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Empowerment coach Saskia Clements drops some advice on creating healthy habits by actively controlling the important things, and shedding the rest.
If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s confirmation of that well-worn phrase, we just don’t know what’s around the corner. While we can’t control the circumstances we find ourselves in, we can do a lot to impact how these circumstances affect us.
Here are five tips for managing the things in our control that will greatly assist in making 2021 the best it can possibly be, no matter what’s around the corner.
Take time to declutter and rid yourself of de-energisers. We all have things we’re procrastinating about, or tolerating, and these things drain us of vital energy. It can be anything from the kitchen drawer that sticks every time you open it, to the pile of paperwork cluttering your office, to the phone call you’ve been meaning to make to a friend you haven’t seen in a long while.
I had a client who had some photos from an overseas friend that she’d been meaning to return for 18 months. So much time had passed that she felt embarrassed and was paralysed into inaction. Every time she thought about these photos she felt guilty and disempowered. After some gentle coaxing, she agreed to just send them back with a note of apology and I can’t tell you how much lighter she looked when she walked in for her next coaching session.
Make a list and use the four D’s when dealing with de-energisers: Do it now if it’s quick and easy; Diarise when you’ll do it; Delegate or outsource it; or Dump it (in the instance of a client who had a big pile of magazines waiting for her to cut out the food recipes and file them. After some reflection and remembering Google’s a pretty good source of recipes, she decided to just get rid of the magazines). Start with some quick wins to gain momentum and you’ll be pleased with the energy you feel.
Start with physical - your home, your car, your office. How do you feel when you’re in these spaces? Calm or stressed? Do they instil clarity or a sense of chaos? What do you love about them, and what changes do you wish to make?
Look at mental and emotional environments. Notice the landscape of your mind. Does it feel constantly busy and scattered? Or do you enjoy a good level of focus and clarity? What are your frequent thoughts about and how do they make you feel? What new habits could you adopt to help calm your mind and improve the quality of your thinking?
Think about your social environment. How do you feel in the company of the people you surround yourself with? Do they uplift you or drain you? Could you choose to spend more time with people who uplift and energise you? And who could you choose to spend less time with this year?
Each morning or evening, ask yourself: what am I grateful for today? Get specific – it might be the kindness a stranger showed you today, your child’s expression when they told you about something funny that happened at school, or the mere fact your body got you out of bed without feeling any pain.
When we express gratitude, our brain releases the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. With time, focusing our attention on what we’re grateful for actually rewires our brain, hardwiring the pattern of scanning the world for positive versus negative and allowing us to better handle stress. Remember, there’s always something to be grateful for, sometimes it just takes a little more work to see it than at other times.
What is it that you want to create in your life over the next year, or three or five? Break it down into six-week mini-goals. At the start of each week, set two or three clear intentions focused on what you’d like to have achieved and how you’d like to feel come the end of the week. You’ll be amazed at what you achieve with this method versus just working with a daily to-do list. It ensures that each week, we take action towards our most important life goals, and don’t just get caught up in the hurly burly of life’s hamster wheel.
A business friend of mine meets each Friday with a colleague and they hold each other accountable for consistently posting on their business social media pages. I enlisted a group of friends to do a 35-day alcohol-free detox with me and we supported and kept each other on track with a WhatsApp group. You can team up with friends, join a group such as through a yoga studio, or hire a personal coach. Whatever works best for you, just be sure to get someone on your team, as it greatly improves your chances of success.