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7 Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. ~Jim Rohn

When I recently told an acquaintance I worked at home full-time, she commented how difficult that would be for her.

“I’d never have the kind of discipline to do that,” she said. “I’d get distracted and wouldn’t get a thing done.”

Over the past several years, many people have commented on how disciplined I am, from my workouts to my diet to my career. It’s not to say I haven’t had a few donuts or skipped the gym a number of times, but generally I can motivate myself to do something regardless of how I’m feeling.

Many people think of discipline as a tough-love thing. Conventional wisdom often says the harder you are on yourself, the better off you’ll be. I disagree. I think it’s important to approach this topic with care and compassion. Know your limits — it’s the easiest way to expand them.

Living Alone in a New City – 5 Lessons

Photo by Hannes Caspar
If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard

When I was little I’d lay in bed at night and dream about what it would be like to start over. I would move somewhere and no one would know who I was. I’d be living alone and in peace.

In this fantasy I was always the new girl at school. I was quiet and most people just left me alone. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I wasn’t a complete loner either. To me, this sounded like paradise.

In my late twenties I got to realize my fantasy, moving across the continent alone where I knew no one and could be exactly who I wanted to be, without all the drama that came from years of living in one place.

How to Create Good Habits

Photo by Eduardo Izquierdo
Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them. ~Confucius

Recently, a friend in my 30 Day Challenge group brought up a really interesting point. “Have you noticed” he asked, “that it’s far easier to remove something or limit something from your life than it is to add to it?”

It gave me pause. Every challenge I seemed to excel at had something to do with deprivation. I’d quit caffeine. I’d stopped eating gluten. My media fast was pretty successful as well, but what I’d had trouble with was reading something every day for myself.

I took it as a challenge. I have all sorts of good habits that I cultivated in my adult life: daily journaling, exercise, cooking. How did I add these to my life? And what lessons can I apply to creating a new good habit?

Be More, Do Less

Photo by Jon Jacobsen
It is the stillness that will save and transform the world. ~Eckhart Tolle

Several years ago I lived with a good friend who spoke English as her third language. While she spoke fluently after years of experience, there was one phrase I used that she had trouble grasping at first: Just be.

As in, “After we finish grocery shopping, let’s go to the beach and just be.” She’d always want to finish the sentence. “Just be … relaxing. Just be … writing.”

When I explained what I meant, that I would really just like to sit, observe and exist, without any expectations, she was delighted.

This, she declared, was a very un-American, very un-Western thing to do, which would make sense that why after fifteen years of learning English she’d never heard the phrase.

How to Overcome Perfectionism

Photo by Jonathan Jacobsen
Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. ~Harriet Braiker

My neighbor came to my door while I was baking my first loaf of gluten-free bread. She said she admired our diets and told me how she was doing more to eat less sugar.

“I’d heard from a lot of people that it makes a lot of sense for them,” I said, “but I just didn’t think I could cut another thing out. I mean, after getting rid of dairy, wheat, caffeine and sugar, what would be left?”

She laughed a little and said, “Well it’s all about just cutting yourself some slack. You don’t have to be perfect or anything.”

Here’s my confession: I have this compulsion to be perfect. Everything I do has to be just so, or I don’t want to do it at all. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

How to Stop Gossiping

Photo by Satu Knape
It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people's business. ~Dolley Madison

A few months ago I was speaking to my husband about a friend of ours who had made a purchase we thought was misguided. We spoke at great length, giving our opinion on why we thought it was a bad decision and questioning his judgment.

I remember feeling a little uncomfortable and a bit sad afterward. I felt upset, but I couldn’t quite figure out why.

A day or two later, my 30 Day Challenge group posed its usual question: What’s your challenge for next month? Immediately my heart said, Stop gossiping.

I balked at this; I got a little defensive even. I didn’t gossip! That was the kind of thing reserved for petty high school girls with nothing better to do. That wasn’t me. That’s not a real challenge.

5 Tips to Avoid Overextending Yourself

Photo by Jon Jacobsen
To overextend yourself is to invite defeat. ~G. William Domhoff

A few years ago, after my husband and I got hitched, we flew to Italy and had a wonderful vacation, and when I got back I volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner for our family and many of our friends. Early that day, my jet lag really kicked in, I was exhausted and couldn’t believe I’d offered to do this. Never again, I thought.

This is probably one of the best times to talk about overextending yourself. The holidays are here, and between shopping, baking, parties, and volunteering there seems to be hardly enough time for a regular work day, let alone exercise, laundry and cooking dinner.

I want to stress that I’m going to deal with general, low-level problems of over-committing ourselves. That is one symptom of what can be a larger problem for some of us. It certainly was for me; about six years ago I was extremely codependent. If you’re interested in more information on that, you can check out Codependents Anonymous’ Checklist.

Regardless of how much you struggle with codependence or taking on too much, these tips can help make things a little easier.

6 Ways to Stay Healthy this Winter

Photo by Vanessa Paxton
The first wealth is health. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend of mine invited my husband and I to her home for dinner and told us how to she’d already gotten sick and fall hadn’t even started. My husband, who struggles with staying well, can always relate. We started chatting with her about strategies to avoid getting sick.

So often we feel like our health is out of our hands. I know I’ve been guilty of being annoyed at the coworkers who show up in the office while they’re ill or someone with a chronic cough sits behind me on the bus. Great, I think. Now I’m going to get sick.

But I rarely do. And if I come down with something, I bounce back within a day.

So now that fall has begun and we’re venturing closer to some of the busiest and most stressful times of the year, I’d like to suggest a few things that you can do, things that you’re in control of, to avoid using sick days.

How to Overcome a Bad Day

Photo by Vanessa Paxton
Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. ~Groucho Marx

One day a few weeks ago, my alarm failed to wake me up, which sent me rushing around the house. My day suddenly put into fast-forward.

I decided to take one last sip of coffee before I left for a meeting and ended up spilling it all over my clothes. I changed and ran out the door only to realize later that I left my grocery list in my other pants.

This was quickly turning into “one of those days.” You know the type. Nothing seems to go right, no matter how hard you try.

And one of the hardest parts of those days, at least for me, is keeping my chin up. It’s so easy for my outlook to go south when a few chips are stacked against me. It’s like a chain reaction of mood dominoes.

How to Change Your Life

Photo by JUCO
Editor’s Note

Help me welcome Rebecca to our TSN family of contributors. She writes beautifully—like a song that moves you in your core. This story on ‘how to change your life’ is inspiring, empowering and intimate. I feel very lucky to have found her.  Enjoy!

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change. ~Jim Rohn

Ever since I can remember, I believed that something amazing was going to happen to me at 27. When the day finally came, I sat there wondering what it would be.

After my birthday passed and nothing happened, I became alarmed. What went wrong? Where were my lottery winnings? My book contract? Where was the shiny key to unlock my amazing story?

Then I began to really look at things, and I realized my life wasn’t nearly as lovely as the façade I’d created. Several of my habits were well beyond their expiration date.

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