Exploring Happy Habits With Gretchen Rubin

Exploring Happy Habits With Gretchen Rubin
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I’m thrilled that Project Me has made a great list of 25 Must-Read Personal Development Blogs, especially given that I share the bill with one of my personal faves, Gretchen Rubin.

Gretchen first came onto my radar several years ago with her book The Happiness Project. She’s as fascinated with happiness, human behaviour and habits as I am!

I once spent five consecutive days sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, surreptitiously observing and writing down where people chose to sit and which magazines they shuffled through. The following week I did a similar same thing in a cafe.

Before you assume I’m some kind of weirdo, It was for my sociology class at university.

Gretchen’s latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives, explores how habits affect your life in both good and bad ways. She uses herself, her friends and her family as guinea pigs to test out various theories, which makes it more fun to read than the other books on habits I’ve delved into – and never quite finished…

I especially love her Four Tendencies framework to help people understand how they tend to respond to expectations, both inner and external.

As a productivity and goals coach for mothers, it’s useful for me to understand if the person I’m working with needs my accountability (ie: a kick up her backside to make sure she follows through!), or if she’ll rebel against that and needs to do things her own way. Others respond better to lots of useful information. Once they have the facts, they make decisions they trust.

Since we’re all different, self-understanding is the key to reaching our goals and mastering our habits.

You can take Gretchen’s online quiz to find out [more]

Recommended Meditation Apps for Mothers

Recommended Meditation Apps for Mothers
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Feel like you ‘should’ be meditating, but never really manage to get into it?

Have a monkey mind and can’t stop the endless chatter running through your head?

I hear you!

For years I tried to develop a meditation practice. I’d heard all of the amazing benefits, including less stress and anxiety, the ability to manage emotions, unwind and be more present.

Yet all I seemed to accomplish in a session was mentally scanning my to-do list or pondering what I should make for dinner.

Now I’m using guided meditation apps. They give my mind something positive to latch on to so I won’t automatically go off on a wild thought tangent.

I’ve been experimenting with several meditation phone apps. Here are some great ones and in the comments below, please share any you like too.[more]

Arianna Huffington’s Personal Advice for Busy Mothers

Arianna Huffington’s Personal Advice for Busy Mothers
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I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspirational talk in Madrid by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of the wonderful book ‘Thrive’.

The subject of her talk was one very close to my heart: Balance & Mindfulness.

When she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Before I knew what was happening, a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was told to stand up and introduce myself.

I’m a huge admirer of Arianna, so my face burned and heart raced, but I believe it went something like:

Hi Arianna, I’m Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers and I help women find a happier balance between the kids – and everything else. (Whew! All of those months of memorising my ‘cocktail line’ paid off!)

My busy mother readers and clients all say the same thing:

‘My to-do list is never ending! There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.’

They go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty for everything they haven’t managed to get done.

Arianna, what would you say to the mother with the never-ending to-do list?

Her answer:

There’s always going to be your to-do list. But you also need a gratitude list. Every single day, write at least three things you’re feeling grateful for.

The more gratitude you have for all of the people and things you have in your life, the more grace you’ll extend yourself for not ‘getting it all done’. Focus on what you achieved each night before bed, not on what you didn’t manage to do.

Of course, this made my heart sing, and if you’ve been following Project Me for any length of time you’ll know that I’m always banging on about gratitude as a daily practice.

There’s even a place to write gratitude at the top of my Design My Day action sheet. Never leave that box blank to just focus on your to-dos. [more]

Why You’ve Lost Your Sex Drive and How to Get It Back

Why You’ve Lost Your Sex Drive and How to Get It Back
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Do you find yourself hoping your partner’s already asleep when you crawl into bed? Finding it hard to muster up even a whiff of desire to make love? Worried your sex drive has dried up and disappeared forever?

This is a very common problem (one I’ve experienced for myself after the birth of each of my children), so I’ve invited Maj Wismann, a leading Danish couples therapist and sexologist, to give you some sound advice on this often sensitive subject.

Maj helps women and men to have a better sex life, as well as incorporate more love, closeness and intimacy into their relationships.

Here are Maj’s words of wisdom when it comes to identifying why you’ve lost your sex drive – and how to get it back. [more]

How to Plan a Date With Yourself

How to Plan a Date With Yourself
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When’s the last time you had a date with yourself? Just you and nobody else but you?

This isn’t necessarily about booking in for a well-deserved massage or pedicure or treating yourself to a trashy magazine with your feet up. (Although I’m a big fan of this kind of self-care!)

This is blocking out some time where you can sit with a notebook, journal or your Project Me Life Wheel® and Action Sheets to figure things out and get to know yourself better.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the day to day whirlwind of life that you fall into bed at night without any chance for planning or reflection.

Then the next morning you start the whole crazy routine all over again!

Making a date with yourself is an essential part of your productivity and your personal growth. 

I’ve got a friend who heads to a cozy local cafe with low lighting and comfy sofas every Sunday evening while her lovely husband stays behind with their two young children. (Don’t you just want to hug him?)

He knows how important it is for her to get out of the house and have some time for herself. She uses this weekly date with herself to recharge and reconnect.

She spends the time getting clear about her goals, journal writing and doodling.

She’s set herself five non-negotiable rules:[more]

Choose Your Word Of The Year

Choose Your Word Of The Year
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If you could choose one word to sum up what you’d like out of your year ahead, what would it be?

Maybe it’s a word that describes how you want to feel? Or something you wish to accomplish?

I’ve been choosing an annual theme word for the past few years. I usually just go with my gut instinct – whatever seems to be calling me.

Then I write it down and hang it somewhere visible, as a steady reminder. I also write it in my journal and put it on a sticky note next to my computer. I’ve sometimes made a bookmark featuring my word of the year which I transfer across to whatever I’m reading each month.

And you know what? I really think it makes a difference! Here are some examples.[more]

Johnny Depp, Beyonce and a Baby: Building A Dream Life With Goal Setting

Johnny Depp, Beyonce and a Baby: Building A Dream Life With Goal Setting
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When my cousin and I were teenagers, we were hanging out at my grandparents farm in Minnesota, dreaming about how great our future lives were going to be.

My big plan involved living in California with an ocean view, driving a convertible and working in Hollywood.

I’d never even been on an airplane in my life, much less visited California…

He was going to start a business, be his own boss, and design and build his dream house with his own two hands.

Our uncle overheard us from the other room and came in with a suggestion. Why didn’t we write our dream predictions down so we could see later if they turned out? He then taped our predictions to the back of the picture hanging above the kitchen table where we were sitting.

Fast forward several years. I’m in my early 20’s and I’ve just arrived home from work. Sorting through a pile of mail, I find a letter from my grandmother in Minnesota.

She writes to tell me that while the farmhouse kitchen was being repainted, they discovered the notes my cousin and I had written.

I looked up from her letter and gazed out my living room window. An enormous orange sunset was dipping into the Pacific Ocean.

I’d just driven home from work in my Volkswagen Golf convertible. My job? Working as Johnny Depp’s press assistant in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, my cousin had started his own successful heating and refrigeration business and had just designed and built his dream house.

This woke me up to the amazing power of having a dream and writing it down like it’s really gonna happen! 

The second pivotal moment in my goal setting journey came along soon after that.

Johnny Depp decided to leave the TV show that had turned him into a teen heartthrob sensation. I thought he was nuts [more]

Create a Family Memory Jar

Create a Family Memory Jar
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Happy New Year to you!

I love the start of a fresh new year. The wide open possibilities that lie in the months ahead, a chance to shake things up, try a fresh approach. Out with the old, in with the new!

It’s also time to empty out our family memory jar and start over again.

Last January my family started with an empty container. Throughout the year we filled it with notes about all of the good things that happened over the months.

I’ve probably added twice as many slips of paper into the jar as anyone else, but the kids have been pretty good about writing notes after we’ve returned home from a trip or a particularly fun day out and I’ve reminded them to include any awards received at school or bringing home a great report card.

The plan was for us all to gather around the jar and read all of the notes inside on December 31st.

We were away over New Year’s (creating some great final memories of the year!) so we postponed the opening of the jar until we got back and could light a fire, serve up some drinks and make a nice little occasion out of it.

We took turns drawing out a note and reading each one out loud.

It was fun to remember all of the good stuff that’s happened over the past 12 months. We applauded any merits, laughed at some of the funny occasions and were pleasantly surprised when we read out three slips of paper written by friends and extended family members who’d slipped in memories about their stay with us. [more]

How to Design Your Day the Way YOU Want It To Go

How to Design Your Day the Way YOU Want It To Go
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Do you dive into each day without a game plan? Are you easily sidetracked? Do you procrastinate on the important (but boring) stuff, then kick yourself when the day’s over and you still didn’t manage to get it done?

Wouldn’t it be great to arrive calm, prepared and on time to everywhere you needed to be? To feel happy and connected. Grateful for another amazing day – and looking forward to another one tomorrow.

The secret to this involves a little light planning at the start of each day. Instead of just doing whatever’s in front of your face, it’s time to Design Your Day.

I created this printable day planner to help busy mothers stay focused, stop wasting time and be more mindful as you move about your day. 

The feedback I get on this Design My Day Action Sheet. is phenomenal! There’s a colour version or you can grab one in black & white so it won’t suck up your printer ink. I’m working on a lovely spiral bound version as well. I’ll talk you through each section here:
[more]

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping for Mothers

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping for Mothers
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Have you heard of Tapping yet? It’s also known as EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique.

You lightly tap certain points on your face and body to watch fears and anxiety disappear.

Sounds kind of woo-woo wacky, right? Read on…

I first heard about tapping when I watched a video about it by my business mentor Marie Forleo.

I found it fascinating but at the time I wasn’t experiencing any fears or anxiety, so I put it in my back pocket for another time.

Then a lovely Project Me follower, Diana Tower, got in touch to offer me a free Tapping for Mothers session via Skype. Diana specialises in helping overwhelmed, stressed out mamas clear their minds, get out of their own way and feel happier and calm. What I found particularly interesting is her ability to help mothers with fears and anxieties.

The timing was perfect. I had our annual family ski trip coming up and I knew I needed a strategy to help me cope.

Weirdly, my anxiety was getting worse every year and I risked passing on my fears to my kids as they witnessed me freeze up (and dissolve into tears) on the slopes.

We had our next ski trip to Switzerland in two weeks time and I suddenly decided NOW was the time to try this tapping thing!

And just one session was all I needed. It was some kind of small miracle.

After completing a pre-session survey, Diana had the information she needed to get started.

She advised me to have a box of tissues handy for when my emotions let loose, but nothing prepared me for [more]

An Attitude of Gratitude (It’s Not Just For Thanksgiving)

An Attitude of Gratitude (It’s Not Just For Thanksgiving)
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When I was a child, the concept of gratitude was simply about going through the motions of saying ‘thank you’ (and ‘please’) and writing thank you letters for gifts.

It was more about showing good manners than cultivating an inner feeling of gratitude. It’s only now that I understand its true power.

Gratitude is much more than saying the words ‘thank you’. It’s a feeling deep inside.

If you practice gratitude a little, your life will change a bit. If you practice gratitude a lot, your life will change dramatically.  (click to tweet) 

My awakening to this life-changing concept came in the form of a book called The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. With over 21 million copies sold, translated into 47 languages, you may have heard of it or read it yourself by now.

Love it or hate it (there seem to be two camps), I’m firmly on the ‘love it’ side. I first heard about the book in 2007 when it was about to be launched in the UK.  I read a cutting review calling the book ‘very American’ and accusing it of being ‘full of nonsense about the power of positivity’.

I thought…. Hey, that’s my kind of book! 

I’ve read it several times and can open it to any page and find something to immediately apply to my day.

It’s very much about attracting good things into your life by having a positive outlook. I’ve bought countless copies for friends and family. (It’s no wonder it remains a bestseller.) It’s short and sweet and a great introduction for people who don’t normally read this kind of thing.

I didn’t hesitate to buy Rhonda’s follow-up book, ‘The Magic’. It’s written as a 28-day plan and involves reading a short chapter and doing a written exercise each morning.[more]

The Pros of Making a Pros and Cons List

The Pros of Making a Pros and Cons List
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Do you ever get bogged down with little daily decisions?

Deliberating back and forth about two options takes up a lot of valuable head space that you can’t always spare.

Forget about pondering over things in your already bogged-down mind.

For easy(‘ish) decisions, nothing quite beats a good old Pros and Cons list. Don’t write it off as being too simple to work. You may be pleasantly surprised!

The next time you recognise that you’re playing a decision back and forth in your mind, whip out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and put the pros and cons into two columns. When one column easily outweighs the other, voila! There’s the answer.

Of course the sheer number of reasons in one column doesn’t always outweigh one major reason in another.

This is when it’s good to get clear about your values and what’s truly important to you. Decisions made from the heart usually feel better than ones made only with your head.[more]


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