I like to say that every day brings with it opportunities to do something better. Even so, there’s power in using momentous days like a new year or a birthday to reset and start anew. Whichever day works for you, when you are ready and eager for the next phase of your life, here’s a quick look at the seven steps you can take to get your ass-kicking on point.
1. Choose a Destination
Did you make any resolutions yet? Your resolutions inform the direction you want to take in your life, whether that’s to lose weight, build better relationships, improve your health, make more money, find more clients, have more time to do the things you want to do, travel more, exercise more…., whatever you want in your life.
If you don’t have a destination, you will flounder randomly. That said, even naming destinations can still leave you a little overwhelmed and unsure. After all, it’s easy enough to say you want to make more money, but not knowing how you’re going to do that can be unsettling. Nonetheless, it is a start.
Once your destinations have been identified and you give them your undivided focus, you can start moving towards them. Whether that involves doing research and trying out different options to see what works for you, shifting your focus away from where you don’t want to be to where you do want to be changes your perception to one of progress.
2. Prioritise Your Time
The next step, after deciding on where you want to go, is prioritising your time around that desire. Your time is finite. You have 24 hours in a day which needs to be divided between sleeping, eating, working, family, friends, exercise, hobbies, and anything else that is important to you. We often say we don’t have time to do certain things or for certain people. The reality is that you aren’t prioritising that time for those things or people.
This is good because with such a finite resource, you do need to allocate your time consciously. Most of us don’t. When we automatically say we don’t have time or are frustrated that we don’t have time, it’s because we aren’t being resourceful with our minutes. It is up to you to decide upfront who and what you want to spend your time on.
Start by simply verbalising that you do have time for all the people and activities that are of higher priority. If certain relationships are important, do your best to allocate an hour or two a week for them. You can certainly find ten minutes in a day to send messages and nurture them. Likewise with activities that are important to you, whether that’s going to kick-boxing classes, reading books, or improving skills.
Start with your resolutions, where do you want to be in the next year, and what do you want to achieve. Decide how much time you want to spend on those pursuits, and adjust your schedule accordingly. Look at your time in the same way you may look at your money, and create a time budget that works for you.
And as you realise how much time you need for the important things, you’re also going to realise that you need to take time back from those activities that aren’t not as important in your life. This will be a hard decision that demands you be ruthless.
But simply put, you are starting to consciously dedicate time to the pursuits and people that bring you joy. It really shouldn’t be that difficult. At first, yes, you think you have obligations and commitments that must be seen through. That’s noble, perhaps, but that’s also foolish if you wind up spending most of your precious and valuable time on things that aren’t serving your happiness.
I get it. It’s not always easy to reduce the time spent in, say, traffic. But you can be more efficient. You can use the time more wisely, like, for example, listening to audio books during your journeys. Make the choice to yourself, and figure out your time budget from there.
3. Prioritise Your Energy
Along with time, energy is another finite resource that we don’t often think about. You can spend an hour a day on, say, reading more but if you’re too tired, you may not take in anything. Different activities take up different amounts of energy and different people expend energy in different ways. For example, going for a morning run might uplift you and give you a burst to do your other tasks. For me a morning run wears me out and, as much as I do feel like I’ve accomplished something, I just want to sleep afterwards.
The same goes for spending energy on people. Some people can be very draining and others can be very energising.
So in the same way that you’ve prioritised your time spent with people and activities that are important to you, start prioritising your energy spend too. You do this by doing less of the things that drain you, and more of the things that energise you. Obviously, it’s not always that simple, and you will have to find your “No” voice. Turn down a social activity that you know is going to be more effort than it’s worth. Know your limits when it comes to accepting responsibility at work, too. Remember to keep enough energy and time for your own pursuits, and to nurture those important relationships.
Be conscious of the activities you do and how they affect you, and start adjusting your life so that you have more energy to get done the things you want and need done. And, of course, take care of yourself. Keep hydrated and eat foods that fuel you. For example, it might be convenient to get that quick and cheap burger but if you feel lethargic after eating it, it’s doing more harm than good.
And remember to give yourself quality you-time and you-energy, too.
Recharging your own batteries is essential. Get sufficient rest every day, have an exercise regime that suits you and that you can follow habitually, take time out to replenish your energy with, for example, walks in the park, meditation, yoga, or similar activities. Find what works for you.
Food is a huge component of keeping your energy up. Experiment to find out which foods work best for your body, do some research, or chat to a nutritionist to help.
Taking time out for yourself doesn’t mean numbing yourself. Yes, it is nice to turn the brain off and watch a TV show every so often. But usually, that’s not something that really gets us energised. It depends on what shows you’re watching and how they affect you. If you’re consistently watching shows that make you happy and excite you positively, great. If the majority of the shows you watch feed you negatively, it might be an idea to cut down on those, or cut them out altogether.
Be aware of the intoxicants that you also put into your body. It’s difficult in a city to not breathe in heavily fumed air, but there’s also no need to add more stress to your system with excessive alcohol or tobacco. We all have our little vices, and it comes down to figuring out how we can manage them better so that we have more energy to follow those pursuits we defined earlier.
5. Honour Your Nature
Every person is different. We have different personalities, and we are motivated by different things. We have different purposes, and we all have different personal resolutions. When you decide on the direction you want to take your life, I hope you’ve chosen for yourself, and not for your spouse or your parents or your society.
Being in better shape, for example, should be something you want. If it isn’t, you may find it difficult to see it through, and will only make half-hearted attempts. Review your resolution list and cross out the items that don’t really resonate for you. Keep a few (say five) that you’re passionate about. Also, the less you have, the more focus you can give them, and the less overwhelmed you’ll be.
Become aware of your strengths and work with them. If you are more energised from an evening run than a morning run, do more of the evening ones. As best you can, set your schedule to work around your personality and energetic drive. Again, I realise that this isn’t always easy, especially if you’re working long hours or have kids, so just do the best that you can. Small changes are better than no changes.
And, finally, play to your personality strengths too. If you’re not a typical A-Type personalities who are go, go, go most of the time, don’t try to be. You’ll burn yourself out, and you won’t achieve as well either. Do things at your own pace, and don’t let yourself be forced to perform and live like somebody else.
6. Do more of what and who you love
The people and the activities that fuel your soul are so important. Give these as much time and priority as you can, because at the end of the year, or, heck, at the end of your life, when you look back, you will remember these moments. The passion projects. The people you’ve loved. The adventures that inspired and took your breath away. These are the moments that make life worth living.
Don’t put them off. As much as you can, work these into your time and energy schedules.
Start small and start where you are. Don’t push, and don’t overwhelm yourself. And also give yourself the flexibility to adapt. People who energised you today could very well drain you in a few months. Honour yourself by redefining those time and energy schedules to suit you.
7. Make a Plan
You’ve no doubt heard the saying that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Having a goal and direction is a great first step. The figuring out how to get there isn’t always easy, and sometimes it is best to leave the way open to allow for multiple opportunities. A plan doesn’t need to be defined like a single road map from your starting “here” point to your “destination” end point.
You can’t always figure these plans out straight away. Give yourself the space to play and experiment a bit. For me, a very non-A-type person who feels claustrophobic by excessive planning, I work best with some sort of structure in place. Habits and rituals that contain my day, such as meditation, writing content, and a daily walk. I also have a daily habit of watching Youtube videos, and reading posts in line with my personal goals. These activities are part of my plan. They are regular activities that take me step by step towards my goals.
At the end of the day, you’re an individual and not every way that worked for someone else will work for you. Solicit advice from people who are heading toward your same destination or who’ve reached it. A bit of trial and error may serve you. Get to know yourself and become aware of what is working and what isn’t, and do more of what is.
Also understand that what works today may not work tomorrow. You may, for example, need to change personal trainers a few times in the year as you grow and develop and maybe even redefine what you want to achieve. Create a plan of action if plans are what excite you, but allow it to be flexible, and be prepared to adapt as you need to. As the days and weeks draw on, you will find yourself refining what works for you, and how you spend your time and energy. It’s always a learning experience.
And, above all, have fun with every process. The more you relax into life, not forcing situations or relationships to be anything other than what they are, the more you will flow with relative ease.
And that’s it. These are a few tips that can help you create a kick-ass year, and overall life, for yourself. And, of course, I would love to hear how it is going, so feel free to fill me in 😉
Honour yourself more this year, keep having fun in this game we call life, and have an awesome and amazing one.