How to make your goals a reality

Last week I wrote a piece about New Years Resolutions, and how you should pick your goals not based on what you think you should do, or have, but based on what makes you happy. If you haven’t read that piece yet, I highly suggest that you do; because in a way this is a part two to that article. New Year’s Resolutions should be based on what makes you happy, and not based on what you think you should have… However, if you’ve read that piece? Awesome! But either way, I’m sure you will find this second article helpful. It has been just over a full week into 2018, and I have to say that I have never felt more productive! I haven’t taken so much time to focus on myself and my happiness in a really long time! Even though it’s been just over a week, I feel like I’ve already accomplished so much, even if it doesn’t really show on paper. How can that be? Well that’s basically what this article is about. So far, I have laid down the foundation to turn my goals, intentions, and resolutions into reality, and now I’m going to show you how you can do the same!

First of all, in order to make your goals and intentions for 2018 a reality, you must first figure out what those are. You need to set some time aside to reflect and do a little soul searching. Over the Christmas Holidays and into the New Year, I have done a lot of soul searching, I literally did a Soul Map. The blog where I found the Soul Map was recommended to me by a very close friend of mine, it’s called Love Warrior by Catie Fenn. The Soul Map was an excellent way to get me thinking about 2018 in a very productive way. It forced me to really reflect on my current life, the life that I wanted for myself, and the gap between the two. It was definitely an intense and emotional experience, but it was well worth it. It is really hard to be completely honest with yourself. We don’t really take the time to self-reflect and to be alone with our thoughts because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of the truth. It is in your own heart where you will find your own truth. You know yourself, and what you need more than anyone else, and you know how to get those things. The problem however, is trusting yourself. There are quite a few of us, myself included, who have lied to ourselves about who we are, and what we are capable of. We have told ourselves false stories to “protect” ourselves from failing, but that never moves us forward! And that, in itself is failing!

Now, some of us have been telling ourselves lies for so long that we don’t know what the truth is anymore, and no matter how much other people try to remind us of that truth, it’s really hard to believe, and it’s really hard to accept. It’s funny, this is a direct quote from me to a close friend about 3 years ago, “I wish you could see yourself, how I see you…” Oh how the tables have turned! If you are having a hard time being positive towards yourself, there is no shame in asking for help! Another thing I have learned personally. This is me finally taking my own advice… Self reflection is very important to setting your goals and intentions, however, your self reflection cannot be self-destructive! That is counter productive. There is nothing wrong with admitting your faults. In fact, it is quite healthy. The key is to not dwell on your mistakes. Forgiveness takes time, especially when it is towards yourself, but the only way to get to a point of acceptance, is to understand that whatever mistakes you have made in the past happened for a reason. For whatever reason, you weren’t ready, and that’s okay. Now, you know where you went wrong, and that is the first step in making it better for the future. You can no longer focus on the what ifs, or should haves, you need to focus on the present moment. This is a lesson I’ve learned over the Christmas Holidays, and more importantly, on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve was when I let go of the tremendous amount of guilt I was feeling. I was feeling guilty about the mistakes I’ve made in the past, and how dishonest I’ve been to myself, and those around me.Letting those feelings go has been a major step for me to start thinking about the future. What can I do today to move towards happiness, self-acceptance, and forgiveness? These are the questions that you should be asking yourself during your time of reflection.

Now that you have done the Soul Map, or whatever form of self-reflection that you find helpful, you can start to form your intention for 2018. What do you want to see happen for yourself in 2018? Your intention will help you figure out your goals for the year to come. Your goals will reinforce your intention for the year, and your intention for the year will reinforce your goals. Your intention is your “why” behind your goals, it is your purpose. We all need a purpose or a reason why. It is our purpose that gives us meaning in our lives, and helps us to discover why our goals are so important to us, and therefore, will help us to carry out these goals even when it gets tough. For me, my intention for 2018 is to “rediscover myself and my power.” My ideal self is someone people can rely on. I get so much joy in helping others. I have realized though, that I can’t help anyone until I am able to help myself. Hence my intention, rediscover myself and my power. It is when I feel the most powerful, that I can do the most good for others.

How do I get myself feeling powerful? This is where I developed a to do list for 2018, as well as concrete goals and action steps to help me live out my intention of re-discovering my power. A tool that really helped me with this, was from this workshop that I did this past Saturday; we did this chart where we placed our “life buckets” career development, financial health, emotional and mental health, physical health, relationships, and intentional living in order from what we think needs the most focus in 2018 or what we think is the most important to us in 2018. Then we set an intention for each of our life buckets. Since I already thought about a lot of these things, it was a lot easier for me to order my life buckets and for me to set an intention for each of them. After we set our intention for each bucket, we then set a S.M.A.R.T goal for each bucket for next week, then next month, then a goal for the next 6 months, and finally next year. What is a S.M.A.R.T goal? It is Specific; meaning it is well defined, and it is directly related to your intention. It is Measurable; you need to know when you’ve reached this goal, so you should have a framework of some sort in place to keep track of your progress. Achievable; you need to figure out how you’re going to achieve this goal? What are the action steps you are going to take to make this goal a reality? Relevant; this is the why to your “how.” Why is the action you’re planning going to bring you closer to your intention? Time bound; it is important to set a deadline for your goal. Make sure you give yourself enough time, but not too long, that you forget about it. Looking at the goals and the to-do list that I’ve made already and adapting the S.M.A.R.T formula to them, really helped me gain focus. It also made me feel so much better about being able to complete my goals for 2018. The workshop that I went to was FREE (awesome!) and it was called How to: Ditch the Resolutions & #livealittlextra in 2018 by Brittnei Gaudio, who is the founder of #itsalifestyle. I would definitely check her out if you live in the Toronto area and you would like a little help mapping out your year. It can be very overwhelming thinking about all the things you want to change in the New Year, but by breaking your goals down into smaller goals, with an action plan, and timeline to complete them, makes everything seem so much more manageable!

Another very helpful tool that I was given by Brittnei Gaudio, was Gretchen Rubin’s Quiz: The Four Tendencies. This quiz was based off her book The Four Tendencies. I’m currently reading Gretchen’s book The Happiness Project, and after taking this quiz I have put this book at the top of my reading list! Once you’ve completed the quiz, you will find out what your tendency is, and you will be given a free detailed report on your tendency as well. After completing this quiz and finding out that my tendency was “Obliger,” (not that this was a surprise to me) but it really got me thinking about how I have used this to my advantage in the past, and how it has been a hindered me as well. The Four Tendencies best describe how we respond to expectations. As an obliger, I tend to be better at meeting outer expectations, than inner expectations. This makes a lot of sense to me; I have a really hard time saying “No” to people and it is also a big reason why I have become so unhappy recently. It is so much easier for me to take care of others, and to meet their expectations of me, then it is for me to do the things I know I need to be doing for myself (especially if these things seem daunting or hard).”Obliger: I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down,” quote from my free tendency report. This may seem pretty terrible, but it doesn’t have to be. I like helping others, but I also know that I need to be able to help myself first so that I can better help others.

Now that I know my tendency, I can better motivate myself to do the things that I want to do. As an obliger, no matter how badly I want to do something for myself, it won’t happen unless I adapt an “accountability strategy.” When I look back to times when I was most successful at following through with my goals, I was very aware of my tendency, without having put a name to it. For example, when I competed in bodybuilding, I had a lot of external sources of accountability that kept me on track, and eventually got me to my second place win! I had a coach who checked in with me every week. We both posted photo updates of my progress on social media, so I had the online community holding me accountable. I also expressed my wishes to compete to all my friends and family. I constantly reminded them of my show date, not only because I wanted them all to be there to cheer me on, but because it also helped me stay motivated. I knew that all the people who matter most were going to be there, and I had to win! Not only for myself but for them as well (I wanted to give them something to celebrate). I literally let anyone I possibly could know about my intentions to win my bodybuilding competition, I wrote about it on this blog, I talked about it with my clients, my group fitness classes, anyone who would listen. This all helped me do the best that I possibly could, because in my mind all these people cared about my competition. In reality, they probably didn’t (at least not everyone cared), but that really doesn’t matter. To me they cared, and because I thought they were watching, I was diligent about doing everything possible to be successful. I even went to the Wayhome Music Festival and packed all of my competition diet food! I was so proud of myself the day of my show, I already felt like I won, and after prejudging, I knew I was between first and second place. I was over the moon because I set my sights on something, and I obsessively worked towards it until the very end. For me, I need to talk about my intentions with others ALL THE TIME. I need EVERYONE to know exactly what I plan to do, and how I’m going to do it. Then I go out, and do the things I told everyone I was going to do.

My advice to you is to is to find out what you want for yourself this year. Create an intention for yourself, and then use that intention to figure out what your goals are for this year. Make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T! Once you have your why, and your action steps for the year, figure out what your tendency is, how do you respond to inner and outer expectations? Once you know what your tendency is, reflect on that. Try to remember times when you were most successful, what did you do then that got you to your goals? What strategies did you implement for you to be successful? Now that you know what you want, what you’re going to do to get what you want, and how you’re going to do it, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful! I have come to realize that your greatest strengths aka tendencies can also be your greatest weakness. The key is to understand this, and use your strengths to your advantage. I know that I am an obliger, and as such, I have created a large network of people who I can rely on. They are the same people who I have told my goals to, and have asked to check in on me regularly to make sure that I achieve these goals in 2018. I need to be held accountable to myself, and I need help doing that. This is another reason why I’m writing this blog; so that I may be able to help someone else while also helping myself.

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Quote from Oh The Places You’ll Go ❤ So many nuggets of truth in that book! 

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3706759/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies


Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitmas: Five Cost Free Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

The winter solstice is coming up next Wednesday December 21st, 2016, this means it will be the shortest day of sunlight for the entire year, also making it the darkest day of the year. It comes as no surprise to me, that we celebrate Christmas, and other Holidays during this time of year, as an attempt to bring some light, and happiness to one another on these cold and dark winter days. However, despite the celebrations, the lack of sunlight can have a dramatic effect on your energy levels and mood. Below is a list of 5 ways to lift your spirits this winter that won’t put a strain on your pocket-book! Because I’m sure the holiday season is costing you a pretty penny already 😉

  1. Brighten up your environment. Open up your shades during the day, and let as much natural light into your space as possible. If your desk at work does not get any direct sunlight, or if you don’t have access to a window, then on your lunch break sit by the window, or find ways to get to window through out your day. For example, on your way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, take a route that passes by areas that are well-lit with natural light. OR if all else fails, leave the office for lunch, go out for coffee, and get outside! Even though it may be cold and a little uninviting, you will feel so much better after getting a brief amount of fresh air and sunlight, trust me!
  2. Watch your diet. During this time of year, and well, winter in general, we tend to gravitate towards “comfort foods.” These types of foods are high in fat, and high in sugar. The reason why these foods are considered “comfort foods” is because not only do they taste awesome, the high amounts of carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, and the high fat content gives you a sense of satiety or a satisfying feeling of fullness. Or, if you’ve had too much, you may feel a little sick or “stuffed.” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have some holiday food here and there, but do not go overboard! It is so hard to keep yourself from overeating at this time of year! And sure, these comfort foods taste great, and feel great going down, that feeling is only temporary! If you want to feel great for a longer period of time, feed your body with nutrient dense foods! Sure, pie tastes great, but it doesn’t look great, and it doesn’t feel great if you’ve had too much. Also, if you overeat these comfort foods, you basically put yourself in a food coma, which makes it very difficult for you to be motivated to do anything else but lie on the couch. Not only will you feel “fat,” and “gross,” you will lower your energy levels, and lower your overall mood. So, my advice is to eat as healthy as possible, and keep the Christmas treats to a minimum!
  3. Exercise! I’ve written an article in the past about the effects of exercise on your mental health called How Fitness Continues to be a Beacon of Hope for Me . It talks about how fitness has helped me overcome times when I’ve felt very unhappy with how my life was going, and it can most definitely help you! Exercise, especially doing cardiovascular exercises can help you naturally create “happy chemicals” in your brain called endorphins. Actually exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant! Also, doing interval style training can help alleviate stress and anxiety. So, if this time of year has you feeling really stressed out and anxious? Then take a spin class, or do some interval training on some of the cardio equipment in the gym. Either way, you should get your body moving this time of year, especially when all you want to do is hibernate. Hibernating, and hiding from the world will only isolate you more, and have you feeling the blues even more so.
  4. Turn up the volume of your favorite music! Ever notice how Christmas music is always happy, hopeful, and cheerful? I don’t know about you, but I love to play Christmas music at this time of year. Not only does it get me into the Christmas spirit, it really does lift my mood. I just can’t help but feel happy when I listen to it. Especially when I’m doing Christmas things, like baking, or decorating the tree. However. I know that many people find Christmas music to be a little annoying, especially because it literally plays in every store, and almost every coffee shop that you walk into. So, if Christmas music doesn’t make you happy, play the type of music that does. Music has a tremendous ability to really affect people in a positive way!
  5. Volunteer, and help others! There is no better time, then the holiday season to give back to your community! Volunteering your time and helping out others really does feel good, and it can help you get a sense of purpose. When things seem so dark and lonely, it’s a good idea to reach out and give a helping hand. It may help you to realize you are not alone, things are not as dark as they seem, and you can really make a difference in someone’s life. It is so positive to be able to give back in some way to your community. Not only is it positive for the people who directly benefit from the work you’ve done, but for you as well. Everyone wants to feel like their lives mean something, and that they are needed in some way.

These are all my suggestions for helping you overcome those winter blues. Heck! You can apply all of these things to your life in general, and I can guarantee a higher quality of life! Go outside, get some more sunlight in your life! Eat well, and exercise! This will help you feel better both mentally and physically. You will have more energy throughout the day, and you will be a better version of yourself to conquer whatever life throws at you! Listen to music (that’s if you enjoy music) and dance, sing, do whatever makes you happy! I literally dance everyday and some point, music makes me so happy 🙂 And last but not least, give back! I know we all live busy lives, but it really does make you feel good from the inside out to be able to do something genuinely nice for someone for no reason other than it was a good thing to do. Merry Christmas guys! Don’t let the winter darkness get you down!

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Glade doesn’t necessarily make me feel joy but spending time with the people I love the most does ❤ Me and my bestie at the Toronto Christmas Market November 27th, 2016 


Check Your Ego at the Door!

One of the biggest reasons why most of us don’t accomplish the things that we want is because we can’t seem to let go of our Egos. We get so wrapped up in our own heads that we fail to see all the opportunities that lie in front of us. If any of us want to experience real growth, real change, and overall happiness, we must get over ourselves first. We live in a very egocentric world where we are all so concerned with who we are, who we want to be, and how other people may perceive us. We have several different social media platforms like Instagram, and Twitter, that only add to our egos. They help us to shape our identity to the rest of the world. They allow us to become whoever we want. This is neither good, nor bad. I actually think that our highly connected world can be a real good thing, when it is used for positive things, like connecting with others, and sharing ideas. However, when you mix egoism with social media, that is where problems occur. I’m not planning on talking about the “evils” of social media, but I do plan on talking to you about how holding on too hard to your ego will hold you back.

Your “ego” is your conscious mind, it is the part of your identity that you consider your “self.” So when I say that we live in a very egocentric world, I mean that we live in a world that is overly concerned with themselves, and themselves only. A lot of people may not consider themselves to be too egotistical. This is because a lot of people assume that when someone is egotistical, they are cocky, and arrogant. However, being egotistical does not always mean that you think you’re better than anyone else, it actually means that your only concern is yourself. You may only be concerned for yourself because you think you’re better than everyone else, but sometimes you may only be concerned with yourself, because you don’t think you measure up to anyone else. It can go both ways. What we need to realize is that your ego is separate from your self-esteem. Often times, someone’s ego is mistaken for high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem does not mean that your main concern is only for yourself. In reality your self-esteem is an assessment of your self worth, how much or how little of value you are to yourself and to others. Your self-esteem helps to develop your self-concept (who you think you are). It is important to have high self-esteem, because if you think highly of yourself, you will have higher expectations of yourself as well. You will aim to better yourself, and you will treat yourself much better. In addition, if you love who you are, you will be better at loving others. Valuing yourself does not separate you from others but your ego does.

Your ego’s main concern is “I.” I want, I need… you get the idea. Your ego steers you into a path of self-destructive and isolating behavior, where you are either differentiating yourself from others, and comparing yourself to others, or you’re in need of constant affirmation/validation. This is how your ego thrives. However, if you had a high self-esteem, you would feel comfortable enough in your own skin to know that you are good enough. Once you know that, it does not matter what other people think, and it does not matter who’s better, because you have found happiness within yourself. This I know is easier said than done, but what I’m trying to say is, is that the only way it can happen is if you let go of your ego, and your insecurities. Your ego only feeds your insecurities. Check your ego at the door! Understand that you don’t always know best. Seek out help, or go and find the knowledge and experience that you need to get the things that you want.

Some things that help to raise your self-esteem and self worth, are fitness, education, and helping others. These are all positive things, that make you a better and stronger person. They also bring you closer to other people. Your ego is what prevents you from accomplishing these things. It is what holds you back from seeking advice, and better knowledge. My advice to you is to let go of your ego, make yourself vulnerable, reach out to others, and seek out knowledge, because it is when you surrender yourself to change, and make yourself vulnerable, that is when you’ll see the most growth.