Thursday, December 30, 2010

History Lesson: New Year's Resolutions

The practice of making New Year's Resolutions goes back over 3000 years to the ancient Babylonians. The Bible doesn't mention resolutions, per se, but the book of Proverbs (especially chapter 3) has some great advice for what to shoot for.

For those of you who might argue that they're evil since they aren't mentioned, let me just point something out. Nearly all resolutions have to do with things to make us look better and live longer, things that make us have more, and things that help us get along with others. And the Bible has plenty to say about those principles; they're called longevity, prosperity, and peace.

Jonathan Edwards made a great list of resolutions almost 300 years ago. For those of you who don't know, this guy went to Yale when he was 13. He was credited with some revival where he preached so of course the church fired him. Anyway, you can look up his list of resolutions, but let me summarize for you: even before goal-setting was so popular, he understood how to prioritize and analyze his progress.

You can also go search for how to create good goals, how to set up action plans, and so on. But no matter who you are and how you do it, it comes down to this: there will come a day when sheer willpower is not enough. If you are your own worst enemy, or if there are unforeseen obstacles, what will you do? The big goals - the scary, life-changing ones - require not just planning, but constant support.

Bet the ancient Babylonians didn't have life coaches.

Last Call for Open Beta

This weekend is your last chance ever to be my guinea pigs and beta test the new R2R program!

If you want to make your New Year's resolution a reality, or just take advantage of a SMOKIN' deal on 4 weeks of goal coaching, you gotta let me know immediately!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January Boot Camp?

Oh no, R2R is no boot camp.

It IS, however, 4 weeks of daily coaching contact, motivation, and accountability. You do the work ... and it won't be easy ... but you get the results.

And since it's just a test program, you get to start turning your resolution into reality for just $59.

Are you ready?

Email for registration information.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tween Drama

Wow, I don't remember it being this hard, but then "when I was a kid things were different."

I know three girls who are about ready to tear each others' hair out. They've been friends for a long time, and I'm not seeing what caused the sudden "mean girl" attitudes. Here's the most recent situation - if you have any insights on this incident, please email me! FWIW, the girls involved are all 9 and 10 years old.

Girl R and Girl J both have younger sisters (who are very obviously the babies of their respective families). The younger sisters were teasing each other one day. Girl J overheard some not-real-nice things from both of them. Not knowing the context or bothering to ask, she butted in and smacked the little sister of Girl R. Now both little sisters and Girl J are arguing. Girl R overhears and defends her own little sister. Girl J, J's little sister, J's big brother, and two neighbor kids gang up on Girl R and threaten to beat her up.

Girl R knows it's gotten out of hand and goes home. Girl L, meanwhile, is a friend of both Girl R and Girl J, and has watched this event unfold. She has wisely chosen to stay out of it up to this point. But now, Girl L goes with Girl J to the park to play, while Girl R sits home alone.

The next day, after returning from Girl R's house, Girl J confronts Girl L and demands to know whose side she is on. Girl L says there are no sides.

The next day, Girl R and Girl L are talking about what happened. There is definitely some hostility remaining but Girl L isn't clear about how willing Girl R is to forgive and forget. She writes a single letter "B" to ask Girl R her opinion of Girl J. (They both understand the letter to represent a word they are not supposed to be saying.)

Girl R immediately grabs paper and runs to Girl J, shouting that she "has proof." Girl J promptly bursts into tears and runs inside. Girl L runs home, sure that she'll be grounded for a year for using a "bad word." Girl R sits back and watches the action, but not much happens.

This is where I come into the story. I get the details and talk to Girl R and Girl L the next day. I guessed that Girl R was mad at Girl L for not standing up for her or at least choosing not to hang out with Girl J. That seemed reasonable. I also guessed that Girl R taking the piece of paper to Girl J was the way she got back at Girl L. I explained that it was an effective way of hurting Girl J at the same time. Girl R tried to deny, but I commented that she had to know that taking a piece of paper to Girl J and explaining that "the letter B stands for B----, Girl L wrote it, and it's what she thinks of you" would hurt her feelings.

At some point after this, Girl R returned to Girl J and said, regardless of what she'd been told, Girl L did indeed think Girl J was a B----. Although Girl R's credibility has been strained at this point, Girl J is tending to believe Girl R over Girl L.

In a perfect world, I'd like to sit down with Girl J and ask her to put herself into Girl R's shoes, or at least recognize that what Girl R did was out of a sense of retribution. But Girl J doesn't want to hear any explanation right now; she'd rather keep arguing. Girl R realizes her payback hurt more than she intended, but she'd rather not do anything about it. Girl L wants things to go back the way they were.

The parents of all three girls have come to me and I've done what I could without stirring parental defensiveness, but regardless of the parents, this is hurting all three kids. Your thoughts? (And no, keeping them on tranquilizers until they're 18 is not a solution!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

R2R Coming VERY Soon

R2R - Resolution To Reality - is a new goal kick-start program starting Monday, January 3, 2011. Here's what you need to know:

1. It is only a trial program. It's new this year, not tried-and-true. That means that anybody who participates agrees to be my guinea pig and give me feedback.

2. Because it's "untested", you won't be paying full price. On the other hand, it's still made of quality stuff, so you won't get it for free. I've compromised, figuring everyone is a little broke after the holidays, and decided to offer it for ... wait for it ... $59.

3. Registration is open through Saturday, January 1, unless all the spots fill up before then. The program runs from Monday the 3rd to Monday the 31st.

4. What you get for your buck:
- assistance in goal-setting and planning for anyone who needs it
- daily coaching contacts (email, text, or phone) relevant to your goal
- a weekly email to check in and keep you accountable for your progress
- and 24/7 emergency support.

Normally I don't promote New Year's as a time to start goal-work. There's an awful lot of tradition accompanied by a stunning lack of success. (Maybe most people fail to accomplish their resolutions because they don't have the support of a coach?) But a new year is a powerful symbol and there's no sense wasting the motivation it provides.

It's 29 days of checking in, keeping you on-track, encouraging you to take action, helping you recognize and avoid self-defeating behavior. I expect you to actually put in the effort and time every day to get where you want to be, and hang in there when it's tough. I'm no drill sergeant, but I want your resolution to become reality just like you do!

Oh, and for those of you who'd rather watch from the sidelines, you can still reap some of the benefits. The regular Twitter posts for the R2R won't be limited to just R2R participants - if you're following me on Twitter, you'll see all the Tweets too!

I hope you all had a wonderful, joy-filled, peaceful Christmas weekend, because in a week, things are going to get interesting!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Stress?

(*Sigh*) My baking plans have been savaged by rain. I don't know how people in regularly humid climates manage it. Here in the desert, baking is a joy until the humidity rises above 15%. Then it's still just tricky. Actual rain? The relative humidity is now humming along at about 50% at the beginning of two days of rain. There's no reason to even attempt Christmas cookies. I've read that humid conditions cause cookies to flatten out too much - not here! They don't flatten at all - they just become little puffy sponges. Hence, no Christmas cookies from me this year.

I also have an ex-spouse coming on Christmas Eve and family friends on Christmas Day (surprise - we thought we were going to their house!) so we have a little unexpected hosting to do. And the toilet in the guest bathroom needs a plumbing repair so I really hope the hardware store is open on Christmas Eve day.

Not to mention the gifts that still need wrapped and - oh, don't get me started on the "some assembly required" items for my daughter.


Despite all that (and I'm sure many of you are facing very similar things in your next few days), and despite the traffic, the last-minute purchases and oops-I-forgot-tape missions, I'm not stressed.

A little tired, yes, but not stressed. Frustrated because I really was hoping to use my new cookie cutters, but not stressed.


Because nothing that is happening in my life is coming as a huge surprise. The things I cannot control are relatively minor. What's to stress about?

Look, Christmas comes at the same time every year, right? You buy stuff, you wrap stuff, you send stuff, you eat stuff. Nothing new, right? In the midst of it, sometimes you forget stuff, because you're only human. And sometimes things go wrong. Would I stress about the toilet if it was July? Of course not. So why let it bother me now? It's a simple fix that'll take four bucks and five minutes. I'll get around to it.

As for the cookies, well, that's still no cause for stress. I've changed my plan, is all. I already bought cookies that we'll dress up a bit at home. I can still bake the pies. I can still bake the pumpkin nut bread. There will be enough home-baked sugar to keep us all buzzing until New Year's Eve. By which time it might be dry enough to bake some cookies! (Hey, my new set of cookie cutters has a tree, but it also has a snowflake and a bell - that works for the new year theme.)

Why stress? Remember the serenity prayer, children. Live it. Use your energy wisely on things that are important to you; you'll be healthier and happier.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

R2R is on its way ....

Was that suspenseful? OK, I'm no Alfred Hitchcock.

Resolution To Reality (R2R) is a test program I've put together, which launches on Monday, January 3, 2011.

Here's the thing. Everyone makes New Year's Resolutions. I have no idea exactly the percentage of people who actually succeed with their resolutions, but I'm sure it's less than 5%. Possibly even less. Why do we keep doing it? It's tradition. But as the days go by, the excitement of the new year fades, and so does the motivation. I mean, really, how can you stick to a diet and exercise program when Superbowl Sunday comes along? Plus, lots of people don't know how to set reasonable goals.

The whole thing is kinda doomed to failure before it starts.

But I've never been one to accept the status quo.

So I'm thinking, where is it written that a New Year's Resolution HAS to fail? How many people set goals at other times of the year and also fail? Maybe it's not the new year that's responsible.

If a person allowed for days off or found creative ways to take action toward a goal, couldn't that person still be successful? Of course! If a person had daily support and had to be accountable for progress, wouldn't that person be more likely to be successful? Yes!

It's time to buck tradition and crash the stereotype. Whatever your resolution is, let's make it your reality.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winding Down the Year and Staying Sane

As much progress as we've all enjoyed from this end-of-year challenge, I'm ready to be done and start something new. I was getting excited thinking of a new desk calendar, I'm so ready.

But until then, I'm just trying to keep my sanity and make the most of the days that are left in THIS year.

Here are a few things we've done that can help:

1. Instead of being tempted to provide the ultimate Christmas for your kids (and going into more debt), take some pressure off. We started celebrating St. Nicholas' Day on December 6 by giving the young one a moderately-priced gift to be shared. This helps enforce the spirit of giving and sharing. This year, I admit, we spent more than normal on the new Tony Hawk game with skateboard controller for our PlayStation. But I guarantee it'll the feet of all the neighbor kids, plus us, in just a few days. Some families have also adopted Hanukkah, giving their kids 8 smaller gifts, which reduces kids' "what am I getting?" mentality.

2. Find a way to volunteer. We rang the bell for a Salvation Army kettle for four hours last Saturday. My ears are still ringing, but it was fun and we were able to focus on what we could do to help other people. Food banks and Christmas Angel programs need volunteer helpers, too, this time of year.

3. Lots of friend-based get-togethers over the holidays have gone to a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange. With the economy still so unpredictable, it's a lot less stressful to buy one gift than half a dozen. The same works for extended families, too. Yes, you could buy a gift for every niece and nephew, or just trust that Santa, parents, and grandparents will provide more than enough for young materialists. This economy is a great teaching time, BTW.

4. If you have time available and are moderately skilled, go home-made. Bake treats - everyone loves something freshly baked. Get crafty - stock up on fleece throws, cut them in squares, and make a real bed-sized quilt. Knit, crochet, sew, get out the woodburning kit and make a sign ... whatever you know how to do. Be warned, a lot of these projects take a lot longer than you'd think. You might want to get supplies at the after-Christmas sales and start in January for next year.

5. Don't quit working on your goals. Yes, there tends to be more going on in the last days of the year, but if you've planned well, you can handle it. There's no excuse for slacking, unless you're sick. But you may have to reframe the steps you normally take. You might not have time for the gym, but a 2-hour, relatives-are-coming-today house-cleaning frenzy burns a LOT of calories, so you're good.

6. Always take time to relax. Even if you have to schedule it in, make sure you have time to sit down with a cuppa and just watch TV or play video games or read a book or take a hot bubble bath.