Changing Your Life Doesn’t Require Major Upheaval
Wow, this year has flown by fast!
In what feels like the blink of an eye, I’m once again beginning the annual process of working with clients to help them define what they want in the upcoming year. In a few weeks, I’ll be doing the same for myself. (Yes, I use the same tools as my clients!)
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They tend to be discarded along with the empty champagne bottles. Yet I believe deeply in the power of intentional change. And there’s something about the freshness of a new year that makes you want to create positive change in your life.
Sometimes that means big, structural change: a career transition, the start or end of a significant relationship, or a move to a new city.
More often, though, it’s a desire to experience life differently. This is what Gretchen Rubin describes in her book The Happiness Project as changing your life without changing your life. It’s a change that comes from transforming your internal landscape and shifting the way you interact with your external world.
The following nine practices have the potential to profoundly change your life – without upheaval.
As you look towards the New Year, choose just one or two to start with. Weave them into your daily life. What you do every day has a much bigger impact than biting off a big chunk occasionally.
Practice gratitude. You know how when you decide to buy a new car, it’s suddenly everywhere? It’s not because you’ve magically manifested increased sales of that model; you’re just more aware.
Gratitude works in a similar way. The more you appreciate what’s good, the more good you will see.
Clear the clutter. Every time I slide back into my natural cluttered habits, I’m once again reminded of the distraction and overwhelm clutter creates. If you have piles of stuff inhabiting your space – whether in plain sight or stashed behind closed doors – pick it off in small chunks and make it go away!
Change your lens. The lens through which you view your world creates your experience, not vice versa.
Once you choose your lens, create a daily practice to keep it top-of-mind. A post-it note on your bathroom mirror, writing it in a daily journal, or saying it aloud on your way to work are all effective ways to make sure you don’t forget.
Choose your thoughts. Does your mind feel like a toxic waste dump, or is it a pleasant place to be? You are in control of what you allow to hang out in your head.
Tend to your health. When life gets busy, it’s so easy to neglect healthy habits: eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, and stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or simple quiet time.
I don’t know about you, but “not at my best” is an understatement when I’m hungry, sleep-deprived, or stressed. You’ll be healthier, happier, and more focused, energetic, and productive when you invest in your health.
Move your body … every day, even if just for ten minutes. Stretch, dance around the room, go for a short walk, do a few yoga poses, anything that gets your body moving.
Be picky about who you spend your time with. A friend recently posted the following on her Facebook page (excuse the language): “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. ~ William Gibson”
The people with whom you spend your time either boost you up or drag you down. Your choice.
Act as if. Action follows thought and thought follows action. When you act as if the change you want has already happened, you’ll start feeling different. And when you start feeling different, your actions will start aligning with the new way you feel. It’s a lovely upward spiral.
Be yourself. It’s easier, more effective, and less exhausting. And to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, everyone else is already taken.
As each practice becomes part of your natural rhythm and routine, add in the next few. Before you know it, you’ll have changed your life!
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” ~ Henry David Thoreau