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I had an amazing year. 2013 brought lots of change, growth, challenge and fun.

I think the best highlights for me will always be the fun times I had with my family: trips to Halifax (times two!), holidays in Edmonton, and our fantastically awesome summer of cottaging and Algonquin camping with friends who are like family.  Add in a few special times, like Ethan’s Epic 10th Birthday Celebration, beautiful fall hikes, rock climbing and great family meals, laughs and special moments with our kids, all topped with great conversations – what a year.

In my chiropractic practice, it was a year of more life-changing stories, being grateful for the amazing families who come in to see me, and the joy of meeting new people.  I reached new highs, held new babies, taught prenatal classes, spoke to large groups and discovered new avenues for sharing my message with people.

In my personal life, I reached new personal records in my fitness and strength and I can FINALLY say that I have reached my oft-repeated goal of being in the best shape of my life! (Thanks Crossfit Bradford!)  I spent more time in the kitchen, discovering wonderful & healthy meals that our family loves.   I was deeply content knowing that my kids were eating quality food – and loving it.

There were few things that I didn’t accomplish this past year that I had set out to do.  Yup, I worked hard, ran lots of events, played hard, and felt healthier, happier and younger than in years past (at least, most of the time!) It certainly wasn’t all easy, but it was oh-so-worth it.

So here is my secret… the Single Best Thing I Did to Reach my Goals in 2013….

My Morning Power Hour.

Yes – that’s my answer.  I could not have accomplished my 2013 goals without it, and I’m not exaggerating.

Over the years, I have noticed that whenever I have a regular practice of setting goals and intentions, journalling and planning my life out, everything seems to fall into place.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  Sometimes I feel like I’m on an uphill battle and losing ground.  But when I look at the bigger picture, I gain the perspective that lets me see how far I have come.  And it never ceases to amaze me how many of my goals I reach or exceed when I am diligent with reviewing them, reworking them, journalling and then taking action.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Andrea Ryan has blogged wonderfully about what she does on her morning power hour –  which you can read about here.

And I must give credit to Robin Sharma for how I’ve structured my power hour this year.  You can read some of his great tips on productivity here.  Or better yet, take ten minutes to watch this video that helped me set up my plans for 2013.

So here is how i structure my morning power hour (which for me starts at 6am).  I am committed to this a minimum of 4 times a week for a full hour, but every day starts this way, even if it’s only for 15 min.
Every Day: 
  • I start with 10-20 minutes of mobility
  • I then do 20 – 40 minutes of “Core work”  – (see below for what I mean by this)
  • I write out my intentions for the day (this could range from how busy I want to be at work, how many people I meet at a new speaking engagement, or simply being fully present to the people who are in front of me)
  • I write out the top 3-7 actions for the day (again, this could range from working on large projects at home or at work, cooking meals, or having a great workout)
By ‘Core Work’ I mean:
1 – I read books. At least one power hour per week is dedicated to reading.
  • Currently this includes 2 books which  means I will do this 2 times per week for now: Tapping into Wealth and The Values Factor (both books are filled with exercises to do).
2 – I review of my list of goals, values and dreams.  At least one power hour per week is dedicated to this.  There’s a lot of work I put into each of these areas, fine tuning and uncovering what these are for me.  For people who haven’t done some of this background work, this is a great place to start.  It’s not really possible to create your dream life if you haven’t uncovered what that looks like for you, or what your highest values are… or planned out how you will get there.  
So for me, I have three documents on my laptop that I constantly review and revamp as needed:
  • My List of Objectives for the Year (this starts with a list of my top 3-5 goals – both personal and professional, which I follow up with the action steps required to reach them, broken down by quarter, month, or week)
  • My Personal Values List (this is a document I created that outlines those things that I value most in my life – for me, the top 3 are family, freedom and experiencing – which I can revisit to make sure the decisions I am making in my life match up with those things I hold most dear.  I personally think this single step is the most important one to start with and for me, the one that has lead to the most peace of mind in my busy, decision-filled life).
  • I read or journal “What I Want” (this is where I have written out the details of my ‘dream life’, and what I most want to be, have and do in my life.  However, this could also pertain to a specific situation, project or challenge I am facing at any given point.)
4 – I write in my journal. This is something I do every day. Sometimes it’s for 2 minutes, other times it’s multiple times a day, or for prolonged periods.  This includes my daily intentions and top actions, as well as listing out all of the things I am grateful for.  I work on exercises from books I am reading, do work on any negative or limiting beliefs, and write out in great detail my dreams and vision for my life.  Journalling is one of my lifelong outlets, and something I have done since I was 12 years old.  
As a part of my weekly journalling, I also do a Review of the Previous Week and Set Intentions for the Coming Week:  This will be done during one Power Hour per week -either on a Sat/Sun or Mon.  (This is also one of Robin Sharma’s suggestions)
  • I journal Wins and Challenges, rate the week out of 10, and write out where I think the gap is (why I felt it was a 7/10 vs a 10/10, for example – and what could have been different, if possible, to have created that higher outcome)
  • And I do the same at the end/beginning of each month and quarter.  This usually gives me some of that great perspective on how much more I am winning than being challenged – and that lets me measure up how I’m doing in the bigger picture.  And sometimes I revamp my goals going forward or tweak the action steps required.  

Sometimes in the morning I add in other types of ‘core work’, like writing a blog, or listening to a webinar.  Add in a weekly accountability call with my friends and colleagues, Dr. Andrea Ryan and Dr. Karen Osburn; a biweekly one with another colleague, Dr. Craig; and the 4-6 hours of driving each week that I spend listening to inspiring podcasts or learning from audiobooks  – and you’ll have the framework I use to keep my busy life in order.

Am I busy?  YES.  Could I ‘do’ my busy life without my morning power hour? Yes… however I am certain that it would be with less direction, less success, and more stress.

And so for me, it’s a no-brainer.  My morning power hour is here to stay.

After all, the saying goes that people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten.

(If you question this, think back to ten years ago, and notice all the massive changes that have likely occurred during that time.  I know for us the growth has come in leaps and bounds – sometimes it seems small, but other times it’s been massive beyond belief, and I can see with the 20/20 perspective of hindsight that many things have happened that I would not have believed likely way back then.  And if you don’t feel your life is an accurate reflection of this, think for a minute on all the technological changes that have come about and changed our world in that short time- it’s absolutely mind boggling!)

So, getting back to the notion of a long-term vision…by the looks of my ten-year vision – especially if I’ve underestimated myself – I’ve got some big goals to accomplish.  Which means that maybe the extent of my life-long vision and dreams may not be as over-the-top as they sometimes seem right now…

Regardless, no matter how large or small I dream, or how much of an impact I hope to have in this world, I know with certainty that keeping my morning power hour will be one of the strategies that will get me there.

It is a simple thing that sets the tone for everything.