Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time, says that in order to capture something that seems to be missing you need to get to know your inner self in the same way you’d get to know a new lover or friend, by investing a sufficient amount of time and attention in this important relationship. There are many paths that will lead you to your self. Here is a list of just a few of her examples.
- Keep a journal. Write your life story. Write about what’s working or what isn’t working in your life. Just write something in order to start an on-going dialogue with yourself. It’s such a powerful way to re-establish a relationship with yourself.
- Capture your dreams. Just for a moment forget about your conscious dreams & goals. Keep track of the dreams that take place while you’re asleep. If you were to begin writing down your dreams, even the fragments you barely remember you’d learn a lot about yourself pretty quickly. Plus once you start capturing even the slightest dream thoughts or fragments your subconscious mind gets the message that you’re paying attention & rewards you with a better dream memory.
- Create a community of support. Invite a small group of trusted friends to join you in your search for self. Set up regular meetings & use this time to share what your learning about yourself with others. Having a safe place to share your thoughts & feelings will help you uncover valuable information about who you are & what you’re here to do.
- Reawaken your spiritual life. Dedicate some time each day to your spiritual life. Study spiritually inspiring literature like the Bible, the Torah, or the Bhagavad Gita. Study the teachings of Jesus Christ, Sai Baba or the Dalai Lama. Return to the rituals & prayers that may have once provided comfort & divine connection. Write letters to God in your journal. This daily practice will keep you surrounded in an atmosphere of spirit & will help you hear the voice of your soul more clearly.
- Spend time with yourself. Show up. Schedule time with yourself on a regular basis & increase the duration & frequency over time. Take out your diary or calendar & schedule appointments for you. For the next 6 months block out some time each week & mark it off in ink. As you schedule this time, increase the amount from month to month. Start out with an hour a week for the 1st month, expand that time to an evening or afternoon for the 2nd month. When someone challenges your commitment stay strong. Although there will obviously be times when you’ll need to rearrange your schedule, set a new standard that honours your Self first by limiting the interuptions.
Incorporating gratitude into your daily life is a game changer, so many people are singing its praises, talking about what a difference it has made to them. I have at many different times in my life tried to incorporate this habit into my everyday life. Each time I start out with great intentions and every time I last a little longer but I always end up letting it slide. I am hoping that a little guidance from some wise women will be all the inspiration I need to help keep me on track this time.
Iyanla Vanzant in her book One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days And 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength And personal Growths says that you must honour life with gratitude. She defines Gratitude as “The recognition and expression of appreciation for what is. Thanksgiving for what is and what is received. An attitude of acknowledgement.”
She reminds us to be grateful:
- because life is an invaluable gift
- for the miraculous inner workings of your being
- for every experience that has bought you to this day
- for everything you have ever received
She asks you to finish the following sentences in your journal:
- I congratulate myself for being able to express gratitude as it relates to…….
- I recognise that it is difficult to be grateful when…..
- I recognise that I can easily express gratitude when….
- I now realize …..
She also offers the following Gratitude Affirmations and asks you to pick one to remember and work with each morning.
- I am so grateful to be alive
- I am grateful for every gift & ability life affords me
- I am grateful for each & every experience I have had that has made my life what it is today
- I am grateful for the lessons I have learned
- I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more
- I am grateful to be awake
- I am grateful to have a consciousness
- I am grateful that today is the only opportunity I need to live in the fullness of joy, peace & unlimited abundance
- I am so grateful for all that I have received and all that is yet to come.
Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project says that gratitude is important to happiness. Research shows that because we measure ourselves relative to others, our happiness is influenced by whether we compare ourselves to people who are better or worse off. Studies show that consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives, that they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising. Gratitude brings freedom from envy, because when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more. That in turn then makes it easier to live within your means and also be generous to others. Gratitude fosters forbearance, as its harder to feel disappointed with someone when you’re feeling grateful toward them. Gratitude also connects you to the natural world because one of the easiest things to feel grateful for is the beauty of nature. She suggests using a Happiness Notebook, in which she writes three things she is grateful for each day.
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy talks about a gratitude journal being an important tool in becoming a happier, more content person. She suggests that you begin today by visiting a good stationery store or a very large bookstore and searching for a beautiful book to use as your gratitude journal, you also might want to look at different coloured inks and pens while you’re there. Make it a pleasant outing and select the prettiest, most inviting book you can find for your gratitude journal, note the fabric or design of the cover, the look and feel of the paper. Decide if you prefer ruled pages or blank. Perhaps you can find one with a ribbon clasp, remember it is in the smallest details that the flavour of life is savoured. Each night before you go to bed write down five things you can be grateful for about that day. Now stick to it for at least two months before you access whether or not consciously giving thanks for each day has made a positive difference to your life.
In Cheryl Richardson’s book Life Makeovers: 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time she says that now you’ve had a chance to celebrate your accomplishments and growth over the past year, it’s time to set a new kind of goal. she suggests that you set an internal goal, one that focuses on how you’ll develop personally or strengthen your character during the next year. She says that by focusing your attention on things like becoming more honest, bold or creative, you’ll find that the how to of your goals gets a whole lot easier. Start by answering the following questions in your journal.
- What quality would you like to develop more of over the next year?
- How do you need to grow?
- This year you intend to…..
Once you’ve decided on the quality you’d like to focus on, follow this three step process. (for example this year I have chosen to be a better listener)
- Write a positive a affirmation in the present tense that relates to this goal. (for example my affirmation is “I enjoy being a good listener”)
- Post this affirmation where you’ll see it often. ( I have made it my home screen on my phone)
- Choose three actions that you can take during the next week to begin developing this quality right away. (1, I will concentrate not on my inner thoughts but on what people say to me, 2, I will remember its not a competition and I will not interrupt or finish other peoples sentences, 3, I will make sure that I completely understand what the other person is saying by asking for clarification and repeating what I think I have heard.)
Once you’ve chosen the quality you’d most like or need to focus on this year, follow the three step process above. Keep your affirmation in clear view and start each week by identifying three action steps that will help you grow. Then make sure you take action. Make the development of this quality your top priority and intentionally focus on the steps that will bring this change about. Be prepared though, as once you have chosen your quality the universe will present you with plenty of opportunities to practice. Stand tall and face these challenges head on.
Trinny & Susannah in their book The Survival Guide: A Woman’s Secret Weapon For Getting Through The Year, suggest that you make sure the tree and all decorations are down on the 6th of January.
Kim Carruthers in her book Less Is More: How To De-clutter Your Life offers a bit more instruction. She suggests the following:
- Put your gift list in next year’s diary, so that you don’t buy anyone the same gift twice.
- Have a post Christmas fridge cleanout. Go into the fridge and toss/compost all the Christmas leftovers. They are now officially past their use by date & you don’t want a case of food poisoning.
- Turn your Christmas lights off and unplug them. Now box them up & put them all away.
- Sort wrapping paper. Now the wrapping is done it’s a good time to revisit your wrapping station. Her theory is that you should have no more than 3 rolls of wrapping paper on hand at most. She has 1 roll of gold for unisex birthdays/housewarmings/baby sowers etc. 1 roll of blue for boys & 1 roll of pink for girls plus a roll of green ribbon & she feels she is set for the year. She then suggests letting the kids use the rest for craft instead of keeping & using reusable calico bags for presents for those you live with. (Personally I am all about going the extra mile to wrap & present gifts, so will not be following this suggestion.)
- Clean up Christmas cards & letters. Make a list of who you received Christmas cards from & pop it in your December section of your diary so that you have it for next Christmas. Use Christmas card information to update address book. Decide which cards you would like to save for use with scrapbooking. Put them with your scrapbooking supplies & ditch the rest.
- Unused Christmas ornaments. Take a hard look at the ornament & tinsel still in the box. If you didn’t like them enough to put them up this year, will you need them for the next. Now as you take the rest of the decorations of the tree, decide if they are still in good enough condition to be kept for next year too.
- Take down the Christmas Tree. If your Christmas tree is real, cut it up and put it in your garden waste. If your tree is artificial it needs to go back into its box & back into storage.
- Lessons learnt. Even though you think you will remember , you don’t & as there’s no point in making the same mistake twice, write yourself a quick note of what worked well this Christmas & what you’d change next time. Now put it in the August section of your diary.
- Put away stray decorations. Go through the house, collect the stragglers & put them away too.
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy says that January is the perfect time to go through your personal papers at home and organise your desk to get a fresh start on the new year. Discard as much as you can. Hang your new calendars. Try to make your personal space at home where you do your paperwork as inviting as possible.
Kim Carruthers in her book Less Is More; How To De-clutter Your Life gives step by step instructions on how to stop your paperwork problem getting worse in the future and what to do with the backlog.
- Get a “No Junk Mail” sign or sticker for your letter box
- Get a lock for the mailbox so you can stop emptying it every time you go past and switch to getting it when you are ready to deal with it.
- Switch your bills to automatic payment/direct debit and email statements
- Buy a shredder (put waste in the compost bin)
- Go through all bills, spend 15 minutes learning how to pay a bill using your smartphone if you have one. If you don’t, put any remaining bills on automatic payment.pay them.
- Collect up all reminders to attend something, such as dentil appointments, wedding invitations etc., Make calls to schedule any appointments, write information in your diary and schedule buying any necessary gifts.
- Go through all your insurance documents and shred all polices except the newest (in future shred old policies when the new ones arrive)
- Attach all receipt of warranty to instruction manual if it has one, circle date on warranty and only keep for 1 year per $100 cost up to max of three years then shred.
- Stay on top of health claims. Get a copy of the forms you need to regularly submit, fill in your standard details like name, account number, bank deposit details and photocopy a dozen copies. pop each copy except the master in a stamped addressed envelop and every time you go to the doctors take one with you, finish form attach receipts and post on your way home.
Dawna Walter in her book New Leaf, New Life; How To Do Everything And Still Have Time For Your Life, says that when you are working from home you still need the office essentials to work successfully. Here is her top 10 list of essential items for every home office to get you through your working day.
- Telephone (mobile smartphone)
- Comfortable Chair & preferably desk
- Good lighting
- Supply of fine tip black pens & sharp pencils
- Flowering plant
Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy suggest that today you carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Ask yourself what are your hopes for the future now you have reflected on the year that has passed? But this year instead of resolutions, write down your most private aspirations of your heart. Imagine that a year from now you could be living the most creative, joyous and fulfilling life, what would it be? What changes would you make? How and where would you begin?
Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project, she gives nine tips for keeping your resolutions (should you be that way inclined, I prefer aspirations and goals)
- Write it down, and be specific
- Review your resolution constantly, If your resolution is buzzing through your head it’s easier to stick to it.
- Hold yourself accountable, Tell people about your resolution, join or form a like minded group, score yourself on a chart.
- Think big, Maybe you need a big change.
- Think small, don’t assume that only a radical change can make a difference.
- Break your main resolution, into manageable tasks
- Keep your resolution everyday, weirdly it’s often easier to do something everyday than every few days.
- Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, think baby steps
- Consider dropping a resolution, if you keep breaking it. Don’t let an unfulfilled resolution bloke you.
If you are anything like me you jump into the new year with a whole heap of generic New Years resolutions such as get fit, loose weight & eat healthier etc. All of these resolutions are designed to be a one size fits all, quick fix to a better me, with a better life. One of the few things I did learn last year is that as an unique individual with unique needs, living a unique life I need to make a unique plan for myself, to grow in the directions I need to grow in, to achieve the goals that are right for me.
Cheryl Richardson in her book Life Makeovers; 52 Practical and Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time, suggests that you don’t rush into this new year frantically trying to catch up or make up for what you didn’t do in the past. That instead you get a fresh start on the process by being gentle with yourself. Take some time today to buy yourself the special gift of a journal that you really like. Then set aside some time to reflect on all you’ve done right over the last year by considering the following questions in it.
- What qualities of character have you strengthened?
- Are you more honest with others about how you feel?
- Have you learned to set boundaries with those people who drain your energy?
- Have you improved your communication skills?
- Have you become more sensitive to the needs of others?
- Have you shared an act of Kindness?
- Have you supported others in some way?
- Did you help a friend who was having a tough time?
- Did you care for an elderly parent?
- Did you coach your kids sports team?
- Have you volunteered for a non-profit organisation?
- What special memories have you created for those you love?
- Did you take a holiday that was particularly memorable?
- Did you organise an event that bought people closer together?
- Were there any special moments that stand out?
- What have you achieved or accomplished in your personal life?
- Did you meet your business goals?
- Did you get a promotion at work?
- Did you finish an important project?
- What have you channelled your creative energy into?
Use the answers to these questions to help you write a list of the 25 things you are most proud of accomplishing over the last twelve months, include ways that you’ve grown as a person, goals you’ve achieved and positive changes that you’ve made to your life.
Now from this list write down what your top five most important accomplishments are and what the three ways you’ve grown the most over the last year are.
When you’ve completed this take time to acknowledge your accomplishments and celebrate your successes. Remember to share your achievements with your loved ones.