The Resolution Recipe

Nearly half the population sets New Year's Resolutions. Less than 10 per cent reach their goal.

Nearly half the population sets New Year’s Resolutions. Less than 10 per cent reach their goal.

Now that the New Year is here, many people will be setting resolutions for 2016 to create their ‘best year yet.’

While it probably comes as no surprise that less than 10 per cent of people actually accomplish their resolutions, this doesn’t mean you can’t have your ‘best year yet’ or that you shouldn’t set goals.

On the contrary, I believe we should all take time out to set (or reset) targets for ourselves each year. It just means we need to go about the process of setting a resolution/goal in a way that sets us up for success.

First, the goal you set for 2016 needs to be something you WANT to do – not something you think you ‘should’ do. If you are resolving to give up smoking, for example, but you don’t really want to give up smoking, then you will only be disappointed. Changing a habit is hard enough when you want to. Instead, you could start with exploring the reasons you don’t want to quit and start there. There are plenty of people committed to habits that don’t serve them and, practices that may in fact harm them. Getting to the reason why you smoke, overeat, gamble, drink excessively, etc. is a first step toward eliminating a bad habit.

Another reason many people don’t achieve a resolution is that their goal isn’t detailed enough: “I’m going to lose weight,” or even, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds,” isn’t as specific as, “I am going to cut out junk food, go to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and walk on my lunch break.” Creating the ‘recipe’ needed to reach your goal will help you put one foot in front of the other (literally) on the path to a healthier, happier you.

A third, and perhaps the biggest reason any of us fail to accomplish our goals, is limiting or negative beliefs we have about ourselves (and may not even know it). Limiting beliefs are those pessimistic thoughts you have every time you think about making a change, pursing a dream or working toward a goal, including but certainly not limited to: Who am I to deserve fame/wealth/love/happiness; wanting to make more money is greedy; I’m not good/smart/capable/strong enough; life isn’t fair; I’m not lucky; I’m too young; I’m too old; or what will people think?

From early childhood we begin to form all kinds of ideas and beliefs about who we are, what we are capable of, our worth and about how hostile or harmonious the world is. Our beliefs control our destiny. We can all make lofty goals, but if we don’t truly believe we are capable or worthy of achieving these dreams, we will give up when we are tired, we hit a road block or the going gets tough. Limiting beliefs give us the excuses we need to quit, so what can we do to beat the odds and fulfill our resolutions for 2016?

Grab a pen and paper, sit down, dig deep and examine what it is you really want, not just for 2016, but for your life. Allow yourself to dream big and put it in ink. Next, become aware of the negative self-talk as soon as it comes up. Write down the things you tell yourself so you can fully examine whether in fact those beliefs are true. This is more difficult than you might think as we tend to work very hard to hold on to our excuses. This is where choice comes in – which are you more interested in: defending your perceived limitations or achieving your goals?

Next, try on a different belief: I AM smart/strong/worthy enough; I deserve success/love/wealth/health, I CAN do this, etc. Remember most of your beliefs have been ingrained for a lifetime, so be gentle with yourself when those pesky negative thoughts creep back in. Replacing them with positive thoughts will take practice but the positive talk will help you to create strategies to overcome any challenges that will ultimately crop up on your way to achieving your resolution.

Finally, break your goal into smaller steps and get to work. Living your best life isn’t always easy, but it sure is fun. Your talents are your gift to the world and your contribution to a better planet. Now is your time — go for it!

I’d love to hear your resolutions for the new year – please share in the comment box below!

P.S. My New Year’s Resolution is to create even more opportunities for children and families to experience the transformative powers of nature and connect with animals in a fun, heartfelt way. To receive updates, please LIKE us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter .

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Christmas Presence

The best present this Christmas is presence!

The best present this Christmas is presence!

“Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe

Life balance is something I struggle with on a regular basis. Running a business, raising three children and four dogs, housework, groceries, appointments and extra-curricular activities mean plenty of long days and late nights for both my husband and I.

When you add all the errands that go along with preparing for the holidays, life can become a bit of a blur. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the Christmas season and look forward each year to family gatherings, holiday concerts, decorating the tree, watching the kids’ faces light up Christmas morning and of course the food, that never seems to be in short supply. But I have found over the last few years, the hectic pace leading up to the holidays can often eclipse the peace and joy of the season.

So this year, through the usual hustle and bustle, I am going to focus on giving myself gifts that restore the harmony and enjoyment of the season. Perhaps some of these are on your list as well.

  1. Gratitude. Every morning before I get out of bed, I will close my eyes and give thanks for all I have in my personal and professional life. Not just what I am grateful for, but why. Not just, ‘I am grateful for my daughter,’ but rather, ‘I am grateful for her smile and her zany sense of humor.’ Being specific in your gratitude really immerses a person in the practice and in that moment, it is impossible to worry or stress.
  2. Breath. I am willing to slow down and even pause at any point during the day when life is running me instead of the other way around. More and more research is highlighting the ineffectiveness of excessive multi-tasking and the health hazards of stress. In these hectic moments I will take time to breathe.
  3. Mindfulness. I will focus on being in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or lamenting about the past. When we become fully aware of what is happening in the here and now, we become wiser, more effective, and more focused in all we do. Being present is the best present you can give yourself and those around you.
  4. Movement. Studies have shown the best way to improve your mood is to move (motion is directly connected to emotion) so when I get stressed or down over the holidays (and feel least like moving) I will get my bum up and move – a walk in nature, the gym, a yoga class or maybe just a jump on the trampoline!
  5. Self-care. This one needs to be non-negotiable in all our lives. Time to rest and rejuvenate should be high on our needs list, second perhaps only to oxygen. And when you feel like you can’t take time for yourself—this is when you need it most. For me this means a warm bath, curling up with a good book, watching a movie with some hot cocoa or maybe even a massage.

While giving myself five gifts for Christmas might seem a little over-indulgent, I know the rewards extend beyond my own health and well-being, to my husband, children and those around me. Slowing down to enjoy the holiday season and all its blessings is actually the gift that keeps on giving, as those around you sense your joy cannot help but feel more of the same. So go ahead and indulge – what type of gifts can you give yourself to make this the best Christmas yet?

 “Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness; To an opponent, tolerance; To a friend, your heart; To a customer, service; To all, charity; To every child, a good example; To yourself, respect.” ~Oren Arnold

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Lost school days or found family days?

The recent discussion about how we should make up ‘lost’ school days due to winter storms, is a colossal waste of time and completely backward thinking.  As a parent of three terrific kids, I welcome each and every storm day as an opportunity for our whole family to spend uninterrupted time together – ‘found’ family days – not ‘lost’ school days.

As a child, some of most favorite memories came from playing board games by candlelight, while a wild winter storm raged outside (it is probably the reason, to this day, I find the sounds of stormy weather soothing rather than disconcerting).

In today’s over-scheduled, competitive, high-tech world, these storm days are a welcome break, and spending time with your kids without distraction, is almost novel. Am I worried how all this time off will affect their test scores? In a word – no.

Mainstream education, generally speaking, is lecture-based, using standardized curricula and exams that focus on getting ‘acceptable’ grades and scores. Rote memorization is emphasized over creativity and critical thinking and the system rarely accounts for varying learning styles or the needs/desires of the individual. The goal is to score well on tests, not learn for the sake of curiosity and delight.

Human beings are born curious, with a natural love for learning. Perhaps we can use these ‘lost’ days to celebrate children’s individuality, creativity and varying interests. Instead of ‘storm chips’ have on hand, a box filled with ‘storm activities’ and include ideas from all family members. Art and crafts supplies, baking items, board games and cards, photo albums and books, costumes for dress up, music for dancing – the sky is the limit!

And when the weather is fit, bundle everyone up for a little time in the fresh air, sliding, crawling, building, creating, laughing and having fun (it is great exercise for the whole family).

At the end of the day, you will notice some rosy cheeks, bright eyes and plenty of smiles. You might just find your own inner child emerging too!

family games

Family game night is still one of my most cherished childhood memories.

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Growing up horse crazy

My beautiful mare, Greta

My beautiful mare, Greta

 

I have always been animal crazy. We have always had dogs and cats — even a few hamsters and once I was the caretaker of my 5th grade’s two rats.
But the moment I was introduced to horses, something stirred inside me and there was no turning back.
I rode in hot weather and freezing cold. I rode old horses and young. I even rode troubled horses and took a few beatings (but that is a subject for another day) .

I shoveled endless amounts of poop, loaded the loft with hay on the hottest days of the year, dragged water buckets from the house to a barn that had no water and got up before dawn to get to horse shows – all while I was a child. And I still do it to this very day.
Many have asked why – why continue with the labor and expense of such a sport? ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to not have horses?’ some suggest, and my favorite line, “Think of all the money you would have if you didn’t have horses!”
Of course, they are correct. It would be easier to have no horses and I would have more money if I didn’t choose this sport. The only way to explain it is to suggest, I didn’t choose the sport — IT chose me.
As a child, I skated, swam, did gymnastics and team sports. Nothing appealed to me until I found riding.
It is an exhilarating feeling to climb atop one of these incredible animals and gallop across the countryside or soar through the air over a perfect jump. It is perhaps the closest a human can actually feel to flying. To bury your face in the soft, sweet-smelling fur of a horse or hear the welcoming nicker as you enter the barn, is so rewarding, that all the hard work and expense simply pales in comparison. Perhaps the only people who can truly understand this, are other horse people.
Now, as a coach, I introduce others to the fascinating world of horses. And it is apparent, that a select few are, like me, horse crazy. They eat, sleep and dream all things ‘horsey.’ If every school project and book report has the same subject – that could be a sign. If your child has model horses with a barn made out of cardboard, and a jar full of coins labeled ‘dream horse,’ then it is almost a certainty. You have a horse crazy kid on your hands.
If this is the case, my advice to you is, don’t fight it. It won’t go away with denial or disapproval. Instead, nurture their love for horses. Take them for pony rides and if they are old enough, trail rides. If your budget allows it, sign them up for riding lessons at a reputable stable. Allow your horse crazy child to grow their passion for horses and develop their skills as a rider. The bond between these kids and a horse is a powerful, positive force that will see them through the challenges of adolescence and support them through the struggles of the teenage years.
Today’s youth are battling bigger obstacles than ever before, from obesity and apathy to addiction and pregnancy. A sport that combines the responsibility of an animal, with the discipline, exercise and effort of riding, may be just what the world needs!

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