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Yep, you heard me. Those resolutions that you set on January 1 and you’re struggling so hard to achieve, toss them out!

According to statistics recently published in Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. And only 8% are successful at achieving them.  The top three resolutions for 2012 were

  • losing weight
  • getting organized
  • spending less and saving more

Sound familiar?

If you want 2013 to be the year you finally make it happen, here’s some simple tips to get you started.

1. Identify one goal you want to accomplish and set a reasonable timeline.

By setting just one goal and focusing on it, you are likely to experience more success (and feel less overwhelmed!) It’s also important to be reasonable in setting your timeline. Trying to lose 30 lbs. in 7 days is not healthy, let alone manageable, so be willing to take small consistent steps toward your goal.

2. Take time to understand why this goal matters to you. 

What will it bring into your life that you don’t have now? Envision the moment when you achieve your goal. How will you feel? Who will you share your accomplishment with? Picture it in vivid detail. Having a strong sense of purpose will help you stay motivated during the times of challenge.

3. Find your own personal cheerleader, someone who will help you stay focused.

Your cheerleader is someone who believes in you and your dream, and who is willing to be there for you. It’s someone you will listen to (and believe) when they say, “Yes, you can!” This person may be a friend or colleague, perhaps someone you can provide cheerleading support for in return. It may also be a coach or other professional you meet with regularly to stay on track.

4. Develop an action plan, and break it down into simple steps.

Once you know your goal and timeline, write down some of the steps you can take toward it. Break it down into weekly or even daily goals and steps. By taking one step each day, you will make steady progress toward your goal.

5. Share your plan with your cheerleader and … take the first step!

Check in regularly with your cheerleader to give updates and ask for help as needed. You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, it’s a lot more fun to work together.

Are there any other tips that have worked for you? Leave a comment so we all can benefit from your experience!

Calling All Dreamers!

As we enter the first full week of 2013, I’ve been developing my dreams for the coming year. For me, the first step is the most fun – the dreaming part. This is where I get to spend time envisioning what might be possible. There are no limits here, no editing to be done. Gradually, the vision will become more clearly defined, and that’s when I’ll focus on steps to take toward that dream.

Until then, I’m very selective about who I talk to about the dream. If I mention it too soon, well-meaning friends and family may trample all over my emerging ideas with comments like, “you’ve got to be practical.” Or “how can you make any money at that?”

Once I have a plan, then I’ll seek the support of someone who believes in me and my dreams. But until then, I’ll keep the magical visions to myself as they dance, swirl, merge and morph into my dream for 2013.

Apparently I’m not the only one. As I discovered today, there’s another dreamer out there just like me. Tonight, Shannon Skinner will debut her Extraordinary Women television show on Rogers TV Cable 10 and 63 in Scarborough/Toronto. She describes her journey to achieving this dream in her recent blog in the HuffingtonPost.

So dream on, all you dreamers! There’s strength in numbers, and there’s no telling what we can accomplish this year!

Wishing You Blessings

Xmas 2010 004

May the blessings of the season be yours!

The town of Cateura, Paraguay, is built on a landfill. Residents sort through the garbage to find items that can be sold. One day an orchestra director and music teacher came to town to teach children how to play violins and flutes. But they didn’t bring enough instruments for all those who wanted to play.

The town’s scrap dealers found a creative solution to the challenge. They built violins, violas, guitars and horns out of junk found in the landfill. The music that emerges from these recycled instruments rivals the greatest orchestras in the world.

As the orchestra director points out in a video about the project, it’s a valuable lesson in recognizing the potential value in much of what we consider to be “garbage”. It’s also about recognizing the value of every human being, the potential for growth and passion that exists in each one of us, regardless of where we live and the circumstances in which we live.

May you and your family enjoy the blessings of  good health, shared joy, and beauty this holiday season.

In the city of Montreal, people are discovering the joy of collaboration. A team of designers installed twenty-one swings near a bus stop. When people sit on them and begin to swing, music starts to play.

Each swing triggers different notes. The full piece of music only emerges when everyone swings in unison.

The project is bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds, drawn by the opportunity to swing like a child and to make music at the same time. As they swing, people begin to discover the different notes and realize that, by moving as one, they can create a beautiful symphony.

The design team is in the process of creating a travelling version of the swings so that these collective moments can be shared around the world.

This project gives me reason to dream bigger. If 21 strangers can create beautiful music together by synchronizing their movements in Montreal, imagine what we could do if we worked together for the common good in our neighbourhoods, communities, countries … !

Everything is possible. It’s up to us. One word, one step, one action at a time.

The Gift of Secret Santa

I remember watching a Christmas movie a few years ago in which a television reporter visited a small American town to try and discover the identity of the community’s Secret Santa. It seems that, for many years, someone had been anonymously meeting the needs of those in need.

Recently, I read several newspaper articles about a Secret Santa visiting some of the poorest towns in the U.S. as well as communities that had been hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Secret Santa was handing out $100 bills to strangers, asking no questions, simply suggesting that they share some kindness with others in their lives.

He apparently took up this role following in the footsteps of a good friend who, for many years, had handed out money at Christmas to people in thrift stores, food banks, and shelters. When his friend died in 2007, he had given away more than $1 million dollars.

“The money is not the point,” he said. “It’s about random acts of kindness. I’m just setting an example. Anybody can be a Secret Santa.”

It doesn’t take a million dollars to make a difference in the lives of others. Nor does it only have to happen during the holiday season. The greatest gifts are usually the ones that come from your heart. How can you share something of yourself and brighten someone’s day today?

In 1980, the American Helicopter Society International established the Igor I. Sikorsky Prize to develop a human-powered helicopter. It’s an international competition with a prize of $250,000 pledged by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for the first controlled flight that meets stringent requirements.

The flight must last 60 seconds and reach a height of 3 metres (9.8 ft) while remaining in a 10 metre (32.8 ft) square, and it must be certified by a member of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

To date, no one has been able to claim the prize, although many attempts have been made.

Competition is currently close between two contenders – the Gamera II designed and built by students at the University of Maryland, and the Atlas designed and built by AeroVelo, a team of Canadian students and professionals.

On August 28, 2012, the Gamera II unofficially flew for 65 seconds on one flight, and reached a height of 8 feet on another.

On September 3, the Atlas demonstrated the first controlled, non-tethered flight of a human-powered helicopter, lasting 17 seconds.

Both teams continue to refine their design. The Atlas is powered by national speed skater, Dr. Todd Reichert, on a super-light bike frame designed by Toronto’s Cervelo Cycles. He performs endurance and power cycle training for three hours a day in order to prepare for “take-off”.

“Many people have said this prize is impossible,” Reichert says, “but if we succeed, that has the power to inspire.”