Why Breaking a Habit Is So Important

Do you have more good habits than bad ones? Name three habits that you would like to get rid of right now. I could name five of them easily!

Most of us are dukes of habit, and it’s normal. Habits help us perform tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking. However, sometimes they become our enemies. When we do too many things without consideration, we don’t leave enough room for creativity. Our moves and our behaviors become predictable, and we don’t give ourselves enough food for new ideas.

If you want to train your creative muscle, it’s time to break some of those habits. They might be absolutely harmless, like taking a certain route to work, or sitting at a certain place at your dinner table. Nevertheless, try to change your standard way of thinking and doing things. Allow yourself to acquire new habits and adopt changes into your life.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Listen to a different radio station
  • Go to a new coffee shop
  • Choose a different kind of tea or coffee
  • Eat something unusual for breakfast
  • Go to a restaurant that you’ve never been before
  • Pick a newspaper that you’ve never read before
  • Try a new recipe
  • Go for a run instead of biking
  • Bike instead of going to a gym
  • Take up photography, dancing, pottery or any other new hobby
  • Try learning a new skill every month
  • Change your morning and evening routines

There could be more options, but I am sure you got the idea. The most important thing is to break the habitual cycles that block creative way of thinking. Try to change just one thing tomorrow, I dare you! ūüôā ¬†And then tell us which one you changed!

 

How to Become a Marathoner

TUK_2301Have you ever wondered if running a marathon or at least a 10K is for you? I want to assure you – yes it is. If you think you can’t do it, I have good news for you, my friend. Anybody can do it with enough motivation and training.

Almost 6 years ago my friend encouraged me to run a marathon. “No way!”, I said to him then. Little did I know that one year later he would be meeting me at the finish line of my first marathon in rainy Venice.

So, what do you need to run your first marathon? I will share 5 most important points with you. In the same way, you can apply them to a half-marathon or any other race. As a matter of fact, it’s much wiser to start with an easier race than 26 miles. So, let’s dive in.

1. Motivation

If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything without motivation, you know how hard it may be. You could force yourself, but it won’t last long. Eventually, you will say to yourself – enough, I’m done with this. Motivation is what keeps us going. It’s like fuel for a car or power for a computer.

Find your motivation. Would you like to lose weight and feel more confident about the way you look? Or maybe, you have been running for years, and now you feel like it’s time to take it to another level? Perhaps, you’re like me, and you need an upcoming race to motivate you to run every day. Whatever it is that drives¬†you, use it for your benefit. Take advantage of it and let it motivate you to start preparing for your first marathon.

Strangely enough, but my decision to run that¬†first marathon was motivated by the desire to show my boyfriend that I can. I was also desperately trying to connect with him and running was our common interest. Paradoxically, we broke up two days after the race, but I am still thankful to him for inspiring me to run a marathon. It was an incredible experience and honestly, it got me addicted. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line and hearing the cheer of hundreds of people you don’t even know!!!

2. A race planned

Frankly speaking, I am not a very disciplined person. I always strive to be one, but it doesn’t come easy. So, getting myself out of bed and out of the apartment to go for a run is a constant struggle. There’s one huge motivation that helps me get into running clothes and get out of the door – a future marathon or a half-marathon.

My friend Debbie and I love traveling to different cities and countries to run races. It’s our way of seeing the world and experience new cultures. Moreover, it’s a great motivator for me – if we have a race scheduled, I know I have to train for it.

LGC_5132Therefore, after you got your motivation to become a marathoner, you need to plan a race. First of all, check if there’s one nearby. Probably, there’s a marathon or a half coming up in your own city. Otherwise, look through possibilities to travel within your country or even abroad. Believe me, it’s going to be a fascinating adventure for you and those you’ll be¬†traveling with.

 3. Training for a race

As soon as you have a race scheduled, it’s time to start training for it. There are lots of different training plans for beginners. If you can’t find anything decent, message me, and I will send you the plan I was using for many years. It’s doable even for those who don’t like to run much, but would love to finish a marathon.

Training for a race is extremely important even if you don’t care about the result, but only hope to finish. Your legs and your whole body are most likely not used to such extreme challenge. You need to train your muscles, your core and your legs so that on the race day you can endure pain and fatigue.

Don’t try to run without preparation. You might be able to accomplish it, but the consequences will show themselves much later.

4. Clothes

When I first started running, I didn’t think much about clothes. I grabbed the first thing that looked like it was for fitness, put it on and went out. Later, when my milage started growing,¬†I realised how crucial it was to wear the right shoes and the right clothes.

For instance, if you run in a cotton T-shirt or shorts made of natural fabric, you might¬†have bloody wounds on your skin after 40-60 min of running. It turns out to avoid chafing you should run in clothes made of wicking material. It will absorb moisture and won’t rub your skin creating sores.

Similarly, you should be careful with what type of running shoes you’re wearing. A lot of people try minimalist shoes nowadays. I am a big fan of my 4 mm heel drop shoes – they are light, easy to run in and have helped me avoid¬†injury for 5 years already. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to clothes and shoes. So, I might write a separate blog just about that. The story of my experiment with “barefoot” running is worth telling.

5. Food

When you’re preparing for a race, it’s very important to watch what you eat. First and foremost, fat, greasy food should be avoided. It’s bad for us even if we’re not going to run a marathon. Next, you need to make sure you have a balanced diet – protein, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, necessary minerals and vitamins.

TUK_2108Also, when your race day is approaching, it’s important to train your body to eat the same food before the long run. In this case you will know what to expect when you have the same meal the evening before your marathon. Usually people try to eat carbs (pasta, not greasy pizza) the evening before and something light in the morning. A piece of white bread with jam or honey and a banana for breakfast have worked miracles for me.

Another thing to remember is fuelling during your marathon. If you’re going to run a 5K or a 10K, even a half-marathon, you might be ok without any food during the race. However, if you plan to run 26 miles (42 km), it’s important to have special energy gels or bars along with you. Don’t forget to try them during your training. Your body should be used to them and not surprise you with sudden cramps at the race.

Bringing it all together

In conclusion, running a marathon is an incredible adventure that is totally worth our efforts. When you cross the finish line, the feeling of relief, accomplishment and personal victory will be a great reward for everything that you have to endure.

Do You Have a Mentor?

I love discovering new interesting people who I can learn from. We all know how important it is to have a mentor if we want to grow personally constantly. As for me, I don’t have a real mentor even though all my friends teach me something. It’s a great honor and pleasure to learn from them since each one of my closest friends is an incredibly intelligent person.

I am proud to say that all my friends constantly feed my brain with ideas and help me grow although they are not really my mentors, they are my friends.

There are several people who I can call virtual mentors. Jeff Walker and Marie Forleo have been such people for me in the last few years. Their experience and wisdom helped me understand a lot about business. Their weekly and sometimes daily videos gave me a chance to learn from them on a regular basis.

Recently I’ve discovered several new people who started inspiring me even more: Michael Hyatt, Rory Vaden, Simon Sinek. All these successful entrepreneurs and fascinating personalities ¬†have a message to convey and an experience to share. Why not use the opportunity that our online world gives us?

Who are your mentors? Is it somebody you know personally or virtually? Can you advice an interesting public figure who helped you grow personally and professionally?

 

10 Ways to Feed Your Imagination

25744338382_d66a368856_kDo you think you have good imagination? I think you do. If you disagree, maybe, you just need to feed it more often. Give it some food every once in a while and it will pay you back with boosted creativity, unique ideas and spot on solutions.

I used to think I am not a creative person. Then several incredible books and videos changed my understanding of this notion. The problem was connected with my inability to use creative power and God-given imagination. Even though my rich imagination was¬†always a source of entertainment for me, I didn’t connect it with creativity.¬†It took me years to learn how to use it. What’s even more important, it took me too long to realize the huge value of our imagination. Its effect on our creative abilities, critical thinking, and decision making process can’t be overestimated.

So, let’s dive into 10 ways to feed our imagination.

1. Books

This is probably the most obvious one of all, that’s why it’s number one. When you read a book or listen to an audio-book, you can’t help but imagine what is going on. Your brain creates images and stores them in its supreme filing system. You will be able to retrieve those images when you need them.

First, I wanted to say, read fiction Рit will feed your imagination more. However, there were lots of non-fiction, educational, spiritual and self-help books that gave me most useful ideas and inspired me incredibly.

2. Movies

Yes, I know. Movies and TV shows can be very addictive. They can throw you into the prison of wasting time, and the escape is not that easy. I’ve been in that prison and still get there once in a while. And nevertheless, watching movies and TV shows in moderation¬†is good for us. Good quality films and serials are made by creative people who spent thousands of hours using their own imagination. I am sure we can learn from them, tap into their creativity and draw out a few ideas for ourselves.

3. Art

There is a variety of opportunities unfolding  in front of us when we think of art. You can be a spectator or a participant of art. Go to a dancing show or take dancing lessons. Attend a concert or learn how to play a musical instrument. Visit a museum or participate in a pottery master class. Musicals and plays, opera and architecture, exhibitions and galleries Рall of this is the endless source of nourishment for our imagination.

4. Speeches

Have you heard of TED talks? In the last several years these short speeches have been my constant source of inspiration. Go to http://www.ted.com, and you will see: their mission is to spread ideas. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Do you have a favorite speaker? I have several and like to watch them on YouTube or TED regularly. There are two or three preachers whose sermons I especially enjoy, and who motivate me to grow spiritually. So, choose those speakers who inspire you the most. Find the way to watch their speeches on a regular basis and your imagination will never go hungry.

5. Educational events

Just like speeches and talk, educational events can boost our creativity and feed our brain new ideas. You can attend a conference, a seminar or a even a webinar. Go to a workshop,  a master class or participate in a convention. Usually such events give us an opportunity to meet new interesting people. You will hear speeches, learn new information, get a new experience and have a chance to interact with other creative individuals.

6. New Experiences

Several points on this list can be seen as new experiences.¬†I am sure you are aware of¬†our brain’s feature to develop connections between neurons¬†when we learn something new. That’s how our intellectual abilities grow and our creativity flourishes. New researches show that our hippocampus even continues to create new cells into old age.

So, when will those new cells appear? The moment you experience something new. Another question: where can you get a new experience? Go to your friend’s party and meet new people. Take up a new hobby. Do something you have never done before. Try new food, travel to new places, jump with a parachute or go hiking. The sky is the limit.

7. Travel

I know I already mentioned travel before, but it’s so important that it deserves special attention. Seeing new countries, cities, and continents broadens our worldview, expands our horizons, develops our brain and, of course, feeds our imagination. Saint Augustine said:¬†“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, it’s time for you to open this book and start reading one page after another.

8. Walks in the nature

Do you live in the city or in the country? Are you stuck at the office all day? How often do you get in touch with the nature? There is SO much it can teach us! God’s creation is magnificent! The beauty of it is mesmerizing! Take a walk in the park, go to the nearest river or lake. Look around and allow yourself to relax. Your brain craves that so much. So, give it what it wants, because, oh man, you do owe it.

9. Time with friends

I can say without a doubt that my friends have always been my inspiration and the biggest gift of all. Of course, you can brainstorm with your friends and deliberately work on generating ideas together. However, you can even just spend time with them, talk, laugh, cry, and have fun.

Surround yourself with creative people and constantly learn from them. And since everybody is creative, you can just spend quality time with your friends. Pick their brain, ask them questions, discuss the topics you’re both interested in. Your imagination will thank you later.

10. Daydreaming

And finally, my favorite one. Oh, daydreaming… I used to think it was a huge waste of time and a sign of weakness. And, of course, it can become pretty addictive and kill our productivity, but it can also be very useful. Daydreaming for our imagination is like weight lifting for our body. It builds our creative muscle. It helps us create images in our¬†brain¬†that never existed in reality. That’s pure imagination, my friends.

Sometimes I create whole movies in my head visualizing myself in various desired situations. What a treat it is sometimes to go into that imagined world. What are the benefits if that, you will ask? Lots of them. It’s a workout for my brain and for my imagination. It helps me live through situations that I will have to go through in reality. It gives me more confidence in the real world. It boosts my creativity and inspires me to pursue my goals and dreams!

A little piece of advice – don’t ever get sucked into your own daydreaming. Be reasonable.

Bringing it all together

There is an enormous number of ways to feed your imagination. Get on with it. Don’t underestimate the value of it for your life and your professional career. Good luck!

5 Principles of Creativity

There are actually hundreds of creativity techniques, principles and tips to be shared. However,  today I would like to focus on these 5 ideas. The first principle is the one that I have already written about. It is by all means the most important one.

1. You ARE creative.

There are so many people in the world who don’t consider themselves creative and still believe that creativity is something only artists have. This conviction should be exterminated from people’s minds. You’re creative, your child is creative, your friends are creative. Give them and yourself a chance to tap into creativity, to free it from the prison of doubts and wrong beliefs. You will see how much can be accomplished with this new mindset.

2. Creativity is a skill which can be developed.

Do you still think creativity is something you’re whether born with or not? Do you consider it a personality trait? I am happy to bring you the good news – creativity is a skill. You can develop it even if now you think you’re not creative. There are exercises and techniques to get better at this. Just like reading and writing, creativity can and should be learned and practiced.

3. Positive attitude is crucial for generating ideas.

Have you heard about the researches done by Gallup and other organizations on emotional intelligence? It’s proven that our creativity flourishes when we’re in a good mood. If you adopt negative attitude and start thinking that you have no imagination, how can you expect to generate great ideas? You need to believe in yourself and your own creative abilities to be able to achieve success in this process.

4. There is power in team creativity.

“Two are better than one”, “a¬†threefold cord is not quickly broken” – I am sure you’ll agree with these statements based on your own experience. Solo brainstorming can be quite effective, although if you involve other people in your creativity session, the result might surprise you. You will be the one making the final decision, but ask as many people as you can for their opinions, team up with your friends and you will have¬†more ideas to choose from.

5. We should constantly feed our imagination.

Do you know why everybody says children have better imagination? Because they constantly learn something new. They discover the world every day, and while their brain gets new information, it has enough food for creating new images. We as adults, can also feed our imagination by reading new books, getting new experiences, meeting new people. We can learn a new language or acquire a new skill. The possibilities are endless!

These are only a few principles to remember if you want to be more creative. There’s much more that I cover in my new online course and in a guide to creativity power.

The guide is free and it offers you 7 steps to finding ideas for business and life. You can find it here. Enjoy!

FREE Creativity Power Guide

How to Effectively Combine Work and Rest

If you’re an achiever like me, you will understand this obsessive need to always stay productive. We all know that relaxation and distraction are important for our brain. Although, a lot of us keep feeling guilty when we’re not doing something related to work or personal development.

So, there are solutions for people like us. We can combine rest and work. You might tell me it doesn’t work because we should completely focus whether on one thing or on another for them to be effective. And I will disagree. It’s pretty easy to do both things if your work doesn’t require a lot of thinking and your entertainment is not too distracting.

Here are a few ideas:
1. You are watching a movie with your friends, family or by yourself. You have seen this movie before or it’s so light that it doesn’t require a lot of attention to keep track. So, you find some work to do that also doesn’t require too much thought. It could be typing in some information, ironing, folding, cleaning your inbox, reorganizing your desktop or folders in your computer, editing pictures, etc.
2. You’re out with friends or family and have to wait for someone in the car or at the lobby ‚Äď get a piece of paper and a pen or open your smartphone. But don’t go to Facebook or Instagram. This is the time for brainstorming ideas, writing to-do lists or making preliminary plans. You will have to review everything you’ve written later, but this will be a great start.
3. Are you flying internationally or waiting at the airport for your next flight? Reading is a great and a very productive way of spending this precious time. You can also write blogs or make notes for future projects if you’ve got a few hours of uninterrupted time. I am actually writing this on the plane from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
4. There are a few applications for smartphones that I consider very useful. They can be entertaining as well as very helpful for our personal growth and development. My favorite ones are Lumosity and Elevate. You can use any game that helps learn a language or develop some skill. It’s fun and productive!
5. And the last one is really important because it requires a change of our mindset. When you’re watching a movie, traveling to another country, resting on a beach, eating at a restaurant, be always on the watch for ideas. They are all around you, you just need to open your eyes and be ready to see them. Keep record of all ideas that come to your mind even if they seem crazy or mundane. One day you might get back to them and find a genius one that you discarded before.

See? Our vacation time can be very productive and effective. Don’t waste your time in life, we haven’t got that much of it. Having said that I’ll add that it’s absolutely crucial to find some time for relaxation, distraction and unwinding. Our brain needs that to be able to function normally and generate ideas.

Enjoy all your weekends and vacation time, and learn how to put off work and just rest sometimes.

7 Best Winter Activities

“Winter is coming!” – this is the phrase they have been saying in Games of Thrones for 5 seasons and finally “Winter is here!” Well, it’s been here for more than a month already, but I got to write this post¬†only now.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons. Other favorites are spring and summer, but winter is probably the most fun. Christmas and New Year is in winter, my birthday is in winter, and skiing is in winter!

So, let’s start the list:

  1. The very first and most fun activity for me is downhill skiing. Do you like freedom and elegance? Put on a pair of skis and prepare to fly! The excitement of speed and the elegance of flight is what attracts me in this sport.
  2. Some of you will argue with me and say that snowboarding is better. I would just say, it’s also fun but it’s different. Tastes differ, so if you prefer snowboarding, go for it!
  3. In the previous post I talked about running in cold weather. Believe me, it’s much more fun than you might think. It’s challenging and refreshing, and the feeling after the run is incomparable!
  4. Do you like ice-skating? I love it! This is another activity that is beautiful and elegant. It’s like dancing on ice, what can be more graceful?
  5. If you have hills in your town, go sledging with your child or with your friends. I don’t think there’s any age limit for that even though it’s considered for children. We’re all kids in our own way.
  6. Are you fond of fishing? If yes, then it’s the best time for you to go ice-fishing. This is one thing I could never understand, but I know a lot of people love it.
  7. And if you are not that much into outdoors, you can just curl up on a couch with a great book and a cup of hot chocolate. Isn’t that one of the best things about winter? Another variation of this would be a good movie with friends or even by yourself.

The most important aspect of all these activities is that you enjoy them. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. Life is full of amazing wonderful moments, and we should cherish each one of them.