Monday, January 26, 2015

A New Year. Really?


New year's resolutions. New eating plans. New goals and objectives. New rules. New gym membership. New morning routine. New attitude. New job. New enthusiasm. New relationship. A new start! Or is it?

Whether we realize or not, the new year always brings about a shift in our perspective. And it's simply due to one fact: a calendar date.

Does the universe really know what day, month, or year it is? As human beings, we are inherently "chronologically impaired": we rely on the clock and calendar to organize our lives. But time is just an illusion created (by us) in order to understand where we relate in the scheme of things. It's only our concept of time that is real.

Our perception is our reality—and we are creating our reality each moment, regardless of "what time it is."

So what does this have to do with the new year? Everything. The new year is the illusion. The choice to make changes is the reality. Sure, the new year is a trigger for change, but you can change at any time. Why wait until January 1st?

Creating change in your life may be simple, but not easy. Creating healthy habits takes effort and with change comes loss. We grieve old patterns (even if they're unhealthy), and creating new habits takes dedication and commitment. Nothing substantial happens overnight. But change is possible, and you can start whenever you want.

Here's a few tips for developing healthy habits that will stick:
  • Change one thing at a time. Pick something you'd like to change. See how it works. Course correct, if needed. Choose again, but don't go back to old habits. For example, instead of reaching for soda, try a vitamin drink, low sugar juice or flavored sparkling water. If you don't like your choice, choose something else, but don't go back to soda. Think forward.
  • Ease into your exercise routine. Just because you jogged 3 miles or took the 1-hour Zumba class in the past doesn't mean you can jump right back into your old routine overnight. Build back slowly. Be patient. Allow your body to readjust. If you push too hard, you will pay. Pain is not a sign that you're doing it right.
  • Consciously choose your food. Stop the autopilot. Think before you bite. Look at labels. Watch portion size (most portions at restaurants are double or triple the size of what you really need). Save dessert for special occasions. Getting through your week is not a special occasion.
  • Get the right tools before you begin. To do anything right you need the right support. For example, if you've been meaning to re-organize the hall closet, open it up and do a quick assessment of what is needed to do the job right (i.e., buy some new shelving, shoe rack, bins, etc.) before you start cleaning. A few minutes of planning can save you hours of extra work.
  • Avoid projecting. When we think outside of ourselves, we project. For example, what do I look like as I'm doing (this)? What do others think of me? What are other people doing that I'm not doing? Why can't I (look, talk, act, be...) like them? Focus only on yourself. This is about you.
  • Support yourself. Make a commitment to do your best, believe you are doing your best, and then do your best at whatever it is you are desiring to change. And if you fall off the wagon, get back on. Don't give up. Believe in yourself. Respect the process. And don't blame anyone else for your results. Own it. Do it. Create the change for yourself.
Remember: it doesn't take New Year's Eve to create changes in your life. Decide what areas of your life need new direction and try something new. What's the worst case scenario? You learn! The most important this is that you tried. In the words of Wayne Gretsky, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Take a shot, and go for the goal. 

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mom Was Right


Ah, the simple things. In our busy lives, the small things—like finding your keys or keeping a clean kitchen—can make a world of difference. Simple habits practiced over time can have a profound effect on your sense of balance—especially when you develop healthy and consistent habits for yourself.

As an adult, I still hear my Mom's voice giving me practical nuggets of advice—in fact, sometimes I hear them several times a day!

Let's admit it. Mom was right about a lot of stuff. Simple things do, indeed, add-up. Even small changes or modifications can add up to major shifts. Just think about what would've happened if the Titanic had started changing course just a few minutes earlier?

So let's review some of the simple advice my Mom gave to me and my sister over the years—many things that are still good reminders today.

Simple Tips from Mom:
 
•    Pick up after yourself
•    If you can do it now, do it now
•    Put things in the same place every time (i.e., your keys)
•    Do the dishes and clean up right after you're done eating
•    Use reusable sticky notes reminders for the bathroom mirror or front door
•    Hide a $20 in your jacket or pocket of your pants for a fun surprise
•    Create a stash of healthy snacks within reach at home and work
•    Add 5-10 minutes to your start time and arrive early
•    Avoid "stinking thinking" and re-frame negative thoughts (i.e., could be worse!)
•    Take time to stop and give thanks throughout your day
•    Drop a friendly note into someone's (or your own) lunchbox
•    Focus on one thing at a time
•    Be aware of the company you keep
•    "Don't borrow sorrow from tomorrow"
•    Remind yourself, "The world needs me today!" (Thanks, Grandpa :o)

Simple, yes, but still applicable. Thank you, Yvonne, for all of the sound advice that I still practice—as best I can—to this day.

What advice do you still follow from a Mom, Dad, teacher, or friend? How many of these things help lead you to better balance and happiness in your life?

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to drink hot cocoa while helping people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Healthy Holidays!

 

Speaking from someone who loves to celebrate, this time of year can be most exciting. The holiday season gives us opportunities to be thankful, giving, and ring in another new year. With all of these reasons to act in exceptional ways, this time of year can also cause many of us to lose our sense of equilibrium. Stress, expectations, and "waiting until the last minute" to get something done can push us out of alignment and affect our natural sense of balance.

As the holiday season is moving into full swing, here are some quick tips to help us maintain better balance in our mind, body and spirit while we celebrate this exciting time of year:
  • Get plenty of rest. The holidays always include extra activities and will take more energy than usual, so getting adequate amounts of rest will let us join in the fun!
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids (including hot teas). This will keep us properly hydrated and less prone to holiday germs.
  • Eat healthy foods high in vitamins and minerals. Most of us will eat some holiday treats (candy, chocolate, etc.), but be sure to keep it balanced with healthy portions of proteins, fruits and vegetables. Too much sugar will spike our energy and can cause headaches and fatigue.
  • Help stop the spread of holiday colds and illness. By covering our mouths when we sneeze or cough, and washing our hands often we lessen the spread of germs. Carry extra tissues with you if your nose is runny or some natural throat lozenges if you have a cough.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Even a short walk in the mornings or evenings will help keep our blood moving. Exercise and stretching helps improve circulation and promotes faster healing!
  • Take time to spend with people. Visiting with our family and friends during our holiday time off and taking the time to reconnect with those we love strengthens our relationships, boosts our immune system, and reconnects us back to ourselves.
  • Unplug a little! Take time off from the busy hustle and bustle: Turn off the ringer on your phone and let calls go to voice mail; take a few days off from Facebook & Twitter—the world won't end without your updated status; don't read email for a couple days; turn off cable and pop in a classic holiday movie. Try to unplug from the world and plug back into a good book, the people, the music, and the nature around you. It's free.
May this holiday season allow you time to relax, refresh, and recharge your batteries, and provide you with the opportunity to connect to the natural balance within you.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Bring in the new year by returning to the natural balance within you. Need a bit of motivation? Pick up a copy of 21 Days to Better Balance, or another book in the series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to drink hot cocoa while helping people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Monday, December 8, 2014

Kringle Coaches Warlock, Change Imminent


North Pole (NP WIRE) December 8, 2014 - Another holiday miracle is sweeping the nation causing widespread goodwill, uplifted spirits, and hope to the humbug. The trending craze was sparked by the recent streaming of the Rankin and Bass production of Santa Claus is Coming to Town—a 1970's holiday television classic.

In a pivotal scene, the Winter Warlock tells a young Kris Kringle, "It's so difficult to really change," to which Kringle replies, "Changing from bad to good's as easy as taking your first step." Kringle continues by breaking into a merry song about changing ones life by taking a step at a time. Kringle is joined in the festive holiday scene by Topper—a dancing penguin adopted earlier by Kringle—as well as other animals from the enchanted forest.

According to Kringle,"Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you are walking 'cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walking out the door!" Profound and simple wisdom from an elf, but easy enough for a warlock to put into practice. In fact, with the help of a choo-choo train and Kringle's witty song and dance, Winter's icy heart is melted within minutes. A true Christmas miracle!

Kringle's song drives a simple point. We all have the potential to make changes no matter where we are on our life journey, and truly lasting change comes in small steps—one at a time. Each step evolves into a new habit, and over time our new healthy habits can become major life changes. 

This week, take a note from Coach Kringle and try the 1+1 Challenge:
  1. Write down one thing you’d like to stop doing and one thing you’d like to start doing to help bring better balance to your life (i.e., I will stop checking my email every ten minutes, and, I will start taking a 30-minute walk each day)
  2. Put this list where you can see it—on your laptop, iPad, desktop, or sticky note on your bathroom mirror (this reporter's favorite strategy)
  3. Focus on making only those changes this week
  4. Notice the results
Then each week, add one thing and remove another until you start seeing positive changes. Perhaps you, too, can melt an icy heart and experience the benefits of "putting one foot in front of the other", bringing better balance and happiness to your life.

Happy Holidays

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg, North Pole Reporter

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to drink hot cocoa while helping people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com


Photo: Aminationmagazine.net
 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are We There Yet?


"Are we there yet?" I asked. "Almost," replied Grandpa. Each minute felt like an hour. After all, it was our first time visiting Florida since Grandma and Grandpa had moved to Tampa from Wisconsin, and Walt Disney World was a dream come true for an 8-year old. The anticipation was killing me, but the wait made the experience that much sweeter. Everything I didn't know about Disney World was waiting for me to discover it.

In the daily events of our lives "getting there" can mean a myriad of things. For our trip in Florida, it meant entering the gates of the Magic Kingdom. In other areas of our lives, "there" might be a new job, finding your soul mate, or buying your first house—it really depends on what you intend to accomplish and how you think you'll feel once you do. But in the meantime, how do we stay present and enjoy the moment?

In his compelling book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, "The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is."

By using common logic and without getting too esoteric, we are actually already "there" in many ways since the only place we can actually (physically) experience is being "here"—the present moment. The Now. And although our powerful thoughts and imagination can take us in many directions—into the past or future—the present moment is where all of our power is.

The moment you have right now is your moment of creation. Everything else is simply your imagination. But your imagination is directly affected by the present moment, and your future is changed by the thoughts you hold. 

Think of your thoughts like a pebble. If a pebble is dropped into a pond it will start a ripple effect. So do your thoughts. In fact, the thoughts you're thinking right now affect your future experiences—they have a ripple effect. Therefore, be sure to focus on those thoughts which are in alignment with your greatest vision. Intention is everything. 
The challenge of anticipation is learning how to be happy in the present moment. Then "getting there" will simply become the next experience, not the only point of happiness.

Learn to be present. Learn to be here. The time is Now. And then when you finally "get there", you can appreciate the whole journey, not just the destination.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Monday, November 3, 2014

Losing it? Get it Back


Tired? Stressed out? Lost your sense of balance? You actually haven’t lost anything. You’ve just forgotten how to access what’s already within you. "Huh?" you say. Yes, it's true, but let me give you a little more background first.
 

Last week I had the privilege to speak at Elliott Masie's Learning 2014—an annual conference held in Orlando, Florida, which brings together more than 1,700 education and learning professionals from around the world to meet, share best practices, learn from one another, and be inspired by a variety of thought leaders.

During one of my breakout sessions, the question of "How?" entered the better balance discussion. With so many competing priorities in our busy world, how do we find better balance while juggling our relationships, work, and family?
 

We don't actually "find" anything; we return to a natural state that's already within us.

Think about young children. They are often happy without reason, generally accept anyone introduced to them, and most don't have issues like adults do… well, not yet. Their world of experience is small and they are easily in alignment with their natural internal happiness—something many of us "big kids" have easily forgotten—well, until we go on vacation, attend a really good concert, or experience a pocket of joy outside of our normal routine.


But, seriously, wouldn't it feel better to experience that "happy state" more often? I have good news for you. We can.

Remember: We are naturally born in a state of equilibrium, but as we age and become distracted by the fears of the world we begin to stray from our innate sense of well-being. With that in mind, we can return to better balance by removing the barriers and blockages within us, many of them created by our own thoughts and behaviors. We can start feeling the "happy state" without taking a cruise to Jamaica (although that does sound appealing during the Minnesota winter...)

In my writing and coaching I introduce a three-step process: 1) Awareness; 2) Alignment; and 3) Activation, to help jump-start the process of returning to better balance:

1) Awareness. Your powerful consciousness is absorbing and processing everything in your environment—sights, sounds, and smells—whether you realize it or not. In order to find better balance in your life, you must first become aware of the factors that influence your balance. Some themes include: Thoughts, Feelings, Intuition, Fear, Communication, Power, and Choice.

2) Alignment. Alignment happens both on the inside and outside of you. Internally, this means that you strive to be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and intuition so that your behaviors reflect your true values. Externally, this means that over time, you bring your attitudes, actions, and words closer to your fundamental beliefs. Some themes include: Relationships, Truth, Intention, Purpose, Trust, Listening, and Appreciation.

3) Activation. Activation puts theory into practice and thoughts into motion. Without activation, good ideas are only ideas. Activation is the key to implementation and the third step to finding better balance. Some themes include: Focus, Softening Your Stance, Boundaries, Perspective, Living Your Passion, Gratitude, and Managing the Leader Within.

So the next time you'd like to conjure up the feelings of "vacation freedom", then I encourage you to start applying the steps to your life. You can even allow me to walk you through the steps, answer questions, and complete a few short exercises in my book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys... or any of the individual books. 


I believe that through deliberate effort, you can begin to return to that natural sense of balance in your work, relationships, and life. It's your choice.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com


Monday, October 20, 2014

Your Big But


In the 1985 movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Simone is telling Pee Wee Herman about her dreams of living in Paris. She finishes her story with, “…but, ” and then tells him that Andy, her controlling boyfriend, will never let her go. Pee Wee responds with the classic line, “Everyone I know has a big but.” Pee Wee makes a good point.
 

I was reminded of this recently during a coaching session. My client and I were working on aligning him towards his ideal job, and throughout the conversation he kept saying, “…but I don’t think I can do (this) or (that),” or, “...but they probably won’t hire me because…” As our session progressed, I watched his but get bigger and bigger. As his doubts increased, so did his but.

So what's up with the big but? Why the doubt? And where do our big buts come from?

First, let’s look to science. In his book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Dr. Christopher Germer states, “We have evolved for survival, not happiness, and thus have a natural tendency to focus on the negative.” Considering that our brains are naturally hardwired for problem-solving, sticking our but into everything comes naturally. Just call it pragmatic contingency planning. All fine and dandy until your but gets too big—then it just slows you down. When doubt and pessimism become your default setting, you end up dragging your but wherever you go.

Why We But In:
•    Protecting a belief system (covering your but)
•    Avoiding disappointment (saving your but)
•    Fear of re-occurrence (but it happened before…)
•    Bad habits (unaware we're being a but head)

So how do you lose your but? You don’t. However, you can reduce your but size.

Tips on Butting Out:
•    Eliminate doubt by trusting the process
•    Release the need to control outcomes
•    Change your default setting to optimistic
•    Do what you can, and then it let go

Finally, pay attention to feedback from others. Try having a friend or coworker call you out on your but. And the next time you’re feeling doubt you can ask them, “Does my but look big to you? Really, you can tell me. I trust you.”

To Your Better Balance!




Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
 

Find better balance in your work, relationships, and life. 
Visit 21daystobetterbalance.com to learn more. And look for the new trilogy book, 21 Days, Steps & Keys launching November 1, 2014. Get all three books in one!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, author, and life coach, who helps people reclaim their power of choice to find better balance and happiness in their work, relationships, and life. You can reach him at michael@sunnarborg.com


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