Mental Health, New Year, productivity, Wellbeing, writing

What are your goals/ intentions as we look forward to Spring?

Did you set any New Year’s resolutions? Planning to become a “New You” in 2023? How’s that going?

I know in recent years I’ve become less focused on New Year’s resolutions and have instead written some intentions for what I’d like to achieve this year. Rather than putting myself under pressure to lose weight or cut out sugar completely (practically impossible for someone with a sweet tooth!) I’ve tried to come up with some more realistic, self-compassionate goals.

At the beginning of the year, I decided upon my work goals for the month. To be honest, I’ve already had to adapt these, but personally here are my goals:

  1. To pace myself more, listening to my body and allowing myself more time to rest as needed.
  2. Carry on with doing at least 1 mindful practice per day (usually after lunch). I’ve discovered the Balance app which is currently free for 1 year (in February 2023) which has a wide variety of meditations and plans including ones based on different emotions and for helping get to sleep. The free UCLA mindful app is also useful for its basic mindful meditations and weekly 30 min Hammer Museum podcast. I really enjoy their body scan for sleep when I need to switch off before starting the afternoon afresh.
  3. Going to the gym at least twice per week. I’ve built up to this gradually – starting once per week then up to twice a week or 2 later. I find this can really energise me and get those feel good endorphins going too. My aim is also to lose some weight.

SMART Goals

Some people find SMART goals helpful, keeping them focused on:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- achievable

R- realistic

T- timebound,

but I know this may not work for everyone and maybe too much pressure. An example of a smart goal would be:

I aim to lose 5 kg over three months by going to the gym and eating healthily.

Five kg over three months sounds realistic and achievable , is set over a specific time and can be measured.

The Challenges of Winter

The winter months can be difficult for a number of reasons:

  • Less sunlight can conversely affect our mood
  • With the shorter, colder winter days, it’s harder to get outside and motivation can be less. This may result in us exercising less. This can also make it harder to get out to see friends and family
  • When we feel down/ sad it may be harder to concentrate
  • There can be a sense of anticlimax after the new year.

How can we address these problems?

Thinking about what we like about winter may help: for example my preference is for a warm drink (hot chocolate) and snuggling under blankets with a hot water bottle and candles burning nearby and ideally a fire burning brightly in the hearth.

Looking out on a sunny morning with clear blue skies or a glittering frosty moment when the world can look so beautiful.

Having a conversation with a friend or loved one- reaching out when we’re feeling low or in need of a chat.

Breaking down our intentions into smaller steps

What are the individual steps needed to achieve our goal? We may need to write these down and have them somewhere where we can see them to remind us of what our goal is and how to get there:

Using the earlier example of losing 5 kg in three months

Step 1. Weighing myself to record where I’m at now

Step 2. Making a plan of when I intend to go to the gym each week

Step 3 Thinking about the healthy meals and snacks I can eat to help my weight loss and so on…

….and finally to celebrate when I achieve my goal.

It’s good to celebrate the small wins in between e.g. losing the first kg.

Celebrating Small Wins

What is a small win? I would describe it as when progressing towards our goals, it’s important to recognise any progress along the way, no matter how small – and celebrate it! For me, making sure I stick to my work timings, particularly at the end of the day, and not going beyond these has been a small win for me. Being boundaried with my time is a helpful strategy. I know that structure also helps me stick to my plan.

Have you set yourself any intentions since the New Year? How are you progressing? Do you need to change anything to make your goal more realistic/ achievable? Are there any challenges you need to overcome or problem-solve? What are your small wins so far? And have you celebrated them?

Pop your comments in the box below – I’d love to hear how you are getting on.

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business, Mental Health, Wellbeing

Understanding better what Flourish Well does…

Back in September, I was interviewed by Enterprise Nation, an organisation that champions small businesses. They were interested in profiling my business for World Mental Health Day and finding out what I learned and put into practice from the Amazon Female Founders Bootcamp that I took part in back in March.

Can I say that Enterprise Nation have been a real help too in my business journey.? I’ve lost count of the number of webinars I’ve attended hosted by them through Covid, but they given me information and tools on all aspects of my business and I wouldn’t be were I was today without them…

Here’s the resulting article, telling my journey from developing my business idea to becoming a fully-fledged business:

https://www.enterprisenation.com/learn-something/anita-kelly-flourish-well/

Christmas, Mental Health, productivity

Guest blog: How to find motivation for goals set before Christmas

As Christmas creeps closer, Jo Robinson, life coach and writing for wellbeing facilitator talks about finding motivation as part of the lead up to my Coping with Christmas workshops:

“It was good timing that Anita asked me to guest blog about motivation, as I could feel my motivation flagging halfway through November as we approached the Christmas season.

Blocks to Motivation

As soon as talk of Christmas starts and the festive adverts come on the television, a voice inside me says, ‘Oh, maybe I can leave that until the New Year?’ whenever an unresolved goal or life admin task rears its ugly head. However, the trouble with putting things off until the New Year is that those annoying tasks I’m dodging tend to mount up and spoil Christmas. They’re looming over me so I can’t relax and then January turns into an anxiety-inducing ball of avoidance.

Thankfully, I’ve finally become more aware of my self-sabotaging habits, and this year I’ve promised myself that I’ll avoid these by getting going on my ‘to-do list’ before my Christmas break starts.

‘How do I get the motivation to do this?’ I hear you ask.

How to find motivation

1. Do a brain dump. Write a list and get everything that’s bothering you down on paper – that can be a longer free-write/brain dump to start with, which can then be used to create a numbered list of things that you want to start work on.

My list:

a. Write and post two blog posts on my website

b. Prep for a workshop for late January

c. Do research into funding opportunities

d. Get more decluttering done in my flat.

2. Find your why. In order to get motivated to do a goal it’s always best to start with why you want to do it. For me, I want to slow down in December to spend more time with friends and family, then be totally work-free over the Christmas week rather than thinking about those things that I need to start in the New Year.

How to make your list achievable step-by-step

The ideal way of deciding if it’s achievable is to look at your diary and decide a deadline. My deadline is Friday 17th December, so I have just over 3 weeks left. Can I realistically do all the things on my list in that period and if I can’t, can I do parts of them, or cross them off my list?

My Blog: I’ve already drafted two posts, so it would take two days max to get them finished and posted.

My Workshop: I’ve got a meeting set up next week to discuss a potential new workshop

Funding plan: I’ve discussed a funding grant with a friend and discovered that the deadline is Friday 5th December

Decluttering: When am I next going near the charity shops?

The reason I work out my deadline is so that I can ‘reverse engineer’ my tasks – I look at where I have slots of time available and put them in my diary in advance. This enables me to break my goals down into manageable steps, prioritising them in order of importance, which also helps to prepare the different projects.

Just going through this process has increased my motivation; I mentally feel more ready, and it seems to have boosted the proactive part of my brain. It’s conquered the procrastination which was hindering my motivation, which is a reason to celebrate!

I also find talking my plans through with a fellow entrepreneur friend like Anita, or having an ‘action partner’ to check in with helps to keep me accountable and on target. If I’m feel stuck or overwhelmed, it’s good to have a supportive ear to give me a new way of seeing things, or to just listen to me.

Now that I have a plan in place, I have put the items in my diary around my current plans. It’s easy to get distracted, or say yes to last minute invitations in December, so having the tasks in my phone and paper diary, will help to keep them at the forefront of my mind.

If I’m tight for time, or not in the mood, I use the Pomodoro Technique. I set a timer for 30 minutes and get to work on a task. Then I have a five-minute break, and, if I have time after that do another 30 minutes. I use this technique for dealing with emails as it focuses my mind and enables me to use my time more effectively.

Rewards

In my experience, setting myself rewards a long way ahead isn’t a good motivational tool. I have found that daily bite-sized rewards work more effectively than weekly or monthly rewards as they keep my motivation going. I use simple things like ‘If you get this post finished today, you can watch Netflix for an hour,’ or ‘If you tidy up after dinner, you can have an extra half an hour in bed tomorrow.’ The sort of things a parent might say to a child to make them do their homework!

Another effective technique is to write down what the consequences will be if I don’t get my list done:

  • How will I feel if I don’t get my tasks done by 17th December?
  • How will it affect my time over Christmas?
  • Who else will it affect?

Answering these questions is usually all the motivation I need to keep me going!

I hope these tips have helped you as writing this post has already boosted my motivation!

What is your procrastination list for December?    Write this down and choose at least one goal to work on, breaking it down into smaller steps if needed?  Feel free to share yours below…and banish those January Blues.”

Jo Robinson is a Writing for Wellbeing Practitioner and Life Coach. She leads therapeutic writing workshops for people who want to increase their social engagement and use writing as a tool for creativity, stress management, and self-expression. A member of the Lapidus Therapeutic Writing Community, Jo has run workshops for several major organisations, including Mind, Hestia, and homeless charity St. Mungos. From her own lived experience of mental health issues, she is passionate about the transformative way that therapeutic writing can help people change the way people think, feel, and act, in order to live happier and more engaged lives.

Find out more about her business on her website or check her out on Instagram @thisisjotoo .