Removing the “Can’t”


“I could never give up eating cheese.” – A wonderful person said that to me the other day.

What he probably meant to say is that he “doesn’t want” to give up eating cheese.

But let’s say he did want to – I know that he would be right when he said that he can’t. Anytime I say to myself that I can’t do something, even if it is something I want, I know that I’m right too.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t…you’re right” – That was said by Henry Ford and it is true in all areas of our lives.

The words that we use are a reflection of our thoughts. The thoughts we have are a reflection of our beliefs. And the beliefs we hold dear dictate the experience of our life.

It’s easy to argue against this paradigm. It’s easy to say “no, I’ve tried, and I can’t” or to say that a person with seeming limitations can’t do something. It is those words which reflect our thoughts, which dictate the experience of our lives.

But if we were to change those beliefs, the words would change and then so would the experience of what we can or can’t do.

Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf in the nineteenth century learned to talk, write, and read. She became the first deaf/blind person to earn a bachelors degree and went on to inspire generations not only with her story but also with her insightful published works.

Jennifer Bricker, a woman born without legs and because of it given up for adoption, was raised by her adoptive parents to know that “can’t” is not part of her vocabulary. She did not consider herself disabled and she achieved her dream of becoming a gymnastics champion and an acrobat.

So, when people tell me that they can’t lose weight, I know that they are right…at least for now.

When there is something that we want that seems so out of reach that we truly believe we can’t have it, then the task isn’t to focus on the how of of what we want, the task is to examine and dissolve or change that belief  that the word “can’t” represents so that the limitation disappears.

From that point anything is possible.

“If you are never given limits, you can do anything” – Jennifer Bricker

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping Our New Year’s Resolutions

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for this year? Each year at the end of December or on New Year’s Day I am asked this same question by at least one person. My answer is initially “no” but it gets me thinking and I ultimately jump on the bandwagon and start setting my resolutions for the coming year. Some of my resolutions serve to get me back on track after my derailing gluttonous behavior over the holiday season, and some are life changing goals designed to move my life’s mission forward. For the most part, I am able to keep my resolutions but like most people, many die down after even a week. One week! Why is that? And I know I’m not alone. In thinking about this, I realized there are techniques to achieving success on New Year’s resolutions and no, I am not going to suggest that we not make any. After all, I think it feels good to start the year off with some feel-good goals.

According to Wikipedia, a New Year’s resolution is a commitment made to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit made in anticipation of the New Year and new beginnings. The concept is to annually reflect on self-improvement.[i] According to one survey, of the 80% of respondents who have made resolutions in their lifetime, only 10% said they always keep them. 33% said they have kept some and let some go. 43% said they rarely keep them, but have done so once or twice. And 15% said they have never kept a new year’s resolution.[ii] I’m in the 33%. Where are you?

The main reason it is difficult to keep resolutions is that if it they were easy to accomplish, then they would be accomplished already throughout the year without much more thought. In addition, many resolutions are not planned out very well. The most common resolutions are things that we all know would make our life better if only we would just get them done.

Common New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Lose Weight
  • Eat healthier
  • Quit smoking
  • Quit drinking
  • Watch less TV
  • Manage debt
  • Manage stress
  • Obtain better work-life balance
  • Get a promotion/better job
  • Learn something new
  • Save money
  • Get organized
  • Finish home improvement projects
  • Volunteer / give to charity
  • Enjoy life more
  • Read more
  • Recycle more
  • Exercise more
  • Travel more
  • Get more sleep
  • Have more fun
  • Spend more time with Family and Friends

In general, resolutions are more sustainable when they are approached in one or both of the following ways: By breaking down a goal into manageable and reasonable smaller goals, and by sharing them with a supportive friend or buddy. Here are some other tips to setting and accomplishing our yearly goals.

  • Be specific. If our resolution is to lose weight, we should pick a specific and attainable goal such as: lose 15 pounds by March 15. Then we can set mini specific goals that will help us get there. For example: eat 500 calories less per day by cutting my portion sizes by ¼ and do 30 minutes of cardio three times per week. Or, limit refined sugar or meat consumption to just the weekends. In another example,  if our goal is to obtain better work-life balance, we can be more specific by saying that we will leave work by 5:30 each day and only work late once or twice per week if needed.
  • Be realistic. If we currently eat refined sugar every day and vow to never eat refined sugar again for the rest of our lives, we are likely to get discouraged when that sugar craving hits. But if we resolve to only eat refined sugar on weekends, then having that choice will make it more likely that we will accomplish that goal. Or, if we currently exercise about twice per month or not at all, it is not realistic for the long term to decide to exercise every day for two hours per day. We can make a more realistic goal by hiring a personal trainer to get us started on a workout plan that will work with our fitness level and lifestyle.
  • Be more relaxed about accomplishing our goals. If our goal is to meditate every single day, and we skip a day, having a more relaxed attitude will ensure that skipping one day won’t mean failure and cause us to permanently let go of that goal. We simply pick it back up again tomorrow.
  • See the bigger picture. It’s important to look at the more fundamental reason for choosing to set a goal in the first place. Resolving to save money is not as impactful of a resolution unless we look at the overall picture of why we are resolving to do so. For example, we may be saving money now because it will allow us to invest in something at a later date that will bring in a larger income. Or resolving to get more sleep can come from a fundamental need to be more alert and restful and lead an overall healthier lifestyle.
  • Create accountability. I mentioned before that enrolling a supportive buddy or friend can help us to achieve our goals. It helps if this friend or buddy agrees to keep us accountable for accomplishing our goals. Perhaps we make a bet or agree on a reward. Whatever the agreement, the friend we choose will need to be someone we trust and who is supportive of our well-being. It is a plus if that friend is asking us to keep them accountable for their goals as well.
  • Set up reminders. A great way to remind ourselves is to write our resolutions down and have them delivered in a way that will be pleasing to see or receive and in a frequency which will not cause us to ignore the reminder. We can post them on the wall in a place where we will see them every day or set them up as reminders on our calendar.
  • Reward ourselves. Who doesn’t like a reward? It’s important to choose increments of time throughout our goals to reward ourselves for a job well done. Of course, the reward shouldn’t be something that will sabotage our goals. If our goal is to lose weight, we shouldn’t reward ourselves with a cake after losing 5 pounds. Instead we can schedule an appointment for a massage or schedule that ski trip we’ve been putting off.
  • Play the game. Life is ultimately a game that we all play and we each set up the rules of the game as we go along. Our resolutions can be fun when we choose to look at them as a game rather than a chore. When we think about the recreational games we play in our lives we don’t put so much emphasis on the outcome as we do on each step in the process of the game. In a card game, we play one hand at a time. Football games are played one play at a time. In both games there is an ultimate goal in mind, but the outcome is achieved when we remain focused on the moment and play fully one step at a time. And we would never play if it weren’t ultimately fun!
  • Be thankful. Resolving to say out loud, or write down each day, something that we are thankful for, induces an overall good feeling about life and eventually trickles down to actions that are good for ourselves, making it easier to accomplish our goals.

So good luck to us all with our New Year’s resolutions and have a wonderful 2013!



It’s All Physical

Did you know that the way in which data is presented to us can have an effect in the way we absorb and retain the information that we are working on? Similarly, the way in which we condition our posture can determine our level of injury when doing even a simple task such as reaching over to turn off our alarm clock in the morning. These facts were determined from the study of ergonomics which became a science in the early 19th century to examine the environment around a worker with the goal of increasing productivity. While there is not a lot that we can do about the way that information is presented to us, we certainly can do something about the condition of our posture. For the short term, we may experience discomfort and some small strains, but the importance of proper posture becomes more evident in the long term. As more of us sit at a computer for many hours in the day, it is important that we take the time to have an ergonomic assessment, incorporate breaks throughout the day to stretch, and find time outside of work to exercise and recondition our bodies.

Most of us sit in an office all day long with our hand on a mouse and a keyboard, our neck stretched out reading words on a bright screened computer, and with our legs bent at a 90 degree angle at the hip. It is no surprise that we end up walking around with a pike at our hip area, our neck outstretched and our backs rounded in poor posture. As human beings, we are not built to be sitting in a chair in this position hour after hour, day after day, and year after year. Our bodies are built to be upright and moving.

Examples of Poor Posture

Chronic poor posture, inactivity, and improper use of a keyboard and mouse may have numerous negative effects on our health and physical well-being.

• Neck pain
• Headaches
• Muscular skeletal disorders
• Carpal tunnel disorders
• Tendonitis
• Back problems
• Fatigue
• Sore or tense muscles
• Poor blood circulation
• Eye strain

These negative effects can wreak havoc on our physical and emotional quality of life. In addition, poor posture can have a negative effect on the way we feel and the way we look.

For the most part, if we are slouching or using bad posture at our desks, it is not necessarily our fault. It typically means that the furniture and equipment that we are using are not set up for our individual body types. Small adjustments can help avoid big problems. But in addition to that, there are actions we can take on our own, both while at work and outside of work, to ensure proper posture.

Awareness: Simply being aware of our posture helps us to sit properly in our chairs as we work and helps us to improve our stance and walk.

Core exercises: Focusing on cores exercises will help support a proper alignment in the body. Many people think that the core includes only the abdominal muscles. In fact, our core supports our spine from the top of our neck, to the end of our tail bone. Consult with a personal trainer or a physical therapist for exercises to focus on.

Cardiovascular exercises: A cardio workout strengthens our heart muscle and improves our circulation. But remember to do all cardio exercises with awareness of proper posture.

Yoga: Many yogis have fantastic postures. This is because each pose is designed to strengthen the core, balance the muscles, and improve breathing. When done correctly, a daily yoga practice will greatly improve any muscle imbalances and relieve muscular skeletal disorders.

Walking: Taking a 30-minute brisk walk while being aware or our posture will help to strengthen the muscle memory of proper posture.

Breaks: We should be taking frequent breaks throughout the day to stretch out our legs and our chest and to roll our neck and wrists around.

There are many reasons to maintain proper posture. In the first place, we all look better, more confident and happier when we stand up straight and tall. But while looks are fabulously important, our health is even more so. Having proper posture helps alleviate deteriorative issues as we age. When we have proper posture, our organs, our muscles, our joints and our bones are in proper alignment. This alignment supports us  throughout the day to move more efficiently and avoid injury. In addition, we breathe easier, have better blood circulation, and improve our concentration and thinking.

Examples of Proper Posture

So as we set out each day, let’s remember to exercise, walk, and sit with proper body alignment. It’s a great way to be taking care of our health and we will look and feel terrific in the process.

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