Good For You

Lift Part 3: Reaching Out is Hard to Do.

MissTheShotsYouDontTakeTo briefly recap from last month, Lift had been vaguely annoying me with notifications. It became the relentlessly optimistic friend that constantly encourages you, even when you clearly just want to phone in it (or…give in altogether). Although turning off notifications altogether was the more appealing option at the time, scaling back to twice a day seems to have done the trick.

The other agenda item from last time was to challenge myself a bit more. There are two levels of “challenging” here: challenging in terms of making the time to do something and challenging in terms of getting outside my comfort zone. For the Health/Fitness component, I added Speed Work (once a week) and Yoga (three times a week). Normally, I’ll just run for awhile and call it a day. Speed work is the bane of my existence, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Next, I upped the number of days I spend writing a week from 3 to 5 days, so I’m pushing myself to make the time for it. Finally, I added “Say Thank You/I Love You to Someone”  (ideally in a meaningful way) every day, as a matter of getting out of my comfort zone.

Entering into week 3, here are a few things I’ve noticed about my goal-reaching process, and Lift itself.

1. I’m better at checking off the everyday things than the once or twice a week things. For example, “30-60 Minutes of Reading” is marked as an everyday task. That has 55 check-ins, compared to my once a week goal of Cooking Something New (apparently this only has 2, which makes me sad). My theory here is that the day to day goals exist in the front of my mind a bit more than the less frequent goals. Sadly, it’s not possible for us to do all the things every single day (although this is a good read on productivity). Navigating the balance between the every day and the every once in awhile will be my goal for next month.

My stats for "Cook a new recipe." Pretty sad, huh?

My stats for “Cook a new recipe.” Pretty sad, huh?

2. The longer you spend time on Lift, the more other people will interact with you. The more frequently I complete goals, the more Props other people give me. At first, I was mildly annoyed by this, and I don’t interact with people at all on Lift- goal #2 for next month!

The "props" get lumped in together, but as you can see, Lift isn't shy about the Reminders!

The “props” get lumped in together, but as you can see, Lift isn’t shy about the Reminders!

3. Skipping a day can easily slide into weeks. Suddenly, it’s been a week, and then two weeks, and…why bother with it all anymore, right? It’s a pretty common for people to give up on their goals/resolutions altogether because they took a few days off (especially around the holiday season). I’m no exception.  The “there’s always tomorrow” mentality kicks in, and suddenly you’re in thirty tomorrows deep. Don’t let it get away from you! After Thanksgiving until today (putting my foot down) I’m putting more effort into goals I’d already set that got put on the backburner since Day 2.

4. It’s time to start the winter bucket list. This isn’t Lift related, but is something “for fun” I started this past summer. The idea is to make a list of things you want to accomplish during the season (fun or otherwise). In the Downeast Maine area, staying busy in the winter is key for maintaining your sanity. Now that December is almost over, I still need to write my list…but, in my defense, the warm weather and lack of snow is making it hard to mentally get into winter mode!

I’m interested in hearing if anyone has any New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, and if so, do you have a plan of attack? Hope everyone has a great holiday season!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Tech Thursday: Getting Organized for Next Year

It’s hard to believe there’s only one full week left in 2014! It has been a big year for us, and hopefully you all as well. This week’s video is dedicated to carrying that energy over into 2015! In order to make the most out of the upcoming year, it’s a good idea to get yourself organized.

One big help in getting organized is making sure all of your password information is up-to-date and accurate. It’s annoying to try to login to your website or LinkedIn, only to find that your passwords are mixed up (or forgotten). Invest some time in making sure you have access to all the online places you should.

Another tip: do a resource inventory. What do you have to work with? A list of email addresses you’ve been neglecting? 500 relatively active Facebook fans? An employee with some extra time who likes taking photos around the office? A cool domain you bought in July and haven’t used yet? Think online assets, physical assets, financial resources, and people resources.

Last, make a prioritized to do list. Write everything down that’s been bothering you or that you’ve been meaning to get around to, no matter how big or small. You’ll need this for next week’s video on goal setting!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

The Joy of Missing Out

This is the time of year when everyone gets frazzled, spreading themselves as thin as possible to maximize the amount of social interactions and parties they attend. As an indecisive person, I can appreciate the relief that comes from saying “Yes” to everyone rather than having to say “No” to a few. Some people grapple with the whole “the grass is greener” mentality that comes with being forced to choose between events (i.e. committing to one party, only to spend the entire time wondering how much more fun the other one is). It’s 2014, you’d think someone would have figured out how to be in two places at once by now. Until then, we’ll just have to cope with holiday season FOMO.

The idea of FOMO started a few years ago, and is defined by Wikipedia as “a form of social anxiety, whereby one is compuslively concerned that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event.”   The article goes on to explain that the root cause of this social anxiety is our strong connections to social media and technology. For some people, when their phone dies or they find themselves without internet access, it’s an incredibly stressful ordeal. They feel like they’re missing something…and it doesn’t really matter if they can’t articulate that “something”- the anxiety, for whatever reason, is still present.

The dependence and anxiety attached to social media and the desire to check in constantly has also been described as addictive behavior. Given the right situation, I can absolutely relate to the behaviors they describe- checking Facebook just one last time or Ok, I’ll set my phone down now- OH WAIT did it just ring?!  Somewhere along the way, our brains are rewarding us for this behavior, so we keep going. Attached to FOMO is also the idea that if we turn down one invitation with a group of people, then they’re NEVER going to invite us out ever again, or have such a great time that they completely forget our existence. Is any of this rational? Probably not. But, it is happening.

To emphasize the irrationality of FOMO, there’s this video from College Humor from a year or so ago. It takes the whole idea of FOMO and turns it into something we can all laugh at (for those of us who weren’t laughing already).

Less than a year after the dawn of FOMO came JOMO, or the “Joy of Missing Out.” As the name suggests, JOMO is FOMO’s alter ego. It’s a night when, sure, you’ve maybe gotten a few invites out, but staying in and reading or binge-watching whatever you want on t.v. is more appealing, so that’s exactly what you do. Sans regretJOMO is being comfortable admitting, “Yeah, I’d rather to hang out at home tonight,” and be cool when other people share pictures on Facebook (or wherever else). It’s about being confident that your decisions are bringing you joy, even if they aren’t “exciting” or “worthy” of a status update.

Along the lines of JOMO, this article argues that social media works best when it works to improve relationships among humans. Check out Tom and Donna’s interactions below. Sure, they’re a tad social media obsessed, but they’re having fun, even if they’re methods of interacting totally baffle Ron (and probably a lot of other people).

At some point, we have to take ownership for what’s going to bring us fear or joy. As Anil Dash puts it: “Being the one in control of what moves me, what I feel obligated by, and what attachments I have to fleeting experiences is not an authority I’m willing to concede to the arbitrary whims of an app on my mobile phone.” Unless you’re having an impossible time of trying to change your account settings or something along those lines, it sounds silly to utter the words “Facebook made me sad.”

In other words: it’s your life, do whatever you want (unless it’s illegal or otherwise jerky).

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

The First Month of Lift

A day or so after starting this project, I read a blog post on why our resolutions often fail. Turns out, it’s often a failure to change those nit-picky little things that we do- those small changes in our habits. In other words, we should start small, and gradually the bigger changes will come together. Go figure, right?

Demolishing_Goals

I have a bit of a competitive streak (even if I’m just competing with myself…)

Which is a perfect lead in for Lift. In the last post, Lift became the app of choice for this personal development project. After one month of using Lift, I’ve (sort of) gotten the hang of it. Setting it up was straightforward- you just click the + sign in the upper right hand corner, and there’s a list of categories:

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I already had some specific ideas in mind, so I just searched for them in the little toolbar and started following them. The winners were: No Sugar (3x a week), Speed Work (running) once a week, Spend 30 Minutes Writing (3x a week), Stop Drinking Soda (All week), Cook New Recipe (once a week), and 30-60 minutes of Reading (4x a week). Here are some of my opinions so far:

Things I Like:

  • When you follow a certain task, you can see the comments, questions, and helpful tips others who follow that particular task have. There’s quite a bit of support that goes along with this app (which, according to the aforementioned blog post, is another key component to increasing your chances of success).
  • You can “follow” questions within a task. For instance, in my “No Sugar” task, I can see all the questions people have asked for support. Some examples include: “Anyone have any sugar free recipes?” (a bunch of people answered this guy), “Did anyone else feel dizzy about 3 weeks in to a no-sugar diet?” and, my favorite, “Does alcohol count?” If someone has asked a question that you find compelling, you can follow it and get a notification whenever other people offer an answer. Of course, another option would be to ask a question of your own and get answers that way, but if that’s not your style (it’s not mine), following questions is a great way to get extra support.

    Lift_Questions

    An example of questions from “30-60 Minutes of Reading”

  • You’re in charge of how pushy Lift gets. If you’re the type of person who needs external reminders to do stuff throughout the day, Lift can make that happen. If you’re more hands-off, you can tell Lift to leave you alone and not send any notifications at all. There’s plenty of gray-area here, too, so if you don’t identify with either ends of the scale (like myself), then you can toy with it a bit more.

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  • You can track goals privately or publicly. So, if you’re working on something that you aren’t keen on sharing with the whole world, don’t. Mark it as “private” and get to moving!
  • A fun sidenote: when you click that you’ve accomplished a task in Lift for the very first time, it kinda makes it sound like it’s the first time you’ve ever done it (ex. “Congratulations! First time ever Flossing!” As if I haven’t flossed in 24 years…).

Things I Don’t Like:

  • There’s one BIG issue that I have with Lift. I forgot to check off something that I’d done one day, and it ruined my “streak.” Lift doesn’t allow you to go back to the day before and check something off, which annoys me (although it makes sense, I suppose). It threw off my little progress calendar, and now it’s driving me nuts. Again, this is 87% user error…but it’s annoying when the computer thinks you’ve broken a streak that you have in fact, not broken.

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  • It’s not clear how to add tasks. At first, I started adding random tasks. A bunch of other tasks pop up, so I was under the assumption that you could only join the pre-determined goals that Lift created. In reality, these are groups that other users have created, and it offers a chance for you to join a little community, if you want. Once I figured out that you CAN in fact add your own personal goals, it made me happier.
  • I started getting some annoying e-mail and notification activity (happening around 3-4 times a day), until I re-did my notification settings.

After the first month, Lift has helped keep me accountable, and I’m still interested in keeping up with this whole thing (my usual resolution checkout happens about two weeks in). And, since Lift shows my progress on a daily basis, I remember to check in (most) every day. For the next month, I’m planning on taking things up a notch (this month was more of a trial and getting the hang of things) and adding more challenging tasks. If anyone has any suggestions/ideas, they’d be appreciated!

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Out of the Rut: Getting Started

OuttatheRut

The Lorax is my mascot for this project. And probably for my life.



Something’s Gotta Give.

I’m an insomniac. As frustrating as it is to want something (like sleep), and not get it, over the years I’ve learned how to cope with it. Sure, I spent a fair amount of time stomping my feet tantrum-style, crying “This isn’t fair!” But, demanding that I deserve sleep or complaining about sleep deprivation isn’t going to get me anywhere. I tried. That energy is better spent on taking action (relaxation pre-trying to sleep, no caffeine in the afternoon, etc.).

In the past month or so, I’ve become more aware of how often I say  “I wish I was better at…” or “Someday, I’d like to be able to…” Suddenly, the coping process for my sleeping problem felt like it had a deeper purpose. Instead of trying to force these changes via wishing (preferably upon a shooting star), I could dig my heels in and actively make some changes.

Most of the time, I keep these goals internal, but hey, maybe there are other people out there who’d like to make some changes, too, or have some helpful tips. So, I’m going to share a bit about this process via blog in the hopes that a) I learn some new things about goal setting and technology and b) that other people get inspired, too.

Goal Setting (& Organizing)

This first step was the easy part: I more or less took the “I wishes” and turned them into specific goals. For instance, “I wish I was better at cooking” translates into “Try 1 new recipe a week.” “I wish I knew more about public relations” translates into “Listen to one relevant podcast a week and read something PR related for 20 minutes, 2 nights a week.”

To get these going, I started a spreadsheet. This divided up my goals into sections that made sense (fitness, finance, education/professional development, human-hood). I even had a category for “Action Steps,” and felt amazing already just by having proactive thoughts. My brain got lazy, and considered just stopping at the spreadsheet, because “Hey, this looks good. Probably close enough, right?”

Wrong. The next step was to find an app, which (ideally) will help keep me stay on track, and keep my goals somewhere other than my sneaky brain.

App Selection

My criteria: free, low maintenance (it sends me reminders but isn’t overly obnoxious), focused on details (as opposed to the big picture).

ISO: App that is practically perfect in every way.

ISO: App that is practically perfect in every way.

This point in the process hung me up the most, in part because I’m a commitaphobe, and my winning app choice had to be strong enough to see me through some challenges. I have a hard enough time taking advice from real people, so a robot has it’s work cut out for it. (Note: the list of apps below is by no means an exhaustive list of the candidates, just a snapshot of the serious contenders).

Everest

What I liked:  Everest is a “personal journey” app, meant for sharing a picture and then sharing the experience behind it with a larger community. Sounds cool, and I generally enjoy the idea of getting motivated/inspired by others, and I loved the idea of a visual element.
Reason I didn’t choose it: This is more of a “big picture” app, and I already tend to think about the big picture. The app I have in mind needs to strengthen my attention to detail.

Lifetick

What I liked: Before getting into your goals, this app determines your core values, or what makes you “tick.” Each goal you set must be “S.M.A.R.T.” : Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Specific. It seemed like it integrated Big Picture/Small Detail thinking well, which was a huge bonus.
Reason I didn’t choose it: There’s a two week free trial period, but after that, it costs money. Next.

Lift

The Winner!

The Winner!

What I liked: The name hooked me, and the reviews (online and in the app store) were stellar. It focuses mainly on changing the little things. One of my biggest obstacles is attention to detail, and Lift is all about making small, bit-sized changes. It also gives you the opportunity to connect with other people and offer encouragement. After all, it’s just as fun to encourage others as it is to be encouraged. And, there are fun quotes (see below) that pop up, and I love that sort of “warm and fuzzy” stuff.

 

Next Steps

So, as of today, I have some goals going in Lift. It will be interesting to see whether or not having an app to assist will be helpful (or annoying), and what kind of progress there will be along the way. Stay tuned!

 

IMG_1527 (1)

Lift: the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Godzilla Cake Disaster of ’98, or How to Work With Your Limits

My brother’s 7th birthday party was Godzilla themed. The movie (with Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno) was alright in my opinion, but Stephen thought it was The Greatest Movie of All Time. Of course, this is the same kid that made fun of me for crying at My Dog Skip, so I’m inclined to question his taste in cinema. In order to make this party the greatest Godzilla party ever thrown, Mom decided NOT to consult Hannaford (Shop ‘n’ Save, at the time) for a cake. Instead, she asked a local cake-making woman if she could construct a cake that resembled Godzilla. The Cake Woman seemed a bit hesitant, but agreed to the task at hand.

It turned out awful.

I haven't located the original picture, but this is an eerily accurate artistic rendition a la MS Paint.

I haven’t located the original picture, but this is an eerily accurate artistic rendition a la MS Paint.

No one wanted to eat the Godzilla cake- including me, the cake-eating aficionado of the family. It was a one-layer cake, vaguely shaped like a t-rex, topped with a green, gray, and brown frosting combination, and a garish face that would give Stephen King nightmares. Mom clearly regretted not going the Hannaford route, and was a little peeved that the Cake Woman thought this offensive cake was appropriate to give to a customer. 

I don’t know why, but Godzilla Cake-gate has been on my mind a lot lately (so has cake in general, but that’s neither here nor there). Did The Cake Woman simply agree to a task she knew nothing about, thinking “Eh, how hard could it be?” Was it a personal challenge gone wrong? I refuse to believe that The Cake Woman simply made this particular cake and wiped her hands of it. What happened?  Why did she expose us to this cake horror show? 

One of the possible conclusions is that The Cake Woman agreed to do something she wasn’t 100% sure she could do. Honestly, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that. I agree to do quite a few things that I’m not absolutely sure I can handle (besides- how certain are we, really, of anything?). Should you be a certain percentage of surety before committing to something, on a work-related level?

Andy Dwyer, the Everyman.

Andy Dwyer, the Everyman.

“Never challenge yourself” is not at all the moral of this tale. If you never challenge yourself, you never learn. There are thousands of articles and blog posts out there asserting the idea that we must push ourselves in our search for improvement. In fact, that’s something that I really enjoy about this job: I’m learning something new on a daily basis. In fact, we have a set time once a week specifically dedicated to learning something new. The Cake Woman may have seen the Godzilla cake as a learning opportunity.

Giving yourself time to learn and execute a new task is also recommended. “Rome wasn’t build in a day” seems like a tired cliche, but it’s spot on. Maybe you’ve seen the various 30 Day Challenges out there. It’s worth noting that these are a) challenges,  and b) they are issued for a month long span. That’s some time and dedication. If The Cake Woman had put off making the Godzilla cake until the night before the birthday party, she probably didn’t give herself enough time. If she had instead started toying around with the idea a week or so in advance, she could have toyed with the general shape of the cake, the color of the frosting, how it was going to be decorated, and so on.

Here’s another baking experiment example: I was part of a group project for a class at Bates, and our project involved making amazing cupcakes for our entire class (it was senior year). Before the final presentation, where we brought in a few dozen cupcakes, we spent about a month practicing, toying around with recipes, different flavor and frosting combos, and figuring out how long baking actually took. Sure, it may sound like a lot of work for what it was worth, but we were able to deliver a polished finished product to our classmates. And everyone was psyched to eat cupcakes at 8 a.m.

Challenging yourself, whether in your personal or professional life, is something most everyone recommends these days. If your particular challenge involves giving a customer a finished product, give yourself some learning and executing time. Trust me, you don’t want to be in the position of giving a customer a product or service that is the equivalent of Stephen’s Godzilla cake.

That being said, I did totally eat some of that Godzilla cake. Waste not, want not, right?

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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