It’s hard to believe that we are headed for the end of 2016. With only 44 days left in the year, we’re changing things up a bit from the usual tech, career and SEO speak, to talk about you and how you can get yourself ready for 2017 from a wellness point of view.
When we near the end of a year, we’re always bombarded with “X Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions” or “X New Year’s Resolutions to Keep”, but to be honest, I have a serious hate for the “New Year’s Resolution”. It follows the same principle of “I’ll start my diet on Monday”, “I’ll start going to the gym next month”. You are setting yourself up for failure, and if you think you need a change in your life that will benefit you, why wait? Without talking about slimming down or fitness, I’d rather talk about habits you can start forming before 2017 that will enrich your life, give you new strength for the year ahead, and help you maintain a positive attitude.
Having a deep love for psychology along with the digital world and writing, I take great pleasure in combining these to give you this week’s post. Your psychological well-being is even more important than your marketing strategies, SEO, and career. Without it, none of those would be possible.
Take some time during the last stressful part of the year and during the holiday season to adapt these 20 changes to make your life more peaceful, positive and productive before moving into the new year. Don’t fall prey to the new years’ propaganda. Remove the unnecessary pressure of “new year, new me” and just focus on making the existing “you” happier. Who would want to start a new year with so much pressure anyway? These are the changes that I have already, or will be implementing in my life, and so should you.
#1 Place yourself before your work
There are those times where we have to reach deadlines, head into the office a bit earlier or need to hustle to finish work before the end of a month and this is understandable. Sometimes, however,these things become everyday occurrences. Arriving earlier and earlier, leaving later and later, more stress and less gratitude. Make an active decision to put an end to this and realise that number 1 is you. Arrive on time, leave on time, switch off from work when you leave. You will thank yourself for it and as an added bonus, your employer will realise that they are unable to take advantage of you.
#2 Let go of those pants that you “just know” will fit someday
And everything else you don’t need.
Head straight for your closet, unpack it all and rid yourself of what you are holding onto for that one special occasion that might happen or the item of clothing that you are trying to fit into. All you need to take care of is the person you are now.
Does it fit you now? No? Throw it out.
Are you planning on wearing it in the next two weeks? No? Throw it out.
Have you worn it in the last 6 months? No? Throw it out.
Of course, I am not talking about sentimental items of clothing, and by that, I mean really sentimental. Don’t hold on to the shirt you wore during your first kiss.
After your ‘closet cleansing’, take the time to donate everything that is in good enough condition to those less fortunate. If you feel like you are experiencing “loss” by getting rid of your clothing, this will be a great pick-me-up and make it worth it.
#3 Create a cleaner, more organised living space
Now, I know that once you have cleaned out your wardrobe, you might be left feeling empty, but since you are already in the motion, apply this to your living space. Declutter and let go of what you don’t use. Have the decorative items in your home be things that resonate with you and give you a positive feeling, not just something that is pretty. Create a space that means something to you. Decorate your home with photographs, books that changed your life, gifts from special people or items you immediately fell in love with.
There is much to gain from living a life of minimalism and to stop consuming what you do not need. For more tips on realistic minimalism, read this great post from Soul Anatomy.
#4 Find happiness in the “everyday ordinary”
I think everyone is guilty of this one.
Stop wishing your days away. Stop living for the weekends, or holidays. Stop saying “if I just had this, I would be happy”. We will never achieve happiness this way because once you get that one thing you believed meant the difference between happiness and unhappiness, you will just find something else to want. Once you are able to see and accept the fact our lives are mostly made up of non-extravagant, ordinary moments, you will be able to make yourself happier.
Start taking notice of the small things that happen on a daily basis that are positive and take a moment to appreciate it. By finding happiness in everyday occurrences, you will be even more happy than before when the big things do happen. Your dog is excited when you get home? Be just as excited to see him, he won’t always be there to welcome you. You succeeded at a recipe? Be proud. You finished a book? Take a moment to think back on it. Did it start raining on a scorching day? You can see where I am going with this. Appreciate your days and the small things that make your life the way it is. You will surely notice if they are gone.
#5 There is more than what is on the screens
If you are reading this blog, it is safe to assume that you, just like us, spend the majority of your time behind a screen. It’s our jobs, it’s our social life, it’s our entertainment and time fillers. People have lost touch with real life the struggle is real when you are faced with an area without network coverage. Life is what happens while you’re busy looking at what’s happening in other people’s “Facebook lives”.
Dedicate time every day to breaking away from technology, turn off your phone and read a book, meditate, go outside, take a walk, or practise a hobby. It is almost like living in the age of technology, we have to teach ourselves that life does, in fact, exist outside of our computer and phone screens and not every thought and moment needs to be documented on social media.
#6 Drink more water
No need to necessarily put a number on it. Drink as much as you can handle and it will help rid your body of toxins, improve digestion and keeps you hydrated and healthy.
#7 Earlier to bed, earlier to rise
Make the most of the important parts of the day and adjust your sleeping pattern gradually by going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. You will feel more refreshed when you don’t need to rush in the mornings and be in a better mood.
#8 Cook your own food
Instead of going for takeout, or the easiest option, start cooking for yourself and find therapy in it. You will appreciate what you put into your body so much more when you have prepared it yourself.
#9 Take more breaks
As much as I wish I could be productive for the entire 8-9 hours I spend at work without losing steam, we were just not built that way. In a study posted by The Atlantic , social scientists believe that in 2014 they discovered the perfect productivity formula. Now, as odd as it may sound, I think it’s worth a try.
Their formula states, work for 52 minutes, break for 17 minutes. This is very specific and for those of you not interested in setting up reminders, it is recommended that you take a break every 50 – 90 minutes, depending on your own concentration and needs, and your break should be 15 – 20 minutes long. This is especially important if you spend your day looking at a computer screen.
#10 Find something beautiful every day, and photograph it
This is actually one of my favourite habits, and since most of us carry camera phones, it’s also the easiest. It forces you to only look for the beauty around you and when this becomes a habit, you will start seeing more and more positivity around you. Subconsciously, you will start looking at the world trying to find your picture of the day which changes your entire outlook on the world and gets you out of your own bubble. You will find yourself noticing so much more, and it’s usually positive.
Here’s a challenge to add to this habit: don’t post everything on social media. Why, you may ask? You are taking these pictures for yourself and the moment you start uploading to social media, you will start looking for other people’s admiration of your photo through likes, comments and shares. Instead, show your pictures to someone face-to-face where you are actually able to talk about it.
#11 Become your own philosopher
There is no need to feel inferior when you do not subscribe to the beliefs you were taught growing up and it doesn’t make you any less unique if you do. Take some time to make up your mind about why we’re all here, the reason behind it all, or simply what it is you want your life to mean. If you have something of your own to hold onto, it will put your world into perspective and give you fulfilment. Make up your own mind about theories, whether it be life, the future, UFO’s, religion or whether the chicken came before the egg, the important thing here is that you decide for yourself and place value into your own thoughts.
#12 Read two articles a day
You don’t always need to sign up for classes and courses to educate yourself or have decades of life experience to be better at your job (or at Trivial Pursuit and 30 Seconds).
Read two articles a day – one relating to the industry you are in to expand your knowledge, and one about something you are completely unfamiliar with. The second one can be anything from how to make sushi to growing a herb garden to history. Keep your mind active and enrich your knowledge.
#13 Be thankful
Take a moment to count your blessings every day. Learn to not want and to be happy with having what you need. There is always someone with more, but mostly there is always someone with much less.
Here is some food for thought: If you have $10 and no debt, you are richer than 15% of American households put together (source)
#14 Smaller, realistic goals
As humans, we are always dreaming of having, being and doing the best. While dreaming is not a bad thing, we need to adjust our goals.
Instead of thinking what you want to have achieved in 5, 10, or 20 years, set smaller, more realistic goals that are attainable with the right amount of work and effort instead of something you have no control over in the future. You will not be doing less than you are now, but you will remove the unrealistic pressure you place on yourself and allow yourself to be proud of what you have accomplished rather than constantly feeling like you have incomplete or failed goals.
Work on making your life or work better today, this week and this month, the rest will build on this and your long term goals won’t seem so far-fetched.
#15 Keep a journal
For many people, this seems like one of those “new years’ resolution” type goals and like too much effort. It isn’t. Journalling can take many forms and it’s up to you which suits you best. This will allow you to create a personal timeline of special moments in your life, quotes, pictures, people you’ve met, goals you reached, milestones, or even naming what you are thankful for or what you took a picture of that day. After all, we all need to get things off our chest.
The following are some journalling options:
- Keeping a notebook with writing, snippets, images, quotes and numbers neatly in one place.
- An incohesive journal where you simply write single sentences as you encounter different things throughout your days. (Idea – If you have a blog site, add a new page for this type of journal with single image or sentence entries)
- Photo journal
- Vlogging / video diary
- Voice diary
#16 Be aware of what you take in
Start to take stock of the things you let into your life, trust, and body. This includes the people you spend time with, the music you listen to, the shows and movies you watch, the food you eat and all else. Everything we choose to surround ourselves with has a definite impact on our health. Cut out what you believe is meaningless and toxic to you or has a negative influence. Never forget there is power in the word “no” and you have the right to use it. Be better and do better, you deserve that.
#17 The only approval you need is your own
Put an end to seeking approval from anyone other than yourself. Even though it is thoroughly rewarding to receive external praise, people are far more likely to criticise than they are to compliment. This search for approval comes in many forms; excessive social media posts, externalising your self-doubt with the hopes that someone will reassure you, or always asking others what they think of something before you do it.
You need to be happy and proud of yourself, and if you are, the important people in your life will be too. The approval starts with you. Listen to that voice in your head that comments before you do something and trust your gut. There will always be criticism in the world, and as Dita Von Teese has perfectly put it, “You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who hates peaches”.
#18 Organise. Your. Life.
I mean everything. Clean up your house, throw out or donate what you don’t need and organise what you keep in such a way that it is easily accessible. In the kitchen, know that you in just about every way, one is enough. If you have multiple frying pans, keep one and give to someone in need, if you have more than one mixer, do the same, and so forth. Organise your personal documents in a system that will take the stress out of future situations where you may require them .
Get into a routine for housework and make it therapeutic by adding music or some dancing and singing to your chores.
Before leaving work, have a look at what is ahead for the next day to set your mind at ease so you can relax at home.
What this one boils down to is: if it’s chaotic, opulent or messy, organise it.
#19 Work on your patience
Improving your patience will not only make you feel more at ease and positive, it will make you a more pleasant person to be around. So, how do you do it? I started with small things. As a very impatient driver, I now let that guy who doesn’t deserve it cut in front of me in traffic. Finding ways to occupy my mind when I’m waiting in lines instead of getting impatient. If someone is forgetful, let them repeat the same thing without correcting them or making them feel bad. Identify the things you find annoy you or make you impatient, and consciously change the way you handle them. Either way, the annoying things in life will never go away so we might as well save ourselves the teeth grinding and blood pressure fluctuations.
#20 Let go of toxic people
I left the most difficult one for last because the people in our lives have the most influence over us than anything I have mentioned above and this certainly isn’t as easy as cleaning out your kitchen.
The toxic people in our lives could be friends we’ve known for years, family members, or someone we’ve just met.
Regardless of your relationship with them, if they are toxic to you, you need to distance yourself. This includes people who constantly place their happiness above yours, walk over you, negatively influence you or your loved ones and so on. Since this is no small decision and you may feel guilt over distancing yourself, I truly suggest that you do not enter into this on your own. Go to someone you know truly cares for you and discuss it with them and ask for their support.
It is hard letting go, especially if the toxic person is someone you love, but never forget, those who truly love you, will only bring out the best in you.
That is our list of 20 steps to a more peaceful, positive and productive life. Remain calm over the last stretch of the year and embrace this change, you will enter 2017 a new person and ready to take on whatever the search engines, clients, marketing trends, and SEO practises throw at you.
Be your own happiness.
Until next week,
Stay unique. Stay ambitious. Stay you.
Yours in digital,