I'm am SO over this year. Next year is going to be MY year. New year, new me!
Let's take a step back. Did you REALLY not have anything good come your way that you can carry forward into next year? I doubt it. It's really easy to think about all of the bad that has happened this year - trust me. I stepped away from my fitness business, experienced a heartbreak like I've never felt, and distanced myself from some people that I thought would always have my best interests in mind. Although I could let those events cloud all of the good that has happened this year, it's not fair to do. There is so much that we can be grateful for and appreciative of. That being said, I've decided not to make any New Years Resolutions for 2018. Look, I've done the whole "new year, new me" thing before, started a new workout routine, changed my eating habits, and quickly decided that I was miserable AF after 2 weeks in. WHY?!
It wasn't the workout or eating habits I needed to resolve, it was my mindset in ALL areas of life (that matter most to me). Let's reel it in for a second. Why do we think we need to make a change in the new year? I mean really? The underlying reason is that people just want to be happier and that requires some sort of balance in multiple areas of your life. This looks different for all of us depending on where we are in life and losing weight isn't going to make you happy if you're in a job that you hate, if you're holding onto relationships that are sucking the life out of you, or living paycheck to paycheck hoping that you have enough money to make rent and eat like an adult for the month. The good news is that you have the power to change your thinking.
I've listed out the top 7 areas for year-end reflection and how to create an action plan based on 3 simple questions you will ask yourself within each area. Each of these areas bring happiness to me in some way and I'm sure that they do for you as well. As you go through this blog, I recommend grabbing a journal and working through the 3 steps listed out.
STEP 1: Go through the each of the areas and as you go through each section, ask yourself ...
Is this important to me? If so, why?
What would I like to see improve in this area next year?
How can I begin to make positive changes in this area within the next 30 days?
Take time to appreciate your body, your soul, your temple. According to this article I read in Harvard Heath Publishing, scientific evidence suggests that positive emotions can help make life longer and healthier. But fleeting positive emotions aren't enough. Lowering your stress levels over a period of years with a positive outlook and relaxation techniques could reduce your risk of health problems. I loved reading this because it basically says to me that if you are genuinely happy and flow with positivity, you'll naturally live a healthier life. I can't say that I don't work at and earn my happiness, but I do this by taking care of myself. Trust me when I say, I wasn't always like this. Partying during the week until 2am, making late night Taco Bell runs, going to work hungover, and planning the next happy hour used to be my routine. I had to grow up, though.
What does your exercise and nutrition routine look like? I intentionally did not use the word "diet" because I honestly don't believe that there is any single diet that works best for everyone. If you're properly fueling your body with the nutrition that you need for the lifestyle you have, why diet? I encourage you to start a health and fitness routine that fits YOUR schedule and budget. Every small step counts. Eating at home is one way that I not only saved $$, but I was also able to control what I prepared and ensured that I had food ready for the week. These simple meal prep containers saved my life when it came to prepping lunches and dinners on #MealPrepMonday. One of my biggest changes in 2017 was eating less meat, cutting coffee, and switching to tea. I'm much happier not being so dependent on coffee and eating more veggies with my meals.
Take time to appreciate where you currently are in your career. How did you get there? What education have you received? That is something to appreciate in itself. But we aren't done. We are go-getters and naturally, we want more. Now, let’s think about your current job. What do you do? What consumes your day? Does it bring you complete, absolute joy? If you're like most of the middle-class world, probably not and I'm sure we've all had plenty of those eye-rolling Stanley moments at some point during our days each week. About a third of Americans (32%) say they are very happy with how things are going these days in their lives, while 51% describe themselves as pretty happy and 14% say they are not too happy. How can we change this? In a previous blog, I talked about finding what your true strengths are and building a career upon those. Focusing our attention to what we need to improve upon or simply aren't that good at is an absolute waste of time if you're looking to elevate your career, increase your happiness, and have a strong sense of self-compassion. Here's to limiting the number of times you roll your eyes in a day. ;)
Take time to appreciate your beliefs and don't worry about judgement from others. This is a very personal area in each of our lives and it is ours to own regardless of what others may think. I'm not as open about my faith as I would like to be and part of it is because of the negativity that society has placed on people who are openly religious. It shouldn't be that way. It doesn't mean that you have to pronounce to the world all of your religious beliefs or try to push them onto others, but feeling less shame or guilt sharing your beliefs was an area of improvement for me. Whether you believe in God, a higher power, energy, or whatever the case - it is important to practice your beliefs regularly. I compare many things to exercise because it's such a habit for me and if I am going to be dedicated to my physical routine, I need to also be dedicated to my spiritual routine. How much dedicated time are you carving out each week in this area? Regularly listening to a podcast, going to church, or spending time in the Bible app are all ways to move the needle. If you're not doing this already, there are many simple ways to begin and you'll notice a shift in your mindset, your spirit, and overall happiness.
Take time to appreciate your family (no matter how crazy you think they are). I can't say that I've ever met someone who has the perfect family, but they are always there for you when times get tough. I like how Lindsay Holmes mentions in Huffington Post that familial bonds certainly can have an influence on your well-being, whether it’s your biological family or the family you create on your own. You depend on them for advice, emotional support or even as a resource to come bail you out of trouble. I grew up with a large family, but we aren't as close as I would like to be. For a long time, I somewhat resented them for not being closer, not trying to change the dynamic, and it made me miserable. I actually dreaded family events because they just felt like an excuse to spend time together that we didn't really want to spend. Changing that mindset for me was huge because it allowed for me to create a better dynamic and stop making excuses for how "disconnected" we were. The truth is, I was disconnected. We all know that no one is perfect, but forgiveness and patience helped for me to begin better appreciate the family that I am blessed with. Family is all about what YOU make it.
...people just want to be happier and that requires some sort of balance in multiple areas of your life.
5. Business Opportunities
Take time to appreciate the opportunities that lie ahead. Have you noticed everyone and their mama is on IG or Facebook starting up their own business? From t-shirts, to health products, to wine clubs - the possibilities are endless. You may be completely happy with your day job, but if you find yourself wondering how you can pay off debt faster, start a side business, or monetize your social media platform -- there are ways! There's no better time than now to look at what your hobbies and passions are and come up with some creative ways to monetize them. I've done a few things outside of my 9-5 based on what made me happy, and I'd encourage you to do the same. What I've found in the past 5 years is that what makes my business successful is being authentic and consistent. What separates you from everyone and their mama is the fact that you won't give up after a month or two. If you have a vision, you must see it through. Cardi B has been hustlin' for years and her consistency finally paid off in 2017. She remained true to herself and that is what people love most about her. As a former stripper she once said, “It feels so good when people throw money on me,” she said in one video. “It feels so good on my skin.” You know how much backlash she got for that? Well look who is laughing now? She's kicked Taylor Swift off the top of the charts with her money-loving ass and I ain't mad at the girl. Take some time to reflect on your experiences, what you know, and think about how you can monetize that. Most importantly, be true to yourself. I'd be happy to help you think about this a bit more and highly recommend that you take the time to write out a plan with your mentor. If you don't have one, here are a few ideas on where to get one.
6. Self Love
Take time to appreciate yourself. This is an area that I am most passionate about because it's where I struggled the longest. How often do you look in the mirror and appreciate the person that you are before you start noticing every little thing that could be better? I've fallen victim to the comparison trap for a while and trust me, it still happens from time to time. I just know when to catch myself and snap out of it. Social media has really changed the game for me because it's so easy to scroll through all of the "perfect" bodies you see on Instagram and start comparing yourself to them. The more likes, the more self-esteem, right? WRONG. Your self worth, love, and uniqueness is not defined in the popularity contest called social media. According to Robert Puff, Ph.D., happiness awaits you when you let go and embrace the life in front of you. Remember that you are unique in your own way and the world needs to see YOU, not a Kim Kardashian impersonator. I like how John Fawlkes puts this in his blog - "happiness and self-love are not rewards for completing our goals. They are necessary foundations for pursuing our goals."
I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it. - Maya Angelou
Take time to appreciate all of the relationships in your life. Acquaintances. Colleagues. Family. Friends. Partners. Where do we begin? According to Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., "satisfying relationships not only make us happy, they also influence our long-term health as much as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and not smoking." Take some time to reflect on the relationships you've had throughout 2017. Perhaps you've made some new friends, lost some old friends, found a new love, experienced heartbreak, welcomed someone into your family, or lost a loved one. Relationships are an important part of our happiness whether you want to admit that or not and while you're focused on taking care of yourself and your career, don't forget to nurture the relationships in your life. Although I had my heart broken and let go of someone who I thought would always have my best interests in mind, I won't choose to hold anger or resentment for anyone because it won't serve me or others in my life well. There were beautiful lessons learned in those situations and through the tears, I found clarity. If you find that you're spending more time nurturing a relationship that perhaps the other person isn't, evaluate their value in your life. How can you improve relationships with those in your life? It will certainly bring you happiness in the new year and it may even help you to reduce stress in other areas. You never know what magic someone else can bring to your life that will help you in other areas later.
STEP 2: Now that you've gone through these areas, prioritize and rank them from 1-7 (one (1) being the most important to you at this present time).
STEP 3: Take the top two (2) areas you've identified and ask yourself:
Why is this important to me?
What would I like to see improve in this area next year?
How can I begin to make positive changes in this