Sometimes we say things to ourselves that aren’t in our self-interest. Calling yourself a loser or saying “I’m such an idiot” every time you make a mistake isn’t having a positive effect on your self-esteem (on the other hand, you should definitely try affirmations), but beyond the obviously negative self-talk, there are a host of things we say that hold us back more quietly.
While not as plainly negative as “I suck at everything,” these phrases sabotage us in a sneakier—but still damaging—way. Here are some words and phrases that work in the background to stealthily undermine us; things we’d be better off leaving behind when trying to reach our goals.
“I don’t have time”
Consider that it’s a misconception that we do or don’t “have time” for something, because we control what we prioritize. In actuality, we have time for things we make time for. Sometimes, “I don’t have time” can be a smokescreen for: “I don’t want to” or “I’m afraid.” When it comes to pursuing life goals, it’s easy to cite lack of time as a reason to not get started. But what if you dedicated just 10 or 20 minutes a day to start work on your next big goal?
“I don’t know how”
And where would we be if we only did things we knew how to do? Somewhere between Boringtown and Dead Inside-ville. It’s normal we don’t all know how to write a book proposal or run our own business. No one does when they first start. Instead of resting on the excuse that we don’t have some magical fount of necessary knowledge, we can get going on the what, and learn how as we go.
“I’m not ready”
This excuse is gold because it lets us off the hook. Most people will sympathize or corroborate our ironclad reasons for not taking action yet. The problem with “I’m not ready,” however, is that it assumes there is some magical time off in the future when we will be. But there isn’t.
Even if we earn more money, get more experience, or “settle down,” we still may not feel ready. Because it’s not really about those things, anyway. It’s about our relationship to fear, change, and the unknown. By all means, prepare before leaping. But if we spend spend too much time preparing, we may find ourselves in the same spot a year—or ten—from now.
In the words of the eternally wise Master Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda uttered these words when training a young Luke Skywalker out of his surly lack of belief in himself. The concept applies to us non-Jedi knights as well. The words “I’ll try” contain an implicit lack of commitment.
It’s more comfortable to say we’ll “try” to do something, but it’s much more productive when we pick a side and hold ourselves accountable for taking the actions necessary to do the thing we said we’d do.
“Maybe” is a great word to keep us stuck in the comfortable malaise of indecision. To avoid committing to bringing that casserole to book club, “maybe” away. But when it comes to bigger ambitions, there’s no better way to stop us in our tracks than with a weak-ass maybe. Saying “maybe” to something is still making a choice—a choice that leaves us in limbo and pushes the same choice further down the road. What if we decided now?
The word “should” is made of judgment. It implies that something is the right thing to do, and if it isn’t done, there will likely be negative consequences. Instead of using “should,” replace it with “I will.” After declaring what we will do, we can enjoy the empowered feeling of making a choice from possibility, rather than fear.
“If it happens, it happens”
While this phrase can at times be useful as an exercise in letting go of the outcome after putting your heart and soul into something. As a standalone, it implies we have zero self-agency or impact on a given outcome. The things we want most don’t just “happen.” They require vision, commitment, and repeated action.
“But so-and-so really needs me”
It’s a wonderful thing to help others. But there is such a thing as giving so much as to put us in a perpetual martyr position where there is no time, resources, or bandwidth left to improve ourselves. Are there places in your life where you’re over-functioning for someone or something else? Commit to taking back some of that time for you.
“I’m not smart/talented/brave enough”
As the story goes, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Where would we be today if he had internalized that feedback?
We all “lack” in some areas and are stronger in others. The good thing is, we don’t need to be champions of intellect, courage, financial prowess, and beauty to achieve things. Instead of comparing ourselves to others and despairing about our interpretation of the results, we can focus on what we know are our strengths. (P.S. Courage comes from practicing being brave. If we do little things we’re afraid of, our bravery muscle will grow.)
“Just my luck”
We might say it when there’s “crazy traffic” and we end up being late, but saying things are “just my luck” puts us solidly in the victim position, as if there’s nothing that can be done to change what “happens to” us.
Take the last thing that you were mad about. What could you have done differently to improve the outcome? Empowered change starts with taking full responsibility for our choices—and their consequences—both good and bad, rather than habitually blaming “bad luck.”
These two words often lead into a wish, hope, or a complaint. “If only I was younger.” “If only my rent were lower.” “If only I’d gone to a better college.” Phrases like these keep us in a state of fantasy and helplessness. They presume a certain set of conditions or circumstances that would perfectly set us up for a successful, happy life. (Recognizing this is impossible is actually quite freeing.)
Try shifting this statement into one of declarative action. “When I get my Master’s…” or “Tomorrow, I will…” and follow it up with one step you will take towards your goal.
Firstly, don’t beat yourself up for caring about the opinions of others – we’re actually programmed to do it, so that’s extra negativity you don’t need.
“We care about what people think about us because we need to belong to a group,” says Counselling Directory member Dr Melissa Sedmak. “This is hard-wired into us and there was even research a few years back about how we accept lies from people (unconsciously) just to be a ’member of the tribe’.
“As species, we have an innate need to belong in order to survive. Therefore, caring about what other people think, and tailoring how we express ourselves and who we are, enables us to fit in and not become an outcast.”
Like most things in life, it should be activated in moderation, though, says life coach Kanika Tandon. “Caring about the opinions of other people helps when it comes to working as a group,” she says, “but it turns into a problem when we begin to lose the path to our integrity by putting others before us.
“It crosses a line when we begin to make decisions on how it will be received by others instead of what we truly, genuinely want and desire.”Taking time to figure out what you truly value in life can be the first step in realigning your behaviour.
“A lot of people in lockdown have come to question their choices because they realised they were loving life according to other people’s standards and values,” says Tandon. “Realising that we are people-pleasing is the first step to finding solutions.”
To further redress the balance, it can also help to ask yourself whether your group – or “tribe” – would really judge you for making a mistake/saying what you think, or whether this fear of judgement stems entirely from you.
“We need to ask ourselves: is this just a perceived mould we are trying to fit in or are these expectations of my tribe really this high? And if they are real, do I want to associate with the tribe where people impose this mould on the members?” says Dr Sedmak. “Is there another tribe where I would fit better, with having to let go of less of myself?”
Having strong self-esteem will help you stick to your decisions, adds life coach Joanna Ward. “Remind yourself of your achievements, qualities, skills and your unique perspective,” she says. “Be in touch with your purpose. Understand why you’re taking the path you’re taking. If you can explain it to yourself as much as to others, you’re less easily swayed by alternatives.”
For big life choices, Tandon recommends asking big, long-term questions, such as: “Will I regret the decision five-10 years down the line?”
But for the smaller, every day worries, when our biggest concern is looking a bit silly, Ward says it’s good to respond with humour and never be afraid to laugh at yourself and at life. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Everyone loves to swap tips about how to make an epic morning routine, but when it comes to implementation, there are a few easy whoopsies that are far too easy to make. Hitting the snooze button, starting your day from the bed and sacrificing your morning productivitytime for a late-night Netflix marathon are all potential ways to sabotage the potential your mornings have.
And potential, indeed. A growing body of research is finding that mornings are actually the most optimal time for you to ideate or be creative. A study in the Thinking & Reasoning Journal reported that the perceived-to-be least optimal times for thinking and creativity (such as first thing in the morning, when you’re groggy and still on your first cup of coffee) are actually the most optimal times. “Results showed consistently greater insight problem-solving performance during non-optimal times of day compared to optimal times of day,” the research stated.
So, the cost of making mistakes in your morning routine is quite high. Imagine the groundbreaking ideas for your business, next book, or even next family vacation that could surface in the light of the morning! Make sure you aren’t making the following mistakes that will cost you productivity and peace.
Mistake 1: Diving out of bed the second the alarm goes off
For sure, this mistake is done with good intentions — as a bit of a defense mechanism, if you will. If you force yourself to fly out of bed the moment you hear the dreaded alarm, you may be less likely to lay there and break into a mental argument about whether or not the morning commute can afford you an extra five minutes of snooze time. But, this drastic action disconnects you from your body immediately. A better alternative? Take just a few minutes to stretch and elongate your body as much as possible.
This concept is inspired by researcher Amy Cuddy, who coined the term “Power Pose.” When your body stretches out, you’ll actually feel more confident. In addition to this mood boost, a stretch first thing (even by putting your arms into a V shape, which Cuddy says boosts incredible happiness) increases your blood flow to all areas of your body.
After a few minutes of stretching, take your time getting out of bed and going about your immediate morning routine: making coffee, brushing your teeth and getting dressed. Then, consider doing the Power Pose again while standing up, or even during your morning shower!
A Lifestyle of Mobile Consumers Survey reported that 1 out of every 4 young adults checks their phones within one minute of waking up. It’s tempting, for sure — especially nowadays, when there is so much information on your email, social media and in your text messages. But Glenn Lundy, the host and founder of the incredibly popular #RiseandGrind podcast, says this is a major mistake.
“Neither your mind nor your body are ready for that type of stimulation first thing,” Lundy shared. “When you’re groggily waking up, it’s important to focus on presence and gratitude, rooting yourself in your own body through some morning movement and writing down your goals.” These pieces of advice are from his #TheMorning5 67 day challenge, which has been taken up by tens of thousands of individuals across the globe.
“Remember that there’s nothing on your phone that can’t wait for you,” Lundy explained. “And, you’ll be better equipped to handle any work crisis or exciting news when you’ve fully woken up and completed a healthy morning routine.”
Mistake 3: Sleeping in too late
Now, we aren’t telling you which hours you should or shouldn’t be sleeping, but consider this. If you know you’re tempted to check your phone first thing because you feel like you’re missing something, imagine how much that temptation will reside if you wake up earlier than most do. There’s something to this. A study by Amerisleep shared the stunning differences between early risers and late risers in productivity, salary, and general quality of life.
The study reported that “people who get themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn — yes, we’re talking about 4 am — responded they felt “highly productive” 71% of the time. Compare that to people who snooze until 11 am, the least likely group to report being productive. They’re only productive 36% of the time.”
This productivity also translates to money, as the study found that the early risers made an average of $15,000 more each year than the late sleepers.
Ultimately, what works best in your morning routine does come down to personal preference. This is an invitation to experiment. We all have the same 24 hours, and we all have a “morning routine,” whether it’s set in stone and followed habitually, or something that looks different every single day. Consider that the first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest of your day, and therefore, is likely the most important time to take full advantage of. Stretch out, keep that phone turned off, and consider rising earlier than you’re used to. The proof in both productivity and peace will reveal itself.
What are the morning routine mistakes that can derail your day? Many people start a new morning routine only to give up a few days later\. And others will watch videos about “successful routines,” but feel frustrated because these morning habits don’t match their day-to-day reality.
[…] Cruz then responded by suggesting that Twitter’s selective censorship, which includes routine “mistakes” being made only against conservatives, only further proves that the tech platform is now a content […]
[…] So, if you inherit a mutation in one of those genes, you still have some ability to repair any routine mistakes that are being made, but over time, you have less ability, and then, if you get a cancer that has a […]
5 Morning Routine Mistakes You Might Be Making There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a smal […] So, in this article, we will look at 5 morning routine mistakes that you might be making that can decrease the potential that this critical time of day has t […] Final Thoughts on Morning Routine Mistakes Do you find that you’re making any of the mistakes we listed in this article? If so, consider ho […]
[…] So, if you inherit a mutation in one of those genes, you still have some ability to repair any routine mistakes that are being made, but over time, you have less ability, and then, if you get a cancer that has a […]
We are all prone to making mistakes, even in areas we are experienced in. Approaching a task without the fear of making mistakes is the best attitude, and if and when they occur, they teach great lessons. For designers, some may be as simple as forgetting a small detail to bigger ones that would require a redo of the whole project. Mistakes should not prevent you from being creative and designing that system or software for your client or business. Instead, they present you with a great chance to improve your skills and career. Here are some of the most common mistakes that a designer is prone to make and how you can avoid them. Not Using Logs Logs are an essential part of every system. They oversee system events as well as storing user actions like passwords and file renaming. They act as watchtower lookouts alerting you when there’s a security breach in the system. Using logs when designing a system is therefore essential to ensure the security of the data and also spend more time-solving problems rather than looking for what is wrong. You might require the services of a log monitoring company for proper log management. Papertrail offers you an all-in-one cloud based log management solution to ensure your data is safe. Taking on Many Projects at the Same Time Having too much work to handle may mean more income and sometimes an overworked brain. The divided attention plus the tension of not meeting the deadlines may result in reduced output and a less than satisfied client. Imagine the quality of a project that you have given your focus. It will definitely improve your portfolio. Solution: Even though it means less income, learning to say no to work you can’t handle, is a virtue. You will have more time to concentrate on the tasks at hand and deliver quality work that can earn you referrals and recurrent clients. Unclear Responsibilities This happens especially when you are handling a group project. If there’s no project manager, then individual tasks often overlap, some tasks may be left unattended to, or worse still other team members may be less concerned about their roles. The client will notice the mistakes in the work delivered, and whether or not you did your part excellently, the mistakes lie on every team member since there were no guidelines and expectations laid down at the start. Solution: The best way to handle this would be clearly stating what is expected of every member of the team and tasks that each individual should handle by a project manager assigned to the project. According to the National Institute of Corrections, teams function more successfully when everyone understands their roles. That way, everyone will be answerable about their tasks. Lack of Proper Communication Some instructions sent by the client weren’t clear, but you did not seek clarification. Or it may be a question you should have asked during the meeting, but you did not because you feared been seen as dumb. The deadline draws near, and because you cannot avoid it anymore, you ask, and you are forced to correct parts you had already done or worse still, start the whole project again. Solution: You can avoid all these problems by communicating all the relevant information with the client. Ask for clarification where you don’t understand, sort out any uncertainties. It’s better to over-communicate and avoid mistakes than not communicate at all and end up with a load of errors. Working Alone Doing everything yourself is a recipe for making mistakes. You love to think you’re the solution to all the problems. You don’t ask someone to proofread your work or their insights, and you end up delivering work that is full of errors. Some of these details are very minute, and it’d take a different person to notice them. Solution: Design is a collaborative discipline. Learn to involve other people, look for a variety of perspectives, and different insights. Most importantly, learn to tame your ego. There is no harm in looking for an editor to correct the errors. Design is inclusive or else it won’t work out. Conclusion Learning how to avoid these mistakes or even fixing them may take some time and sometimes even more investment. But in the end, it will pay off in other forms like client retention, increased income, more referrals, an excellent reputation, and reduced reworks.
[…] the underlying significant errors and delays that her strategy had not addressed resulted in routine mistakes and failures being replicated at doubtless enormous cost to both council taxpayers and th […]
The coronavirus pandemic has a lot of dark sides. Around the world, people get ill and die, schools close, the healthcare system is overloaded, employees lose their jobs, companies face bankruptcy, stock markets collapse and countries have to spend billions on bailouts and medical aid. And for everyone, whether directly hurt or not, Covid-19 is a huge stressor shaking up our psyche, triggering our fears and uncertainties.
No matter how serious and sad all of this is, there are upsides as well. Therefore, along the Monty Python song “Always look on the bright side of life” let’s not forget those and make the best of what the crisis gives us. As the good old SWOT analysis tells us, there are not only threats, but also opportunities. With opportunities I don’t mean that the crisis provides extra business for companies like Zoom and Go to Webinar that enable virtual meetings, or for Amazon, which is planning to hire another 100,000 employees. The latter is probably more a threat than an opportunity for most, especially for the mom & pop stores that go through difficult times already.
With opportunities I mean general opportunities that are available for most people affected by the crisis. The current crisis offers at least seven of them:
Opportunity 1: More time
In today’s overheated economy time is often seen as the most valuable and sparse thing we have. Covid-19 shows why: because we have stacked our week with social gatherings and entertainment such as going to the theater, birthdays, cinema, restaurant, bar, sportclub, gym, music, festivals, concerts and what is more. Suddenly, all of that is cancelled or forbidden, giving us significant amounts of extra time. And still, live goes on. This shows us how easy it is to clear our calendars. Obviously this doesn’t apply to the health-care sector and other crucial sectors, but beyond those it applies to a large majority of sectors.
The opportunity is that we can spend this time on other things—or even better, on nothing and enjoy the free time. Looking at the crowded parks, waste collection points, garden centres and DIY stores in the last week, many people seem to have a hard time with the latter. Instead of enjoying the extra free time, they fill it immediately with other activities. To seize this first opportunity though, re-arranging how you spend your time and reserving time for nothingness is key. Not just during the crisis, but also after it. The advices in my previous article on the Covid-19 crisis could help in realizing this.
This offers a great opportunity to rethink our habits and routines and make changes. Now that you haven’t been able to go to the restaurant twice a week, commute 2 hours per day, hang out with your friends or go to a party every weekend, you can reflect on whether you really want to continue doing so after the crisis. The virus forces you to make changes to your daily life that you might actually want to keep also after the crisis.
Opportunity 3: Speed and innovation
Many organizations suffer from slow procedures, complex bureaucracies and rigid hierarchies making organizational life less than pleasant. The coronavirus has forced many of them to break through these rigid systems and act instantly. Suddenly procedures can be skipped or accelerated, rules can be side-tracked and decisions can be made more autonomously without formal approval. And suddenly employees are allowed to work from home without direct supervision.
Covid-19 shows that, as soon as there is a strong enough stimulus, things can change. This leads to remarkable innovations. Not being allowed to open their doors, restaurants, for example, are shifting to delivery mode. And schools suddenly do much of the teaching and even some of the testing online. This brings the opportunity to create innovations now that can be maintained after the crisis. And it also can help to keep the current speed and innovation mode afterwards.
Opportunity 4: Better meetings
As referred to in an earlier article, people spend up to 23 hours per week in meetings, half of which are considered a failure or waste of time. The current crisis has forced us to rethink how we deal with meetings. Because in many countries it is not allowed anymore to meet with a group of persons, many meetings are cancelled. And when they still take place they are mostly virtual and shorter.
As such, it provides an excellent opportunity for resolving one of the most disliked parts of organizational life. The technology for this is already present and mature for a couple of years, but the coronavirus triggers a sudden need for it. The real opportunity here is to make systematic changes so that meetings will be more effective, also after the crisis.
Opportunity 5: Reconnect and help
Challenging times offer a great opportunity for social bonding and other ways of connecting to and helping people. Of course, not being able to visit friends or family has increased isolation and feelings of loneliness in some cases. But the feeling of “we’re in this together” has also triggered interesting ways of connecting. Some of those have gone viral—such as Italians singing together from their windows and balconies—but there are many small, local initiatives too to connect and help people who need it.
In the individualized societies many of us live in, this provides opportunities to reconnect and create more social coherence. Not only during the crisis, but also afterwards. This opportunity comes with a big caveat though. Parallel to these nice initiatives we also witness how far people go to protect themselves and their families. People hoard food, medicine, toilet paper and guns without thinking a second of others. However, while it triggers self-serving egocentric behavior too, the Covid-19 crisis does provide us the opportunity to reconnect and show our social side.
Opportunity 6: Cleaner environment
The virus caused a shutdown or dramatical decrease of industrial activities. Factories are closed or operate far below their capacity, road traffic has reduced radically and air traffic collapsed, and the lack of tourism has emptied the streets in overcrowded cities like Venice, Amsterdam and New York. While this may be bad news for most people and especially those working in the affected industries, this is also good news for our planet. Covid-19 causes a significant reduction in green house gasses and other air, water and land polluting outputs. In Venice this has allegedly led to dolphins return after just a couple of weeks (although some argued this to be a hoax).
Whether the particular example is a hoax or not is not so relevant. The fact is that the shutdown and lockdown of large parts of our economy is good for nature—at least on the short term. The opportunity this provides, is to keep parts of this in place also after the crisis to make long-term improvements. Along the line of the previous opportunities, the current crisis provides us an opportunity to reconsider our lives and reorganize it in a way that has less impact on our planet.
Opportunity 7: Modesty and acceptance
The final opportunity that the Covid-19 crisis offers, is a chance to create awareness for the moderate role we play on this planet and accept that things cannot always go as we want them to go. The Covid-19 pandemic is a global crisis chat is unprecedented in modern peace time. We had other pandemics like SARS, but their impact was less substantial. And we had the 1973 oil crisis, but that was a man-made crisis. The coronavirus is not man-made and yet disrupts lives across the planet.
As such, the virus shows us that, no matter how well-planned and organized we are and no matter how much we live in the Anthropocene—the era characterized by significant human impact—we are not in control. One simple virus is disrupting everything. This offers a great opportunity. In almost every aspect of life we want to be in control. Whether it is health, airline safety or our calendars, we live in the illusion that full control is possible. The virus can help us create awareness that this is not the case. It provides an opportunity to take a more modest role and accept that many things are simply beyond our control.
Once again, the Covid-19 crisis has a large dark side. But as these seven opportunities show, it has positive sides as well. Since all seven opportunities require a quite fundamental change in how we approach the world, seizing them can take substantial time. In that sense, and if we keep on looking at the brighter sides of life, the longer the crisis lasts, the larger the opportunities are and the bigger the chances are of actually making changes to our deeply rooted habits and convictions. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.
I help companies do strategy through training, mentoring and consulting. My drive is to bring you and your organization to the next level with strategy approaches that work. I wrote “Strategy Consulting,” “Nor More Bananas,” and “The Strategy Handbook.” Reach out to me via jeroenkraaijenbrink.com, LinkedIn or email@example.com
Pat Flynn 282K subscribers 26 million Americans are without a job right now, and that’s just in the U.S. alone. It’s a terrible situation, one that I’m all too familiar with myself having gotten laid off during the recession in 2008. These are tough times, but there are opportunities within them, too. I was able to build a business back in 2008 as a result of getting laid off, and I imagine that those who focus on the future, and the ability to create something new now, are the ones who are going to come out of this dire situation best.
Following hefty fuel price increases this month – petrol by between 40c and 43c per litre, and diesel by between 54c and 55c a litre – cash-strapped and Covid-battered South African motorists have to find innovative ways to save fuel and money.
According to Bianca de Beer from Dialdirect Insurance: “An average increase of 48c per litre is steep on its own, but when coupled with the fact that a 60-litre tank already cost more than R800 to fill, this places a significant strain on motorists’ wallets.
The good news is that with a few minor adjustments to your driving habits and with regular car maintenance, you can boost the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 40%. If you fill up 48 times a year at roughly R900 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you more than R17,000 a year.”
Dialdirect provides the following tips for better fuel economy:
1: Don’t skimp on servicing
A car can burn up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular schedule. With this in mind, make sure your car is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, worn rings, faulty injectors, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil and dirty filters all add up to engine inefficiency which leads to increased fuel consumption.
2: Be wheel wise
Check your car’s wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.
3: Keep tabs on tyre pressure:
Check for underinflated tyres as these also increase resistance.
4: Use your AC sparingly
Use the air-conditioning only when necessary as it places additional load on the engine.
Don’t speed. The gas-guzzling effects of “stepping on it” are well-known.
7: Avoid stop-start driving
Maintain momentum as far as possible by looking and planning ahead, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.
8: Gear yourself for efficiency
Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow without laboring the engine.
9: Be tech-savvy
Many vehicles have economy settings to optimize performance, throttle response, ride height and so on for maximum fuel efficiency. Use them to your advantage.
10: Plan ahead
Do several tasks on one round trip as opposed to many shorter ones. This not only limits mileage and the amount of time it takes to get your chores done, but also keeps your vehicle’s engine running at optimal temperature.
11: Wait out the rush
Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on your vehicle’s transmission and brakes.
De Beer said: “Saving on fuel by keeping your vehicle in shape and changing the way you drive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but if you increase your fuel economy by 40%, a tank that normally gets you 700km could get you close to 1,000 km. This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill up.”
A British summer isn’t complete without a countryside picnic. But, while alfresco dining is brilliant fun for the family, it produces a lot of waste. From shop-bought sandwiches to single-use cutlery, many essentials purchased for picnics get thrown in the bin after use.
Looking for ideas on how to make your picnic more sustainable? Take a look at some of the simple things you can do below. They might be small changes, but they will make a huge difference…
1. Bring reusable plates, cutlery and glasses
The first step to ensuring your picnic is plastic-free is to pack reusable plates, cutlery sets and glasses. You can either take these from home or, if you have picnics more regularly, invest in a bamboo picnic dining set to reuse each time you head out.
Likewise, reusable linen napkins are good to get your hands on. These can simply be popped in the washing machine once you get home.
Previous research conducted by the Ocean Conservancy lists plastic cutlery as among the items ‘most deadly’ to sea turtles, birds, and mammals. While it might be tempting to reach for plastic forks, think about the impact you’re having on the environment.
2. Cook from scratch
Picnics are famous for their mini sausages, pork pies and creamy pots of coleslaw. While these are delicious summertime treats, they come wrapped unnecessarily in plastic — which gets thrown away afterwards.
A brilliant way to save money, reduce waste, and make your picnics more tasty is to cook your lunch from scratch. Make sandwiches at home; whip up a scrumptious cold pasta salad; or even have a go at making your own slaw.
Remember to not over-pack on food, either: it’s tempting to often pop everything in your bag, but food is more likely to be wasted if you pack what you won’t eat.
3. Choose loose fruits and vegetables
Finger-food is especially popular with young children at picnics, but many of our favourite go-to choices are wrapped in plastic. Whether it’s carrot sticks, cucumber or peppers, choose fruits and vegetables from the ‘loose’ section at the supermarket. Remember to wash them before you leave the house, and pop them into reusable lunchbox (or some beeswax wraps) to take with you.
4. Get your cheese and meat from a fresh counter
Everyone loves a cheese sandwich, but did you get your cheese from a plastic packet in the fridge? The likelihood is yes, so if you’re opting for cheese on your picnic you may also need to consider other plastic-free options.\
Local delicatessens will sell ‘naked’ sliced and blocks of cheese without their packaging. While these may be a little more expensive than supermarket options, it’s a brilliant way to cut back on waste — and support your local deli, too.
5. Make your own dips
From humous to guacamole, these popular dips can easily be made in the kitchen using ingredients many of us already have. Tomato salsa, for example, is made by blending tomatoes, an onion and garlic together (remember to opt for loose ingredients). As well as being much cheaper to make yourself, you’ll also have fun doing so.
6. Use any leftovers to make compost
Instead of throwing away leftover food, use them to make a compost when you return home. From vegetable peelings to fruit waste and teabags, keep hold of these for your compost heap.
The team at Plastic Free July say: “If there’s any food scraps at the end of the day (like fruit rinds), be sure to take them home and compost them. Be sure to encourage people to take any yummy leftovers home, too, rather than throwing them out.”
Stay-at-home orders and quarantine life have forced us to make some pretty abrupt changes in our fitness routines. And even though you may have the best intentions to meet your step goals every day, the bottom line is that it can be harder to do when you’re spending more time in the house. Despite your best intentions, it’s really easy to get sucked into a more sedentary lifestyle when you don’t really have anywhere to go and the couch is literally right there.
You know how it goes: You wake up in the morning, tell yourself you’ll just sit down on the couch for a few minutes and then next thing you know, you’re two coffees and four Friends reruns deep. If this sounds familiar, don’t feel bad. You’re in the company of many others.
While sitting around more frequently may have been fun for a while, after more than three months of staying at home — and news of some companies turning to remote work for good or at least a while longer — you may be looking for some motivation and ideas on how to take 10,000 steps when you’re spending more time inside. It’s true that reaching your step goal indoors requires you to be a little more deliberate with your steps and your time, but it’s totally doable.
As the weather starts to warm up, you always have the option to go outside and walk around your local park or hit the track at your local high school. But if those areas seem too busy for your comfort, there are plenty of ways you can get creative inside your home.
Get a smartwatch and don’t ignore alerts to move
If you’re tracking your steps, it’s likely that you already have this one checked off the list, but I wanted to suggest it anyway, in case you don’t. When I started to fall into a quarantine sit-around-all-day slump, I treated myself to an Apple Watch ($399 at Apple). The deal was that I had to make a valiant effort to get off the couch and close my three rings every day. In the back of my mind I thought, “yeah, OK, that’s just my excuse for spending the money, and it’s not really going to happen,” but I was actually surprised at how well it worked (when I let it).
At first, I would dismiss every “stand” and “breathe” notification that popped up, but after about a week or so, I decided to play along and let the Apple Watch give me the motivation I needed. I obliged every alert and notification and really got moving and now, three months later, I make it a point to crush my goals daily.
Closing rings and getting digital awards may sound cheesy to you at first, but they actually provide some serious external motivation, even if you’re someone like me who doesn’t really love exercise, but does it anyway for the physical and mental benefits.
Of course, you don’t have to get an Apple Watch. There are other, less expensive options out there, like the Fitbit Versa 2. If a smartwatch isn’t in your budget at all, you can also opt for a basic pedometer or one of many free pedometer apps that you can download right to your phone. The apps are usually not as accurate as wearing something on your wrist, but they’ll still give you a good idea of where you stand.
Walk while you binge
Let’s face it; some days (or most days), the appeal of binge-watching the new season of Queer Eye far outweighs any desire to get up and get moving. But instead of settling into the couch with a box of tissues and a bag of Doritos and completely succumbing to Jonathan Van Ness‘ charm, strap on your pedometer or your smartwatch and get to stepping.
Of course, you don’t have to walk for the entire episode — and you’re free to choose your own binge-worthy show to watch — but the point is to move instead of sitting. And move like you mean it. Swing those arms, bring those knees up to your chest and get that heart rate going so you can really reap the benefits. If you really commit, you can rack up 4,500 steps in one 45-minute episode. March through two episodes and you’ll knock off 90 percent of your steps for the entire day.
You might feel silly walking back and forth in the hallway or in circles in your kitchen, but desperate times call for desperate measures. While the scenery may not be as visually stimulating as the passing trees you see when you’re walking in the park, a step is a step, no matter where you take it.
You can simply pace back and forth in one area of your living space or map out an indoor track. For example, my living room, kitchen and dining room all connect in a circle. I mapped out the area and know that it takes 71 steps to do a full lap. That means 20 quick laps around, which takes me just over 17 minutes, will help rack up 1,420 steps.
If you go this route, optimize your effort. Instead of walking in a straight line from point A to point B, follow your home’s floor plan and walk along the perimeter of each room to get as many steps in as possible.
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If the thought of walking around in circles in your house doesn’t give you the motivation you need to get moving, make it more appealing by finding a podcast you love and listening to it as you go. Listening to a podcast helps you zone out so the time goes by much faster. And if you walk briskly, you can knock out up to 3,000 steps by the time your 30-minute podcast is over.
I like to listen to personal development type podcasts as I work out because it makes me feel like I’m getting a physical workout along with a mental one. Some of my favorites are Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, and Not Another Anxiety Show with Kelli Walker, but there are so many that you can choose from. If personal development podcasts aren’t your bag, find a genre that excites you and then start going through the options until you find one you really enjoy. You can also swap out a podcast with an audiobook and let someone else read to you as you walk.
Walk every time you have a phone call
Quarantine has been all about the Zoom calls, but if you’re still spending a lot of time having regular phone conversations or conference calls, use that time to get your steps in. Every time you take or make a phone call, start walking around your house and continue to walk until the end of the call, whether it’s 5 minutes or 30.
Keep in mind that if you’re putting a decent effort into your steps, you’ll probably get a little out of breath. While this is fine for team calls or check-ins with your colleagues, it might not be the best idea for phone interviews or something more formal.
Even if you don’t have work calls, you can use your step goal as an excellent excuse to actually call a family member or a friend instead of texting. Spend 15 minutes on the phone, pacing while you talk, and you can rack up 1,500 steps without even thinking about it.
Be less efficient
Normally, when you’re doing chores or cleaning up the house, the goal is to get as much as you can done in as little time as possible, but when you’re trying to get your steps in, make it a point to be less efficient.
Instead of piling up all of your laundry in a stack that’s taller than you and then struggling to get it all to the washing machine in one trip, bring a few armfuls at a time so that you have to walk back and forth several times.
If you have kids or pets and you need to clean up their toys, grab one at a time and put it back where it belongs before going back for the next one.
If you’re bringing groceries in from the car, resist the urge to pile as many bags as possible onto each arm and take only two at a time — one in each hand — until everything is brought into the kitchen.
It might seem like these things will only add a trivial amount of steps to your day, but once you start doing it regularly, you’ll see how fast all those 20-step extra trips add up.
Get a treadmill desk
Treadmill desks take the advice to stand up as you type one step (pun intended) further. If you haven’t already heard, there are actual under-desk treadmills that you set up with a standing desk to turn your workspace into your workout space — a multitasker’s dream. But there are other options, too.
If you already have a treadmill, there are also desk attachments that you can snap onto your treadmill’s handlebars to turn it into a treadmill desk. If you don’t have the budget or the space for a treadmill desk, you can opt for a regular standing desk without the treadmill attachment and walk in place as you work. If you do this at a moderate pace for one hour, that’s about 6,000 steps that you can check off at the same time as your work to-do list.
Fair warning, things can get a little bumpy and it’s not as easy to type when you’re moving as when you’re sitting stationary in a chair, but after some practice, you get used to it.
Get a mini trampoline
OK, you might not technically think of jumping as steps, but it does count toward your step goal. And a study done by scientists at NASA in 1980 found that jumping on a mini trampoline — or rebounding, as it’s officially called in the fitness world — is a more efficient exercise than running on the treadmill at any speed. It also puts less stress on the body, so injuries and sore joints are less likely.
Rebounding, even for just five minutes a day, may also help increase lymphatic flow. The lymph system is responsible for isolating infection and clearing out toxins from everywhere else in your body and, unlike the circulatory system which uses your heart to pump, the lymphatic system has a weak internal pumping system. Because of that, lymph drainage relies heavily on skeletal muscle contractions and jumping on a trampoline is one of the most effective ways to get things going.
You can get any type of mini trampoline, but bungee rebounders, like the ones from JumpSport or Leaps and Rebounds, tend to be the easiest on your joints. They’re also a lot quieter than the spring-style rebounders.
Dance around the kitchen while you cook
Getting in your steps doesn’t have to be a formal, robotic process. Make it fun by turning it into a dance party. Since you most likely have to cook or prepare a meal in some way at some point anyway, you can get two tasks done at once. As an added bonus, listening to music and dancing are both proven ways to help reduce stress and boost happiness.
Instead of standing in front of the stove waiting for your pan to heat up or for the water to boil, put on your favorite song and dance around the kitchen. Dance to the refrigerator, taking as many steps as possible, as you get out ingredients. Shimmy back and forth as you chop veggies (but be careful).
Make it a competition
Nothing lights a fire under me faster than turning a step goal into a “friendly” competition. And by “friendly” competition, I mean “completely unfriendly, there’s no way I’m going to let you beat me” competition. That might be the Type A in me, but even if you don’t consider yourself a competitive person, you might be surprised at how much more motivated you feel when you’re trying to out-step someone else (especially if that someone else is your significant other).
Research shows that competition can help boost physical effort — both in the short- and long-term, increase physical motivation, and improve performance (as long as the situation doesn’t require a lot of mental effort).
If you have an Apple Watch, you can share your activity with anyone else who has one, too, so you can see where you stand in real time. If you don’t, you can easily send pictures or screenshots of your step status with your competitor to keep track.
Don’t beat yourself up
Now that I’ve given you all of my best advice to reach 10,000 steps indoors, here comes the cliche pep talk: don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get there right away. I know, I know, but seriously — 10,000 steps, which is equivalent to about five miles, is a lot. If you’re coming from a sedentary lifestyle, you’re probably not going to be able to jump off the couch one day and rack up 10,000 steps around your house like it’s nothing — and that’s OK.
Ten thousand steps isn’t some magical fitness number — that step goal was actually created in the 1960s by a Japanese company that was trying to sell a pedometer. And it worked. Since then, that number has become the go-to step goal for health enthusiasts, myself included.
But if the thought of 10,000 steps intimidates you, scale it back. Make it your goal to reach 2,000, 4,000 or 8,000 steps indoors for a couple of weeks and then once you’ve nailed those goals, you can work your way up. A study that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine actually found that you start seeing some serious health benefits at just 4,400 steps per day, and once you reach 7,500 daily steps, those health benefits kind of level off.
Even if you were fairly active before the shutdown in March and the number doesn’t intimidate you, but you relied on outdoor activity or the gym to help you reach your step goals, figuring out the best way to get there indoors is going to take some trial and error. Be patient with yourself through the process. You have to learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Start with a few strategies on this list and then go from there. Soon, you’ll figure out what you like and what you don’t and hitting your step goal indoors will become second nature.
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We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”
While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.
Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:
1. They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures
By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.
2. They exercise
Getting your body moving for as little as ten minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.
3. They spend money on other people
Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.
4. They surround themselves with the right people
Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.
5. They stay positive
Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.
6. They get enough sleep
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep for improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.
7. They have deep conversations
Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.
8. They help others
Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were ten times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.
9. They make an effort to be happy
No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.
10. They do things in person
Happy people only let technology do their talking when absolutely necessary. The human brain is wired for in-person interaction, so happy people will jump at the chance to drive across town to see a friend or meet face-to-face because it makes them feel good.
11. They have a growth mindset
People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.
People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
Happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Adopting even a few of the habits from this list will make a big difference in your mood.
Apparently, in the dating world, there’s now an epidemic of men specifying partners and relationships with “no drama”. “I understand that people want joy, laughter and happiness in their relationships,” wrote Laura Hilgers, in a New York Times essay on the phenomenon.
But the men who use such phrases, she argued, “want something that doesn’t exist: a problem-free partnership with someone who has no life experience. Are they looking for a woman who never gets angry or afraid or sad, who never worries about her family or struggles in her job?”
It’s hard to say, because “drama” is so vague. That makes it a worthy successor to the now rather 70s-sounding “issues”: a label capacious enough to include people with severe personality disorders – whom you might be forgiven for wishing to avoid – but also everyone who has displayed any human emotion other than upbeat good cheer. So, by demanding “no drama”, you get to characterise your fear of difficult emotions as a simple matter of self-care.
Of course you don’t want to date somebody with, you know, issues! (To be clear: if drama means emotional or physical abuse, you should definitely avoid it.) On the other hand, good luck finding a fulfilling relationship if you will only consider people with no issues.
If I have sympathy for these drama-avoidant men, though, I can sum it up in two words: internet dating. Romance, like much else these days, comes with the promise of infinite possibility: if this particular match doesn’t work out, there are countless fantastic alternatives on standby. The promise might not be real; maybe none of those astoundingly attractive women would date you.
But it’s the belief that counts – and in this environment, filtering out the prospect of being exposed to someone else’s emotional struggles makes a certain, rather soulless, kind of sense. Why choose a challenging experience if a fun one seems like an option? Sure, the challenging experience may ultimately prove more meaningful, but it’s still a big ask.
It’s a mild version of that phenomenon where people have a brush with death, through illness or accident, then say it was the most meaningful experience of their lives. Fair enough – but even so, few of us would choose that path if we thought we could skip it instead. The problem here is the collision of a timeless truth – that what we think we want isn’t always what’s best for us – with a modern one: the way the “convenience revolution” makes it so easy to get what we think we want.
Convenience plays funny tricks: “I prefer to brew my coffee,” writes the academic Tim Wu, “but Starbucks Instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I ‘prefer’.” A decade or two ago, it didn’t matter so much if you couldn’t handle negative emotions in others; if you wanted a relationship at all, you would have to learn to cope.
These days, when it takes willpower just to go and meet a friend instead of staying at home watching Netflix, how much more willpower does it take to voluntarily submit to the risk of difficult feelings? You still should, since it’s the only way to fulfillment. But like many other things worth doing, it’s getting easier and easier not to do it.