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In botany, the term “community” refers to a bunch of plants growing together. Isn’t that beautiful? A place where each flower, shrub, and patch of moss isn’t asked to be something more than what they are or do anything beyond what they want to do.
And in this collective garden, they bring out the best in each other because living creatures thrive in community. So, how much more would you flourish if you didn’t have to grow alone?
January is a time for renewal. It’s when we zone in on self-improvement and establish targets for the months ahead. But this year is different, and it’ll require a lighter approach.
This week, I break the mold and bring in contemporary concepts for resolution success. Think less conditional, more intuitive, less goal, more intention, less obligatory, more instinctive, less requirement, more decision.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Avoiding motivation from toxic positivity
- How to trick yourself into action with small wins
- Immense damage caused by perceived social isolation
- Walk forward while holding both hope and despair
- Making the most of whatever comes your way
Listen to the Full Episode
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Featured on the Show:
Refuse to allow the imposed social isolation that’s happening around the world keep you away from community. I’m offering TWO opportunities this month for us to grow together, including my BRAND-NEW private membership program, Expats on Fire. Just looking for a kickstart? Sign up for the 100% free Ignite Challenge that begins next week!
- IGNITE your passion and be unstoppable in 2021 right here.
- Join Expats on Fire right here.
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
- James Clear: Atomic Habits
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 8:00 am in New York, 3:00 am in Johannesburg, and 8:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
In a 2019 article from the Royal Society led by Hawkley, they looked at the impact of Perceived Social Isolation. The study suggests that this isolation is linked with adverse health effects, like depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, and even poor cardiovascular function.
This is no news flash. But guess what? We are isolated or we have Perceived Social Isolation. And I’ve been telling you since the end of last year that we need to do things differently, right? There wasn’t something magic that changed when the calendar turned to 2021 on the eve of December 31st.
We have to continue with looking at the ways in which we’re showing up differently because we’ve never been in this context before, and if we grab for strategies that have worked in the past, but from a different context, we are not going to get the same level of results, right?
So in this episode, I want to share with you two things you can do to start this year differently. We’ve been looking at getting clear on our values and goals, but I want to give you as much as possible so you have a fighting chance to start this year strong. And you will optimize the amount of momentum you can create towards the changes you want to make in your life, no matter what this year throws at us.
So this episode is short and sweet and I’m going to give you as much as I possibly can, like spoon feed you what I can to make this easier for you. The first sort of direction or tip I want to give you has a potential to not only catalyze your progress, but actually deeply improve your health and overall well-being. The second one is going to be the spark that ignites your momentum for 2021.
So let’s go back to this topic of social isolation. And by the way, when I think of social isolation, I think of loneliness and it is probably the worst emotion I’ve ever felt my whole life. And I am always around people. I mean, I’ve been basically locked down with my family for months and months and months and months and months and months and months and months and months and months. But because how the things are changing you can still feel isolated right and it depends on where you live and what level of lockdown or conditions are, you might be facing full or partial social isolation for months to come.
We’ve gotta be really, really strategic in how we approach this so that we don’t get stuck. So that we don’t slide into a funk of some kind, or dig deeper into whatever funk you might already be in right?
January is a time of renewal, and new beginnings, and hope. And I want to support you in any way I can to leverage that and move forward with that in whatever way is possible. So some of you might be wanting to make a career pivot, others might want to take up running. Maybe you’re looking to find more balance in your family or work on something else. But whatever it is, it is life-changing, the way you’re managing your relationships, your health, your stress, your connections, your art, your work, whatever it is. And you’re doing all of that, these things that you want to do in any normal year would already be an undertaking because it is so important to you. Yet we’re doing this now while navigating this very uncertain reality.
So my question is: Why the hell would you do it on your own? These are really unusual circumstances and because of that we have to do things differently, right? You’re going to need all the help you can get and that is why I am here.
So, you know, I am absolutely the last person who would put my hands up and say, “Okay. Let’s just wait this out right?” I didn’t do that last year. I was all about making the best of 2020 the best worst thing that ever happened. And that attitude really helped keep energy even when things were hard, right?
So, how can you make this the best worst thing that ever happened to you was what I was focusing on last year. This year, the energy that I’m feeling right now is: How can you make the most of whatever comes your way? How can you make the most of whatever comes your way? It is so much lighter and is so less conditional on what happens.
So however big or small that you’ve been impacted by the COVID crisis and all of the other global crises that are very evident right now. You might have two things happening and one hand you’re holding the weight of all that is in one hand. And on the other hand, you’re holding this optimism and hope and you’re looking at your hands, and they’re full, right? How can you walk forward holding both at the same time?
So that is what I would love to support you with and if we talk about social isolation, it’s very true that some of us are not literally alone. We have company and company means being with a person. So for you it might be that you are with a roommate or a partner. Or you and your neighbor are in very close contact. Or you’re with your family, right? But while that’s good, that is really not, I don’t think, enough to get us moving forward this year, to even match the level of a momentum you would have had in a normal year.
Do you hear what I’m saying? That if you are showing up right now and you have things that you’d like to accomplish, and you’re taking the same approach as you would, let’s say in 2017, right? We need to do things differently because that in 2017 was already a big enough challenge and I really believe that the answer to doing things differently this year is in Community. And if you look at the definition of Community: It’s a unit with common interests, where the unit is committed to achieving something together.
And you might say, “Sundae. What are you talking about Community. when we’re actually in isolation? This doesn’t make any sense.” Right? But I am not going to allow the imposed social isolation that’s happening to keep me away from Community. We’ve all had months of practice now doing relationships online. We have no more excuses on gathering in ways that are meaningful. We know how to Zoom. Everybody’s got FaceTime now. Those excuses are gone. There’s no reason why we can’t do Community together.
So special times call for special measures, right? And what I find is so interesting is that we often expect ourselves to do everything on our own. And I am that person. I was the mom and would have the baby on the hip on one side and the groceries on the other, and be like trying to open the door with my key with my grocery bag and baby on my hip. And someone would say, “Can I help you?” I’m like, “Oh, no, I got this.”
Why is our default to do it on our own? I was just somewhere, I had groceries from the store and there were two heavy bags, and a carton of milk, and the woman said, “Here. I can have someone help you take that into your car,” and I’m like “No, I got it. I’ve had two babies on the hip. I can do this.” And I grabbed both of the bags and I put them on my hips, and I walked out.
There are so many times that by default, we realize we’re trying to do it on our own and it’s because we can, we think we should do it unsupported, right? Because I can bring those groceries out into the parking lot, should I be unsupported? Or wouldn’t it be actually easier for me to say, “Oh, that’s really thoughtful of you, okay,” and then maybe even put it in the cart and then take the weight off of my hips, and having more ease in which I stroll back to my car, right?
This is the kind of mentality and I like I said, I’m not saying I’m outside of this. I’ve worked to recover from this and my recovery process started probably over a decade ago when I had my first child, I realized that it was not sustainable to try to do everything on my own. Even being pregnant, it was the same thing with the groceries, like just because I could carry in those heavy groceries didn’t mean I should.
And I know I’m not alone. I know if you’re with me, I want to see like a virtual raise of hands right now. I wish I could see that, where everybody’s nodding in their car and their kitchen, or wherever you’re at going, “Yeah, I am that person. My default is to do it all on my own.” And instead of the default of like, “How can I do this in a way that will make it easier? How can I do this in a way that will make it faster, lighter, and more fun?” That’s not our default.
The default is, “Let me just put it on my shoulders and do it myself.” Right? And I think that is actually crazy. It’s like this, no one would ever expect a marriage therapist to lead the therapy sessions between her and her partner, right? You can’t lead and do the work at the same time. It’s so unfair to even ask that of someone. An Olympic Athlete isn’t expected to craft the training plan, put together the food plan, encourage the Olympian, intervene, treat wounds, coordinate with the PT and do all the running, right?
Why when we’re looking at performance when we’re looking at doing things well and doing things right, of course we think it makes sense for other people to do it in Community to get support to be led. But why when it comes to us, it doesn’t even come into our brain?
It is so interesting to see what happens when I work with clients and I’m with a client, they’re talking about too much going on in their lives, or home, their work, etc. And I suggest something wild like, “Why don’t you have food delivered? Or what if you had someone help for an hour after school?” It’s like an epiphany like, “Oh my God, I could get help.” And in hindsight, it’s obvious, but we just hunker down and look forward, expecting ourselves to do it all on our own.
So I’m kind of on a rant here, but I really believe in this. And maybe at the end of this year, I will check this out and December 31st 2021 if I’m wrong, if I’m wrong that Community is going to be the way that makes us get supported better. That I can’t imagine that doing it on our own it’s going to surpass this idea of doing this in Community. And this idea of Community, one of my favorite definitions of Community comes from the plant world in plant biology: A community is plants that grow together.
Plants that grow together and I really believe this year is going to be the year of growing together. If you make a decision that you are going to grow together in Community with those who have a shared interest, who are deeply committed to achieve something together with you. That’ll be much more fruitful than trying to do it all on your own. And certainly not as rich or fun.
And when I think about that idea, my shoulders drop because I always feel there’s so many times in my life where I’m like, “I got to do this all myself.” And I feel like I have the weight of that goal on my shoulders. And then I’ll talk more about this in later episodes, but when I rope myself into something, into a Community just give that weight up to the process, and invite in the energy, and love, and ideas of those who are equally committed to my growth and their growth. That is something really beautiful. And something I’ve watched in my own groups that I’ve nurtured throughout the year. I’ve watched it happen, it’s like magic when people get together and support each other.
So that’s my challenge for you. My challenge for you is to commit to this idea this year that your growth will be this idea of Growth Together.
And it’s quite simple. You start. Go back to episode 206 and look at the values that you identified. And then go to the goals that you got clear on in episode 209, and then reach out to find your crew who shares your interests. Those who are ready to grow together.
So there you have it. The first step to doing this year differently, to really getting what you want in this crazy time. To be living a globally mobile life is to write down your values and goals, and then go out there and find that crew to grow together. Or at least commit you’re going to be on the lookout for the right people to show up for you to make that happen.
And as I said to you before my goal is to make this as ridiculously easy as possible for you. And I’ve got your back. You might be ready to live out your values and your goals this year. You know you’re ready for change and you get it, that doing this in a community that wants to grow together will be far better than trying to figure this out on your own. And you want to do this with people who get you. And those people might not be at your fingertips.
And that is exactly why I created a new community called Expats on Fire. If you haven’t checked it out yet, go to the show notes and look it up. Expats on Fire is a brand new community where we will work together on creating focus on your goals so you can live your values and really get what you want, week after week. You’ll have me by your side and a group of cheerleaders and confidantes every step of the way.
So check it out. If you’re interested, again I said, I want to just spoon feed you everything that you need to make this year happen for you in ways that are easy because I know it’s hard enough just from the day-to-day.
So that is step one: Focus on this idea of Grow Together.
The second step to doing this year differently is something we’ve talked about a little bit in other episodes. But it’s simply: Trick yourself into action by creating a small win. And a small win, it’s simply setting an intention and then making it ridiculously easy to achieve so you feel more motivated to do that. And you might think it’s like a cheap trick, but come on! Change is hard.
So like if you were a smoker, you can’t just say, “Oh today, I’m going to become a nonsmoker,” and then you’re done. You could say, “Well today, I’m going to buy the Alan Carr book that helps me stop smoking and then tomorrow I’m going to take one cigarette out of my pack and not smoke it,” Right? You have to take small steps to find momentum.
You don’t decide, “I’m going to become a marathoner,” and the next day run the marathon. You make sure you’ve good running shoes and the next day you put them on and you walk around the block. And then the next day you walk around the block twice, right? Small wins.
We need to give our brain and our body motivation to take the next step. And I’m going to tell you right now and I even hate saying it because I know this is what I do, again, I’ll tell you more about this later but roping myself into things is how I do it.
I want to start meditating again. I was really good at it, fell off the wagon and now I want to get back into meditation. And so for me, the one thing I need to do is to create a small win. And I’ve decided I want to go for the first goal in Headspace. If you do this meditation app, there’s a three-day streak and I know it’s only three days, but I want to do three days in a row. That is my small win. And I know I will not reach enlightenment by Thursday, but it is a start. And this is something I can celebrate, right?
So this is how we get started. If you’ve read James Clear’s book on Atomic Habits he’ll tell you the same thing. Breaking things down so they’re so easy to do so that you can create the habit rather than the performance. I didn’t put in three hours of meditation. It’s just, maybe nine stinking minutes, but I did it for three days in a row. I’m creating the habit.
And don’t forget because this is kind of a wonky time, you’re gonna want to keep yourself accountable. So you can reach out to someone to help you do that, or grab your Grow Together group and tell them about your goal. If you can’t think of anyone you email me for heaven’s sakes! I want to hear about it.
So, what is your small win? What is the thing that you want to do? Because part two as I said is really doing this year differently. It’s a trick yourself into action by creating small wins.
Again, I want to make this as easy as possible for you. So here’s what I’ve done. I promised you at the top of the episode that I had something special for you. January is my birthday month and it’s also the birthday of Expat Happy Hour. I’ll say more about that later when it gets closer, but I LOVE giving presents and for my birthday, which is coming up at the end of the week, I want to give you a present.
And one of the gifts I like to give at the start of the year is a challenge that will really help set the tone for the coming year. If you have been around for a while, you might remember the Uplevel Challenge we did at the beginning of 2020. I just had someone come in on my Facebook group, Expats on Purpose and share a huge win as a result of that challenge a year ago. And other people were chiming in on what a difference it made in their life and it came from one simple small win.
So again these things I’m talking about here today are what it really takes to start creating that momentum. So I am running a challenge coming up on the 18th of January called IGNITE.
Now IGNITE is a five day challenge that is built to change the trajectory of your year.
I don’t know about you, but I really am happy to leave the dumpster fire of 2020 behind. I worked so hard over the holiday to replenish what’s been depleted and I’m continuing to work on that. And now is the time to focus on making the most of this year ahead.
And none of us are in the mood to muster up enormous willpower because what we do know is that it will go out in about two weeks. And no one wants to draw on toxic positivity, right? Because that will make you vomit. But what you can do is commit to setting yourself up strong.
And so I have created this five day challenge for you to experience these small wins that are going to actually be big wins that will make an impact on the trajectory of 2021. But they are small things you will do. I know no one has excess energy or time and that’s the way I’ve designed it. So it will just be like micro challenges for you everyday.
Day one. We’re going to start with: Burn it Down. We’re going to leave the low energy and bad habits, and frustrations from 2020 behind.
Day two we’re going to: Rebuild the Fire. You’re going to hit the reset button and create a bulletproof vision for 2021.
Day three we’re going to: Ignite that Fire. And you’ll share the vision with the community to light your spark again, your crew to grow together.
Day 4, we’re going to: Protect that Fire and identify what you need to keep momentum in 2021.
And Day 5, we are going to: Stoke that Fire. And you’ll create a tailored to you action plan and celebrate what you learned and what your wins are throughout those five days.
So it is built with guaranteed wins for you and it will change the trajectory of your year.
There’s so much potential to shift energy this year and I really would love you to join me. So again check out Expats on Fire. If you know you would love to say yes to a strong start and real sustainable changes in 2021, check out Expats on Fire in the show notes.
If you’re excited about this idea of building in clarity and the trajectory of your year, and getting those small wins to start making it happen, check out the five day challenge IGNITE. Both of them are in the show notes.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with one of my most favorite anonymous quotes: “You have to do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.”