Welcome to #TwentyTwentyWON, the year we all quit ‘should-ing’ ourselves. It is time to flip the script! We as humans continuously take an approach of ‘I should have’ or ‘I should not have’ when reflecting on what has transpired within our lives. As we have entered a new year, and a month surrounding love (think SELF LOVE!), it is incredibly valuable to take time to reflect. I am challenging all of us to consciously stop ‘should-ing’ ourselves and take time to find more grace in our daily activities. Reflection is taking a pause to give serious thought to an area of focus and create awareness of a situation. ‘Should-ing’ is beating yourself up about a past you are unable to change and makes you feel, plain and simply, bad. There are enough reasons someone can come up with to feel unhappy with their present life circumstances so in the honor of self-love this month, let us flip the script and write a new path forward.
The next time you are having a conversation with friends, pay attention to how many times you hear the following statements: If only…, I should have…, If I can get here…, If I can … then I will be happy. We spend a lot of our time in life thinking that if we lose the weight, make it to summer, secure a promotion, complete the degree, then we will be happy. What about the moments right now? There is a lot of time that can pass between when these kinds of statements are let out into the universe and the moment in which the goal is achieved. How can we change that to be happy during the journey or the process rather than thinking hitting the destination will bring us happiness? Let us explore this one together.
What about your life can you find to be happy about this moment? Are you drinking a cup of coffee? How does it taste? Did you take a hot shower today? How did the water feel on your skin? What scents can get you lost in a moment of happiness simply by pausing to inhale? There are an infinite amount of possibilities to find happiness in this very moment by taking time to enjoy and savor life. What I have learned is there will always be if only moments as mentioned above. The difference is how to stop yourself in various moments to feel JOY.
When my alarm goes off in the morning, I can tell you the excuses to start running with why I should stay cozy in my bed and not get up to go to the gym. My brain is incredibly functional when that alarm goes off to create excuses, I am quite impressed…especially as we are at a pre-coffee moment. Waking up to instantly think of excuses is not the way I want to live my life. Through reflection, I identified this is something that needs to change moving forward. I wanted to rewire how I approached this element of my life because it is the foundation and tone set for my entire day. I made a conscious effort when I heard the alarm go off in the morning to start thinking, What do I GET to do today? I have it written in giant letters across my bathroom mirror. I focus on the things I have the ability to do and the opportunities not everyone gets in life.
In 2018, I underwent five surgical procedures on my left hip. There was a period of time I could not walk which is mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging. The road to recovery was difficult as there were times I was not able to stand and I remember falling to the ground when attempting to squat vividly. Moreso, I remember feeling the defeat and sadness running across my body as I had previously been a regular weight lifter and marathon runner. The weakness felt overwhelming. I take these moments of reflection to remember when my alarm goes off and I have the ability to get to the gym, this is awesome! My body is great because it can move me to get there and I can reward it by giving it strength, agility, and movement! This rewires the brain to think of this as an opportunity rather than a punishment. I get to versus I have to. The entire month of January, I practiced this. I feel happier. Getting up is not as hard as it once was and has created a better foundation for my mornings. Trust me, this has been a game-changer as it is the single digits of winter in the Midwest. The cozy bed is so tempting to stay cocooned; however, as a result of this reprogramming, my energy towards others is more embracing, and my smile is more genuine…especially pre-coffee.
What scripts can you flip?
There are ten areas of life we tend to focus on to consider how fulfilled we feel, and as this month is all about love, let us collectively find ways to enhance our own lives to better love ourselves. Life is all about balance, like the cookie and the gym, or work and fun! Take a moment to reflect on how you feel about the following ten areas: Education, Financial, Health, Career, Family, Spiritual, Relationships, Romance, Travel, and Adventure. During this movement, assess your present feelings on one to 10 scales, with one representing not fulfilled at all and 10 representing feeling fabulous!
Education. What does education look like for you? For me, I am someone who wants to be a continual life-long learner, regardless of organized formal academia, industry designations, or courses that pique my interest (check out coursera.com). When I assess my feelings on education, I have spent the better part of my life in school and am finally ending my academic career with a doctorate. This may not be the path for you. I can tell you it was a really long road and while I feel great at the finish line, it took a lot of endurance to get here. Looking into our industry, becoming more educated in Risk Management has piqued my interest and therefore, I am exploring the Associate in Risk Management offered through The Institutes. Designations may be a thing for you and they may also sound awful if you were not a fan of formalized test-taking. What other avenues pique your interest? Do you want to learn more about medical terms, procedures, and offerings? Do you read? Have you picked up any podcasts over the past few months? The world offers an incredible amount of information now available at our fingertips. Take a moment to assess where you are and then think about the areas you would like to explore.
Financial. Ahh, finances. Awareness is the first step in creating a plan you can be comfortable with yourself about and therefore, it is important to begin by assessing where you are in thought and in life with your financial situation. Are you happy with where you are? What do you need? How can you get there? Do you need help? As someone who is inheriting their student loans from undergrad to doctorate this year, I am going to need to reassess my current situation because being in school for a substantial part of life can be expensive. Creating awareness into all of the avenues where revenue is coming in and where expenses flow out is the first step to getting your head into a place of understanding. There are a plethora of resources available through apps, websites, and financial planners to assist in this process. Assess your fulfillment level around your finances. Make a plan. I promise, there is no greater feeling than that of having your finances in order.
Health. Nothing like a pandemic to make us grateful for our health! Awareness is a key component to health because what you do not know can hurt you. Are you aware of your family background and are you having annual check-ups? When was the last time you went to the dentist? Have you had your eyes examined within the last year? These somewhat small events can lead to big health impacts and many insurance programs offer preventative maintenance for no additional charge. No one is going to take care of you unless you take care of you. Aside from the assistance of providers, how are you feeling mentally? How are your eating habits? Are you exercising? Heath has a variety of avenues one can explore when assessing how fulfilled you are in this segment. Take the time to pinpoint your feelings and what you can do to increase your own score in this area. Even drinking a glass of water as you read this can make a difference.
Career. How engaged do you feel on a daily basis with your work? Do you feel connected to your work through your purpose? Do you find meaning in the work you do? What do you want your professional life to be? Career can be scary if you are thinking of making a change and can also be liberating. Not loving what you do or aspects of what you do can be detrimental to your life. If you are not in a spot to change careers if this is not something you feel fulfilled with at the present time, are there ways you can change the way you think about the work you do to increase your satisfaction? Is there another outlet you need to feel content in this segment? Life is too short to show up every day for at least eight hours a day doing things you do not like. Not sure where to begin? If your organization has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), start there! Having a professional opinion may be the game-changer you were looking for to spearhead you into the direction of your dreams.
Family. Family can be looked at from a variety of angles. There is the immediate, nuclear family, extended family, and then there is the family you create. I hope you all have fabulous relationships with all of your family members and life is blissful. In reality, this is not always the case. What relationships have you had to reconsider? I am not someone who is very close with my parents, or even my extended family. As an adopted kiddo, I have a different perspective on family and the relationships that have created what I consider my current family. Some of the most challenging decisions I have made have been to disconnect from family members who were quite toxic in my life and especially when looking out for my daughters. I have also truly embraced my ex-husband and his wife as we all co-parent together. We receive a lot of comments on what a unique situation we have and it was a lot of work! Our daughter has been our top priority since we decided to separate and as a result, we work together, ebb and flow, to create the greatest support system we can. At the end of the day, I consider family those who show up for you and love you regardless of what your life experiences have been. Family relationships take work, nurturing, and grow over time. How do you feel about your family? Are there ways you could enhance this segment of your life by spending intentional time with your children? Picking up the phone to call an aunt, grandparent, cousin? The intentional time is what makes these relationships grow and will be what is remembered when life moves on.
Spiritual. Spiritual for me is about how connected I feel to the world around me, how aligned I feel. I look at this through purpose, passion, and living up to my highest potential to bring the greatest good right here, right now. Whatever your belief system regarding spirituality, what is your relationship with a higher purpose? Do you need to actively find ways to enhance your connection? Have you felt lost during this process? There could be groups you may want to explore within an organized religion or maybe taking a few moments at night to practice gratitude can enhance your spirit and provide blessings to those around you. Whatever this looks like for you, I hope you find a way to enhance your connection during 2021 because understanding the connectivity of everything around us allows for a more meaningful and purpose driven life. This can lead to greater feelings of happiness, well-being, and higher feelings of joy, regularly.
Relationships. Who do you surround yourself with when you look to your friend circles? Who do you call to discuss ideas with or seek advice? When you leave the conversation, do you feel elevated and ignited with a fierce sense you can take on the world? Or do you leave conversations feeling unsupported and somewhat bad about yourself? One of the things I enjoyed about 2020 was the conscious choice of who and how to spend our time. I have started to pay close attention to the conversations I have with colleagues, business partners, project collaborators, and friends. There are people with whom I leave conversations feeling enlightened, recharged, and optimistic for the future ahead as well as how great life is today. There are others who leave me questioning what I am doing or not feeling good…almost a dimming vibrational energy. I encourage you to take a look at who you surround yourself with and how those relationships leave you feeling. Take the time to pay attention to the energy you receive, the elevation you feel, or if it is the opposite. I encourage you to fade away those who zap energy from you and spend more time with those who help you feel vibrant because the world needs more vibrancy and you deserve to feel awesome. This is not easy. Many times these relationships have been founded over years and years… and sometimes relationships are seasonal. They are in existence for a purpose and then you move on better than before. Take stock in your energy, your feelings, and consciously do what feels GOOD. It really is that simple.
Romance. Romance is a fun avenue to assess because it is multi-faceted. We will look at this category through the lens of you and your romantic partner. Before assessing how fulfilled you are in this category, take a brief moment to pause and reflect on how fulfilled you are with the relationship with YOURSELF. If you are not happy with yourself, it is much more difficult to be happy with a partner. I never knew the depth of this until more recently. When I started to really get to know myself and took a deep look in the mirror, I found areas I needed to spend time with to become a better version of myself. I love the relationship I found with myself and have been able to give myself so much more grace in life as a result. As a chronic overachiever, I needed to dig at the why. Digging into my own scripts and my own why’s helped me better understand what I need from a partner and how I can be a better partner myself. That being said, I also heard Oprah say she stayed in a relationship during her younger years because it “really wasn’t that bad” and it scared me to my core. We should be living GREAT lives, not lives that aren’t that bad which is inclusive of relationships. Relationships, especially romantic ones, are a lot of work and they are worth it when two healthy people are coming together to better each other’s lives and grow into the very best version of themselves, independently as well as collectively.
Travel. The days of travel are ahead! Traveling is one of my absolute favorite things to do and even during 2020, I still found ways to get out and about to experience what else is offered in this world. Traveling teaches you so much about yourself and you have an expanded knowledge of the world around you. It helps to escape from the daily activities as we sometimes need a break. Travel is also a beautifully easy way to find joy in the unknown and try new things through a different lens of experience. Studies have shown that even planning a trip can increase happiness. If you are not ready to fly yet, take the time to go on a road trip adventure and explore. There is a vastly beautiful world at our fingertips. Take the first step and go! This past year one of the most fun trips I took was a random roundtrip where a friend and I packed suitcases not knowing where we would go. I spun around with my eyes closed and when I stopped, we drove in the direction I pointed. For the next five days and 45 hours of driving, we explored parts of Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado I had not previously been to while really getting to know one another through playing trivia card games along the journey. Remember what I said earlier… it is about the journey, not the destination. Enjoy the moments along the way.
Adventure. Adventure is all around us and seeming pushes us out of our comfort zone to soar to new heights! What ignites your soul? In 2021, do yourself a favor and find something that excites you in a fiercely fabulous way. GO DO IT! Whatever that looks like in your world… you should go and have that adventure. It could be something small like going to hike a new trail, or it could be something bigger like sky diving! Adventure awaits behind every corner and can be found in the small moments of life. Be brave. Go explore. Go ignite your awesome and seek out some adventure. Your future self will thank you!
Take a sticky note, write down these ten categories with your magic number. We will reassess your fulfillment levels again later this year and see what progress you have made to make 2021 truly #TwentyTwentyWON. You can do it. This community can help.