The Life-Altering Magic of Action Plans

In previous blog entries, I wrote about the importance of planning for the year ahead. This planning involves:

Looking back

• Celebration of what went well, Reflection about things that didn’t go as well
• Lessons learned

Looking forward

• Making a list of goals
• Editing the list to the most important goals
• Figuring out Who you need to be to achieve these goals
• Creating Action Plans so that the goals can be accomplished.

Let’s go deeper into Action Plans

Without Action Plans, we have just made New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions might include statements such as: “I want to be a better friend” or “I want to eat healthier” or “I want to have a cleaner house”.

These all sound good, but, in their current form, they are like wishes. They lack specific steps that could get you closer and closer to achieving your goals.

Without Action Plans for each of your important goals, it is likely that you will either forget about them in a couple of weeks or, experience the failure of accomplishing them.

Another year when you make resolutions and achieve none, or hardly any of them. And who needs that sense of failure?

I know you don’t want to have that feeling of having to “admit” that you failed keep your promises to yourself or your partner.

If you create action plans for each of your goals, however, you have set yourself up for success. Each step makes it more likely that you will get to your goal and have something to celebrate at the end of the year. Action Plans are really the roadmaps to success. They point the way, and with small, discrete steps, you are much more likely to keep driving to the end goal.

I assume, since you’re reading my blog, that enhancing your relationship is a high priority goal for you.

If I’m correct, take some time to write out some goals for your relationship that you want to accomplish this year. Perhaps your list of goals will be things such as:

• Updating your shared vision
• Having more relationship-positive ways of looking at the world and at your relationship
• Becoming masters of communication
• Fighting and arguing less while resolving more issues
• Up-leveling your emotional connection
• Restoring the passion in your relationship

If most or all these resonate with you, I would guess that you would like to have ways to accomplish most, if not all, of these elements.

Here’s the outline for effective Action Planning:

Goal: __________________________________________

Action Steps Date

1. 1.

2. 2.

3. 3.

4. 4.

5. 5.

6. 6.

Who do I need to be to accomplish these steps?

What else needs to be in place to accomplish these steps?

Continue reading “The Life-Altering Magic of Action Plans”

Steps to Creating the Fabulous Year You’ve Always Wanted

Lots of committed relationships are “fine”. You’ve figured out how to live together and be happy enough, you don’t fight that much, you can predict how the other will react to most things, and there aren’t too many surprises.

But, you also may be feeling like you’re in a rut, are somewhat bored, you don’t do new activities anymore, and you are less connected than you used to be.

As this New Year begins, you have an opportunity to look deeply at what is happening (or NOT happening) and make a decision that you want more. This may be your time to begin taking your relationship from “flatline to fabulous”. From just “fine” to amazing. You get the picture.

The first step is figuring out what exactly is going on now.

For those of you who read the last blog Relax and Reflect, you may have answered the questions that I posed:

Questions for reflection:

In my relationship with my partner,

• What things do I want to bring forward into the new year?

• What things do I want to leave behind?

• What new things do I want to invite into myself and my relationship?

• What has been my part in the good and the not-so-good in the past year?

• What do I want our relationship to be like by this time next year?

• Who do I have to be in order to make this happen (of course, you are yourself, but what improvements, awareness, changes)?

• Any other questions that come to mind. Try concentrating on YOURSELF in the relationship and focus less on what changes you want your partner to make.

If you haven’t done this already, I suggest you do this:

My method: Here’s a method that I’ve used each year-end that has served me well.

First, find a period of time of at least 60 minutes.
Then, find a quiet place and make it comfortable, with water, tea, coffee, candles or anything that suits you.
Have your journal with you and a pen or pencil, or your tablet or computer.

Do some thinking, then writing about the questions below, as well as any others that come to mind.

Once you have done that part of the process, I suggest you do this in a separate 60-minute time, or, take a break and then start this part.

NOW, it’s time to make use of the answers you came up with, and create some actions to make them happen.

Here’s how:
For each of the items that you want to bring forward, write down one action that would ensure that you will bring it forward.
For example, if you want to make sure that you continue to connect with your partner often, the action could be: “Establish a nightly ritual in which we catch up with each other, after the children are in bed.”

For something you want to leave discontinue, figure out one thing that would get you on your way to leaving it. For example, if you decided to discontinue yelling, your action could be: “When we are disagreeing, as soon as I feel myself getting upset, I will call a time out to settle down, then resume the conversation. I will repeat this as often as necessary so that I talk from a calmer place inside myself”.

Do this exercise for each of the areas on your list. It will take time, but it will be worth it in peace, happiness and joy.

Then, and this is important, pick ONE of the items from one of the “leave behind” categories and ONE from the “Invite in” category. Concentrate on those for ONE week.

Notice how you feel as you accomplish this change action each time.

Then select another pair and add them the next week.

This is how we break old habits and build new ones. At the neurobiological level, each time we engage in a new behavior, we are forming new patterns in our brain that ultimately make it more likely that you will engage in the new, desired behavior rather than the old behavior. Powerful, right?

Do you want more support in taking your relationship from where it is now to a place that you could be very happy, peaceful and joyful?

I have some options available to you, coming soon:

Private coaching for couples. This runs the gamut from Coaching calls biweekly to 2-day private VIP days for people who want to have an intensive, jumpstart experience.
More details available soon.

In January-February I’m launching my online course for committed couples, called Flatline to Fabulous. It will be a 5 Module course that guides you to create the relationship you’ve always wanted. If you’re feeling a little bored or dissatisfied with how your relationship is going right now, or if there are some definite problems with things like communication, talking about difficult topics, emotional or physical closeness, then consider signing up for the course, at the launch. It will include:

• 5 modules filled with information, guidance and actions for up-leveling your relationship
• Community calls of 60-90 minutes after the launch of each module. In the calls I unpack the information, answer questions and help people solve some problems. Calls will be recorded, so if you can’t attend a call, you can listen to it later. You also can email a question or concern and I could answer it on the call.
• 3 private coaching calls with me, lasting 50-60 minutes. These give you an opportunity to work on problems, specific issues and any other items you want help with.
• Secret Facebook group to share community and to communicate with other couples who are in the course or in my private coaching packages. Here you can get questions answered, by either me, a team member or other members of the group. Many couples find this very supportive and affirming. Participation is optional, of course.
• Bonuses that you will hear about at the launch.

Your relationship is precious.

An investment in it now can pay dividends for a lifetime! This course teaches you using a process that had been proven over decades, and has produced remarkable results.

With love,
Carol

P.S. Look for the emails about the course, coming soon!

Time to Relax and Reflect

It’s that time of year that invites us to relax, after the activities of the holidays, and reflect on the year that is coming to an end. The New Year is the marker that this past year will never be repeated. It’s almost, then completely, over and the new year will soon be upon us.

As humans, though, if we don’t apply conscious thought to the change of the year, we will just cruise along doing the same things as last year. That’s not all bad, for sure.

But we’ve been given the gift of thought—of consciousness—of the ability to decide how we want to be at any given time in our lives and to make a plan to act on that decision.

As the year changes, it’s time review our love relationship.

Nothing alive is static and your relationship is a living thing. Every living thing is in continual flux.

Think about our living bodies. They are constantly regenerating skin, blood, cells, hair, etc. If this slows down and eventually stops, that’s because we are dead.

Relationships are like our bodies. If we continually renew our commitments to ourselves and our partner, and make the changes we want, then our relationship continues to live and we feel “alive” in that relationship.

However, if we just chug along, unthinking and unchanging, the relationship, like our bodies, loses its vitality, joy and connection, and becomes “flatlined”, which means, “to be in a state of no progress or advancement; to come to an end”. (Webster’s dictionary)

The relationship can flatline if we passively go about our usual business, without being conscious of change and we can be caught off-guard. We can also begin to feel bored, apathetic or disinterested. After a while, this can morph into dissatisfaction.

I am advocating that you not let this occur. Instead, make the decision to enter this next year consciously, having thought deeply about the lessons from the past year.

Be determined to keep the good things in your relationship.

Examples:
• Being compassionate to your partner
• Carving time out to spend together
• Staying calm during difficult conversations

Be determined to overcome (and ultimately, discard) the things that need to be left behind.

Examples:
• Being disrespectful to your partner during arguments;
• Storing up grievances and then exploding in anger;
• Thinking to yourself that your partner is “always” going to control you and you just have to accept it while harboring deep resentment

Hopefully, I’ve given you the idea that it’s time to reflect on how things have been, and be determined to do some planning for next year.

My method: Here’s a method that I’ve used each year-end that has served me well.

First, find a period of time of at least 60-90 minutes.
Then, find a quiet place and make it comfortable, with water, tea, coffee, candle or anything that suits you.
Have your journal with you and a pen or pencil, or your tablet or computer.

Do some thinking then writing about the questions below, as well as any others that come to mind.

Questions for reflection: In my relationship with my partner,

• What things do I want to bring forward into the new year?

• What things do I want to leave behind?

• What new things do I want to invite into myself and my relationship?

• What has been my part in the good and the not-so-good in the past year?

• What do I want our relationship to be like by this time next year?

• Who do I have to be in order to make this happen (of course, you are yourself, but what improvements, awareness, changes)?

• Any other questions that come to mind. Try concentrating on YOURSELF in the relationship and focus less on what changes you want your partner to make.

At this point, don’t worry about putting together a plan. Just reflect in the depth required to answer these questions.

Next time, we’ll move forward with the plan.

With love,

Carol

PS: Please comment below to let me know how this reflection goes for you!

Countdown to Holiday Fun

And NO, I don’t mean countdown—go shopping, overspend, get stressed. It’s that time of year that we gather with loved ones, and celebrate according to your individual traditions. Whatever the holidays mean to you, celebrate! And remember that we are lucky to be able to celebrate. Celebrate that you have someone(s) to celebrate with.

If you’re going to be at the airport, look for smiles, and be one who smiles. Spread the love. Recent studies have proved that if you smile, you get happier. That sounds backwards, but it isn’t. Who knew? You can make yourself happier by smiling. And smiles often make others smile. It’s nice that it’s not only germs that are contagious!

Think of the joy and hugs that are waiting for you at the end of the trip. Reuniting with family, sharing traditions, fostering the relationships between grandparents and your children. It’s all good.

In my house, I’m the waiting parent. The thoughts of my adult children (and a fiancé) coming for Christmas creates smiles, tears (of joy), happiness and anticipation. I can’t wait! I want everything to be “perfect”. Of course, it won’t be, but that’s really okay. If we’re together, laughing, eating, playing games and just generally enjoying each other, which I know will happen, then that’s perfection, in my book.

Remember that you can manage your emotional state during the holidays, not just by spreading smiles, but also calming yourself if you get irritated, stressed or anxious. Take time right then to take several calming breaths and as you exhale, relax your tense muscles. It’s a quick and effective way to reduce tension and get back in charge of your emotions. Relaxed body relaxed mind.

I wish you holidays filled with love, joy and gratitude. Could we ask for anything more?

Happy Holidays, my friends.

With love,
Carol

PS: Spread smiles and see how people react, and how it feels to you! That’s a gift to you and them.

Next time, we’ll be focusing on steps to making 2018 a great year for you!

Staying True to Your Values During the Holidays

I was just looking through my Facebook today and realized my feelings were jumping all around. First, I saw several happy messages about acts of kindness and also ones about cuteness—donations, helping others and some sweet pictures or children.

But, there was also some entries with high emotion expressed about religious decorations in community settings. These posts were about anger that some people would foist their beliefs on others by making the others look at these religious icons and scenes in their own communities.

These different entries in Facebook echo the complexities of the holidays. What do the holidays mean to Christians and to people of other faiths? What to do when we see something we don’t like?

The holidays involve peace, giving and light (light in the Northern Hemisphere). I choose to focus on these elements as the meaning of the holidays for my family and let the other things just be what they are.

Underlying all of the aspects of the holidays is an invitation to live your most deeply-held values. To step boldly into a way of being that becomes a reflection of how you want to live and who you want to be in the world. That sounds a bit lofty, perhaps.

What I mean is that during the holidays, we all are given an invitation to be our best selves.

If you value being social, you can invite people over or go to others people’s gatherings.

If you value generosity, you can double down on our donations—take on a family to buy gifts, clothing and food for; give to the local food bank, United Way, individual non-profits whose mission you support.

If you value tolerance, how are you exhibiting that? Are you living that tolerance in how you celebrate? Are you aware of how others might feel if their beliefs aren’t considered? Can you look at other people’s celebrations and decorations with tolerance?

If you value peace and calm, are you being peaceful and calm? Are you angry in traffic at the mall, are you yelling about other drivers (even in your own head)? Are you satisfied with the budget you set for gifts and remember that it’s not all about the amount spent, but the thought behind the gift?

If you are religious how are you incorporating that into your holiday celebrations? What is the true meaning of the holidays for you?

I think it’s important to remember that we are in charge of our own holidays and we can choose to create the ones that we want. If we are in alignment with our own values and live them, then what others do is less of an issue.

So, create light with candles, lights outside and inside and a fireplace, if you’ve got one. Create peace inside of yourself by living your values, and spreading it to your loved ones. This can truly be a magical time if you set your mind to that goal.

Love and light.
Carol

P.S. What do you do for the holidays that reflects your deeply held values? Would you share some of those things with me, by commenting?