I have written before about self-talk, the narration that runs through your mind as you go through your day, but I don't know if I've really hit home how very much I'm talking to myself throughout my day. I've gotten better about doing this mostly in my head, but I am constantly talking to myself. And it's something I really need to keep an eye on, because it's not always nice. In fact, in the last few years I've made a conscious effort to improve my self-talk and...be nicer to myself. This sounds dumb, but I'm pressing on anyway because it's important and it's made a big difference for me.
I thought to write about this today because I noticed two really common pieces of self-talk running through my mind at different points in the day--one bad, and one good, and I realized that the good phrase was once an intentional sentence that I forced myself to think, and now has become sort of an ingrained mantra that has done me some good. Allow me to explain.
The first phrase, which I thought to myself repeatedly this morning, and honestly used to think to myself all the time, is "you are the worst." As in, I am the worst. I realized I was doing this today because I made a mistake at work--nothing major, but I've been tired and a little overstretched lately, and I didn't sleep well last night, and this just put me over the edge. "You. Are. THE. WORST," I thought. And I heard it, and recognized it, and knew that I am not actually the worst, and tried to find some ways to change my train of thought and just move on with my day.
The second phrase I noticed myself thinking as a force of habit later in the day is, "I'm doing the best I can." And when I noticed that, I remembered that this phrase is one I intentionally chose and tried to incorporate into my thinking to replace the phrase, "you are the worst," several years ago, because I was telling myself that I was the worst too frequently and I needed something to swap for it. So, for a while, every time I would catch myself thinking, "you are the worst," I would stop, and instead think, "no, you're just doing the best you can." When I'm not at my most stressed-out, "I'm doing the best I can" is a big part of my self-talk, and I actually realized when I started thinking about it today that consciously recognizing that I'm doing the best I can has made a big difference in my life and my ability to make peace with myself. (If you are someone who can make peace with yourself without intentional interventions like this one, I salute you. I am not.)
For example, recognizing that I'm doing the best I can also recognizes that I'm not perfect, and that I'm not going to be able to do everything all of the time. I'm only going to be able to do the best I can. Sometimes this means that I miss an event that I want to go to (seeing a friend, supporting a cause, showing up at an event) because I either have somewhere else I need to be at that moment and can't physically be in both locations at once, or because I mentally can't handle doing that thing because I am exhausted/supporting my family with something else/in desperate need of an hour to myself. That's ok. I'm just doing the best I can. This lets me off the hook--not when I don't deserve it, because if I'm not doing my best then honestly I need to do better, but if I really am doing the best I can (and I know that in my gut) then there's nothing more to be said. It must be laid to rest.
This is a picture I posted to my fitness challenge group on Monday night this week--we post sweaty selfies after we finish workouts, but it was Halloween and instead of working out I chaperoned trick or treating for two and a half hours and ate candy. It was the best I could do for that night. And there was totally walking involved. Juuuuust doing the best I can.
I wanted to share this phrase because it really has helped me. If I don't keep an eye on it, I can easily become frustrated with my own imperfections and that frustration can really spiral out of control. But this one, simple little phrase lets me be objective and step out of that. Am I doing the best I can? If so, I can't be upset with myself. I can't ask myself to do any more than my best. And when I'm upset that something didn't go perfectly--I'm not a flawless employee, friend, wife, family member, human--I just remind myself: I'm doing the best I can.
Happy Saturday, lovely readers. The Small Changes Series is back today, and we're talking about self efficacy. Before we jump in to what that is, I want to tell you WHY it's important. Any time we are taking on a new challenge, pursuing a new goal, or making a change in our lives, WE are the biggest factor in whether we will be successful. You are your biggest asset and biggest obstacle, in every endeavor. Self efficacy is your belief in your own ability to achieve a goal. When you say, "I would never be able to do that," you are right. When you say, "I'll get that done, come hell or high water," you are also right. But where do we find this belief in our own ability to succeed? I'm glad you asked--we build it over time. And that's why it's the perfect topic for the Small Changes Series. Let's proceed.
Here's the high-level plan for building self efficacy: you set small, achievable, consistent goals, and then you hit them no matter what. By achieving those goals, no matter how small they are, you build your confidence and belief in yourself that you can achieve goals. Here's an example: if you are someone who believes you will never be able to commit to a consistent fitness routine and get healthy, a great way to build self-efficacy is to commit to exercising a tiny amount, consistently. Like walking around the block every day for the next week. Will walking around the block every day have a huge impact on your health? No, probably not. But if you want to accomplish this goal, there is no way to tell yourself that you can't. You don't need a lot of time, or energy, or anything special to accomplish walking around the block. You can do it in eight minutes, in whatever clothes and shoes you're wearing, at any time of the day. So you don't have any excuses not to get it done. And when you DO get it done, you can and will feel proud of yourself that you actually stuck to a plan and accomplished a goal that you set. You are a goal accomplisher!
Realizing that you are a goal accomplisher and feeling proud and confident in yourself allows you to set slightly more ambitious goals. Maybe you're going to walk a little further. Maybe you're going to run around the block. Maybe you're going to try fifteen minutes of sun salutations or some squats/planks in your house. I don't know what the next baby step is, but the point of building on self efficacy is that you choose goals that are achievable, they shouldn't be too big or too terrifying, and then you just do the damn thing. No matter what, you're all in and you're going to get it done. If you doubt from the beginning that you're going to be able to follow through, lower the bar. Seriously. Walk to the end of the block and back if you have to. Because the point of getting started is just proving to yourself that you're the kind of person who can stick to the program, no matter what the program is.
If you are someone who often finds yourself saying things like: "I wish I could make myself do that," or "I wish I had as much drive as she does," or "I want to do X but I can never stick to it," you are in need of some self efficacy boosting. Because the truth is that you can do anything you set your mind to, and if there's anything standing in between you and that truth, it's yourself. You need to move yourself out of the way, and building self efficacy is the way to do that. Here are some ideas for starting to build self efficacy:
-if you struggle with committing to fitness, commit to a tiny amount of exercise every day (i.e. the walking example above)
-if you struggle with making time to cook, commit to adding an easy-to-prepare vegetable to your meals (like salad from a bag or broccoli/green beans/brussels sprouts that you can steam in your microwave)
-if you struggle with cutting down on junk food, cut one serving of your worst habit out of your day (drink one less soda, have one less donut/dessert)
-if you want to create a mindfulness practice but struggle with meditation, try sitting quietly for two minutes every day (set a timer and breathe deeply for two minutes, stop when the timer goes off if you want to)
-if you struggle with managing your finances, try moving $5 or $10 each week into a savings account that you don't touch.
And then here's the real kicker: once you decide to do it, YOU HAVE TO DO IT. There is no hedging here: you are your own boss, and you need to be stern with yourself. These are small goals, my friend. FOLLOW THROUGH! You owe it to yourself to prove that you are a successful human who can accomplish a thing. Once you realize this about yourself, the possibilities are limitless. Truly. Give it a try.
P.S. It also really helps to tell someone else about your goals and have the added push of knowing another person is aware that you committed to do a thing. So share your goals! This is why I'm so in love with fitness accountability groups--they keep me and everyone in them going, because you know the group is watching and waiting for you to get your workout in. If you want that push, hit me up and let's get you into next month's group.
Hi friends, and welcome to a new and wonderful week. Today’s blog post is one that I thought about writing a long time ago but never really got down on paper. It’s an idea I think a lot of my posts dance around, but it’s time to dive deeper. And, in fact, I’ve decided this topic deserves an entire series. So this is your introduction to C&C’s next (first?) series: Making small changes over time to end up with BIG, life-changing changes.
You’ve heard this idea before. Changes that really matter are small and sustainable, because it doesn’t matter what you do for a day or a week or a month, it matters what you do every day. The little choices you make every day shape your life. Your routines actually DECIDE who you are, what you accomplish, what your life looks like. This is true for every area of your life: your career, your family, your relationships, your health, your finances, your fitness, your sanity. And I want to talk about all of those things. That’s why Cocoa and Cotton doesn’t have a singular topic: I want to talk about ALL. OF. THE. THINGS! And conquer them. Together.
So here’s what we’re going to do in this series: I’m going to talk about small changes to my routine that have added up to be BIG changes over time. I’m also going to talk about new things I’m trying, new ideas I’m hearing, and even some things that didn’t work out for me but might be a great fit for you. I’m going to give you ideas of small changes that YOU can try adding to your day, and we’re going to stay committed to the fact that meaningful changes don’t happen right away. They happen slowly, and cumulatively. That’s why you always hear people say “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” (and it’s totally ok if you want to punch those people in the face, but they’re right. Sometimes the people who have the right idea are the most annoying.)
Here’s what I’d love for you to contribute to this series: give the ideas a try and let me know how they work for you, and share your ideas for small changes that have added up to big things in your own life! I’m stoked about this, and I hope you are, too. Happy Monday.
Hi, friends! It's Friday, and it has been a good and very full week. And now it is time for a late-breaking Fueled Up Friday! Are you ready? I'm ready. Let's start.
It is FALL here in Minnesota. Sixty degree weather, scarves, and apples. So many delicious apples.
We're going through about a dozen honeycrisp apples a week. I forget how good apples are this time of year, just like I forget how good nectarines are in the summer. Because we live in a frozen tundra where fruit is usually just underwhelming. But not right now--right now apples are showing off. Buy yourself some apples.
II. My Managing Your Energy Group
If you follow the facebook page for Cocoa and Cotton (you should) or my Instagram (@happy_healthy_hannaloraine) you saw me post about a group I'm running this week to share some tips about managing your energy throughout the day and week to avoid burnout and maximize productivity.
You guys, this group has been awesome. A bunch of friends, family members, and acquaintances jumped in wholeheartedly and have been trying things out, sharing their experiences, and totally making my week! I've gotten to know everyone so much better, learned new ideas, and had so much fun sharing what I've learned. It's been a raging success, blowing my expectations out of the water. There will be more of these on different topics, so be sure to follow along on social media so you don't miss the next one!
One of my good friends is a writer's assistant on the Netflix show Girlboss, and I felt like it was finally time to read the memoir that's based on. I love this book.
For those of you who haven't heard of it, #Girlboss is Sophia Amoruso's book about her own life--she is the founder of Nasty Gal, a mammoth clothing company that started as an eBay business where she sold vintage clothing from her bed. I don't so much relate to Sophia--she talks about how she used to eat food out of dumpsters, and she named her brand Nasty Gal, and school really wasn't her thing but making tuna salad at Subway really was (before she became a bigtime fashion mogul). But I really like her. I like her tenacity, and love her story and her message of get-shit-done-ness. Reading her story has been inspiring and motivating to me, and like all of my favorite books it is also funny. If you haven't checked it out yet and you're looking for some boss inspiration, check it out.
Have a truly wonderful weekend, lovelies. Talk to you next week.
Greetings from Boston, lovelies. I’m here for a women’s leadership conference put on by my company, which means I’ve spent the day hearing incredible women speak about becoming better leaders, what they’ve learned along the way, and what they wish they had known sooner. What a gold mine. I could, and likely will, write several blog posts about things I’ve learned here, but there’s one that is just jumping from my fingertips to the page, so that one goes first. The concept is about energizing and depleting.
Here’s the basic concept: different activities will not “use up” equal amounts of your energy. Some activities may actually add to your energy (“energizing” activities) while others will use up your energy, some much more than others (“depleting” activities). The same activity can be energizing to one person and depleting to the next. When you realize and consciously notice which activities are energizing, and which are depleting, you can dramatically increase your satisfaction, stamina, and productivity in a few ways .The first is to deliberately plan your day around energizing and depleting activities so that you never drop too far down into a depleted, burned-out energy zone. So, if you start your day at a normal, mid or high-range energy level but you have several difficult things to do that day, instead of knocking them all out in a row (taking a difficult phone call, followed by completing a difficult task, followed by a challenging meeting) at which point you are completely burned out and essentially useless by the time noon arrives, you can be more strategic. Start your day by knocking out the difficult phone call, but the plan a fun lunch, or a workout, or a task that you enjoy to bring your energy levels back up to a mid or high point before you tackle the next difficult thing, so the trajectory is more up and down (but generally all still in the mid or high zone) rather than down, down, and more down until you are totally fried.
Of course, to do this you have to be self-aware enough to know what things are energizing and what things are depleting. I suspect that if you take a moment to think about it the answers will be evident, but if you’ve never heard this idea before it might be a revelation to you. The first time I consciously thought about energizing activities it totally changed the way I pursued work—that wasn’t today, but it was a huge moment for me. Because I realized that there are activities in my professional life that might be equally as “valuable” to my job and to my clients, but one is energizing to me while the other is completely exhausting and depleting.
Today, as we were having this conversation, I was thinking about coaching. In the last month, my energy, drive, and excitement have been extremely high—not just when I’m working on my coaching business, but throughout my personal and professional life. Adding an activity that stretches and challenges me in so many ways has improved my performance as an attorney, even though the two are seemingly completely unrelated. Beachbody coaching requires me to put myself out there in scary ways (talking frankly about my personal fitness journey and my decision to start this side business) and it requires me to push myself physically and try new things on a daily basis. When I said yes to coaching, it scared the crap out of me to talk about it in a public way. I need to post about this on social media!? Noooo thank you. What will people THINK about that?? But feeling the fear and doing it anyway pushed me to a new level. It taught me that doing something that I wanted to do, even if it was scary and even if people judged it, felt amazing. And I can’t even tell you what a difference that has made in my personal and professional life. Game. Changer. Coaching is also an added activity, that I would have thought could be draining. But the hours I’m putting in as a coach—exercising, checking in with my challenge groups, learning from experienced coaches—are adding so much more to my day than they take away. I honestly think that the benefit to my professional life as an attorney is so great that it wouldn’t really matter whether I ever found success in my coaching business.
BUT, as an added bonus, today I did achieve the first milestone in my coaching career. The broader team of coaches that I am on is led by an amazing woman who was a sorority sister of mine in college, and she has built a team of more than 175 coaches in the last two years. Every week, she recognizes the top ten performers from her team, and this week I was one of them! This was a big surprise to me, and I saw the notification on a break during our leadership session—what an incredible feeling. Talk about energizing!!
When I started coaching, I knew that I loved the workout programs Beachbody offered and that Shakeology didn’t make me sick (I didn’t yet know if I loved it, which I now do, but at the time I just knew I didn’t hate it and that was enough). But I couldn’t really answer the question of what I wanted out of it or where I saw myself going with it. I knew I didn’t want to quit my job as a lawyer, and many of the women who are really successful at coaching do quit their jobs. Extra income is nice, but I really didn’t get into it for the money. So…what did I want, exactly? It dawned on me during a run last weekend that what I really want is to be a kickass corporate leader, who also has an army of wellness warriors on the side. I totally want to find and grow my fitness tribe with bright, enthusiastic people who want to help others improve their health and their lives. YES! Yes to that. And I also want to keep doing my thing as a corporate attorney and continue to improve myself as a leader in that area. And what’s truly amazing about that is that each activity makes me better at the other. The leadership skills, and confidence, and energy that I build in one area spills over into the other, and elevates every role that I play in my life. Because it’s energizing, and that energy goes into everything I do...as a wife, a coach, a lawyer, a stepmom, a dog mom…so I’m THRILLED with that. And if it reading that gives you an excited butterfly feeling that makes you want to join my tribe, I’m hiring. Get at me.
But even if coaching isn’t your thing, you need to think about what your thing is. What makes you feel excited? What wakes you up when you’re lethargic? What GIVES you energy instead of taking it away? And how can you work THAT stuff into your life, knowing that the time you spend doing that will actually come back to you twofold because the energy it creates will allow you to be more productive in other areas of your life? Think about it. Talk to me about it. I’m dying to know.