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How to stop procrastinating in 3 easy steps

An easy, three-steps method to tackle procrastination on a specific project.

I realized that I was procrastinating big time about writing a blog post when I started to detail-clean our budgies’ water container with dozens of cotton swabs.

Your trick maybe organizing your closet or your inbox that was messy for years but now cannot wait another day.

Or maybe re-watching all the episodes of your favorite show …

Or keeping yourself so busy with urgent stuff that you literally don’t have a minute to spare.

But procrastination probably has some bad effects on you…

  • Tons of stress
  • Missed deadlines
  • Damaged professional reputation
  • Lost opportunities
  • Disappointing your boss and others
  • Feeling bad about yourself

And some projects just need to be done. Now.

In this post I’d like to give you quick 3 steps to help you with that. Get that job done.

Step 1: Find your motives

Find your reasons for procrastination

Think about your project and start writing down your feelings and problems about it. Check what makes you resistant. It can be a lot of different stuff. Some examples to get you started:

  • It would take long time to finish.
  • You are worried about the end results… maybe your work will not be good enough.
  • You want to make it perfect so you want to do some more research.
  • There are tons of options to choose from.
  • You feel overwhelmed by other things in your life.
  • This is new territory for you, it requires a lot of learning.
  • This project is boring.
  • This whole thing is irrelevant to you personally, it was just pushed on you.
  • There are others involved and teamwork is not going smoothly.

Be as specific as possible, okay? Then highlight the top 3 reasons that have prevented you taking action this week.

Find your reasons for acting now

Okay, here comes the other side. I want you to imagine that you have finished your project yesterday and all went well. Hooray! You are done, you can move on, that heavy weight is off your back.

How do you feel? What are the benefits you got because you have finished your project? Write them down.

Some examples could be:

  • Feeling relieved.
  • Feeling less stressed or rushed.
  • Feeling proud because you worked through the challenging parts.
  • Getting appreciation from people close to you.
  • Maybe you saved money or time.
  • You can clean up the mess after the project and enjoy your space again, either real or virtual.
  • You can enjoy the end results of the project.

Now highlight the 3 most important benefits and keep them in mind.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a goal for this project

I want you to write a goal that is specific, measurable, realistic, motivating and has a deadline. You can use this goal formula or create your own:

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Add your action steps

Now go back to step 1 and revise your obstacles. See if any other came to your mind and write those down, too. Number your obstacles.

Now for every single obstacle, write down what you will do about them. Action steps, baby.

For example, if your obstacle was that you have no clue how to do a specific task in your project, figure out how to learn it. Who can help? YouTube, a coworker, a book, your teenager? Your action step is that you set a date when you get access to your helper and do the learning.

  • Obstacle 1: I don’t know how to…
  • Action step: I will google it tomorrow after work and try it a few times. Also, I will ask X the day after to check if I’m doing it right so I won’t be worried about it.

You need to keep writing action steps until you are confident that you dealt with all your obstacles and ready to start working. You can do it!

Side note on certain obstacles

Sometimes our obstacles are actually not in real world, only in our heads. It happens to all of us I think.

  • Doubts if we can do it at all,
  • worries that the results are not going to be good enough,
  • that we cannot find the perfect solution,
  • we only have one option and we hate that so why bother,
  • feeling that it is not worth trying because it will all turn out badly anyway,
  • and even if we finish on time no one will ever appreciate our work.

If it sounds familiar to you, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, these obstacles are the hardest to fight. They are our hardwired reactions we learnt ages ago. Perfectionism, self-doubt, negativity… Again, most of us have them to some extent.

The good news is, we can still change them. It is doable.

Sure it’s not going to happen in a week. But if you can get help from a therapist or life coach, you can definitely decrease their affect on your life. So don’t give up! You don’t have to listen to these depressing voices in your head for the rest of your days.

Step 3: Be accountable

The last step is to pair up with someone.

  1. Get hold of a good friend, family member, supportive co-worker or a life coach.
  2. Let him/her know about your goal and action steps.
  3. Come to an agreement that you will keep them posted on your progress.
  4. Be specific! Decide together how often and what way you will report to them, i.e. by email, on every Friday until the project is done.

And this is it. A three steps method to take control of your procrastination.

Give it a try on a project that seems difficult but manageable, and can be finished in a week or two.

Takeaway

Step 1: Find your motives

Look at what is holding you back and what will motivate you to start working.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a specific goal with a deadline and add your action steps.

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Step 3: Be accountable

Find someone who will help you stay on track by expecting you to send progress reports to them.

Download a StopProcrastinatingAndFinishTheProjectWorksheet for this 3 steps method.

Take care,

Livia, life coach in Calgary

 

What career should I choose: 3 simple questions to get you closer to your dream profession

What career should I choose? Not an easy question.

There’s a lot at stake… Taking courses costs time and money, and what if we end up not liking that career at all?

Maybe you work long hours, quite bored with your job, and wait for the weekend to feel alive? Or you’ve been at home with kids for years and now have no career left? Or just starting out not sure which career path is the best for you?

If this is your situation, keep reading.

We all would like to be engaged at work, enjoy what we are doing, use our best skills and have work-life balance. It is not a luxury, it is the only way that leads to a happy, healthy life I believe.

And it’s not a Millennial talking, I’m a Gen X mom. I just happen to have a midlife crisis that tells me every day that life is too short. 🙂

I’m going to ask you three questions to gather all the information for choosing a personally suitable career.

Three attributes of a great career choice

Money. More money. Even more money?

Nope.

The best career path for every one of us can be describe like this:

  1. We get to do what we love to do.
  2. We are very interested in topics we need to deal with.
  3. We can use the strengths of your personality at work.

Choose career visualization

Source of picture: roadtripnation.com

Are you ready? Grab a notebook or open a doc and let’s get started.

Career question 1: What do you love to do?

If you work in a field that is very interesting to you, you won’t mind the learning curve, the long hours, the low initial pay. The whole thing is just so captivating for you, you will think about it and jot down ideas at 3 am.

So what do you like to do so much you miss it if you can’t do it? You cannot imagine your life without it. Think general categories here, okay?

  • Working with people?
  • Teaching? Mentoring?
  • Working alone in peace?
  • Creating something from scratch?
  • Designing something cool?
  • Learning something new?
  • Planning?
  • Doing research?
  • Writing?
  • Moving, walking, dancing, using your body?
  • Being outside?
  • Your ideas come here…

Write down one.

What? Only one? Yes.

But how do I pick one if you love to do three different kind from that list at least? Which one is THE ONE?

Okay, pick the top three for now.

For example, for me, it was working with people, learning, planning and moving, exercising. I felt stuck… How am I suppose to choose one?

I thought about it for a while, and watched myself during the day. Then I realized that I feel depressed and low on energy if I cannot connect with people. I love to do all the other three as well, but if I had to pick one, I missed building connections with others the most.

And vice versa, if I had the change to talk to someone deeply and felt the connection, it energized me, made my day.

What is yours? What makes you feel alive? What do you miss so terribly you go out of your way to have a chance to do it?

Write it down with big letters.

Career question 2: What fields are you interested in?

At this point, think about school subjects, niche websites and library sections. What topic do you always end up reading about? Or googling it, or watching TED talks about it, or discussing it with another enthusiast… Are you the go-to person for friends and family about which

Some ideas:

  • Environment, nature
  • Technology, latest gadgets
  • Sciences
  • Arts
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Medicine
  • Food
  • Humanities
  • Animals
  • Psychology
  • Music
  • Your fav comes here…

Pick two of your absolute favorites and write them down.

Very neat and visual help with these first two questions on roadtripnation.com.

Career question 3: What are your personal strengths?

We all realize by a certain age, that we are naturally more talented in some areas and less in others. I am quite good working with people, but struggle when I have to deal with tons of details.

Ideally, you would like to have a job where you can use your talents a lot, and rarely need to depend on skills that just don’t come easily for you.

For the next exercise you need to

Do you happen to know what your Briggs-Meyers personality type is? There’s no need to fill out the questionnaire then, just go straight to your type on the 16personalities.com website and read the part about work.

In the book, read the chapter about your personality. It gives you, among other useful stuff:

  • three detailed career case studies, one of a Millennial,
  • long list of professions that could be a good match for your, sorted by industry and
  • a short ten bullet point description about what makes your type happy in their professional life. (Sure hit the nail on the head for me with this one!)

I know it is a trouble to get a real book and read about 10 pages in it, but trust me, it will worth it.

It can help you not to choose a profession that would make you unhappy for the rest of your career.

Brainstorming time!

Congratulations! You have collected some of the most important ingredients to cook up your dream career. You know

  • what you love to do the most,
  • which topics are your favorites,
  • what kind of professions match your personality and use your strengths.

Now it is time to get creative. Try to forget about family pressure, or others expectations about what you should do. Focus on your answers to these questions.

Mix and match, brainstorm ideas where you can do what you love, in fields you’re interested in, using your strengths.

Keep thinking, fill up some pages, let this topic float around in your head for a few weeks.

For ideas, inspiration, quotes and stories, you can go back to roadtripnation.com or check out their pretty cool book.

If you have some candidates, google a website form your country with detailed information about the chosen profession. Here’s my home province, Alberta’s Occupation Guide.

Okay, this is ended up being a pretty long post. I hope you guys found it helpful.

Choosing a great career is not something we can do in a day or two, but well worth the time and mental energy spent on it, because it can help you finding a work you love most of the time.

As always, you can ask questions and share your answers with us in the comments below!

Have fun,

Livia,

life coach in training

PS: BTW, you can even use this process if you are searching for a solopreneur business idea. That’s what I did, anyway. 🙂

 

 

 

7 stress management tips for a relaxing family vacation

I have three kids. ‘Relaxing’ and ‘family vacation’ just doesn’t go in the same sentence for me. I loooong to go somewhere to see the world but having to drag three troublemakers with me… Well, it puts lots of stress and worry to my vacation week, to say the least.

If you feel the same, and would like to enjoy this happy time together this year, read on for my favorite tricks.

Tip 1: Organize just enough

Whenever we are traveling, I can’t sleep for two weeks beforehand. I worry that I forget something, I write memos for myself at 3 am, I’m thinking of ‘What if…’ scenarios… I’m excited but very, very anxious as well.

Cover the most important stuff but don’t drive yourself crazy! Everyone is different, so adjust this tip to your habits. I write one list of what we need to bring, and one for what needs to be done before vacation.

Must-haves to bring:

  • passports, visas, etc. (if applicable)
  • prescription medicines, first aid kit
  • bathroom stuff, depending on your accomodations
  • ziplock bags if flying
  • clothes
  • favorite stuffies
  • entertainment for the trip/flight
  • food for the road
  • camping gear

Must haves to do:

  • get vaccinations (if applicable)
  • book tickets, accomodation
  • get the car checked before road trip
  • find a house-sitter/give key to neighbour
  • find a pet-sitter
  • cancel newspaper delivery
  • unplug/lock garage door opener
  • turn off/ close everything

Tip 2: Let go of the idea of perfect vacation

There will be stuff forgotten. Mistake made. Feelings hurt. Money lost. Time wasted. Stop worrying about how to prevent it. Do your basic planning, use common sense and relax. Summer holiday doesn’t need to be perfect to be fun and memorable. 🙂

(Did I tell you about the day when my husband thought chocolate ice cream would cure my son’s stomach ache and the three year old threw up chocolate all over the rental car? Well, it wasn’t fun but sure it was memorable. 🙂 )

Tip 3: Watch your kids’ triggers, and your owns

When on holiday, we are out of routine, out of place, in a hurry. Add some jet leg and not enough sleep, and we have some cranky little people on our hands.

To avoid huge meltdowns, be mindful of your kids’ triggers and step in on time:

  • Count transitions: getting out of the car is one. Getting back in, that’s two. It depends on the kids, but my mine usually tolerate maybe four, and then want to be left alone, explore the world freely.
  • Try have them enough sleep, no more than a few hours less than their usual amount.
  • Be aware of noise, crowds, visual clutter. If your child is sensitive, these can overwhelm them easily, leading to meltdown. Offer a calming activity in a quiet place. Even in the middle of Disneyland, my daughter and I managed to find a closed-off spot under a tree, had a long lunch just ‘people watching’. Half an hour and she was ready for excitement again.

And let’s face it, we all have triggers, too. Try to keep them in mind when planning your days, and don’t push yourself too hard. Ask the other grown-up to give you a break, if you feel you will lose it.

Tip 4: Basic physical needs: food, water, layers

Give us the most beautiful places on earth, but if the basics are missing, we become grumpy. Or maybe it’s just us, but when my kids get hungry, they start whining, lying down on the ground and the like.

  • Pack filling, no-sugary snacks for hikes and long trips. The stuff available at pit stops or on airplanes are usually… well… you’ve seen it.
  • Don’t forget water! Not drinking enough can give us pretty bad headaches by the end of the day.
  • Have hats and lightweight layers at hand for places with moody weather. Out at the sea or in caves you need actual warm sweaters!

Tip 5: Be there

So you have paid a big chunk of money to finally get away and have fun. But your mind is still cluttered with work problems and your phone keeps you busy.

Pretend this is your last vacation. Really. The kids will grow up in no time and never be this close to you again. Just look around as if this is your last day on earth. Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells. Every now and then take a few deep breath and get back to the here and now. Soak it in. Burn it in your memory. Enjoy.

Tip 6: Face reality as a grown up

Let’s face it, we get pissed off when life is not going our way. Beach day and it’s raining. Lovely vacation and the kids start throwing up the third night. Our favorite place we always eat at is totally jam packed. Everything is beautiful and the damn kid is screaming. Shit happens and we find ourselves all upset, in a bad mood, grumpy like a teenager who cannot do what he wants. I’ve been there. It is hard.

Recently I was able to change my attitude about these things a bit. In about 30 percent of the time, okay? Still working on it, but the key is this:

Give up all hope to the alternatives to the present moment.

Pema Chodron – When things fall apart

There are times when we just cannot fix it. Period. We are better off accepting the bad news as is and moving on with our lives. Trust me. This little advice made a huge difference in my life lately. Give it a try when life throws you a lemon tomorrow.

Tip 7: Add something fun just for yourself

Be selfish here and try to carve out a few hours for something you love. A massage, a good swim, lying in the sun alone, or a chance to draw some quick city-scapes in your sketchbook… Whatever it is, make a deal with the family and have your own little getaway. It will make you smile again. 🙂

That’s it, folks. I hope I could help make your next vacation a bit more relaxing. Leave your favorite tips or fun holiday disasters in the comments below! 🙂

Have fun,

Livia

Three easy ways to work on your goals and enjoy summer, too

Summer is short. Use my tips to make the most of it, every day.

Water, sunshine, summer breeze. And work.

Good match? Not really.

But I got into a new habit this month:

I take my kids to the outdoor pool, have a good swim then I lay down on the grass and catch up on my business reading or write a blog post. (Disclaimer: My kids are older than eight and very good, level 4 and 5 swimmers.)

I take turns relaxing and working a bit, and generally I’m having a good time, almost as much when my parents took us to the pool as kids.

So my advice to all of you: Don’t wait for your vacation week, enjoy summer every day!

Three tips for a great long summer

Get out of the house every single day

Summer is short. It may feels never ending with the kids out of school but in a few short weeks it will be cold and dark again. So throw the remote away, leave your phone on charger and go outside. Suppose you are at home by six, you have at least three beautiful summer evening hours to enjoy outside.

Goals supported

  • Get stress-relief 
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Live more healthy
  • Practice mindfulness

Don’t tell me none of those were your goals! I won’t believe you. 🙂

Ten quick, easy and cheap things to do outside on weeknights

  • Walk in the park or in a nice neighborhood.
  • Invite a friend for a jog.
  • Eat breakfast/dinner out on the deck.
  • Play Frisbee in front of your house. 
  • Take the neighbor’s dogs for a walk.
  • Go for a lazy bike ride.
  • Go for a quick dip. Outdoor pools are open till 8:00 pm. (Keep essentials packed in a big bag all summer. That’s what I do, and I just add fresh beach towels, swimsuits and water bottles quickly.)
  • Set up a reading spot outside (chair, cushion, coffee table) and do your reading there.
  • Sit at a coffee shop with a terrace.
  • Go down to the beach/bay/riverside if you are lucky and have one!

Eat light

Who wants to steam in the kitchen or wait for an order at a crowded eatery when you can relax outside?

Time-saving tips for summer

  • Eat Mediterranean. Little pan-roasted chicken or fish and salads with avocado and leftover rice.
  • Marinade one bigger batch of meat and you can prepare them in ten minutes when you need to.
  • Same with rice.
  • Mix and match salads: keep some greens, toppings and dressings at hand, that way you will easily put some crunchy health bowl together in five minutes.
  • Shawarmas, tortillas, tacos and the like. Quick and easy, and always different.
  • Try stir-fries. Nina Simonds in Simple Asian Meals have a handy one-page cheat sheet for healthy stir fries.
  • Fruits. Fruits and nuts.

Goals supported

  • Eat healthy
  • Save money
  • Save time
  • Lose weight

Forget 80 percent of your To Do List

I mean it. Just look at your to do list. If it is in your head, write it down. I wait for you.

Now pick the top one or two that makes the most impact on your life. Think matter of life and death.

(If you have ten on your list, pick two. Fifteen, pick three. More than fifteen? Get some help, girl!)

Do them first thing in the morning.

Okay, you can have your coffee or tea then go and finish them off.

Delegate or postpone the rest. 

They can wait until the rain and cold comes in November. It will come and you will have nothing better to do. Stupid chores don’t go anywhere. 

Goals achieved

  • Laser focus on priorities
  • uncluttered life
  • Get stress-relief

That’s it. This is my advice for you folks. Enjoy your life in the sunshine, the warm weather, no snow pants… Go Californian for a bit, for goodness sake! Winter will catch up on us way too soon!

What is your favorite trick to carve out more summer fr yourself? Share it with us in the comments below! 🙂

Take care,

Livia

 

Why get a coach?

Three benefits you will immediately get when you are coached, even just for a few times:

  • coaching clarifies your situation,
  • it moves you forward,
  • it boosts your confidence.

How coaching works in real life?

Let me give you an example.

About a week ago I totally freaked out. ‘I will never make this business work! How could I? I’m an immigrant stay-at-home mom with nothing but a long-expired university degree from abroad!’

My trigger was a nice chat with a lovely other beginner coach lady, who happen to have

  • tons of work experience in other fields,
  • lots of connections with well-off people and
  • great ol’ self-confidence, heaps of it.

And I have none of these. 🙁

So I called my coach friend and asked for an appointment. We worked for a good hour. By the end, I realized what my block was, I knew what to do next, and most of all, I felt confident that I can absolutely do it.

So I started working again and in a week I finished three important jobs necessary to grow my business. Yay! 🙂

Lesson I learnt: we see the world through our lenses. And sometimes we get stuck not as a result of real blocks… But because of our false views… created by our distorting lenses.

If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.

Edward de Bono

So what a coach can do for you?

Coaching helps to clarify your situation

What’s on this picture?

close up photo of pavement

An everyday thing, but hard to tell at first on a close-up photo, right?

Same with our lives. We look at it from so close, we can miss parts of the picture. We can’t see the forest from the trees.

  • What is blocking me?
  • Why am I stuck?
  • What preconceptions, prejudices I have that narrow down my view of the situation?

Coaches can give us a new perspective as they paraphrase, ask great open questions or describe our position with big pic metaphors. Expect to have big ‘AHA!’ moments! A whole new array of possibilities can open up when the fog clears in front of us.

Coaching moves you forward

Have you ever noticed that you are running around in circles, very busy but you are not making any progress? (That’s me and my marketing efforts, hahaha!)

Great coaches can help you to stop, breath, and

  • focus on your goals,
  • decide on your priorities,
  • brainstorm for ideas,
  • choose what is the next step to do right now and
  • stay accountable.

The result: as you go back to work, you will not waste your time and efforts on peripheral things, instead, you make progress where it matters the most. So you get more bang for your buck. 🙂

Coaching gives you confidence

During our coaching session, my coach helped me to realize, that

  • I had a successful small business before so I have business experience I can apply now,
  • I already have coaching skills
  • I do have a network of people, maybe not a very big network but it exists.

So when you work with a coach, they will help you to see:

  • what are your strengths you can use here and now,
  • what experiences you have related to this,
  • what kind of similar problems you solved before.

Coaching can make a difference in a few sessions

There are situations when talking to a coach just a few times can give you instant results, saving time, headaches, and probably some money, too. Take a look at the examples in the chart below:

Your situation The problem Assistance from life coach
You are ready to lose weight, quit a bad habit, or finish a never ending project,   but you tried and gave up before a few times. A coach can help you to use your experiences from the past attempts to finally conquer the beast this time.

Plus every benefit I mention in this post before. 🙂

You have a goal close to your heart but it is several obstacles away, that might need a detailed long-term plan to reach. Your life coach will know the best goal setting methods for your situation.

Also can help to brainstorm new ways to tackle the obstacles.

You need to make a major decision, and it has a deadline

and affects other people. like family members.

A life coach can help you think it out loud, check your priorities, consider pros and cons.

Plus teaches you professional decision making tools most people never even heard of.

 

Takeaway

Working with a coach for even a few sessions can give you these immediate benefits:

  • You will see your situation clearer.
  • You will know what to do next.
  • You will have confidence doing it.

Ready, set, go! 🙂

Livia

PS: What are your goals to work for? Let me know in the comments below!

What are the signs of midlife crisis and other questions

I am, undoubtedly, in a middle of a midlife crisis. Big time. Let me share with you guys what I’ve learnt so far about this tornado. But first, let’s see if you show the symptoms of a midlife transition.

Signs of midlife crisis (for women)

Ever wondered, ‘Do I have a midlife crisis’?’ Well, answer the following questions with yes or no to see.

  1. Does ‘I’m going to die one day’ pop up in your thoughts at least once a week?
  2. Do you feel strangely not so content with your life lately, although it is just the same as it was before?
  3. Are you fed up with things and you feel you can’t put up with them anymore?
  4. Do you feel yearnings towards things you used to love but had to miss out on, because you never had the time?
  5. Are you reading self-help books regularly?
  6. Have you started exercising or will start it tomorrow?
  7. Have you taken courses to learn something new?
  8. Have you changed something major about your life lately? Career, marriage, hobbies…
  9. Are you preparing to make big changes in the near future?
  10. Can you relate to one or more of the midlife crisis archetypes on the following infographic?

Infographic about female midlife crisis archetypes

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have a midlife crisis. If you answered yes to more than half the questions, you are in the middle of the storm! Keep reading for a safe sail.

What is a midlife crisis?

Midlife crisis is a phase in life that

“brings traits, needs or desires that have been ignored or repressed roaring back on center stage in one’s personality”

writes Sue Shellenbarger, author of The breaking point – How female midlife crisis is transforming today’s women.

Midlife crisis can start anywhere between 35 and 52, an average, around 42.

Why does midlife crisis happen?

Because at middle age, we realize that we are getting older and will die soon. Who likes that thought? Nobody, but we have to accept it and deal with it. We have a deadline, and if we want to achieve something we better get working for it. That urgency, that push and motivation to improve our lives, fill in the gaps, find what’s missing – that is midlife crisis.

Who goes through midlife crisis?

About 1/3 of people have midlife crisis, both among men and women. There are certain factors that can make somebody ‘hardwired for crisis’, being high risk, according to Shellenbarger’s research:

  • People with unfulfilling or all-consuming careers
  • People with stall, unhappy or abusive marriages
  • Women who sacrificed everything for their family and never had a chance to pursuit their own goals
  • People who postponed renewing their lives, and just survived and bottled up their frustration
  • People with difficult childhood
  • People with depression*

Can we avoid or prevent women’s midlife crisis?

In my personal opinion, no. We can try to achieve as balanced a life as we can in our 20s and 30s, joggling roles, and apparently that will lower the odds of a disruptive, turbulent crisis in the 40s and 50s. But honestly, who has time for that? I barely had time to breath and take a shower at that time. 🙂 I literally cannot remember my 30th birthday, for example. I’m 41 now, so I had to have it, but I have no memories of it. 🙂

What are the benefits of midlife crisis?

The motivation. The risk taking. Our willingness to get off the couch and do something about what makes us unhappy and discontented.

According to two long-term studies, the decisions we make at midlife can significantly improve our chances for happiness later.

 

Choices women made at midlife - graph based on two long-term studies

What to do about midlife crisis?

Do something. Not completely without planning and rational thinking, but really do something.

Why? As you can see on the chart above, people who decided not to do anything, were significantly more unhappy later than the others. According to the studies made at the University of Michigan and at Radcliffe Collage, ‘ these women were the unhappiest of all at the next round of interviews. They suffered lower well-being, more depression, and a feeling of being less effective in life’.**

Women may go through their midlife crisis changes with different speed or potency, says S. Shellenbarger.

Sue Shellenbarger, graph based on women's midlife crisis modes or pathways

Some make significant changes, creating some heat and smoke in the process, hahaha, and improve their lives on the long haul. (See Sonic Boom, Moderate and Meltdown)

Some try, maybe a bit hastily, or hesitating too much, and have a little success. (Flameout, Slow Burn)

And some of us don’t even try, out of fear of losing everything. (Non-Starter)

Best way to deal with women midlife crisis

Find out your midlife crisis archetype

Being aware of your type should give you some direction of where to turn, what areas to work on in midlife. Based on your archetype, a good first step maybe

  • save up and travel, or find new sports to try (The Adventurer)
  • open up your heart and get meaningful relationships (The Lover)
  • give yourself a permission to build that business, that legacy you feel so passionate about (The Leader)
  • find the time and resources to rekindle your love for arts and create something (The Artist)
  • surround yourself with worthy people and make a difference in their lives, in your home, garden and community (The Gardener)
  • reach out to spiritual leaders to find your path, the meaning of life, either in person or through books and videos (The Seeker)

Learn from other’s stories

It is wise to seek the company of older women who has been through midlife crisis some time ago. They can share their memories with us, and we can learn from their choices. Shellenbarger says that decades later the only ones with overwhelming regrets are the Non-Starters.

‘The biggest mistake, it seems, is not having a midlife crisis at all.”

Find a support group

No one can understand you as much as another women struggling with midlife crisis. If you can, reach out and find them for support and understanding.

Work on life skills

According to research***, those who successful in making positive changes in midlife:

  • Focus more on the positive events in life, rather then on negative ones
  • Have higher degree of life competencies such as communication, relationship skills or work skills

So it is never too late to work on these important skills.

Get a life coach

In midlife we long for a change, simply being tired of the same old job, same old life or taking care of family without a break…

A life coach can help us to use the motivation of our midlife crisis to achieve what we are yearning for in order to eventually have inner peace and a more fulfilled life.

Takeaway about midlife crisis in women

  1. Be aware of it.
  2. Think about it, talk about it.
  3. Do something. Take some risks.
  4. Live happily ever after.

Contact me if you would like to talk about midlife with a safe, nonjudgmental person.

Take care!

Livia

Sources

*R. C. Kessler, K. A. McGonagle, M. Swartz, et. al., “Sex and Depression in the National Comorbidity Survey, in Journal of Affective Disorders 29 (October-November 1993): 85-96.

**Jutta Heckhausen, “Adaptation and Resilience in Midlife,” in Handbook of Midlife Development, ed. Lachman, pp 354-55.

***Carol Magai and Beth Halpern, “Emotional Development During the Middle Years,” in Handbook of Midlife Development, ed. Margie E. Lachman, pp 333-34.

S. Shellenbarger, “The breaking point – How female midlife crisis is transforming today’s women” Henry Holt and Company, 2004

Five things I learnt about coaching… from a Canada goose family

I was riding my bike by the Bow river the other day, and stopped to watch a gosling with a big dilemma.

It was standing on the big rocks by the swirling water that was fast and high from the melting snow, and heard her Mamma call “Come on! We’re going!”.

Canada geese family swimming on Bow River, in Calgary.
Maybe the same goose family, same river but lot more quiet waters than in the story.

The family was leaving, swimming upstream. And there was this tiny few weeks old gosling, unsure and hesitating: should I jump towards Mommy on the rocks or should I swim after her?

Well, we’re not few weeks old anymore, but we can probably relate to this, eh?  When neither of our choices seem easy and we need some support. And quick!

Okay, here comes what Papa Goose taught me that day on how to be a better coach.

Coaches let clients do the work

Papa Goose didn’t solve the problem for his gosling. Yep. The little one had to swim and walk and jump all the way through.

Same goes with coaching. You, the client, have to sweat and think and struggle. (And dust yourself off and keep going after a bad move, with bleeding knees. I know.)

Coaches have faith in their clients

Did, at any time, Papa Goose pick up his baby to save her? Nope.

He watched closely and had faith in her that she will be able to do it eventually.

It might take a while. This is not an easy situation, swimming upstream, climbing rocks… But she can do it.

And so can you guys. If you set your mind to reach a goal, prepare carefully and keep doing your baby steps, I’m hundred percent positive you will get there. I have faith in you.

(How come? We haven’t even met! Because I believe that everybody can learn, change, and grow. If they want to. 🙂 )

Coaches listen carefully

At some point, baby gosling got totally carried away by the river… It looked like she is not going to stop ’til the ocean! So she started to make loud, fast ‘sheeep-sheeep-sheeep!’ sounds to signal Daddy that she is in trouble.

So when I’m having a coaching conversation, I’m listening closely. I pay attention to words, pauses, gestures, facial expressions… even the tension and energy coming from the client. People rarely make cute baby goose sounds, and rarely say explicitly what their biggest fears are… But us, coaches, have to be able to notice if something is wrong, if you guys are blocked, confused or afraid. So we could help you work your way through the mess.

Coaches are present… talking is overrated

Do you want to know what happened, when the river swept away the baby? Did Papa Goose give advice to his youngster? Told her what to do next? Warned her to be careful? No. Not a word. Not even a question.

He just stopped, swam right back to her and stayed with her.

Sometimes that’s all we can do. When the situation is just terribly bad, and my friend just cannot humanly do anything about it, I just stay with her. A little compassionate listening can go a long way to help us feel heard. And solutions will come later.

Coaches stay in touch and cheer

I noticed that while the baby found her solution, and jumped on rocks then swam a bit on quieter water then got out and jumped on rocks a bit again, Daddy made some gentle sounds from time to time. It was like ‘You’re getting there! Keep it up!’

His presence and his voice was enough for the gosling to calm down and keep paddling.

Coaches are the same for clients. You can count on us to be there when you are panicking, overwhelmed or ready to give up. Can we solve the problem for you? No.

But we can point out your strengths and cheer your efforts, as you are paddling like crazy and jumping on rocks. Way to go, baby goose!

Take away

In the end, the baby got a learning experience, some confidence boost and reached her goal. I work for about the same for all my clients, too. 🙂

If you have any questions, write a comment below or contact me through my contact page for a complimentary 30 minutes phone coaching session. Take care!

How to get ready for dieting

Okay, so you have decided that you are going to start dieting soon. Congratulations!!! You reached an important milestone! It looks like

  • you see the benefits of eating better and
  • more or less ready to give up you favorite junk foods for a while.

Now what?

Now it’s time for war preparations, girl! Write a strategic plan of attack. Get ammo and other supplies. Find some allies. And see you out there on the battlefield! 🙂

Photo of diet food with a quote about change.

Step 1: Set a realistic and measurable goal

Why? Because a written goal will greatly enhance your chances to succeed. It is a proven fact, there’s no use to argue here.

Here’s a blank for you:

I will have __________________________________________ by ______________[date]

because I want ______________________________________.

For example:

  • I will have lost 10 pounds by the end of the spring because I want to feel pretty in my summer dresses.
  • I will have a waist measurement under 35 inches by six months from now [date] because I want to lower my risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • I will stick to an elimination diet for a month because I want to see my symptoms improve and want to find out which food causes my digestive problems.

Plan to lose weight? Aim to one pound (half a kilogram) weight loss per week maximum. Any more than that is not healthy for us.

Now post your goal around your kitchen!

Step 2: Boost your motivation

Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet for a long time is not easy. If you are doing your diet for long-term health, or intend to lose weight and stay slim, you probably have to stay motivated for months and months.

Gather the pros and cons of the change

It is important to be realistic. Write down a list of both, so you could see clearly how badly you want this change and what might be stopping you. Here’s my list:

Pros of keeping an elimination diet:

  • My hands will not hurt
  • My skin will look normal again, without the ugly red swollen areas
  • My digestion is better

Cons of keeping an elimination diet

  • I cannot eat my favorite traditional pies, muffins and home-made breads
  • Gluten-free baking is a pain-in-the-@ss
  • Difficult to eat outside of the house

Take a good look at your lists. Which one is longer? Ideally, before you start, your pros list should be more significant for you.

See the list of the cons. Can you do anything about them? Find a substitute food or activity, or make the loss somehow more bearable? It can help lower the temptation to stop or cheat later.

Visualize yourself at success

This exercise can be a great motivation boost, so don’t skip it! Imagine how you would be, when you got the results you hoped for!

  • How do you look like?
  • How do you feel like?
  • How does it feel to move, to work out, to dance?
  • How’s your confidence level?
  • How do you fit in your clothes?

In the worksheet, take a few minutes to write about these things.

Step 3: Prepare to start your diet

Small steps to support the diet change

  • Get rid of unwanted food from your house
  • Find new healthy and tasty recipes
  • Find and buy alternative ingredients (dairy-free, low-salt, etc.)
  • Find healthy workday lunch/dinner alternatives
  • Stock up on nutritious snacks
  • Buy a bathroom scale, soft measuring tape, etc
  • Find an app to help you keep track of your progress

By no means you have to do all these, but I find them helpful for me.

Tell everyone

Okay, I guess it is quite subjective. Some people may not want others to know about their diet plans and it’s all right. But the suggestion from professionals is that we should tell friends and family members, and maybe colleagues that we are changing our eating habits, and we are counting on their support and understanding.

Create your plan of action

It doesn’t have to be very long, but it has to address your needs. Think about

  • things that previously prevented you from successfully go on with your diet plans
  • possible issues outside of you
  • possible issues within you, like negative self-talk or strong emotions

and address these in you plan of action.

For example, if you had trouble overeating at night, after a long days starving and stress, can you figure out how to prevent it happening again? Can you keep healthy but filling foods with you during the day? Or put a big lock on the fridge? 😉

Or if your family visits your Mom every weekend and she feeds you like you’re a starving orphan, it is something to include in your action plan.

Set a starting date

You’re almost there! Ready to set the date? Well, ideally, it should give you enough time to prepare but not to be so far away that you lose momentum. If you can, try to avoid major family holidays and vacation times, as it is notoriously difficult to manage a diet during those.

And that’s it. You are all prepared to change your eating habits and fight your way through to a healthier you! 🙂

If you wish, you can print the diet planning worksheet that goes with this article. And as always, if you have any questions, contact me or post a comment!

Take care,

Livia

Ten easy ways to decrease your stress level

Chronic stress can undermine our health. Read these simple but effective tips to support yourself during stressful times in your life.

Are you struggling with pain in your neck and shoulder? Daily headaches? Or digestive issues?

Or maybe you have trouble sleeping or concentrating… Feeling anxious or rushed… Looking forward to crush in front of a screen… Tired of all the family and social demands on you…

I know that I feel like this from time to time. Every day stress is a lot, kids, work and all! Then a big life change comes, and throws us off the wagon right away.

  • Moving,
  • going back to work or school,
  • an injury or serious illness in the family,
  • marriage, divorce or new baby,
  • or just bad conflicts at the office or at home…

Chronic stress takes its toll on us, as we all know. But who has time to worry about it, when we can barely keep our heads above the water?

I believe practicing good self-care is very important, specially when we are not twenty years old anymore. Our body can only take so much beating, you know.

That’s why I collected ten simple things you can do today to give yourself the extra support during stressful times.

Part 1: How to help your body to deal with stress

 

Eat protein

Our body needs a few special amino acids to produce neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, etc.) to deal better with stress.

As a quick example, eating a good-sized chicken breast, brown rice and a salad topped with nuts and avocado should contain enough amino acids for a woman for a day.

Other sources of these important amino acids (tryptophan and tyrosine, if you want to google it) are:

  • chicken, turkey, beef, game, fish, liver,
  • almond, cashew, peanuts, sunflower seeds,
  • soybeans and chickpeas,
  • milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs,
  • oats and brown rice,
  • various fruit and veggies (avocados, bananas, raisins, plums, tomatoes, carrots).

These are best eaten together with complex carbs, and supplemented with vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid, as they needed for the production of the neurotransmitters. (Individuals on low-carb or vegan diet might have to pay extra attention to get all these nutrients.)

Ditch sugar, choose complex carbs

Our brain needs fuel to operate efficiently: an even supply of glucose.

Eating complex carbs, foods with low glycemic index, that absorbed slowly, is the best to have the steady energy supply. It also helps to prevent insulin resistance that comes from our chronically activated hormonal and nervous stress systems.

On the other side, simple carbs (cereal, white bread, white rice, baked goods with white flour or juices) are

  • digested very quickly,
  • causing a big rise and fall in the blood glucose level,
  • leaving us with mental fatigue and low energy.

Have ABCDE supplements plus zinc, magnesium and omega-3

Under stress, we might need more vitamins and minerals. The following are especially helpful:

  • Vitamin B group: to reduce anxiety and stress, improve brain function, mood control and energy production.
  • Vitamin A, C and E, antioxidants: to fight oxidativ stress.
  • Vitamin D: supports the immune system, improves mood, anxiety and depression. During the winter, almost all of us are depleted of it.
  • Zinc, calcium and iron
  • Omega-3: essential for the health of the brain and the cardiovascular system, and standard western diet contains only the fraction of the necessary amount.

Get a good 7-8 hours sleep

Both of our stress systems, the hormonal and the parasympathetic nervous system, need to rest at night. Sleep prevents them to be constantly revved up and working, and allows our body to recover. Plus, with sufficient sleep, our brain works better, our immune system is stronger, and we can keep our cool easier and bad moods under control. So if you have sleep problems, try to find out what can help you to get more shuteye. (I know, sometimes with babies it is terribly difficult!)

Exercise

Why zebras don’t get ulcers? asks one stress research book. I think because they just run off the anxiety and stress caused by lurking lions, hyenas and the like! 🙂 Working out will help you relieve tension, get some free endorphins, and sleep better. Even just a short walk outside during your lunch break can do a lot for you, so why not give it a try?

Part 2: How to help your mind to manage stress

Problem with our big brains is that it creates more stress than it can solve! We are always mourning over the past or worried about the future. Try to stay with the task at hand, and look at these ideas to relax your mind.

Talk to a trusted friend or family member

Humans are social creatures. Connecting with others can be a great way to lower our stress level. Studies show, also helps to stay healthier.

Write down your worries

Keeping a diary/journal is a well-know way to deal with stress or trauma. Try to do it regularly, let your words flow and don’t worry about the spelling. I confess I’m not writing every day, but whenever I feel especially upset or worried about something, it is a great relief, and at the end, I’m much calmer and I can see the problem more clearly.

Renew a beloved hobby

Do you know what a state of flow means? When we are so engaged in an activity we love and we’re good at, that we forget about time and the outside world. And it is one of the best things you can do for your happiness.

Meditate

When I told my friend last year that I started doing meditations, she made a face and then politely said that it is not for her, but if it helps me… 🙂

Anyway, if you experience constantly rushing thoughts or feel that you are just running through your life, meditation might worth trying. And you don’t need to meditate for an hour every day! To have the benefits of calmer mind and body, about 15 minutes few times a week seems enough in my case. For some people, even 1 minute meditation works. Or try walking, drinking tea or washing dishes meditations.

Be grateful every day

Why? Because you are still alive. And because gratitude is one out of the five factors affecting our happiness that is actually in our control.

I started this habit more a year ago, and I find it very helpful. Every time I go for a walk, I quietly think about three things I’m grateful for. Or three things that went well that day. You can also write it in a journal at night, before you go to sleep. It helps us to see that although not everything is perfect, there are many good things in our lives.

Takeaway about stress-relief

Support your body

  • Eat protein
  • Choose complex carbs
  • Have ABCDE vitamins plus zinc, magnesium and omega-3
  • Exercise regularly (walk 3 times a week)
  • Sleep 7-8 hours

Support your mind

  • Talk to a friend
  • Write a journal
  • Have a hobby
  • Meditate
  • Be grateful

That’s it, my list of sanity tips for busy women. Pick one for the body and one for the mind, and see how much better you will feel. Take care!

Get off the couch with this no-excuses beginner cardio exercise

Finding a way to exercise can be difficult with our busy lifes. There’s so much to do! Work, family, meals, house chores… These eat up every minute in the day!

But we really should work up a sweat regularly… But I’m so tired! And my favorite show is starting any minute!… And…

I hear you, girl.

You are exhausted and brain-fogged and stressed. It is an awful feeling, and you don’t need me nagging you right now to get off your butt. 🙂 Just one question: did you manage to walk to the freezer to get some ice cream?

Then I bet you can do…

My favorite exercise

What is my favorite? Glad you asked. It’s walking.

What??? You heard me. Walking.

Why? Because it is simple, moderate intensity and low-cost.

Okay, now give me your excuses, missy!

I don’t have time to work out

Busted! To go for a walk, you only need 20 minutes at a time, including putting on shoes. 15 minutes a day, five times a week and you will get all the health benefits.

Your schedule is totally jam-packed? Think about

  • delegating work to others
  • saying no to some volunteering or
  • cutting back a time-consuming habit maybe

You can figure it out, I’m sure!

I don’t have good running shoes

Popped! You probably have a pair of runners at home already, gathering dust. For walking, they will do just fine. Find them in the bottom of the closet and head out.

I don’t have workout clothes

BS! When was the last time you picked up the kids naked? Just put on anything and go! (No, you don’t need the perfect sports bra for walking. For jogging, yes, but for walking, your regular bra is okay.)

It is raining/snowing/freezing/too hot to go outside

Do I hear whining? Go on YouTube and find a nice at home walking exercise video. (Or try beginner Zumba! They’re fun!)

I haven’t exercised in years

But you are reading this because you want to change this situation, right? And I’m happy for you! Walking is perfect if you want to get back in shape.

  • Start at a moderate level. It means you walk at a speed that allows you have a conversation.
  • In a couple of weeks, start walking faster, like you can still talk but have to take a breath mid-sentence.
  • Few more weeks later you can increase your speed a bit more.

Congratulations, you’re doing it!

I have arthritis and my knees hurt

Okay, it is a very valid excuse. Arthritis is horrible and makes every movement painful when you have a flair-up. But research shows that regular exercise do improve the quality of life for people with arthritis and helps to stay active and independent.

Tips you can try:

  • walking in water or swimming
  • stationary bikes
  • anti-inflammatory diet to help you space out the flair-up

For more tips about exercising with arthritis, read this booklet from www.arthritisresearchuk.org.

I’m overweight

It’s okay, you don’t have to kill yourself! If done regularly, moderate exercise will help you to manage your weight, your stress level, your eating habits and give you the cardiovascular health boost you need. Just take it easy! If you are worried about your joints, try walking in water, swimming or biking, these are all easy on them.

I’m not as young as I used to be

Me neither. It’s too bad, isn’t it? But if you still can walk, even if with a walker, you can do it. Just start really slow and have someone with you if you can. A friend or neighbor maybe? And if you feel dizzy or short of breath, or anything hurts, stop and rest.

No more excuses!

See? Walking is an easy and effective workout you can start doing today. And keep doing it again and again to keep you healthy and fit.

How to start walking for a workout?

Equipment: One pair of comfortable shoes

Time commitment: 75-90 minutes weekly

Intensity: low to moderate to high

Scheduling: Find three or four 20-30 minutes time chunks in your week. Put the walking session in your calendar and treat it as priority.

Optional motivational coach: a medium-sized dog. He’ll get you walking all right! 🙂

Ready! Set! Go! See you in the park! 🙂