What’s the Simplest Version You Can Do Today?

My first YouTube video, my first vlog post.

I’m back from my December break and ready to try something new in 2017.  I’ll be posting a short video on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month while I do more work on the administrative part of my blog and learn new technologies (like YouTube).

I wish you all a wonderful start to 2017 and look forward to learning from you all through our discussions on Blue Ocean Families blog!

If you watched the video, please share which thing you have been delaying because you can’t do it “properly” and how you plan to get the first version going today!

An Effortless Way to Improve Your Family Culture Almost Instantly: The Final Key To Replacing Limiting Beliefs With Liberating Truths

toilet

Two weeks ago we came up with liberating truths to replace the limiting beliefs we sometimes unconsciously hold about our families.

I know how transformative this kind of shift in thinking can be the idea seemed to resonate with readers, too.

But can you recite any of those liberating truths right now?

If you’re like me, you either can’t remember or it took quite a bit of mental effort to dig up those thoughts from so long ago.

How often in my life have I learned something so exciting and seemingly simple that I think I’ll never forget it, only to have it fade from consciousness in a matter of days?

New ideas won’t help us unless we take action, but when our to-do lists are already oppressive, that’s not welcome news.

Luckily there’s a very easy way we can all take action to remember our liberating truths and allow them to shape our lives for the better.

I learned the idea from B.J. Fogg and his Tiny Habits method. You can take a free on-line class from him, but the basic idea is simple (and therefore deceptively easy to forget . . .)

  1. Pick a trigger that you do automatically every day without much thought.
  2. Pick an action that is easy super easy and takes 30 seconds or less.
  3. Rehearse the trigger-action in your mind so you form a few pathway in your brain.
  4. After a week of trying your new tiny habit, review and see if it worked or if you need to revise one of the elements.

Step four is the hardest because you have to remember to check if your tiny habit is working. If the tiny habit is a good fit, you’ll have formed a new healthy habit in less than a week with very little effort.

If it’s not a habit yet then don’t blame yourself for not acting on it, but admit that you didn’t pick the best fit. Tweak one of the elements and try again.

It’s not true that any habit takes 20 or more days to form. It depends on the habit and the trigger.

I propose that reciting one liberating truth is a super easy action that definitely take less than 30 seconds.

Now the trick is to find a good trigger. Here are some examples.

  • After I brush my teeth I will recite one liberating truth.
  • After my feet hit the floor in the morning I will recite . . .
  • After my alarm goes off I will . . .
  • After I hear the footsteps of the first child awake in the morning I will . . .
  • After I’ve left the room from putting the kids to bed . . .
  • After I’ve poured my coffee . . .
  • After I’ve flushed the toilet . . .

Toilet humor is funny because the subject is universal. So toilets will serve as a good example for tiny habit formation.

Flushing the toilet is something we do automatically even when we have very little time. Even when the kids are calling for Mommy (because the Mom on the pot is their trigger to need help, right?) you still take time to flush the toilet.

After flushing the toilet and either washing your hands in leisure (if you’re lucky) or rushing off to see the damage, there is enough mental space for you to remember your tiny habit and act on it at the same time as carrying on with your life.

Can it get any easier?

Still, there is one more way to help the tiny habit take a firm hold: celebrate your accomplishment.

This part is always hard for me since the action is so super simple I feel stupid celebrating, but it’s scientifically documented as important for getting the brain re-wired.

So after you accomplish your goal (even if it’s as simple as reciting a sentence) give a fist pump or do a little silly dance, or celebrate in an equally small, but encouraging way. (Keep it simple or your celebration will take more effort than your tiny habit!)

Note that toilet flushing has nothing to do with a good family life (well, unless you have a forgetful child . . .). You might think that reciting the liberating truth would be good to do when you are experience a negative emotion toward your family.

The trouble is that we don’t think clearly when we’re upset, and being upset is not a precise trigger – nor one we want to practice! In my experience, the more unrelated the trigger, the better it works.

Here’s your simple action plan for today:

  1. Find where you wrote down your liberating truths and pick one, or make up a new one now.
  2. Pick a trigger that you think might work for you. (Don’t obsess about it.)
  3. Rehearse your new tiny habit using this form “After I . . . I will . . .” saying it out loud to yourself at least 10 times.
  4. Don’t worry about remembering to check how it’s working – I’ll do that for you in the next post.

DO NOT put this on your to-do list. Either do it now – it will only take 5 minutes! Or decide guilt-free that it’s not for you.

I look forward to hearing how it went for you!

Happy Switzerland Day!

switzerland-1535811_1920

Today is the day the Swiss celebrate their country.  In honor of my adopted country I will take the day off of blogging.

If you get the chance, share with just one person that Switzerland is the land of mountains, chocolate, and cheese in the middle of Europe and is not a Scandinavian country . . .

Why don’t you come visit and discover it for yourselves!

Happy Switzerland Day!

Liberating Truths: Free Yourself From Your Limiting Beliefs!

free

Did you brainstorm your limiting beliefs about your family?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. It turns out it’s been on my list of things to do for a month and when blogging the idea finally forced me to sit down and do it I realized how scared I was of the exercise.

I was afraid that some of my thoughts about my family would turn out to be true.

I was afraid I’d discover I’m a bad mother and wife because sometimes I have some pretty terrible thoughts about my family.

But when I actually sat down and forced the first few thoughts on paper they no longer seemed so ugly. Seeing those thoughts in black and white helped me see how ridiculous they were – or at least that they were exaggerated.

My Limiting Beliefs

I wrote everything that came to mind as a shadow of a doubt. I don’t think this way all the time about my family, but sometimes these thoughts do haunt me (and I’m not sharing the worst).

  • My kids are spoiled.
  • I don’t know how to teach. My oldest taught himself everything and doesn’t like learning from me.
  • My kids can’t learn what I don’t know myself.
  • I’m poorly educated.
  • Kids are a burden – they keep me from work I care about.
  • My kids don’t care about the things I care about.

If I think this way, why do I homeschoool?!?

Time to replace our limiting beliefs with liberating truths!

Take a moment to think of just one limiting belief you have about your family.

Got it?

Good, now let’s make a liberating truth to replace it. Here are some examples to get your creative and liberating juices flowing.

  • My kids are spoiled.  Growing up in relative abundance, our children will have to work harder to develop gratitude and selflessness.
  • My oldest doesn’t like learning from me.  My oldest enjoys learning from me if I am sensitive to his needs and don’t force it.
  • I’m poorly educated.  I can learn anything I need to.
  • Kids keep me from doing work I care about.  There is nothing I’d rather be doing than sharing the exciting world with my bright and beautiful kids.

Here’s an example from the brave reader who commented last week with her limiting beliefs.

I don’t have time to facilitate project time well.

I have all the time, resources, and knowledge I need to get started with a simple version of project time.

OR

I have enough time to be still and observe my kids for a few moments and write down one idea that comes to mind of how to support them.

OR

Facilitating project time isn’t exhausting because I’m not the one in charge!

Since it’s not my own limiting belief, I don’t know exactly where the hang-up lies so my ideas may not be truth and they may not be liberating.

Only you know which liberating truth gets to the heart of the issue.

Remember the limiting belief you came up with as the start of this post?

Really ask yourself what you’re afraid of and how you could re-frame your thinking to help you move forward.

Have you thought about it?

Good! Now don’t forget it and go change your life!

Right. It’s not that easy to replace long-ingrained ideas. Next week we’ll learn how to make our new liberating truth part of who we are with very little effort.

Share your liberating truth in a comment or write it down somewhere else so we can use it in next week’s exercise.

Limiting Beliefs: An Easy Place To Start Improving Your Family Culture

writingoutside

Last week we finished the Culture Making series and it’s time to get back to earth and do something practical. I have an easy way to start!

“Only a small group can sustain the attention, energy and perseverance to create something that genuinely moves the horizons of possibility – because to create that good requires an ability to suspend, at least for a time, the very horizons within which everyone else is operating. Such “suspension of impossibility” is tiring and taxing. The only thing strong enough to sustain it is a community of people. To create a new cultural good, a small group is essential.” -Andy Crouch

Suspending disbelief is hard work. In the home it’s hard to look at the good and not the bad in our family life. It’s hard to envision where children are heading and not dwell on where they are lacking (kitchen mess and tantrums anyone?).

Yet training our kids has everything to do with our ability to envision an unseen future of our kids as competent, confident, and caring adults. We believe they can grow, so we guide them with our expectations that they can do and be more.

Stuck in a rut

In the first years of parenting we were figuring everything out and I felt forced to be creative in my techniques just to keep up with my child’s growth.

As the year pass, I increasingly realize I get stuck in a rut of what’s possible. The kids wipe their faces and hands after meals because they always have, not because they can’t use the sink.

I helped my third child with putting on his shoes much longer than I did with the others, simply because I didn’t have a baby to take care of as well.

Our kids absorb our expectations and our limiting beliefs about them. How do we notice where we’re stunting our family’s growth because of a poor imagination?

One great way is to notice other families and have our idea of what’s possible at a certain age to be shattered, but this can also lead to tremendous guilt and frustration rather than inspire us to action.

Another way is to replace our limiting beliefs with liberating truths.

Limiting Beliefs and liberating truths

I learned this idea from Michael Hyatt and have found it to be a powerful and almost effortless idea.

First, here’s an example of how the idea of replacing limiting beliefs helped me get better sleep with no effort at all.

I used to go to bed each night and scold myself for not going to bed earlier. I’d wake up and think, “Ugh, I didn’t get enough sleep.”

I decided to try to change my limiting belief about how much sleep I needed. Maybe seven hours of sleep (even with kid interruptions – but I don’t have a newborn) is enough for me.

As I went to bed I would tell myself “seven hours of sleep is more than enough for me to have the energy to do everything I have to do tomorrow.”

I probably get about the same amount of sleep, but I’m not constantly stressing about the time I get to bed and I have more energy than I have in years (but remember, I’m coming out of the baby years!).

At this point in my life, replacing my limiting belief about sleep was just what I needed.

Ready for an almost effortless way to improve your family culture?

I thought so!

I know that I have plenty of limiting beliefs about my family that if replaced with liberating truths could have a significant positive impact on my family culture.

I bet you do, too!

Let’s take 15 minutes to brainstorm all the many “impossibles” we believe about our families. Grab a pen and a cup of tea and shut yourself up with a “back in 15 minutes” sign and write down everything that comes to mind.

After a few minutes the ideas will flow and you’ll be amazed how liberating it is just to name the many negative and limiting thoughts we have about our families.

Pick one or two to share in the comments and we can help each other come up with liberating truths.

Did You Know You Must File US Taxes Even When Living Abroad?

UStaxes

Dear Readers,

As many of you are US citizens living abroad I’m posting this courtesy notice to remind you of your legal obligations to the good ol’ US of A.

1) You must file US taxes no matter where you live or what other country you pay taxes to. Visit www.irs.gov for more information.

2) You must file the FBAR (report of foreign bank accounts) by June 30th and there is no opportunity for an extension. Visit http://bsaefiling.fincen.treas.gov/main.html for more information.

The good news for some of you:

You might not have to file taxes if you have no income and your spouse is not a US citizen or Green Card carrier. Then your filing status can be married filing separately, and you do not have to declare your spouses income.

The not-so-bad news for many of you:

Because many countries have double-taxation relief treaties it is possible you won’t end up owing the IRS any money, but you still have to file.

EVERYONE who has more than $10,000 in combined assets in non-US banks has to file the FBAR. The US isn’t asking for any of your money, they just want to know everything about your finances.

I could say something about cultural power here. As an upstanding citizen I have to report to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network simply because I fell in love when traveling our wonderful world and settled down outside the US.

Sorry I have no real post, but my taxes and FBAR were super complicated this year (even though I’m not rich enough to owe any money) and all my computer time has been spent on that.

This is not legal advice, you are solely responsible for your situation (insert appropriate lawyer talk here). I am just an average person trying to do the right thing and help people.

Good luck!

And if you live in the United States, count yourself lucky you only have one set of income taxes to file!

Happy Birthday, Blue Ocean Families Blog!

birthday-1114056_1920

One year ago today I published my first post on Blue Ocean Families blog.

Of the 53 posts since then, some have been rather off topic, some have been too hastily composed, some have resonated with readers, and a few have changed lives for the better.

Thanks for joining me! I always enjoy hearing from you in the comments and privately.

Next week we’ll continue the Culture Making series. This week I’ll celebrate with a break. Feel free to explore the archives. 🙂

More Encouragement For Teaching Our Kids Good Habits

In the stress of our move I found myself reverting to old habits that I’d forgotten I even had.

  • As I reached for the cookie jar when the kids weren’t looking my old unhealthy relationship with food came freshly to mind.
  • Even though I’ve had a good organization system for a few years now, I found myself afraid to write important tasks down for fear I’d lose the paper and forget the task.
  • I started feeling oppressed by the piles of papers and clutter around me and helpless to move forward.

I was surprised at how strongly my old habits came back when my environment changed. One moment I could hardly remember my old life; next thing I knew, I was living it again.

It was a timely reminder that it’s worth the patience and perseverance it takes to train children in good habits.

If cleaning up after themselves becomes second nature when they are young, it will not leave them when they are grown.

I’ve heard stories of parents who claim their kids cleaned up when they were young but stopped when they were teens or were on their own. I can’t help wondering if the kids had the habit and lost it or if they only cleaned up because their parents made them.

Training our kids in the habit of picking up is harder than making them pick up.

I’m not sure if we can ever tell for sure if the habit is the child’s, but it’s worth aiming for. The less we have to be involved the more likely it’s becoming an established habit.

Maybe being neat isn’t a highly important value for you, but think about what is. What behavior do you want to be second nature for your grown children?

Bad habits are hard to change now, but they’ll be even harder to change later.

Stay strong and work on good habits now. Lead by example. Take it slowly. Be patient and persistent. And don’t forget to celebrate your progress!

You and your kids will be grateful for it!

What good habits does your family have? How did you develop them? Please share!