For the past couple years of my self-development and self-love journey, I’ve consumed everything I possibly could. Books, podcasts, videos, workbooks, inspirational pins, quotes, and social media accounts… all the tools and advice I could possibly use to help me be the best possible version of myself.
Some things I’ve tried and they didn’t work for me while others have changed my life drastically. But throughout all my platforms and the sources I look to for guidance and inspiration, some themes and tips kept popping up.
Whether they’re based in quantitative research or more qualitative practice, I’ve summed up the highlights with a quick 10 point guide to what the experts say you need to make a better life:
1 - A STRONG SENSE OF SELF AWARENESS
Know thyself, right? It seems almost too simple when the reality is, this is often the most difficult (and crucial) part of the whole process. Knowing your values, limiting beliefs, dreams, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and all the things that make you YOU have to be identified before you can truly move forward.
These things set the foundation for knowing what habits and actions to keep up, and which ones need improvement. But it’s freaking hard. It’s uncomfortable, difficult, awkward, disheartening, and about a million other adjectives that cause people to shy away from evaluating themselves and their lives.
But it has to be done! Learning where I struggle and where I kick ass, things to improve, habits to cut out, and the path I want to eventually be on have helped me make progress towards living my best life.
2 - EXPRESS GRATITUDE
You need to express your gratitude and thankfulness constantly. At a minimum, you need to be actively writing down or reflecting on the things in life you’re thankful for. You need to be expressing gratitude to those around you. It helps keep things in perspective.
3 - POSITIVE MINDSET
You get what you put out into the universe. Just like I tell my four-year-old every morning: “If you want to have a good day, you’ll have a good day. If you want to have a bad day, you’ll have a bad day. Make your choice.”
If you think you’re going to fail - you will. If you think you’re unlovable or not enough, people will believe it, too. If you choose to wallow in the stress, anxiety, or negative emotions you experience throughout the day - THAT will be your default mindset.
Instead, you can train your mind to be positive. Brendon Burchard talks about the power of his “triggers” or affirmations and intentions that he sets up for himself throughout the day. Not only does this help train a more positive mindset, it helps you be intentional with your interactions and habits.
4 - WAKE UP EARLY
This is the hardest for me to put into action. My 2018 resolution was to wake up earlier and here I am in April 2019 and it still hasn’t become routine. But the truth is I feel SO MUCH BETTER on the days I wake up early and can spend an hour or so exercising, reading, working on blog stuff, drink coffee, etc. Just starting my day having time to myself without going through the morning rush sets the rest of my day up for success.
5 - BE HEALTHY
This shouldn’t be a surprise. We know we need to be healthy. We need to make better food choices, drink more water, and prioritize our health but it doesn’t tend to happen. We get stuck in the hustle and bustle of everyday lives that taking care of our healthy isn’t usually a top priority. But if we want to have happy, fulfilled lives - we have to prioritize our physical and mental health.
6 - EXERCISE
Again… we know we need to do this. But according to the CDC, only 23% of Americans meet the national exercise guidelines. I’m not going to get into excuses or reasons we don’t workout, because we know our excuses. But living your best life means loving yourself more than you love anyone else and that starts with taking care of your body! Every single expert or inspirational person on the subject exercises daily. Running, yoga, weight lifting, barre, swimming, biking… they have an outlet that helps them get physical exercise and the extra endorphins that come along with it.
7 - GOALS
Having clear, defined goals for ourselves gives us purpose and something to work towards. Personal goals, professional goals, big, little, audacious, and everything in between… set goals. There are tons of different opinions on whether they should be specific, measurable goals with specific numbers and deadlines, broad goals, specific goals written as if they’ve already happened, etc. The important thing is to create goals in a way that 1.) makes sense for you and 2.) makes you actually work toward them. It’s not enough to have a vision board full of alllll the someday things. You have to do something with it
8 - TRIBE
Surround yourself with your kind of people. You need a solid, dependable tribe in your corner to help push, encourage, and support you. It can be friends, family, online communities, your romantic partner, co-workers, or anyone in your life. Who you choose to let into your tribe is up to you! If it’s someone you think is “supposed” to be in your tribe but is full of negativity, doesn’t offer you encouragement or support, or constantly takes more than they give - they’re not your tribe. They’re part of the thing holding you back.
9 - EMBRACE THE SUCK
You are going to suck. At some point you will fail. You’ll mess up, get off track, lose sight of your goals, let the fear win, get derailed but unforeseen circumstances, and just suck. It happens! Nobody's perfect. No one goes through life without experiencing this. But just because you suck at one point does not mean you’ll suck forever as a wife, mom, co-worker, employee, daughter, friend, or person. You have to learn to recognize when you’ve messed up and embrace the suck - learn from it - and move on.
10 - REFLECTION
Self-evaluation and reflecting on your life isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. Truly living our best lives means constantly growing, learning, and reflecting on who we are and where we’re at on our journey.