As 2011 gets rolling, you might be wondering how to maintain your intentions to REALLY turn things round for yourself this year… before the buzz of all those days of opportunity lying fresh and untouched before you fades.
New Year Resolutions are one thing, making them a reality is something else. This is especially true if you’re depressed, stressed or going through something that’s strangling your mood, outlook and motivation levels.
If you can feel the tug on your heart of something dear that you want to Do, Be or Have, try adopting the following habits. They act as an invisible shield around you, helping you to keep yourself propped up and motivated in spite of what’s going on.
1. Awareness: Know Your Achilles Heel
Your Achilles Heel is your personal foible… the weak link… the scapegoat or excuse… that thing that always gets between you and what you want.
For me, it’s Time. I can never fit in all the things I want to do. I did a time audit once and that shone a beacon on where my time was going – it wasn’t that I don’t have enough time, it’s just that I wasn’t using it well.
To do a time audit, simply go about your normal business but make a note of what you are doing – account for every minute. Even if it gets tedious, keep at it for a few days and you’ll make your own discoveries.
Once you’ve identified your Achilles Heel (or heels if you’re really interesting!), act on it when you are able to and simply be aware of it during the times when it gets the better of you.
The habit to adopt here is Awareness - non-judgemental of course. When you know why you are doing (or not doing) something, this knowledge merges with the other habits below and ultimately helps you regain your control.
2. Peace: Interrupt Yourself
We have ways of talking to ourselves that become sound-tracks to the way we look out on life.
Do you know what sound-tracks you run? In other words, what are the recurring thoughts and conversations that go round in your head that stop and hinder you from what you want?
Although they can go on for a long time before you “come into awareness” that you are having these thoughts, when you do become aware that there’s a negative sound-track playing in your mind, interrupt yourself immediately by changing your PHYSICAL behaviour.
If you’re in bed, get out of bed and make a shopping list. If you’re sat on the sofa in front of the telly, walk around, hoover something. Change your physical behaviour.
The sound-track might not change immediately, but you will notice a gradual reduction in its duration if you interrupt yourself every time you become aware that it is playing. Even if you only reduce the negative soundtrack by a couple of hours a week in the beginning, you’ll have given yourself 8 hours a month of extra peace.
Ultimately, the sound-track is there because there are some issues that you need to resolve – so you don’t want to bury or dismiss your thoughts. But if you know what the issue is, then the idea behind this Self-Interrupt habit is that you don’t need to keep reminding yourself about it all the time. Write it down if you worry that you will forget what it is.
Once you give yourself more “peace time” in your head, you give yourself room to think about it in a different way and perhaps even find a way to overcome it.
You also give yourself some head space to think about doing the things you really want to be doing.
3. Ownership: Invest in Yourself
Without you, the stage of your life would be empty – you’re essential. But if you do not feel like a central character or if it’s not working out the way you thought it would, then you need to regain some of your power and control.
Remember that assuming power and control is NOT about being a tyrant or an uncaring person. It’s about taking ownership and responsibility of your life and the multitude of choices that come before you every day.
Think about the areas that have slipped and about what you need to regain ownership of your life. Then invest in yourself to develop these areas.
Nowadays you can get help for so many things that the biggest dilemma can be deciding what you want to do first and finding the right person to help you. Do you want NLP & EFT sessions to manage stress or depression? Could a personal stylist or nutritionist help? Perhaps some acting, dance or cooking lessons would bring you some fun and confidence.
Personal Development is about learning and doing. You’re going to be learning and doing something for the rest of your life because the people and circumstances you encounter all teach you something and make you behave in certain ways and believe in certain things. Improve your chances that it goes your way by actively investing in yourself. Seek out (or be in mindset to receive) opportunities that teach you what you want or need to learn.
Cost is often used as a reason to avoid or postpone personal development. Although money is important, just think of how much more expensive it is to do nothing.
One thing being in Dubai has shown me is that haggling is a way of life here. Business started through bartering and negotiation and maybe it’s possible that professionals in your area might be open to a bit of negotiation – you won’t know unless you ask. And if you have a particular skill-set, who knows, perhaps you could negotiate an exchange of services.
Investing in yourself means giving yourself the ability to take ownership and responsibility of your life. And this is a habit that makes it infinitely easier to become and achieve what you want.
4. Wholeness: Accept the Bad Days
When I was a consultant for a training company some years ago, I went in one Friday to teach a particular subject only to be told that they’d made a mistake and wanted me to deliver training on something else instead. Conscientously, I agreed to do the teaching even though I was unprepared.
It could have gone really, really well… but sadly it didn’t. I went down like a buffalo on roller-skates and totally ruined my life for a whole weekend… or was it a week…
It’s only other people who have a meteoric, wrinkle-free, chauffeur-driven rise to the top. You won’t. Just accept now that there will be set-backs and know that you can and will bounce back. You’ll learn from what happened, yours scars will heal and one day, you too will cringe as something triggers the memory of the unholy debacle that occurred.
The habit you’re picking up is Wholeness. It’s knowing that you feel bad because a core part of your personal identity got hurt. It is a paradox of reality that the pain you feel tells you that you are on track with your values.
Whatever event caused the Bad Day to occur will need to be dealt with and learnt from – Habit 3 helps you with this. The Wholeness habit means that you escape from labelling your core self with a label that only fits the event and not You.
I’m wishing 2011 turns into your happiest year so far and hope that you can make these habits work for you.
I’d love to hear your personal tips that help you maintain emotional stability when the going gets tough. If you have any tips or comments, please share them below.
Photo Credit: speedy2