Victoria Stokes rounds up the resolutions that'll see you finish the year on a high...
It’s not too late to end this year on a high, and September is a much less stressful time to take up some resolutions. With this in mind, here are five things you can do this month to be more organised, more present and just generally feel like the best version of yourself.
Makeover Your Mindset
What if this September you resolved to be more positive, to let stress roll off your bod like water off a duck’s back and to embrace each new day with a brand new zest? Sounds great, right? But where do you even begin to makeover your mindset in a world that seems to be continually obsessed with the negative?
First things first, start a daily gratitude journal. Jot down three things you’re really, really grateful for every morning. It could be for the fresh cup of coffee in your hands, the cute top you bought at the weekend or bigger things like having a roof over your head or that you’re in good health. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to best selling self-help author Eckhart Tolle have recommended practicing gratitude because it shifts your mindset from one of lack and complaining about what you don’t have to one of appreciating all the things that you do have. You might even go one further and start being grateful for the things you’re struggling with right now, whether it’s that you’re broke or that your co-workers are a nightmare to work with. Sounds a bit nuts? It might seem silly at first but soon, with practice, you’ll be able o see the silver lining to every cloud.
What about those days when every little thing is pushing your buttons? In The Positive Habit, Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner Fiona Brennan recommends taking four deep belly breaths, holding each one for four seconds before taking a long, slow exhale for those moments when you need a positive pause. Try it and feel the difference! Meanwhile, leadership expert Robin Sharma suggests offloading all your worries and annoyances in one fell swoop. It might seem counter-intuitive, but he recommends making a list of everything that’s on your mind. Consider it a mental declutter. You’ll feel clearer afterwards and having all your worries out on paper gives you more power to deal with them in a positive way.
Rearrange Your Time
They say never taking time for yourself is like driving a car and never stopping to fuel up: eventually you’re going to run out of gas. That’s why it’s ever so important to start rearranging your day to make time for you. Me time might sounds indulgent, but it’s actually pretty essential if you’re to function at your best and imagine all the things you could achieve if you scrolled social media a little bit less, got up a little bit earlier to eat a decent breakfast instead of rushing out the door or used your lunch break more wisely?
In Life Leverage: How To Get More Done In Less Time, Rob Moore suggests you prioritise high value tasks and to either outsource or let go off the ones that aren’t serving any real purpose. What’s a high priority task, you ask? It could be going to the gym for an hour to benefit your physical and mental health, taking an evening course to upskill, or dedicating some time to a side hustle that will earn you some extra spends. Taking the time to nourish yourself with a good book or to jot down your thoughts in a self-care journal counts too. It’s not about running yourself into the ground and filling every moment with busyness, but ensuring that every hour serves a purpose, whether that purpose is to relax and replenish you, or to bring you closer to your goals.
Evaluate Your Social Circle
They say the people you surround yourself with are either a radiator or a drain. Radiators are people who radiate warmth, kindness, happiness and joy. Being with them is like enjoying a warm summer’s day and you always feel better for being in their company. Drains on the other hand, zap your energy. Their negativity and bad attitude sucks the life right out of you. Start looking at your social circle: who makes you laugh until your cheeks hurt and leaves you feeling like you can take on the world, and who leaves you feeling negative, drained and exhausted?
In an ideal world, you’d cut and run from the people who put you in a bad head space, but not everyone can simply be cut out of your life. How then can you protect yourself from an energy vampire? First, create distance when you can and set healthy limits and boundaries for how much time you spend with this person. Next, always try to start your conversations with them on a positive note so you can steer the chat in a better direction, and finally use visualisation to protect your energy. The Bubble Wrap method is a tactic that is often recommended by mental health professionals. When you’re gearing up to spend time with an energy drain, imagine yourself wrapped in a golden bubble that protects you from negative energy. Anytime someone irks you or upsets you, imagine their actions bouncing off your protected bubble and back onto them. It’s a trick of the mind but it works.
Blitz Bad Habits
Bad habits: We’ve all got ’em, but how can you beat them? First things first, you’ll get nowhere if you don’t first identify your trigger. What is it that makes you reach for that packet of cigarettes, gorge yourself at dinner or let a bad mood get the better of you? They say awareness is the first step to change so use this to your advantage. Next, establish your why. Why do you no longer want this bad habit to have a hold over you? Why would you life be better without it? Write it all out and refer to it whenever your motivation wanes.
Now that you know what’s causing your compulsion and why you want to quit, what can you do to change it? The key here is to start slow. It can be tempting to rush in with a major life overhaul, but established habits require small steps to break. What’s the smallest adjustment you can make right now to begin breaking that habit? Figure out your starting point and build on it every week.
Finally, experts suggest setting up a If-Then plan. All bad habits are the result of a cue in our environment which triggers the bad behaviour, so establish your cue, and change your response to it by creating a new routine. So you might say something like ‘If situation X happens, I will perform response Y’. Instead of acting out your old habit, your establishing, a new positive one. It’s all about being prepared.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. No doubt you’ve seen these words plastered across your Instagram feed, but no matter how many times we’re told we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to get ahead in life, it doesn’t make it any easier to feel the fear and get committed, does it?
Here’s the thing: fear and anxiety can hold us back and most fear comes from the fear of the unknown, so before taking any leap of faith it makes sense to arm yourself with information. Whatever endeavour you are contemplating, educate yourself on it and get really familiar with what it will entail. Next, jump in, but not at the deep end. Take the smallest, least intimidating step to make whatever it is happen, and then level up, taking on bigger and bigger challenges as you go.
And lastly? Make yourself accountable. Tell you friends and family what the goal is and be honest with yourself when you know you’re making excuses. Bottom line, pushing through fear is less frightening than living a life of regret.