We know what you’re thinking, isn’t this type of stuff published at the start of the year when we’re all thinking about resolutions? To which we ask, why should there be a time stamp on anything that improves our lives? Besides, if you’re like me, you’ve probably fallen off the wagon on a few of your goals already. Mind you, one of those goals is very simple; go to bed earlier and sleep more. Easy right? Well, apparently not because so far, I’m failing miserably. I’m even doing worse off than last year and sleeping less! We figure that this musing might just give us the little jolt we need to refocus on our well being and get us back on track.
Getting back on track after failure isn’t easy. We get discouraged and want to return to our old habits. The secret to avoiding this trap is to not beat yourself up when you fail. Acknowledge it, figure out why you didn’t succeed (if I can break my evening patterns, I would be able to get to bed earlier), and try again.
Doing better for ourselves is much like vowing to stay healthy. It’s a lifestyle change; you cannot make an adjustment to your diet or exercise habit and get comfortable. You must live and practice staying healthy in every aspect of your daily life to sustain it.
So how can you do better for yourself and thrive for the rest of 2017?
Try incorporating these 9 must-have essentials to your day to day routine:
1. Take Control (of Your Situation)
When faced with adversity, working on the things you can control and ignoring those you can’t reduces stress, gives you focus and allows you to make the changes necessary to enhance your situation. For instance, if you’re dealing with a hostile work environment or a difficult boss, don’t waste your time complaining about it. This only makes you feel worse. Engaging in activities, such as updating your resume and online profile, reaching out to your professional and personal networks, and exploring new job opportunities will give you a sense of control and make you feel better.
2. Be Compassionate
Even when you’re at your lowest and the least likely to want to do it, be compassionate towards those around you both professionally and personally. It will not only improve the other person’s life, but also your own. And who doesn’t love a win-win situation.
3. Take Calculated Risks
Great achievements don’t come easily. You must be willing to expose yourself to some risk but with a well thought out strategy and backup plan.
4. Keep your mind still
I must admit that this is a tough one. From our hectic lives to everything going on around in our world today, it’s hard to imagine that quieting the mind is possible. But it’s doable. Find your safe and happy place. It doesn’t have to be a quiet location either. I use yoga, which is calming and relaxing, and African and Cuban salsa dance, which are energizing and fun.
Even though they’re polar opposites, the benefits are the same. The only difference is in how they help me achieve my goal; yoga helps me quiet my mind during the session while dance does it after.
5. Stop apologizing
Do you find yourself saying sorry even when it’s unwarranted? C’mon own up! If you’ve ever apologized to a waiter because you wanted your meal reheated or started to make your point in an email message or at a meeting with an apology, (I know I have), it’s time to stop apologizing for things that don’t need it. In it’s place, express precisely what you want without fear of being seen as rude or abrasive. Don’t apologize for other people’s mistakes or when you ask for something you deserve. Do it only when it’s absolutely necessary.
6. Champion for each other
It’s simple. Support women’s rights. Stand with other women in solidarity and sisterhood because together, we’re unstoppable and unbreakable. Speak up when you witness injustice towards women. Fight for our reproductive rights. Call out sexism and msygony when you see it. Set the right example for young women and girls. We cannot complain that our rights are infringed upon when we support those who are doing it.
You’re probably wondering; who has the time to read? Between work, kids (for those who have them), and all the other obligations calling for your attention, you barely have time to breathe. Well, remember our 30 minute rule? You can apply it here too. You’ll be surprised how many books you’ll be able to get through during the year. You may not be able to read them as quickly as you’re used to (I’ve been known to take a month) but it’s better than not doing it at all.
Worried that you can’t squeeze in everything you love to do in 30 minutes? Simply alternate. Because I love sharing my musings with you on this blog, I switch between publishing to it and reading. Set a quarterly goal for how many books you want to read per quarter and be realistic depending on your schedule.
Last year, our gapmuse Bookshelf included books about forgiveness, debunking the myth of women having it all, decluttering, and fighting sexism in the workplace. We can hardly wait to share our bookshelf this year. To get you started, check out our latest read, The New York Times bestseller, “You are a Badass” below by Jane Sincero and prepare to get pumped for the year. And yes, you are a badass!
One of our favorite quotes for 2017 is “One serves one’s self best by serving others first” by Michael Sheen.
It’s extremely satisfying and healing to know that your generosity has impacted someone’s life in a positive way.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re young, old, or have the means. All it takes to give to those who are less fortunate is a little ingenuity. In 2015, with the help of friends and family we were able to raise $1,200 to Distributing Dignity, an organization that helps disadvantaged women get access to feminine hygiene products and bras so they can go out and get jobs.
In 2016, I reached out to my friends and family again to donate new bras to the organization so that these women could go out and interview for jobs with confidence. I couldn’t have been able to purchase these bras on my own (we all know how expensive they can get!) but with a little help I was able to change someone’s life.
But even more inspiring is when a young person uses their creativity and compassion to do more for those less fortunate. My middle schooler decided to forfeit some of her Christmas gifts last year so she could help children who needed it more. She solicited the help of her school principle to organize a toy and book drive, developed a mini marketing campaign that included emailing the parents, making a video announcement in school, and distributing large posters around the school to promote it.
In a about a month, she had collected nearly 200 books and toys, which we proudly delivered to the Edgewood Center for Children & Families right before Christmas. It was one of the proudest moments in my life, which reminded me that we can all make a difference despite our age or means. It just takes a little heart and a plan.
9. Give yourself a chance
Forgive yourself for your failures and mistakes. They’re an opportunity to learn, to do better, and to achieve your goals. Don’t let your mind and your insecurities get ahead of you.
Whether you’re on track for your New Year goals or not, these 9 essentials will help you reboot and give you the courage and energy you need to thrive for the rest of the year. And remember, you still have 10 months left to get it all in!
Your turn gapmusers? What are you doing to make yourself better for the rest of the year? Please share with us and our readers so we too can be empowered.
Happy Women’s History Month!