Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of the Year

Joyful woman enjoying the winter snow .

For someone who is not real big on the holidays, I absolutely adore these days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Part of it is because I work full-time at a college and, like our students, we get these glorious days off  before starting full steam ahead again in January.

The other part is I happen to believe there is something magical about these days.  Because they are the last days not just of the month or the quarter but the whole year, people tend to write them off as an insignificant segue into start of a New Year.

But I know better.

It’s as if these days have a secret they will share only with those who can get quiet enough to listen and be still enough to notice.

While many people are bustling about returning items, reconnecting with family and friends, or trying to check off the last few items on their yearly to do list, I’ve been quietly calling the pieces of myself back home in order to acknowledge all the adventures I’ve had during this trip around the sun.

Before I even begin thinking about what I want to create in the New Year I ask myself a series of questions about the current year. The answers I get inform my direction and my intentions for the upcoming year.

I wanted to share them with you as a way to consider what 2017 has meant to you. You may want to sit with them, answer the ones that feel most in need of answering, skip those that don’t make sense for you, or make up your own.

After allowing my answers to these questions to reveal themselves to me, I take out a piece of paper and put a big plus sign on one half of the page and a big minus sign on the other. Armed with the insights from this year, I can clearly articulate what I want more of and less of in the New Year.

Because this is a process and the questions require time to marinate, I first read through them and let them seep into my psyche before attempting to answer them. Then I grab a pen and let the answers come to me.

By about Sunday I’ll be able to collect my responses and apply the perspective they afford to the New Year. On Monday I’ll spend some time welcoming 2018 and contemplating the choices ahead of me. I’ll Name & Claim what I intend to create and then release that intention into the wild.

I share this with you in hopes that these questions might help you find some clarity and direction in the New Year. Maybe you can ask some of these questions of your family and friends at a New Year’s Eve gathering?

May you savor these last days of 2017 as they share their secrets with you.

Baby Steps & Best Advice

  • Where did the smallest step produce the biggest result?
  • What was the best advice you were given this year?
  • Who shared it with you or how did it find its way to you?

Body Wisdom

  • How aware of your body were you throughout the year?
  • Did you feel connected to your body and allow yourself to feel the pleasure of being in a body or did you disconnect and spend the majority of time in your head?
  • Did you have any health challenges or achieve any health or fitness goals?

Experiences

  • What books, movies, music, conversations, trips, trainings, or classes forever changed the way you think, feel, see, or experience life?
  • What places provided you with the most peace or inspiration, the best working environment, the most creative conversations, the most nutritious and delicious food and drinks, incredibly beauty, or fascinating people?
  • Where did you love hanging out and with whom?

Fears & Thrills

  • What was the scariest thing you did this year?
  • How did you feel once you faced your fear?
  • What was the most thrilling thing you did, said, felt, or experienced this year?
  • What made you feel most alive?
  • What caused you the most pain or regret?

Gadgets & Gizmos

  • What new technology did you master that catapulted your business or personal life forward?
  • What products, apps, or life hacks made your life easier, more organized, or more fun?
  • What purchased created the most joy and/or frustration as you worked through the learning curve?

Gifts

  • When and how were your gifts recognized and appreciated this year? (By you and others.)
  • When did you need to activate your superpowers and how did you do so?
  • Was there a particularly painful lesson that held an exquisite gift for you?
  • When did you have to practice patience and learn to move at the pace of grace?

Health & Well-Being

  • What creative, meditative, fitness, or health practices did you begin that made a noticeable difference in the quality of your life?
  • What new foods or drinks did you discover this year that you now can’t live without?
  • What really nourished you?   (Mind, body, and spirit)
  • What health care practitioners offered you the most comfort or provided you with the most helpful information necessary to achieve your optimal health and well-being?

Homefront

  • Were there any new arrivals in your home? (Pets, people, plants, furniture, etc.)
  • Were there any departures in your household or family circle?
  • Did you move or add on to your existing home or somehow alter your living arrangements?

Livelihood & Creativity

  • Did you start a new adventure, begin a new business, retire, or leave an old career to start something new this year?
  • Who was on your dream team? What collaborations or partnerships gave you the most joy and brought about unexpected or innovative results?
  • Who needed to be fired from your life? What relationships created chaos, unnecessary drama, miscommunications, or major meltdowns?
  • Where did you create something amazing out of nothing?
  • Where did you take “massive imperfect action” as my coach likes to call it?
  • What crazy idea captured your attention and refused to let go until you took action? What happened next?
  • Where did you lose track of time and fall into the flow of doing what you love?

Money

  • How did money show up in your life this year?
  • Did you experience any money miracles or windfalls?
  • When did you feel especially abundant? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • When did you feel constricted or tight about money? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • Did you read any books, attend any seminars, work with any financial wizards or coaches who helped shift your mindset around money?

Relationships

  • Who walked into your life this year? How did their presence impact what’s possible for you?
  • Who walked out of your life this year? How did their absence create more presence for you?
  • Who do you long for? Who is missing in your world?
  • What relationships shifted or transitioned as you changed and grew?
  • Where was your love most needed and how easy was it for you to offer it up?
  • Who surprised you with their unwavering support and love? Who disappointed you?

Travel

  • Where did you go this year and how did you get there?
  • Did you travel for business, for pleasure, out of obligation, and/or because it was your soul’s calling?
  • Who did you meet in your travels?
  • What did you see?
  • How did it change you?

Spirit/Divine Intervention

  • How did God/the Universe/the Great Creator/Divine Feminine or Masculine reveal itself to you? How did you respond?
  • Were any of the answers you were seeking hiding in plain sight?
  • What was lost? What was found?
  • When did you feel closest to God or Source energy?

Surprise

  • What was surprised you most this year?
  • How did this surprise rearrange your reality?
  • What unlikely sources of support, funding, friendship, or freedom showed up for you?

World Events

  • How did world events impact your actions?
  • Did these events alter your opinion of humanity or change the way you view the world or the future of the planet?
  • Did these events catalyze you to join a movement, stage a protest, offer aid or assistance to those in need?

If you had to sum up the year in 6 words, those words would be:

___________    _____________    _____________     ______________   _______________    _____________

* Mine would be:  You can’t make this stuff up.  Really, it was that kind of year! Totally amazing.

Top 10 Takeaways from the year? List them here!

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I’d love for you to share any aha’s or epiphanies that may arise from these questions in the comments below.

 
 

Start Before You Are Ready

Let's Start

I just got back from spending a few days in Boston with my tribe of transformational coaches and creatives.  I’ve only been a Rockstar on a Mission since March and a Wildflower since September but I barely recognize the quiet, questioning version of me who wondered whether investing in these coaching communities could catapult me out of my comfort zone and into my contribution zone.

I know now it was the only thing that could.

I’ve spent years lost in cyberspace, investing in online programs that promised all kinds of incredible results from the comfort of my couch. I eagerly downloaded all the modules and organized them in binders and convinced myself that doing that was the same as doing the actual work.

It wasn’t.

You have to change out of your pajamas, take a shower, and get out and meet people if you intend to save the world. Because you just can’t do it in isolation.

The evening before I invested what seemed like my life’s savings to become a Rockstar, I cataloged every single program I had invested in for the last 30 years.  As impressive as this list was in length and depth, I became painfully aware that I’d kept most of those experiences and the wisdom they afforded locked in a virtual vault somewhere inside of me.

One I had apparently lost the combination to.

I realized my success could only come from cracking the code and sharing what was inside instead of keeping this treasure tucked away.

It also meant shedding the safety of my invisibility cloak and showing up in full Queen regalia, ready to Own My Throne.

As soon as I stepped into my Rockstar role, I began to crack the code. I gave myself one year to play full out with a group of others committed to doing the same.

We would leave no stone unturned as we dived deeply into the beliefs and stories surrounding our resistance, fears, and ability to move forward.

It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been pretty. And it certainly has not been for the faint of heart. It has taken a lot of time, money, and, in my case, airplane tickets to far away places.

But eight months into it, I’ve done things with my tribes that I could have never done on my own.  I’ve led my own Tapping Into Your Wellpower retreat, I’ve led tapping circles at other retreats, I’ve led my team on a scavenger hunt at the Natick Mall, and I’ve gone to the pyramids of Teotihuacan where I learned sacred ceremonies to harness air, water, earth, and fire. I have spread my message from coast to coast and met shamans, healers, artists, mentors, coaches, and collaborators of every kind.

I share this not to boast but to tell you if you want to change the world (by first changing yourself), you can.

You just can’t do it alone.

And frankly, why would you want to?

There are so many fascinating people who have done what you want to do.  Learn from them. Take advantage of the their vantage point – even if they are only a few steps ahead of you. Study what works and what doesn’t.  Give yourself the gift of their guidance even as you chart your own course.

And by all means, start before you are ready. You’ve heard me say this before but it’s worth repeating.

There will always be a hundred things you think you need to know or do or accomplish before you start.

You don’t.

You’re stalling.

You’re scared. Believe me, I know.

The truth is you can’t know or do or accomplish many of those things that loom large until you start. You can’t fully appreciate how Facebook Live works until you do a Facebook Live broadcast. You can’t know how you will host a retreat until you host a retreat. 

What do you want to do by when?

Set a date.

Tell the world.

Then get to work.

Let the goal pull you forward instead of allowing your fears to hold you back. Let the excitement of publicly committing to your goal burn through your fears and be the catalyst for taking easily executable action steps. These steps will help you establish a steady rhythm of fear-busting moves that combat analysis paralysis.

And let me share one more little secret.  Getting there can be as thrilling as arriving. It’s all about the journey, the climb, the road to redemption.

When I announced my Tapping Into Your Wellpower Retreat I had no idea who would come, how I would coordinate all the moving parts, or what I would offer as a follow-up.  I only knew I was committed to doing whatever it took to make it the best retreat I could.

Because I had enrolled in a Retreat Blueprint program, I had an idea of what was necessary to run a successful retreat. But because I had never actually run one myself, I had to become a marketing machine, an event planner, a customer service rep, and anything else that was required. As if by magic, becoming all that activated my super-powers.

Who you become along the way determines how deeply and richly you can celebrate once you reach your destination and how confidently you continue to move forward.

When my retreat went off without a hitch, I celebrated like it was 1999. And when no one was watching, I danced around my house to my favorite celebration song. And then I headed to Mexico to embark on a scary, new, life-changing adventure.

So please, as Goethe suggests, Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

I’d love to hear about the magic you are conjuring up. Please let me know in the comments below so I can cheer you on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cease Fire September

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Happy Labor Day, my friends!

Since our Get Stuff Done & Have Fun 21 Day Challenge ended in August, I thought we needed a new theme for September.

I got the idea of Cease Fire September from none other than our Get Stuff Done & Have Fun winner, Gilbert Higuera.

Like Gilbert, I’ve noticed we can all be a little critical of ourselves (and others) when things do not go as planned. So instead of bashing, trashing, guilting, or goading ourselves into submission or compliance, I say we call a cease fire and stop with the incessant shoulda, woulda, coulda’s.

Let’s just let things be as they are for the moment. No judgments.

Think Switzerland.

Think neutral.

Think neither good nor bad.

It is what it is.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t try your darnedest to change things or make things better. It just means that when change doesn’t happen quickly or easily or at all like you’ve planned, you don’t ridicule yourself for trying.

In my experience things seldom go the way I think they will or they should or I would like them to.

Sometimes they go even better!

But often times it’s just another day in paradise where I get to learn something new. Like how not to do something. Or how to tweak something just a smidge so it will work better next time.

Freaking out or abandoning the entire project does not contribute to the greater good. Mine or any one else’s.  It just gives me further “proof” of my ineptitude at the expense of  the innovative or creative thinking that prompted the idea in the first place.

Few things work right out of the gate. Despite what our culture tells us, overnight successes are usually years in the making.

I learn best by practicing and I practice best when I have partners. Since some of you have already been Getting Stuff Done & Having Fun with me in August, I thought you might want to continue on this journey in September with a new challenge.

If you haven’t done a challenge with me before, now is the time to start! You can participate as much or as little as you like.

The best way to do this is to join our Facebook group – Get Stuff Done & Have Fun. If you don’t use Facebook, then just follow along here or on Instagram at pjplautz.

I like to use a catchy phrase so I remember to practice what I preach at the precise moment I’m about to forget it.  Something like, “Think twice and be nice,” might work for this month.

What do you think?

 

Share the ways you are practicing a little kindness, self-compassion, or neutrality in the comments below.

 

Retreat Photo

PS – The Tapping Into Your Wellpower Retreat is just 19 days away.  If you want to get in on this amazing day away, you still have time.  You can even get in on the Early Bird Pricing until September 8th.  (We know you are busy and may have forgotten to register by September 1, so we are extending a grace period for registering at the special price through this Friday, September 8th. Call 1-888-336-3907 to register for #187799 or register online at www.eicc.edu/continuing-education/register/). If you want to know more about the retreat, click on the Tapping Into Your Wellpower Retreat tab at the top of the page.

Are You Up for a Challenge?

 

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For some of you, just hearing the word “challenge” has your competitive spirit shouting “Bring it on!”

For others, it sends you into immediate overwhelm. The mere thought of one more thing challenging you might send you over the edge.

But what if I presented you with a challenge that encouraged you to get stuff done and have fun?

The past couple of years I’ve hosted a Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge during the month of July.  This summer I’ve been so busy creating the Sunday Summer Stretch Series that I haven’t had the bandwidth (literally – don’t even get me started on the saga with Century Link) to simultaneously launch another challenge.

But since today’s topic for the Sunday Summer Stretch Series is challenge, I thought I’d stretch myself to try a slightly different version of the Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge for August. I’m calling this one Get Stuff Done & Have Fun.

Yes, we want to get stuff done.  But sometimes the stuff we get done is just not fun. We save the fun stuff for that elusive someday when we have time to indulge ourselves in a little self-care. In other words, the 12th of Never.

So to put an end to that, I’m proposing a 21 Day Get Stuff Done & Have Fun Challenge. Because I know some of you rebels will need some wiggle room to stick to it, these can be 21 consecutive days or 21 random days. But all 21 days need to be in August of 2017.

So here are the guidelines:

  • The stuff you get done has to be something you have been wanting to do. If you don’t want to do it, challenge or no challenge, you probably won’t do it.
  • The stuff you do for 21 days has to be fun for you. What’s fun for someone else may not be fun for you, so do what’s fun for you.
  • The stuff you decide to do should be doable in 5-10 minutes. You are welcome to spend more time if your creativity kicks in and you’re on fire with desire to continue, but start small and simple.
  • You have to participate for 21 days in August 2017 to qualify for the goodies. You pick the days – just make sure you participate for 21 of them.
  • You have to post the finished project either in the comments below, in the Facebook Group – Get Stuff Done & Have Fun, on Instagram at #getstuffdonehavefun, on Pinterest or email me on the day you do it. How else would I know what you’re up to?

That’s it.  Easy peasy.

And what do you get for all this effort?

Prizes, of course, sprinkled throughout the challenge.

The grand prize is …. a free registration to the Tapping Into Your Wellpower Retreat in Bellevue, Iowa on September 23, 2017.  Yep, you heard that right.  That’s a $200 value!  And it can be yours just for having a little fun doing what you want to do anyway. How great is that?

For example, I’m challenging myself to create A Penny for Your Thoughts post every day for 21 days. I’m going to pull a quote or idea from one of my over 300 blog posts and create an image in WordSwag or Canva and post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. This is how I created the image above.

I actually love to do this but tend to find a million reasons not to do it on a regular basis. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, it’s a great way to engage people in a conversation, and it allows me to unleash my creativity at least once a day.

So if want you to join in on the fun and win stuff, too, just start doing fun stuff and let me know about  it.

The challenge starts now and runs through the end of August 2017.

*One fun thing might be to register for the Tapping Into Your Wellpower Retreat and decide to make a long weekend out of it. You can stay at an area bed and breakfast and research some of the places you might want to go on Sunday.  To find out more about the retreat, click on the Tapping Into Your Wellpower Retreat tab above.

Let me know in the comments below if you are ready, willing, and able to take on this challenge. I would love to see you have 21 days of productive fun!! 😀

What's the Plan?

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I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.
It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.
Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.
As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.
So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.
So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now?  What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?” 

The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!

Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”
Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.
I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top  10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.
The other was Nourished the daily planner for a well-fed life.  I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.
As much as I love  each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.
For example, every morning it helps me to ask:

  • What is this day about? 
  • What wants to come forward?  
  • What needs to get done?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What am I willing to do to feel that way?

Every evening it helps me to figure out:

  • Where was the magic hiding?
  • Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
  • What was lost? 
  • What was found?
  • What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
  • What brilliant ideas surfaced?
  • What thoughts consistently hound me?
  • What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
  • Where did I excel?
  • Where can I improve?

The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.
What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dreamspeech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.
Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.
One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.
You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*
I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.
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*P.S. –  There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead.  Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan.  Keeps it interesting!
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan "Q"

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It’s letter “Q” quietly makes its debut in today’s plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer.
Before Midlife Macgyver, there was the Quirky Quill where I explored the quandaries that quite often confused and confounded me. I thought it might quench my thirst for the quantum leap of consciousness required to quadruple the answers available to me.
But I discovered that answers are overrated.
It’s the questions that keep things interesting. One of the best ways to live an adventurous life is to constantly query the universe.
The quantity and quality of our questions determine the quality of our lives. You can quote me on that.
We may offer a quick quip from our queue of credible answers, but the questions that we keep quarantined that cause us to quiver and quake are what our true quest is about. When we get quiet enough to hear the quickening of our pulse, we cannot quell the call to adventure.
If you are quarreling, quibbling, or quacking like an angry duck, question what’s making you crazy. Quit pretending your quest doesn’t matter. And then let’s start to get clear about where that quest might be calling you in the New Year. (Stay tuned for specific tools on how to do that at the end of this challenge.)
As I was mentioning to Bob how aware I’ve become of all the letters in the alphabet since we started this challenge, his suggestion was to quit. 
Not the whole challenge, of course, but my self-imposed rule of using as many letters from the plan as possible in the post. He figured if I could get through Q, I could get through any letter. And since I don’t normally write or talk in alliteration, he was never quite sure what I was trying to say from day to day.
For the remaining Plans R to Z, I’m going with the less is more approach. Instead of sharing all the words I can think of that start with the letter of the day, I’ll share the most meaningful ones.
This brings me to today’s tip, which if it’s the only one you implement, could save your sanity over the holidays – or any day for that matter.
Question what doesn’t work and quit doing it. Stage your own quiet riot. And then get on with doing what you need to do and create something you love in an even more interesting way.
What do you need to question, quit, or change up in order to get a better result? Plan Q is all about not getting caught in the quicksand of convention or business as usual and finding what works for you. It’s the part of my Read It & Leap! process I call course correction.
I’d love to hear what you are questioning these days in the comments below.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan "K"

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Hello, kindred spirits. The letter “K” has arrived to kick off the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge today. You might want to read this post out loud because the constant “k” sound is so fun to hear. I kid you not. Try it!
Words that begin with the letter “k” are kind of sparse, but here’s one I know you’ll relate to in more ways than one. It just so happens to be our keyword of the day.
Drum roll – or better yet – keyboard player, please…..
KISS! Or as I like to translate it during the holidays, “Keep It Simple, Santa.” 
Of course, you are welcome to engage in the lip-locking thing, too, but I’d like to save some “L” words for tomorrow.
As you can see from the empty list above, there are no good karma flags from Katmandu,  koalas or kookaburras from Kangaroo Gully, kryptonite from Kuwait, kaleidoscopes from Kiev, kites from Kalamazoo, katydids from Kingston, or kittens from Kauai. No kooky or kinky requests to kidnap your keen sense of control over the Christmas budget, my little kumquat.
Call me a killjoy, but I believe the key to not going coo-coo crazy throughout the holiday season is to knock out the distractions, knuckle down and knit together a schedule that won’t lead you to accidentally serve kamikazes to your kids or your canine Kojak.
Kudos to the wise men who kept their gifts to the essentials – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Although kettlebells and kickboxing gear might make you feel like you can kick ass – especially while consuming kegs of kimchi in your kitchen singing kumbaya-the keys to conquering the crazy-makers is to keep calm and carry on.
To put it musically, koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson. Keep on truckin’ and killing me softly from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. And always be humble and kind.
I’d love for you to share your “k” comments with me below.
 
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Day 6 – Plan F

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It’s Day 6 of  the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Today’s tension tackling tips focus on the letter “F” and feature five fabulous fingers frolicking and fa-la-la-ing just for the fun of it.
Today is all about freedom, so pick the concept you find most fulfilling, flattering, or fashionable that enables you to forfeit any full-on freak-out during festive gatherings.
If all else fails and frustration sets in, fetch a friend and free yourself from feeling flustered, frazzled, or flummoxed by facilitating a field trip to your family farm.  There you may face fascinating adventures from feeding feathered fowl to following finicky felines as they feign indifference toward their favorite food.
To foster more good cheer you may flirt with flower arranging, or if none are to be found, try arranging the furniture instead for an instant feng shui fix.
If all of this seems foolish, I fear you may have forgotten that time is fleeting and we frequently forgo fresh experiences that allow us to flourish because we are afraid to fumble, fall, or fail.
From Here to the New Year, follow your fascination.  Even if it seems far-fetched, fearlessly forge ahead and let it frame your future. Flamboyantly fake it until you make it, if you must. Just don’t forsake the inner fire that edges you forward.
I love fan mail so please share your favorite “f” experiences with this fantastic flock of followers in the comments below.
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Go for Your Own Kind of Gold

Swimmers
The Olympics are here! This song has been running through my head since the opening ceremonies, so I thought I’d share it with you.
Since I only knew the first line, it was high time for me to Google the rest of it. I discovered this fabulous video of Peter Allen and his pink pants, maracas, and joie de vivre that screams of all things Rio – at least in my imagination.
The Olympics are a grand global get-together. They allow us to be a part of something spectacular, break down the barriers that separate us, and for a brief time intricately connect us to the stories, hopes, and dreams of those who live all over the world.
It’s thrilling to be alive in times when humans are faster, stronger, smarter, and more determined than ever.
The competition compels everyone to perform better. Even the caliber of the commercials rival that of Super Bowl Sunday.
But on the other hand, it seems to bring out this unchecked need to grab for the gold. The time or points between first and second or even first and seventh are so minuscule, and yet the difference somehow declares one person a winner and another a loser.
These athletes have all made it to the Olympics, for goodness sake! If they feel bad for not getting a medal, imagine how the rest of us feel for not getting off the couch.
Of course, no one expects us to perform physical feats like an Olympian. However, I suspect we all have Olympic expectations of ourselves in fields where we could be contenders.
For example, it isn’t enough for me to write a blog post. To go for the gold, I should also write for O magazine, More magazine, the Huffington Post or other trendy publications. I should also have a book on the New York Times best seller list and be booked on several talk shows. At the very least, my followers should number more than a few friends and family members.
Or so I’m told. Personally, I feel like I win every time I connect with you.

How do we let Olympic achievements guide and motivate us to become our best? How do we write our own stories based on what we’ve learned from theirs? How do we go for our own kind of gold, silver, or bronze and know that is enough?

I’d love to hear what events you’d be competing in if you participated in an Olympics dedicated to all the things you excel at.
For example, would there be a trivia contest, a baton twirling with fire fest, a dog walking decathlon, a poetry slam, a bubble bath battle, a coffee drinking debate, or a clothes changing charge?
Which of these events – if not all – would you be favored to win? Which would you be delighted just to get to participate in?
Your Olympian efforts matter. I’d love to play your anthem and hear about your achievements in the comments below.  Or email me at penny@wellpower.com.

Begin Again

Ruby 2 069
So what do you do after 31 days of getting stuff done?
You begin again.
You get more stuff done. Just keep swimming. Or writing. Or working on your projects, relationships, fitness goals, wedding plans, dream vacation, degree, or whatever your thing may be.
Because life isn’t just a sound bite of the sensational or a slice of nice, consistent progress. It’s the whole enchilada. It’s a series of fits and starts. It’s one step forward, two steps back. It’s continuously changing the toilet paper roll.
I keep this Begin Again stone on my writing desk to remind me that no matter how many words I’ve written, every day is an opportunity to write more and improve my craft.
Just as you would never expect one meal, one night’s sleep, or one workout to fuel you for life, you can’t expect to do a difficult thing once (like a 31 day challenge) and be good to go indefinitely.

Challenges catapult you out of your comfort zone and into your evolutionary zone.

This is where things get interesting. This is where the ordinary becomes the extraordinary because you have become extraordinary in the process. You may not have noticed the transformation because it occurred in the context of your ordinary life.
But somewhere along the way, the discipline, desire, and doing became ingrained in your brain. Not doing what your new habits dictate now probably feels stranger than doing them did in the beginning.
I have to admit, on Monday I felt a bit like our new puppy Ruby feels when she goes in her crate and Bob or I disappear for awhile. Although my house, my hubby-to-be, and my dogs were happy to have my full attention once again, I was feeling some separation anxiety from this community we’ve created together.
So this morning when Ruby woke up at 4:55am, I decided to use her wide awake time to begin again and write. Ruby also informed me that she would like her own blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account. Stay tuned for The Life of Riley (Ruby O’Riley). A zen dog with a blog, Pinterest page, or Instagram account.  🙂
Habits are fascinating things. They shape our lives for better or worse. If you’d like to learn more about them, here are a couple of resources I recommend.

If you participated in our Get Stuff Done 1×31 Challenge, I’d love to hear what new habits you formed.  If you didn’t participate but have some insights or experiences with learning new habits or breaking old ones, please share in the comments below.