Planning for a Win

Well, here we are smack dab in a new year and it’s time to start planning for a win. I’ve always hated the term strategic planning. It’s often thrown around in corporate settings along with an eyeroll that means we’re generating a big report no one will read and we have no intention of following. In spite of that, planning is critically important for improving our health, our enjoyment, and our lives!

B-O-R-I-N-G. I can feel your eyeroll reading this. The thing is, a lack of planning will rob us of safety, leisure, and time down the road. We know this so well we have the cliché: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can’t prevent unless you know what you’re preventing and make deliberate efforts toward doing so. In order to be deliberate, you must think through the process. This, is planning.

So, how can you motivate yourself to do something that seems useless until you need it?

Observe someone else

What’s difficult to see in ourselves is easy to see in others. Every time you tell your teen that cleaning her room would go faster if she’d organize, remember that organizing is implementation of planning logistics. Every time you tell your son that his homework will be easier if he’ll do his hardest subject first, remember that increasing efficiency by minimizing your weaknesses is planning.

Shop

If you love shopping, get yourself in planning mode by clicking through product pictures that will make your tasks easier. Always running out of printer ink at the most inopportune moment? Find a storage container you love to store extra. Eat too many chips because you forget to buy crunchy vegetables? Favorite a couple of crunchy vegetables in your grocery app so they’ll come up as suggestions next time you shop.

Use the shower

If you feel you can’t spare the time to plan, do the mental work while you’re in the shower. When I designed for clients, most designs started in the shower. I’ve solved a lot of problems there too. I often plan product production in the shower. The only problem is my autopilot isn’t perfect and I sometimes forget to use shampoo.

Find something pleasant

As you open your mind to planning in spite of internal objections, notice if there’s one tiny thing you enjoy about the process. For some of us, hand writing lists in a leather journal with a favorite pen is enough to bridge the gap between reluctance and progress. Planning while sitting in your favorite chair with your favorite beverage can also be pleasant (or fun or dangerous depending your favorite beverage and the amount consumed, no judgement).

When it comes to a workout plan, finding the specific activities that make you feel good will help you adhere to a schedule. In fact, if a workout makes you feel better there won’t be a need for a formal plan. You’ll seek it out. Swimming and yoga are my favorites. Truthfully, I’d rather be doing yoga right now that writing, but that does not fit my plan for today.

Solve a puzzle

Life is a puzzle that’s always adding new pieces. Solving a what-would-I-do-if puzzle can be a great mental exercise. When I see some disaster on TV, I devise a plan for what I would do if faced with that circumstance. I don’t get obsessed by this or start ordering 50 years of supplies. I just think through the possibilities and make a mental checklist. For instance, I have a procedure for the steps to follow if the bridge in front of me is suddenly gone and I can’t stop my car before it plunges. Disaster response is a puzzle to solve. Planning also seeks to put the pieces of life in order.

Reward yourself

A reward at the end of a task isn’t as motivational for me as the inherent benefits of planning that I will enjoy later, but not everyone is like me. If rewarding yourself with two hours of binge watching once you’ve finished the task at hand, then do it. Have food delivered rather than cooking another meal or order a pair of earrings you’ve been eyeing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with incentives!

Be flexible

Any rigid plan can feel stifling at some point so allow yourself some flexibility. You may have saved planning for a rainy day that turns out to be sunny. Don’t strap yourself to your desk, get out and enjoy the sun! You’ll feel more invigorated and motivated later.

Run across an interesting article while you’re researching something? Go ahead and read it, then come back to the task. Too often we read the article, but then punish ourselves for not sticking to the plan. That just demotivates us for the next planning session. Incorporating flexibility instead, frees us to enjoy a digression occasionally without feeling bad.

Be honest

How many of us say we hate planning and then invest hours scoping out the perfect vacation spot with a smile on our faces? Do we really hate planning or is it tolerable when we’re doing something we consider leisure rather than work? Owning our individual quirks, motivations, and tolerances will make every decision easier and more understandable. And it will ease the internal struggle that prevents action.

Bring your sense of humor

No matter how much you plan, some things will go awry. The universe, family, or a boss will throw you an unavoidable curve ball. When plans fail in ironic and silly ways, it’s okay to laugh. If you recognize you’ve become too attached to a plan you didn’t want to make in the first place, it’s okay to laugh. It’s not so much about the plan. Plans often have to be revised. The thought process, expectations, and intentions that show us the path forward are what matters.

Just do it

There is a lot of wisdom to the Nike slogan. Sometimes the first step is all we need to get us going. If you can muscle yourself through one step, just do it and see what happens. Often, the second step is easier and by the 10th you won’t even remember your objection.

Now, get out there and win 2021. It’s going to be a tough one, but that’s no reason not to excel and thrive! Planning now will help later as challenges appear.

Winning is being informed. Winning is showing up. Winning is stretching yourself. Winning is being kind. Winning is embracing change. Winning is seeing the opportunity in every challenge. Winning is loving your flaws. Winning is learning. Winning is understanding your value. Winning is listening. Winning is contributing. Winning is speaking your truth. Winning is granting yourself grace. Winning is granting grace to those you do not like or understand. Winning is accepting love.

Winning is giving. Winning is…limitless.

You Can Never be Too Prepared…Can You?

planYou can never be too prepared…can you?

As small children we learn to stop, drop, and roll. As teens we’re encouraged to be prepared to practice safe sex. As adults, we are oft admonished to prepare for the future by contributing to a retirement account. That’s three examples of ways we’re encouraged to prepare, but there are hundreds: take AP courses to prepare for college, get your flu shot, have a safe place to go in a tornado, wear your seat belt, have enough savings available to cover 3-6 months of bills, buy life insurance, know the best glide speed of your airplane, rehearse your dance moves before a performance, practice shooting free throws, learn CPR, take an umbrella, put your gloves in your pocket, etc. Much of our time and energy is spent preparing for something.

When I was learning to fly, most of the training time was focussed on preventing or preparing for a malfunction or emergency. Once I had mastered the procedures, my instructor deemed me ready to fly solo. Could I have flown the plane before that? Yes. And I could have done it safely as long as everything went as planned. But I would not have been ready to make a lifesaving split-second decision in the event of a catastrophic event.

Preparation is a good thing. It allows us to excel in sports and academics. It makes for productive meetings. It gives us food that is elevated from its original state. It calms our minds. It sometimes saves our lives. I am all for being prepared. In fact, I believe it’s sometimes critical.

But is it possible to over-prepare?
prepare
Preparedness or Fear?

I have a friend who describes traveling with his former girlfriend as a regimented execution of her meticulous planning. Each attraction, restaurant, and hotel was identified in advance and mandatory in inclusion. His hankering for BBQ rather than Tex-Mex simply could not be accommodated.

This begs the question of whether the girlfriend was over or under prepared. Obviously, she was logistically prepared, but it seems she was not confident and relaxed enough to vary from her plan even if it would have enhanced the overall experience.

This is an example of how fear can cloak itself in preparedness. When this happens, preparedness takes on a life of its own and begins to hold us back rather than providing a foundation for us to move forward.

My sister prepared for over a year to become gluten-free. She researched taco seasoning mixes, doughnuts, restaurant menus, one-to-one flour mixes – everything that she needed to know to feel prepared. Then she did a pantry challenge to make sure no food went to waste. The preparation period went on so long that she started to believe going gluten-free would be really hard.

Luckily, she didn’t talk herself out of the original goal. After a year with less pain, more energy, and fewer sinus problems, she admitted that she had made things much harder than they needed to be. She had prepared past the point of readiness.

While my sister still managed to move forward, my 98-year-old cousin stopped herself from the trip to Alaska she wishes she’d taken. She was so focused on saving for the future that she stayed home while her friends had the time of their lives. If she had been struggling financially, that could have made sense. She wasn’t. She had more than enough. Again, fear masqueraded as preparedness.

You’ve probably known someone who buys way more food than they need because they fear they’ll run out, or keeps going back to school but never pursues the new job for which they’re more than qualified. You may know an amazing artist whose work sits in the back room while their spreadsheet of galleries to contact grows. They are all adequately prepared to move forward, but may tell you they’ll make the move as soon as they prepare in x, y, or z way.

Preparedness vs Being Present

When you spend your time preparing for the future, you cannot fully experience the present. The truth is, we can never prepare for every possible circumstance that will affect us. This is an area in which it is wise to choose our battles.

Choose to Prepare…or Not

What are some things to look for when making preparedness choices? Here are five questions to ask yourself:

1)Does it require buying something, using a specific service, or taking a medication that is being advertised to me? If so, it is good to think twice. Some marketers and advertisers prey upon fear to drive sales. This is sometimes disguised in rhetoric of prevention or preparedness.

2)How much time, money, or effort will the preparation take in relation to the likelihood of the threat? If you live in Missouri, there’s no real need to prepare for a hurricane. On the other hand, it is a good idea to know the safest place in your house in the event of a tornado.

3)Am I laying the groundwork for moving forward, or am I avoiding something? Preparing yourself for the worst possible response from your spouse may keep you from broaching a topic that needs to be resolved. You can also avoid cleaning out the closet by continually exploring containers, racks, bins, and other organizational tools before you get started.

4)Have I reached the point of over-attachment to one specific approach or idea? Over-preparing for a meeting may keep you from really hearing a potential client’s objections because you have become so focused on the script you’ve rehearsed in your head. Over-preparing for parenting can mean you fail to notice the most effective way to motivate a specific child.

5)Am I truly preparing, or just shielding myself from making a decision? As long as I’m still in training or strategically planning, I don’t have to make an active decision to do anything. It’s great having one foot in and one foot out. I can hold onto the dream that makes me sound good in conversation and still stay stuck in the muck.

I say all of this to prepare you for the posts that will come next. Many of us must heal our bodies, minds, and spirits in order to thrive. The path to healing has common elements for all of us. Mapping the process can help you know what to expect along the way.

It’s easy for “experts” to tell us we will see a difference in days or weeks or quickly when we begin healing process. That can be true, but it’s not the whole story. If it were, no one would give up on a health plan after 6 months, relapse, or go back to an abusive relationship. Having a map to guide you can help you persevere in the moments when backward feels better than forward.

Don’t worry, amidst all this mapping there will be cooking too. The food and the process offer many tools for healing.

Next up, we’ll prepare…you had to know that was coming.

Until then, I wish you warm hugs and kind words.

https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2017/09/22/personal-preparedness-why-prepare-2/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/think-going-gluten-free-is-hard-visualization-can-help/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/time-is-on-your-side/

Get Cooking with this Tip – Plan Ahead, But Not Too Much!

Get cooking with this tip – plan ahead, but not too much! Today’s post is for all of you who want to provide your families with healthy, wholesome food every day, but just can’t quite figure out how to find the time to cook.

I feel your struggle! I spent over 20 years building businesses, raising kids as a single mom and taking up the slack when my employees were sick or on vacation. I was determined to have a social life as well. Every minute of every day seemed jam-packed. Sometimes I felt like adding one more thing would be the straw that would break me.

While I’ve shifted the way I live over the past couple of years, I just had two physically grueling weeks moving and consolidating 2500 square feet of office into under 500 square feet. We didn’t hire movers so there was a lot of lifting, carrying, loading and unloading. I am tired. Perhaps that’s why I’m thinking about the little things that make it possible for me to throw together a meal quickly.

One of the things I do is plan ahead a little, but not too much. How does this help me? This morning planning ahead means marinating some chicken legs. I know that this will make the meat more flavorful, and I know that prepping it this morning means all I have to do this evening is pop them in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes.
chicken

Now that I’m in the kitchen, I realize I’m starting to get hungry. It’s midmorning and the perfect time to throw together a one-pot meal I can run to for lunch today and tomorrow. I grab an onion, olive oil, an orange bell pepper, a couple of summer squash, and some ground turkey. This will be an evolving dish. I haven’t yet decided on the flavorings.
one-pot

I clean all the vegetables, slice the onion and while it’s sautéing in olive oil, slice about a third of the bell pepper and one of the squash. I add them in stages to the onion and sprinkle with salt & pepper. After a few minutes, I push all the vegetables to the outside of the skillet and place the ground turkey in the middle to brown. Periodically I have to break it into smaller pieces with the spatula. During the time in between stirs, I finish slicing the bell pepper and the other yellow squash.

I don’t need the pepper and squash for my one-pot meal, but knowing that when I come home from work tired, I sometimes just can’t get my mind around cleaning and chopping veggies, I recognize that prepping these now means I am more likely to cook them for dinner this week, or dip them in hummus for a healthy snack.
squash

NOT having too specific a plan for the squash and bell pepper helps me not feel overwhelmed. All I need to do right now is stir my one-pot meal and slice these puppies. Then I’ll put them in one of the many plastic containers I keep in the cabinet in precarious stacks that fall on Ben’s head when he opens the cabinet doors. I like to think of this as reflex training. I can usually manage to catch them as they fall. Ben just thinks it’s annoying.

I finish off the one-pot meal by adding some frozen English peas, a handful of shredded Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheese blend, salt, pepper, and a little water & let it simmer for about 12 minutes. While the timer runs on the 12 minutes, I have time to pop the chopped veggies into containers and put them in the refrigerator, then clean up the kitchen.
veg for fridge

When I get home and am already hungry I won’t have to think about what I’m going to cook, all I have to do is turn on the oven and throw the drummies on a baking sheet. In the same amount of time I would spend driving to a restaurant, ordering, and getting my food, I’ll have cooked chicken. I can pair that with a piece of fruit, a salad, sliced tomatoes and cottage cheese or raw vegetables dipped in my favorite dressing and have a healthy meal without cooking anything else. I’ll also have time to steam asparagus or broccoli while the chicken bakes.

As a backup plan, I’ll have whatever is left of my one-pot meal. I can stretch it by adding some fresh kale, pasta or rice. Or I can throw together a frittata full of turkey, vegetables, and cheese. The key is not being too attached to a specific meal plan so that my mind is free to see all the possibilities instead of the impossibility of pulling off whatever plan I had that may no longer work.

Have another tip? Please share it with us in the comments below.

Travel Tip #2 – Preview your gluten-free restaurant options.

I don’t know about you, but most of my recent travel has involved unexpected delays. That often means that I arrive at my hotel tired, hungry and ready to relax over dinner with a glass of wine. It also means that I don’t want a huge gap between dropping off my bags and heading for a restaurant. Of course I can usually find a gluten-free option at any restaurant, but when I’m already travel weary I like to minimize the difficulty.

Most of us spend some time searching the web when we’re planning a trip. Even if we choose to book our airline and hotel tickets over the phone, we’re either previewing flights, mapping hotels, or looking at our destination’s community calendar in advance. While we’re searching, it’s easy to add a gluten-free food search to the mix.

Screen Shot
Gluten-Free Search

Once you’ve mapped your hotel or bed & breakfast, map the closest restaurant, bakery or health food store that offers gluten-free options. Print a copy of the map and place it in your carryon or bookmark the map link on your mobile device for easy access. Being prepared will allow you to focus on the often swiftly changing logistical details of your trip with the confidence that you’ll be eating with ease once you arrive.

Of course your search may turn up a plethora of local restaurants you’ll want to sample before your trip is over. Knowing these in advance will allow you to make reservations when required and have an address handy when a colleague wants to know where to meet you.

On one recent trip, my advance search showed me a scrumptious coffee shop around the corner from my friend’s apartment that featured treats from a local gluten-free bakery. With that to look forward to, I finished off my airplane carryon food upon arrival and headed for the bakery the next morning.  I was not disappointed by the fare, and I was thrilled that there was no need to burden my friend with a dietary discussion before we’d even had a cup of coffee.

If you’re staying in a more rural area and an advance search turns up no options other than the local grocery, you’ll know that a refrigerator in your hotel room will be a plus. The ability to store yogurt, cheese, or a leftover piece of steak gives you more possibilities than having to rely on fruit, nuts, or a pouch of tuna if the next restaurant you try doesn’t have suitable options.

Spending a little time preparing in the comfort of my home gives me more resources for enjoyment when I reach my destination. For me, that feels like time well spent. Let me know how it feels for you.