New Year’s Resolutions During Uncertain Times

When I tell people I’m an Agile coach, most people look skeptical – or at least confused. (I can be quite awkward in athletic endeavors.) The “Agile” adjective, in this case, refers to a philosophy and project management system that helps teams with productivity in the midst of change and uncertainty.

Without going into a big lecture answering the question “What is Agile?” (you’re welcome), I’ll just highlight a few of the concepts which might help you with your New Year’s goals during these very uncertain times.

And let’s face it, we are always facing changes and uncertainty, so you’ll probably find this is a better way to work with New Year’s Resolutions every year!

Break Your Goals into Iterations

One BIG problem with New Year’s resolutions is that a year is way too long to commit to a detailed goal.  Too many things might derail your plan. One of the keys to handling uncertainty is to execute in short iterations. You might have fuzzy high-level plans, but your detailed plan should only be for the short-term. Then you can learn and adjust as you go along if and when you run into something unexpected.

Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in a year, maybe your high-level goal could be to develop better lifestyle habits. Your short-term goal might be to take action designed to lose some weight in the next week. It’s a lot easier to stay motivated if you think in small iterations. Big goals can seem overwhelming, but often taking that first step is just what’s needed to get motivated.  Then you can check at the end of the week to see if you lost weight and how much.

Make your specific and detailed plan just for your iteration, in this case, one week. Plan out the healthy meals you’ll make for yourself and what exercise you’ll do. Or, perhaps you’ll keep it simple by simply cutting out desserts. However, plan your details only for one week. Think of it as an experiment.

Reflect, Celebrate, Adapt

One of the most important parts of the Agile frameworks is to consistently reflect, learn, and improve.  At the end of our iteration, we would take the time to measure to see if our short-term goal to lose some weight is being accomplished with the actions we’re taking.

Whether or not the goal of losing weight was achieved, what was learned? If you lost more than expected, how did it feel? How was your energy? If you didn’t lose any weight, what will you do differently next week? 

Regardless of whether or not you lost weight, celebrate your complete week and what you learned in some way with a creative ceremony or ritual. Maybe share a new healthy recipe or go for a hike.  Plan your meals and activities for the next week, taking into account what you learned.  Personally, I’m incorporating a Self-Spa Sunday ritual, ending my week with a luxurious bubble-bath while I reflect on the ups and downs of the past week and anticipate my future week.

When the Unexpected Happens

Let’s say you have an unexpected injury and you can’t execute the short-term exercise plan you had in mind.  Go back to the original purpose of your goal.  You want to develop healthy life-style habits. Are there forms of exercise you can do, in spite of the injury? Can you adjust your meal plan for the next week to take into account the changes? Maybe your plan for the following week is to focus on PT or sleep to improve your overall health rather than trying to lose weight. Be flexible and adjust your short-term plans to take into account any changes, but keep your long-term end goals in mind. 

I’ve used healthy habits and weight-loss as an example here, but you can use these techniques for any goal. Split big goals into smaller ones, and have fun while you learn, improve, grow and celebrate along the way.

Want to Celebrate Monthly?

I’ll be hosting monthly “New Month’s Eve” virtual celebrations so that people can share progress on their goals or share a positive thing about the current month and plan for the following month. Join the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group to find out more.

Healthy Habits and the Optimal Living Daily – Vibely Challenge

I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the new year. I know, I know… it’s just like any other day and we shouldn’t “wait” to start improving ourselves, but I just get so much MoJo on January 1rst! And, honestly, I let my normally disciplined-self slack a bit in the last two weeks of the year. You know the drill… over-eat, over-drink, and generally slack on all my “goals”.. with the knowledge I’ll be super-motivated in the New Year to get back to my healthy habits!

One of those healthy habits that I’ve developed in the past couple of years is walking regularly, often while listening to inspiring podcasts. One of those podcasts is Optimal Living Daily where it was announced that 15 lucky people would receive a free OLD workbook for talking about self-care practices that have worked. I’m supposed to respond via Vibely, which is a fun app that offers challenges to the community, but.. this would be too long to type in an app! I’ll just send a link!

I’ve figured out that living a meaningful life is not just about where we physically go or what we do, but what is occupying our minds. We only have a finite number of days on this earth and I want to spend those days wisely by making intentional decisions about how I’m spending my time and who I’m spending it with. When I’m alone, my brain is still thinking and I want those to be POSITIVE thoughts!

By listening to Podcasts about positive life-style habits (such as Optimal Living Daily) and participating in various positive communities (such as those offered at Vibely) I’m regularly feeding my mind with positive ideas! I subscribe to positive newsletters, have taken 4 different really interesting courses about the Science of Happiness, have great self-help apps on my phone, and regularly interact with people who feed my soul.

Vibely, also, is fun, for people like me who love prompts and challenges! There’s an OLD (as in Optimal Living Daily.. not “senior”) community that you can find on Vibely and participating is just a really fun way to virtually meet like-minded people and follow through on your goals! My only feedback for this is that I wish there were a version for my laptop. I much prefer communicating with a full-size keyboard rather than the tiny keyboard on my (very small) phone.

All of this has changed my overall mindset to one which is much happier. Though I’ve heard it’s natural for our brains to first see the negative in the events of our day, these practices have helped me train my brain to naturally see the positive in each event… even things that in the past would have made me feel upset, I view as a challenge to find the positive. When I get criticism, it doesn’t feel good, but I now am much more able to be grateful rather than defensive about the feedback.

By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve given a shout-out to the Optimal Living Daily podcast! It was also the spark that I needed to start my own podcast, Carpe Diem Connections!

What positive self-care habits do you have?

Joy and Food

Food! It brings me joy just thinking about it!

This week on the Carpe Diem Connections podcast, Becky Burns and I continue with the next topic in The Joy Makeover. We talk about foods that bring us joy and energy and how to be intentional about our eating habits.

We discuss the video interview between Ingrid Fetell Lee and Sarah Copeland and how coming from a mindset of abundance can help us resist overeating.

We each set goals for ourselves about how we could increase our joy with food and mine was to have a weekly new, healthy recipe. Becky suggested we check into Sarah Copeland’s recipes. What a great idea!

Another excellent resource for happiness is Happify. In my daily newsletter yesterday, there was an Infographic about why savoring makes us happier with a section about food!

What foods bring you joy? What foods energize you? Come join the discussion in the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group!

Patti Ashley – Authenticity Architect

I had the great pleasure of talking to Patti Ashley this week on my Carpe Diem Connections Podcast.

What exactly is an “Authenticity Architect?” Patti explains in this video, but basically, she provides courses, tools, and resources to help you “excavate your authentic self.”

She’s offering a free course that’s called, “Go In, Not Out: Finding Deeper Parts of Yourself in Challenging Times,” designed specifically for these stressful days of the pandemic.

During my conversation with Patti, and then follow-on conversations with friends, I realized how many times we don’t talk to others about our problems or relationship challenges.. and then when we do, we learn that others are having very similar problems.

Often we don’t talk about our challenges out of shame, embarrassment, or perhaps we feel we shouldn’t be negative.. However, when we do share and are met with empathy, and find we aren’t alone, we can move forward with authenticity.


Calling All Single Snowbirds!

Let’s form a Single Snowbird Community

Come join my new group: Carpe Diem – Single Snowbirds if you’re single and like to enjoy warm weather in the winter. Whether for a quick vacation or the whole winter, I’m trying to form a network of singles who are retired or close to retirement who like to travel to warm weather places in winter.

Though I love my life and my Colorado home, I have always dreamed of being a snowbird once I retired.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been exploring different snowbird locations, and really loved the extended time I was able to spend with my friend, Becky, in her townhome in Sarasota in March and April, 2020. (It turned out to be a safe haven for the Covid-19 lockdown!)

That being said, I also loved the fun of travel and exploring a variety of places and cultures. In the last couple of years, I’ve explored Phoenix, San Antonio, Southern California, Las Vegas, Mexico, Costa Rica, Orlando, and Sarasota as potential snowbird spots.

I really think that rather than buying a second home, I’d rather keep exploring a variety of places, and include extended time in Spanish-speaking countries, as well as ending with some extended time at Becky’s, as long as she’s up for it!

It’s very rare that I hear of anyone who is single and doing the snowbird thing. I think this is for two reasons: 1) It’s really expensive and hard to maintain a second home on your own (it’s actually hard to maintain any home, if your traveling!) and 2) It can be really lonely and hard to make new friends in a secondary short-term place.. especially if you’re just passing through.

These things are difficult for couples, too.

I’ve found a lot of things that have helped me in my couple of years of snowbirding.

  1. Rent out rooms in your primary home to people you trust. They can keep you posted about anything you need to know while you’re traveling and you’ll be making rent money at the same time!
  2. Use Meetup, Facebook Groups, and other social media to find new friends, especially in the locations you’d like to explore.
  3. See if you can work out “host trades” with friends… you host in summer when it’s too hot where they live and they host in winter when it’s too cold where you live.
  4. Make friends with people where ever you visit… maybe your AirBnB hosts, or people you might meet at an event, class, Meetup or group activity, and then connect on social media so you can stay in touch. Share a business card with your information and stay connected. These may be people you’ll visit again or invite to visit you when you’re in your home state.

By the way, here’s another article I found with tips for Single Snowbirds. (I stole the image to use for this blog post). It’s from an association based out of Canada, though, and looks like you need to be a Canadian to sign up for their newsletter. Maybe I can see about creating a similar service for Americans!

Even though I’m not sure when all the restrictions will be lifted, I’m getting excited already about planning my next Winter season snowbird tour!

Lives Well Lived – AARP Movie Night

Last night I was inspired, and, for once, almost excited, about getting older, by the movie Lives Well Lived, put on by AARP’s Movie for Grownups series.

Watching the stories of these elders made me realize what an easy life I’ve had. I know we’re in the midst of a pandemic, but hearing stories of people who were impacted by Hitler and Stalin and the challenges that they and their families endured makes me feel so grateful that the biggest challenge in my life right now is the inconveniences of self-isolation.

Seeing the energy and hearing the stories from these upbeat seniors is a good reminder that life can be wonderful, and also difficult, at every age. One woman talked about moving to France after her kids were grown and that gave me renewed excitement about the extended traveling abroad I want to do when I can!  In the mean time, it’s fun to plan! (And learn Spanish!)

All of the seniors offered up words of wisdom about living life fully, with kindness and grace.. messages we all hear often and wonder if we’ll still be able to do that as our bodies and minds start to decline. It certainly gave me hope and renewed motivation to keep practicing all of those healthy habits.

There was one couple who talked about finding each other… I think in their 70’s. I know I go back and forth about whether or not I want to find another partner, and have often thought that I’m happier single.  But in the movie, the woman talked about how happy it made her to share life’s joys with a partner and I did think: Yeah…  I really do miss that.

Sharing life’s joys and challenges… that’s so important for a happy life. And there’s nothing better than sharing those with an intimate partner..  after all, that’s what creates intimacy, right? But if you don’t have an intimate partner, then we can still share those ups and downs with our friends, family, and people in our lives.  But yeah, I’m really missing those face-to-face connections right now.

How about social media? I keep reading it actually makes us lonelier, but I love having a place to share things that make me happy and reading about what’s happening with others.

So  I’m going to try and get back into the habit of sharing more happy things every day.. and hope to follow the wisdom from these sages about how to live well each day.

Happiness Quotes

Setting up my “Carpe Diem Correspondence Corner”

I’ve been gaga about “happiness” for awhile now! One of my goals this week was to set up a “Carpe Diem Correspondence Corner” to write cards and letters (the old fashioned way!)

I even splurged on an old-fashioned sealing wax kit since I had one of these when I was a kid.

Even then, sealing wax was considered “old-fashioned” but back then (in the 60’s and 70’s), before email or personal computers, the way we communicated was through good ol’ snail mail! We couldn’t even make out-of-state phone calls without being reminded to “keep it short” because of the long-distance charges.

Now we have such a variety of ways to communicate and I love them all, but it’s fun to do things the old fashioned way sometimes, so one of my goals this year is to send more cards and letters through the mail.

I love that Dollar Tree has such a great variety of cards, stationary supplies, and fun, little doo-dads that make me happy. I found the little book, “Do more of what makes you happy” there and it has a bunch of happiness quotes. This is a perfect little gift for a friend who’s always collecting quotes. But before I send it off, I’ll capture the quotes here:

  1. Savor the moments that are warm and special and giggly. ~ Sammy Davis, Jr.
  2. If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. ~Katharine Hepburn
  3. All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. ~Charles M. Schulz
  4. Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. ~George Bernard Shaw
  5. Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein
  6. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect. ~Zoey Sayward
  7. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~Mae West
  8. Nothing is impossible. The word itself says “I’m Possible!” ~Audrey Hepburn
  9. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~Lao Tzu
  10. Be Silly. Be Honest. Be Kind. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  11. Make each day your masterpiece. ~John Wooden
  12. Impossible is just an opinion. ~Paulo Coelho
  13. Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart. ~Roy T. Bennett
  14. A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere. ~Joyce Meyer
  15. Always believe something wonderful is about to happen. ~Author Unknown
  16. One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure. ~William Feather
  17. It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined. ~Henry James
  18. Be the change that you wish to see in the world. ~Mahatma Gandhi
  19. Do more of what makes you happy. ~Author Unknown
  20. Everything you can imagine is real. ~Pablo Picasso
  21. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. ~Joann Wolfgang von Goethe
  22. What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. ~Ralph Marston
  23. In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. ~Albert Einstein
  24. Live each day as if it’s your last. ~David Nicholls
  25. The best dreams happen when you’re awake. ~Cherie Gilderbloom
  26. Believe you can and you’re half way there. ~Theodore Roosevelt
  27. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. ~Dr. Seuss
  28. Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz
  29. The best revenge is massive success. ~Fank Sinatra
  30. It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. ~Walt Disney
  31. Be Yourself; Everyone else is already taken. ~Oscar Wilde
  32. The power of imagination makes us infinite. ~John Muir
  33. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. ~Maya Angelou
  34. Light tomorrow with today. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  35. Do small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa
  36. Nothing can dim the light which shines from within. ~Maya Angelou
  37. Be BOLD, Be ITALIC, but never regular! ~Author unknown.
  38. I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings. ~Gustave Flaubert
  39. The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all ~Walt Disney Company

I love these! Do you know of others? What would be YOUR happiness quote?

My Staycation in Beautiful Superior, Colorado

One of the unexpected benefits of the stay-at-home policies is that I’m recognizing how much there is to do and see in my pretty home town of Superior, Colorado.

I’ve been playing the Superior Together Challenge scavenger hunt put on by The Town of Superior, and having so much fun!

The first mission was to write what Superior means to me in three words.

Home Sweet Home – I travel a lot but feel so grateful that my home is in Superior, Colorado, sweetly nestled between cultural Denver and scenic Boulder.

One of the missions that I had trouble with was the one in which we were supposed to find a piece of litter found in Superior and dispose of it properly. It was so hard to find any litter in Superior! This town is unbelievably clean!

Yes, litter is hard to come by, but I have been finding little painted rocks with inspirational messages!

Superior, Colorado inspirational painted rocks
Inspirational messages on painted rocks are found instead of litter in Superior, Colorado

My neighborhood is so beautifully landscaped and litter-free that it’s almost surreal. In a time when there are so many people hurting, I recognize how wonderful it is to live in this community. I’m so grateful to all the people who work hard to keep it so safe and beautiful.

The video I made this week for the isolated seniors (as a volunteer for Seniors With Skills) are pictures I’ve taken as I’ve walked on the trails of Superior.

I’ve been much more observant of my surroundings since the Covid-19 crisis and also more aware of what a privileged life I’ve led. I’m so grateful to live in this community that demonstrates kindness and care for one another.

Since I’ve been walking all the Superior Trails, I’ve been creating my own “scavenger hunt” of things in my community that make me happy! Come join me!