Tag Archives: exercise

5 Steps for effective life reviews


Many of us enjoy the excitement of setting a new goal or working on a new habit, but it’s a good idea to take time to review your current situation before rushing to create new goals. An effective review helps you realign your progress with your priorities, identify barriers, create solutions, and document success and lessons learned so you can be more effective in the future.

Although it’s common to review our lives at certain points, like at the end of a project, the end of a life phase (like graduation, job transition, etc), and around birthdays or New Year’s, I’d recommend also doing a review in the middle of a year or a project. This way, you can change anything you discover that’s preventing you from making progress, before too much time has passed.

Here are the steps and questions I’ve found work well for me when I do any review.

5 Steps for effective life reviews

Refresh yourself on goals and priorities

What do you want? What’s important to you?

Sometimes, no matter how much we want something, we get off track because it’s hard to stay focused on the goal. Having a regular habit of reviewing goals for a project or for the year is a good way to stay motivated and focused. Reviewing your priorities is just as important, because that will help you create better goals and give you a reminder of what to say “yes” and “no” to.

I review my bucket list a few times throughout the year, along with my goals for my business and personal life, so that I don’t lose track of the direction I want to go. Reviewing my priorities makes it easier to make decisions about how to spend my time, and who to spend it with. In a job situation, this helps me use my time to do the things that matter most to my business and the people I work for/with (because there’s always more work that can be done than there is time).

Status report

Where are you in relation to your goals?

You won’t know unless you periodically check in with yourself (and whoever else is involved). Once you remind yourself of what you want to accomplish, figure out how far away you are from those goals. If you’re really far away from the goal, or haven’t made any progress since your last review, you may also want to ask yourself if you actually want to pursue this goal, or if your priorities have changed (and then so should your goals).

When I see that I’m still on track to achieve a goal, for example: to post something every week on this blog for a year, it gives me more motivation to continue. When I notice that I’m far from a goal, for example: exercising the recommended 150 min per week, then I know there’s a problem.

Identify problems

What are the barriers keeping you from crossing that finish line?

It’s one thing to nebulously say there’s a problem, but it’s hard to do something about it if you never discover what’s causing it. Or, if you’re having success so far, but can see that there may be trouble on the horizon, take this opportunity to identify potential pitfalls so you can maintain your progress.

Continuing with the example of exercise, one of my barriers is my approach to it. I’ve been trying to get it done in 30-60 min chunks of time, because then I only have to do it a few times a week, but that means I have to block out larger chunks of time. While health is a priority, exercise hasn’t been (although I know it affects other areas of wellness). This means that every time something unexpectedly comes up in my schedule, and I don’t have 30 min to exercise anymore, I decide that it’s not going to happen.

Make changes

What’s the plan? What will you do to make progress despite challenges?

When you figure out what’s making progress difficult, you can start to come up with plans to work around those barriers and push through the challenges you experience. Identify specific actions you can do to change the situation or your reaction to it.

For me, this usually involves thinking about the situation in a new way. Sometimes I have to ask other people for help and advice (outside perspectives can give fresh eyes), and other times I just need to try a new strategy (or an old one that’s worked for me in the past). To do more regular exercise, I did a few things: layer exercise on activities I’m already doing (making it a part of my normal life, for example, a walk around a lake with a friend instead of talking at a coffee shop), and breaking it down to smaller, more realistic chunks of time (10 min twice a day is much easier for me to schedule than a 20 min session). Now I do one session as part of my morning routine and one in the afternoon as a break.

Track progress and lessons learned

Is what you’re doing working? Compared with the last review, did you make progress?

Seeing a string of successes, no matter how small, can be helpful for those times when it seems like there’s no forward movement. Also be sure to record the lessons you’re learning so that you don’t have to relearn them (because let’s be honest- lessons are mostly learned from uncomfortable situations, and who wants to repeat that?). Recording lessons learned can also be helpful for the times when you feel like you’re a total failure (it happens) because then you can see that it’s not wasted time–you’re learning from what you’re experiencing now so you’ll be one step closer to success on the next attempt.

I know that 10 min chunks are more realistic for me to schedule because I’ve done it successfully in the past and been able to maintain the habit for a long time (lesson learned, but why did I stop? I lost track of my goals. Another lesson learned). Now I’m restarting, and so far I’m a few days in (yes, only days – every accomplished goal has to start somewhere). I’m keeping track of every 10 min, because monitoring these small successes really works for me (yet another lesson learned from accomplishing goals like posting weekly to this blog, or writing 50,000 words on a story in a month, or any number of other goals). It also gives me a record of the process of accomplishing a big goal, which is more challenging to value while I’m experiencing it, but is always the part I learn the most from in retrospect.

So… do you do regular reviews? Leave a comment with your methods, and share something you’ve learned from your most recent review.

Or… Are you a person who never stops to do a review, because – why live in the past? Let me know that too, and share what you do instead to learn from your experience. If there’s enough people who comment on it, I’ll write a post about it.


Week 3 of the 31 Days of Everyday Adventure challenge


The challenge is now on-demand: 31 Days of Everyday Adventure email challenge.

We’re a two-thirds of the way through our Everyday Adventure challenge! This week has been a pretty interesting week, full of new things and things I haven’t done in a very long time.

A special shout out and thank you to my blogging partners on this challenge: Suz from McVagabonds, Lara Krupicka, and Randi from Life’s Simple Adventures. Their bios are on the challenge page (it’s not too late to join!), but you should check out their blogs as well. They’re all doing amazing things and are wonderful people to know!

Find out what we did this week!

Surfing USA! Learning to surf on the California coast 🏄


Learning to surf has been on my bucket list even before I had an official bucket list. I remember growing up and seeing my uncle’s surfboards standing up against the wall in my grandma’s house. I watched the surfers whenever we went to the beach, and felt the still-fresh exhilaration when they’d come in for a break. It seemed that they enjoyed the ocean in a way I could not by only swimming near the beach.

I’d always assumed that eventually, I’d learn to surf from family members teaching me on one of our family visits to Hawaii, but as time went on, I realized that those who knew how were getting older and putting away their boards, and it looked less likely to happen. I knew that I’d have to learn from someone else, but as with many bucket list adventures, cost and location were barriers and this sat dormant for many years.

Then my friend C. and I started planning our road trip. This was going to be the perfect chance to get something off both our bucket lists and experience another part of the “California vacation” dream fed to us by Hollywood and the Beach Boys.

When I asked my friends living in California if they knew how to surf, the answer was a regretful “no,” so it looked like we’d have to find someone on Meetup or Couchsurfing, or resign ourselves to paying to learn from an instructor.

I’d almost given up on this goal happening during the road trip, when my friend who went with me on the trip got a text from her friend who lived in Los Angeles, who knew another friend who had an agreement with a surf rental shop on Muscle Beach. He could get us board rentals and teach us how to surf – for free!

The boards are very large, longer and wider than I remember them being in my childhood memories, and are made of a dense foam, not wood or fiberglass. The first thing I notice is that the board is way too big for me to carry. My arm can’t go around the width of it to carry next to my side like everyone else (and until just now, as I write this, it didn’t occur to me to carry it on my head with hands on either side of the board like I remember the smaller surfers from my childhood doing).

No one else in my group is having trouble with this, but they’re also all taller than me with longer arms. I quickly fall behind, struggling to hold the board horizontally across the front of my body, which causes a lot of wind resistance. I fumble with it, the gentle ocean breeze feeling like a full storm as it pushes and pulls the edges of the board away from me. Finally, as everyone else is already setting down their boards on the sand (about 30 seconds from where I’m standing), I give up, put one end down in the sand and drag the board and my already tired self over to where they are.

[It would have been really helpful to watch this video first – How to Surf for Girls : How to Carry a Surfboard. I highly recommend it if you’re shorter or smaller and going surfing for the first time.]

Everyone is nice enough not to mention my struggle or tardiness, but they’re also eager to get going, so there’s no chance to rest before S., our instructor/new friend, is leading us through a warm up: running in the sand while waving/flapping our arms around and jumping up and down  – all in front of random beach goers sitting around staring at the water. We all feel ridiculous, but it turns out that this is a common occurrence so people barely seem to notice.

Maybe I should make this into some kind of parable about being yourself and not caring so much about what other people think – but that would be cliche, so let’s not go there… 😉

After our warm up, we return to where we left the boards lined up in the sand, and S. tells us to stand at the back end of the board looking straight ahead. Then he comes behind us and gives us each a quick shove! Of course, we take a step forward to keep from falling over, and that’s how he determines the foot that should go in the front for the most stability.

I recommend this method if you’re not sure which foot to put forward when skateboarding, snowboarding, or surfing. It takes only a few seconds to figure it out this way.

We lie down on the boards, and from there we practice jumping to stand up. I feel a little slow, and I’m very unsure if I’ll be able to do this while balancing on a board floating on the water as a wave is coming, but before I can think about it, S. is already shouting: “Let’s go!”

We tread water next to our boards, and despite a brief thought that the board might flip over when I try to get on, it somehow doesn’t, and I manage to get on the board correctly and consistently.

It’s about the only thing I can do correctly for the first few tries, but I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember so I just keep trying.

I know how to paddle with my arms because I’ve watched so many people do it and it’s basically just swimming with a surfboard. It’s not hard to move the board, but it is hard to move it exactly where you want it to go. And fighting a current headed toward a pile of rocks is hard (and dangerous), and S. keeps telling us to move over, but we don’t have good control over our boards so we continue to drift.

He makes us leave the water, walk on the beach and reenter the ocean farther away from the rocks, but since the current’s still strong and we’re not drastically improving, we have to do this SO MANY TIMES. It’s already tiring to be getting on the board, paddling, and trying to stand up (read: falling off). It’s taking a lot of energy to move the board around and I’m worried I’ll be exhausted or injured before I actually learn how to surf.

One time, because I’m tired, I don’t even get all the way out of the ocean to move the board, I just float it along and push it over to the new spot – that’s the plan anyway. A wave comes, and the board is shoved right into my rib cage, leaving a big bruise. Most of the time after this, S. takes my board and carries it for me – super nice!

Another time, I fall off the board and then the wave comes on top of me, which makes the board hit me in the head as I tumble in the water. I’m fine, but I’m definitely grateful that the board’s made of foam instead of something harder.

The more we practice (again, read: fall off) the more confident we’re getting, and we’re just a little bit faster at standing up when the waves come. S. yells at us at the right time in the wave to stand up, but so far I’ve been too slow to stand up all the way, only getting to one foot and one knee before falling off or running out of water and onto the beach.

It seems like no time has passed when he lets us know our hour-long rental is almost over, and we have time to try one more wave. This is it! I think, and he echoes that thought aloud, shouting encouragements and then his usual: “Stand-up-stand-up-stand-up!”

I try, but only get to the halfway point I’ve been stuck in so many times before.

But this time, I realize – I’m not all the way to the beach yet! I still have ocean left!

So I push up one more time from my halfway position and…


And it is just as exciting as I thought it would feel. The board glides over the water, I don’t feel wobbly or afraid, and there’s even a couple of people watching from the beach as I float all the way to the sand in a perfect moment.

I’m elated and tired (but thankfully I have help carrying my board to the showers and then back to the rental shop). We lie on the beach after returning the boards, hanging out and accidentally sunburning the backs of our legs. I don’t care, though. I can’t stop smiling. This was truly one of the best moments of the trip and one of my all-time favorite list items. I can’t wait to do it again!