Planning My Time for a Highly Successful Day

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Achieving goals means doing the work that brings success. This includes getting yourself organised on a daily basis by planning your time. When you consciously and intentionally choose how and where you spend your time, you minimise stress that otherwise builds up when you have to rush to get things done at the last minute. To help you plan your time for a highly successful day, I’ve created a beautiful daily planner that you can download and print from my website. And it’s free! Read on for some tips on how to use the planner to make the best investment of your time each day.

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Click on the image to go to my website where you can download and print a PDF of my time planner

Plan Your Time for a Highly Successful Day

Your planner has been designed to be quick and easy to use. When you invest a couple of minutes each day into planning how you choose to spend your time, the payoffs can be enormous! A little bit of organisation goes a long way. Here are a few tips to get you started with your planner. 

Choose an attitude to take you through the day

It’s all well and good that you make an action plan, but it’s even more important to choose an attitude for the day. Visualise yourself selecting and clothing yourself in an attitude each morning, just as you choose which clothes to wear. Writing your attitude down on your planner, right at the very top, will keep it present in all that you do. Here are some examples of attitudes that you might like to choose from (but really, the sky is the limit with choice here!)

  • relaxedPatiently persist!
  • focused
  • intentional
  • mindful
  • gentle
  • assertive / firm
  • warrior
  • action-oriented
  • efficient
  • patient 

Choose a self-care focus for the day

Self-care makes you more resilient and gives you strength. But it can easily get tossed to the side when you’re busy. Don’t be a self-sacrificing martyr – the world needs you to stay strong – so make sure your self-care stays high on your list of priorities. Some examples of self-care that you can incorporate into your day include:

  • go to bed at …….. (write down the time you intend to go to bed)Say no so I can say yes
  • take my lunch break away from my work
  • say ‘no’ more often
  • go for a walk
  • chat with a friend
  • take the time to cook a nutritious meal
  • meditate
  • read a book for ½ hour

Choose 2 – 3 goals for the day

Don’t be overwhelmed by your to-do list. Be realistic. Choose just 2 or 3 tasks to prioritise for each day. When you achieve your short list of objectives, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation. And that’s much better than feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of everything on your ever-expanding to-do list that you haven’t accomplished in the day. Some days my short list of goals or priorities looks like this:

1. go for a walkThe challenge with time management is to manage ourselves

2. be on time for school pick-up

3. have dinner ready by 7pm

Other days I choose goals that require more energy and focus, such as:

1. write and publish a blog post

2. update clinical records

3. research and write new privacy policy

Break the day up into sections

I often refer to this technique as “chunking it down”. When you break the day up intoBreak it down into pieces chunks, you’re better able to focus on that one period of time. You work more efficiently and effectively, gain a sense of achievement throughout the day, and feel less overwhelmed by the enormity of what’s on your plate. This type of scheduling can be applied to many different situations including school assignments, boring tasks, housework, meetings and so on. On your planner you can break up the activities you want (or need) to focus on in the morning, afternoon and evening. Here’s an example of what my planner sometimes looks like:

Activities for This Morning
  • go for walk
  • pay the bills online
  • clinical and administration tasks
Activities for This Afternoon
  • watch a training video
  • get the groceries while my son is at his speech lesson
Activities for This Evening
  • reheat leftovers for dinner
  • join my online video mentoring group

Keep a list of to-do’s to carry over to another day

At the bottom of your planner there is space for you to keep a list of tasks, activities andMake a list! other to-do’s that weren’t on your priority list for today. Having them handy here means that if your day has gone smoothly and you have time and energy up your sleeve, you can easily run your eye down this list and select additional tasks to work on. Or, perhaps things haven’t worked out today as expected and you need to reorganise your priorities. This space also enables you to make a record of tasks as you think of them so they don’t get lost in your hazy busy brain! My ‘to-do list for another day’ is quite extensive. I use it like a bank of tasks that I can select my priority goals from each day, and then cross them out as I achieve them!

So there you have it! A system to plan your time for a highly successful day. And a reminder to be gentle with yourself when it doesn’t all go to plan. This system is simply a plan – a flexible tool to guide your daily choices and actions. Experiment with the plan to see what works best for you.

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Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

Time Management: Stay sane when time is your enemy

Juggling the many roles and responsibilities we have can be a constant source of both satisfaction and despair. I talk to women every week about challenges like time management, and wanted to share some of the ideas that I’ve collected on how to stay sane when time seems to be your enemy.

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TIME! We never seem to have enough of it, we’re always fighting it, and it’s invisible! It seems to slip through our fingers without care. It’s like an elusive double agent, tempting us with tantalising pleasures, and then it’s gone, leaving us with nothing but a pile of to-do’s and deadlines in its wake. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll always find something to fill in a space that’s left when we are more efficient with our time – there’ll never be enough of it!

Time Management is a real thing!

Managing the time we have available to us is a learned skill and one that we can continually refine as our needs, activities and priorities change. There are a lot of self-help books on this topic, but honestly, who has the time to read them! Assuming you’re in the same boat as me, I’ve short-listed some key time management strategies and helpful mindsets that I’ve collected over the years.

time management clock

Time management strategies to stay sane when it feels like time is your enemy

1. Time is a commodity we exchange for something else

Time is a precious commodity that I give in exchange for something else. It’s a transaction; a business deal between myself and the universe. If I spend lots of money on luxury items, eating out, holidays and new clothes, I may not (ummm ….. actually I won’t) have enough left over for the basic household bills like groceries, fuel for the car, and electricity. Time is like money – think about how you can spend it wisely!

2. We have a choice

We have choices about how we spend our time, in the same way that we have choices about spending our money. What choices are you making?

3. Get your priorities straight

Time Management Matrix
Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix

With so many different things competing for our time and energy, we are constantly needing to prioritise. And I mean constantly! It’s an ongoing process. Everyday – prioritise. Every hour – prioritise. Every minute – prioritise. Every moment – prioritise. It’s a valuable skill – the more practise you get, the better you’ll become at getting your priorities straight.

If you have trouble identifying what’s most important and what’s most urgent, invest just a few minutes of your time reading about Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix here

4. Time is precious

Time can never be refunded once it’s spent. Thinking of time as precious gift to be treasured and used wisely can help us to make carefully considered choices about how we are using it.

5. What are your time vampires?

What is it that sucks the time out of your day? Where does your time go? Are you okay about this?

6. Record your actions for a day, or longer!

I’ve found this really helpful at times. You can make a note in your diary or notepad of how you are spending your day. Note down the time and what task or activity you are working on, and what time you finished. Or you could break your diary into 10 or 15 minute time blocks and make a note of what you are doing at every time interval. It only takes a teeny bit of time to do this, but the investment is well worthwhile! These actions can highlight where our time goes, and keeps us more accountable to our goals.

7. Ask yourself “What am I doing now?”

This precious moment is all we have. How are you spending your energy and time right now, in this precious moment?

8. Don’t make excuses

It’s easy to blame other people and situations for our poverty of time. Do a thorough audit and be honest with yourself. What can you take responsibility for? What change can you make?

9. Avoid distractions

Is distraction an issue for you?

  • Set a timer to go off at regular intervals to remind you to refocus your attention
  • Switch off your wi-fi
  • Close your door
  • Turn off your phone
  • Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office
  • Reward yourself when you’ve completed tasks

. whatever you need, just do it. Make it as easy as possible to keep your attention laser-focused.

Let's sum up!

Make friends with the time you have!

  • Time is a commodity – spend it wisely!
  • You choose moment to moment how you spend you time
  • Get your priorities straight – is it important / urgent?
  • Time is precious
  • What are your time vampires?
  • Record how you spend your time
  • Ask yourself “What am I doing now?”
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Avoid distractions

I’d love to hear any other time management strategies you use to stay sane when it feels like time is your enemy. Leave your comment below, send me a message, or head on over to my Facebook!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

 

Women Empowered: Framing My Future with Financial Confidence

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Have you booked for the evening of retreat “Women Empowered: Framing My Future” coming up on Wednesday 21st March 2018 in Warwick, Queensland? It’s going to be an absolute delight to welcome you along! The Women Empowered retreats have been very popular in past years, and to keep up with changing times I’m offering this retreat in the evening instead of during the day. I’m keen to see how that suits everyone and whether this is a format you’d like repeated in future. I’m also keen to tell you a bit more about what to expect when you come along to “Framing My Future”.

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Dream Big!

There’s no shortage of media images these days prompting women to dream and achieve Dream Biganything they want. It’s a message that’s intended to be encouraging by chipping away at the gender stereotypes our society has constructed over many generations. For so many reasons we know that women can, and do, achieve amazing things in our world. There are many wonderful role models who inspire and propel us towards our own version of success.

Obstacles lurking beneath the surface

Yet beneath it all continues to lurk a tangle of obstacles, deeply rooted and barely visible to the eye until we dig down through the layers, bringing them into the light of day. Thus begins the process of empowering women to not only take charge of their dreams, but to have the skills to manage the obstacles along the way.

The voices in our heads

I’m a big fan of dreams (and I do a lot of dreaming!) and I’ve often written and spoken about goal-setting previously. When used appropriately, dreaming and goal-setting is very powerful. It brings us to a position of being future focused. Sure, not everyone is comfortable with this. Human brains are preset to focus on problems (that’s how humans have survived for so long!), and so our angst rises with every thought of following a dream. The barriers, the obstacles, the hurdles, the roadblocks – call them what you willthey generally get in the way preventing us from following through with actions, and even from getting started in the first place. They wield their power not so much through their actual ‘being’, but through the unseen voices in our heads telling us we can’t do it, it won’t work, we’re not good enough, and we’ll fail if we try.

Don't believe everything you thinkSounding familiar? The thing is we often don’t even realise it’s happening, and when we do notice it, we keep it to ourselves because we think we’re the only ones. But have I got news for you! All of us have those critical voices. YES! All of us! They’re the voices of self-doubt, fear, hopelessness and pessimism. They keep us small when we need to be big. And the way to deal with them is to bring them out into the open. Straight away their power begins to diminish.

Read more about the voices in my head here!

Financial confidence is an obstacle

Two of the hidden obstacles that frequently impact women are financial confidence and emotional confidence. These are the key themes at my next retreat “Framing my Future”. We’re going to dig them up and shine a light on them. We’ll bring them to the surface and get to know them a little better. We’ll scratch away and see what they’re made of. And we’ll use them to propel ourselves forwards towards our hopes and dreams for the future instead of allowing them to trip us up and keep us where we are.

Create a powerful mindset for your future!

Well actually, yes I can!The beauty of the process is that you don’t have to even have any real idea of where you want your future to be heading in order to benefit from this retreat. You’ll leave with the skills to create a powerful mindset to identify, challenge and manage your financial and emotional confidence no matter what path you take.

Retreat activities

I’m truly excited to be a part of this unique retreat! I believe when women gather together in groups with openness, warm-heartedness and shared intentions, that’s when magic happens! So I hope you’ll join us for this exquisite evening. Donna Neale-Arnold will be my co-facilitator. Donna brings a warm, caring and holistic approach to her financial therapy and homeopathy practices. She has a rich experience having worked in the corporate sector as well as community services and the health sector for many years.

Donna and I will guide you through a series of personal reflections followed by simple yet Creative Artspowerful creative activities. The gentle pace will support you to make valuable connections with your own beliefs and actions around financial confidence. You’ll identify the mindset you need to bolster your financial and emotional confidence, and to frame the future you choose. You will be provided with a light meal, delightful company and a gorgeous keepsake to take home with you that will frame your future perfectly.

Bonuses!

CD Give-awayWe will be giving away some special bonuses and door prizes at the retreat including beautiful journals, meditation cushions, carry bags, a Tony O’Connor CD of relaxation music, and more – fabulous gifts to support your self-care and progression!

Bookings are essential

Bookings are essential and limited spaces are available. It’s more fun with a friend or two (or more) so we are offering discounts when you book multiple tickets at the same time.

Here’s the deal: 3 hours of guided reflective retreat with two experienced facilitators, a light meal, all materials, a take home keepsake, a nurturing atmosphere to support your financial and emotional confidence, and opportunities to leave with a special bonus door prize.

Your investment: 

  • Single ticket: $55
  • Double ticket: $100
  • Triple ticket: $140

To book, click here

For more information view the Facebook Event here

If you have questions, email Kathryn here

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Younger

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Do you know what drives me to do the work I do with groups of women and health professionals? It’s the fact that there are so many things I wish I’d known when I was younger – things that could have made a difference to my life and to my happiness if I’d known about them, made sense of them, and felt confident implementing them in my own life.

Being stuck in anxiety, sadness or anger stops many people from living truly satisfying and fulfilling lives. With many years of working in the mental health industry as well my own personal experiences, I feel an unstoppable drive to keep moving forwards, to keep expanding my reach to build up people’s knowledge and skills, to make a difference in the world with as many people as I can. My mission is to share information and inspiration that empowers women towards a genuine and deep sense of wellness. And by doing this the ripple effect will have an even greater impact.

Wild yellow flowers

Today I’m sharing with you 3 things I wish I’d known when I was younger.

1. Exercise is the only magic pill

KW MTB selfieDaily exercise and general physical activity are crucial elements of feeling good. Just as some people might need to diligently take medication every day, I need to exercise every day. Exercise is nature’s way of stimulating the hormones which aid concentration, problem-solving, sleep, digestion, and mood. This daily dose of exercise rebalances our body’s systems resulting in wide-ranging benefits that no single medication can provide. The research is absolutely clear that regular medium to high intensity exercise can have a profound effect on health AND happiness.

What types of physical activity and exercise do you prefer? I’ve always loved bushwalking, and in more recent years I’ve become really enthusiastic about mountain biking. I call mountain biking my ‘parallel universe’ because it not only provides me with a very regular dose of fun exercise, family time and social interaction, but I’ve also learned the most amazing life lessons from it including managing fears, growing resilience, and developing mindfulness.

2. Get sleep savvy

Awake owl
Credit: source unknown

Sleep is vital for optimal brain function including mood management. Quality sleep restores the mind and body. It improves concentration, problem-solving, reaction time, capacity to think clearly, organise ourselves, plan, learn … and the list just goes on. But getting a good sleep is easier said than done for some of us. There are many skills to getting a good sleep and there are many things you can control when you understand how sleep works. So, the lesson here is to educate yourself about sleep – sleep cycles, circadian rhythms, body clocks, and sleep hygiene. The most common helpful strategies include exercise (especially in the morning), exposure to early morning light (this resets the body clock so you start to feel sleepy in the evening), reduce caffeine (especially in the afternoon) and learn relaxation and stress management skills. Another vital strategy here is to learn about AND practice mindfulness – every day (not just when you have trouble sleeping). Which leads straight into my 3rd tip!

3. Mind your mind

Don't believe everything you thinkMinds are such complex things! They wield a lot of power over our emotions and our actions (including sleep). But unless you notice what’s going on in your mind, and choose how much power to give it, your thoughts, assumptions and beliefs will control you instead of the other way around. The habit of being hooked by thoughts or strongly attached to them is limiting and anxiety-provoking. The key here is to begin by simply noticing what is happening in your mind, and by doing this with curiosity and without judgement. The power is in the noticing. You’ll collect all sorts of interesting bits of information about how your mind works, what thinking patterns it gets locked into, what beliefs and assumptions are behind it all, and how all of this impacts your physiology, your behaviours and your emotions. One of my favourite sayings is “Don’t believe everything you think!” because we can learn to stand back, notice the thought and choose whether to believe it, or not.

Let's sum up!

So there you have it. The 3 key pieces of information I wish I’d known (and understood, and implemented) when I was younger!

1. Exercise is the only magic pill

2. Get sleep savvy

3. Mind your mind

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Make it Happen! Actions to take you from surviving to thriving

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From thriving to surviving and back again

For most of my life I’ve enjoyed the challenge of setting goals and making them happen. I’ve learned that the actions I choose can take me from surviving to thriving. I love to have a go at something new, especially adventurous activities. For a few years this seemed to slow down a bit. Perhaps it was my added commitment to my young family, our relocation to a rural area, or maybe even a simple ‘rut’ I got myself into. When life was more about surviving the usual (and not so usual) childhood illnesses, school assignments, getting the bills paid, and retrenchments, I often felt a long way from thriving.

Maybe it was my approaching middle age that brought along a renewed urge to live life as fully as possible. I know that I function at my best when I have a goal to aim for, and so when I began to focus on this aspect of myself again, I rediscovered my passion for adventure. Here I will share with you the actions that took me from surviving to thriving – you can do it too!

Goal-setting and problem-solving are key skills to success

The skills of setting goals and creatively problem-solving are key factors to success. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to create it, to action it, and to problem-solve it. It doesn’t always come easily, and we often shy away from the actions we need to take. We secretly keep our inner dreams to ourselves out of fear of failure.

Get your goal out there!

best things in life start with a dreamI’m sharing with you one of my goals that I’ve had floating about in my head for a long time. Putting it out there in the public arena is definitely not easy. I have a lot of doubts about whether I’ll succeed, but if I keep suppressing my dream, there won’t be any chance of success.  

Getting clear on my goal

I’m using the post 9 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams and Goals to help me get clear on just what it is I want to achieve, and why. This clarity will give me direction and motivation.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY AN AREA FOR CHANGE

I want my life to be filled with adventurous activities instead of ho-hum routine.

STEP 2 – STAY FOCUSED ON THE CHANGE, DON’T BE DISTRACTED BY PROBLEMATIC THOUGHTS

There are plenty of problems associated with spending more time in adventurous activities. But when I’ve overcome them I’ll be living the life I want – full of activity, travel, inspiration, energy, feeling great! I’ll focus my attention on how I want it to be instead of what the problems are.

STEP 3 – SELECT YOUR SMART GOAL

I WILL GO ON AN OVERNIGHT HIKE  – something I haven’t done before!

Is it specific? YesAre my expectations realistic?

Is it measurable? Yes

Is it achievable? Yes, I’m comfortable and competent with bushwalking and camping, so the new challenge combines this with carrying my supplies.

Is it realistic? Yes, I’m reasonably fit, healthy, strong, sensible and organised. I’ll research and access resources and networks, borrow or buy equipment that I need.

Does it have a timeframe? I’ll avoid extreme weather conditions and give myself enough lead-in time to gather and test out equipment, do my research, and train to carry the weight of my pack. Spring will be an ideal season and I can select a date closer to the time based on weather and what suits my fellow hiker/s.

STEP 4 – WRITE IT DOWN!

Yep – here it is! In the public arena too! (Talk about pressure now!) But you don’t have to go public with your goal. There’s power in simply writing it down for your own reference.

STEP 5 – KNOW YOUR WHY! COMMITMENT NOT MOTIVATION!

I want to challenge the fears that limit me. I want to connect more closely with nature and discover my part in the world, learn to trust myself and stretch my limits, tap into my inner strength, develop self-reliance, and I want to finally use the backpack I bought years ago! When I feel unmotivated, I can look back at my “why” and stay committed to my goal.

STEP 6 – BREAK IT DOWN into steps
  • Research places, people, information, equipment
  • Talk to others who might like to share the adventure with me
  • Identify and collect equipment 
  • Trial various hiking foods and equipment
  • Go on training hikes with increasing distance and weight in back pack
  • Select a date (and a couple of back-up dates in case of adverse weather, sickness etc) and book campsites if necessary
STEP 7 – STEP INTO YOUR GOAL

I’ll take each step one at a time and gradually work my way towards an overnight hike.

STEP 8 – CREATIVELY PROBLEM-SOLVE ISSUES THAT ARISE

There are some predictable problems, and other new ones might arise. But I won’t give up – I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train (keep reading).

With any obstacle quote

STEP 9 – REWARD YOURSELF!

External rewards can be a blast, but that feeling of success I’ll have when I’ve achieved this goal – yeah, that – that’ll be my reward 🙂

6 steps to smash my goal usingThe Problem-solving Train’

Before I even get started, I’m thinking of all the ways that I could fail! So here I’m using the Problem-solving Train to anticipate and manage the obstacles.

STEP 1 – Probable, possible and unlikely problems

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?Probable problems: no toilets or showers, snakes, sore back and shoulders

Possible problems: hot weather, cold weather, rain, leeches, bush ticks, insufficient drinking water, equipment too heavy or too expensive, no child care, fire danger

Unlikely problems: I might be miserable, difficulty finding a suitable hiking buddy, sickness

STEP 2- choose one probable problem and brainstorm solutions

Probable problem #1: No toilets or showers

Brainstormed solutions: Hike near, and camp overnight at a site with facilities, read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene, read stories of overnight hikers, hold on and avoid toileting as much as possible,  take a porta-loo, find out about toileting aids for bushwalkers, have a wash down or swim instead of a shower, avoid extremely hot weather, talk to experienced hikers about bush hygiene, remind myself that if others can do it so can I, think about how clean I’ll feel when I get to shower afterwards – WOW! There sure is a lot of possibilities here!

STEP 3 – pros and cons

Most of my brainstormed solutions are quite useful and viable, although I don’t think I’ll take a porta-loo (too heavy, smelly, awkward, embarrassing) and I don’t think it’s a good idea to avoid toileting (hmmm, that could be uncomfortable and bring on health problems).

STEP 4THE BEST OPTION/S

I think it’s best to deal with this problem from multiple angles so I’m going to include several action-based and mind-based strategies in my Plan of Action to deal with this problem.

STEP 5 – PLAN OF ACTION

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?Choose a route and campsite for my first overnight hike that has facilities

Read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene – this could come in handy someday even if I don’t need it this time!

Talk to experienced hikers about my plans including managing bush hygiene

Read stories written by overnight hikers

Find out about lightweight toileting aids for bushwalkers

Remind myself that if others can do it, so can I!

STEP 6 – REVIEW

Once I’ve actioned my plan I can review it, even before I go on my first overnight hike. Am IWell actually, yes I can! feeling more comfortable about the issue of toileting and showering on my overnight hike? Are there any new problems I need to address? I can go back to my other brainstormed solutions, or come up with new ones. I can flex my plans to help me achieve my goal instead of simply giving up. I can push through the discomfort of the plan not working out perfectly, and tap into my determined attitude to succeed.

Keep on solving!

Once I’ve got my plans in place for all the probable and possible problems I’ve identified, it’s full steam ahead. I’m already most of the way there! It’s in this phase of identifying and then creatively solving the problems that most people get stuck. It’s this process that makes the difference on the road to success. And for me personally, it’s an exciting ride moving from surviving to thriving, making my goal of living an adventurous life a reality instead of leaving it as a whimsical dream. Stay tuned for future updates as I smash this goal!

SMART Goals WorksheetFREE GIFT! To help you clarify and action YOUR goal (whether it’s big or small or anywhere in between), download your FREE printable Create Success With SMART Goals. This handy worksheet will step you through a simplified process to identify your S.M.A.R.T. goal, your “why”, the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, any problems that might get in the way of success, and creative solutions that will propel you towards success.

Click here to download your FREE printable “Create Success With SMART Goals” from the RESOURCES tab on my website, and check out the other printables and resources while you’re there!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

6 Simple Steps to Smash Your Goals: Bring on the problem-solving train!

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Today it’s all about smashing your goals in 6 simple steps using what I call “The Creative Problem-solving Train” model.  My last blog post outlined the steps you need to take to successfully plan your goals, no matter how big or small. And today’s blog will help you to overcome the obstacles that can get in the way.

Human brains have evolved to focus more attention and energy on the problems of life than the things that are going well. So it’s no surprise that when we start to detail the specifics of our goals, our brains start thinking about all the things that will get in the way of success. Our inner chatter gets louder and louder. It itemises the multitude of reasons why we’ll never achieve our goal. And it all too often convinces us that it’s a waste of time even trying.

Don't believe everything you think!The key to managing this is to NOTICE that it’s happening. If you are are not aware of your inner chatter, you will unconsciously believe it and go along with it instead of challenging it.

Use your powers of observation to notice what’s going on inside your head, and then consciously choose how to respond to your inner chatter. This is your window of opportunity for getting on board “The Creative Problem-solving Train” that will deliver you to your destination – your goal!

So, let me introduce you to …

The Creative Problem-solving Train! Each carriage has a task to perform but remember to always drive the train from the driver’s carriage! This is where you get really clear about what the problem actually is so that you stay on track from the very beginning! The Creative Problem-solving Train is explained below in 6 simple steps so that you’ll smash your goals despite any obstacles, problems, barriers, issues or hurdles that arise.

The creative problem-solving train

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?The Carriages (or steps, if you prefer!)

1. Always start from the driver’s seat no matter how tempting it is to jump straight into one of the other carriages!! List all the ‘possible’, ‘probable’ and ‘unlikely’ problems, barriers and obstacles that might get in between you and your goal. Be honest and open with yourself and about your situation. It might seem counter-intuitive but don’t hold back. Bringing the issues out into the light of day and writing them down will DISEMPOWER THEM, and EMPOWER YOU towards your goal. If you notice an urge to deny or avoid the issues, write that down too. Shame, perceived laziness and fear are all barriers that can rob us of the opportunity as well as the joy of achieving goals.

2. Choose ONE of your ‘probable’ obstacles and brainstorm solutions to it. You’re not Let your ideas flow ...analysing your ideas at this stage so let go of the urge to find reasons why they won’t work. Remember to keep the CREATIVE in your creative problem-solving. Let the ideas flow no matter how crazy, impossible, or ridiculous they might seem. It’s often the ‘way out’ ideas that create a pathway to a solution, so get them all out there. Write them all down!

3. Now it’s time to do a quick analysis of the ideas you’ve thought of. Write down the pros and cons of each option.

4. Select the option that seems to be the best one, but don’t be overly focused on making the ‘right’ choice. Simply go with the one that seems the best in this moment.

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?5. Write down your Plan of Action so that you have a clear and concise guide to implementing your selected option.

6. Review the process. Has your selected option helped to solve the problem? Does it need Patiently persist!more time? More resources? Do you need to modify it? It’s important at this point to persist with your problem-solving rather than giving up with your goal. Persistence is a valuable skill that everyone can learn. It can make the difference between throwing your goal away, and celebrating success. If it’s clear that your selected option is not going to work, you can discard it and select a different one. Go back to Step Number 4 to choose a different idea and work your way through again. You might need to repeat these steps multiple times to find the best way forward. Combining two or more solutions might even be the most effective approach.

You can use the Creative Problem-solving Train process to work your way through all or any of the problems you’ve identified. Before you know it you’ll have a well-rounded strategy to manage everything that stands between you and your goal. If any new obstacles surface, use the same process to deal with them.

Well actually, yes I can!Blending creativity and logic is a powerful way to achieve success. Don’t allow your inner chatter stop you from getting started with your goals. And don’t let the obstacles limit you or your achievements. Follow the Creative Problem-solving Train to develop persistence and propel you forwards. Your mental health will thank you with improved self-confidence, resilience and unstoppability.

Next week I’ll share a goal with you that I’m working on for myself. Something I’ve been considering taking on for some time but haven’t because I’ve been playing it safe! But in my heart I know that I’m holding back on myself and will be disappointed if I don’t at least give it a try. I’ll lay all the obstacles out on the table (and there are plenty of them!) and I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train to help me develop a strategy to deal with them so that I’ll experience that sweet taste of success that comes with achieving a goal.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

9 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams and Goals

Daisy Spoke Logo

Goals, resolutions, targets, dreams, visions….. Some of us love them. Some of us hate them. It’s understandable that you might be sceptical about them. Sometimes we set plans with good intentions and end up disappointed. Life happens in all its chaotic glory and sends our plans awry, we lose sight of our intended destination and lose hope, or we become despondent with ourselves, others or the world around us. Maybe we even forget what our goal was, or our priorities change and we let it go. Perhaps we achieve our goal but the reward at the end just isn’t there, as if the goal post has been shifted, or we’ve been deceived about the expected benefits. We can doubt our capacity to achieve what we set out to. In order to protect ourselves from further hurt and wasted energy we swear never to set New Year’s Resolutions again because they just don’t work. Sound familiar?

How I love goals! Let me count the ways! 

I love goals. I have daily lists to help me stay focused and efficient. I also have weekly, monthly, 3 month, 12 month and 3 year work goals. I’m flexible with them, and at the same Daisies reach for the suntime I respect them. I teach many individuals and groups how to use goals to enhance their mental health and wellness, and I see amazing progress when they are used effectively. I also use goals in my personal life. I love the sense of satisfaction, self-worth and achievement that comes with goals. Goals also nurture inner skills such as persistence, patience, organisation, and problem-solving which can be applied to all sorts of other situations in life, and can have a therapeutic effect on your mind.

Goal-setting is a learned skill

Effective goal-setting is a learned skill. Once you have it, the sky’s the limit! But the down-side is that if you experience a sense of failure with your goal, and if you don’t adjust your sails and use creative problem-solving, it can put you off for life. Remember to practise, persist, and problem-solve just as you would with any other skill!

9 steps to achieve your goal successfully

Step 1 – Identify an area for change

Identify one area in your life where you’d like to see some change. Select something you have some control over that centres around yourself. Focusing on things outside your control sets you up for failure. Where would you like to see a change?

  • work
  • relationshipsMake space for change - rocky expanse
  • friends
  • lifestyle
  • health
  • spirituality
  • finances
  • family
  • home
  • recreation
  • __________
Step 2 – Stay focused on the change, don’t be distracted by problematic thoughts

You might notice your thoughts jumping straight away to all the problems, barriers, obstacles and impossibilities associated with your desired change. For now, acknowledge your brain is doing its job of trying to protect you from failure, and try to let go of those thoughts. We’ll be coming back to them so stay focused on your desired change for now.

Step 3 – Select your SMART goal

SMART is an acronym to help you remember the key elements that can make or break your goal.

  1. S – Specific Know exactly what your goal is. Take the area you selected in Step 1 and narrow your goal down as much as possible. Keep it simple, clear, concise and specific. Vague, general statements about your goals are not helpful – they lack direction.
  2. M – Measurable How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? If you’ve left your goal as a vague statement (eg “Get fit”) how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Being specific will help you to measure it (eg “Swim non-stop for 15 minutes”).
  3. A – Attainable Set yourself up for success! What are your expectations? Is your goal achievable?
  4. R – Realistic Are you being realistic with your goal? Do you have access to the resources and supports you’ll need? Do you have the energy to put into it?
  5. T – Time frame Set a time frame to achieve your goal. Deadlines help us stay focused. Be flexibile though so that you can make adjustments if your goal takes longer than expected.
Step 4 – Write it down!

This is a really powerful action to take! Writing it down makes it more real, more tangible. Share it with others if you like, or come back and look at it yourself as a daily reminder to keep you actions in flow with your goal. It’s your personal marketing plan designed to keep you coming back again and again to what’s important to you.

Step 5 – Know your WHY! Commitment not motivation!

Motivation is a very temporary and fickle thing. It can’t be relied on. Commitment is what will keep you working on your goal whether you feel motivated or not! Why is your goal important to you? For your overall health? To keep up with your kids / grandkids? To have more financial freedom? Something else? Write your WHY down next to your SMART GOAL. It will keep your compass pointed in the right direction.

Step 6 – Break it down

Write down 5-10 steps (in order) you’ll need to take to achieve your goal. If your goal is to swim non-stop for 15 minutes, the steps might include:

  • buy suitable swimming attire
  • find out about pool membership / entry fees
  • go to swimming squad once a week to improve technique and fitness
  • ask a friend to be a swimming buddy
  • swim at least 3 times a week
  • swim 1 lap non-stop
  • swim 5 minutes non-stop
  • swim 10 minutes non-stop
  • swim 15 minutes non-stop.
Step 7 – Step into your goal

Take each step one at a time.

Step 8 – Creatively problem-solve issues that arise

I can I willRemember all those problems your mind started to thinking about in Step 2? Problem-solving is where the power is (another blog later this month will look at this in more detail). Persistence makes all the difference between giving up on your goal (and yourself) and being unstoppable. Some of the problems will be predictable and you’ll be able to plan for them. Others less so.

Step 9 – Reward yourself!

What will be your reward when you’ve accomplished your plan? Will it be an inner sense of satisfaction? The simple pleasure of knowing you’ve done what you set out to do? Improved energy or a sense of wellness? Or will it be an external reward like buying yourself a new set of flippers? Or perhaps entering a race? A word of caution here to make sure your reward aligns well with your goal and that you don’t self-sabotage your efforts.

More on goals, obstacles and problem-solving soon!

You might have guessed by now that this month’s theme is all about GOALS! Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing with you one of my own personal goals using the 9 steps listed above. I’ll be delving into the barriers I’ve identified to achieving my goal, and I’ll share with you the not-so-secret secrets to creative problem-solving so that we can get ourselves unstuck when things get tricky.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

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6 Strategic Tips for Introverts to Survive Christmas

Do you gain energy by having time in solitude? Or with other people? This is the fundamental difference between introverted and extroverted personality types. Most of us are somewhere in the middle ground of this spectrum. Although this article focuses on introverted types during the busy silly season that’s ahead of us, it’s important to remember that everyone needs a bit of time out occasionally.

Many of us are familiar with the good old technique of retreating to the bathroom when overwhelmed or needing a bit of peace and quiet, especially if you’ve been privileged to parent young children who shadow you everywhere you go! Taking yourself off to the bathroom can be an effective measure against overwhelm, albeit it temporary. Yet the bathroom’s not the most desirable of places to spend Christmas Day. It’s handy to have a few other strategies up your sleeve so that you’re not relying on the one-and-only. Here are a few more strategic ideas to call into action when the social rules dictate that you socialise in a busy, noisy world, but in all honesty you’ve had quite enough.

1. Get yourself an ally

Before an expected big gathering, have a chat with your partner, a friend, your sister or someone else who’ll be there that you know will understand your predicament. Explain that if you feel overwhelmed you’ll leave the room for a few minutes. Having a support person to help you make your exit or to cover for you while you have a break can be just the buffer you need.

2. Plan solo time

If you’re holidaying with others, having a truck load of visitors, or heading out to a big family party, make your plan to have some down time or alone time to keep your energy levels well above ‘empty’. Having a regular exercise routine is a great way to recharge in solitude, or you could save a particular task for the moment you need an exit excuse:

“I’ll get this washing hung out while the sun’s out” or “I’ve just got to check something quickly in the garden / in the car / make a phone call.”

“No, I don’t need any help but thanks for offering. You stay here and relax. I’ll be back in a moment.”

3. Space yourself

Use boundaries with yourself and others. If being a part of the crowd feels stressful, consider exiting for a few minutes, or leaving. Alternatively you can navigate your way towards someone else whose personal space is similar to yours, and spend some time chatting or simply being with them.

4. Pace yourself

Many people feel overwhelmed at Christmas time with the added expectations of going to lots of events. Be choosy. Despite what your inner voice tells you, you don’t HAVE to go to everything and you don’t have to stay for the whole time. Be choosy!

5. Pick your venue

Family and work gatherings at public places like parks and pools can be less claustrophobic and less overwhelming for some people. You can more easily wander around, check things on the periphery and enter and exit conversations as your energy levels allow.

6. Set your intention

Begin the day with a mindful intention to stay connected to an inner place of stillness despite what’s going on around you. Your breath can anchor you to your place of stillness, and because you take your breath with you everywhere you go, you don’t need any special equipment or excuses. It’s simply there within you. You might like to visualise a retreat room in your heart.

So there you go! 6 strategic tips for surviving human overwhelm over Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.