Fitness First have LOADS of yoga classes. Once you know a few moves you can integrate this into your daily routine (now that you’re getting up so much earlier) and throughout the day in your breaks (see my previous blog on how to integrate movement into the office). Little additions here and there quickly add up till you find yourself managing to fit an hour of meditation and yoga easily into your schedule.
Take A Look At Your Eating Habits
I am going to make it clear up front – I am not a vegetarian. When I learnt that the weekend retreat was ONLY vegetarian food, I immediately thought I’d be eating lettuce and fruit for the weekend. The food turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. The chefs creatively prepared some amazing dishes for our meals, and without the ability to fall back on the flavour from meat, the fresh ingredients could stand alone and be relished. While the weekend hasn’t turned me vegetarian, it has made me more creative in my own cooking, and curious as to the mixture of texture and flavours that I can produce in a vegetarian meal. I now take three days a week meat free. Try it for just one day – you’ll be amazed at the flavours.
One Day A Month
When I’m feeling extra indulgent, I allow myself a whole day to do all of the above. That is really bringing the retreat to you! Once a month (usually on a Sunday but sometimes a Monday) I go into full retreat mode. No phone for 24 hours. I go to yoga classes twice a day. I meditate throughout the day in little 20 minute pockets. I prepare delicious and creative vegetarian foods that I don’t have time for during the week. I read parts of my favourite books. At times I do NOTHING. Send your better half out for the day. If you have kids send them to a slumber party. Pets are allowed. Really allow yourself to have the space and the mindset to reboot. Trust me, your family / friends / colleagues will be asking you how you look so young, refreshed and zen all the time.
Sometimes you just need to get away and go on a retreat. And you should. Research where you want to go, the classes and options they offer you, and different cost scales. Set an intention for your retreat so you really get the most out of your time away. Then dive in. Head first. Give it your all. Retreats are like unicorns; they occur rarely and provide little nuggets of gold. So embrace them and then bring everything you’ve learnt back home!
The concept of happiness has become a well studied phenomenon in the last decade or so, as more and more authors are writing self-help books, while magazines are coming up with the ‘top tips to be happier’ and Ted Talks are littered with the concept. Everyone wants to be happier. But we all seem to be on the search for it in different way. So is there only one answer?
Researching and reading into what defines happiness for others proved an insightful way to find my own ‘happiness recipe’. Books like the Happiness Project show Gretchen Rubin’s own journey of what happiness meant to her, and is great gateway to opening your own mind for what happiness looks like to you.
Robert Waldinger conducted a 75 year study trying to find out what makes us happy – notably the longest study on happiness ever. His study neatly boils it down to three thing that are going to make us happy:
1. Social connections
2. Number of friends
3. Quality relationships.
I struggle with the notion of being able to conveniently quantify three key elements as to what will make everyone happy, but what a search journey nevertheless!
These two are not alone in their quest for happiness, which is often why the notion of happiness has become a bit of an overused buzzword in our society. HOWEVER, there is some merit to the search behind it all. The quest for happiness is really what makes us happier. Authors, bloggers, columnists, anyone who can write the ‘ABC’ are fundamentally on the search for their own happiness. Their findings are purely their own, and you can choose whether you align with those outcomes or not. The simple task of searching ourselves is what will ultimately lead to more enriched, full and happy lives so embrace the search!
This wouldn’t be a post about ‘happiness’ without some of my own key findings as to what my experimentation has led me to believe are my triggers for happiness. For me, they all relate in some way to ‘health’. But when I say ‘health’, I mean this in the broadest concept of the word. Health and Happiness go together like Ying and Yang for me; one can’t exist without the other. Fundamentally I have found three elements that matter to me the most and I try to incorporate daily to make me happier.
Energy and the nutrients we eat: when I eat bad foods I tend to feel bad as well. I feel sluggish, tired and lacking in energy and vitality. When I eat nourishing, clean and wholefoods my body responds in amazing ways. ‘You are what you eat’ really takes on a whole new meaning. While I don’t calorie count or follow any particular ‘diet’, I am mindful as to what I’m eating and listen to my body’s own bioindividuality as to what it needs. If I’m feeling energised, rejuvinated and satisfied after eating, I by default feel much happier.
Body and the way we move it: this one is a must for me. It’s like my subconscious can tell the days that I haven’t exercised. I’m really jittery but lazy and lacking energy (I know everything that you think is the opposite!). The endorphins I gain from exercising and the satisfaction of every session is unparalleled. Even the simplest thing like a walk can reset my mind and puts me on track to a healthier and happier place.
Mind and the techniques to use it: when I feel like my day is getting out of control – the heart starts to pound and 1000 thoughts all come flooding in for my never ending ‘to do list’ – meditation is my saviour. I routinely take out 10 to 20 minutes a day to repeat my mantra to allow my thoughts to become more streamline, prioritised and clear. If you can get back control of your mind, everything else seems to fall into place.
One final thought on happiness. It seems in today’s society that it’s very easy to get caught up in the joy of ‘one extra like’ on Instagram or ‘a friend request’ on Facebook. Research shows it is the quality of relationships that is much more important than the quantity. It helps me to feel more recharged and energised when I’ve spend decent quality time with those closest to me, rather than long or big catch up session with lots of friends.
In the end, while I do think ‘Happiness’ is becoming somewhat of a buzzword, there is some merit in it’s quest. In your own research, you make take on one, you may take on everyone’s, or you may take on no one’s findings. But if anything, I hope that just thinking about happiness helps you to start to do your own search for what is happiness to YOU.