Why You Should Embrace Being Bad at Something

Why You Should Embrace Being Bad at Something

Being bad at any endeavor has become a taboo topic in our social media-obsessed world. 

We only post our highlights, best angles, and most triumphant moments. 

And thanks to the vast reach of social media, there is plenty of extreme talent across all possible realms.

In contrast, you won’t often see reels of failed attempts at anything unless it’s posted simply to make you laugh.

Based on social media scrolling, it would seem that there are only two options for any pursuit: excellence or a failure so comedically significant that it should be entered on the next episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

There is no middle ground. 

But where does that leave you, the curious person who wants to learn new things?

Are there good reasons to pursue something, even if you’re terrible at it?

Today’s post explores why being bad at something is extraordinary and why your emotional wellbeing demands getting out of your comfort zone.

But before we dive into why you need to embrace beginner status, let’s bust a common myth that might be holding you back from trying something new.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy of Canva. Although I am a nurse practitioner, I am not YOUR medical provider. The information in this post is for informational purposes only. It does NOT replace individualized health information from a qualified medical professional. Please see a qualified medical professional for individualized assistance with your health and wellness.

The Talent Myth

Everyone is born with a little bit of talent. 

And talent can vary widely from person to person and across different activities. 

Talent, or a perceived lack of it, holds countless people back from trying new things every day. 

Thanks in part to social media, people believe they must already have a natural affinity before trying any new skill.

Although natural talents can give you a boost when you’re first learning a skill, they can only get you so far.

Hard work is what takes you from “talented” to “extraordinary.”

And in some cases, talent can even hold you back from reaching new heights.

Talent can make the learning process easier.

But it’s also true that “talent” is tough to tease out from “practice.”

In other words, what can seem like talent is actually hours upon hours of practice.

And even the best athletes, musicians, and artists must start somewhere.

New Beginnings

Everyone starts as a beginner.

No one kicks off a new endeavor as a master of the craft.

Even people the world considers prodigies have hours of methodical practice under their belts before their discovery as a prodigy.

Mozart, for example, was surrounded by music from an early age.

His father set up a rigorous musical education program for him beginning when he was a toddler.

Even the concept of being born with perfect pitch is now being debunked by research.

Studies have shown that exposure to certain types of music education at a very early age often results in the child eventually being able to name a specific note when played or sung (perfect pitch).

It bears repeating: EVERYONE starts as a beginner.

There are no exceptions.

When starting any new hobby, creative work, or sport, there is a period in which you will be awful at that thing.

The key is to keep pushing forward.

At this point, you might be asking yourself why you should put in hours of work only to feel like this new pursuit is a complete waste of time.

Although it may feel pointless, learning any new skill has incredible benefits for your brain health, emotional wellbeing, and, in some cases, social interactions.

Benefits of Being a Beginner

Do you remember being in elementary school and being asked to draw a picture?

Maybe it was of yourself, your house, or your family.

You may have had all these ideas about how you wanted it to look.

You thought about it, then put pen to paper, giving it your absolute best.

And how did it look when you were done?

I’m willing to bet that it looked terrible. 

Your final drawing looked nothing like the thing you imagined.

But regardless of what it looked like, you brought it home to your parents.

And your mom gushed over your artistic endeavor like it was the best thing she had ever seen.

In fact, you brought home an endless supply of terrible drawings, and your parents couldn’t get enough of them.

No Expectations

Your parents loved your drawings because they came from you.

Also, they had zero expectations for how your artwork should look.

They were simply happy that you gave it a shot.

It’s the same for any new learning experience.

When you first start something, you will be bad at it.

It’s normal!

You’re not supposed to pick something up and immediately excel at it.

And that’s ok!

Embracing the beginner experience by letting go of unrealistic expectations is one of the best ways to drop your guard and dive headfirst into something new and exciting. 

Knowing that the expectations couldn’t be lower is an incredibly freeing thought!

Build Resilience

Succeeding at anything in life requires that you push through hard stuff.

Regardless of what you pursue, there will be difficulty.

And when you encounter difficulty, you always have a choice.

You can certainly choose to give up when things get tough.

Sometimes, pushing through to the end result isn’t in your best interest.

But at other times, navigating a new challenge is exactly what you need. 

Overcoming barriers builds resilience.

It gives you the kind of self-confidence that some people only dream about.

With every new triumph, you build your reserve of resilience, making the next challenge more attainable. 

Resilience is what gets you through the hard times.

And what better way to work on resilience than by pursuing something new?

Stop Caring What Anyone Thinks

Did I mention that we live in a social media-obsessed world?

Sometimes, it feels as if the world runs on “likes” and “shares.”

But it really doesn’t.

Being a beginner means you don’t have to post anything on social media.

You can do your own thing regardless of what anyone else does or thinks.

You’re free to learn and grow on your own.

There’s no one to impress.

You decide who knows about your new endeavors.

And not everyone has to know about it. 

You can shed external validation and start validating your own achievements.

What could be more empowering than that?

Other Reasons to Embrace the “Suck”

No one likes being a beginner.

But it’s hard to deny some of the benefits that come with beginner status.

There are no expectations.

You get to practice being more resilient, a skill applicable to all aspects of life.

And because you’re so bad at whatever you’ve started, you have the freedom to let go of the opinions of anyone else.

Here are a few more benefits to embracing the “suck.”

Your Brain Needs It

Using your brain in new and different ways expands your ability to think and process information.

Your brain loves streamlining.

But when you challenge it by trying something new and completely different, you build new pathways in your brain.

New pathways mean a new perspective. 

It’s an opportunity to problem-solve from a completely different mindset.

And keeping your brain active as you age is one of the best ways to combat cognitive decline.


When was the last time you did something for the sole purpose of having fun?

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut of “to-do lists” and productivity.

Everything becomes a task that you have to cross off your list.

But that kind of mindset can be a fast track to burnout. 

You need activities you enjoy, but that doesn’t necessarily serve a purpose other than fun.

Focusing on enjoying something rather than your ability to do it is one of the best ways to start living life rather than passively experiencing it.

Release Perfectionism

If you struggle with perfectionism, learning that it’s ok to be bad at something is one of the greatest gifts.

Although perfectionism might seem like a positive trait, it’s a toxic, self-defeating mindset in many cases.

Instead of seeing a world of possibilities, many perfectionists see giant walls at every turn.

These walls keep them from expanding their horizons due to a fear of subpar performances.

Perfectionists may procrastinate and become overly critical of their abilities, often leading to depression and anxiety.

But releasing oneself from any expectation is incredibly freeing!

In other words, having one activity you simply do for fun can set off a chain reaction of self-acceptance.

It takes mindful practice, but learning to focus on fun instead of skill can help you begin shedding the self-criticism keeping you from truly enjoying life.

It’s Your Turn

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to get out there and try something at which you’re absolutely horrible.

Try something completely different than you’ve ever tried in the past.

​It’s a great way to start releasing your fear of failure and dive in!

​And let me know what new and exciting hobby you’re trying in the comments below!

For more great inspiration, check out one of my previous posts:

How to Stay Motivated to Play Piano: Practice Tips

How to Stay Motivated to Play Piano: Practice Tips

Learning to play the piano is an exhilarating journey that opens up a world of beautiful melodies and artistic expression.

It enables you to impress friends, jam with the band, or even earn a few extra dollars on the side.

But whether you’re a beginner or have been playing for years, there are times when maintaining motivation can be challenging. 

The initial excitement may fade, practice sessions can feel monotonous, and progress just feels painfully slow at times. But fear not!

In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips to help you stay motivated and inspired on your piano-playing adventure.

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy ofCanva.

Benefits of Learning to Play the Piano

Playing the piano is a unique and rewarding experience that offers numerous benefits beyond musical proficiency.

It enhances cognitive abilities, improves coordination, reduces stress, and fosters creativity. 

There is also ample research to support musicians being able to problem solve more creatively than other people.

And did I mention that whiling away the hours in front of the keyboard is simply a fun way to pass the time?

However, like any skill worth mastering, learning to play a musical instrument requires dedication, consistent effort, and perseverance.

Fostering the qualities that lead to success in the practice room or on stage also leads to success in life.

While motivation can ebb and flow, there are strategies you can employ to keep the flame of enthusiasm alive. 

Whether you’re an aspiring virtuoso or simply enjoy playing for your own pleasure, this blog post will equip you with practical tips to stay motivated on your piano-playing odyssey.

So, let’s dive in and discover how to keep the keys singing, the fingers dancing, and the passion burning bright!

Find Your Why

Achieving anything in life requires hard work.

And no one equates “hard work” with “fun.” 

The truth is that success means hours upon hours of drudgery. 

Even so-called “child prodigies” have logged thousands of hours of practice before showcasing their musical skills.

Although there are ways to make your practice more exciting, real progress demands hours at the keyboard.

And to stick with it, you need a compelling reason.

  • Do you want to play a specific piece of music?
  • Or perform in a live concert?
  • Perhaps you want to make your own YouTube videos.

Whatever the reason behind your desire to play piano, it has to be compelling, deeply personal, and strong enough to carry you through the inevitably dull parts of a daily practice routine.

Do some soul searching and connect with that deeper reason because it will carry you through the inevitable unique challenges you’ll face on your musical journey.

5 Minutes a Day

Five minutes doesn’t seem like much.

But when you compound 5 minutes a day over a year, it equals about 30 hours. 

Think about how much progress you can make with 30 hours of practice. Crazy, isn’t it?

If you find your most significant barrier to practicing on a regular basis is a perceived lack of time, try sitting down for only 5 minutes a day.

Tell yourself that you are only required to play for 5 minutes, but if things are going well, you can extend that time.

Chances are that once you start, you’ll want to spend more time on the keyboard.

Establishing a new habit of practice requires a mindset shift. Still, by making the goal attainable, you’re more likely to find success.

Commit to a Daily Practice Schedule

I know it sounds overwhelming, but committing to a daily practice schedule is the best way to make meaningful progress at anything.

And your daily practice sessions can be short. Even a five-minute practice session counts.

One of the best ways to stay committed to my piano practice sessions is through the Modacity app.

The app effortlessly keeps track of your progress, including the total time you’ve spent practicing, your daily run streak, and the number of improvements you’ve made over time.

Modacity is a simple way to organize your practice sessions and the easiest way to give yourself the extrinsic motivation to keep practicing.

If you’ve never heard of Modacity, check out this post for more information on the app and to get an exclusive offer to try it for yourself!

Create Hygge

Danish culture is credited with the idea of “hygge,” which fosters a sense of contentment by creating a cozy environment.

You can use the basic principle of hygge to add coziness, peace, and tranquility to your practice sessions.

And the more peace and tranquility you can create, the higher the probability you’ll want to come back and play tomorrow.

Think about it. Your life is hectic. Everyone wants something from you, and they want it 5 minutes ago.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where you could just be in the moment? Where you could lose yourself in something without worrying about what anyone else thinks? 

The good news is that you can create this space for yourself. Here are a few ideas for how you can infuse hygge into your practice sessions:

  • Add a lamp (or lights that dim)
  • Hang pictures that you find soothing in your practice space
  • Add a rug
  • Wear your comfiest pair of pajamas during your practice sessions
  • Invest in a padded, adjustable piano bench
  • Minimize all outside distractions during your practice sessions
  • Reserve a mug of your favorite warm beverage for this time of day

In summary, create a warm and welcoming practice space you can’t wait to experience daily.

Be Inspired

Sometimes the best way to get out of a practice slump is to find inspiration.

It might be a performance by a pianist you admire. Or maybe a podcast about the art of practicing.

There are so many sources of inspiration out there waiting to be discovered.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Search for past performances by your favorite pianists on YouTube. Here are a few of mine: Dr. Josh Wright, Yuja Wang, and Tiffany Poon.
  • Listen to completely different styles of music than you generally choose. Try listening to jazz, pop, or rock if you love classical piano.
  • Channel your creative energy into a new project. For example, try working on playing your favorite song by ear if you generally spend your practice time playing from sheet music.
  • Listen to a podcast geared toward musicians. A few of my favorites are The Bulletproof Musician, The Mind Over Finger Podcast, and the Integrated Music Teaching Podcast.
  • Attend a live musical performance. It doesn’t even have to be professional or a piano concert. Even attending your middle schooler’s orchestra concert can be enough to inspire you to take on your own next challenge!

Repetitive practice can become tiresome, but you can keep your engagement levels high by injecting variety into your sessions and exploring different musical genres and styles. 

Take Lessons

Nothing gets you into a piano practice routine like the perpetual fear of embarrassing yourself in front of another person. 

But in all seriousness, finding a good teacher can help you set goals, up your skill level, and attain your most audacious musical goals. 

And some adult students thrive on the extrinsic motivation that comes from the need to prepare for a weekly lesson. 

It’s also true that practice can fall by the wayside when your playing feels stuck or stagnant. 

Although you can make significant progress in learning to play piano by yourself, your progress is faster with a mentor. 

A mentor can help you set small goals and improve your technique in ways not possible on your own. 

And thanks to technology, you can find a motivating teacher in any musical genre.

Your options are no longer limited by geography. 

You can even find a teacher willing to give lessons on a casual basis if committing to weekly lessons feels too constricting.

If you’re looking for more tips on finding the best piano teacher for your interests and goals, check out this past blog post.

Find a Community

Sometimes the motivation to practice can come from watching others.

And a great way to get this experience is by joining an online community. 

Communities are the ultimate place to find new ways to learn, grow, and share.

Chances are that your spouse and friends don’t play the piano, much less any musical instrument. 

And although they may share your joy in finally nailing that entire Beethoven sonata, they don’t truly understand what goes into mastering the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata.

But other people who play the piano get it. They understand the ups and downs of endless scales, chord inversions, and finally, getting what it means to play effortlessly without tension.

And you can find online communities for all musical genres. 

My favorite community is Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course.

This community is built around classical piano and is one of the most inspiring and uplifting ones I’ve encountered thus far.

If classical piano is your jam, check out my course review here.

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    Commit to “Learning” vs. “Failing”

    The journey of learning an instrument is filled with ups and downs, and it’s crucial to approach challenges with a growth-oriented attitude. 

    And for perfectionists, a lack of motivation sometimes translates to feelings of inadequacy and failure. 

    It seems as if everywhere you look is a better pianist playing something at a level you feel you will never attain.

    Although perfectionists are often celebrated for their attention-to-detail and high achievements, success often comes at the cost of crippling self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.

    As a recovering perfectionist, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned is the value of “failure.” 

    Nothing in life can be considered a true flop if you learn something from the experience.

    Every situation presents a lesson to be learned and a path to a better tomorrow.

    The same is true of playing piano. There are many valuable lessons to be learned, even if you’ve been playing for a long time.

    And playing should be as much about your enjoyment as anyone else’s.

    So who cares if you can’t play something perfectly?

    The only thing that matters is that you never give up trying.

    If you, too, struggle with perfectionism, here are a couple of powerful books that changed my world in the best possible way.



    Ok, ok. Performing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be an invigorating experience.

    It’s a great opportunity to really learn a piece of music in a way that makes it your own.

    And the performance itself doesn’t have to be at Carnegie Hall.

    It can be a recording for your online piano community. Or as part of a worship band. You can even look for opportunities to perform with others or as an accompanist for a soloist.

    But preparing for an upcoming performance is one of the best ways to infuse motivation into a practice routine.

    And if you want to perform from home, try signing up for an exam.

    The ABRSM offers opportunities to submit recordings for feedback. 

    If you’re looking for a live performance experience, check out the RCM exam. 

    Both offer unique opportunities to advance your musicianship and gain valuable performance experience without leaving the comfort of your home.

    Give Yourself Grace

    Practice slumps, setbacks, and a hectic schedule can nose-dive your piano motivation.

    The most difficult thing about a lack of motivation is that you still have the deep desire to play and improve but can’t find the inner drive to keep playing.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do is rest.

    There are just times when life gets in your way. Your priorities shift, and you have little ones who need you.

    Or when you go through seasons of hardship and loss and don’t have the emotional energy for anything above the basics.

    Those are times when you need to step back from your more audacious goals and use the piano as an outlet.

    Play only the pieces that make you happy. Don’t worry about the mistakes.

    Play what your soul needs to hear.

    Reach out to friends and family for support. Prioritize sleep, good food, and exercise.

    Realize that there will be times when you need to step away from goal setting and give yourself the grace to rest and recharge.

    Because once you do, you will be unstoppable!

    And if you find yourself in a perpetual season of anxiety and depression, reach out for help. See a qualified medical provider for further guidance on the best treatment plan for your situation. 

    It’s Your Turn

    There are so many reasons why practice motivation can nose dive.

    Life is full of peaks and valleys, and learning a musical instrument is no different.

    It’s normal to have seasons when piano practice takes a back seat to other obligations and responsibilities. 

    And there will be times when you don’t have the emotional energy to commit to a rigorous practice schedule.

    Although you may need to adjust by spending less time practicing, never give up entirely on your piano dreams.

    When you’re feeling overwhelmed, scale back. Take the pressure off yourself and find ways to infuse fun into your routine. 

    The most important thing is to keep going and never give up! 

    And if you’re looking for more piano inspiration, check out one of the following posts:

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Journey of Life: Simple Tips

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Journey of Life: Simple Tips

    We all want to lead a life full of joy and contentment.

    But often, the reality of our lives can be far from these ideals.

    It’s so easy to focus on the hustle and grind of doing the work to chase your goals that you quickly lose sight of why you’re hustling in the first place.

    Because when it comes down to it, the hustle is about building a life on your terms. It’s about creating a life you love.

    Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to shift your focus to enjoying the journey rather than only looking forward to reaching your final destination.

    This post brings you 7 simple but effective ways to start living your life with more joy today.

    And by taking ownership of how you live each day through these practices, you will give yourself permission to enjoy every moment along the way!

    This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. Certain photos are courtesy of Canva.

    Foster a daily meditation practice

    Life is a never-ending series of twists and turns, with new challenges at every corner. So, getting stuck in problem-solving mode for our whole lives is easy.

    And this type of thinking has its place. Still, a constant focus on problems can suck you into overthinking and catastrophizing. After a while, you’re going through life on autopilot.

    It’s like when you’re driving somewhere you’ve gone 1,000 times before and arrive realizing that you remember nothing of the actual trip from point A to point B.

    My point is that you can’t enjoy life if you’re not living in the moment.

    And meditation is one of the best tools to stay grounded and mindful in your day-to-day life.

    It helps keep you focused on being present and aware of what’s happening around you, which is a very good thing!

    A regular meditation practice helps to cultivate a sense of joy by allowing you to see things from a new perspective and gain clarity on the present moment.

    Plus, a daily meditation practice can also help reduce stress and improve overall mental health.

    Meditation is one of the easiest ways to shift to a more positive mindset. And one of the best things about it is that there are so many free resources for getting started!

    Podcasts and YouTube are great places to start, and if you want to expand your meditation practice from there, try an app like Headspace or Calm.

    Today is the best time to start taking a brief moment to enjoy the here and now!

    Start a gratitude journal

    Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools you can use to increase your joy in life.

    Focusing on what’s good and working in your life is an easy way to start seeing opportunities for joy, even during the most challenging times.

    And one of the best ways to cultivate a sense of gratitude is by starting a daily gratitude journal.

    Every day, take a few minutes to write down three things you’re grateful for. This could be anything from a beautiful sunset you saw to a meaningful conversation with a friend.

    The key is to take the time to savor and appreciate these moments, no matter how small they may seem.

    By taking the time each day to write down what you’re grateful for, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your mindset shifts towards more joy and contentment.

    And the more you practice gratitude, the easier it will become to find joy in the little moments of your everyday life!

    Look for new experiences

    I love a routine as much as anyone, but I’ve found that doing the same thing for a long time is a slippery slope to boredom.

    Living life to the fullest means embracing new experiences. So, make a point to get out there and try something you’ve never done before.

    This could be anything from taking up a hobby like painting or playing music (did someone say something about the piano?!) to exploring a new city or traveling somewhere totally different.

    The possibilities are endless! And no matter what type of new things you choose, it’s sure to bring joy and enthusiasm into your life.

    Plus, the more experiences you have, the more memories you’ll be able to look back on with fondness. And that is something to cherish!

    So don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and look for new opportunities for joy and growth.

    You never know what you might discover!

    Individualize your fitness journey

    Fitness isn’t just about looking good or losing weight.

    It’s also a great way to feel strong and energized – which makes it one of the best tools for finding joy in life.

    But too often, people get stuck in the “one size fits all” fitness mentality and end up feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

    And that’s why it’s so important to individualize your fitness journey.

    Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, don’t be afraid to mix things up and find activities that bring you joy.

    This could be anything from a yoga session to a dance class to martial arts – the key is to find something that energizes and motivates you.

    And once you find something that works for you, make it a regular part of your routine and focus on the intrinsic rewards it brings rather than any external recognition or accolades.

    At the end of the day, it’s about finding joy in movement and challenging yourself to be the best version of yourself!

    Pay attention to the little things that bring joy

    Finding joy isn’t always about grand gestures or big accomplishments.

    It’s also about appreciating the small moments that bring a spark of joy into your life.

    When you start to look for these little moments, you’ll be amazed at how many opportunities present themselves on a daily basis!

    A hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning, an animal in the park that makes you smile, a beautiful piece of art at a museum – these are all little moments that can add up to bring unexpected joy.

    Be open to the possibility of finding these little moments everywhere, and you’ll be amazed at how many times a day you’ll find yourself smiling.

    Whether it’s a squirrel using the crosswalk to get across a congested street or the mail carrier blasting “Livin’ on a Prayer,” there are so many little ways to incorporate joy and laughter into your life.

    So, make an effort to pay attention to these special moments and savor them as much as possible. Before you know it, they’ll become part of your daily life and help you find joy in the most unexpected places.

    Find your ideal work-life balance

    Most of us have jobs that take up a good portion of our day, and work can be an essential source of joy and fulfillment.

    But it’s also important to find your ideal work-life balance. After all, life isn’t just about working – it’s about enjoying the moments in between!

    Take some time to think about what brings you joy and satisfaction, both in the workplace and outside of it.

    Then, use this knowledge to create a balanced schedule that allows for meaningful work and leisure time.

    Achieving balance on a daily basis has proven challenging for me.

    Between working full-time, 3 kids, and hobbies, there always seemed to be little time in the day.

    Trying to find daily balance started to become a source of stress for me.

    But one thing that’s been particularly helpful for me is to consider balance on a weekly or even a monthly basis.

    There will be some weeks when I spend more time on work. And other weeks when I have more time to catch up on housework.

    And still, others when I have slightly more creative energy to pour into the blog and my other creative endeavors.

    Taking a “long game” approach to work-life balance has given me the peace of knowing that everything will get done in its time.

    By creating an environment where you can find joy in your job as well as in your personal life, you’ll be able to feel more fulfilled and balanced.

    And that, in turn, will help you to find joy and fulfillment in all aspects of your life!

    The bottom line is that finding joy doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing pursuit. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to living a joyful life – it’s about creating what works for you.

    Prioritize sleep

    I can’t emphasize strongly enough just how essential getting enough restful sleep is for your overall health and well-being.

    Not getting enough quality rest can lead to a host of long-term physical, mental, and emotional issues, which can all contribute to a lack of joy in life.

    Research has shown a correlation between a lack of sleep and an increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.

    If there’s one thing you take away from this post, I hope it is the importance of prioritizing sleep. It’s the foundation on which everything else in your life sits.

    So make sure that you’re setting aside enough time each night to get the proper amount of restful sleep.

    When our bodies are adequately rested, we can be more present in each moment, enjoy life more fully, and feel a significant increase in our overall well-being.

    If your days or weeks have been particularly stressful, take a few minutes to relax and let go. Taking time for yourself can help to refresh your mind and restore balance in your life, leading to a more joyful outlook.

    Final Thoughts

    Life will always come with its fair share of big things that go terribly wrong.

    And inevitably, when you embark on a new life’s journey, you’ll be met with the type of resistance that threatens to derail all your hard work.

    But by taking a different approach, you can navigate anything life throws you joyfully instead of with stress.

    Learning to live life with joy instead of fear is a mindset. It takes a bit of practice, but it is a far better way to live than the alternative.

    And the foundation to enjoying life is caring for yourself.

    Reducing stress through meditation, engaging in regular exercise, and prioritizing your sleep are essential basics upon which everything else is built.

    And if you’re feeling overwhelmed about this list and need a simple place to start, sleep is the best place. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to experience true happiness when you’re feeling well-rested!

    My challenge to you today is to let go of the hustle mindset and instead embrace relaxation, joy, and a focus on living a meaningful life.

    The tips listed above are a first step but feel free to take them further. Shape and mold them into the version that fits best in your life.

    And if you found this post inspirational, check out my other great content:

    Why Routines Are Better Than Resolutions

    Why Routines Are Better Than Resolutions

    It’s that time of year again when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions.

    They promise themselves that THIS will be the year they finally get in shape, learn a new skill, or save more money.

    But statistics show that only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions. Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our lives?

    The answer is simple: we’re not good at change. Our brains are programmed to resist change, which makes keeping your resolutions nearly impossible.

    Although New Year’s resolutions are generally unsuccessful, there are ways to accomplish your new goals. And the best way to achieve your goals is to establish a daily routine that supports your new habit.

    When you establish routines and good habits, everything becomes more manageable. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to do each day – it’s already planned out! This is why routines are better than resolutions – they’re easier to stick to and ultimately produce better results through the power of habit.

    Today’s post is about embracing the person you are instead of feeling wrong about the person you’re not. We will also talk about how to foster new habits without feeling overwhelmed.

    This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

    Where do I start?

    Whenever you’re talking about goals, one of the most important things to remember is that mindset matters. And having a positive attitude can help you overcome any obstacle in your path.

    Here are a few other keys to success to remember when you’re considering ambitious goals:

    • Small habits = big transformations
    • Success takes longer than you think
    • Talent has limits, but deliberate practice is limitless
    • Distraction is expensive
    • Failure is on your terms
    • Heal your past
    • Regular physical activity is essential
    • Release perfectionism
    • Get a hobby

    And for an in-depth discussion on each of the above secrets to success, check out my previous post.

    Why do resolutions fail?

    It all comes down to routines. We’re creatures of habit, and if we don’t establish routines in our lives, then it’s tough to make lasting changes.

    When you create routines tailored to your goals, habits become easier to adopt, and reaching your goals happens faster than relying on sheer willpower.

    Creating routines is also great for staying motivated and focused on your goals. It’s much easier to stay consistent when you have patterns supporting your new habits.

    Not only that, but routines can also help quiet the inner critic inside us who is always telling us we’re not good enough or capable of achieving our goals. Routines allow us to trust ourselves and recognize that we can be successful if we break things down into smaller, achievable steps.

    Start From Where You Are

    Whether your goals revolve around weight loss, taking the next step in your career, or saving enough money for a family vacation, considering your current routines and positive attributes is a crucial starting point.

    A good reason why many people fail to achieve common resolutions is that they need to consider their positive traits. Instead of focusing on what’s going well, they spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative qualities or bad habits they’re trying to change.

    But everyone has positive qualities about themselves, which make success inevitable. For example, maybe you:

    • Never give up until you see results
    • Love learning new things
    • Are super organized
    • Aren’t afraid to embrace a unique opportunity that comes your way
    • Have an incredible support system

    Don’t get so wrapped up in trying to establish a new routine that you forget some of the old habits that are actually working in your favor.

    What is a routine?

    A routine is simply a set of habits that you can do every day to stay on track and achieve your goals.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated or take up a lot of time, either. Routines can be simple:

    • Drinking eight glasses of water a day
    • Eating an apple for breakfast
    • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

    Creating routines also helps you become more organized, so you can easily track what needs to be done and when.

    And routines are great because they give you something specific to aim for each day, which can help you stay motivated and on track with your goals.

    Routines are also much better than resolutions because, unlike resolutions, routines can be adapted or changed as needed.

    Positive attribute + New habit = Success!

    In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear brings up the idea of habit stacking. This means taking one routine that’s working well and tacking another to help you create consistency.

    For example, if you already enjoy going for a 10-minute morning jog, add another habit, like stretching after your jog, and make it part of your morning routine.

    This way, routines become additive and build up over time to help you achieve greater success in the long run. Plus, when routines are built up gradually one by one, they are much easier to stick with and maintain.

    The key is making routines that support your life’s positive aspects while helping you break away from bad habits.

    When you combine routines with a positive attitude, it’s nearly impossible not to succeed!

    Present and Future Versions of Yourself

    One of the fundamental premises of traditional resolutions is that they often negatively hone in on one aspect of yourself.

    Resolutions often focus on one tiny aspect of yourself in a rigid way that may be completely unrealistic. They need to take your life as a whole into consideration to be successful.

    And resolutions are unrealistically future-focused in that they assume the future version of yourself will somehow magically be more motivated and inherently better than your current self.

    Although we all grow and evolve over time, growth takes work. It doesn’t just magically happen.

    The premise behind resolutions is that you’ll somehow wake up on January 1st feeling motivated to hit the gym. Or will suddenly have the resolve to stop impulse buying.

    Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.

    Motivation only comes after taking action. And I can guarantee you’ll never wake up and feel like running 3 miles!

    A better way is to start thinking about yourself as someone who does the thing you want to do in the present moment instead of the future.

    One of the most powerful concepts I learned from Atomic Habits is that if your goal is to get in better shape, you have to start thinking like someone already in better shape.

    For example, would someone in great physical shape take the elevator or the stairs?

    Would they hit the gym after work or hit play on 3 episodes of their favorite Netflix show? And would they rely on fast food dinners or thoughtfully plan nutritious meals that support their health goals?

    Thinking about yourself as someone who does the thing you want to do helps you make better decisions in the present moment. It stops the cycle of future thinking that often causes you to falsely believe you’ll make better decisions tomorrow.

    Making routines stick

    Now that you know why routines are important, here are a few tips to help you create routines that actually stick:

    • Start small – Start with one routine at a time and then add more routines if necessary.
    • Break routines into actionable steps – Break them down into actionable steps, making them easier to complete.
    • Be flexible – Adjust routines when necessary and make changes as needed.
    • Schedule in advance – Schedule routines and ensure you have enough time to complete them.
    • Find motivation – Find ways to stay motivated and stick with routines even when you don’t feel like it.
    • Reward yourself – Whenever you complete a routine, reward yourself with something special to keep you motivated and on track.

    Creating routines is an effective way to reach your goals faster than ever.

    By focusing on what makes routines work for you and starting from where you are, you can create habits that stick and help you celebrate the positive attributes within yourself.

    So, don’t settle for just resolutions this year; establish routines and watch how your life will transform over time!

    And for even more expert advice on the power of habits, check out James Clear’s phenomenal book, Atomic Habits. His writing is clear and concise, and his ideas are incredibly inspiring.

    Final Thoughts

    Routines are a great way to stay on track with your goals, and you can incorporate routines into your daily schedule without taking too much time.

    By understanding why routines are essential, breaking practices down into manageable steps, being flexible when necessary, scheduling routines in advance, and rewarding yourself whenever you complete patterns, you’ll be on the path to achieving your goals in no time!

    It’s important to remember that routines are simply habits, and it takes time for them to become second nature.

    So don’t get discouraged if you slip up or forget a routine. Just take it one day at a time, and you’ll get there!

    If you loved this post, sign up for my email list and have one new post sent to your inbox each week.

    My posts are at the crossroads of piano and self-development, so even if you’re not a piano nerd, you’ll have access to effective personal development content!

    If you’re curious, check out a few of my previous posts:

    How to Set Realistic Piano Goals and Achieve Them

    How to Set Realistic Piano Goals and Achieve Them

    It’s no secret that learning to play the piano can be a daunting task. Many people start lessons with high aspirations but eventually give up because they need help to stay consistent with their practice routine.

    Or they get discouraged because they don’t make the kind of progress they’re hoping to make quickly. And other aspiring pianists get distracted by the promise of the newest piano program or app.

    I’ve been all those aspiring pianists at various times in my life. But since getting serious about wanting to progress at the keyboard, I’ve learned a ton about setting realistic goals.

    And I’ve been able to achieve some of my biggest goals.

    Since it’s almost time to think about setting a new year’s resolution, now is the perfect time to help you figure out how to set realistic piano goals! And since practice is tied into learning any skill, I will also touch on how you need to spend practice time.

    Lastly, I will cover a few of my favorite practice tools. And, with that, let’s get to it!

    This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of the Amazon associate program, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, Playground Sessions, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information and privacy policy. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

    Why don’t people accomplish their goals?

    If you want to achieve your goals, understanding your potential barriers is crucial. And there are a few very common things that can derail your progress.


    Your perception of time has a significant impact on goal attainment. If you don’t believe you have the time to work towards a goal, you won’t even try to make room for it in your schedule.

    And although it can seem as if you need huge chunks of time to achieve big goals, the truth is that 5 minutes here and there is sometimes all you need for massive progress.

    If you’re serious about making progress with your piano playing, you need to carve time out of your schedule to make it happen.


    Anyone can set a goal. But not everyone follows through with figuring out how to transform a dream into reality.

    And figuring out the “how” is often the trickiest part. But one of the best ways to get yourself unstuck from uncertainty is to find a mentor.

    The first step is finding someone who is in the spot where you want to be. That person can guide you and save you countless hours of struggling on your own.

    And in the case of learning to play the instrument, finding a piano teacher can mean the difference between success and failure.


    There’s nothing that derails goals faster than having a negative mindset. The way you talk to yourself matters!

    And your brain will find evidence to support whatever you believe about your abilities.

    Although I’m not suggesting that mindset erases hard work, it all starts with belief. And with stepping outside your comfort zone.

    Result vs. Progress

    Many people gauge their progress on how far they are from their goals. But discouragement often comes from looking ahead instead of behind.

    The more encouraging way to measure progress is to consider where you are now compared to where you started.

    Start looking for ways to enjoy the daily habits that will accomplish your goals, and life suddenly becomes more about the journey than the destination.


    Success takes WAY longer than you think it does. So many people make the mistake of giving up too soon.

    It takes YEARS to master the piano. Whether you love classical, jazz, or pop or aspire to play in your church’s band, it will take much longer than you think.

    But in most cases, the people who succeed are simply the people who never give up. They find their passion and stick with it, regardless of the obstacles.

    What are realistic piano goals?

    Now that we’ve explored potential barriers between you and your goals let’s discuss setting realistic piano goals.

    The most crucial factor is ensuring your goals are specific and achievable within a certain timeframe. It’s easy to want to jump from one level of playing to another overnight, but it rarely happens like that.

    So, instead of going from zero to one hundred overnight, try setting smaller goals and daily practice habits.

    For example, let’s say you’re struggling with playing hands together. Instead of making a goal of “playing the whole song hands together,” try something like this:

    Play the first line of Prelude in C Major with the right hand ten times without mistakes by Tuesday.

    Play the first line of Prelude in C Major with the left hand ten times without mistakes by Thursday.

    Play the first line of Prelude in C Major with hands together at 40 bpm by Saturday.

    Aim to break your goals into small steps. Your goals should be so tiny that you can accomplish them in a few days or weeks.

    Although making long-term goals is okay, breaking them into a bunch of very tiny steps is how you can make steady progress without becoming disheartened.

    What is the relationship between practice and piano goal setting?

    Although there are many people out there who believe talent is the key to success, it’s not.

    Hard work trumps talent every time.

    Learning to play the piano is a skill, much like learning to play a sport or getting better at writing. The only way you’ll get better at it is by practicing.

    And tying consistent practice into your overall goal setting is one of the best ways to make progress.

    Setting practice-related goals are also one of the best ways to prevent feeling like you need to make more progress.

    My suggestion is that instead of “learning the last movement of Beethoven’s moonlight sonata,” make a goal of “practicing 5 minutes a day.”

    Regardless of whether you’re an adult beginner or a concert pianist, you can accomplish the goal of practicing 5 minutes a day.

    5 minutes a day is measurable and attainable. And even if you don’t learn a Beethoven sonata, you can use that time to hone your technical skills, learn a new piece, or have fun playing the instrument.

    And by setting small, attainable habits, you’ll be well on your way to achieving any larger piano goal you set for yourself.

    How should you divide up your practice time?

    I always recommend starting with a short warm-up. This is the time to prepare your mind and body for what’s to come.

    Scales, arpeggios, 7th chords, and Czerny or Hanon exercises make great warm-up material. You could also play a song that you have previously mastered.

    Sight reading also makes good warm-up material.

    After warming up, I like to tackle my most mentally demanding tasks. And for me, that means memorization. I use this time to learn a new measure or phrase in anything I’m working on committing to memory.

    If memorization is easy for you, use this time to work on technically demanding tasks within a specific song or for metronome work.

    I generally have 3-4 pieces I’m working on at once, and I try to run through all my pieces during a practice session.

    And once I’ve gotten through all my practice “work,” I love unwinding by playing whatever I want. Sometimes this means playing a pop piano cover or working out a song by ear. It could also be playing a piece of music that’s fun to play.

    To recap:

    1. Warm-up
    2. Anything that is mentally draining/demanding
    3. Other things that need work
    4. Fun stuff!

    How long should your practice sessions be?

    Although the standard advice is 30 minutes daily, I take a more flexible approach.

    I aim for at least 5 minutes a day. And I exceed that goal on most days.

    But there are days when 5 minutes is plenty.

    Keeping flexibility in my goals leads to less guilt when I have a day here or there that isn’t very productive. The key to making progress is a regular practice routine.

    When starting a new practice goal, keep the amount of time you’ll practice each day small. And before long, you’ll be exceeding what you thought was possible!

    Are there tools to make your practice time more effective?

    Absolutely! My favorite tool is an app called Modacity.

    The app allows you to keep track of what you’re practicing. It gives you practice goal suggestions and lets you add personalized goals.

    One of my favorite features of the app is the ability to record yourself. You can record a short snippet or an entire piece.

    Recording yourself is the fastest way to improve, and I love how integrated recording is into this app.

    If you’d like to read my Modacity review, click here. And to try it for yourself, click here.

    Aside from the app, I wholeheartedly recommend a couple of books to improve your practice efficiency.

    The first is called Peak. This book unveils the secrets behind how the world’s best and, more importantly, how they achieved success.

    The second is also a book. It’s called The Musician’s Way and gives solid practice advice. It’s a fantastic resource to help troubleshoot practice challenges.

    The book also advises setting and achieving performance goals, so it’s a fantastic resource if you struggle with playing for other people!


    Final Thoughts

    Setting realistic piano goals and establishing a consistent practice routine are the keys to piano success.

    Start small, break up your practice time, and use tools like Modacity to help keep you accountable and improve more quickly.

    Good habits stack up over time, resulting in unbelievable progress in a relatively short period of time. And with a solid foundation in habit forming, you can progress in every area of your life.

    Playing a musical instrument has many incredible benefits for your brain and overall well-being.

    And have fun with it! Piano playing is meant to bring joy.

    If you loved this post, check out my other piano-inspired posts:

    5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive

    5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive

    How’s life going for you? Is it everything you ever thought? Or are you feeling trapped on a hamster wheel of never-ending obligations that suck up all your emotional energy?

    Over the past few years, I’ve felt stuck. A constant sense that I’m not getting enough done follows me everywhere.

    I remember a time when I didn’t feel this way. Work stayed at work, and my home life was blissful.

    But then I decided to go back to school.

    This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

    A Downward Spiral into Negativity

    From that moment on, I constantly felt the need to be more productive. If I wasn’t checking off a box every second of the day, I was indeed behind at work, home, school, or maybe all 3.

    Deep down inside, I didn’t believe that I could successfully navigate all these worlds. That it was ridiculous even to try.

    The self-doubt eventually spiraled into an all-consuming cloud of negativity. I became obsessed with wondering whether there was enough time in the day to do all the things.

    Instead of spending my time actually being productive, I began obsessing about time. I felt guilty about anything and everything because somehow, nothing felt enough.

    And I was always making wrong choices with how I spent my time. Or so it seemed at the time. At work, I was thinking about how little time I was spending with my kids. And at home, I fixated on the low probability of finishing the mountain of homework always waiting for me.

    After graduation, I thought things would get better. I thought that I would suddenly feel normal again.

    Nope. Those stubbornly obsessive negative thoughts continued to plague my every waking moment.

    After a great deal of reflection, I finally made a decision. My happiness and inner peace depended upon shattering the negativity I had built around time and productivity. It was time to embrace a new perspective on how to be more productive!

    If any of this resonates with you, keep reading because I promise to bring you a few unique solutions to the age-old problem of getting more done in less time!

    1. Cut the Crap to Be More Productive

    What do you actually want to accomplish in life? It’s easy to get caught in a web of “busy.” But “busy” is a very non-specific way to quantify your time. And without a sense of direction, you end up wandering the vast wasteland of coulda, woulda, shoulda.

    Unfortunately, there are very dark forces at work in your life. And you may or may not even be fully aware of these forces. In her book called How to Get Sh*t Done, Erin Falconer describes some of the invisible constraints holding you back:

    • Women feel a constant need to prove themselves.
    • Unspoken work expectations mean women are saddled with more responsibility (the type that no one else in the office wants!) that will mean neither increased status nor pay.
    • After putting in a full day at work, women come home just to put in more work.
    • People-pleasing tendencies increase involvement in activities you may not otherwise choose for yourself.
    • The joy-sucking power of “should” is constantly playing over and over in your head.

    The first step is always awareness. Falconer does an outstanding job of shedding light on everything that’s cluttering up your life.

    And by doing so, you can start to abandon everyone else’s expectations in favor of your version of productivity.

    Image courtesy of Namara Creative Studio via Canva

    2. Craft Your Unique Version of Productivity

    After you strip away the busyness, what’s left? Who are you underneath all those obligations? Are you someone who thrives among people? Or do you prefer a quiet spot to complete your work?

    What makes you feel alive inside? And what makes you want to poke your eye out with a pencil?

    It’s shocking how little we often know about ourselves simply because we haven’t taken the time. Also shocking is the impact society and those around us have on our aspirations. But when you strip everything away, what you have left is the freedom to make decisions based on you. Not society. And not everyone else in your life.

    But you.

    Falconer guides you through the process of getting down to you in a seamless and thought-provoking way. If that all sounds intriguing, make sure to check out her book.

    3. Comparison Isn’t Always a Dirty Word

    Our culture is all about comparison. It starts in grade school when you learn the concept of grades. And it follows you through middle and high school with sports tryouts. Thanks to social media, comparison continues to follow you well into adulthood.

    But comparison in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and you can use it as a force for good!

    Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist with fascinating advice on flipping the negative to the positive. I recently discovered his work on the School of Greatness podcast and was immediately inspired.

    Dr. Hardy suggests that it’s our comparison to others that results in negative thought patterns. As an example, you see a fellow mom posting flawless pics of her family on social media. Their beaming smiles are brilliantly complemented by perfectly coordinated outfits and a gorgeous fall scene.

    Upon seeing the pics, you take a turn to negative town. After all, your last family picture was taken 7 years ago. Before your kids were born.

    And you immediately feel like a #momfail.

    The truth is, you feel like a failure because you’re making an impossible comparison. You have no idea what else is going on in that woman’s life. We are all fighting battles that we share with only a select few.

    And you have overcome some pretty tough stuff in your life as well. Therefore, the only way you can feel accomplished is to compare the woman you were with the woman you are right now.

    I guarantee that you will immediately feel accomplished!

    So the next time you feel compelled to make a comparison, make sure it’s between the current and past versions of yourself. Because at the end of the day, the only person over whom you have control is yourself.

    If you’re curious about Dr. Hardy’s work, check out one of his books:

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    4. Make a Done for Today List

    Have you ever actually finished everything on your “to-do” list? I’d be lying if I said “yes” to that one. Although I always think seeing things crossed off my list will feel satisfying, it somehow never does. Instead, I constantly focus on everything that remains unchecked.

    But here’s a new take on an old and tired concept. I recently heard this advice from an interview with Greg McKeown on the Science of Success podcast.

    At the beginning of the day, figure out 3 things that, once complete, will also complete your day. Once those 3 things are done, give yourself the freedom to relish in accomplishment.

    Reward yourself! Don’t try to use the extra time to sneak in more stuff. Take some time for yourself. Do something that fills your cup. Or do something that lights you up inside.

    But most of all, enjoy the feeling of DONE.

    As a type-A achiever, I never feel “done” with tasks in my day. And I think this leads to burnout because nothing ever feels good enough. I’m always trying to check a box.

    So after hearing this particular tip, I’ve committed to being DONE every day. Regardless of whatever else is on my list, I’ve started celebrating my accomplishments and not only feel more peaceful but also 10x more productive.

    5. A Tale of Two Teams

    In the podcast, Greg McKeown goes on to tell the gripping tale of two teams racing against the elements to be the first to reach the South Pole.

    Each team had opposing views on how to emerge victoriously. And their vastly different approaches made all the difference between victory and death.

    The first team was British. Their leader pushed the team to their very limits whenever the weather was tolerable. On days when the weather was inclement, they camped out and weathered the storm.

    The second team was Norwegian. Their leader determined that the best approach would be to advance 15 miles each day. Come fair weather or storm; they would only travel 15 miles.

    Guess which team made it to the South Pole first? I’ll give you a hint … slow and steady wins the race.

    The Norwegians made it to their goal an entire month before the British. And not only did they win, but they lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the British team.

    Defining Your Daily Minimum to Be More Productive

    Image courtesy of Netfalls via Canva

    Everyone has a daily threshold for productivity, and there’s only so much you can accomplish in 24 hours. The Norwegian team dramatically highlighted this reality by claiming the victory. And the British team just as dramatically highlighted it through their ultimate demise.

    You must set clear boundaries for yourself. Or you, too, will become overwhelmed and burned out.

    McKeown suggests setting daily minimum goals for yourself. Figure out how to make this goal effortless. Making it effortless helps you achieve the goal and will leave you wanting more.

    As an example, I’ve been trying to publish blog posts on a more consistent basis. But I have a mental block about time. My perception is that it takes time I currently don’t have.

    After hearing McKeown’s advice, I decided to set a daily 30-minute writing goal. I have found that I no longer try to procrastinate my writing because 30 minutes feels very attainable.

    And once those 30 minutes are up, I stop. I don’t force myself to keep going even if I’m in the middle of writing flow. Stopping when I’m in flow is crucial because I know when I begin again tomorrow, I will be excited to get started.

    One of the worst things as a writer is a block, and stopping when I’m mid-paragraph, or even mid-sentence ensures I have something to pick up the following day.

    Taking small, daily steps towards your goals increases your odds of success. Find ways to make the process enjoyable, and you’ve suddenly become dramatically more productive.

    It’s Your Turn to Be More Productive

    You define productivity. And with your unique definition comes freedom. The freedom to say “yes” to anything that feels aligned and “no” to everything else.

    Narrow down your big goals to 3 or less at any given time. Go all-in on those goals. And when starting a goal, stop asking “how.” Dr. Hardy explains that “how” is a word that causes procrastination and overwhelm. It immediately adds an element of impossibility to the equation.

    You instead need to ask “who.” Who can help you achieve your goal more quickly? Do you need a coach? Or maybe you need a course designed by an expert in the field. Making investments in someone who is already skilled helps you achieve your goals infinitely faster.

    As important as “who” is the concept of effortlessness. Once your goal has been defined, how can you make it as easy as possible? Greg McKeown offers brilliant advice on finding joy while making goals feel effortless. Sadly, the perception of effort has held me back personally in all areas of my life. I, therefore, adore his philosophy on productivity!

    And remember that slow and steady wins every time. There’s simply no need to make things overly complicated or overwhelming. I would even suggest that if you feel overwhelmed, you need to take a step back. Figure out your priorities. And cut everything that doesn’t make the grade.

    Find the person who can help you. And make it effortless.

    Additional Resources

    If you’re looking for even more resources, make sure you check out any of the following books:

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    And make sure to check out the following posts for even more great personal development!

    Image courtesy of With Faith & Love via Canva

    5 Ways to Find Peace Despite Chaos

    5 Ways to Find Peace Despite Chaos

    The world is a strange place right now.

    Here in Wisconsin, the governor ordered closure of all bars and restaurants earlier this week.

    If you know anything about Wisconsin, it’s that our population relies on its dense population of bars and churches to survive.

    And churches across the state closed their doors over the weekend.

    Last week, nursing homes across the state made the incredibly difficult decision to close their doors to visitors.

    The public school system has been shut down.

    Sports stadiums everywhere are silent.

    Companies are finding ways for their employees to work from home.

    These are truly unprecedented times we are living in.

    Life as we have come to know it is changing rapidly.

    Amidst all the crazy toilet paper buying, doomsday prepping, and constant media coverage, anxiety is at an all-time high.

    We have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring.

    The realities of preparing for the coronavirus have impacted most aspects of my own life. It feels like everywhere I turn, there are new reasons to stress.

    It all feels very overwhelming.

    Getting swept up in the madness is so easy!

    But is that really how you want to live your life? At the mercy of whatever crisis the media is currently fixated on?

    Or would you rather take charge of anxiety, grounded in peace that you, in fact, can handle whatever life throws at you?

    You do have a choice. Either be consumed by anxiety. Or choose peace.

    Lately I have been focusing on how to find peace despite the chaos.

    And the great news? You can too! Here are 5 ways to get started today.

    1. Find peace despite chaos through time spent with loved ones

    In the midst of chaos, routines are turned upside down.

    Soccer practice? Cancelled.

    Your after-hours work event? Cancelled.

    Cheerleading? Cancelled.

    But do you know what hasn’t been cancelled?

    Family dinner.

    A walk through the neighborhood.

    Game night.

    Although we would never have expected our social calendars to suddenly clear, is it really such a bad thing?

    I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like my schedule is filled with obligations rather than meaning.

    It can often feel like I say “yes” to things because of what others want me to be or do. I forget to listen to my own voice. And if I don’t prioritize my own time, there’s no one on this earth who will do it for me!

    There is also a tendency to take the time spent with friends and family for granted. We can get lulled into thinking they will always be there waiting for us.

    It’s far too easy to get caught up in the mundane of the routine and forget to connect with those around us.

    If there’s anything the uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has taught me, it’s that the time is now.

    We can’t take anything for granted because we have no idea what’s coming tomorrow.

    Uncertainty reminds us that being intentional about our time and creating meaningful connections with others are both incredibly important.

    The silver lining in all this social distancing is actually a brand new start. The slate is wiped clean. We are free to start all over again with a better understanding of our goals and priorities.

    Including, and especially, our loved ones.

    You have an amazing opportunity to both reconnect with your loved ones and to find peace despite the chaos!

    And thanks to technology, you can both reconnect and maintain social distancing guidelines.

    So take a step in the right direction today. Give someone you haven’t spoken with in awhile a call. Reach out and make a connection.

    After all, what better conversation starter could there be than a gigantic, nationwide toilet paper shortage? It really couldn’t get any easier than that!

    2. Turn off the news

    Yes, the news is important. It has a vital role in keeping all of us updated on happenings both local and around the world.

    But they also want to keep you coming back for more.

    They want you to choose them over every other news channel (or website) out there.

    And how do they hook you?

    By feeding into your emotions, namely fear.

    Remember the principle of fight or flight? Biologically speaking, fear triggers an incredibly strong chemical response within your body.

    The fear response is stronger than the response garnered by most other emotions.

    The news media keeps you hooked by triggering your fear response. Over and over and over again.

    They are making sure you continue to tune in by scaring you.

    I am all for being updated on the facts of various occurrences.

    But I am not about to be fed sensationalized versions of facts whose only purpose is to scare me into continuing to watch.

    And my advice to you? Figure out exactly what it is you need to know and then locate an organization focused on the facts.

    For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions and ways to stay healthy.

    Local county health departments are tracking the latest statistics on people impacted in your area.

    Neither source will give you sensationalized accounts of how everyone in America will eventually succumb to the virus and 50% of those people will die.

    They will simply give you facts. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Why would you ever need anything more than that?

    3. Search for the positive amidst the negative

    When everything goes haywire, it’s incredibly easy to focus on what’s going wrong.

    Especially when the changes are as surreal as those happening right now.

    If you had told me a year ago that a virus would close down the public school system indefinitely, I would never have believed you.

    Likewise, I would never have believed that I would shop my local Wal-Mart at 7 a.m. and find the shelves as bare as I’ve ever seen them.

    Or that those same Wal-Mart shelves would be completely devoid of toilet paper.

    Changes this dramatic are very unsettling.

    But focusing on the negative will only get you to a place of deeper anxiety.

    As strange as all the recent events have been, it will all eventually fade into our memories.

    Restaurants will open back up again.

    Kids will complain about playing basketball in gym class (or maybe that was just me!?).

    You will once again be able to meet up with your bestie for coffee without regulation that you sit at least 6 feet apart.

    Believe it or not, good things are coming out of all this madness.

    One example in my own life is my daycare’s decision to close, coincidentally at the same time my in-laws went on vacation out-of-state.

    We have never relied too heavily on sitters so our list is incredibly short. Unfortunately, our usual sitter was already committed elsewhere.

    My friend put out a Facebook post that her teenage daughter was available to watch kiddos. I decided to reach out and give it a try.

    And do you know what happened?

    The kids loved her! They had a great time and now our sitter list is just a bit longer.

    Although it takes effort, we can choose to look for the positives in an otherwise negative situation.

    Be a positive force in an otherwise chaotic world.

    You may also enjoy reading this post about how to get yourself into a positive mindset.

    4. Find peace despite chaos through rest

    I am guilty of completely over-booking myself. Day after day, week after week, month after month.

    Between home, work, and my very limited social life, I feel compelled to constantly be doing something.

    My house could always use some type of attention, whether it’s laundry, the floors, or the messy bathroom.

    And based upon the piles of dirty laundry which appear every week, I swear to you that there are at least 3 extra people living in my house who I’ve never met. Which begs the question … why aren’t they helping with their laundry?

    Also, would it kill them to sweep the floor once in awhile?

    Work has also been a challenge as within the past year, I have transitioned to the new role of nurse practitioner. And when you take on a new role, there’s always an abundance to learn and improve upon.

    Especially during such an unpredented time as this.

    I do have to admit that my social life is essentially non-existent at this point and the virus is not entirely to blame. Between work and home, I simply have no extra energy left to devote to its revival.

    Although I have never been someone with a wide social circle, the people I do consider friends are very near and dear to me.

    And many of them are also in the midst of figuring out their own work/life balance.

    But I have always felt that I could do a better job of staying connected with friends despite my very introverted tendencies.

    I am constantly lying to myself about the possibility of a break. “I’ll just keep going until xyz and then I will take some time for myself.”

    But when xyz happens, I never take the promised break.

    And then I wonder why I’m constantly so exhausted.

    Sometimes, we just need a break. And maybe this is God’s way of forcing a break on all of us.

    Anxiety feeds off fatigue, exhaustion, and overhwelm. Stop anxiety in its tracks by taking a nap, a Netflix break, or by picking up a good book.

    Take advantage of this moment to stop “being” and to instead just “be.”

    5. Have faith

    At a time when even churches have closed their doors, the world may seem a very hopeless place right now.

    Although there are changes sweeping the nation and the world, we have to remember that we have never really been in charge anyway.

    Whether it’s coronavirus or some other crazy disease threatening the world, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

    We can only do our very best to do what we can with what we have and leave the rest in God’s hands.

    “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

    Romans 5: 1-2

    Anxiety never changes tomorrow’s outcome but it does steal today’s peace.

    My challenge to you today is to choose peace. Reject anxiety.

    Focus on the good. Make a difference where you can. Help someone else out.

    And never lose your faith that all will work out according to God’s plan.

    It’s Your Turn

    There’s no denying the big changes happening everywhere.

    Between all the closings, the constant news media coverage, and the empty store shelves, some would have you believe the world itself is ending.

    But it’s really not all bad!

    Social distancing is a technique useful for minimizing the impact illnesses such as the coronavirus can have on a population.

    It’s a way we can both conserve resources and protect those who are most vulnerable.

    Yes, it’s definitely unsettling to drive through an eerily quiet city.

    But this too will pass.

    And by taking these drastic measures, I pray the impact will be minimal.

    I can only imagine that we will also have a much greater appreciation for having the ability to once again gather with friends and family.

    Seize this unsettling time to find peace despite chaos.

    Choosing peace will help you become a stronger and more resilient person, better equipped to take on the next crisis thrown at you.

    After all, doesn’t surviving a toilet paper shortage equip you to overcome basically anything???

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this post below! What are you struggling with right now and what has helped you find peace despite chaos?

    Achieve a Positive Mindset … Achieve Your Goals!

    Achieve a Positive Mindset … Achieve Your Goals!

    I have a confession to make. A deep, dark secret which is tough to admit even to myself.

    The secret is that a negative mindset has destroyed progress toward so many of my goals in life.

    Goals such as getting (and keeping!) my house organized. Expanding my piano repertoire by learning new pieces. Becoming more intentional about my time by saying “no” to people pleasing.

    The Root of the Problem

    The problem isn’t that I don’t have a strong “why.” It also has nothing to do with being unaware of how to get where I want to go.

    For me, the problem lies with negativity.

    There have been so many times when I make actual progress toward a goal only to wake up one day with a negative mindset. Maybe I didn’t sleep well the night before. Or maybe I missed my morning run.

    Whatever the initial reason, negativity sinks its teeth in and takes over.

    It all starts with doubt which causes me to question the validity of my goal.

    Accomplishing the goal suddenly seems impossible, unattainable, and even a waste of time.

    Something which once seemed absolutely worth doing loses its meaning in the face of negativity.

    Does this sound like you? Have you ever started passionately chasing a goal only to be stopped in your tracks by a negative mindset?

    A Cycle of Negativity

    A negative mindset, however small it starts, can be powerful enough to send me into a cycle of self-sabotage.

    The cycle goes something like this …

    I get excited about a new goal and figure out which small, daily steps will help me accomplish it.

    At first, I’m so excited about this goal that nothing can dissuade me from believing I will acomplish it.

    Taking those small, daily steps is simple at first because when you start from zero, seeing progress is easy.

    Regardless of the goal, progress gets tougher at some point.

    The initial excitement of having a new goal begins to fade away. You hit a wall and are forced to either learn and adapt or abandon ship.

    Growth is required to move beyond the starting point. And growth never comes without some type of turmoil.

    Seeds of Doubt

    And for me, that turmoil usually involves a tiny seed of doubt.

    It typically boils down to perfectionism and (admittedly) unattainable standards.

    The lie of perfection feeds thoughts of inadequacy and stalls progress. My mindset suddenly shifts from positive to negative.

    It quickly becomes easy to find every excuse in the book to stop taking action toward my goal.

    After all, with a husband, 3 kids, and a full-time career I don’t have to look very far to find an excuse!

    Armed with an excuse rationalized as quite validly justified in my mind, all daily actions stop. And my goal withers away to nothing.

    The tiny seed of doubt, watered by ridiculous excuses, soon grows into a huge tree preventing personal growth.

    “We are all gardeners, planting seeds of intention and watering them with attention in every moment of every day.”

    Cristen Rodgers

    Goals, Mindset, and Success

    If going after goals is so difficult, why do it? Why not just stay exactly where you are right now? And what does mindset have to do with any of this?

    I am a firm believer that growth is essential to life itself. We are constantly evolving into different versions of ourselves.

    Goals provide a framework and a direction for growth. There are a million different ways we could choose to grow. But chasing all of them at once means never making meaningful progress in any of them.

    It’s only when we focus our attention on a specific goal that we see progress. Whatever has our attention sees progress.

    Our mindset ultimately determines success or failure in the areas where our attention is focused.

    If we don’t pay attention to keeping our mindset positive, overwhelm, self-sabotage, and a tendency to remain stagnant can easily creep in.

    We remain stuck where we are if we don’t keep pursuing goals. We ultimately fail to accomplish what we set out to do.

    And even beyond the disappointment of one failed goal is the pattern of quitting which can quickly establish itself.

    A negative mindset can set you up to fail time after time. After awhile, negativity can convince you that trying again one more time is simply not worth it.

    Awareness: The First Step Toward A Positive Mindset

    We need positivity and small achievements here and there to encourage us to keep going even when it’s tough.

    The abilites to enjoy life, experience happiness, and achieve success depend upon mindset. Achieving a positive mindset is crucial!

    Are you ready to learn how to transform your mindset from self-sabotaging negativity to one of goal-conquering positivity? Although incorporating the following tactics does require some consistency, each one is actually quite simple.

    As with most things in life, the very first step is awareness.

    Pay attention to your thought patterns. Are the conversations you have with yourself dominated by motivational self-talk? Or do they tend to have negative overtones causing you to question yourself?

    Capture your thoughts on paper by spending some time writing them down.

    Can you identify any common themes to your thoughts? Can you figure out the root cause behind the negativity?

    In many instances, self-defeating thoughts are driven by a random negative comment made by someone years ago. Or a past situation which you perceive as having ended poorly.

    Our brains tend to drudge up negativity from the past and automate it into self-defeat or other negative thought patterns.

    It’s only when we take the time to process through our automated thinking that we begin to make connections and positive change.

    I have found that it’s incredibly easy to let my thinking go on auto-pilot. When on auto-pilot, the mind brings forth patterns of thinking which have developed over long periods of time.

    Patterns which may be based upon completely false information but which evoke feelings of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and defeat.

    Challenge Your Thoughts

    Transferring your thoughts to paper gives them an element of reality which is otherwise difficult to capture. Seeing the words in black and white gives you the opportunity to analyze and even dispute the negativity.

    Patterns of thinking can become so ingrained into your thought life that they are nearly impossible to identify unless they are written down.

    And yet these patterns are powerful enough to hold you back from your full potential and stop personal growth.

    Once you have started writing down your thoughts, you can begin to challenge them. Is there any truth whatsoever behind those self-defeating thoughts? Begin to focus in on where the thought originated from and then work to re-frame it.

    Through writing down my own thought patterns, I have discovered that perfectionism often holds me back from progress. I have held onto the false belief that everything in my life has to be absolutely perfect for my life to have meaning.

    Perfectionism is a lie which has kept me stuck in a negative rut.

    Unfortunately, growth is messy and imperfect. Mistakes and missteps are a prerequisite to finding the right path.

    There is no perfection in life and continuing to believe this lie would forever keep me stuck.

    Uncovering the source of my negative mindset has been incredibly helpful in moving toward a more positive one. Learning or doing something new requires mistakes!

    My need to live up to some skewed definition of perfection has so often caused me to abandon goals and remain stagnant.

    But the good news is that through awarenss, I have now been able to identify exactly where my goals derail. Instead of letting myself go down the perfectionism trail, I can use various other tactics to keep myself going toward growth.

    Find a Mentor

    Adopting a growth mindset is often easier when you are surrounded by others who have a similar mindset.

    Seek out the company of others who are also interested in personal growth and maintaing a positive mindset.

    Consider finding a mentor or coach to assist you in attaining your goals. This is especially helpful if you are looking to advance your skills in a particular area.

    Finding a coach has been pivotal in several areas of my life, most notably in one of my favorite hobbies.

    A few years ago, I decided to pursue a type of horseback riding called dressage. I grew up riding in a completely different discipline but had always been intrigued by dressage.

    And so, I looked around for an instructor.

    A couple of weeks later, I finally found someone with not only a great deal of experience in the sport of dressage but who also has a growth mindset herself.

    It’s been 4 years and I continue to take so much value from not only the lessons themselves but their application to life in general.

    Finding an instructor with a positive mindset has been such a blessing in my own life! I highly encourage you to find that person in a relevant area of your own life.

    Accountability and learning from others propels growth in ways which are otherwise difficult to achieve.

    Your Physical Health

    And speaking of personal growth …. maintaining a positive mindset is nearly impossible if you’re not paying attention to your physical health.

    The food you put into your body, exercise, and sleep all have a profound impact on your mental wellbeing and simply cannot be ignored!

    The Gut-Brain Connection

    Believe it or not, there is a strong connection between the brain and the gut.

    Think about the last time you did something which made you nervous. Maybe it was a job interview, presentation, or even watching your daughter’s big soccer game. Did you have butterflies in your stomach?

    If so, you have experienced the gut-brain connection firsthand.

    Although we are only beginning to understand the science behind the connection, the fact that there is a connection simply cannot be disputed.

    When your brain is stressed and in a negative mindset, your stomach is impacted. You may even experience abdominal pain and cramping during times of high anxiety and depression. Likewise, when your stomach is in distress, signals with the potential to darken your mindset are sent to your brain.

    The great news is that there are certain foods which can reduce anxiety and therefore minimize abdominal distress.

    Foods high in vitamin C, healthy fats, and magnesium work in different ways to naturally reduce stress hormones and elevate your mood. Look for ways to add foods such as pistachios, salmon, oranges, and avocados to your diet.

    Move Your Body

    I know that exercise may not be everyone’s idea of a great time, but it does wonders for your brain health!

    Exercise actually releases feel-good hormones in your brain, elevating your mood and giving you a sense of accomplishment.

    Beyond the natural release of hormones which comes with exercise is the focus required to do it.

    Shifting your focus to completing a physical task often leaves little mental space to ruminate yourself further into a negative spiral.

    It gives your brain an opportunity to shift the focus elsewhere and to stop the tendency to spiral further.

    One of the reasons that I love dressage so much is that it requires a great deal of both mental focus and physical energy.

    Great riders make it look completely effortless but the truth is that the sport requires the rider to constantly adjust the horse into “effortless.”

    The rider must always read the horse’s movements and transfer that information into physical movements communicated back to the horse.

    In short, dressage requires intense focus combined with physical prowess and there is little room left over to ruminate on the negative.

    It completely engrosses me and by doing so, gives me a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment that few other activities do.

    I highly recommend that you find some type of physical activity which mentally and physically challenges you. You will find it much easier to develop a positive mindset by regularly exercising!

    Sleep Perks

    Somewhere along the line, we have developed a distorted view of sleep.

    In today’s world, it’s all about how much can be accomplished on the least amount of sleep. Society today wears sleep deprivation like a badge of honor.

    Everywhere you look, there are ads for energy drinks, supplements, and caffeine-filled products guaranteed to help you stay awake for days.

    Meanwhile, there are equally as many ads for medications and supplements guaranteed to put you to sleep when you’re struggling with insomnia.

    The reality is our bodies NEED sleep. It’s the reset button which brings us back to neutral and refreshes our minds and bodies.

    There is no positive mindset without adequate rest.

    And we are making sleep way too complicated. Caffeine, screen time before bed, and unrelieved anxiety all work against quality sleep.

    Simple adjustments to your daily (and nightly) routines can do wonders in helping you get a good night’s sleep. Check out this post for more tips on getting restful sleep at night.

    Calm Your Mind

    Learning how to calm your mind can also have a dramatic impact on your ability to attain a positive mindset. One way to do this is through meditation.

    This ancient practice helps you become more aware of your thoughts. You can then begin to control your thoughts and learn how to manage negative feelings.

    I was sceptical of meditation until trying it a few months ago.

    Meditation does require practice however I immediately began noticing positive changes. It helped me develop an awareness of my thoughts and the need to stop thinking on auto-pilot.

    I have also learned techniques for avoiding negative chatter in my mind. Negative chatter, fueled by insecurity and overwhelm, can swirl into a perfect storm of anxiety.

    Although it can feel as if we have no control over our thoughts (and especially the negative chatter), we absolutely do.

    Meditation clears space for peace and introspection within your mind, essential components to developing a more positive mindset.

    Meditation is an essential piece of developing a more positive mindset!

    If you are completely new to meditation, I highly recommend this app. I can’t say enough about the positive changes I have seen since I started using it!

    It’s Your Turn to Work on a Positive Mindset

    Goals are important because when done consistently, they build into habits. Habits form the backbone of lasting change and goal attainment. Without small goals performed consistently, goal attainment is impossible, even more so without a positive mindset.

    I hope you have found these tactics helpful. You can do hard things! But you must work to establish a foundation based upon positivity in order to do so.

    Developing a more positive outlook doesn’t have to be difficult. Take small action every day to see bigger changes down the road.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts below on what you found most helpful! Until next time …. keep chasing after those goals! Remember, the only failure in life is quitting.

    Break Out of Your Routine with These 70 Ideas

    Break Out of Your Routine with These 70 Ideas

    “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This timeless quote by Eleanor Roosevelt dares you to embrace adventure! Adventure is great if you’re Captain Jack Sparrow but what if you’re a mom just trying to make it through the day? Is there any benefit in embracing this mantra? And if so, how do you break out of your routine enough to enact it in your everyday life?

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

    Mom Life is a Circus

    If my roles as a wife and busy mom who works full-time have taught me anything, it’s that life is crazy! On most days, keeping up feels completely impossible. It’s almost as if I’m juggling 7 balls while trying to hula-hoop and jump rope simultaneously.

    Needless to say, the circus act which is my life often transforms itself into anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. When these feelings take over, my natural tendency is to attempt balancing the anxiety of the chaos with routine. Routine feels safe. It adds an element of predictability which is otherwise difficult to find amidst the chaos of life.

    Routine is my antidote to anxiety.

    You may also enjoy reading Mom Guilt: What It Is & How You Can Beat It!

    I often find myself equating something new or different with bad and scary simply because the outcome is unknown. Routine on the other hand tends to involve the same elements. Mixing the same elements time after time equals the same (or similar) outcomes. Routine = predictability.

    Or at least that’s how it theoretically works in my mind. Logically, I know that life is unpredictable. We can never plan for all the possible unexpectedness we’re hit with on any given day. Nonetheless, routine continues to be my response to the constant change inevitable to life.

    Consistency, Routines, & Success

    Although there are drawbacks to being a routine-oriented person, there are also definite benefits. The biggest actually involves success. The truth is that success always requires effort. True success doesn’t happen overnight and has nothing to do with luck or chance. Consistent effort performed over time transforms itself into routine. Success is then built on the routines constructed from consistent effort. See how that works?

    Consistency in small actions snowballs into bigger routines and eventually, huge successes.

    Here’s an example of the consistency, routine, success cascade in action. Let’s say you want to get back into shape again after a long gym hiatus. You set a start date for your new goal. You’re committed to break out of your routine of skipping the gym. Obviously new running shoes and workout clothes are a necessity! As is the renewal of your long expired gym membership. Your schedule is crazy busy already but you decide that your gym time will be at 5 a.m.

    You may also enjoy reading How to Find More Time in Your Day.

    Your start date finally arrives and you roll out of bed at 5, tired but excited about your fitness goals. You get dressed and head out the door. The drive to the gym is a short one and after parking, you select the latest episode of your favorite podcast and walk inside.

    As it’s been awhile since you last worked out, you’re hesitant at first. You soon hit your stride and motivated by your podcast, have a great workout. You’re feeling slightly more energized than before and feel proud that you were able to break out of your routine.

    Although day one went well, you know that the journey doesn’t end here. Unfortunately, it will take more than one day to return to being able to easily run 3 miles or lift without feeling completely spent the next day.

    When you initially begin chasing this goal, you will need to make the conscious choice to wake up and sweat. After a period of time however your conscious choice simply becomes something you do. Hitting the gym in the morning will start to feel automatic. It builds into a routine which eventually transforms your health.

    If you are that person who thrives on routine, it can be much easier to transform an activity into another piece of your routine. But if you happen to be that person who tires easily of doing the same things day after day, you need to be much more creative in figuring out how to consistently incorporate something new.

    Same Old, Same Old

    Routines are such a theme for me that my day even begins with eating the same exact breakfast. To be honest, part of the reason why I eat the same thing is because then I don’t have to try to come up with something different. I go through periods where I struggle with meal planning for my family and my kids have eaten way more happy meals than I care to admit. As my kids generally prefer to eat breakfast at school, I definitely do not want to put the time and energy into planning something new for myself. After all, I have gradually adapted my breakfast over the years into the ultimate ratio of protein and carbs to keep me full until lunch. Why mess with something that works?

    But could there actually be a benefit in figuring out how to break out of your routine?

    Research suggests that our brains are wired to form routines because forming pathways of familiar behavior frees up space for processing other types of information. 

    When considering it from this angle, it probably is a good thing that I eat the same exact breakfast because I have plenty of extraneous questions and information to process thrown at me by my kids prior to 7 a.m. every morning. 

    “Mom!  Where are my library books?  More milk!  I don’t want to wear that!  Is it going to be warm enough to wear shorts?  But I don’t want to wear pants!  Did you sign my folder?  Can I have candy for breakfast?  My tablet isn’t working!  More milk! Fix my tablet!  I can’t find my library books!  But I don’t want to wear underwear!  More milk!”  All this in the span of about 15 seconds from all 3 of them simultaneously. 

    My brain has clearly decided that in order to survive and get myself as well as 3 children out the door every morning, a certain amount of automation is necessary.

    Break out of Your Routine to Avoid Feeling Stuck

    Stubbornly clinging to routine is not always protective though, especially when it blocks us from growing and changing into new and better versions of ourselves. Routine can keep us stuck where we are and prevent us from growing and changing into new and better versions of ourselves. It can keep us stuck where we are and prevent us from meeting new people, exploring different interests, and leading awesomely fulfilling lives.

    Routine feels safe and gives a false sense of control over our lives. I once read a statistic that most car accidents don’t occur on unfamiliar roadways but rather those that are only within a few mile radius of one’s house most likely because we let our guard down due to this false sense of security in the familiar.

    Breaking out of routines helps prepare us for the unexpected in a way that the “same old same old” never will. Another bonus of leaving the familiar behind is that trying new things becomes easier and easier. I can tell you that since I’ve started actively looking for new experiences, especially those that scare me, it has become less and less scary to say yes.

    Stepping outside routines also improves creativity because it challenges us to think in new and different ways. So how does one go about breaking away from their deeply ingrained routines and comfort zone? Surprisingly, it can start with only a few very small changes. You never know how the incredible ripple effect of trying something different may impact your outlook and life until you give it a try.

    So go ahead and give something a try! There are 70 ideas below to spark your creativity. Some are big while others are small. A few can easily be incorporated into your daily routine while others are perfect for weekends. Most can also easily be accommodated adapted for kids. There are also plenty of ideas if you’re looking for fulfilling self care practices. Check it out now!

    70 Ideas to Break Out of Your Routine

    1. Drive to work by a different route.
    2. Ask a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile to meet up for coffee or dinner.
    3. Take an art class.
    4. Read a book. If you’re looking for recommendations, here is a suspenseful read from one of my favorite authors. Here’s another one which has a completely unexpected twist at the end. And if you’re looking for a series, I wholeheartedly recommend this one. I had a seriously hard time putting it down!
    5. Start a blog.
    6. Try a restaurant you’ve never tried before.
    7. Spend an afternoon in the park.
    8. Go for a run in an area of town you’ve never been before.
    9. Get a group of friends together and sign up to play a sport you enjoy.
    10. Strike up a conversation with a neighbor you haven’t met before.
    11. Learn to play an instrument.
    12. Actually get your kids together for a play date with someone you’ve always talked about doing it with.
    13. Get involved in a small group at your church.
    14. Volunteer somewhere.
    15. Go for a bike ride.
    16. Make a quilt.
    17. Start a scrapbook.
    18. Bake cookies for your neighbors.
    19. Cook something completely different for dinner.
    20. Go to a concert.
    21. Try out for a play.
    22. Involve your kids in an activity you enjoyed as a kid.
    23. Make a smoothie.
    24. Take a yoga class.
    25. Plant a garden.
    26. Take your kids to a movie.
    27. Take a week-long break from Facebook and connect with your friends in person instead.
    28. Spend a day in a city you’ve never been to before.
    29. Start looking into your family history.
    30. Take a family trip to a county fair.
    31. Listen to a personal development podcast.
    32. Go for a train ride.
    33. Commit to shutting off all electronics and spending quality time with your family each day.
    34. Start a home-based business.
    35. Find a coach.
    36. Tell your family how much you love them.
    37. Pay for a stranger’s coffee.
    38. Support a friend’s home-based business.
    39. Plan, shop for, and cook a dinner with your family.
    40. Go for a jog with a friend.
    41. Hire a babysitter and have a date night with your spouse.
    42. Plan a vacation.
    43. Get a massage.
    44. Have a family game night.
    45. Call a family member you haven’t talked to in awhile.
    46. Take your family bowling.
    47. Go for a trail ride.
    48. Re-create your favorite coffee drink or restaurant meal at home.
    49. Take a nap.
    50. Find a personal trainer.
    51. Visit a museum.
    52. Go to a play.
    53. Start keeping a journal.
    54. Start your day by listing 3 things you’re thankful for.
    55. See a movie in theaters.
    56. Take a class about a topic or hobby that interests you.
    57. Try meditation.
    58. Find a new workout routine.
    59. Join a club.
    60. Make a craft with your kids.
    61. Do a puzzle.
    62. Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
    63. Come up with a family (or personal) mission statement.
    64. Paint that room in your house which has been begging for an up-do.
    65. Transform your hair with a completely new cut and/or color.
    66. Have your make-up professionally done for date night.
    67. Go through your closets and donate anything you haven’t worn in the past year.
    68. Plan out and cook a 3-course meal for your family.
    69. Look for opportunities to use your talents in a meaningful way.  Check out Top 3 Reasons Why You Need a Creative Side Gig.
    70. Sit down and color with your kids.

    It’s Your Turn!

    I hope this list has inspired you to try something new and break out of your routine!  Even small changes can have huge impacts on your outlook!  I am an introvert by nature and reaching out for new experiences has also encouraged me to open up and get to know others in ways that I have never done before.  As humans, we need the support and encouragement of others but cannot just sit around and wait for this to magically happen.  We need to take action toward building our own supportive tribe and growing as individuals otherwise we will forever remain where we currently are in life.  Now go out there, break out of your routine, and let me know how this article has impacted your life in the comments section below!

    4 Steps to Ditching the Comparison Mindset

    4 Steps to Ditching the Comparison Mindset

    “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” -Zen Shin

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    It was Friday night. My hubby and I were doing our typical but very sophisticated Friday night thing. I was attired in the very latest of fall fashions with hair and make-up perfectly done while my husband was similarly decked out. Minus the hair and make-up, of course. We were headed to one of our favorite top-notch hang-outs downtown for wine and live music but had just enough time to stop and snap a pic commemorating yet another highly successful date night.

    Just kidding. We were actually lounging on the couch, he attired in athletic shorts and I in my favorite pajamas which unfortunately happen to have a gigantic hole in the crotch. Some type of sports ball was playing in the background and he turned to show me a Facebook pic. A married couple we know was doing exactly what I described in the first paragraph and the thoughts started rolling through my mind.

    “They always look so happy. I bet they never bicker about household chores or the kids. And they are always dressed like they walked out of a fashion magazine shoot. We’ll never be as happy or as successful as they are.”

    Social media is a double-edged sword. One side facilitates communication with friends and family. But the other side displays everyone else’s highlights and greatest accomplishments for all to see. And I am as excited as the next person to see professional family photos, job promotions, and brand new baby photos but sometimes my mind goes to a dark place of comparison.

    Suddenly everything that I’m doing (or not doing) somehow seems inferior and everybody else is having all the fun. Everyone else is prettier or more successful or has their lives way more put together than I do. Surely no one else forgets school picture day. No one else can possibly forget parent teacher conferences or to send a snack for the kindergarten class. Those pictures of one isolated moment don’t only reflect perfection in that moment but also in all areas of life.

    Inevitably this line of thinking then brings me to comparison and ultimately, scarcity. As if there are only limited amounts of beauty, organization, or love in the world and I am definitely missing out because my Facebook feed doesn’t highlight lovely photoshopped versions of myself and my family doing artsy, sophisticated hobbies. There cannot possibly be enough love or beauty to go around for everyone and especially not for someone who has no idea how to capture a decent selfie.

    Have you ever caught yourself in this same trap of negativity? It starts innocently enough with five minutes of scrolling here and then ten there. Suddenly, you realize an hour has gone by and you’re feeling anxious and depressed with no idea why.

    In my own life, I’ve reached the conclusion that comparison sucks the joy right out of living. Not only that but thoughts that resources such as success or admiration or even hard work are limited and only bestowed upon a very select few people are closely tied with thoughts of comparison. The entire package is a devastating blow to positive progress in your life if you’re not aware of the insidious nature of these thoughts or how they’re tied together.

    Comparison leads directly into scarcity because the very nature of competition implies multiple people going after the same thing. Only one person goes home with the trophy. We are all driven by competition to various degrees and therefore it is a natural progression of our minds to see other people’s success and almost subconsciously reach the conclusion that we will never attain that level of success because that person already went home with that trophy. There isn’t room on the Olympic podium of life for more than one person to have success in a particular aspect of life.

    But the truth lies in the fact that there is no finite amount of success, love, beauty, or talent in the world. These qualities are out there in such abundant amounts that they can never be used up. Furthermore, one person’s beauty in no way diminishes your own beauty. We have all been given a specific set of interests, talents, and abilities to share with the world. The only fair and valid competition is that which exists between the person we are right now and the person we either used to be or the person we are evolving into.

    Just as there are infinite amounts of the incredible qualities which make life worth living, so too is the truth that you are on a completely different journey than anyone else. No one on this earth has had the exact same life experiences, setbacks, influences, or education that you have. No one else in the world is faced with the same questions and decisions about which path to choose. You are unique and beautiful and deserve to free yourself from the self-defeating mindsets of comparison and scarcity.

    Challenge yourself to grow in the areas which are important to you and minimize comparison and scarcity by taking action on the 4 steps listed below:

    • Spend time reflecting upon where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to go
    • Set goals which are measureable and have clear action steps
    • Periodically check your progress toward those goals
    • Celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes

    Having a clear sense of your own goals, priorities, and successes makes celebrating the accomplishments of others easier because you have outlined a road map for your own life. You know where you’re going and how far you’ve come. You embrace celebrating your own achievements as well as the knowledge which comes from missteps. It’s incredibly easy to be sucked down the rabbit hole of comparison and suddenly lose focus of all your own progress but you have something to share with the world and although it may be vastly different than what others are doing, it has value. Don’t let your progress be stalled by competition and scarcity.

    Only by celebrating your achievements and maintaining a mindset of abundance can you truly ward off the trail of negativity which can be precipitated by mindless scrolling. Start being mindful of how you feel when spending time on social media and take steps to alter these behaviors if you find it puts you in a negative space. As the saying goes, “Ain’t no one got time for that.”

    If you find yourself struggling with the flip side of comparison, which is fear of what others think of you, check out my previous post about freeing yourself from the opinions of others. It can be a tough mindset to change but absolutely crucial for a happier and more joyful life. And if this post hit home for you and you’re ready to take an even deeper dive into mindset, click the image below for more information on one of my favorite inspirational books by down to earth, tell it how it is Rachel Hollis.

    Never forget that you have value in simply who you are as a person regardless of your profession, accomplishments, or talents. You are amazing!

    I’d love to hear about the impact this post had on your mindset! Leave a comment below with new revelations or ways you plan to implement this into your daily life.