Around this time last year, I wrote my first Christmas Vacation "Bucket List". I found it was a great way to put fun with my family and friends at the centre of my holidays and I made more of an effort to put those things on the calendar and make the time to do them.
I have decided to make this an annual tradition and encourage you to do the same! This year, we are headed to Montreal so there's all kinds of opportunity for different activities and people to spend our time with. Some of these items are the same as last year since they are important to me and some I could only do while in La Belle Province! Here's what I want to get up to:
I am so looking forward to these experiences with my loved ones. I hope you all have an incredible holiday season as well!
I'm not sure if it was being off of social media (for the most part) in November that had it feel much more mellow, but it was a relaxing time either way. I wrote a lot more this month - 10 blogs in 10 days, in fact - and it really helped quiet my mind and drop into myself this month.
These monthly check-ins were mostly intended to keep me honest and accountable to my commitments, and I realize now they have also been so key in recognizing how much one can grow from month to month. And it's really incredible what growth you can squeeze into a year. Here's how it's going with my 2018 commitments!
No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Sticking so hard to this one and all those bags of clothes I had in my house last month are now officially gone to consignment!
Live debt-free - November might be the most challenging month for spending with all the hoopla around Black Friday sales and holiday gift shopping. I am proud to say I resisted getting sucked into over-spending. A great strategy we have used for curbing excessive gift buying is doing a secret Santa exchange with our families. One gift, with a spending limit that is comfortable for everyone, makes it easy to stay within a budget and I find it makes the one gift you get far more intentional and special.
Plan ahead for family time - Not only are we headed to Montreal for the holidays, we also have another long weekend on the books for December to hang out as a family before the full schedules of the holidays ramp up. #winning
Do one crossword and read for 10 minutes every night - Whoa did reading fall off last month! I planned to read Brene Brown's new book and ordered it online, and the Canada Post strike totally pushed that deadline back! I just got the book in my hands this week and I'm excited to get into it this month.
We are in the last month of 2018 and it's become a yearly practice of mine to do both a holiday bucket list and an annual personal restrospective. I already have my list started for experiences I want to have this holiday break! These monthly check-ins also help to look back on the year and note my accomplishments and the challenges and will help set the stage for the following year. I'm looking forward to re-reading them when I sit down to write my 2018 retrospective!
I wish you an incredible last month of the year!
With all the holiday and Black Friday ads we are being inundated with this time of year, it struck me the impact and mental space it can take up. The wordplay and marketing tactics are so good at convincing you how much you're saving on your purchases, when in reality, if you are buying anything you are spending. The truth is, you'd be saving 100% if you didn't buy the item at all.
This is likely the first holiday season I will not purchasing any clothing for myself in my adult life. "I spend no money on new clothing for myself in 2018" is one of the commitments I made and have stuck to this year. At first, all the hype around Black Friday had me feeling a little left out. Until I started thinking about the cost of conforming to this season of historically mindless spending on my part.
Many times throughout the year I have been faced with thoughts of how that new cute sweater might make me feel good (temporarily), or how it might even improve the way others perceive me. I have online shopped, added items to my cart, fantasized about how amazing it would be to own them all, and then logged off.
That friction that I have created for myself has been an incredible way for me to recognize my thought patterns and exercise my will. And guess what? There hasn't been a single negative impact on my life. I'm still me, and no one has even noticed that I don't have the newest, most trendy things. I have actually felt less pressure to look a certain way because I committed to this year of not buying new clothes.
I am not against having new clothes, spending or fashion, in fact, in the past, I saw my clothing as a way of self-expressing. I enjoy finding pieces that are comfortable, fit well, and represent a bit of my personality and style. It's when I cross over from hand-selecting things because I find value in them, to falling into buying something trendy because it's the latest hot thing. Often buying that thing to fit in.
What I have realized is fitting in is expensive. Not only in money, but in the far more important resources of time and energy. The time we waste window shopping or browsing a store, and the mental energy we waste on even being concerned with the importance of having the newest cool thing at all.
Additionally, there is the internal energy we expend trying to be like everyone else, instead of bringing our uniqueness to the forefront. I have used shopping and material things as an example here, but my point extends far beyond this. It is a huge expense to not be true to yourself, in all facets of your life.
#themavenlife is all about living with intention and purpose and I know that my approach to the holidays will be shaped by this attitude. I think it's important to give thought and consideration to how we spend our precious resources, this time of year, and always.
I don't believe I was reliant on social media, but I also didn't realize how unconsciously (and frequently) I was reaching for my phone to check my Instagram.
Here are some of the things I have noticed so far:
I may just hop back on social media ahead of my 30-day timeline so that I can communicate important information to my community. And I will be armed with more intentionality around my use of social media. I will likely shift this "Social Media Detox" to creating some boundaries with my phone! Stay tuned!
I have been thinking about all the tools in my toolkit that can go for stretches without being used. I have seen many people seek out a new skill or tool. Often, they learn something new, fail to integrate it into their behaviour, and point the finger of blame at the resource or tool for not getting the job done.
That's like going to Home Depot, buying a shovel, bringing it home and putting it in your garage to collect dust and then blaming Home Depot when your drive way is still covered in snow. You have to actually put the thing to use to experience to desired result. The provider of the resource isn't necessarily where you need to be looking.
We all have life tool kits. Some have more tools than others, but what use are any of them if they never get utilized? When I'm feeling in a rut or complacent, I often seek out a new and flashy thing instead of looking right under my nose at my existing tools. There are some tried and true strategies that I know can support me and bring me back on course with what I want to create in my life.
Doing the actual work is where the magic happens. USE your tools.
I believe in YOU.
The you who knows you have unique gifts you want to share with the world.
The you who wants to use your time here to make a positive impact.
The you who knows you have boundless potential and will do the work to max it out.
The you who is open to learning and growing, forever.
The you who knows the power of choice and exercises it.
The you who wants to create a full life, on your own terms.
The you who wants to experience the magic of life.
I believe in ME.
The me who provides you with tools to identify your unique gifts and help make a plan for you to use them in the world.
The me who knows your time is precious and won't waste it.
The me who holds you capable of doing the things I know you can.
The me who is open to learning and growing alongside you, forever.
The me who can set an example of the power of choice.
The me who can give you tools and coaching to help you create a full life, on your own terms.
The me who creates magical experiences for us.
Each time you bring yourself to one of my offerings, you are investing in yourself, and you are investing in me getting to realize my own goals. So thank YOU.
I believe in us working together to make moves in this life.
If you normally have to have your comforts (coffee, sugary foods, soda, TV, alcohol, pot, cigarettes), you’ll spend a lot of money on them, and in many cases worsen your health and your bank account. You might avoid going places where you can’t get these things, and spend a lot of energy to make sure you could have them every day. But what if you trained your mind to not rely on them for comfort and relaxation? You could slowly get the mind used to not needing these, one at a time, so that it would be free.
Creature comforts? Guilty as charged. It got me thinking about where I have trained my mind to do the things I don't want, instead of sitting with the feeling. Like, how if I am feeling anxious, I will drive way out of my way to spend money on that chai latte when I could have made a tea at home. Or how I know that I could better use my time in the evenings, but I feel tired and put on Netflix instead. Or how just now, I went and browsed other blogs instead of sitting down to write my own. Luckily that last one actually helped inspire me to write, but could have easily been a rabbit hole of distractions.
So for the rest of this week (small doses), my target is to do one task in the evening to better set myself up for the next day (ex. pack a healthy lunch, lay my clothes out for the next day, put the dishes away). Once I have completed the behaviour, I will have some of my favourite dark chocolate (reward).
I invite you to pick one thing for yourself to focus on!
I have written about the importance of personal values in goal-setting and provided some quick ways to help you identify your own personal values. Here we are going to go one level deeper. Words on a sheet of paper are great to remind you, and it's also important to unpack them to know just why these things are so important to you, and how they impact your behaviour.
With your values in-hand, complete the next exercise.
Draw a grid that has 4 columns:
Column 1 - Values
Write each of your values (one per line)
Column 2 - Definitions
Write your definition of each of your values, in your own words. Answer for yourself: what does this value mean to me?
Column 3 - Related Beliefs
Write what you believe about each of your values. Answer for yourself: why is this value important to me?
Column 4 - Related Behaviours
Write what behaviours are related to each of your values. Answer for yourself: if someone were a fly on the wall, how would they know I am acting in line with my values?
As you complete this exercise, you'll start to see just how important your values are and how much your values impact your behaviours and habits. Once you have completed the grid, I encourage you to share this information with at least three people in your life. This is also a great exercise to complete with teams or even your family to help gain further understanding of each other and to build better relationships.
Historically, legacy was defined by the passing down of money or property, so it's no wonder we have inherited this belief that it comes with an attachment to material things.
The truth is, your legacy is happening right now. Always, in every move you make, in each interaction, your presence here on this earth shapes things. If you were not here, it would look different. You are always leaving footprints of your existence in your wake. Consider that for a second. This is both an exciting reality, and a great responsibility! What we often forget is that we have choice in who we are for people, and what we bring in to each day and each interaction. If we can draw our awareness to moving through life with intention, rather than by default, we start to feel empowered and see and feel the impact of harnessing choice over resigning ourselves to our circumstances.
I am not saying we will be a complete pleasure 100% of the time and know that some moments are tougher than others and we often feel like we have no choice. In reality, you have all that you need within you to leave a more purposeful legacy right now. You have made it this far in life because of your ability to overcome setbacks and challenges.
Think about the ways in which you know you can rely on yourself to get through tough times, or even what your friends and loved ones can rely on you for consistently. What is that thing that you count on to get you through challenges? What is that quality about you that makes the best of times so much sweeter? (they are often the same thing) For myself, it's my ability to keep an open perspective.
I leave you with this to reflect on:
What if we didn't keep that special thing about us all to ourselves or reserved only to the people closest to us? What if we weren't stingy with our unique gifts? What if we gave the best of ourselves generously and freely to anyone and everyone? What would your legacy look like then? What impact can you make now, today?
Think about it...
I have been influenced by many teachers, situations, and even social norms and have been quite good at adapting to "fit in". Never really feeling like I knew what I stood for, yet always searching. And I still am. I seek out new perspectives all the time that make me think in new and different ways about the world. I am a student of life.
There are many things in this world to be upset about, just watch the news. It's absolutely important to fight against the things we find unjust or wrong. However, I personally would rather stand for something positive than against something negative. I would rather channel my energy into taking action vs. taking counter-action. For me, one feels empowering, and the other feels dis-empowering.
I might even argue that it takes more courage to say what you do stand for, than what you don't stand for. Commiseration can be so galvanizing.
Here's some of the golden nuggets I have discovered so far:
I'll keep mining and rooting myself in what I stand for and will keep adding to this list. Give it some thought for yourself.