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March Mixed Bag

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It certainly doesn’t feel like March is here; everywhere I go it’s freezing cold! The cold does not seem to deter the crocus, however, and as I spy them popping up when I’m on a walk or a run I know that Spring is coming and I feel a little bit lighter. Spring is also in the air because baseball players are reporting to Spring Training as I write this and in a couple of weeks I’ll be there to soak in some Scottsdale sun and feel the optimism that only comes when the regular season has yet to begin. So Welcome to Spring and welcome to the March Mixed Bag where I ruminate on an assortment of topics as I wait for the snow to melt. Getting close-up with your kids, a habits approach to training, the danger of subscription services and how to achieve consistency are all in this week’s blog. Please enjoy! 

get closer

Our nest is currently empty and somehow I’m feeling it more than I did in the Fall, which is more punctuated with breaks and holidays when everyone comes home. I’m currently working on a photo album project where my client’s children are literally growing up in front of my eyes. The empty house plus the cute kids in the albums have gotten me thinking about capturing youth as it quickly flies by, pictures are of course a great way to do this and I’m sure everyone reading this who has kids takes a million shots of them with their phone.

As I go back through the pictures of my kids (I’ve included 3 of my favs above) and see hundreds of pics of other people’s kids, I find that my favorite shots are the close ups. A close up captures mood, the perfection of baby teeth, the detail of blond ringlet or depth of a dark stare. When my three were little my mother-in-law got me this book by Nick Kelsh and it inspired me to get closer with my camera. Twenty years later I’m so grateful to have the closeups that help me remember the detail of their sweet little faces. So I am putting this PSA out there for anyone who has young kids – get up close with that phone. Or better yet get that DSLR camera out and take advantage of the zoom capability. Your kids will grow up too fast and while it’s fun to see the snapshots of them happily living their lives the closeups will be the shots you will love the most.

training update

It’s now been a month since I committed to running the 12K Bay To Breakers in San Francisco this May. Coming back from an 8 year running hiatus felt a little bit daunting but I know from research and experience what I needed to do to set myself up for success. I’m leaning hard on a few specific Atomic Habits to keep myself on track with my training:

  • Prep The Environment – Always take advantage of a chance to go shopping! I set myself up with new running shoes (Hokas – aren’t they so cute?) plus some long sleeve layers and a vest to hold my phone. I’m also leveraging the Outdoor content on my Peloton App so I have a coach in my ear and A+ playlists.

  • Friends And Family – Friends sucked me into this in the first place and family soon followed. My oldest and potentially my youngest are also going to run the race; and Jay is doing some training with me. So I have lots of support and buddies with whom to share trainings stories, the highs and the lows.

  • Accountability Partners – Making the commitment (both verbal and paying the registration fee) makes a huge difference in being accountable to myself. But having partners to help keep me on track (see Friends and Family, above) makes a huge difference in my ability to stay consistent. Writing about my journey here, as well as tidbits on my Instagram also help with accountability.

So how is it going after one month? I’m taking it slow for a few reasons:

  1. I have plenty of time

  2. I need to finish a Peloton Power Zone challenge that I had already committed to (2 more weeks to go)

  3. Thanks to biking my aerobic fitness level is already pretty high, so that isn’t a huge factor in my ramp up

  4. I’m a wimp and don’t love running in the cold

I’ve been running just once a week, taking advantage of work trips in California (where it is only slightly warmer than Seattle!) and getting my body used to the harder impact that running has on the body. This month I will ramp up to 2-3 times a week and increase my distance past 3 miles. Stay Tuned!

watch those subscriptions

Raise your hand if you subscribe to something that arrives at your house on a regular basis. Could be a wine club, dietary supplements, beauty products, science project kits for your kids, there are a whole host of products that will show up at your door whether you use them or not. This is a friendly PSA to be wary of signing up for a subscription service; in my experience working with clients there is a lot of wasted space and money that comes with them if you aren’t careful. Before signing up ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I (or members of my family) really going to use/consume this product?

  • How often/how much will we actually use?

  • Do I know how to stop the subscription? How easy is it?

If you can control how often the product arrives at your home you can calibrate it to how often you will use/need it (err on the side of scarcity if you aren’t sure.) If there isn’t flexibility in cadence for that product don’t subscribe. If you are intrigued but not sure if something will be well received by your users then order a one-off once or twice as a test case. And if you decide to go for it keep a note of the commitment and unsubscribe process (including login info!) so you can pull the escape hatch later if you need to.

If you currently find your closets full of project kits, your wine cellar stacked with crates & boxes and your bathroom vanity overflowing with beauty products it’s time to cut bait. That means gift, donate or trash products you haven’t used (especially if they have expired!) and commit 30 minutes to stopping your subscriptions.

how to achieve consistency

In coaching conversations with clients the subject of consistency comes up fairly often. A popular goal is to ‘be more consistent’ with a habit they have started or a change they have recently made. Consistency is desirable but willing yourself to be consistent on its own isn’t a reliable strategy. If there is something in your life that you would like to be more consistent with I encourage you to spend some time devising strategies that will help consistency be easier.

Let’s take making the bed as an example. Your goal is to be more consistent making your bed. You can will yourself to make the bed every day and keep up with it for a few weeks OR you can put some thought into how you might make it easier to be consistent. How long does it take you to make your bed? Time yourself. If your bed takes less than 2 minutes to make (2 Minute Rule!) it should be easier to stay consistent. If it takes a long time because there is a lot going on (multiple layers of sheets & blankets) then that may be the culprit in your lack of consistency. So set your bed up for success by streamlining your bedding (I recommend a duvet: excellent insulation & minimal effort!) What about how your bedding looks? Does looking at the bed give you pleasure when it’s made? Maybe a new set of bedding that is inspiring to look at makes the difference for you. Another strategy would be to add making the bed to the stack of things that you already do in your room after you get up (e.g. use the bathroom, brush teeth, make the bed, take a shower.) If it takes only a few seconds to complete, you have incorporated it into a routine that already exists and you love looking at it once it’s done your efforts to make it daily will be minimal. Consistency achieved!

Making the bed may seem like a banality but it’s a good use case for how to put your focus on strategies that facilitate consistency vs. pure will power. That’s how to get results. Pick an aspect of your life where you would like to be more consistent and do the exercise of examining what is hard about the thing and making it easier, more attractive and satisfying. Then let me know how it went!

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