30 Days of Wellness Jess May Yoga

30 Days of Wellness Challenge!

Have you been scrimping on your self-care? Want to feel top notch after a cold, dark winter? Then this challenge is for you. But let’s be clear – for the sake of self-care there will be no losers here. Every step you take towards looking after yourself better is a WIN, whether it’s one or thirty.

Created for busy bees and hard workers

This challenge came about due to my involvement with the fantastic Side Hustlers’ Haven group on Facebook. As all the members are working hard to make their dreams come true, the group’s creator, super-coach Tracey Minutolo, and I decided they might need a reminder to take some time for TLC. So I created thirty. 30!

A wholehearted challenge

I believe in living a wholesome, holistic life. Therefore¬†this challenge offers tasks relating to thinking, feeling, doing and consuming. Addressing all of these points together makes a huge impact on our overall wellbeing – our physical and mental health. The best part about working on our wellbeing is that the positive results flow over into other areas of life. If you feel on top form then you’ll have more time and energy to give to the things you care about. Like your side hustle. Like your family. It’s all about the joie de vivre.

The 30 Days of Wellness Challenge

So let’s not keep you waiting any longer – here are your challenges!

30 days of wellness challenge

This challenge has been created to run through April 2017, so if you’re ready to start with us, you’ll see that I’ve tried to make the tasks relevant to the days of the week. HOWEVER! Don’t let a late start put you off – you can do this challenge anytime. Please note also that I’m not a doctor so you take part at your own risk. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns ūüôā

Day 1 – SMILE!

This challenge just so happens to be starting on April Fools’ Day so what better day to make sure you get smiling?! Sometimes we get so serious juggling our to-do items that we can go for hours without smiling (or even more than hours!). Smiling releases ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and endorphins, and endorphins have the added benefit of fighting pain too. The best bit? You don’t actually need to FEEL happy to reap the benefits of smiling. You just have to make the expression and the magic will start. So whether you watch hilarious dog videos (yeah, I said that!) or stick a pencil between your teeth, start smiling more today.

Day 2 – Try a new recipe

Don’t let a lack of skills in the kitchen lead you to eat unhealthy takeaways, ready meals, or even store bought cakes and candy. You deserve better than that! Cooking and baking can be fun, used to occupy children, used as the basis of a blog post¬†and is often a great way to save money. Check out my Pinterest boards if you want some inspiration, or let me know in the comments!

Day 3 – Stretch

You couldn’t expect a yoga teacher to talk for long about wellness without mentioning yoga right?! ¬†Don’t worry – I’m not making you sign up to a class. Simply taking a moment to stretch in bed when you wake up and after your feet have hit the floor first thing can help prevent injury, sustain mobility and get the blood¬†flowing. If you need encouragement, check out some simple stretches on YouTube.

Day 4 – Drink water

Get headaches? Feel sleepy? Have dry skin? Smelly breath? Your water intake could be to blame. Consult a doctor if you have concerns, but in the meantime, start drinking more water-at least a couple of litres a day. Aaaaaaannnnnddddd water means plain water, with no added artificial sweeteners or sugar. If you aren’t used to the natural taste, try adding slices of lemon, mint, strawberries or cucumber to liven things. This adds nutrients too!

Day 5 – Send a love note

Studies have shown that expressing your love and gratitude to others actually boosts your own feelings of happiness. Bonus! Whether you send an email, message or an actual note, let someone know why they are special to you today.

Day 6 – Shake it off

Don’t let others bring you down. Or rather – don’t drive yourself crazy Facebook stalking people who seem to have their shit together (comparison) and try not to dwell on constructive feedback while thinking that the provider hates you. Put on some Taylor Swift and ‘Shake It Off’. Other less awesome music also accepted…

Day 7 – Feel good not guilty

If you have decided that you love nothing more than ordering a pizza on a Friday night, don’t let a¬†generalisation that it’s ‘bad’ ruin the experience for you. Be happy that you are eating something you find delicious. By convincing yourself that you are being ‘bad’, you’re just stressing yourself out. And stress makes you store calories. No food is inherently good or bad. Strive to eat a variety of things and not too much. But most importantly, own your decisions, live by your own standards and enjoy every moment of your day.

Day 8 – Get out and about

Today is all about pushing yourself to fit in a little more activity and variety than usual. Whether it’s strolling around the mall while catching up with a friend, visiting a local park or even just walking to buy milk, make today a little different and get out and about.

Day 9 – Declutter

One thing that has really helped me to be more organised is to have less stuff. Less stuff means things look nicer in my wardrobe, I can access everything in my tiny kitchen without having to move other objects out of the way and I know where everything is. It also means cleaning takes no time at all which I LOVE. There are loads of blogs about minimalism out there, and I’m a huge fan of Marie Kondo, but just do what feels right for you. Start with your wallet or magazine rack.

Day 10 – Be grateful

Hopefully writing a love note warmed you up for this one. For one day and one day only, make gratitude your focus. Yes, practicing daily gratitude has huge psychological benefits but I promised this challenge would be kind. Just for today, thank your light for turning on, your kettle for your cups of tea (yes I’m British!) and your colleague for helping you find a file, and see how you feel.

Day 11 – Pre-bed yoga

If you’re reading this during the day, set an alarm on your phone to go off a few minutes before your desired bedtime. When it goes off you’ll know it’s time for some really easy pre-bed stretches and some time out. Put on some gentle music or enjoy the silence while you stretch. I love this bedtime sequence on LiveStrong.

Day 12 – Meditate

I am not going to pretend that I am any sort of devout meditation guru. I usually only meditate at the end of my yoga practice or if I’m really stressed out (yeah, typical!). However, it’s proven to be good you and it’s definitely one of the tips that can benefit lots of areas of life. So let’s try it together. 5 minutes? 10 minutes? You decide. You can use an app like Calm or listen to this soothing¬†15-minute¬†Self Esteem meditation. Or just set a timer for a few minutes and dive in. Counting your breath can help keep your monkey-mind focused and sometimes I say to myself ‘I am’ while inhaling and say ‘calm and relaxed’ on the exhale. Just play about with it.

Day 13 – Try a new snack

I am a big snacker. I just KNOW that I won’t get through the afternoon without getting peckish. Since I know this, there really is no excuse for me not to be prepared with something yummy and not unhealthy. If you’re the same, I challenge you to try a new snack today. I recently made some cheese and spinach¬†savoury muffins that were¬†delicious and also some homemade wholemeal cinnamon and raisin bread that tastes amazing with peanut butter (and stops me eating bagels) but a different shop bought snack is also fine. Let me know what you tried!

Day 14 – Dance about

Do you work from home? I do, and during the winter I found it quite difficult to leave the house without good reason (blame Scottish weather). This encouraged me to get creative about getting enough movement into my day. Because we all know (or should) that exercise makes the blood flow and increases oxygen, which turns us into brainstorming, efficient machines. By creative I mean I found a good song on Spotify and jumped and wiggled my way around the room like a numpty (technical term). But it felt good! I even laughed at myself! Go on, give it a go! Bonus points if you actually go to a class or dance in public!

Day 15 – Cuddle

Who doesn’t love a cuddle? Spend time with loved ones and make sure to give them an extra special big hug. Or give a hello hug to a new friend. Or get all cosy and give YOURSELF a big hug for just being wonderful you.

Day 16 – Plan your meals

A huge amount of money goes straight into landfill each year when we buy food that we don’t eat. Just once, try planning a week’s worth of meals and see how it affects your wallet and stomach.

Day 17 – Listen to some inspiration

Hands up if you love podcasts? I’m a bit of an addict and have written several blog posts about my favourite. If you haven’t tried them yet, have a listen today and see whether you learn something or get some inspiration. My favourites at the moment are probably the Optimal Living Daily family of podcasts. There is one on general life, one that focusses on health, one on personal finance and one on start-ups (perfect for group entrepreneurs!).

Day 18 – Tidy up

Hopefully you took the ‘declutter’ task to heart and will find today’s challenge really easy. Now you have a bit less stuff it should be easier to organise what you have left. If you come across anything that doesn’t bring you joy and you can’t remember when you last used it, ditch it. If it’s something that you forgot you had but think is useful, make a pledge to use it now. This has helped me get to grips with my stash of gift bags and rolls of gift wrap, and several kitchen implements that I never used. Put your back into this exercise and it also counts as…exercise! Fun music or a great podcast also helps.

Day 19 – Get sweaty

You might have ticked this one off yesterday with your cleaning mission but even so, make time today to get sweaty. I’m not going to tell you how – more living room dancing, a gym class, hauling trash out or…whatever you fancy! Just remember that your body needs and loves movement. It is the natural state for us, and any discomfort we have is the fault of the sedentary lifestyle we’ve led, not the fact we’re finally getting moving. Just make sure to contact a doctor first if you have any concerns.

Day 20 РTry pomodoros

Have you tried using the pomodoro technique? This is a system created by Francesco Cirillo¬†to help you focus. You set a timer for 25 minutes, spend that time in focused work, and when it goes off you have 5 minutes ‘off’. The idea is that you can get a lot done in this way and I must say I agree. With all the distractions that are available on a computer, it’s so hard to stay on task. But by knowing that it’s only for 25 minutes, it’s easier to focus and ignore the draw of Facebook. You can go there once the timer goes off. The other wellness benefit of this system is that you can use the 5 minutes between sessions to get up and move your body. By doing this, even just in this 5 minute pause, you can reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity. Worth it I’d say!

Day 21 – Have a laugh

We practiced smiling on day one but now it’s time to take it up a notch. Work your apps, your facial muscles, let those endorphins rush and serotonin levels peak. Laugh your head off. I found this video of an owl hilarious. But whatever works for you ūüôā Let me know what does as I’m always looking for suggestions! PS who doesn’t want an excuse to watch funny videos?! It’s for a wellness challenge!

Day 22 – Cook without sugar or salt

I know this may sound like sacrilege to many but the problem is, we are being acclimatised to an unhealthy amount of salt and sugar in prepared foods. One way to reset your palate is to cook yourself without sugar or salt. It might taste bland at first but fear not – you adapt! Our current diets are causing major health problems and it’s time for us to fight back. Guidelines say no more than 6g of salt and 30g of sugar per day. Just for today, keep track and see how your intake compares. Get in control of this and you reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. A HUGE wellness win!

Day 23 РPlan for wellness

Today is a day to think about what makes you happy and feel ‘well’ and make sure it is in your schedule for the week ahead. If you really want to go for it, try Danielle LaPorte’s ‘Desire Map‘ exercise which drills down into ‘how you want to feel’. Then schedule an activity that gets you feeling it.

Day 24 РPick up a book

Read to learn, read to relax, but pick up a book today. Ideally take your eyes away from a screen but the most important thing is to sink into a good story that distracts you or bask in the wisdom of a knowledgeable non-fiction. Check out my reading list for some inspiration!

Day 25 – Ditch the soda

This challenge builds on your efforts to drink more water and cut sugar and salt. Drinks can have so many hidden nasties in them, read the nutritional information on whatever your go-to tipple is and see how it weighs up on the health stakes. Don’t let a drink be the downfall of your healthy lifestyle, even if the branding implies it’s healthy!

Day 26 РJournal

There is no doubt that those who seek clarity on what they have done and plan to do, do well. Journaling can help with this. Whether you write a gratitude journal, try free writing¬†or just note what’s on your mind, giving yourself time and space for reflection is what today’s task is all about.

Day 27 – 3 body weight exercises

Body weight exercises are THE BEST. By building muscle we burn more calories (hurrah!) and these exercises are free and adaptable. Try any 3 today, as many times as you can. That’s it!

Day 28 РTry a healthy option

Eating out today? Try a healthy option. Going for drinks? We don’t need to be saintly to make slightly healthier choices. A common recommendation is to check the menu of a restaurant before you go and then make your mind up before you’re a) starving b) seduced by an alternative. If you’re eating at home, can you get creative or make informed health choices today? One of my favourite meals just now is homemade pizza. We make a wholemeal dough and put on SO MANY yummy toppings. It’s still an indulgent meal but I have no doubt it’s healthier than takeaway. Plus it definitely tastes better. Let me know what you try!

Day 29 – Adventure!

It is said that ‘variety is the spice of life’ so let’s get adventuring! How can you be adventurous today? Whether it’s what you do, eat, where you go…just have fun. Adventuring helps us to gain confidence. Adventuring with your partner or a friend will encourage bonding. Enjoy!

Day 30 – Love on yourself

We’ve made it to day 30! Go team! I hope you are feeling more than ‘well’, I hope you feel fantastic! And to thank yourself for all the effort you’ve put in I want you to love on yourself. Have a bath, watch your favourite movie, write a list of your good points and put it where you’ll see it to remember how blooming fantastic you are. Because you stepped up for your mind, body and spirit and committed to this 30 days of wellness challenge and you reached the end. *virtual hug!*

Go forth and feel well

Whether you take these ideas forward and keep focusing on optimising your physical and mental health or you get distracted, just keep loving yourself. That is the number 1 thing we can do for our wellbeing, and that’s what I wish for us all. I do hope you’ve had fun and keep dancing about though…

Happier at Home Jessica Constable blog

Highlights from Happier at Home by Gretchin Rubin

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends” Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No 68

When a book starts with a quote of that caliber, you know you are in for a good read. After LOVING Gretchen’s book, ¬†The Happiness Project,¬†I couldn’t help but dive right into Happier at Home. This was probably a mistake. I overloaded on Gretchen’s happiness wisdom! But…it was still a good read.¬†The book takes place 5 years after Gretchen’s original project and this time focusses more on her home life. I may have been slightly put off by the pedestal Gretchen puts her relationship with her husband on (although…awwww) but there are still a load of gems of wisdom in there. So many in fact that I’m just going to lay a few out here. Fill your cup with beautiful words…then get the book ūüôā

Those without a name are Gretchen’s own.

Happier Quotes

Home is “something you somehow haven’t to deserve” Robert Frost

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy

“Sometimes words only diminish what I want to convey.”

“It isn’t enough to love; we must prove it.” Saint Therese de Lisieux

“Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.” Samual Johnson

“If you’re willing to take the blame when you deserve it, people will give you the responsibility.” Jack Craft (Gretchen’s dad)

“We get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that we find worthy of our own respect – such as helping other people.”

“On the whole, tho’ I never arrived at Perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining it, but fell far short of it, yet as I was by the Endeavor a better and a happier Man than I otherwise should have been, if I had not attempted it.” Benjamin Franklin

“If something’s important to me, I should reserve time for it in my schedule, make a place for it in my home, and build relationships around it.”

“I thought how breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day. Now is now. Here is my treasure.”

Gretchen’s Five Fateful¬†Questions for decision making

“What am I waiting for?

What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

What steps would make things easier?

What would I do if I had all the time and money in the world?

If I were looking back at this decision, 5 years on, what will I wish I’d done?”

 

Gretchen’s 8 Splendid Truths

“First: To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

Second: One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.

Third: The days are long, but the years are short.

Fourth: I’m not happy unless I think I’m happy.

Fifth: I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.

Sixth: The only person I can change is myself

Seventh: Happy people make people happy, but I can’t make someone be happy, and no one else can make me happy.

Eigth: Now is now.

Final words

I hope you enjoyed those. I recommend just reading them again. GEMS! Let me know if you’ve read the book, have a favourite quote from above, or if you have any recommendations for me.

the month of january jessica may constable blog

The Month of January

The post is inspired by a post from the fab blog, Reynolds Made. I thought the idea of reflecting over past months would be a useful way to see how I spent my time and track growth over the year. I then got distracted and never got round to posting this! But rather than delete it, I’m posting it now. I really look forward to looking back over the year in this way and also taking the time to take stock as the year passes. So here goes!

What I did in January…

Started blogging more

This wasn’t that hard since I was posting sporadically at best. However, somehow the social side of blogging became visible to me and I’ve been encouraged by other bloggers like Reynolds Made and DeviseCreateConcoct¬†to get involved and share more. And I’ve been enjoying the process!

Did a workshop on desire mapping by Danielle LaPorte

I loved this innovative, heart-centred goal setting process and wrote the blog post ‘How do you want to feel?‘ about it if you want to learn more.

Tried daily habits

To get our year off on the right track, my kind and willing boyfriend Philippe and I¬†decided on several tasks that we would do each day for a month. We printed out a chart from Productive Flourishing¬†with 5 tasks each and stuck it on our fridge. Each day we marked whether we had completed the action or not, and could add notes. I found this technique¬†pretty effective, at least when it came to reminding me to do something I really thought it worthwhile¬†to do. I walked 10,000 steps a day, even when I had to jog on the spot through half a movie to do it, I did a handstand every day, and I’m proud to say that flossing is still a nightly occurrence for me. However, writing a daily ‘to do’ and ‘to done’ list never really stuck. I might return to this technique in the future when I feel the need for a bit of an overhaul though.

Cadence and I Month of January

Made my sister’s birthday¬†present

I used the website Tuxpi¬†to crop 40 pictures of my sister and me over the years for her 40th birthday gift. ¬†I then organised them to fit an A4 frame and printed it for her birthday gift. She (and therefore I) was really happy with it!¬†ūüôā Above is out first photo together which went at the beginning of the¬†page.

Taught yoga

After qualifying as a yoga instructor last year I did a lot of traveling and never settled into regularly teaching yoga. With the new year I realised that that was STUPID and so started to look for opportunities to teach. The stars aligned when my neighbours said they were looking to try yoga and I taught them in my flat! We had a lot of fun and I got to finally put my skills to use.

Sang in a choir

As part of the Desire Map process, I realised I wanted to sing more. I looked for local options and ended up at a Rock Choir practice. It was great fun! I luckily ended up by a fantastic singer who helped me to lock down the harmonies, and it was just a lovely experience. Although I haven’t been back (it’s not cheap!), it is going on my list of things to do once I’m back in regular employment. The experience has encouraged me to sing loud and proud to musicals in my kitchen several times though, and that is definitely a win.

All in all…

January was a full on month. After starting the year as we always do with Philippe’s family in France (the cover photo is the sunset of 2016 over the Mediterranean), our arrival back in Glasgow prompted a refocus on what we want to achieve this year. I tried lots of new things and was so happy to meet lots of nice people at various meet ups.¬†The challenge would be to kee up momentum…

Has anyone else done a monthly summary? I’m going to try and get a quick February one done soon so I’m in a good position to get March’s out on time. Wish me luck!

 

happiness project - be happier

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I absolutely loved the book ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. Funny, thought provoking, informative, useful and inspiring, it provided everything I want in a self-help¬†book.

The book charts a year in the life of Rubin as she tries to make herself happier. Along the way, she deals with issues such as ‘is it selfish to want to be happier when you aren’t miserable?’ which highlight how good this book is for the majority of the population. Rubin believes that by becoming more aware of what makes you happy, you can make yourself that bit happier even when times are hard. And by striving to make yourself happier, you are likely improving the lives¬†of those around you too.

Happier Relationships

When focussing on relationships, the goals of ‘stop nagging’ and ‘stop demanding praise especially when you don’t give it’ spoke to me. Another point of interest was the description of the ‘fundamental attribution error’. This is a psychological phenomenon where we view other people’s actions as reflections of their characters while overlooking the power of situations in influencing their actions. Whereas in with ourselves we recognise the pressures of circumstance. For example, how often do you take someone snapping at you personally, yet expect others to realise that you are snapping just because you are hangry?

Happier Choices

This book also reminded me of Barry Schwarz’s ‘paradox of choice’ and the terms ‘satisficer’ and maximiser’.¬†I need to get that book onto my reading list! Since I haven’t read it you can read Rubin writing about it on her blog.

Being Happier is a Challenge

On the very nature of being happy, I found a wealth of insight in Rubin’s discourse. As a person who strives to be optimistic (or a positive realist as I like to call it), yet receives sarcastic criticism for it, ¬†I also saw truth in the following observances:

“people cultivate unhappiness as a way to control others. They¬†cling to unhappiness because¬†without it they’d forgo the special consideration¬†that unhappiness secures; the claim to pity and attention.”

“The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient;¬†he becomes a cushion for others.” and further, “Because she seemed so happy, they assumed that her behaviour was effortless.”

These points vocalised why I get so frustrated by office moaning every Monday. It creates a mountain for every cheery person to climb each time you meet a colleague in the kitchen. And fitting into the norm of responding that you are ‘not bad’ to every ‘how are you’ can bring the brightest optimist down. I will strive to be more aware of my own language in future to buoy other ‘happy’ people.

Other quotes I liked:

“I think by knowing who we are as people and being ourselves, we can start making the world better.”

I hope that you grab ‘The Happiness Project’ next time you visit the library. If you’ve read it, please share your thoughts, or let me know if there is something else I need to add to my reading list. I’ve just started reading the follow up ‘Happier at Home’ which might be overkill…but I don’t care! Check out the rest of my reading list for other recommendations!

 

My Reading List 2017

I’ve been keeping a note of books I’ve read, films I’ve seen and shows I’ve watched for years and love looking back at what I’ve encountered. I hope some of these recommendations (or warnings!) will come in use to you.

I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction¬†(mainly personal development) books. Any books that I’ve written more about will be hyperlinked, and I’ll keep updating throughout the year. Enjoy!

April

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt 9/10

Happiness by Design – Peter Dolan 10/10

March

Spark Joy РMarie Kondo Р9/10 (Sequel to the amazing The Life Charging Magic of  Tidying)

Golden Hill – Francis Spufford – 8/10

Happier at Home – Gretchen Rubin – 8/10 (Follow on of The Happiness Project)

The Chimp Paradox – Steven Peters 10/10

Stumbling on Happiness – Daniel Gilbert 10/10

Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Bottom 4/10

February

Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmull – 8/10 (Leadership and creativity)

Mindwise – Nicholas Epley – 7/10 (Understanding the mind)

I Heart Me Р David R. Hamilton Р6/10 (Nurturing self-love)

Nora Webster – Colm Toibin – 7/10

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin – 10/10 (could not have loved this more!)

January

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry – 10/10

The Universe Has Your Back – Gabriel Bernstein – 5/10 (Laws of Attraction)

Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney – 8/10

Rising Strong РBrene Brown Р8/10 (Overcoming shame and problems)

Mindwise jessicamayconstable blog

Mindwise – a book about understanding the mind

Mindwise by Nicholas Epley has a very long, but compelling, subtitle; “How we understand what others think, believe, feel and want”. At first glance, it seems to promise a lot. Until you realise the book is about how we try to understand but usually fail. Don’t expect to come away a mind reader. Rather you will be humbled by your own ineptitude.

Renowned psychologist Epley shows us that we are pretty much incapable of understanding anyone, even ourselves. It seems we are fantastic at convincing ourselves that we know another person or people, but most often we do not. A particular example highlights the disparity between how much you know your partner and how much you think you know your partner. Eye opening to say the least!

My favourite quotes

“Nobody waves, but almost everybody waves back.” (Strive to be an initiator in life!)

and

“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realise how seldom they do.” From David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest.

I really like Epley’s writing style. He combines humour and research studies in a way that I did not think was possible. Reading this book can make us a little wiser.

My score: 7/10

How do you want to feel?

This January brought ‘The Desire Map’ by Danielle LaPorte into my life; the goal setting method based around the question, “how do you want to feel?”. My friend, Donna, runs a Women’s Personal Development Book Club here in Glasgow and also a life coach consultancy called aha! Moments. Donna’s love for Danielle’s methods led her to become certified in sharing the mapping process, and I attended one of her workshops. I am so glad I did!

Introducing The Desire Map

Like many others, I have spent a fair amount of time over the last month reflecting on my goals for 2017. As a person in transition, I felt my goals were inconsequential if I couldn’t decide on the big issues – what to do for a living and where to live. The Desire Map helped me to take a step back. Instead of worrying about external credentials, Danielle tells us to select a few ‘core desired feelings’ that we want to experience. Once these are decided, we try to feel them more often and inadvertently bring more what we want into our lives.

Discovering your core desired feelings

How do you want to feel graph

Using Donna’s fab ‘wheel of life’ above, think about what you want to feel in each area of your life. For example, for relationships, maybe you long for ‘romance’, or maybe you prefer ‘passion’. Of course, there is no reason that your relationship can’t be both. But often we know ourselves the one thing we are yearning for right now. You can brainstorm loads, and then choose the one that most moves you. Write down that word.

I completed the exercise and realised that a few of my words were very similar, so I whittled them down to 5. Confident, joyful, on fire (phrases are allowed!), committed, and balanced.

How can you create those feelings?

After deciding how you want to feel in each area of your life, you turn your attention to what makes you feel this emotion. I created a list of what makes ME feel truly confident and when I last felt ‘on fire’ over an activity or idea.¬†I ended up noting a couple of things I have intended to do, like join a choir, but that I have put off because it wasn’t in line with my other life goals, forgetting that feeling great really was the point of making a goal in the first place. If my goal is to feel joyful, then singing is a surefire way for me to feel it, so it goes on the list.

As with the selection of the words, I discovered that a few activities turned up under several headings. Meditation came up for almost all of them which was eye opening. How had I been neglecting such a simple tool for feeling the way I want to feel?! Through distraction that’s how! But Desire Mapping helped me see where my efforts had been misguided.¬†I love how this turns traditional goal setting on its head. No more picking goals from a daydream. Tapping into my intuition about what feels good now can move me towards better health, a better lifestyle AND business success but in a way guided by self love.

Turning process into practice

Once I had created and amalgamated the list of activities that help me to feel the way I want to feel, it was easier to fit them into the calendar and make sure that I actually started to do them. This process motivated me to finally go to Rock Choir last week, which was a blast! Also when I’m feeling down, I can go back to the list and find ideas on how to pick myself up. Even if all that takes is a 5-minute meditation video on Youtube.

I feel that so many of my struggles come when I lose touch with the innate wisdom inside of me and start striving for external goals or validation. Although those things have their place, how you feel is of paramount importance.

Have you tried the Desire Map process? Does this ring true for you or do you have another strategy for feeling good while encouraging yourself to try new things? I’d love to hear from you!

podcasts can change your life

Podcasts can change your life

Podcasts can have a significant effect on your life, as they have had on mine. When I started being aware of personal development, it was podcasts that gave me direct access to  wisdom and encouragement, whenever I needed it. Which was often.

At first I would laugh at how clich√©d the content seemed to me. Thoughts like “Why the hell are all these people getting up at 5am?!”, “No, jovial host, I am not a goal achiever” or, most often, “Could these people be anymore…American?!” would circle through my Scottish head (BTW, by ‘American’ I mean determined and confident!). But I also realised that I could do with a bit more determination and confidence in my life. So I kept listening.

Overtime the podcasters became like friends and teachers, introducing me to new thought processes and ideas on life. I started to think differently and found myself advocating a more proactive and conscious way of living. As described by blogger Steve Pavlina, “Eventually that little pattern that was once just an idea becomes dominant enough to start influencing thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviour congruently.” The pattern of listening to podcasts during my commute and downtime had started to change my life.

A few years later and I’m still listening and growing thanks to the powerful content held in these podcasts. My favourite shows may have changed but the podcasts here will always hold a special place in my heart for having encouraged me to live my life more purposefully. I hope that you will find value from them too!

Podcasts that encourage intentional living

The School of Greatness

Lewis Howes is to my ears a total jock, with heart. He has the standard rags to riches story, and lots of great personalities¬†from all walks of life on his show. I feel like I’m getting a locker room pep talk when I listen, and I’ve never even played sports. “It’s time to go out there and do something great”!

The Charged Life

Brendon Burchard is positioning himself as a Tony Robbins type guru, and doing a pretty good job of it at that. I’ve noted down a lot of gems from this guy over the years.

This is Your Life

Michael Hyatt is lovely. He seems to live with integrity and I think we could all learn a lot from this guy. Listening is sort of like having a coffee with an approachable CEO. But you get to wear your PJs!

Podcasts for productivity

When you’re struggling to find time for all the learning and work you want to do as part of your intentional life, here are a few podcasts that will get you going:

The 5am Miracle

This show is about dominating your day before breakfast, which thankfully doesn’t necessarily require you to get up at 5am! I love how the host, Jeff Sanders, has so much energy and passion for a life lived on purpose. I also recommend his book¬†as it is full of great tips.

Achieve Your Goals

Hosted by the Miracle Morning‘s Hal Elrod, this is another show that is just bursting at the seems with energy, productivity tips and general motivation.

Optimize

Brian Johnson authored ‘Philosopher’s Notes‘ where he distils the texts of great philosophers and gurus down into bitesize summaries. The Optimize podcast is basically the aural version. It’s sometimes overwhelming how much wisdom can come at you in 3 minutes of audio. As a heads up, when a podcast is that short, and there is still the same advert for his community on each one, it can get a bit annoying…I could probably recite it verbatim!

I hope that some of these podcasts will be a good match for your tastes. Do you listen to podcasts? Please let me know any I should check out!

4 podcasts to inspire a career change

4 Podcasts that inspire a career change

Think you need to make a career change but not sure where to start? Last year, I felt the same way. Little did I know that it would be listening to podcasts that would really inspire me to take action. Having encouraging and inspiring voices in your head for hours a day can challenge established thought patterns that may no longer be serving you. And replace them with those that do.

Here I’ll share those podcasts that most influenced me in case you too are searching for a little guidance. Listen to these podcasts and I guarantee that they’ll give you the ideas and encouragement you need to feel great and make changes for the better.

 

When you need a boost to your self-esteem, listen to: 

Life is a Marathon

Listening to the Life is a Marathon podcast, hosted by Bruce Van Horn, is like getting a massive hug from your most supportive friend. In times of stress and worry, Bruce is there to remind you that you are a worthwhile human being, and that everything that you are going through is happening for a reason. And that positive results can come from even the darkest times.

No one tells Bruce’s story better than him, so I will leave you to listen to his podcasts to get the details of his life. Suffice it to say that he has been through times of grief, financial hardship and health problems. Most of this was endured when his mindset was not as it is today, and he nearly gave up on life. Thankfully, he did not, and for the last couple of years has been sharing the lessons he has learned with us.

Every episode ends with Bruce stating “I love you, and life is a marathon, so let’s train for it”. This is the crux of this show – you will learn how to take on life and feel like you’re winning. And very very loved.

 

When you need motivation to take your life to the next level, listen to:

Happen to Your Career

Presented by Scott Barlow, Happen to Your Career helps you do exactly what it says on the tin. Feeling lost, uninspired and scared? Well not for long! Scott uses his experiences as a HR professional and Careers Coach to guide you along the path to a more fulfilling career Рeven if you stay in your current job.

Scott also offers an insightful free e-course that helps you Find Out What Fits which I recommend. It helped me! Happen to Your Career is also a great podcast for discovering other thought leaders and going down the rabbit hole of available motivational content.

Dream.Think.Do.

Hosted by Mitch Matthews (who to my Scottish ear sounds like Owen Wilson), Dream. Think. Do. is another lovely and supportive podcast for those on the look out for their dream life. Mitch interviews inspiring people and also presents deep dives where he shares his knowledge. I always remember a story from Mitch’s youth when he talks about a great manager he had who helped him to progress in his career. Inspiring thoughts on leadership and a great work ethos.

The Portfolio Life

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins needs a mention in part to recommend his book, The Art of Work, about which I wrote a blog post in the summer. Although I must admit that I have recently unsubscribed, while I was dreaming about how I wanted to spend my working hours, this podcast was inspiring. Jeff has a lovely voice and speaks engagingly about doing work that matters to you, and for that he deserves his place on this list!

 

Now get listening!

I recommend adding these titles to your podcast playlist and taking the time to listen when you can. They offer priceless support and advice that can jump start your personal development journey.

Have you listened to any of these podcasts already? Do you know more that we should add to the list? Let me know!

I’ll be posting more of my recommended podcasts in future posts.

 

3 tech habits to bring you more freedom

3 Tech hacks that will bring you more freedom

As a freelance marketer, yoga instructor, Air BnB hostess, intrepid networker, avid learner, friend, girlfriend, daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, human, it can be difficult to find space to be…me! And I know¬†I’m not the¬†only one. We all possess the phones, laptops and calendars¬†that become battle grounds for our attention. Not to mention the real living people and our own bodies that need our care and attention. ¬†While taking a few days out to visit family, and realising that the urge to throw my phone in the nearest loch was getting overwhelming, I set out to make some space for me. For freedom, for creativity. For my sanity.

With my email count reaching ever higher, I realised I was craving some independence. Perhaps you also feel pulled in many directions by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter notifications. Cajoled into opening another tab by a well written email, you feel let down when you¬†learn¬†little from it. If anything. So to this end, let’s make some space.

The email checking habit

If your an learning¬†junkie like me, and can’t resist signing up to newsletters for the freebie and the latest advise on your area of interest, you may find yourself constantly distracted by the arrival of said emails. Well respond to the ‘ping!’ no more, by signing up to¬†Unroll.me.¬†This free app neatly identifies all the newsletters in your email and offers to roll them up into one email, which is delivered once a day at the time of your choosing. While also encouraging you to unsubscribe from newsletters that you had forgotten about, this app neatly takes away a huge amount of distraction, while still giving you the information that you don’t want to miss.

A bonus of the roll up email is realising how repetitive the content of these emails can be. This has encouraged me to unsubscribe to more and more newsletters over time as I weed out those that offer real value to me.

The phone scrolling habit

Another black hole of many a person’s day is time spent online, on your¬†phone. By making accessing social media so easy, you are positively encouraged to check in to an app and check out of your day. To escape this trap, turn off your notifications. Or at least edit them so it is only when someone expressly tries to contact you that you are notified. After this, hide your apps. Take any potential time sucker off your home screen completely. Make it is as easy as possible to ween yourself off the phone checking habit and stick to it! Here’s a great article on this at Startup.com – although it is targeted at IPhone users it is still useful.

The podcast white noise habit

A surprise area for a clear out for me was my podcast feed. I realised that I was listening to so many, I often couldn’t remember any of the content. Which makes listening to gain knowledge pretty useless. I also noticed if I put my player on random, the tone and subject matter of the podcast could really take me off course from my goals. If you’re feeling good about money, don’t let an episode on debt avoidance fall into your playlist. If things are going well for you, the likelihood is they will continue to go well if you feel good about it. 30 minutes of fear mongering about your bank balance going straight into your brain is likely to disturb your equilibrium and create worry. Worry turns to stress which turns to indecisiveness and a lack of competence…and your finances flounder. Be aware of your state and your needs, and consciously select and delete podcast episodes accordingly.

Now, with all that empty space…

When was the last time you lay on the grass and soaked in the sun, without your phone in easy reach? The last time you got your creative on and painted for pleasure? Read 6 books in a month? Thanks in part to these tips (and a chronic desperation for freedom) I can say yes to these questions. I feel a little freer. A bit more creative (first blog in 3 months anyone?!) and definitely saner!

How are you creating space for fun and creativity? I’d love to hear any tips you have to share!

Big thanks to Tracey Minutolo for bringing Unroll.me and the phone article to my attention – check out her fantastic coaching services at www.TraceyMinutolo.com!