Staying Committed to Your New Year’s Goals Long After the Energy You Set Them With Has Passed

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For many, a new year feels like a fresh start & a clean slate. And although you can make a change on any of the 365 days of the year, it’s still important to take advantage of any new energy and enthusiasm you may be feeling right now. What’s most important, though, is to accept & acknowledge that you likely won’t feel that same energy or enthusiasm every day, week or month this year and that you have a plan in place to bounce back from that.

Here are just a few ways you can make the most of your positive mindset right now and use it to build momentum & keep yourself inspired all year long:

  1. Set intentions – Intentions leave a little wiggle room for you to not be perfect, which is important. They require acceptance of where you already are while also requiring you to get crystal clear about the type of life you want to live, the type of person you want to be and how you can manifest that in your daily routine. Intentions are different from resolutions in the sense that they don’t set out to ‘resolve’ anything and instead help us gain clarity about what specific qualities or behaviors we want to possess that will help us live the life we want to. Instead of making resolutions & giving up at the first misstep, set intentions that are aligned with your goals and values and forgive yourself when your behavior isn’t aligned, knowing the intention is still true.
  2. Anticipate challenges – Every year will have some bumps in the road, both big and small, both expected and unexpected. Make a game plan for how you’ll respond to those. For example, if you know you have a trip coming up, are there ways you can start saving for it now? If you have an event later in the year, are there ways you can spread out the planning so it’s less overwhelming down the road? If you know your company is laying people off in the summer, can you start updating your resume or networking to prepare for that? Of course there are some things you can’t prepare or plan for, but doing an overview of big, upcoming events can help us feel less stressed when they approach. You should also put a plan in place for what you’ll do about unexpected challenges or any periods of depression, anxiety, disappointment, or failure this year. Who are your supports and what action steps will you take if those things should come up for you?
  3. Make 90-day goals – While it’s great to set long-term, yearly goals, it also leaves the space for us to put things off until much later in the year, possibly never getting around to something on our list or not leaving a realistic amount of time to accomplish it. If you want to ensure you make progress toward your goals early on, setting quarterly goals might be a better approach.
  4. Schedule weekly and monthly reflection – Checking in with yourself to reflect on how your year is going, whether or not you’re behavior is aligning with your intentions and how your progress toward your goals is going is an important step that people often overlook. It’s great to have intentions and to set goals, but you need to be checking in with yourself on them, too, so you can make shifts and adjustments where needed. I recommend a Sunday and end-of-month check in to review what went well and what struggles you had the week or month prior, decide what changes need to be made for the week or month ahead, and create a plan to put those changes into action.
  5. Find accountability and support – You shouldn’t have to feel alone in your approach to the new year and having consistent accountability & support toward your intentions and goals will help you stay focused long after the new energy from the beginning of the year has passed. Find a reliable accountability partner or support group that has similar goals to yours and schedule time to check in with them weekly or monthly, no matter what. Sometimes just sharing our goals and knowing someone is going to be checking in with us about them at a specific time is enough to help us overcome the lack of energy or motivation we may experience otherwise.

How are you feeling about the new year? Have you set some intentions or goals for yourself? If you’re lacking clarity about what you want to achieve or manifest in the new year, that’s okay. Try journaling or talking with a friend or therapist to get in touch with your inner values. As you speak it out loud or write it on paper, your inner dialogue and internalized desires become apparent.

Wishing you all a healthy & fulfilling 2018!

 

 

The 5 Most Crucial Steps for Becoming a Morning Person

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We know that developing a positive morning routine can greatly impact our mental and emotional well-being, increase our productivity levels and improve our quality of life. But we also know it’s a lot easier said than done, right?

As a former late sleeper turned morning person, I’ve compiled what I believe to be 5 of the most crucial steps for breaking up with the snooze button.

  1. Determine your motivation. If you don’t have a really strong reason for wanting to take your mornings back other than that you’ve been told it’s a good idea, you probably won’t fully commit. You need to determine HOW reclaiming your mornings will impact your life and WHY that is important to you. If you don’t have really strong reasons for waking up earlier, the rest of these steps won’t matter, so it’s important to get crystal clear about your goals and how an earlier wake-up time will help you achieve them.
  2. Throw out your current narrative. Proclaiming that you just “aren’t a morning person” isn’t exactly opening up the space for you to become one, is it? Focusing on how much you hate mornings probably won’t help you in the process of learning how to enjoy them. Shift your mindset and visualize yourself enjoying your mornings every night before you go to bed. Focus on the aspects of morning that you enjoy rather than what you dread about them. When you wake up, replace complaints with gratitude and set positive and productive intentions for the day.
  3. Develop a routine. We are creatures of habit, so developing a morning routine will make you more likely to be successful in your mission to wake up earlier. As you consistently do this routine, waking up earlier will feel like less of a chore and more of a normality (typically after the first month). Develop your routine by choosing tasks that are directly connected to your motivation and that will directly impact the reasons you’re deciding to make mornings a priority.
  4. Sprinkle in things that you enjoy. Start by thinking about the things you love to do, but find yourself not having the time or energy for later in the day — exercise, reading, journaling and meditation are common morning practices that help people feel more fulfilled and productive throughout the day. Think about what things might make you feel that way and schedule them into your routine accordingly. Without some form of enjoyment in your morning routine, chances are you’ll feel more inclined to skip it.
  5. Commit. One of the biggest reasons people fail to develop a new routine or habit is because they don’t ever fully mentally commit to it. They see it as optional, something they would like to do, instead of a requirement and something that they have to do to achieve their goals. This is often a defense mechanism we use to cope with our fear of failure. Try, instead, to think of your morning routine as a non-negotiable part of your day. If you do miss it, don’t let that be a perceived failure or an excuse to give up entirely. Instead, make a re-commitment to your morning routine every day with your WHY at the forefront of your mind.

You may often hear about behavioral techniques you can use to trick yourself into getting up earlier — putting your alarm clock across the room, splashing water on your face, jumping into a cold shower, sleeping in your workout clothes, getting to bed earlier — many of which are incredibly helpful and effective. But these things alone won’t get you out of bed earlier every day. You must have a strong desire and motivation, something that excites you and a routine and mindset that will help you stay committed.

Whether you love or hate mornings, I’d love to hear from you. What things help you to have or prevent you from having a productive morning? Which of these 5 steps, if any, do you need to implement most in your quest to reclaim your mornings?

Why We Should Be in More Bad Moods

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Ever feel like you can’t just ‘get over it’? Can’t snap out of your bad mood? Can’t force a smile? Can’t pretend everything’s fine?

Good. That means you’re human.

Society has made us believe that positive emotions are good and negative emotions are bad, thus making us feel even worse when we experience even a hint of an emotion that we perceive to be negative. Not being able to ‘shake it off’ just makes us feel even worse and, sometimes, as though something is inherently wrong with us. The social media highlight reel doesn’t help this false notion.

What would it be like to never experience emotional pain, sadness, frustration, loneliness, anger or jealousy? On a very surface level, you might think it sounds great. But the avoidance or absence of these emotions would actually stunt our positive emotions, too.

While it’s healthy to learn how to regulate our emotions so that they don’t feel overwhelming or out of our control all the time, part of getting there is by accepting them – ALL of them – and allowing ourselves to fully sit in and experience the good, the bad and the ugly.

Imagine if I told you NOT to think about a purple elephant. Chances are you wouldn’t be able to STOP thinking about one. The same goes for telling ourselves to just ‘get over it’, to stop feeling a certain way or to stop thinking about a pressing issue. Instead, we often end up feeling worse or thinking about it more and, as a result, a viscous, counterproductive cycle begins.

Sometimes things just suck — and anger or sadness is an appropriate reaction. Sometimes you might find yourself in a bad mood for no clear reason. Those feelings can be uncomfortable, but they’re also important. When we avoid them, we risk prolonged anxiety, depression, and more severe issues down the road.

So what do we do when these super uncomfortable & seemingly “bad” emotions flare up? What do we do when we just can’t shake our bad mood?

1) Be kind to yourself. You are not a robot. You are not going to feel positive, happy and in control all of the time. Learn that that’s okay. Be your own best friend and remind yourself to let you off the hook. Keep a mantra or affirmation that resonates with you written down somewhere to read, re-write or say out loud as needed.

2) Give yourself space. It’s okay to take a few minutes, an hour or even a day to just feel your feelings. While we all have responsibilities, we also have a responsibility to ourselves, too. Depending on the severity of what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling, consider taking a mental health day, having a good cry in the shower or finding healthy ways to release your emotions, such as journaling, exercising or speaking with a therapist or friend.

3) Give yourself time. Don’t expect your feelings to dissipate immediately upon giving yourself some space. Don’t set limits on what the right or wrong amount of time to feel something is. Just continue checking in with yourself and reminding yourself that how you’re feeling now is not necessarily how you will feel forever. Rushing the process will only prolong it.

4) Communicate with others. We often fear judgment or feel guilty when we’re in a bad mood, but there’s something powerful about being vulnerable and transparent. When we avoid communicating our feelings with those around us, there’s often misunderstanding which can sometimes make things worse. Don’t be afraid to tell the people around you that you’re dealing with something and need some space. Your feelings are your own and you deserve to give yourself whatever YOU need while experiencing them.

5) Reflect afterwards. Once you’re feeling more neutralized, reflect on what was going on for you. Was there a deeper issue causing your feelings that you can address once you’ve had some time and space? While it will probably feel nice to have some relief, it’s also important to try and gain a deeper understanding of what led to these emotions. This will help you anticipate and cope with similar ones in the future. If you can’t pinpoint it, though, move on. Sometimes there isn’t a deeper issue and other times it won’t come to us right away. Don’t dwell on trying to understand.

I’m curious to hear about what you do when you find yourself in a bad mood. Do you try to force yourself out of it or do you allow yourself to fully experience the emotions that come up? It’s okay if you still feel inclined to avoid negative emotions — it’s a very normal reaction and you are certainly not alone in it, but through awareness and practice you can begin to become more patient and accepting of yourself when a bad mood or uncomfortable feeling strikes. Feel free to comment below or send me a message – I’d love to hear from you.

Finding Time for Self-Care in a Busy Schedule

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Work, chores, errands, and a never-ending to-do list – sometimes it feels impossible to do it all. We run ourselves into the ground while trying to and rarely stop to take a breath. We pile things onto our plate when we have no room left on it because we feel like we can’t say no. We have trouble justifying self-care because we convince ourselves that we just ‘don’t have the time for it’.

What if I told you there was a way that each one of us could add more of it into our lives and that instead of taking time away from us, that it would actually give us MORE time?

Yes, that’s right – taking even as little as 15 minutes a day to practice self-care can, over time, lead to lower stress levels, increased focus and more positive thoughts – thus increasing our productivity levels, which in turn allows us to accomplish our usual tasks in a lesser amount of time.

People often think of self-care as a luxury that only people without kids, without busy jobs or with a lot of down time get to enjoy. The truth is that self-care is an experience available to everyone that is open to prioritizing it, which is where we need to take an honest look at lives.

Many of us don’t prioritize ourselves for a number of reasons. We don’t believe we deserve it, we think we’re being a hero by putting others’ needs before our own, it gives us anxiety to not keep busy or to be alone with ourselves for more than a few seconds, etc. So instead, we keep our plates full with things that help us escape from that and we claim we just ‘don’t have the time’.

If you’ve recognized that you don’t make self-care a priority and have used the excuse that you don’t have the time (and trust me, we’re all guilty of it!), I challenge you to look inward and explore the other reasons that you don’t MAKE the time.

Perhaps you can start by:

  • Setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier & starting the day with a guided meditation
  • Taking some time to sit down & read a book while you enjoy your morning coffee
  • Sitting outside during your lunch break instead of at your desk
  • Listening to an audio book or podcast on your commute to/from work
  • Spending a few extra minutes in the shower doing some deep breathing
  • Jotting down a list of what you’re grateful for
  • Doing a brain-dump when you wake up & before you go to bed to write out your to-do list, daily goals and/or random thoughts
  • Keeping a journal with you throughout the day to write down thoughts/feelings as they arise
  • Taking a walk around the block while listening to music

Are these things you think you could implement once a day? Once a week? Once a month?

Self-care doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be a full day at the spa or nothing at all. But we often assume that it does, which is why we usually just throw in the towel on it altogether.

If we can open ourselves up to prioritizing self-care in small ways, it will allow us to see the effects that it can have on our lives and empower us to prioritize it in larger ways, too.

In what ways can you add a little self-care to your life without disrupting your usual routine? What’s holding you back from getting started?

Give yourself permission, start small, and embrace it. And above all else, remember: you deserve to make some time for you.