Never in a million years did I think that five letters and two digits would change my life so drastically. That I would ever understand what a coronavirus is, how it affects the human body, and feel such a strong mix of emotions every time one strain, in particular, is mentioned.
But here we are.
COVID-19 and the global pandemic that ensued changed the way many people around the world experience life. Plans were cancelled, studies interrupted, families kept away from each other, and the future became more uncertain than it has been in our lifetimes. Coupled with an economic downturn, a civil rights movement, and a presidential election campaign–this summer has thrown everything it has at us. Now it seems as if we’re living in limbo, this in-between place where we’ve grown accustomed to living in this never-ending uncertainty yet always feel stressed about that same uncertainty and what it means for the future, for our “normal” lives.
I can’t pretend to sit here and have the answers to what seem like some of this century’s biggest questions. After all, I have never lived through a global pandemic, and I’m not (unfortunately) a time-traveler from the future ready to tell you everything that happens (trust me, I wish). I can, however, share with you my experiences over the past five years months in the hopes that you may have felt/feel similar things. And maybe, together, we can begin to find ourselves again amongst the chaos of this time in history.
When I think about COVID-19, a mixed set of emotions comes to mind: fear, sadness, loss, confusion, anxiety… to name a few. I had the incredible opportunity and privilege of studying abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, this last semester and was there when COVID descended upon the world. My classmates and I watched from afar as this real-life movie played right in front of us: infection rates spiked in the US, apocalyptic images of empty store shelves and jam-packed hospitals flashed across our new feeds, and other study abroad programs were sent home one by one. A Friday call with my sister studying back home in Minnesota started to open my eyes to the severity of the situation. Up until she was sent home from college, COVID didn’t regularly cross my mind. At the time, there were only 11 cases in South Africa, and all of them had come from travelers returning from Europe.
Little did I know, that was the last Friday I would spend abroad.
We got the email on Sunday, March 15th, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Earlier that day I had been surfing in the rain, wondering how I could be so lucky to be living somewhere so extraordinary, marveling at how beautiful life is. All of that is now overshadowed by three words that sit lonely at the top of my journal entry from that night: “We’re going home.”
The next week was a blur of saying goodbye to the new friends I’d made and 30 hours of traveling all boiling down to a hug-less welcome from my family (not because they didn’t love me but because of said 30 hours of traveling) and a world standing still. A country that was already foreign to me upon my return was made even more so by stay-at-home orders and a virus full of so much unknown.
Like so many, my world flipped upside down. I stayed in my basement for the first two weeks quarantining in case I’d caught COVID in an airport on my journey home. When I started classes again, with my professors in South Africa seven hours ahead of me, I was left to teach myself the material via PowerPoints, articles, and independent research. I felt abandoned as a student, but because no one was prepared to teach remotely–let alone remotely across 8,000 miles–I didn’t feel justified with my anger. I didn’t know what to direct it at other than the circumstance.
Throughout all of this turnover and distress, I felt as many others have: a longing for normalcy and a sense of hopelessness at the situation. I didn’t want to be in the country, let alone in my basement disconnected from my friends and all that I had begun to build while abroad. The confidence and understanding that I discovered slowly began to fade as the weeks went by with no end in sight. It was like I was trapped in Jello, stuck in time yet constantly jostled about by forces outside of my control.
What started as weeks turned into months of stay-at-home orders and fluctuating infection rates. Frustration at my reality and feelings of loss and loneliness began to boil over until I no longer felt them at all. After a while of hurting, feeling defeated, trapped, and angry about being home and all that I’d lost, I suddenly felt nothing. Life began happening to me without my intervention, and I didn’t care to stop it. I felt numb.
I love and connect deeply with art and poetry (although I’m not particularly great at either one), and I gravitated towards them amongst the turmoil. While mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed one day, I came across a post by someone I forgot I followed shortly before I left. Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist and poet whose words and style instantly voiced what I was feeling. She put words to what I thought was indescribable, and I slowly started to come to peace with what I went through and the trauma that I experienced. Her words of comfort gave me agency to fight the stuck-in-Jello feeling and apathy that had taken over my reality; they spoke to my soul. I learned to honor what happened, to hold onto the parts that felt magical, and to believe and acknowledge that even in my current state, I was growing. Her words helped center me during a time of chaos, a time when I felt as if I was just floating through space and time, just existing. They helped me refocus and root myself in reality.
Jump to present day: August 2020. It’s now been five months since the world as we knew it disappeared, and although I have begun to move past the initial struggles I had with loneliness and loss, I now worry more and more about the future. What will the next five months look like? How will they affect me, both physically and emotionally? What can I possibly do when all I see and hear are stories of what I can’t do, what I won’t be able to for a while? How can I stay centered in this time of continuing chaos?
One way that I’ve started tackling these questions is by shifting my mentality. Instead of focusing on the negative (which I found myself doing more than I’d like to admit over the past few months), focus on what you can do. This step may seem oversimplified and easier said than done, but it’s where we have to start. Think about all of the little things we can do now that we couldn’t before: we can get food from our favorite restaurant and enjoy the summer weather while eating it; we can successfully get through a Zoom meeting at work without someone’s audio mistakenly being left on; we can work and collaborate from home and in new ways that five months ago were not second nature or comfortable for us at all.
This mental shift may also mean finding that little piece of clarity in the chaos. Clarity for me came from the art and poetry of Morgan Harper Nichols and daily walks around my neighborhood. For you, maybe it’s hearing your children laugh, working out, or listening to music whose lyrics speak directly to your soul. Everyone’s clarity comes from something different; we’re experiencing and internalizing the chaos in different ways. It’s vital that we look for light, however, and don’t let ourselves get swallowed up and tossed around by the circumstances we’ve been given. We need to grab onto something, and each other, to center ourselves and focus on who we want to be.
It’s also okay just to be.
Life is overwhelming, and life during COVID is so much more so. One day you may feel on top of the world, like you’re ready to move past all of the feelings and memories brought up during the last five months and the next you may be back to square one. That’s okay. That’s normal. We’re not designed to “be okay” overnight. It takes time.
And while it’s okay to go with the flow and take each thing as it comes (sometimes that’s even necessary), don’t blindly accept the circumstances COVID has given you if you’re not happy with them. Evaluate where you are right now, and if it doesn’t match who or where or what you want to be, take action. Honor what you went through, the things and experiences that you lost, and center yourself in little things that bring you joy despite all of the difficulties. Plan a weekend trip to the park, daydream about a vacation you want to take when we can travel again, reorganize your bedroom or kitchen, etc. Move your body every day, look at plants (they increase happiness!), and feel the sunshine on your skin. Start with little things and create a reality for yourself that sits within the greater world reality.
Don’t settle for what has changed because of COVID if it makes you feel trapped/helpless or doesn’t bring you joy. Take back your life, plan for the future, and create your own reality outside of COVID’s confines. No matter how much it may seem to, self-growth doesn’t go away during tough times. It increases as we have more time to slow down, reflect, reevaluate, and recenter.
This reality creation does not mean pretending that everything is okay in a toxic, unnatural, or unquestioning way. It means evaluating your circumstances/state of mind, honoring that, and then with that understood and in mind, moving forward to make the best of your situation and reclaim your sense of purpose, motivation, and happiness. This process may not (and will not) happen right away, but it’s important to start making slow progress where you can so that you emerge from this time stronger and more confident in yourself than when it began.
As this time of unknowns continues, reclaim your life from what COVID made of it, and shift your mentality towards focusing on what you can do with the situation you’re in. Find what brings you clarity and grab onto it; center yourself in the lights found amongst the chaos. Even if you need to step back and just be, don’t blindly accept circumstances that don’t fill you with joy. Create your own reality inside of this crazy world of ours, and don’t settle for anything you wouldn’t have before. Although it doesn’t feel like it, you are growing right now. It just looks different. So give yourself the time, space, and forgiveness to foster that growth; find, hang onto, and center yourself in little things that bring you light; and continue your small steps forward through the chaos.
Looking for a place to start? Check out more of Morgan Harper Nichols’ poetry on her website: https://morganharpernichols.com/ or follow her on Instagram @morganharpernichols.
Something I wish someone told me when I was eighteen and just starting college would be, “Don’t hang onto the expectations you have coming in.” Over the past few months, I’ve had time to ask myself many questions about my own expectations. How did they come about? Are they influenced by society? Do I feel pressure from friends and family to conform to “standard” expectations for myself? Am I a failure because I have to let go of certain ideals every now and then?
Finding out who you are can be a rollercoaster of good, bad, and ugly experiences. It’s easy to feel discouraged when expectations of how your life is “supposed to go,” don’t go according to plan. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few lessons about what it means to let go and how to achieve freedom from perfectionism.
The first lesson I have been re-learning over and over is that you’re not a failure if you have to change your original plan or expectations. The feeling of freedom can come from letting go of roadblocks and negativity. In some cases, we associate freedom with breaking out of an expectation that you originally thought was going to bring success, when in reality it’s making you more distressed. A TED Talk that does a really good job at depicting our own expectations is called Why We’re Unhappy – The ExpectationGap by Nate Ware. A quote that stood out to me during this talk was, “We’re unhappy when our expectations of reality exceed our experiences of reality.” Our perceived happiness and feelings of success can be heavily influenced by our expectations of what we think reality should be. Personally, if I have an idea or plan I like to stick to it. Why not? If I have a perceived plan, I ultimately will know what’s going to happen, right? As much as I’d like to think my plans go exactly how I anticipate them, that’s not always the case. Learning the hard way that although planning and organizing are great, having an equal amount of flexibility and awareness to adapt to the changing world around us is just as important.
A very specific example of letting go of expectations and learning how to adapt would be the last semester of my Senior year of College at The University of Minnesota Duluth. I graduated this May as a part of the 2020 class. When I left for my spring break, I had no idea I wouldn’t be returning. Not finishing up my last semester at school, not having a graduation ceremony, not being able to say goodbye to friends, professors, or the city I’ve lived in for four years was devastating. All of a sudden, the expectations I had when leaving for spring break would shortly become irrelevant. After the initial blow of finding out that my last semester wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, it led me to understand that although I have every right to be upset, I can’t let that disappointment control the determination I had before the COVID-19 outbreak happened. My life doesn’t stop because I’m disappointed in a certain outcome. The only option is to keep pushing forward which is so tough at times, but worth it when I can see the manifestation of my progress.
It’s hard to let go of plans, ideas, or certain expectations we’ve set for ourselves, but why is that? I spent a lot of time wondering why it was so hard for me personally to let go of plans that are no longer going to work, or ideas that aren’t manifesting themselves in the way I thought they would. This is largely due to the fear of rejection and comparison. Nobody wants to feel minimized because they have to switch their original plan. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t feel a little judgment every now and then from friends and family during reunions or get-togethers, explaining why certain plans haven’t worked. Judgment can be hard when it comes from people you care about and look up to, but that feeling doesn’t compare to the damage you do to your own mental health and wellbeing when you compare yourself to others.
This leads me into my next lesson: The more you compare yourself to what people around you are doing, the less time you’ll have to work on your own happiness. The horrible cycle of comparison can be an easy trap to fall into. I understand that it’s necessary to struggle in order to truly appreciate successes, but I recognize how it can be discouraging when the expectations you set for yourself are not a reality. Another point Nate Ware made in his TED Talk was, “…we compare our reality to the reality of others. Put simply, we judge ourselves based on what we experience around us.” This process is what Nate calls the interpersonal gap. As an example, how I judge myself is loosely based on comparing my own successes with those around me. This can lead me to think I haven’t done enough or that I need to do more in order to feel successful around those who are of a similar age. What I’m learning slowly but surely is that success doesn’t just have to be based on “the norm.” Success isn’t measured by the qualifications on paper, it’s the experiences you have that shape you into a better person. There should be no shame in living life the way you want to, and although judgment and criticism can occur, that shouldn’t stop you.
My last lesson is that life shouldn’t be 100% serious. As I get older, I do see areas of my life becoming more stressful and urgent. The issue I sometimes have is determining when I can spare time to be able to destress and find ways to laugh during the day. Growing up, I always loved making others laugh around me. This is a characteristic I still have to this day and it’s one that I believe makes me successful. In every position I’ve been in whether that’s professional or not, I try to show others around me that you can still be hard working and have fun at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% serious in life. Even when I’m fifty, I still want to try to channel that part of my personality that likes to have fun.
One of the assumptions I have is that when we take life too seriously, that’s when the stress of perfectionism and expectations becomes our main focus. When I was eighteen I didn’t really know who I was. A part of me felt like I needed to strive for perfection and set high expectations for myself in order to feel “successful” around others. In reality, that was diminishing my own happiness and I didn’t know how to replace that feeling. Once I made a few friends who were older than me, I was able to see how comfortable they were with themselves. The common thread amongst their happiness was that they didn’t take life so seriously to the point where their expectations exceed reality. Our happiness can diminish when we start to take life seriously to the point where we no longer live for ourselves, but rather live to please others. Reaching that balance of working hard while still having fun and enjoying life is very achievable. Once you let go of expectations that are holding you back, and start making changes for yourself that are necessary, the feeling of success will come naturally.
It’s important to have a set of values that you can live by to improve your own personal goals. At Find Your Power, we strive towards diversity, collaboration, inclusion, positive social impact, and respect. In order to develop your own values, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions regarding your own expectations. For this next section, grab a pen and paper to answer these questions for yourself! This set of questions and tips will help you develop your own values and assist you in learning how to let go of certain expectations.
What’s your true motivation? – what’s the explanation behind your words or actions?
Think of your expected outcome and the worst-case scenario – Can you handle anything less than your ideal result?
Have alternatives when you can – There’s nothing wrong with having a backup plan to assist you in moving on.
Don’t take things too seriously or personally – You can control your emotions and motives, however you can’t control someone else’s. Don’t be too upset if someone doesn’t think or act the same way you do.
Take inspired action – You should always act on inspiration and drive.
Accept human frailty – Even if you mess up now and then, learn to accept those mistakes and move on from them. Nobody’s perfect but don’t let those feelings hinder your motivation.
Forget about it – Once you do something, complete it and then let go. There’s no need to sit around and wait for validation or feedback.
“Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” – Unknown
That quote seems simple, but it really struck me, because I am someone who personally struggles to simply love myself. Self love brings an entirely different definition and perception to the idea and concept of love. Each of us are coexisting as individuals that all have some type of insecurity. This topic always holds so much depth to the emotions, feelings and experiences that are attached to body image and self-acceptance. I, like most of you reading, know exactly what I am talking about, because we as humans seem to be aggressively critical of ourselves when the discussion or thought of body-image comes about. I can easily admit that I relate to this ongoing internal battle with myself. This battle we put onto ourselves that we somehow think will help us find self-love or self-acceptance.
Discussions surrounding body image and accepting the skin we are in can be a challenge, and even triggering to some. Social standards and social constructions of what a human is supposed to appear as has saturated a realistic approach to body image. No matter the definition of being “healthy” or not “healthy”, we are all aware of it in our daily lives. Some may be more affected than others, they may be abled or disabled, suffering or recovering from an eating disorder; we are all human at the end of the day. We all deserve to be happy in our own skin and we all deserve to love ourselves. It’s important to remember that if we all ate the same and exercised the same, we would all still have different bodies. Above all, health is not a factor of your self-worth. It is essential to include the discussion and recognize the struggle of how difficult it can be to love and accept yourself on the inside as well as on the outside. Both rhetorics are equally important when it comes to insecurities and even comparison.
The world we live in currently has brought many challenges to this life-long obstacle of self-acceptance we all struggle with to some degree. As many of our normalcy has shifted to new routines or new ways of coping with a pandemic, our lives mentally and physically have shifted as well. First and foremost, it is important to recognize and embrace that that is okay. It is okay to struggle and to feel uncomfortable or negative emotions towards body image or changes in your mental health, now and at any point in your life. We are all on our own unique and individual journey of learning to love and fully accept who we are on the inside and the outside. Most importantly, this journey of self-acceptance is a journey of being gentle to how we view ourselves and others.
The way humans consume social constructs of society can be an extremely sensitive and emotional part of our lives that many of us choose to bottle up inside or process internally. When faced with these struggles, I, like most people, do not know where to go next or what to do to improve my perspective of how I view myself. If anything, I often find myself being my biggest enemy and become victim to my negative thought patterns of comparison and self-doubt. I recognize in my own journey that this process of self-acceptance is a lifelong experience and I believe that I have a long way to go in terms of feeling content with my own perception of myself.
Although my journey entails years more of inner reflection, I have found that small acts of progress have made my harder days easier and my good days better. Self-image struggles can show up when you least expect it or can be identified through various triggers that are unique to every individual. To put it simply, a reality and a truth I have come to terms with is that life is too short to spend another day at war with yourself. We as a society must come to terms with our imperfections and start seeing them as our small pieces of individuality that represent who we are. It is up to you whether or not you are going to choose to accept it fully and EMBRACE who you are inside and out. It is time to start growing a foundation of love and positivity towards yourself instead of waging an ongoing war of comparison and self-depreciation inside your head. Growth mentally and physically should be celebrated, but that choice is entirely up to you! You have to wake up in the morning each day and make a cognitive choice of how you choose to talk to yourself, what you choose to consume yourself, both physically and online; you must choose to pursue a journey of self-acceptance.
Here are various ways we as humans can cope day-to-day by focusing on the following:
1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.
2. Recognize you are not at fault. You have nothing to be at fault about.
3. Exchange any shame you have for yourself (and any perceived faults) with forgiveness.
4. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues. Do what you can to heal them; look at them. Give them space. And then let them go.
5. Work towards your ideal vision of your body and mind, not anyone else’s ideal vision. And then give yourself grace. None of us are ideal anything, most of the time.
6. Embrace the individual beauty of your body and your individuality as a person. (Unchain yourself from the media’s conditioning)
7. Show gratitude for your mind and your body.
Your journey is entirely up to you and how you choose to take accountability for the struggles and faults that bring you down. That is your own power that no one can ever take away from you! Please know you are stronger than you think and braver than you know. Moving forward, I have personally committed myself to a lifelong journey of self-acceptance and the first step to that journey was admitting to myself that it is something that needs to be a part of my life, in order to feel secure in my own mind and well being. We are all capable of so much and admitting that to ourselves is the first step in the right direction towards peace and progression in self-acceptance.
After many weeks have passed by in self-quarantine, I have found myself longing for more and more ways to feel connected with humans; a sense of belonging or inclusion. This has put me in a unique situation like no other. It is the first time where I have found myself to be somewhat stuck. That is when I knew I needed to think out of the box, go the extra mile, try something new, and simply try my best to make this new reality the best it can be. It is important to remember that the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of a global pandemic can bring new and uncomfortable emotions that can disrupt our everyday lives. We as a society are potentially left with limited ways to carry on as we always have and even make ends meet week-to-week. This can be disruptive and challenging for many individuals and families. I too, was left with all of these uncomfortable emotions and needed to turn to those around me for extra support. I personally have not seen anyone in my community/inner circle in almost two months. Once I recognized that my emotions were stemming from my isolation, I knew the only way I could make my situation better was to act on it. Although I had conflicting emotions inside and wanted to draw inward, I knew I would help myself and my friends by sending some kind words and asking how they were doing. I decided to reach out and text three of my friends. It can be hard to reach out first as this has been a personal challenge of mine for months, but you have to start somewhere. It may seem somewhat simple and insignificant to some, but we are living in unprecedented times, and connection is largely through electronics; a simple text means so much to me and you never know how much it could mean to someone else within your community.
We are all different in many ways and can process emotions very differently. It is important to ground yourself somewhere. Looking inwards and reflecting on my own emotions motivated me to reach out to those around me, because I knew they were likely going through similar emotions. Having a sense of community can be a valuable aspect to this new way of life we are all trying to adjust to, we must understand and embrace that; we must create a new normal.
When we think about what means the most to us, many are probably thinking about loved ones, like close friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers. These people we surround ourselves with become one with our identity and can create a sense of connection and network. These circles of community look differently for everyone. Some may view their community much differently than others, but we all find community somehow within our day-to-day life. Humans thrive best when surrounded by inclusive and supportive people that build a positive foundation that interlaces amongst each other. It can be easy to fall into a certain routine or cycle of normalcy during times like these. You may feel depleted one day and find yourself with no energy for any form of interaction. Other days you may find yourself craving a day full of human interaction and a sense of belonging. It is important to remember that it will not be easy to meet these needs of the community every day, especially when you potentially may feel more distant and unconnected than usual, but there are also many things you can do to build your community around you, while simultaneously building up your best self.
Even though we as a society are undergoing unprecedented times of physical isolation, it does not mean we have to be completely isolated. The internet and online platforms can allow you to reach people across the world, which can allow for our communities to grow globally. Communities do not have to have geographical barriers, especially during times like these. Resources like the internet and social media can expand our opportunities and can create new ways of interaction and communication.
How to jumpstart building your community during unprecedented times
Changing your perspective
It can be easy to fall into patterns of habit and even harder to jump out of your comfort zone. Many of us may view the world in a me vs. them mindset that can hinder confidence to lend a reaching hand to a friend or family member. Challenge yourself daily to focus on self-awareness and re-evaluate how you perceive others. Visualization can be a great tool to better understand yourself and allows for genuine time spent on reflection of your current situation and how you can make it better. Also, take some time to think of other’s perspectives and try to understand their circumstances. This may help you better collaborate with others within your community. It can be difficult at first to break old patterns of thinking, but try your best to make yourself accountable during these times, especially if you are wanting to build up those around you. By changing your perspective or altering the way you see others, you are opening opportunities to see others in new ways which may motivate you to make a new friend or reach out to someone you have not connected with in a while. They are only one message away, and I am sure this would only create more positivity in their life as well.
2. Small Acts of Kindness
Our society is hurting in many ways and it is important to recognize that all of us are affected differently, in social, mental, and economic ways by COVID-19. No matter what others circumstances are, small acts of kindness or friendly gestures can go a long way and may mean more to those in your community right now. Being mindful of others and going the extra mile can truly impact someone else more than you may know and often those gestures motivate others to spread kindness as well. Simply reaching out to someone you care about can only enhance the strength of being connected in your community or help build a new one. Small acts of kindness can look like a quick phone call to a friend, or donating to your co-worker’s charity, or spending extra time helping your friend on a project they are passionate about. A simple “Hello, how are you?” is a meaningful act that shows you are present and that you care. General practices of gratitude, compassion, and empathy are great ways to create positive and healthy habits in your life that will not only build you up, but will build those within your community as well.
3. Make the effort
It can be troubling or stressful to some who may struggle to find new ways to connect with others in your community. There are always new opportunities to build community or start a conversation, even though reaching out first to a friend or family member can be hard sometimes. Jack Ricchiuto believes that “Community is about the degree of connection not the scope of consumption. It happens when people move from self-interest to mutual-interest.” It is important to stay consistent with making an effort once you have reached out or made that initiative to connect with someone in your life. At the end of the day, you never truly know what someone else is going through. You also must realize that the fear of rejection can not control your success in strengthening your community or building new relationships in your life. Fear of rejection can be a challenge, especially for myself at times, but it is best to remember that this effort you make will reward you in the end and positively impact someone else in your circle, or even outside your circle. If you never take a chance, you will never know what kind of fruitful and rewarding relationships may come from it. I invite you to make that effort no matter the amount of fear of rejection you may hold inside you.
4. Jump out of your comfort zone
While many of us may have more time on our hands, it could be valuable to you and your community to use this extra time by trying something new. This can grow your inner circle and also introduces you to new people that are also trying new things. Jumping out of your comfort zone can allow you to share your new experiences or hobbies with those in your community and can motivate them to get out of their comfort zone too. Take this time and reflect on yourself. Look inwards and dive deep into a past dream or goal of yours and make it a reality. This can be small like making new cleanings habits in your home, practicing a new language, or making a new recipe. When you try something new, it allows you to create new goals for yourself. You can share these new goals with others and potentially motivate them to hold you accountable as well. New ambitions or endeavors also expand your pool of connection and open doors to new people and new ideas, even if it is all through the internet or your cell phone!
Don’t forget that we are all in this together and small steps to building up those around you will only add more value and positivity to this new life we are co-creating.
“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
Sometimes it can seem like there will be no silver linings.
It is exhausting forcing yourself to find a silver lining when hope is low. Redirect that energy and create your own bright side. View each thought as a boomerang—whatever you exhibit comes back to you.
Life is full of uncertainties. Sometimes it’s not knowing whether you’ll get that dream job, or sometimes it’s not knowing what you’ll have for dinner. Following a car crash last year, it was easy for me to crawl into a dark place. And believe me, I started to. I was out of a car, money, and dramatically enough, sanity. I was not sure when or even if I was going to mentally and financially recover. All I focused on was what I no longer had. It’s more than okay to feel the loss and to feel sad, even traumatized, but it’s vital to our well-being to take action towards finding solutions. Feeling trapped in situations, like in limbo, means that there are no vibrations flowing anywhere. This “paused” feeling is very real, even if the situations themselves are only occurring in our head, replaying like a scratched part of a DVD. There is no circulation of intentions or any actions being performed. I had negativity glasses on that only made me see the bad side of most things. Our minds are connected to the Universe through a web of chain reactions fueled by energy. Picture the Universe as a receiver of our gift of energy. If we are clutching onto the gift (erm, that’s a little selfish!), there is no opportunity for a response. However, if we give to the Universe, It has something to react to. We stop the flow of energy if we are holding onto what we lack in life, but if we focus on what we do have, the flow of vibration continues. The Universe always welcomes with open arms—we have to give It something to receive!
After being overwhelmed by pessimistic thoughts, I gradually came to the realization that the amount of effort you put into the world, you will receive. It took feeling tired of this detrimental mindset in order for me to take small steps like journaling. It seems so simple, but I realized that the physical car did not equate happiness.
It can be so instinctive to fixate on past or future events. Something else that is a natural human instinct is the desire to stick to a routine, which brings me to my first tip:
Take Advantage of being a Creature of Habit
It is helpful to maintain steadiness in several areas of life. Learn to benefit from the fact that humans are capable of adjusting to patterns. One way to accomplish stability is through journaling. Although my car accident was physical, it caused a whirlwind of emotions. Once I was ready to transfer my internal confusions onto paper, things began to change for me. The cherry on top was the feeling of pride and independence that grew within me over time. It was my own inner-strength that led to positive change. I maintain my journaling routine by devoting the time right before I go to bed to reflect on my day, a pen in one hand, and a cup of tea in the other. I do not judge any thoughts that come into my head, or attempt to make my journal entries “pretty”—I spill my thoughts out on the pages. Talking to yourself is next (yes, that’s right). Journaling and speaking things into existence can go hand-in-hand. If you don’t hear it, how are you going to believe it? Assure yourself that you are worthy of abundance. It is evident that performing an act for as little as two and a half weeks forces it to become a habitual behavior. Find a time to dedicate yourself to these actions. Maybe speak self-affirmations after you wake up, and journal before you go to sleep. If you’re unsure where to start, write or self-affirm using the present tense. Here are some examples:
In unknown times, affirmations may be the only security. The key is to convert your inner desires into tangible works so the Universe can tend to them. Having desires is one thing, but putting these into action shows the Universe that your actions are in alignment with your intentions.
Put Your Money Where Your Mind Is
Spring cleaning is not solely for donating that old stereo in the back of your closet. Your mind is also deserving of some decluttering. Eliminate distractions that do not further your aspirations. This differs for everyone—it may mean shutting off the news, limiting social media/screen time, or canceling a monthly subscription. Think of your money as part of your being because they do affect each other. Picture your thoughts being as valuable as your money. You wouldn’t spend hard-earned pay on useless stuff, so why waste energy on useless things? This will only further you from your growth mindset. Set aside time to educate yourself on investments, paying off debt, or boosting savings. Gather excitement for whatever topic it is. It could be as simple as researching how to eat out on a budget. Personally, once I started practicing my positive mentality, I found peers reaching out to me about job offers and collaborations. We live in a time of instant gratification and instant validation. Trust in your process, no matter how long it takes, and prosperity will find its way back to you. Pinch your priorities as much as your pennies.
Visualize Short-Term before Long-Term
It is no secret that working towards a reward is much easier than never imagining a conclusion. A long-term goal should embody this motto: dream big! As much as you should strive to achieve overall dreams, keep in mind these are fueled by short-term goals. If it feels difficult to establish multiple goals, especially in such uncertain times, start with manifesting one. Write it down on the page next to your affirmations ☺. Sometimes having a big end goal can seem frightening, so break it up into smaller, more manageable chunks as a way of working towards it. As more and more baby steps are taken, the end goal does not seem so scary. Declare that there are no punishments, only rewards!
It can be exhausting to see the light at the end of the tunnel if it feels like there is constant darkness. Thankfully, thoughts are powerful and goals can be attained through a high level of personal belief. Remember that the Universe has your back and get comfortable with uncertainty.
Manifest your own silver lining. I am rooting for you.
My most recent burst of transformational growth came in the form of an ADHD diagnosis. This came as a surprise, as usually ADHD is diagnosed at a much younger age, when symptoms become apparent in the classroom. I was diagnosed at 21, as a senior in college, an odd time to adjust to something that so profoundly affects every aspect of your life. But that’s why it gave me the opportunity to experience not only personal growth, but a transformation. To transform, almost every aspect of your life must change- some in bigger ways, and some smaller. It sounds daunting, but when you tip the first domino, the rest will follow. It’s scary, but risks are necessary for growth. What felt like my first risk was the choice to finally ask my doctor about ADHD.
In the months before I decided to bring it up to my doctor, I had frustrated friends vent to me about their own ADHD symptoms- and they sounded a little too familiar. My doctor started asking me follow up questions, and taking notes. A lot of notes. Afterwards, he nodded and gently suggested I start on medication. A week later, I felt more normal than I’d ever felt in my life. Suddenly, in my Spanish class, I could really hear what my professor was saying. It’s a hard feeling to describe, especially after years of believing I was just a spacey person or feeling like a bad student. Instead of my professor calling on me and having the realization that I had no idea what he had just been talking about, he called on me and I responded quickly in Spanish. (He always seemed pleasantly surprised by this. “Bien, Ella! Correcto!”). I was able to sit down and focus, powering through assignments which used to feel impossible to complete. I didn’t feel like I needed to take 20 minutes or more to focus, only to tear myself away with frustration a half hour afterwards. It no longer felt like I was constantly fighting with myself.
While I spent the overwhelming majority of my academic career feeling enormous guilt for what I considered to be unfortunate personal traits- forgetfulness, spaciness, etc., and struggling to compensate for them. Now I have an explanation. The hours I had spent dragging myself through my homework, at my worst forcing myself to do 5 minutes of work with a 20 minute break afterwards, made sense. And while I had already been compensating for tendencies I had enormous guilt for, now I was able to have an explanation. My diagnosis has given me the opportunity to know myself better. Not only did it explain years of behavior I had chalked up to teenage hormones, but it also gave me the power to grow into myself even more. After starting my medication, I applied for dozens of internships- a task I had previously written off to those students who also have 4.0 GPAs and seemed otherwise “perfect”- and after a couple of interviews, was offered my current position at Find Your Power. I started procrastinating less, making calls and appointments and sending emails at the thought instead of putting it off until later.
All of this is not to say that I don’t still struggle with my symptoms. The cruel joke of ADHD medication is that you have to remember to take it. I still forget some days, and don’t realize what I’ve done until I’m halfway through my day and staring at a page for minutes before realizing I haven’t read a word. It wears off in the afternoons or evenings, when I sometimes let myself unfocus instead of taking my second dose, which might keep me up when I try to go to bed. No matter what, there are always going to be days that are worse than others. No one’s path to transformational growth is a straight line.
My ADHD can be a weakness. Sometimes a huge one! But when you know your own weaknesses, you can accept and compensate for them. What’s yours? Maybe you, like me, have been waving away the notion you might have an attention deficit disorder. Ask your doctor at your next appointment! Or maybe you always put off grocery shopping until the last minute? Start having them delivered. If you don’t have Amazon Prime or something similar, you might have to pay a few dollars, but you’ll stop putting it off until there’s nothing in your fridge and you resort to going through the drive-thru on your way home. Maybe you hate folding clothes, so all the laundry that belongs in your dresser is always wrinkled? Try putting everything on hangers, even t-shirts. Nothing is stopping you, and all of these examples, no matter how small they may seem, will improve your quality of life and help you grow in other ways as well. When you are taking the first step, it seems like the marathon is overwhelming, but all you need to do is keep walking, no matter how fast your stride.
Transformation is not an easy task, or something that happens overnight. It requires daily work, and motivation to keep trying everyday. You have to look at yourself and your habits very critically. Some days feel much easier than others. But it’s something everyone can accomplish. A habit can be formed in as little as 18 days– that’s just a little over two weeks to make a significant change.
I’m looking forward to 2020 being the first year of my life where I am able to really focus and accomplish tasks. I’m so excited because everything I normally set aside for a day where I would miraculously “feel like it,”’ are things that I now feel capable of doing.
Please note: this blog post is not advocating for you, the reader, to be medicated. Amphetamines commonly used to treat ADHD are among those that are very often abused by students in adolesence and young adulthood. While I am confident medication is the right choice for me, right now, it is not the right choice for everyone and shouldn’t be used without a prescription.
My favorite fun fact to tell people is that I have seven roommates – you can imagine how unorganized our household can become in a short amount of time. Last Saturday, I brought out all the ingredients for sugar cookies. I shuffled through the kitchen in search of the correct utensils and pans for my recipe, but couldn’t seem to find any clean mixing bowls. I began my search outside of the kitchen until I finally made it to the third floor with no bowls insight. Surprisingly, in the corner of my eye, I spotted the green cooking bowl outside one of my roommate’s bedroom. As I got closer I noticed there was an abundance of plates, cups, mugs, chopsticks, and of course more cooking bowls. As a person who prides herself on her routinely consistent dishwashing skills, at the moment I was ready to approach her about the situation. But, instead, I took a step back and decided to approach the annoyance by trying to give kindness to my roommate.
Later that day I approached my roommate in her bedroom to ask her, “How are you feeling lately?”, to better understand how she is and how to approach the situation. She sighed and explained how she hasn’t been feeling motivated lately and has been having a difficult time getting assignments done. I was so grateful that I gave my roommate kindness in this situation because I would have never known that she was struggling. I knew the best way to address the overflow of dishes she collected in her bedroom was to offer my help. It was a balancing act for the journey from the third floor to the kitchen, and it only took ten minutes of my time to help out my roommate. Even though this act of kindness was small, I know that it was worth all the effort to have a positive experience with my roommate and boost her happiness.
Every day we are presented with opportunities to show others the gift of kindness, even the smallest acts can provide deep impacts. Whether it’s from listening to coworkers discuss an issue they’re facing, sharing some of your dinner with your friend, or even helping a stranger stand up after a wicked slip on ice. What exactly is kindness and what does kindness mean? The act of kindness can be described as doing something for others with ethically good intentions. Although not everyone has identical definitions of kindness, that is okay as long as the acts of kindness are performed with good intentions. Even if you offer someone who is vegan a hamburger, they’ll be grateful for the offer because it was with positive intentions.
There are many gifts within kindness, but it is crucial that you are also able to be kind to yourself as well as others. It’s easy to forget that we’re able to cheer ourselves on and that can start with taking notice of how we think about ourselves. Proceeding that, show others kindness like a winter cold is contagious. With that in mind, kindness can be small and without an audience, but is still meaningful. Like the act of stocking up the bathroom to make it easier to change the toilet paper, or leaving pencils around a classroom so everyone is able to write,
Kindness is as Contagious as a Cold
The act of kindness has a ripple effect because it encourages, both the do-gooder and recipient to continue to do kind acts when presented with the opportunity. In other words, if you offer someone a cookie, they may be more encouraged to offer some milk to accompany the cookies. According to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, simply observing another person help someone gives viewers a positive feeling. This encourages us to try and do something kind, as well as to feel a sense of accomplishment by making others feel good.
Ways to Be Kind to Yourself
In order to be kind to others, it is important to remember to be kind to yourself, first to be able to provide the world with more kindness.
This can mean:
Eating well – Having three meals a day and providing yourself with the necessary nutrients to feel strong.
Exercising – Providing your body with movement and stretches leads to better sleep, releases endorphins, and can put you in a space to meet more people.
Trying new activities – Take yourself out of your comfort zone and try something you are interested in. You never know what you could be missing out on!
Sleeping enough – In order to get the best sleep, the best way is to get a routine in order.
Speaking kindly about yourself – Always try to be your biggest fan.
Taking the necessary mental breaks – It’s important to relax and reflect on your expectations, thoughts, and mental health.
Kindness Boosts Your Own Happiness
The effect of performing acts of kindness can improve happiness and overall well being based on a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. They also found that the more someone demonstrates acts of kindness, the more their happiness increases. This is another ripple effect within the act of kindness. For this study, the experimenters asked participants randomly to perform one more act of kindness than usual for seven days. Their happiness was measured before and after the experiment and proceeding the experiment, participants that performed an additional act of kindness were happier.
Compassion is Kindness
We often think of kindness as grand gestures to make others happy, but it is important to recognize that kindness usually offers no material rewards or even an audience. Kindness can be the simple use of compassion and understanding. This can mean that even when you are confronted with a roommate who has moved the dishware into their bedroom, to approach them with understanding first. This can be a difficult task, but it is exceptionally rewarding to acknowledge when someone is not being themselves and ask them how they are doing. This recognition shows that you care about them and are compassionate about their life and wellbeing. In my experience, the use of compassion is exceptionally rewarding when it comes to friendships.
Opportunities for Kindness Every Day
The best way to spread kindness is in your everyday life, especially when presented with opportunities that you wouldn’t normally act upon. By taking the time to reflect on situations and decipher how to be kind, it can make the world around you a kinder place as well. One easy opportunity to be kind is by asking the people in your life how they’re doing and listening. Another is by trying to speak, listen, and use your body language with kindness in mind.
Volunteer Opportunities This Season
There are great volunteer opportunities anywhere you live, here are some great resources to connect you to the best opportunities for you:
Volunteer match – This non-profit provides great opportunities to volunteer with some non-profits that you are personally passionate about.
HandsOn Twin Cities – For residents of the Twin Cities, this non-profit helps to provide relevant volunteer opportunities for individuals this holiday season.
For local residents, some other great opportunities nearby are:
People Serving People – Whose mission is, “People Serving People helps homeless and at-risk children and their families manage crisis situations and build a strong foundation for their long-term success.”
Second Harvest Heartland – This local non-profits mission is to help the location population by providing food. They are seeking fresh food distributors, skilled volunteers, and volunteers to package food.
Open Arms MN – Whose mission is to provide food to nourish individuals who are in need. They are in need of volunteers in their kitchen, office, at their farms, and to deliver meals.
Pet Heaven – The mission of this non-profit is to rescue and re-home pets, support companion animal welfare, and advocate for animals. They’re in need of volunteers to foster, help organize donations, train animals, host events, and much more.
I wake up to the sound of an alarm clock playing harmonica sounds on repeat. I attempt to breathe in the cold morning air and open my puffy eyes. The bright, warm sunlight hits my face and it makes my corneas react like I imagine a vampire would, if they entered sunlight, after a hundred years. I stumble out of bed and try to find slippers to cover my feet, which have become frozen icicles overnight. I walk downstairs and make myself a cup of black tea, hoping that it has enough caffeine to sustain me for the day, and I finish it off by adding in some cream. I look outside and see the changing leaves; the sunlight hitting them just right so that their vibrant colors give the rest of the world a nice glow. My running shoes are calling my name and I get ready to start my day with a quick run. As I run around the lake, I listen to the early morning birds sing their favorite songs, and I watch the sun rise higher and higher in the sky. I return home to get ready for the day. I am grateful for fall mornings like this.
It’s really easy for us to be mad about the gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe, the hot thermos of coffee left at home or the bad driver on the road. What can be more challenging is the act of finding gratitude. Sometimes life can feel too hard; the bright lights that were once on and shining, turn off. However, if we can be grateful for something in our life, even something simple like a cup of black tea, it can make all the difference in our overall happiness. Research has found that people who expressed gratitude were happier and actually tended to be more productive. According to Harvard Medical School, individuals who expressed gratitude more often were happier, healthier and more productive. Whether you’re harvesting gratitude or expressing it, here are three helpful tips to further develop the skill.
Write down what you’re grateful for
It’s okay if it’s once a day or once a week, however, the more often you write, the more helpful this tool becomes. Writing down simple examples is often a great way to develop the skill, because it allows you to find gratitude and beauty in the smaller things. Buying a notebook and making sure that you have it either on you, or beside your bed, or in your office space, it ensures that you will write it down. You may even decide to just write down a quick word, that you can come back to later and further process. All it takes is getting into the habit of writing simple examples down once in awhile, before it suddenly doesn’t feel like a challenge anymore.
Pause and take a moment
We seem to run through life with blinders on and miss the small moments that can lift your spirit without any effort. Allow yourself a moment to pause, take a deep breath in and experience all the beauty around you. You will see things you may have otherwise missed. Founder and CEO of Find Your Power, Ivy Kaminsky, says “ I personally think of what I’m grateful for that happened during the day both at bedtime, in the morning when I’m thinking about the day ahead, and throughout the day as things unfold.” Ivy knows what it’s like to have a busy life-style but believes in taking the time to find gratitude and all the benefits it has to offer. Choose whatever time works best for you. Take a break and give meaning to the smaller things in life, even to those that don’t seem important at an initial glance.
Share your gratitude
When you experience moments of gratitude, share them with someone else. It can help make the moments more impactful and you will be more likely to remember them. Invite other people to share their moments of gratitude with you. Whenever I have other people participating in something with me, it doesn’t feel so challenging; especially when I can turn a challenge into fun conversations with friends. Sharing your gratitude with those around you is a great way to build deeper connections and participate in a very healing environment.
I know through personal experience that life can get busy and chaotic. It may seem impossible to find time to harvest your gratitude, but trust me, even just a minute of doing so is powerful. If I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week, I think ahead of time about how and where I will find gratitude. I think about the simple moments like how brushing my teeth feels so great at the end of the day. Or I think about the cups of tea I will have in the mornings and how thankful I am going to be for the caffeine boosts.
Find Your Power, challenges you to write down at least one thing, every day, that you’re grateful for this November. If you feel like you can’t do that, start with simply identifying three things in your life to be grateful for as often as possible. We are sure that once you get into the habit of doing it throughout the month, you’ll never want to give it up. If you feel comfortable sharing, feel free to send it to us on any of our social media channels, listed below. If you’re also comfortable with us posting your submission let us know and we can do it either anonymously or with you tagged. Find Your Power would love to hear how you harvest your gratitude this fall!
If you’re familiar with Find Your Power, you’ll know how much we prioritize effective use of digital resources. While we work towards implementing inclusive, relevant, and accessible technology into our community, we want to share some basic resources for you to add to your digital toolkit. Remember, information access+digital literacy=personal freedom and gender equity!
Communication: Perhaps the most impactful aspect of technology is that it enables us to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Not only is this essential for professional endeavors, but it ensures we are able to communicate with our loved ones who may be separated by time and space. Since one of FYP’s goals is to equip immigrants with relevant resources, we believe that effective communication with those from their native countries is a valuable part of their transition experience. With that in mind, here are a few must haves for communication purposes for your life at home and the workplace:
Dropbox: Optimizing user friendly cloud sharing solutions, Dropbox is a staple for communication and storage. You can manage shared files, upload content, and conduct searches. For use on a work force team, integrate with your intranet solution where members can insert their content into a team workspace.
Google Drive: As one of the most versatile platforms, Google Drive earns its popularity by enabling users to store and share files, synchronize files across devices in real-time, and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and more. Several apps exist under the Google umbrella, including Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Offline options are available for Windows and macOS computers, and Android and iOS devices. Businesses can optimize Google Drive and its apps through G Suite, a monthly subscription including unlimited storage, enhanced file audit records and upgraded admin controls.
Skype: One of the most common telecommunication platforms, Skype offers fast connection with other users from around the globe. Select from individual or group calls and videos on a computer or mobile device; this even includes PC, Xbox, and Alexa. It’s free to use for messages, calls, and videos, and can gather up to 50 people. Skype is definitely a must-have for communicating with other employees, workers, and loved ones, whether close by or far away.
WhatsApp: Similar to Skype but unique to its own, WhatsApp enables users to send text messages, voice messages, make voice and video calls, upload and share images, documents, locations, and more. It operates on mobile devices or Windows and Mac computers while connected to the Internet. You can also sync conversations to any device. In addition to personal communication, WhatsApp also launched an app specifically for businesses to securely interact with clients and other business owners.
Slack: Short for Log of All Conversation and Knowledge, Slack is an important platform for businesses to interact and share information with other team members. Its features include chat rooms organized and searchable by topic, public and private groups, and workspaces. You can integrate Slack into a number of third-party programs, including Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox, Box, Crashlytics, Bluemix, Zendesk, GitHub, and more.
Marketing Services: If you’re working towards building a brand or developing a business plan, having an email marketing service is a necessity. Here are some reliable email marketing services that will kickstart and maintain organization in your business.
Mailchimp: Geared towards customized marketing and connectivity, Mailchimp is a reliable and user friendly tool for your personal or professional brand. After creating a free account, you will be able to organize your audience outreach strategy, make sign up pages, email campaigns, digital ads, postcards, and more; all while using a design studio that allows you to customize your work. If you’re new to the email marketing game, Mailchimp offers a “Mailchimp 101” course, in addition to other tips, guides, and tutorials. Find Your Power can attest to Mailchimp’s effective outreach and design; we use it for our email campaigns and love it!
Constant Contact: Growing rapidly in popularity, Constant Contact is a user friendly email marketing service that encompasses all your needs. Features include tracking and reporting email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendars, image libraries, Facebook ads, social media sharing tools, and more. Additionally, online training is provided for small businesses to learn skills in email marketing and apply it to their individual plan. More advanced options are available for Email Plus accounts, including email automation, surveys and polls, and online donations.
Drip: Used for a wide variety of marketing strategies, Drip offers innovative tools for marketing automation. You can integrate the program into other common website builders including WordPress and WooCommerce, which prompts additional leads for your website. Drip is known for its user friendly features and support options through webinars, automation training, free courses, guides, and documentation.
Project Planning: Having a project planning software is a must-have for a well organized lifestyle, both personally and professionally. With a good project management software, you can assign tasks, set deadlines, establish a communication feed, and most importantly, ensure individual and team productivity. So whether you’re looking to collaborate with a team, or make a meal plan for the week, here are some popular services for your projects:
Trello: With Trello, you can collect tasks into lists and arrange as needed while viewing the entire day. You can also add comments, upload content, create checklists, and set labels and due dates. It updates in real-time, and will sync with any and all of your devices. You can use your free Trello account for yourself, or add an unlimited number of teams to connect and work with.
Basecamp: With Basecamp, you won’t have to worry about digging through your inbox for old information from a colleague. Basecamp keeps all your communication organized by topic. Schedules are accessible to the whole team and due dates, reminders, and change notifications can be set. All projects include a space for content to be uploaded, and can be linked to your Google Docs account for easy content transfers. Once you establish the basics, you can get creative with your organization by color coding and ordering projects as you see fit.
Finding ways to become more productive is something that is always in the back of our heads. What can we do to accomplish more, get more done in less time and in the most successful way? As I have grown up, gotten my first job, and gone to college, I have experienced the endless list of commitments, assignments, and simple tasks on the to-do list. Honestly? It can get extremely overwhelming. For a while, I felt as if I was living day to day, trying to get everything done that I had to do and feeling the stress of being unorganized and scattered. Even as I got more on top of my responsibilities, it still felt difficult to achieve the level of success I wanted for myself. Whatever your work may be at a full-time job, school, or at home, there will always be things that need doing. Here are three steps that have helped me find success to implement into your work day that will help you level up your productivity.
Make reasonable goals for yourself
When I was little, every morning when I woke up, my mom would ask me what I wanted to accomplish today. This helped me to feel that everyday was a chance to learn, create, and accomplish. Of course, as I got older, those goals became more focused on what I had to get done for school or a job or other commitments I had made, but making goals each morning helped to have a focus. Whenever I checked off one of my goals for the day, I had a great sense of accomplishment. To some, daily tasks may not seem like something to celebrate, but setting out to get something done helps you feel excited to cross something off your list.
One of the most important things to making goals for yourself is making reasonable goals. When I first got to college there were so many things I wanted to do and try. Between classes and clubs, work and friends, I began to overload my goals each day with a completely unrealistic list of things to accomplish by the end of the day. I became so overwhelmed because I felt unsuccessful when I didn’t finish everything. In actuality, my failure came from my overload of goals, not my inability to complete them. When you look ahead at your day, even if you think of lots of tasks or activities you want to complete, think realistically: “Do I have enough time in my day to achieve all of these goals?” If you find yourself doing what I did and getting overly ambitious, take a second to write down your goals. Instead of just one day, divide it up over the week and think of what can wait until tomorrow.
“Be stronger than your strongest excuse” – Unknown
Pro Tip #1: Have the hardest thing on your to-do list be the first thing you cross off. Whether it’s a hard and daunting task or simply something you don’t want to do, the longer you wait, the more you dread it. It’s very easy to make excuses for yourself and continually put off doing that dreaded task, but excuses are the enemy of productivity! And try not to put more than three major things on your list to accomplish in a day, or you might be setting yourself up for failure.
Start each day with the mindset you want to have all day long
This may sound like a no brainer, but being mindful of the attitude you want to have can make all the difference. Taking just two minutes each morning when you wake up to say some positive affirmations to reflect the kind of mindset you want to have will set you up for the kind of day you will have. A positive attitude can make all the difference in your productivity. Sometimes we can feel bogged down by the many items on our to-do list or the mountain of responsibility at work. Your attitude when you first wake up can set the mood for your whole day, so make it a positive one and set yourself up for success! It might feel silly, but as soon as you sit up in bed saying some positive affirmations out loud. “There is nothing I can’t get done today!” “I create success in everything I do” “Today I will achieve everything I set out to do” You can even write down some of your own the night before and read them aloud to yourself as you get ready for bed or for the day. The words you put out will resonate with reality. Throw in a power pose too while you’re at it!
Pro Tip #2: Get up and go outside! It’s easy to forget just how much of our day we spend sitting. Studies show that your focus begins to diminish when you are sitting down or focusing on one thing for more than 50 minutes. Getting up and moving our bodies helps our brain flow and keeps our body awake. Even if you are moving a lot during the day, make sure to take some breaks to get outside and soak up some good old vitamin D! Or better yet, get some vitamin D while moving your body.
Reward yourself as you check things off your list
Even if it’s something you do everyday, or seems really easy, you should still feel proud of yourself for getting it done and checking it off your list. There will always be more things that we need to accomplish each day and one way to stay on top of all that is reminding ourselves of our abilities and taking time to appreciate ourselves. Now I know what you’re thinking: To be more productive I should give myself rewards? Yes! It can become so easy to take our own selves for granted and the hard work we do daily. Taking time to celebrate these little victories wakes up that little voice inside our heads to say, “Wow, you are absolutely slaying the game! What else can you do?” Not only do rewards work as incentives for our work, but they remind us that we are constantly working our butts off and we all deserve to celebrate our hard work.
Pro Tip #3: Put your phone away! Technology can be a great tool to help us with our work but it can also be our greatest enemy. Social media is procrastination’s best friend. Sometimes it’s not enough to just set our phone face down, so try putting it in a drawer or even in a separate room. If this is something you especially struggle with, give yourself a couple minutes on your phone every hour or every time to check a task off your list. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done when the temptation to pick up your phone is out of reach. And if you can’t bear to have your phone away from you, turning off your notifications temporarily while you need to focus on something important is a great tactic.
Breaking down our challenges into steps that we can easily approach and accomplish help to remove any stress or mental barriers that hold us back. While it is always desirable to want to accomplish more and more everyday, it is important to balance the quality of our work with the quantity. Taking these three steps into account on a day-today basis can help you become more productive.