Asking yourself: What am I doing with my life?

What am I doing with my life?

I think we all get to a point in our life where we stop and wonder, to ourselves or another, what am I doing with my life? Perhaps this point comes at retirement when your job can no longer define you. Maybe you have just finished university and you are not sure what to do now. Perhaps you have been in the same job or field for years and it is becoming apparent that it is not what you wanted from life. You are not alone in these thoughts.

What am I doing with my life?

What am I doing with my life?

In my own life, I am constantly thinking about what I want to do with my life. What I want to do “when I grow up”. Although I might be grown now, the certainty of my direction in life is not there. I wonder if this is down to the expectation of having a set career path. I have never known what I wanted to do as a career, and that did not bother me. But because so many people define themselves by their job it feels weird that I cannot, or at least do not want to, do the same.

Recently I decided at the next social function (whenever that might be – thanks COVID) where I meet new people, I will respond differently each time to the “what do you do?” question. I will respond as a service assistant, as a blogger, as a photographer, as a pianist, as many other things too.

Embracing the fact that I can be more than one thing is helpful when I get to thinking about the direction of my life. Considering this has made me much more positive. I think the answer to this question for me is less tangible. I want to achieve many things, and experience many things. Have a good, enjoyable life. But from day to day, what I want to do can change and that is okay.

What am I doing with my life?

What are you doing with your life?

I wonder how many other people stop to ask themselves what they are doing with their life? I guess, on one level or another, we must all do it. To be uncertain about one’s life is a very human characteristic. But just because it is natural does not make it easier to deal with. This is particularly true for those of us which struggle more with answering the question.

For some, the ongoing global pandemic might have caused this question to come to the forefront. Whilst some people are managing to get by relatively unscathed, some are not as fortunate. Personal and monetary woes might have people questioning their direction, past and present.

I think given everything that is going on that now is a good time to discuss where we are all going with our existences. It is not an easy discussion to have, because the answer will be so vastly different from person to person. It also requires a lot of reflection, which some people might not be used to doing.

What am I doing with my life?

The path to an answer

To answer the question of “What am I doing with my life?” you must first understand and accept that the answer if it can be found at all, is very likely to change as time goes on. What drives you in one moment might change, due to personal growth and changing opinions, due to social change, or due to unforeseen events.

I wonder if some people might find it hard to accept that things will change over time. That what they might want will change and adapt as the clock moves on. I think that it is especially important to understand and appreciate this, not only for yourself but for those around you. People grow and things change. And that, as they say, is life.

It is also worth knowing that it is all right not to have a clear picture of what you want your future to look like. Perhaps you have not worked it out yet, and that is fine. What people perceive as their future and what they end up with, in reality, are probably quite different anyway. That is also okay. In some ways not knowing might be better, as you will not be artificially tied to one big end goal. You will be free to keep exploring, growing, and experiencing new things.

Experiencing new things is a key component of growth. With this growth will come a better understanding of what you want to do going forward. There is so much to experience and learn out there is this big world – and beyond in the stars! Deciding what you want to do with your life without seeing what is on offer can be, in some cases, a mistake. Anecdotal stories of older generations waking up and believing they have wasted their life are not hard to come by.

But just because you might be older does not mean it is too late to experience new things and to set a new path. Whether you are 20 years old or 80, you should always keep learning, developing, and striving towards a goal or ambition. For as long as you are able you should encounter the myriad of opportunities that your life affords you. Do not decide at 60 you are disappointed with how things are going and spend the remaining 30 or more years of your life being unhappy about it – that is a third of your life!

None of us knows how old we will be when the time comes for our life to end. If this is not reason enough for you to stop procrastinating than I am not sure I can offer you anything that is. Deciding what we want to do with our life is not something that should be rushed in to, but equally, it is not something that should be put off again and again.

What am I doing with my life?

This might all seem a bit wishy-washy to you. Perhaps this is coming across a bit idealistic. Perhaps it is. But it can be grounded in your life quite easily. Give thought to your interests and do not settle on something because it seems the easiest option. Yes, in many cases what you want to do with your life should be realistic, but that does not mean it needs to be specific in its scope. These do not need to be SMART objectives (although this post might help you reach your goals)!

Perhaps the simplest advice I can offer is not to put too much pressure on yourself in making this decision. Remember that you can always change your mind! As you go about your life, you will be subject to new things which will continue to shape you.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing.

What do you think about this? Have any helpful tips or personal experiences you can share? Post them in the comments sections below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

Encourage fresh growth in your life

Encourage fresh growth in your life

Human beings are creatures of constant change. It is not our way to be just one thing, in one place, for all of our time. For some, falling into the unchanging ‘tree-like’ stance can be detrimental to their wellbeing. It is our habits and preferences that can take root and make us immovable. This prevents us from progression in our life and causes stagnation. Breaking free of our roots and moving forward with our lives is not something impossible to accomplish, however. This post will take a look at how we can encourage fresh growth in your life by making the smallest modifications and setting new goals.

Encourage fresh growth in your life

Change isn’t always pleasant

It is comfortable to do the same thing over and over again. Patterns and routine are kind to us. We know them and they know us. Moving away from these habits and towards new ones can be difficult because of this.

You will naturally resist any attempt to change your ways. You are so accustomed to them that you may find yourself justifying staying just as you are. Maybe you’ll begin to barter with yourself. Just one more take-away – it’s been a difficult day! Afterwards, we can start the diet tomorrow.

The saying that there is never a better time to start than now is not only true, but we all know it is true too. Our self-justifications that there is always a better time to do things is, actually, rather laughable. There’s a reason we want to make the change, and it is because we are not as happy as we think we will be after the change. But the unknown quantity that exists, and the doubt, make us delay our development.

I’ve experienced this mental barrier personally (just about every time I go to exercise) and must confess I am not always able to break it down. Sometimes I just stop and decide that things will work themselves out in the end: there is no need for me to change.

I’d wager most of us to can point to a recent example where we essentially talked ourselves out of doing something that we originally wanted to do. It begins as us putting things off and finding other things to fill our time. In the end, we push it so far from our thoughts that all notion of it ever being achieved is forgotten.

Deep down we know that change can be positive. If we can improve ourselves, no matter that it might be difficult, I say we should try. Eventually, you will tire of the same old life, day after day. If you wake to find yourself stagnant one day, with your roots firmly planted and no sign of your life progressing, it might be time to take a look at making a change.

Encourage fresh growth in your life

Know what to change and what to keep

It’s important to know what you want to change and what you want to keep. It’s also important to realise that trying to change too much will set you up for failure. I’ve written more about this previously in this post.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can often highlight a few areas of our lives we would like to change. It’s good to also recognise those areas that are beneficial to ourselves too. We don’t want to make the mistake of doing away with those, accidentally or otherwise!

Similarly, it might not be worth changing things for the sake of changing them. Don’t fix wasn’t isn’t broken, as they say.

What you need to focus on are those areas which, perhaps suddenly, no longer feel fulfilling. When the same old, same old begins to take its toll, it’s time for an upgrade. A change for the better.

One way of looking at it is by Marie Kondo’ing it. If you aren’t familiar with this author (and Netflix sensation), Marie Kondo advocates for decluttering of possessions by picking up that item and deciding whether it sparks joy within you. If it does, it stays. If it does not, it goes. The same method can be applied to the mental clutter in our brains and also the clutter of our lives and the actions we undertake (or don’t undertake). If getting up an extra hour before work to catch up on social media beforehand isn’t doing it for you anymore, it’s time to stop.

Of course, we must accept also that this is a very personal decision. Everyone has very different lives. Some might seek to stop doing tasks which others want to begin. Identify what is important to you, and want you want to do with your life. If you have made and recorded your goals (whether by resolutions or otherwise), take the time to assess what steps you need to take to make your dreams reality.

It comes down to knowing what works for you, and what doesn’t.

Further, remember that not all changes need to be huge and significant. Sometimes a small change can be very impactful (and more than that, easier to achieve). Many small steps can make up a large one. The art of setting smaller, more readily achievable goals, is something I have written about previously in this post about my 2020 goals.

Encourage fresh growth in your life

Be S.M.A.R.T

Aside from making sure you have a strong foundation to build your changes upon (see this post I wrote on the subject), you also need to make sure your goals are SMART.

Chance are you’ve come across this acronym before. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time.

Your goal must be specific otherwise you might not know what you are doing or how to get there. It cannot be too broad and must enable you to be able to take both small and large steps towards its completion.

A measurable goal is one with defined criteria for success. Such as dropping 10lbs in weight, and not something like being beach-body ready (although that is the dream).

The goal must, of course, be achievable. If it isn’t you are likely to become disillusioned and you’ll find that nothing much changed at all. It has to be something you can actually do.

Realistic goals are easier to maintain. It’s important not to make a goal too difficult to complete. Goals shouldn’t be too grand. If they are, perhaps you should consider breaking them down into smaller ones.

Time sensitivity can help get results. Not setting yourself a time limit on when to achieve something by can lead to perpetual procrastination. On the flip side, giving yourself a deadline – such as completing 5 home-made Christmas cards by the start of December – can be a powerful motivator and a way to keep yourself in check.

Encourage fresh growth in your life

Things to consider and how often to make changes

As I said at the start, humans are beings of constant change. But it can be important to reflect on the speed of the change sometimes, for the above points. Make sure you always put yourself first, in a loving manner, and take the time to smell the roses.

Small changes might happen all the time, but what about a significant change? This varies from person to person. Those more used to making large changes might feel more comfortable doing so more often, and vice versa.

Be kind to yourself if things take longer than anticipated. Patience can be a reward in itself. Likewise, if you find your goals coming together nicely at a pace quicker than anticipated that does not mean you should rush out to find more goals. Perhaps it would be a good time to sit back and enjoy the moment – you’ve earned it.

There are a few things which you should consider before attempting to make changes in your life. We’ve touched on them already so I’ll just highlight them here:

  • Is this change/goal beneficial or fulfilling to me?
  • Does it meet my personal standard of significant? Is it worth changing?
  • Is it SMART?
  • Am I being patient and kind to myself if change is happening slowly?
  • Am I appreciating each moment along the way if change is happening quickly?

The most important thing to remember through this process of change is to remember that regardless of whether it is faster or slower change, you are still worthy and deserving of that growth. Become the best version of yourself.

Encourage fresh growth in your life

If you have any tips for those wanting to make a change to their life, whether small or large, please share them in the comments below. Shared knowledge can help us all improve.

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

Cope with Anything: How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Things are tough for many people at the moment. The uncertainty that has come with the virus spreading around the world has caused many people to wonder if they will be able to cope if things get very stressful and when everything seems to be going wrong. And sometimes things will go wrong, particularly given everything going on. It can all become very frightening, and many people are feeling this way at the moment. The thought that you won’t be able to cope is a powerful one, but not one that is impossible to shake off. This post will look at how you can cope with anything, and how you can build resilience and inner strength to deal with the tough times.

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

A Changing, and Stressful, World

The Coronavirus has rapidly changed the way we go about our days. The entire world has been affected by it and the responses to it. The uncertainty that has come with these changes have been stressful for many people. In the UK, many people are furloughed or at risk of losing their jobs altogether. Our key workers put themselves at risk daily to ensure the continuation of important services. Medical workers on the front line worry they might catch the virus or, perhaps worse, pass it on to a loved one at home.

We have all watched the news, perhaps more than we might usually, and seen the reports on what is happening to our world and the country we inhabit. Things are difficult for us all. And what is now happening only serves to compound what already happens in our everyday lives: the death of loved ones, car breakdowns, high bills, redundancy, and even disappointment at results from a test. Many things happen to us in life which can be difficult to deal with. The Coronavirus is another, and quite large, problem for us to deal with.

As individuals, it is important to learn how to deal with these issues and overcome them. We don’t want to feel constantly overwhelmed, and so we must learn to be resilient and to increase our inner strength. The knowledge that we have survived all of the difficulties life has thrown at us so far should be a reassurance to you, and one you can nurture from reassurance to a cornerstone of your strength.

The perpetuating loop of worry that can be caused by many of lives events can be slowed and stopped by realising that you can deal with the problem in front of you. Luckily for us all, resilience is something that can be developed and grown. It might not make you invincible to all of the problems in the world, and you will not hurt less when tragedy strikes. What it will do, however, is help you to adapt and overcome the circumstances you find yourself in, without losing yourself in the process.

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Six Ways to Increase Inner Strength and Boost Resilience

Let’s take a look at six ways you can develop your resilience and increase your inner strength.

  1. Reclaim control of what you can – When dealing with any difficult situation, it is important to identify the things you can control and the things you cannot. Those aspects you cannot control can seem daunting and, perhaps, even scary. You can use up a lot of mental energy worrying about those aspects, leaving you even more frustrated and upset. Instead of this, try to work out the areas that you do have some control over, no matter how small they seem, and use your energy to exert influence over these areas instead. Take action here to reclaim some control over the situation.
  2. Emotions are not your enemy – Some people take the attitude that what you are feeling should be pushed aside to focus on the problem. This can make matters worse for yourself, as failure to recognise your feelings can leave you unprepared for the next difficult situation. You will not feel less distressed by pretending the situation isn’t scary or upsetting. Permit yourself to feel your emotions. Respect your emotions and they can offer a way forward. Make sure to show yourself the compassion that you would a friend in a similar situation.
  3. Leave your comfort zone – To help build your coping capabilities, step outside your comfort zone and try something new, exciting, and maybe a little scary. By doing something that might be difficult, unknown, or challenging, you’re building resilience. Show yourself what you are capable of by regularly stepping outside your comfort zone. Sometimes it might not work out and that’s life. But the experience of trying shows you that you can make the attempt, and it perhaps wasn’t as scary as you thought it might be. All of these attempts build a bank of experiences that demonstrate your ability and your inner strength.
  4. Build strong relationships – Your friends and family can be rocks to ground you in difficult times. Surround yourself with strong rocks so that when things go wrong, you have people around to support you. This support is worth the world in some situations and will remind you that you aren’t alone. Not all rocks are created equal, and some might be more feathery than rocky. I wrote about making sure you stay around positive people in my post on making sure you stay positive during troubling times. Just remember, you need to reciprocate that rockiness when your friends are in challenging places as well.
  5. Practice mindfulness – I have extolled the virtues of mindfulness many times. And in difficult situations, it can come in handy. Being able to properly focus and not be consumed by negative emotions is a powerful tool to have. Resilient people, even if they don’t realise it, have some measure of mindfulness. Start practicing mindfulness today and your resilience will benefit, as will so many other areas of your life.
  6. Take care of yourself – Perhaps the most important tip I can give to you is to make sure that you always take care of yourself. Self-care makes you mentally and emotionally strong, and able to cope better when hardships come your way. Make sure you get a solid sleep each day, eat well, and don’t worry so much about the things unsaid or that you didn’t do. Spend time outdoors and doing things that you love. Everyone is different, so just do whatever you enjoy, whether it be yoga or hitting the nightclub with your friends. Life can be difficult and it’s important to remember that you aren’t a machine. You are here to enjoy and experience life, so don’t forget to do that, even when things get tough.
Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

Ensure You Reach Out

There is a myth that fully independent people are stronger people. That they can deal with any hardship. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. Resilient people know that they should reach out for support from those around them. It is okay to be vulnerable and seek help from friends and family. This doesn’t make you weak, it makes you resilient.

Even with the current climate of social distancing, we can still reach out to others. Technology has brought us all closer together. Make use of it, and also remember to reach out to your friends occasionally to make sure they are still doing well.

Together, you can have the strength to go through any challenge and come out the other side even stronger. You’ll be in a great position to deal with the hardships that come your way.

Cope with Anything How to Build Resilience and Inner Strength

I hope you’ve found this post informative and can use it to help build your resilience. Resilience counts for a lot in the difficult times we find ourselves in. If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments below and we can all learn from your experience!

If you are struggling with your mental health during this unprecedented time, please know that resources and help are available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation for assistance.

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times.

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

Why being positive matters

We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves.

Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation.

I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok.

We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation.

The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t.

How to ensure you stay positive during trying times

The acceptance of difficulty

To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them.

Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness.

We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts.

I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section.

The benefits of positivity

The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash!

  1. Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket!
  2. Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life.
  3. Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life!
  4. Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!
  5. Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about!

There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that?

Tips to become and remain positive

Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way!

  1. Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it.
  2. Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions!
  3. Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. Don’t forget to check out my post on why being nice matters as well!
  4. Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise like you have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges!
  5. Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive.
  6. Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing.
The world has become a very different place in a matter of weeks and months. Whilst some continue on with their normal lives, many more seek shelter from the rampant virus spreading over the globe. There are shortages in shops, lockdowns, and more fake information then you can shake a reasonably large stick at. The way people react to the Coronavirus will change the way society works going forward, as will the response and survivability of businesses large and small. With everything going on, you would be forgiven for being a bit nervous. It’s important to remember that this will not last forever, and here I want to outline some points and tips to help ensure you stay positive during these trying times. Why being positive matters We all have those times where we have tried to do something a number of times, and will still again without hesitation. Every time we fail, we improve our methods slightly and try again. Things will work out this time, we tell ourselves. Positivity is not about taking no notice of the bad situations and just letting them happen. It is about staying focused on the good in any situation. I consider myself to be a very positive and optimistic person. But this does not mean that I do not know my fair share of failures and defeats. Throughout my life, I have held on to this sense of optimism and it always convinces me (after an appropriate amount of time pouting) that the future is brighter than it seems at this current time and things will work out ok. We all have this to a certain degree because if we didn’t we would just stop functioning altogether! We would sit down and cry and be sad all of the time. The thing about being positive that stops this from happening is that we go out and try to overcome the barriers we are faced with to improve our situation. The more positive we are the more we will seek to improve things for ourselves and the more times we will try. We can only pursue our goals if we stay optimistic about the possibility of reaching them. Instead of shutting down when things aren’t going our way, we need to regroup and focus on how we can make the best of a bad situation. Disappointment and sadness are normal emotions, but they shouldn’t control your actions. Staying positive means they won’t. The acceptance of difficulty To suggest life is always blissful and accommodating to what we want would be an outright lie. Life can be difficult and it can be a struggle. It is important to recognise the hardships that can face us to make us more resilient to them. Spiritual teachings, particularly those of an Eastern origin, lean heavily on the idea of being at peace with the bad things that happen to us, the suffering. Even in a more westernised environment, these teachings have merit. In particular, Buddhist teachings state (in simple terms) that acceptance of suffering is the only way to know true happiness and mindfulness. We can learn a lot from the Buddhist approach here. There is a tip for use in meditation that when your mind starts to wander, you do not punish yourself for making this misstep. Instead, you acknowledge the thought, send it on its way, and continue with your meditation. The same is true of when distress strikes us. We must acknowledge the bad feelings, send them on their way, and return to happier thoughts. I should add, with some haste, that this does not mean we simply ignore the bad things happening to us. Indeed, we should strive to provide a solution to such matters, if possible, as soon as we can. But our feelings about the situation should be reframed from one of despair and suffering to one of hope and consolidation. Reframing negative feelings is a key skill you should learn. We will talk about this more in the tips section. The benefits of positivity The benefits of staying positive are truly numerous. It can improve your life in a myriad of ways. Let’s highlight some of those benefits here, just so you know I’m not talking complete trash! 1.	Less Stress – one of the biggest motivating factors that should entice you to be positive is that it will reduce your stress levels. We all have the one friend who is constantly happy and seems not to let anything get them down. Be that friend, and you too will notice a reduction in your stress by simply being positive. Your ability to deal with stress will skyrocket! 2.	Longer Life – There have been many scientific studies that show positive people live longer. Positive people tend to cope better with illnesses and have longer and happier lives than pessimists. This is partly due to the aforementioned reduction in stress, which is a huge detriment to health and lifespan. Being positive can also help you feel better for longer, giving you the best outlook on life. 3.	Improve your Health – Tied to the previous point, your health is proven to improve the longer you maintain a positive attitude! Long term studies show the being an optimist means you will have better health than pessimists as you progress through your life. Good health is certainly a great reason to adopt a positive approach to your life! 4.	Smarter, but not Harder, Work – Staying positive can help you work smarter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. Studies have shown that positive people perform better in work environments than negative people because a positive work environment fosters better performance. This is true not just in the workplace, but anywhere! Schools, exercise classes, and performance troupes!  5.	Greater Resilience – A key benefit to staying positive is a boost to your resilience. Dealing with difficulties becomes easier with the determination and strength you can derive from your positivity. Positive people are able to focus on what they can do to better the situation when faced with hardships. Overcoming these difficulties through positivity is really what this whole post is about! There are many more benefits to being positive than just these, but I would say these are some of the keys ones. Together, they will improve your overall wellbeing and give you a happier, longer life. Who doesn’t want that? Tips to become and remain positive Now we’ve established why you should be positive, let’s take a look at how you get there. Here are a few tips to help you become positive, and to make sure you stay that way! 1.	Smiling – Let’s start with something basic. Smile! You can trick your mind into being more positive through smiling. Even if you have nothing to smile about, the act of smiling can instantly change the way you feel inside. Whatever you might be doing, smile! In the time it will become second nature to smile whilst you undertake your everyday activities, and you’ll feel much better for doing so. Smile at other people too! They’ll more than likely smile back and you’ll both feel better for it. 2.	Surround yourself with Positive People – It’s important to reflect on those around you on your quest to become more positive. We are often strongly affected by the people around us. If they are a gossip, we tend to become gossip. If they are negative, we tend to become negative. Luckily, the opposite is also true. Surround yourself with positive people and you will find yourself being uplifted to a more positive level as well! It isn’t necessary to completely ditch the negative people that may well be friends or family, just be sure to try and steer any negative conversations to more positive topics. Perhaps they will become more positive over time because of your actions! 3.	Do Kind Acts – It’s important to be selfless in your quest for positivity. Forgetting about others whilst being absorbed in your own world of misfortune is easy to do, but there lays not the path to positivity. Take a break from your usual daily routine to lend a hand to another person. Doing so can give you a fresh perspective and fill you with positivity. Doing nice things makes us feel good about ourselves, so we should take full advantage of that. Try doing at least one nice thing a day and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive in no time at all. 4.	Reframing – It’s important to learn how to reframe situations in your head. Currently, if you are on lockdown you can’t leave the house to see your friends and family, you might not be able to go to work or exercise like you have previously. Various factors might make you feel like the world is plotting against you. Instead of looking at the situation negatively though, reframe it to something more positive. You might not be able to go to the gym, but now is a great time to learn about home workouts and expand your fitness knowledge. Can’t go and visit your friends? Sounds like the perfect time to discover new ways of connecting with them, and taking part in things like quizzes over video calls. Reframe the negative to a positive and look forward to conquering these new challenges! 5.	Practice Gratitude – Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to become more positive is to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment that you might regularly feel. Take the time to think about all the things you are grateful for. It might be a good idea to keep a journal of those things you are grateful for. I personally keep an achievement journal. If I am ever feeling down and a bit negative because things aren’t going well, I can look back and see all of the stuff I have already achieved. With renewed vigour and positivity I can then move on and complete whatever the task before me is. Once you have a strong grasp on what you are grateful for, your outlook with certainly become more positive. 6.	Find a Positivity Partner – You probably aren’t the only person who is looking to become more positive. Find a friend who also wants to make the journey to achieve a more positive outlook and team up! Together, you’ll find the process much easier. You can reassure each other that things will get better, and send messages to each other to show your gratitude for them and the things in your life as well. An added bonus to this one is that being in regular contact with someone will reduce any feelings of loneliness you might have during the current climate of social distancing. I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!

I’ll be following this post up shortly with another about staying resilient when trouble strikes, although I am hoping that is not the case for any of you during these unsettling times. In the meantime, I hope you found these tips about staying positive helpful and will start to use them in order to bring a smile back to your face and keep it there! Let me know how you are getting on with the lockdown wherever you are, and also let me know what kind of thing you would like to read about whilst stuck indoors!

If you are struggling with your mental health during this unprecedented time, please know that resources and help are available to you. Please visit the Mental Health Foundation for assistance.

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

When thinking about goals and resolutions for the new year you might be reminded of all of the times you didn’t quite make it. All the times you started a new hobby, started doing something repetitively, just to end up stopping after a while due to burning out or mere forgetfulness. When thinking about these times that things didn’t go so well, you might stop to think about how you could improve in the future. How next time can be different. Luckily for you, I have the solution. You can keep up with a new hobby by adding some structure to it and setting some hobby projects for yourself to work on.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Whilst this post is geared at hobbies, you can apply it to any area of your life where you find you are unable to keep things going.

Using projects to maintain your motivation for your hobbies is an excellent idea but not a new one. It is based on the premise of working towards smaller goals. You’re just dressing it up in a different way and, hopefully, receiving tangible results each step of the way when completing your projects. An example of what I mean could be learning photography. Your overarching goal is to become a good photographer (let’s ignore the subjective nature of that for now). You might have smaller goals on the path to meeting that primary goal such as visiting a photo gallery, and learning how to do portrait photography. The first smaller goal as a project is possible but perhaps not immediately obvious – perhaps you could produce a piece of work on the gallery about what you experienced and learned, or try to mimic what you see there. The second is clearer, however. Why not start a project to do portrait photography of your close friends or family? In the process of doing so, you will learn how to become a good portrait photographer.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

The Benefits of using Projects in your Hobbies

Several benefits come from using projects in your hobbies. Firstly, they provide an excellent way to stay motivated. Using the above example, taking portrait photography of your friends or family gives you a goal to work towards which can keep you engaged in the process. You can stay excited about learning your hobby by moving on to new projects one after the other as you improve your skills. You can look forward to starting, progressing, and completing these tasks. Little boosts of euphoria that can turn a new hobby into a love which you really want to do.

Another benefit is the tangible results you can receive from doing projects. In the portrait photography example, at the end of the project, you will potentially end up with a lovely collection of photos of your friends or family. This is something that you can carry forward and has multiple applications. In my own life, I sometimes print pictures I have taken onto canvas and give them as gifts. A personal and unique gift like a portrait is perhaps one of the best gifts you can give. Further, you’ll be able to look back in the future and have evidence of what you have achieved in your journey. In this example, they can even form part of a portfolio for use in other projects.

Avoiding burnout and recovering from it can be a key benefit of taking up a project in your hobby. You will be able to avoid burnout because you are more engaged in the project, as we talk about above. You can switch things up in your hobby and start a new project to recover from burnout as well. By changing things and starting something new you can reignite the spark of passion you had for the hobby, and hopefully continue to practice the hobby for a long time. Burnouts are common, and can be because of the repetition of a task. Projects (as long as they aren’t too large) avoid this but keep things new and interesting.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Hobby Project Ideas

The possibilities when it comes to hobby projects are practically endless. Depending on what your hobby is, there is normally no limit but your imagination. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to thinking up hobby projects. Whilst my earlier example about portrait photography was simple enough, they don’t all have to be like that. It is worth noting, however, that making projects too large and complex might cause burnout in itself if there is too much repetition! Projects should be exciting, take less than a month to complete, and help to progress your hobby in some way.

Ideally, your projects should focus on an area of the skill you want to develop.

Here’s a list of some ideas, broken down by hobby, which will hopefully inspire you in your hobby projects:

  • Musical Instrument
    • Learn a particular piece of sheet music which focuses on an aspect of playing you want to develop
    • Perform a series of pieces to a group of friends
    • Write about a performance you have seen using what you know about music theory
    • Record and upload video of yourself playing to the internet
  • Writing
    • Enter a competition
    • Write a short novel based off of a friend or family member
    • Write the same story in different genres
    • Launch a portfolio of works on a website
  • Gardening
    • Plant vegetables that you go on to use in your kitchen
    • Add a water feature
    • Go to a flower/garden show and try to replicate things that interest you
    • Work on someone else’s garden or a community garden (such as at a park or church)
    • Teach someone else how to do particular things in the garden (not too broad)
  • Programming
    • Make an app
    • Learn a new language
    • Streamline a process you regularly use
  • Gym/Fitness
    • Plan your exercise routine
    • Start a home gym
    • Research new exercises that target a certain muscle group
  • Crafting
    • Make a themed collection of items
    • Make a set of items for gifts
    • Learn a new skill by working towards an end product (or multiple products) using mainly that skill
Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Hobby Projects to avoid Burnout

Avoiding burnout is something we all want to do. Burnout is where you, essentially, just lose all motivation to continue whatever you were doing. Sometimes you might not even notice it happen at first. Maybe you’ve been learning a language every day and then missed a couple of days. Before you know it you’ve left it weeks since you last practiced. Once you realize you haven’t been doing it you come against the issue of not having the motivation to resume. Maybe that is because now you’ve not done it for a while you feel bad about it, or lost some kind of streak. 

Being able to maintain your hobby in this way is great for you because having a hobby you enjoy and are motivated in can increase your productivity in other areas of your life, such as at work. Some companies like Google mandate that 20% of employees’ time at work should be spent pursuing activities they find fun, like hobbies. (https://lifehacker.com/why-creative-side-projects-are-good-for-you-1612792201) We can take from this that suffering from burnout, and not engaging with your hobbies, will lower your productivity. That’s not something that most people aspire to and should be avoided where possible!

There are many ways that you can help to avoid burnout, and one of those ways is with projects. The idea is that instead of something being open-ended, like learning a language every day, you have set end dates and goals. For example, you might aim to be able to go to a restaurant and order in French. This can be a project as it is made up of smaller steps, such as learning what you need to say, working on the pronunciation, practicing with it altogether, finding a suitable restaurant, and actually doing it. You might even want to find someone to go with you. 

Because you stay focused on this project with smaller goals, you forget about the vastness of the primary goal which is learning French. This enables you to stay focused and motivated to complete the project. Once done, your next project and adventure awaits you.

Getting into the habit of creating projects for your hobbies to stay engaged and motivated means that you’ll not even need to think about keeping up with your hobbies. The only thing you’ll need to consider is what your project will be. Concepts like burnout will almost be a thing of the past, and occur much, much less. You’ll enjoy your hobbies and your life much more, and the bonuses to other areas of your life through increased productivity will be a boon to yourself.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

To conclude…

Something that must not be ignored when looking at hobby projects is that they are fun. Ultimately it is this that helps reduce the likelihood of burnout and keeps you engaged with your hobby of choice. Your productivity will benefit and you may well end up with tangible results from your hobby project as well. I’m hopeful that you will be able to start a hobby project now and you’ll experience the benefits of them first hand. I know I personally love them!

Do you already have hobby projects on the go? Let me know what they are in the comments below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

As is ever the case, the year of 2019 seemed to fly by! I know that in my own life so much happened last year, and I’m sure you have had a lot happen to you too. Hopefully what happened to you fell in line with what you wanted to happen in 2019. Your goals, aspirations, and Resolutions for the year. I know mine did (for the most part!) and, hopefully, you also had a successful year of getting things done! In this post, I will talk about why goals are important and how I stay motivated with my goals. I’ll do a Roundup of how my 2019 goals went (original 2019 goal post here) and what I have planned for 2020. I’ll also discuss how I plan to keep and achieve these goals and some tips you can apply in your own life!

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

Why Set Goals

I find that anything you want to do in life can be put into one of four categories depending on the size of it: action, task, goal, and resolution. Goals and Resolutions are similar but provide different context, with resolutions typically spanning a single year (and normally not more, unless it is repeated). Goals can, essentially, be over any time period whether a few days or a few years. Perhaps the main point of using the word resolution is that it becomes clear to others that this is a goal, often lofty in its nature, which is current for that year. Aside from those points, however, goals and Resolutions are very similar.

Tasks make up the things you have to do to reach the goal, and actions are the things you have to do as part of the task. There could be different levels of tasks, however, as actions, in my world at least, are typically very small and not worthy of recording in their own right, unlike tasks and goals that tend to be written to paper (or digital white space).

People, just like you, strive for goals every day. It could be as simple as making a meal or as complex as becoming a famous astronaut. We then fulfil tasks and actions in order to attempt to reach those goals. My point here is that even if you consider yourself as a person who does not set yourself goals or resolutions, you actually do without realising it. Not writing it down doesn’t make it not a goal!

To cut to the chase, as it were, we set goals to give our life’s purpose. Want a baby at some point during your life? That’s a goal. Want to find the right partner? It’s a goal. Want to move out of your parent’s house into one you own? Goal!

Fulfilling goals makes us feel good about ourselves. Often our achievements completely pass us by as we move on to the next thing. I’ve witnessed this first hand in one of my past roles as a manager. When talking to my team and asking what they had achieved, they looked at me blankly. They couldn’t recall any of their accomplishments despite them normally being numerous – they had forgotten about them!

To help avoid this, thinking about what your goals are and writing them down gives something tangible for you to aim towards and reflect upon once complete (reflection is a very important part of the process!). Setting your goals like this can help you stay focused on them and make credible steps towards completing them.

Get clear about what you want to achieve in your life, this year, this month, this week, and even this day, and you’ll find yourself with some goals ready to go. Some big, some small. All achievable.

How I stay motivated with my Goals

The act of recording my goals is one of the key ways I stay motivated to complete them. Breaking down those goals into the different tasks I need to complete to reach my goal is incredibly useful. It gives me a visual representation of how things are going and allows me to feel a spark of achievement each time I tick off one of the tasks as done.

As you’ll probably be told by just about anyone, breaking down your goals into small sections makes them easier to achieve. Smaller tasks are easier and faster to achieve and mean that even if you end up failing to reach your goal (if, for example, there is a time limit) you can still see that you made progress and achieved something of worth. You’ll be able to reflect upon the tasks to see what went well, or poorly, and use this information to inform future endeavours. This will make your next goals easier to achieve as you work smarter to achieve them. I talk about my 2020 goals a bit later on in this post I’ll discuss how I am tracking these goals, and the tasks that make them up, to make sure they aren’t just floating ideals instead of grounded goals.

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

2019 Goal Roundup

2019 was a good year for me in terms of achieving my goals and Resolutions set at the start of the year. I will reflect on some of them now, and talk about what went well and what didn’t, and what I’ve learnt this year about goal setting. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some of this knowledge forward into your own goal setting, and I’ll provide examples of how I have in the next section where I talk about my 2020 goals.

Let’s start with the goals for one of my hobbies that most people have probably never heard of, Warhammer! For those not in the know, it’s miniature wargaming where you have to build and paint miniatures to then use in glorious battle, involving lots of dice. Last year in 2019 I had big dreams for this hobby and I’m glad to say I’ve come far in it. My collection has expanded greatly, although storage has starting to become a bit of a problem! I had 3 primary goals that I set for 2019.

The first of these was to finish paining my terrain. I’m happy to report this was done by around August. I have more terrain to be painted now, but everything I had at the time is done. Secondly, I wanted to finish painting my Tau army (a faction within the Warhammer universe). This I did not do. In fact, I think I only painted one Tau model the entire year, instead focusing on painting my Black Templars (another faction). Despite making essentially no progress on my Tau, I am happy with the progress I made in painting other armies so do not mind so much. I plan to refocus on painting my Tau in the coming year. Lastly, I was aiming to sort out a gaming mat for me and my friends to play on. This was an easy one as it was a single purchase, and I’m happy to report that it is done and improving the calibre of all my games now!

I had goals surrounding my other hobbies as well. Namely, these were piano and reading books. The piano goal I completely failed. I was looking to play twice a week all year and I’m not sure I did even once! I think I lacked the motivation to get this one done as if I wasn’t really interested in it. Luckily, my book reading went very well as I discovered audiobooks which I could listen to on the way to work and at the gym. The inclusion of audiobooks (I did also read physical books) was a massive boon and I ended up getting through about 14 books. A huge success! I think there is a lesson to be learned here about looking for alternative ways to achieve goals where possible. Any help is always good!

Next up are my lifestyle goals, which are probably where I have done the worst. I wanted to meditate twice weekly. I did not. I wanted to walk to work every day. I did sometimes (at best). I wanted to reduce my weight and get to a 36” waist. My attempt at this was laughable! I think I think I am larger now than I was before. I think the problem with these goals is that they were almost abstract in nature. I did not set up any tangible way for me to track progress or even entice progress. I want to find new ways in 2020 to keep engaged with these kinds of goals, and I’ll talk more about this later.

Lastly, we have my financial goals. These were all successful I’m happy to declare! I managed to save money for my holiday to Lisbon and put money aside for a 2020 holiday. I was able to put £70 into my emergency savings account each month. Also, I managed to save up over my goal of £400 which is for use for my 2020 goals. Finally, I was able to secure a full-time job which I started mid-December, making the deadline only just (after 5 days at my new job we had a break for Christmas and the New Year)!

I would consider these financial goals all very successful. I think the success can be partly put down to being able to “see” the money in my accounts and move it around. It was easy to see exactly what was where and what else I needed. I was very lucky not to have any large unexpected expenditures which I couldn’t find the funds for elsewhere.

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

2020 Goals

When setting my 2020 goals I wanted to be careful and measured in my approach. I wanted to make sure I could be flexible with my goals (like I talk about here). This way I could easily add to or adapt my goals, especially if some take on new life and split to become two, or more, unique goals.

Another challenge of goal setting that needs to be accounted for is that you can’t decide what all your goals and aspirations for the coming year are in a short timeframe. I can’t have the entire year being dictated by my whims one particular evening when jotting some ideas down. We need to be able to add to our goals for the year, our Resolutions, later on, as I have already done with some. I guess there would be a point in the year when they are just normal goals and not really resolutions, but that would depend on who you are as a person.

I have a couple of “Life Skill” goals this year. Goals that will, basically, add good skills to my repertoire for use in my life! I only have two of these goals (so far), both language orientated. The first one is to practice French at least twice weekly. This can be achieved for me using the Duolingo app, or perhaps by using one of my language books. Last year I excluded this goal because I’ve had such mixed (read: bad) results in the previous years. This year I want to find a way to keep myself motivated through it so I’ll be trying different ways to stay engaged with my French learning. I plan to do a post on this in the future to keep you updated. The second goal in this area is to learn basic Spanish for my trip to Majorca. This is in July so after that point, I probably won’t continue with Spanish but we will see how much I am enjoying it and if it has any potential future use. It would certainly be nice to be able to speak a little of the native language when visiting Majorca, if for no other reason than to ensure I’m not ordering the wrong food!

Travel wise, I want to book a holiday for myself and my partner to go on, and I also want to book a group holiday for myself, my partner, and a couple of our friends. Travelling is always exciting and I’ll be going on holiday three times this year (along with Majorca) if they all go ahead! That’s a record for me! Once the trips are concluded I’ll be sure to write a post about them.

I only have two financial goals this year, partly down to the success of last year. I want to put £50 into each of my savings accounts each month, and I also want to place £75 into my emergency savings fund each month (an increase of five pounds on last year). I don’t mind if I spend the money in my savings accounts as that is what it is there for, as long as it is on important expenditure, such as moving or going on holiday. The emergency savings fund is, of course, for emergency use only! Hopefully, I won’t need it.

My health and exercise goals will be familiar to you. Firstly, I want to meditate twice weekly. I failed at this last year and I’ll have to find a way to remind myself to do this one. I’m hoping a regular reminder will be enough, but I don’t want to have to commit myself to a particular time of the day so we will see. My second goal is to lose weight. You saw this one coming didn’t you? Again another goal that didn’t go well last year but I think that with my new job enabling me to walk to work much easier than previously, and the lack of the ability to eat chocolate at my desk, I will be successful! The third goal, walking to work unless the weather absolutely prevents it, is closely tied to this. I’m wanting to lose the weight by the time I go to Majorca which will probably be the first holiday of the year.

My fourth and final goal in the health and exercise field is to do an event for charity. I’m not sure what shape this will take yet but I believe it is important to give back when you can. Instead of just donating money I want to take part in some activity to help raise the money, like I have done in the past. I am surrounded by inspiration here, with many close friends and my partner often doing charitable activities like races, and I am sure this is a goal I will easily achieve. I’m going to start to look into what I could do by the end of January.

Next up we have my fun goals! Yay for fun! In particular, I have set a goal to read (or listen) to 12 books this year which is double what I set for myself last year. I crushed this last year and I’m quietly confident that I can manage the one book a month goal. The second goal is to get back into my photography in a big way by going on monthly photography trips with one of my friends (also a keen photographer). I love to take pictures but I just didn’t do enough last year. I want to develop my skills and become a great photographer and that journey starts here. We’ve already been on our first adventure, even if it was only to the beach. Hopefully, we will see exciting things over the year whilst being healthy and active! The final fun goal is to post 24 blog posts over the year on this site (starting with this one). I did not post enough last year and I really enjoy writing. Using new tools to keep track of my work, I’m re-engaging this year and really trying to get out some quality content! I already have a dozen ideas for things I could write about which all fit with the theme of my blog (being amazing!). Here’s to a glorious future for Michael is Amazing!

Lastly, we have my Warhammer goals. Both are centred on painting but I may look to add another later on, like going to a tournament during the year or something similar. I already have a few exciting things planned in this area. As for the goals themselves, the first is to finish painting my Black Templar models and the second is to finish painting all the Tau models I currently have. This equates to a lot of models and my turnover rate is not the best. I won’t say that I am worried at this point but this will certainly be a challenge. A lot of my goals will regularly consume my free time and I’m worried that something might give in the end. Hopefully, however, I’ll just end up with two fully Painted armies by the end of the year!

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

Useable tips to help you achieve your goals and resolutions!

This has been quite a long post! But before I sign off, I wanted to drop some knowledge on you. This knowledge comes in the form of two primary tips which I am finding helpful right now and that I know you will find helpful too!

Firstly, you absolutely must have a way to keep track of all of your goals and the tasks that make up those goals. Bullet journaling is all the craze at the moment and with good reason. Visual representation of your goals helps you keep motivated and organised. Aside from the host of other benefits that journaling provides, being able to quickly flip to the appropriate page with all your goals and how you are going to meet them means you are never too far from thinking about what you want to get done with your year.

Want to make it even easier and digitise the process at the same time? Use Notion. I discovered it a few months ago and now I basically have my second brain on it. Not only that, I can easily link my tasks to my goals and make all kinds of different views on how I see the information. Colourful highlights are optional! I swear by Notion – I used it for planning and road mapping blog posts, for Warhammer painting progress, for planning trips, for keeping all my tasks in one place and easy to view, for keeping a photography journal – and the possibilities with it are practically endless thanks to the way it works. I’m not being sponsored to say this by the way, I just really love it!

The second big tip is to always break down your goals into more manageable tasks. I hinted at this earlier and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this advice before. The trick here is to break it down in such a way that you can get quick wins, which we all love, and keep yourself motivated to reach the final goal.

For example, one of my Resolutions is to have a fully Painted Black Templar (Warhammer) army. I’ve broken this one down by listing each individual model that needs to be painted. I’ve added a further level by producing a road map of the progress (on Notion) of each model. Completing a model is satisfying, but so is moving a model from the Not Started to the Built column, from there to the Painting column. In many ways, the columns represent the actions that need to be done which make up the task. Completing the tasks means we move closer to completing the overall goal!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

Can you believe that we are already half way through 2019? It has gone simultaneously very fast and at a snail’s pace. So much has happened, yet more still could have. That we are half way into 2019 is a big deal: you have even less time to work on those New Year’s Resolutions now! I’m sure you’ve been working on them, right? Let’s take a look at how to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019, and have a look at how I am doing with mine!

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

Only 1 in 10 feel their resolutions are successful by the end of the year

That’s a crazy statistic! Only 1 in 10 of us, who actually make resolutions, will think themselves successful in accomplishing them. Looking back on my personal experience, I’m surprised it is even that high. I’m not sure I’ve ever been successful with my resolutions!

It’s not all bad news though, as apparently the mere act of setting resolutions is positive. Indeed, those that do set resolutions at the New Year are ten times more likely to actually change their behaviour compared to those that set no resolutions!

What that tells us is that even if you aren’t doing very well at the moment with your resolutions, you still doing better than those that didn’t set any. You should congratulate yourself for that, and hopefully, you can see small changes to your lifestyle brought about by what your resolutions and goals are even if you aren’t close to completing them yet.

Go over your resolutions and fine-tune them

It is always worth looking back over your resolutions and seeing if you were a bit outlandish with any of them. If so, perhaps dial it back a bit. There’s nothing wrong with changing a resolution slightly. It is better to achieve something than feel like you have failed.

The opposite is equally true. If you said you would read a book a month and you have been reading two a month, maybe it is worth upping the goal just as you would a daily step goal once it becomes too easy.

If you are certain you will not be able to complete a resolution by the year-end, or whatever date you had set for it, perhaps it is worth cutting your losses early. If you can make the resolution easier I would recommend that first and foremost. But if, for example, buying a new house this year just isn’t going to happen then you should accept this and move on. You can always replace it with a different, but connected, resolution, such as saving X amount of money for a deposit.

It might even be worth creating an entirely new resolution. People’s life’s change all the time and new priorities and wishes are always cropping up. Resolutions certainly don’t have to be refined to the start of a New Year. In order to have robust growth, we must always be looking to set new goals and resolutions to match our ambitions. If you’ve got something you want to try, need to sort out, or something else time sensitive, halfway through the year is a good a time as any to set a new resolution!

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

My progress

Tackling this all in the same order as my original post about my New Year’s resolutions, let’s start with my hobby goals!

I had three goals relating to Warhammer 40,000: firstly to have a fully painted set of terrain, secondly to finish painting my Tau army, and thirdly to sort out a gaming mat or board to play on. I am on my last piece of the terrain set which should be finished by mid-next week, commitment depending, so this will be completed soon. I have about 4 units left to paint for my Tau as well so hopefully, this will also be completed by year-end. I have picked up a game mat last month so that’s the first goal completed!

For my other hobby goals, I am having more mixed results. I’m not sure I’ve played the piano in months and that is something I wanted to do weekly. I keep my keyboard stored away to allow me more space but it has been detrimental to me actually using it. In the second half of this year, I want to really try to get it out at least weekly! Reading books is something it turns out I can do, and I have read 4 books so far this year – 6 if we include audiobooks, which we will. That means I have accomplished this resolution as well! Two down!

Hitting lifestyle goals, my first one was to meditate at least twice weekly. This goal has been a bit hit and miss, as sometimes I go weeks without doing any and other times I will do it daily for a period. I need to get more habitual in the practice. Walking to work twice to week is a similar story: I will sometimes walk every day for a week, and then get public transport the next week. I’ve taken to walking one way and getting a train the other recently, which is helping (and means I can use my railcard to get a discount in the evening!).

My third lifestyle goal was to get down to a 36” waist and weigh around 15 stone. This one hasn’t gone well and I’m sitting happily where I was at the onset of the year. It is still more than possible for me to meet this goal by the year’s end, however, and I intend to do so! In the past few weeks, I’ve been more “on it” and a couple of months ago I joined a new gym I am regularly going to.

Finally, financial goals. I went on our holiday to Lisbon in April which I saved for in advance so that is completed. I wanted to have saved £350 for a 2020 holiday by the end of the year, and I am well on the way to that sum although I did use some for a recently Nottingham visit.

For my emergency fund, I wanted to put away at least £70 a month and so far I am meeting that easily. I may consider raising it further by the end of the year. I wanted to build up a small sum of £400 in general savings as well to put towards 2020 goals. That amount is coming along nicely too.

The last goal was to find a full-time and well-paid job. I knew it would be the hardest of the year and it is yet to be achieved. I haven’t put the effort into finding one that I would have perhaps liked. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have found the perfect job for me!

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

In summary…

I feel like I am doing pretty well with my 2019 goals so far. If I managed to complete the last one, for a full-time job, I think I would have been successful. It would certainly also be nice to drop a couple of stone to a 36” waist size as well! Both of these are more than achievable in the remaining time.

All said I don’t think there are any resolutions that I need to drop for being too unrealistic. Everything I haven’t achieved can still be achieved with a certain degree of comfort which is a nice place to be in at the half-way mark.

I don’t feel the need for any new goals to these at this time either. I believe I have enough to be working with for the time being. I am already starting to think about what I might be about to achieve in 2020 though, especially thanks to the 2019 goals if completed.

How are your goals going in 2019? Picked any resolutions you are regretting now or need to rework? Let me know in the comments below or on social!

How to Create a Mindfulness Habit

How to Create a Mindfulness Habit

When starting on the path to mindfulness, which you can read about in a more general sense here, it can be difficult to start and maintain any sort of mindful living. It is something I have struggled with, and continue to struggle with, in honesty, since I first came across the idea of mindfulness. Let’s take a look at how to create a mindfulness habit you can stick with!

How to Create a Mindfulness Habit

The first step to creating a mindfulness habit is understanding why we fail

If you have ever tried to meditate you will know that trying to focus on just one thing can be a challenge. Often, during meditation, you will focus on the breath. This is particularly true when first starting out and learning about meditation. But you will find your mind wandering. You will then bring it back to the breath once you notice how your mind has wandered – this is all part of the process and noticing that your mind is drifting on to other thoughts is actually a display of mindfulness in itself.

Note how often your mind would wander when starting out though. Even when typing this I am distracted by a television in the distance and the noise of others in the house. You are able to bring back your thought to the matter at hand as you are actively trying to focus on a certain activity. However, when you are intending to practice mindfulness it can be difficult to, essentially, remember to do it. You forget about it as your mind wanders on to other things. With no activity you are currently doing to focus back on to (remember you haven’t started with your mindful moment yet!) your mind continues to wander.

One of the reasons I found that this happened, especially at the start, is that I didn’t really know how to practice mindfulness. I had a basic understanding of mindfulness meditation and of other small aspects but I struggled to create a habit out of them as they had no structure in their occurrence. I would sometimes meditate at odd times of the day, and practice other forms of mindfulness when I remembered, but without a reoccurring structure I failed to maintain any sort of long term practice.

There are a myriad of things that require our attention throughout the day so having some sort of structure which incorporates mindfulness is important to developing a habit. Equally, however, it is important to realise that your whole day cannot be consumed by mindfulness – at least at the start.

It is easy to burn out when trying to do too much too quickly – especially when trying to introduce new habits into your life. I’ve discussed how this affected me in my yoga journey and in my general fitness journey. Suffering from burn out is incredibly common and I’m guessing that every person will experience it at some point in their lives. Avoiding burn out requires new habits being slowly introduced, instead of simply forcing an entire redesign of your life. That sort of thing never works.

Aside from a general unwillingness to make the change to mindful living – you must be willing in order to receive any sort of benefit from mindfulness – these are the two main reasons why people fail when trying to start a mindfulness habit.

How to Create a Mindfulness Habit

How to create a mindfulness habit

As established then, in order to form a new habit we must repeatedly take the same action in order for it to become second nature to us – a habit. This is because of how our brains work. Performing a new action creates a pathway in your brain. At first it is weak, but by repeating the action it becomes stronger. The stronger and more established a pathway (neural connection) is, the easier and more natural it is to repeat an action (or thought) without actively thinking to do it. It can be done subconsciously.

In order to normalise your new mindfulness habit, you need to repeat actions (that are mindful) in order for them to become second nature.

Here are 4 ways to create a mindfulness habit:

  • Set a timer on your mobile phone – set a timer to go off every hour or so on your phone. Set a tone that isn’t offensive to the ears and it can serve as a reminder to either stop whatever you are doing to perform a mindful task or to continue with whatever you are doing but mindfully. This is an easy way to be mindful throughout the day but beware not to do it for too long as you might become reliant on the sound of the timer finishing to be mindful. If you forget to set the timer then you won’t be mindful. As with all things, coming at this from multiple angles is recommended.
  • Make a mindfulness date with yourself – set aside some time to have a date with yourself with you do an activity mindfully. Maybe on Tuesday, you’ll eat your dinner mindfully, or on Thursday your walk to work will be mindful. This is an easy way to start getting into the habit of regular mindfulness, particularly when mixed with the other tips. Set a reminder on your phone or your physical calendar if you check it often enough. Try to move away from using reminders after a few weeks of regular mindful activity – or don’t, if you normally use a lot of reminders in your life anyway.
  • Leave little notes laying around which remind you to be mindful – this one is simple enough. Write something on a note reminding you to be mindful when you see it. Perhaps leave one on your bathroom mirror so when you clean your teeth you are reminded to do it mindfully, or wash your hands mindfully. Don’t go overboard with the notes though, otherwise, they might just start to annoy you. Plus, no one wants a house covered in sticky notes!
  • Commit to performing a particular action mindfully every time you do it – This one is probably one of the most difficult ones to maintain as it is possible to simply forget to be mindful when performing the action after some time has passed. If this does happen, do not chastise yourself but merely reaffirm that you will act mindfully next time. The action performed can be literally anything from preparing your breakfast to opening a door to grooming your pet.

If you manage to maintain any of these for a month then congratulations – you’ve developed a habit! From there you can slowly expand the mindfulness habit to include many more things. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be able to be mindful at all times?

If you are struggling, remember that you should not over-commit to any new habit in order to avoid burn out and simply forgetting the many new things you are trying to do. At the same time, try to do a little of each of the above ideas in order to create a well-rounded foundation to your new habit. If one way doesn’t work for you, try another or a combination of others.

How to Create a Mindfulness Habit

Good luck on your journey to mindfulness! I hope you create a mindfulness habit to enrich your life!

Already have a mindfulness habit? What is it and how did you make it a habit? Any advice for those looking to create one? Let me know in the comments below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

How to Find Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Food for the Average Person

How to Find Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Food for the Average Person

Recently I have been on a bit of a quest to find exciting food for breakfast and lunch. And by exciting, all I really mean something that isn’t toast or a yoghurt! The problem I am having on this quest, a problem that many people likely face, is that when I search online for ideas I get all these super fancy dishes which are, to be blunt, unrealistic. I’m never going to have time in the morning to prepare something that looks that good with that many ingredients!

We all know what I mean. Those lists of “great” ideas for breakfast meals which are all packed with exotic ingredients that pretty much no one has laying around. The meals might all look beautiful and be Instagram worthy, but I don’t have time to craft such an item so early in the day! I can assure all my readers that my breakfast will never look this good:

How to Find Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Food for the Average Person

Aside from the fact that I don’t fancy a trip to Wholefoods in London just so I can buy some stuff to put on top of my breakfast that I’ll probably hate anyway, why is it that these lists I find everywhere seem more worried about good looking food than accessible food? I can’t be travelling to some magical land for that secret ingredient no one ever has stocked. Finding inspiration for breakfast and lunch foods that are exciting and cater to the masses is just about impossible.

Why the quest to find exciting breakfast and lunch food?

A while ago I made a post about Hello Fresh – be sure to check it out – and how it gave me interesting options for dinner which I might not have eaten before. I don’t religiously use this company but it has still made my dinners more exciting by expanding on what I usually eat and allowing me to experiment more with my meals.

Now I want to carry this over to my other meals of the day. Unfortunately, there isn’t a company (that I know of) that delivers breakfast food to your house! Shame really.

The main reason behind this quest for more exciting breakfast and lunch food is that I have fallen into bad habits. Too often I feel like I don’t have time in the morning to sort out my lunch and will swing by a convenience store on the way to work to pick up some less than healthy lunch. Typically, this is also an expensive lunch! (Perhaps I should try to pay more attention to a previous post of mine about building strong foundations for new habits!)

If I do manage to pack a lunch it is usually a boring sandwich, a packet of crisps, a chocolate ‘treat’ of some kind, and a small piece of cake. Not terribly unhealthy but you try having the same thing every day of your life. It becomes quite boring rather fast!

How to Find Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Food for the Average Person

Breakfast is very hit and miss for me. Sometimes I won’t have any, sometimes I’ll have some biscuits, and sometimes I’ll have toast. Thrilling, I know.

That being said I have recently got a bit more varied in my breakfast foods, practically spurred on by the creation of this post. I have added 3 different types of cereal to the mix which I now enjoy in rotation each day. Cereal, however, is still not very exciting!

I want my breakfast and lunch foods to be more exciting so it’s something I look forward to and won’t want to skip. I’m not alone in this and if you find any similarities in your own life here, then let’s go exploring the vast world of food together!

Finding exciting food with Pinterest

One of the easiest ways to find exciting and good looking food for breakfast and lunch is on Pinterest. Yes, I know I practically abolished the idea of searching online at the start of this post but stay with me here!

For those of you not familiar with Pinterest, it is a type of social media except you share images (which are all typically publically viewable) with descriptions and, often, links to websites and blogs which have more information about whatever the image – whether a classic picture or an infographic – is about.

I use Pinterest myself as a way to market this site – check out my profile here! How does posting pictures on another site help bring people to mine? It’s because Pinterest is actually a search engine. It can help you find all manner of things but some topics are more prevalent than others. One of these topics is food!

How to Find Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Food for the Average Person

You’ve probably heard of people taking pictures of their food for Instagram. Well, Pinterest is where this gets taken to the next level!

You can find my images of food, and other fun things, on my Instagram page here!

Not only do you get a picture of the food, but you often also get a recipe. Perhaps a link to a site with similar recipes. In particular, Pinterest can be useful to find “food groupings”. What do I mean by this?

Go on to Pinterest and try searching for “Healthy Foods”. What you’ll get is a bunch of – mostly- generic pictures which link to sites with lists of healthy foods. Perhaps you’ll stumble on a few infographics of what foods are particularly healthy.

Pinterest is truly a remarkable resource for visual searching. I would recommend using it to find out information about your next travel destination – you won’t regret it.

However, one major drawback of using Pinterest is what I discussed at the start of this post: meals are visually appealing but technically impossible to make. Not only are some of the ingredients a bit out there, but often the recipe information is found wanting – incomplete or lacking detail.

That’s not to say you won’t stumble upon a golden egg when using Pinterest. It just might take you some time.

The more traditional method to find exciting food

Outside of just searching on the internet with differing results, you might want to turn to something you probably already have sitting in your bookcase.

I speak of the myriad of cookbooks found in a lot of houses. In my house, there are probably more cookbooks than other kinds of books. They are overflowing from the bookcases and kitchen into all rooms of the house.

Given this library of resources which I already possess, it occurs to me that I should make use of them!

There are a host of recipes which I can try from the books but, perhaps more importantly, I can draw inspiration from them too.

This is how I tend to use cookbooks: not by following the recipe verbatim but by amending the recipe to suit myself – what I like and what I have in stock in the cupboards. I allow a flick through the recipes to inspire me to action and pull together a truly exciting dish. Sometimes this ends in failure, but often I impress myself – and anyone else I am cooking for – with a surprisingly spectacular meal.

What I am now setting out to do is read through some of these cookbooks and find appealing recipes I can cook. I’d be surprised if I don’t find a whole lot of things for me to eat. The only thing really holding me back is my own laziness to not only prepare the meal but go out and buy the ingredients! I’ll follow up in a couple of months with how it is going in my quest for exciting breakfast and lunch food!

How to Find Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Food for the Average Person

What do you eat for breakfast and lunch typically? How do you add variety to your meals? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

Wellness at Work: Are you getting the most out of your workday?

Building in Wellness at Work 1 - copy

This is a guest post written by Paige from bizwellu.com. If you like what she has to say, be sure to check out the rest of her amazing content on her website!

Employees across the country have started to notice a phenomenon happening in the workplace. Organizations are starting to hop on the Wellness at work Bandwagon. Each employer’s offer may look different, but one thing is the same: employers are recognizing that wellness in the workplace is a benefit.

Who is it benefiting?

            Both the employee and the employer have something to gain when wellbeing initiatives are implemented in the workplace. Employers recognize that employees who are healthier are more engaged, have less sick or vacation days taken on average, have increased productivity and are generally happier than their less-healthier counterparts. And, the literature supports these statements. Add in the fact that healthier individuals amount fewer healthcare costs over time, and the outcome is a no-brainer. Employee wellness programs are an investment for the organization.

Programs can include:

  1. Gym membership reimbursements
  2. Healthier food during work meetings
  3. Wellness speaker events
  4. Smoking cessation programs
  5. Financial education classes

            But employees benefit from the investment in wellness too! Individuals who engage in wellness programs often feel more valued than those who work at an organization that does not have a wellness program, they feel better able to manage their stress, and they are able to use the tools and tricks to implement not only a healthier workplace but a healthier home life as well! The trickle-down effect will start to saturate the lives of their spouses, loved ones, children and more!

“This sounds great” you may be saying to yourself. Why doesn’t every company offer a wellness program? Well, because it is costly. Including a wellness program either into the benefits department or through HR is going to cost the employer money. Companies like to typically see what is called an ROI. Return on Investments is an exact dollar amount returned to them, for every dollar spent.

Building in Wellness at Work 2

            Encouraging an employer to invest in a wellness program is challenging. More often than not, if the executive team does not believe in health and wellness, there is a good chance they may not take the steps needed to adopt a culture that supports wellbeing at all.

And yet, just because you may work for an organization that does not have a wellness program, that does not mean you are unable to add wellness behaviours into your day-to-day lives!

Here are some tips on how to add wellness into your workday.

Making Wellness Work

  1. Move on the Hour – Have you heard the statement, “sitting is the new smoking?” The average workday is 9am-5pm, and most individuals spend a large majority of that time in a chair. Then, when people go home, they sit some more. With the vast amount of time the average individual spends sitting during their day, it is no surprise just how sedentary the general population has become. One way to break up that time is to get up on the hour and take a lap around the room. Start by setting an alarm on your workplace calendar. Just by taking a lap around the office you will begin to add in extra movement during the day. If that is hard, walk up and down the stairs once or twice. The time amount is not the trick, it is the number of times you are getting up each day! Are you a technology person? Some individuals have invested in a Fitbit or Apple Watch. It is possible to set wellness goals on those as well. “Active Hours” or “Workout Rings” will help keep you on track. Not able to build those walks into your day? Then make a point to take a short walk on your break!

  2. Water Over Wine (or should I say Coffee?) – Due to how many meetings, phone calls, and emails individuals are bombarded with, the average consumption of coffee has gone way up! But coffees are not just black coffee with milk anymore. With the rise of coffee chains like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and more, the “coffees” are more like milkshakes in a cup. As someone who used to religiously stop at Starbucks every morning at 8:05 am on the dot, to the point that the baristas knew my name, I realized that this is a problem. Individuals should try and replace coffee with water during the day. The extra water consumption will lead individuals to feel more hydrated, alert, and getting up for an extra walk due to how much they have to use the bathroom! (Win on all accounts). Plus, what better excuse to go pick out a new cute water cup or bottle to keep at the office? This is the most important part. Keep a water bottle at the office that never leaves! That way you never arrive in the morning and realize you forgot your water and need to go down the hall and wind up with another cup of coffee. Bonus tip? Request HR to bring in filtered water, or a water cooler!
Building in Wellness at Work 1 - copy
  • Pack Your Lunch – This is a big one. Not only will packing your lunch help you on a financial wellness front, but you are more in control of the foods you are eating as well! I used to work in an office that every day, there was a minimum of 3 boxes of doughnuts every morning. In the event I had conveniently forgotten to eat breakfast, I knew I had a sugary-option, feet from my desk. Offices across the country have been fueling their employees with sugar and caffeine instead of healthier options like fruit and nuts. When you take control by packing your lunch, eating breakfast at home, and keeping healthier snacks in your desk, you will be able to stop any last-minute binge attacks by having a prepared option available. Ever heard the line, “A failure to plan, is a plan to fail?” Yup, don’t fall into that trap! Pick up some trail-mix, and clementine’s to leave in your desk!

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Voice Your Suggestions – This may come as a surprise, but many programs in the office are implemented based off of employee feedback. Does your office send out an annual employee satisfaction survey? Do you have a suggestion box hung up in the kitchen? Are you pretty friendly with your supervisor? Don’t be afraid to voice what you are looking for. By approaching your employer with an idea, maybe even one you have researched yourself, you are better off getting what you want, rather than sitting around waiting for it to happen! Many companies post reviews of their programs online. See if there is a company similar to yours, and review what they did to get started. Heck, call their 800 number and ask about it! Write down a couple of suggestions and bring them to your employer. Worst they can say is no, and then you are in no different position then you are right now.

Wellness may be a change, but one that can be built into any facet of your life. Start with just one step! The tips mentioned above are all things that can be implemented in any workplace, whether you work hourly in a retail store, or full-time in an office.

Building in Wellness at Work 4

I hope just one of the items mentioned above help you on your journey to health and wellness. Interested in learning more? Check out my blog! Bizwellu.com.

Best,

Paige