Slower Living

There’s something that’s been on my mind more and more over the past few years – living life at a slower pace, with greater simplicity and with moments of stillness. It’s something that I used to scoff at but it’s increasingly been something I’m drawn towards.

Living life in the fast lane can be very satisfying. Running on adrenaline keeps you energised and buzzing. I know. I’ve been there! But it has lots of drawbacks too. In the hectic pace of living a busy life, even one you love, your stress hormones are circulating constantly through your body and this can have a significant impact on your longer term health. Yes, you might not feel it in the moment, but over time the impact can affect your health including your mental health. There can be silent wear and tear going on in the background affecting your gut, your nervous system and other systems in your body.

Bringing a slower pace to your life, even for just a small part of your day, can invite a healthier balance for your body and mind. Just a few minutes a day is a perfect way to start a new habit of resting, re-energising and restoring your inner balance. I often encourage people to do this in nature if they can.

Nature has some amazing effects on the human nervous system which benefits your overall health and stress levels, and can also help improve your sleep. If you can’t get outdoors into a relaxing natural environment – maybe you’re in the city or the weather is wild outside or you’re in quarantine or you’re not able to move about – whatever the reason, you can spend a few minutes looking outside through a window, snuggle up to your favourite indoor plant or hold a shell or river pebble while you take a few deep slow breaths.

orange flowers
Slower living in nature – spend some time in the garden

Choosing moments of slow living each day, whether it’s for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours, is a valuable treasure in your day. Remember, something is better than nothing, and your mind and body will thank you for it.

You can read more about my efforts towards slower living as well as other people’s actions over on my friend Margy’s blog Simple Slow Still.

If you’d like more handy little tips to connect with the outdoors for mind and body health, you’ll love my newsletter Grounded Inspiration which comes out about twice a month. For a limited time I’m giving away “Your Guide to a Perfect Nature Escape Day” to new subscribers. This is a super-easy-to-use checklist that will help you easily and effortlessly plan a day of escape in nature where you can relax, rejuvenate and rediscover inner peace and calm. I have very regular escape days and I highly recommend them! I’ll tell you more about them in an upcoming blog.

SUBSCRIBE to Grounded Inspiration and download your free guide to a perfect nature escape day!

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I live and work, the Gidhabal people. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Listen to the audio of this blog post on the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast – Episode 28!

daisy spoke blogDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

What is a Word of the Year and why do I need one?

“Word of the Year” ….. A word that represents a way of being, an attitude or a mindset that serves as a road sign guiding you towards a goal you want to achieve before the end of the year.

I LOVE having a word of the year! And not just any old word. I put a lot of thought into choosing my word (or phrase) so that it aligns perfectly with my goals for the coming year.

Why I began using a word of the year

I began choosing a word of the year a few years ago to help me stay on track with my goals. I’d been really busy at that time, juggling lots of different contracts and spending all my time trying to please every organisation using their own systems. I always felt behind, disorganised, and I put increasing pressure on myself to do all the things for everyone.

I yearned for something simpler. I wanted to feel calm, organised and satisfied with my work again. I wanted everything to be simpler but I felt stuck because I didn’t know how to get to that point. When I took the time to reflect, it was a pretty obvious decision to choose “simple” as my word of the year!

my word of the year - simple

Now, simple isn’t something you do. It’s a state of being or a mindset that guides the actions you take, a bit like a train track that keeps the train heading in the right direction. So, when I was faced with choices in the following year, I allowed my word of the year to guide me. I chose simple over complicated. I let go of all sorts of things that were in the way of me living a simple, calm and organised life.

My word of the year was a true shining light for me that year. Choosing a word of the year has become a very important routine for me, and one that I love to share with others.

Why you should have a word of the year too

You can use a word of the year to guide you towards a goal, to stay in alignment with your values, to help you pivot your business, or to create any other sort of change you would like to see in your life. When you allow your word of the year to be a core component of your decision-making, it will be a powerful tool for change.

How do you choose a word of the year?

Read through the following points and make a some notes as you word of the yearreflect. There is a free downloadable worksheet to help you do this on my website, or simply make notes in your own journal. Be careful not to get stuck thinking about all the reasons why ‘this’ can’t happen, and why ‘that’ wouldn’t work. This exercise is to help you focus on possibilities. Our brains spend enough time and energy on the problems, so let’s give it a break for a few moments!

1. Picture yourself 12 months from now.

  • What is one thing you would like to be different?
  • What is one SMART goal you’d like to achieve in the next year?
  • What is something you dream of, something you would like in your life?
  • Even if you don’t have a specific goal or a dream, do you have a vague idea or a feeling that you’d like something to be different in your life?
  • How would you like to be living your life?
  • What attitudes or ‘ways of being’ would you like to be living by?
  • What do you value most in your life? Are you living your life with these as your priority?
  • Do any of your answers stand-out to you? Are there any common threads running through your reflections?

2. What states of being or states of mind will be helpful for you to achieve your goal, dream or desired change?

This is all about HOW you need to BE, not what you need to do, for example being patient, staying grounded or having a bold attitude.

3. What word or phrase best reflects the state of being or state of mind that YOU would most like to focus on over the next year?

This can be your word of the year!

4. Write your Word of the Year down, think about it often, and visualise how it will guide you through the year.

When you feel sure that’s the word you most need or want, plaster it everywhere to keep it fresh in your mind. Make it the centre piece of your vision board. Create a wallpaper for your computer or phone. Write in the front of next year’s diary. Blu tac it to your bathroom mirror. The idea is to get it front and foremost in your mind so that it does the job you intend it to.

my word of the year - adventure

Words of the month, week and day

A year is a long time, and sometimes it helps to have some stepping stones along the way. You can run through a similar process to choose a word of the month, week or the day.

In the bizarre way that the subconscious works, my word of the day often floats into my conscious mind during quiet morning meditation time. It can be a bit like a feather in the breeze, wafting around mid air until it gently settles on the ground. But sometimes my word of the day blasts at me in a song from the radio. Other times it’s gifted to me in the wise words from a loved one or even when I’m listening to a podcast interview. However it happens, I’m always happy to grab it and run with it, knowing it’s all part of the process to help me get from here to there, and in alignment with my overall goals and values.

I’d love to hear from you – have you ever chosen a Word of the Year? How did it help you create an attitude, mindset or a way of being to guide you towards your goal?

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

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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