I don’t know about you, this year is off to a great start and I am determined to keep it that way. I hope that the world opens back up and I can travel again, but no matter what, I am trying to live my best life and have 2021 be my best year yet. Two years ago I did a post called 15 Keys for a Successful Year and this year I want to follow that up with tips for Living Your Best Life this year.
1. Set Your Intentions
When you set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive. Take some time to think about what you want your theme to be this year and how you want the year to play out. Goal setting helps you to see the future, understand what you want, create a plan, and stay on track to get it done. Setting intentions allows you to focus on your energy and emotions needed to accomplish those goals. Once you set your intentions, it will affect not only your professional life but also your personal, transforming your mind and body. Try sitting down at the beginning of the month and setting your intentions for that month. Then remind yourself of this day to keep focused. It might even be helpful to keep a journal of your goals and how you plan to accomplish them. And then review this journal throughout the month to make sure that you are keeping in accord with those intentions and goals.
2. Create a Vision Board or a Goals List
I recently had a friend of mine ask me, “do you feel vision boards really work?” For me, vision boards do. I’m a visual person, so I like to see constant reminders of the goals or milestones I am trying to achieve. Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises that you can do. I love to practice visualization often. So with my vision board, I like to put it in a space and place that I will see every day, which means I usually hang my board up on the wall across from my bed. So as I am laying in bed, I’ll see visuals of the things I am trying to achieve or attain. And don’t feel rushed to complete your vision board all at once. I started my board last weekend, but I haven’t really sat down to think of all that I want to achieve this year, so I am giving myself the whole month to complete my board.
If you’re not a vision board person, try creating a list of goals for the year. And if it’s daunting to think of your goals for the whole year, try breaking them down by quarter and plot out what you want to achieve the first three months of the year. After making your list, put it someplace you will look at it often. The key is to look at this list often. I can’t tell you how many lists and plans I’ve made in the past, but without setting up reminders or steps to achieve these goals, they don’t get done.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
I know you’ve heard the quotes, “success happens when we step outside our comfort zone” or “everything you ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone”. And those quotes are 100% true. As warm and safe as our comfort zones feel, they also stifle our growth. Growth happens the moment we challenge ourselves and do something that might be a little bit scary, but also gives us this great rush when we accomplish that one thing we were striving for. Try to do something once a month that is outside of your comfort zone and scares you. In the end, you will gain a little more courage and confidence when you step outside your comfort zone and realize you’re stronger than you think.
4. Make Time For Yourself
When is the last time you did something during the week that you enjoyed? Many of us say we’ll participate in a hobby on the weekend, but when the time comes, we spend it doing chores or taking care of things that didn’t get done during the week. It’s time to change this. Instead of watching mindless TV or scrolling through social media after you wash the dishes, spend time doing something you love. Put together a puzzle, knit a scarf, pull out those watercolors. Whatever passion you think you are too busy to enjoy anymore, make time for it, and watch how much joy it adds to your life.
If you have a busy schedule, as I do, it may seem like setting aside time for self-care is impossible. But it’s actually during this busy time that self-care is essential. Setting aside a small amount of time for ourselves often helps rejuvenate our spirit. If taking an hour a day for self-care sounds like too much, break it up into 15-30 minute increments. It could be as simple as using the first 15 minutes of your day to read a few pages in a book or write in a journal. In the evening, you could take another 15 minutes for a hot shower with no interruptions, burn a candle, or complete a quick workout. Create rituals that will help you stick to this self-care all-year long, it could be a standing nail appointment, monthly massages, or setting a goal to read one new book a month.
Setting a goal helps you put steps into action to reach this goal. So if your goal is to read one new book a month, you have to set aside time during the week to read. If your goal is to get 10,000 steps per day and you sit down for most of the day, you have to make time to get up, get active, and get moving during your day to hit your goals. So setting a goal in regards to self-care can actually help you stick to caring for yourself.
5. Set Your Boundaries/Learn to Say No
What is the one thing you consistently do that depletes your time and energy? Maybe it’s a committee which you no longer want to be part of, or a weekly get together with friends that you’ve outgrown. Now’s the time to choose yourself over these non-essentials. Plan a way to get out of this time and energy-draining activities. And when new opportunities come up, take some time to decide if they will genuinely enhance your life or end up merely stealing your time.
Part of self-care is learning to say no to:
- Things that don’t serve you
- Comparing Yourself to Others
- Always Trying to Impress Others
- Things/People That Don’t Make You Feel Good About Yourself
- Pretending to Be Someone or Something You’re Not
- Following People on Social Media That Make You Feel Less of Yourself
- Toxic People
- Family Obligations That Leave You Feeling Drained Afterwards
- Over-exerting Yourself
Say “No” more often
6. Plan Your Important Tasks
Ever get to your desk in the morning and wonder where even to start? Too often we live and work in survival mode and never get around to the tasks that matter. One simple way to combat this is to plan your MIT’s—Most Important Tasks—for tomorrow before you leave work for the day. I do this every night before I leave the office by writing out my to-dos for the next day. This way, when you arrive in the morning, you’ll exactly know what to start working on, and you’ll avoid wasting time thinking through what you did yesterday.
7. Let Go of Toxic Things and People
This year should be all about self-improvement and letting go of people and things that do NOT make you better, sometimes this may even include family. Although you may not be able to completely shut someone or something out of your life, you can limit your time around them or their access to you. Mental sanity is uber-important and it’s time to put yourself first and restrict your access to things that aren’t beneficial to you. It’s not selfish, it’s survival.
8. Appreciate Your Blessings
It’s easy to see things on social media or see the lives that your friends live and think that your life is inadequate. But look around and count your blessings. Learn to appreciate the things you do have in life, like the one friend who calls to check on you on a consistent basis, a warm bed to sleep in every night, a reliable car, and last, but definitely not least, YOUR HEALTH.