“When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it’s welcome.”
– Kristin Armstrong (professional road bicycle racer & three-time Olympic gold medalist)
Tell me — what are you (explicitly OR secretly) yearning to CHANGE in your life? What curiosity is rustling at the forefront of your heart, your mind?
Think it about for a while — because it’s already midway through August. September (and that settling-in learning mode we often feel in fall) is right around the corner.
Admit it: like the shift in seasons, you know deep down it’s time to shift your energy to something new, too. And this transition between the hot days of summer and the cooler days of fall provide the perfect blend of feeling both energized and reflective.
Mini daily tweaks can make a huge positive impact in the long run. So start NOW. Start small. Choose and commit to just one new habit at a time. Write it down each day and cross it off once completed. If you feel confident enough, incorporate another new core habit once you feel grounded in one. You may decide to keep going with this habit. . .or trade it in for something new if doesn’t feel right after a month or two. Just be patient, and persistent — and watch ol’ bad habits fall away as you make room for the new and improved.
Ready? Below are 10 small (and easy) ways you can turn over a new leaf. Remember to just pick one habit for now. . .and see where it leads to!
1. Sign up for a class (in-person or online)
Student or not, we ALL are lifelong learners. So why not try out a new hobby or exercise class? Explore. Expand. Dive into new ways to advance your profession or side projects (from coding and blog tips to learning a new language) or take on something utterly new to you. Try out sites like SkillShare or these 20 other websites (suggested by LifeHack) to take free or low-cost classes of any topic you please. You never know what other seeds of talent are inside you, yearning to be watered and grow into something great down the road.
Even though I can’t even touch my toes, I’ll never forget the magical moment I took my first in-studio restorative yoga class with Shauna — and have been a wholehearted fan, friend, and weekly yogi with her since! The Craft of Magazine Writing course has also been on my radar since last year — thinking I may try it or join a small writing group somewhere in the area. In general, just put yourself out there! You’ll gain new skills AND probably meet some other motivating and like-minded people. 🙂
2. Nix one social media account
Did you know you probably waste about 2 hours a day (or approximately 5 years and 4 months of your LIFE) scrolling social media? Think of how much you miss out in #reallty because your eyes and attention are glued to your phone. Notice when (and how much) you go on these sites like FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat, and what (or who) you check out regularly. Then I urge you to block just ONE of these accounts you have. Be okay not knowing the minute-by-minute update on everyone’s “lives”.
I deactivated my FaceBook account about 2 or 3 years ago, and couldn’t be more happy with that decision. Instagram is my guilty pleasure (in moderation) but I believe with social media, ignorance is bliss. I no longer want to know what 200-500 people I’ve met or connected with are up to or look like. I don’t want to feel like I know someone else’s family or friends based on seeing them in pictures so often. Now I call or text friends more, and catch up in person. . .without already knowing the SparkNotes of their lives. Learn to make your social time authentic again.
3. Read at least 1-2 books a month
So many of us binge-watch T.V. (and constantly scroll social media apparently), so why not shift gears sometimes and pick up a novel? Reading a book increases your mental stimulation, knowledge, and your empathy for others (seriously)! And the range of genres and topics are endless. From sci-fi and self-improvement to philosophical or literary classics, there is a juicy read out there for everyone. Better yet, alternate between titles that naturally interest you to ones you normally wouldn’t choose. Expand your horizons.
I have been a bookworm since my toddler years, but haven’t been reading as much this year as I normally would. I’m committing myself to getting back to my reading roots. . .and maybe joining a book club of some sort (to get into the nitty-gritty analysis I love so much). If you’re interested in jumpstarting your creativity, I highly suggest Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (poetic, personal; more feminine energy) and The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield (crisp, powerful; more male energy). Books can change you — for the better.
4. Listen to one podcast a day
Ever feel like your day is filled with so many domestic to-dos…and that time for personal enrichment is but a dream? Well, you can have your cake and eat it, too…thanks to PODCASTS! These insightful audio chats allow you to wash dishes, drive long commutes, or tackle messy closets and more while simultaneously feeding your mind with vocal inspiration, tips, and powerful information. It’s like listening to radio talk on a specific topic of your choice…with the intimacy of a long coffee chat. Talk about productivity — housework and learning/self-improvement work killed with one stone!
Honestly, I never gave podcasts a try until about a year or 2 ago. Was I missing out! As a bookworm and compulsive music junkie, I never knew how much I’d value audio convos. For me, it’s like picking a leader’s brain. . .taking a free class. . .or just getting a powerful outside perspective in an authentic way. Feed your mind & soul with my go-to podcast choices: The Tim Ferriss Show, The Marie Forleo Podcast (+her YouTube videos!), The Brendon Show, The School of Greatness, Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert and Dear Sugars.
5. Find mentors to keep you accountable for your goals
Life Coaches. Idols. Career advisors. Mentors. Whatever you’d like to call them, there are motivators all around you — every SINGLE day. Energy is contagious; so find others that are positive and inspire the best in you. We are often the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Make 1-2 of those people a MENTOR — one personal, one professional. With the person you know, continue or delve deeper with sharing life goals and brainstorming ideas together. Schedule weekly check-ins or encouragement texts. Then reach out to one “stranger” you’d like to know: someone with a job you dream of, a classmate/professor, a blogger you follow. Meet. Ask questions. Let your network (and true tribes) GROW.
I feel very fortunate to have amazing mentors in my life. Two women who have really given me confidence on this whole “writing” journey this year? My older sister Kyla and yoga instructor (& “soul sister”!) Shauna. They both get me creatively and energetically, and I value our authentic discussions about creative endeavors, powerful books or people to follow, and beyond. Professionally, I’ve been interested in the publishing/editorial industries for quite some time, too. I had reached out a few years ago to an indie publishing house owner in this area, emailed a lot, and attended a few events and met personally. We really clicked, so I want to reach out again. Continue to make (and maintain) REAL relationships.
6. Start a daily journal of some sort
We self-document so much on social media (mhmm, that word again), but how often do you physically WRITE DOWN your goals…experiences…thoughts…emotions? Journaling has come a far way since its”Dear Diary” days. A blank notebook today is about documenting whatever journey calls to you. From specific topics (like keeping track of your exercise/health habits or books read/to read) down to lists like quotes, daily gratitude, nagging Q’s lodged in your mind, travel dreams or random ideas, get creative. Your journal is your time to self-reflect, be honest, and create the life you want.
I have too many notebooks to count — found by bed stands, in the car, my purse, you name it. There’s just something magical about witnessing the flame of creativity, slowly or rapidly, taking hold, being able to captre it on paper, and “burn” it into my mind. . . before it extinguishes for good — because hey, we have 50,000-70,000 thoughts a DAY! A simple but powerful journal I highly recommend to everyone, which I discovered from Tim Ferriss, is The Five Minute Journal. Journal writing, to me, is like writing from the soul — revealing that secret, deep-felt voice inside pouring out truth and potential onto every page.
7. Track your expenses (and buy only the necessities for a month straight)
Living paycheck to paycheck can feel like the norm for so many. But regardless, we are all consumers. We complain about expenses, yet continue to buy products we don’t need on a daily basis. But what if you decided you have (and are) “enough”? Challenge yourself and your way of living by stripping it back to the basics for one full month. Spend only on necessary expenses: rent, utilities, school loans, gas, healthy and affordable groceries. Don’t buy clothes or gadgets. Pack a lunch –no Starbucks or fast food drive-thrus. Resist the urge to buy something tempting you from online Amazon banners. Learn what it means to you have to live a rich life — without depending on money and possessions.
I am someone, for example, who absolutely loves living alone. But there are financial drawbacks to pay — literally. With being the sole payer of rent (plus utilities), car insurance, school loans, and more, I am now more mindful of each purchase. I still treat myself, if I’ve thought long and hard about a product I want. but I am no longer a slave to impulsive “got to have that” urges. I love what I already have: a home and a wardrobe that express me, and family and true friends I can hang with for free. It’s true: the best things in life are priceless.
We give away our time without question to work or family and friends. But how much time do you give to issues beyond your personal circle? Try to reach OUT– give back to your community by volunteering. Serving others (without a cost attached) really humbles you and gets you out of your headspace and personal issues. Dedicate a bi-weekly slot of time to volunteer. Walk a dog or visit the animal shelter. Read books to less-privileged children at a library. Serve food with a smiling face at the soup kitchen. Whatever you do, know that your service makes an emotional impact.
I’ll never forget when I joined a mentoring program at an elementary school, which was suggested by one of my coworker friends, when I had moved to Chippewa Falls, WI. I spent one hour every other week playing, talking, and spending quality time with a very timid 2nd-grade girl who had some familial trauma and social struggles. It took some time, but she really bloomed with each passing session — smiling, laughing, and expressing herself more with me (and in class, according to her mother and teachers). These unique volunteer opportunities will warm your heart (and those you serve).
9. Experiment with cooking
How many times have you heard someone say they “can’t cook”? Well, guess what — you (and ANYONE) can. It comes down to a decision to try, fail, and have fun with it! You don’t have to be a guest on Top Chef to cook.. Just start. Turn on the oven. Toss vegetables and chicken with spices, dressings, sauces (you name it) into a pan, and simmer…and voila, you have made a meal. Taking charge of your health is empowering — treat yourself, but don’t depend solely on fast food chains or restaurants to fill your daily nutrition needs.
Once I was out of my college years and had the luxury of living alone, I had no one to embarrass but myself in the kitchen. I had the freedom to mess up, perfect, and experiment to my heart’s desire without judgment or critics. I’d make a Sunday of it, throw on some good jams, and make batch of random meals from Pinterest, recipe books or my own imaginative creativity (which either ended up delicious. or disgusting. . .and into the garbage, haha). Either way, know that making meals more often than not is healthier for your body (and bank account) in the long run.
10. Do one positive text or email send-off every day
Minus a few phone calls to close loved ones, texting and emails often our main day-to-day communication. This is why we all are capable of this goal: sending out one text or email that is POSITIVE and thoughtful. Let your message be a thank you…congrats…a note that you’re thinking of them…inspired…want to hang sometime…know about their lives in some small way. Choose a variety of people when you can: a current or old friend, coach, a close acquaintance, relative, family member, a classmate, a podcaster you adore. Regardless, you will make someone’s day, just like they’ll hopefully do to yours with a response. We all could use more inspiration in our inboxes…and daily lives.
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Whether from this list or your own, what new habit are YOU going to make to your daily schedule? Why? What is your ultimate goal/motives for this step forward? Share your inspiration in the comments below!