Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Need help ensuring your resolutions stick?

Each year many people make New year’s resolutions, unfortunately only a small percentage of people are successful in achieving them. Hopefully these tips can help you become successful at achieving your goals.

There are various keys to making successful resolutions:
1. First and foremost, is it something you really want to achieve? or is it something you feel you ‘should’ do or worse is it something someone else feels you ‘should’ do? Only commit to resolutions you are passionate about and that align with your values. Make sure it is something you don’t need to rely on other people to achieve, it is your resolution, no one else’s.

2. State your resolution in positive terms – I ‘will’ … not I ‘must’ or I ‘hope’ – vow to eat healthier and exercise more not to go on a diet: I am going to look better, feel better and be healthier, not “I will only eat 800kcals a day.”

3. Keep the number of resolutions to a minimum – if you have several things you’d like to achieve, set about achieving one at a time, you’ll need a hierarchy, which change comes first? If you attempt to make multiple changes simultaneously, you make success very unlikely. Focus on one change then move on to another after the first one is integrated into your life.

4. Write your resolutions down and share them with people. Both increase your accountability and investment.

5. I recommend creating a mantra or motto for your goal and posting it on your bathroom mirror, at your workstation and/or on the fridge. Highly visible places that you will see every day. “I will exercise today” or “get moving”

6. Download a mobile app that supports your goal. I wrote a short blog post mentioning some apps that are useful for becoming healthier, saving money, or getting financially organized. Truly whatever your resolution, there will be a mobile app that can help, use one for reinforcement.

7. Slip ups happen – it doesn’t mean the resolution has failed and that you can scrap it. Recognize the slip, correct it and get back to your plan. A habit takes at least 21 days to be established and 6 or more months to be fully ingrained. Focus on the new habit instead of the old one.

8. The most important part of a successful resolution is the plan you create to achieve it. Your plan should break your goal down into small steps, as small as they have to be to allow you to be successful. If your goal is to lose 30lbs, have weekly goals that lead you to the 30lb loss.
Make sure the goals are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and are Time-bound. It isn’t realistic to lose 30lbs in a month so what is realistic for you? Perhaps 6 months? Set a certain time each week when you’ll weigh-in, meet your weekly goal as it will lead you to the ultimate goal and emotionally it is less taxing to lose 2lbs this week than have a constant focus on the 30lbs.

Have some ideas for what you will do when it gets difficult to stick to your resolution. One should consider potential ‘trouble spots’ and have ideas on how to avoid those spots or slips. If you find it really difficult to go for a run when you get home from work do it before work or stop at the gym on your way home. Create strategies to usurp your unhelpful tendencies.

And remember, lasting change is most often a marathon not a sprint.

Lastly so many of us focus on ‘us’ in creating our resolutions. We want to lose weight, reduce our debt, quit smoking, get a better job, drink less, etc. It would be wonderful if we also considered making a resolution that helps others – volunteering, charitable work, being neighborly, donating unused clothing and other items to appropriate charities, and do a good deed each week.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if each of us made a commitment to a resolution that benefited others?

Monday, December 26, 2011

mobile apps to help with New Year resolutions

I, by no means, am an expert on what mobile apps are available but here are a few that are helpful in supporting our resolutions.

First looking at weight loss and healthy eating:
The Daily Burn has several apps that provide a daily fitness plan, a tracker that keeps a day to day health profile, and two iOS apps that make use of the iPhone camera; Meal Snap (.99) (you take a picture of your plate and it tells you what food is on your plate and a rough estimate of calories, and a Food Scanner app.

A very highly rated calorie counter made by MyFitness Pal (free) has superlative reviews

Other strong apps in the health & wellness category are the Nike+ GPS and Fooducate (free calorie and nutritional value program).
There are so many excellent exercise apps - pedometers, Couch to 5k (a program to help you run your first 5k),the popular P90x exercise program, yoga, and personalized training programs that a short search on iTunes or the Android Market will get you what you need for your specific goals.

Want to quit smoking? Quitter or Quit Smoking Pro (.99) may help.

Another popular area for resolutions is around finance. Once again there are apps that can help you save money, such as Gas Buddy which locates the cheapest gas in a designated area, and barcode scanners that identify the best price for an item (online and locally) One of my favorites of the latter is an Amazon.com app, I can scan the barcode and it tells me the cost and options at Amazon as well as product reviews.

There is BillMinder BillMinder simplifies your life by bringing all your bills into one manageable place. You will know at a glance which bills need your attention. You can also track your expenses with comprehensive charts and graphs.
BillMinder works in collaboration with DebtMinder. Simply link your accounts and any payment you add in either app will be mirrored in the other.

I could go on and on about individual apps but the real point is that if you are trying to lose weight, quit smoking, reduce debt, learn a language, run a marathon, get organized, etc., there is a multitude of apps that can support you in what you choose to do.
The best part of any of these apps is that they work as a personal reminder to stick with it. They help you to improve your performance by keeping track of your best times or distances in running, they offer information on what foods are healthy and which are not, help you count calories, they send alerts when to pay your bills so you eliminate late fees, and much more.

So choose your goals, write them down, plan for achieving them, get an app to support you in your journey to success.

If you know of others that you highly recommend I would appreciate it if you let me know about them!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random acts of kindness

"Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty"

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Don't you feel just wonderful, makes your day or afternoon or what have you, doesn't it?

Have you ever practiced random acts of kindness? I have and its amazing how a SIMPLE gesture can bring so much pleasure to someone.

Perhaps a simple gift of putting a little more money in the parking meter as you are leaving so the next person pulls up and has 'free time'

Or leaving a sleeve of new golf balls on the first tee

In "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" (a great read) by Richard Carlson he mentions someone that paid the toll for the car behind them when paying theirs. Imagine how happy you'd be if you pulled into the toll booth and the toll collector said, "It's already paid"

Recently there has been the K-Mart Secret Santa who pays random lay-a-way balances.

Also there is a man visiting shops in Reading, PA and handing out $100 bills. This was the story that I saw LINK
Here's a synopsis of his intent and deeds.

Hopefully you can think of some original simple acts of kindness and throw a little kindness around

The world could certainly use it!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A season for shopping?

Don't know about where you are but around these parts things are chaotic. The usual friendliness seems gone and everyone is in a rush.
There's a constant struggle highlighted in the news about using the word Christmas or holiday. It appears that everyone is in a shopping, present-buying frenzy.
I'm sure that some are carefully selecting and thinking about a personized gift, but it sure looks like many people are buying for the sake of buying. Surely you've seen the news footage of people stampeding into the shops for the "ultra-deal". Is this truly the spirit of the season.? Is this really what it is all about?
I sure hope not.
Personally this has been a year of loss. And I am haunted by those who have gone as in each case they were people that were genuine, had strong beliefs which they lived by and in doing so inspired those around them. The loved ones they have left behind are lost. Slowly they try to put their lives together and at the same time take care of the young ones left in their charge.
There are no words to say. But if you could, you might say to them that the tremendous loss they feel is a reminder of the tremendous love they had and the true greatness of their now deceased loved one.
Their loss is a reminder to the rest of us that it isn't about being able to snag that XBox 360 on the day its released, it is not what we give from our wallet but what we give of our heart. It is the example we set by the way we act, behave and treat others AND ourself.
Actions really do speak louder than words.
So during this crazed time of celebration and excess - try to slow down, be polite and generous, show kindness and appreciate all that you have; family, relationships, work, home, children, dog etc.
If your life isn't what you want, take stock and consider what you can do to move in the right direction.
Give your time to someone who needs it. Love. Be grateful.
You'll reap the rewards.