Your alarm clock screams as you roll over and hit the snooze button for the third time. Realizing the reality of your morning schedule, you begrudgingly roll out of bed to start your day.
Your body is aching and tired. As you envision the challenges of the day, feelings of stress and anxiety sweep over you. A disappointing glance in the bathroom mirror is followed by an even more disappointing interaction with the bathroom scale.
When did life get so hard? When did every waking hour seem to be consumed by expectations, demands and responsibilities? Where is the energy, hope and excitement that used to make life an adventure? When did your daily mantra become, “Here we go again..”?
As the demands of daily life pile up, it’s easy to find yourself exhausted, defeated and overwhelmed. The good news is that you’re not alone. With the seemingly non-stop mountain of demands, it’s easy to lose the fuel that once propelled your heart and soul. Fortunately, just because you lost it temporarily doesn’t mean you can’t find it again.
Through the simple (but not easy!) steps of MAKING IT REAL (defining your “WHY”), MAKING IT WORK (creating a plan), and MAKING IT LAST (creating an environment for success), you can get back on track with the way of life that recharges your body, brain and spirit while you recreate an extraordinary life.
Here is a three-day guide for completing the three steps listed above. Take an hour a day for the next three days for these activities so you can turn the daily grind into the daily great.
Day 1: Making it Real
Practical daily matters can easily take the place of goals and dreams. After all, we instinctively apply our time and energy to the things directly in front of us. A problem arises, however, when we lose sight of the bigger picture or purpose.
When this happens, every day can turn into a Groundhog Day of surviving instead of thriving. It’s like going for a hike in the woods with no map or intended destination.
We end up just wandering.
Answering a few personal questions about your values and beliefs can give you that “map” you’re looking for. These will help remind you about what is important on youour own personal journey, as well as your journey with others.
When we align our actions with our deepest values and beliefs, we create an explosion of energy and clarity. When we create an opportunity to constantly remind ourselves about these values and beliefs, we create the ultimate accountability system.
Energy, clarity and accountability—it all starts with your WHY?
Take some times to answer these five questions:
1. What are the five personal values I believe are the most important in my life?
2. When my life has reached its end, I want to be remembered for (i.e. your legacy):
- In my work/career/service:
- In my family/friendships:
- In my own approach to life, (outlook, health, attitude, etc.)
3. For each of the categories above, list at least three activities, actions or habits you feel are the most important in relation to being remembered as you wish.
4. The five specific hobbies, activities or habits in life that bring me the most joy are:
5. For everything written above, give yourself an honest grade of:
- A: Living in complete alignment and proud of my actions
- B: Living in partial alignment and would like to see improvement in my actions
- D: Not living in alignment and frustrated with my actions and am desperately looking for change
- F: Living in complete misalignment and feel I can’t change my actions
This information is not for the sake of judgment—it merely provides a clear, honest and objective appraisal of how well your are following your own personal life roadmap. This is powerful information for creating lasting change.
Day 2: Making it Work
From the information you uncovered in day one, you can now take a more objective look as to why you may feel a bit beat up on a daily basis. It is now time to identify some specific actions you are going to take to get back into alignment.
The toughest part about action is consistency. Consider, however, the things in your life in which you are the most consistent—eating, bathing, going to work, etc. How can you be so consistent with these activities, while others easily fall by the wayside?
The answer is that you believe you HAVE to do these things every day. If you don’t, there are dire consequences. You have clearly linked a “why” to each of these actions that is tied to a critical value or belief in your life.
With a new plan of action for any habit or behavior, it’s important to use the information you created on day one to highlight the importance and sense of urgency for change. We always have time and energy for what we believe is critically important.
Take some time to answer the following three questions:
1. Out of the items listed on day one for your values, your legacy, the daily actions you feel are important, and what brings you joy, what one thing do you feel you are living most out of alignment? This may be represented by the lowest grade you gave yourself or, in the case of a “tie,” what specific action, behavior or habit do you feel you should improve the most?
This could be something broad and far-reaching like, “I feel family is a core value of mine, but I do not focus my best energy on it.” Or it could be something more practical like, “Exercising every day brings me joy and yet I don’t do it. When I don’t feel joy, it makes it difficult to live in alignment.”
2. For this one thing in your life that is most out of alignment, what are three specific actions that need to be taken for you to become realigned? You may have already listed these in question #3 on day one. These need to be clear, tangible and realistic. “Be happy every day” is not a clear, tangible or realistic action. A more effective strategy is to consider the actions that make you happy on a daily basis (e.g., hobbies, relationships, positive habits).
3. It is critical that I take these action steps on a daily basis because if I don’t:
In 5 years I will:
In 10 years I will:
In 20 years I will:
Day 3: Make it Last
Over the past two days, you have identified the core of some of your daily struggles and now have a clear plan of action to create change. The possible consequences of the former create a sense of urgency and accountability for the latter.
The wrong environment can thwart even the best action plans. We want to eat better, but we stock our pantry with bad foods. We want to be more positive, but surround ourselves with negative people. We claim we have no time for the things that bring us joy, but spend time watching television and interacting with technology.
Creating an environment for long-term success with new actions and behaviors requires creating daily rituals that support these actions and behaviors.
Rituals take into account ALL of the behavior related to an action or behavior. For example, if one of your desired actions tied to your values is to “go for a walk every morning” there are things in your daily environment that must happen to ensure you will be able to go for your walk. You may need to wake up earlier, which may mean going to bed earlier the night before. This may mean less evening television, alcohol or other things that affect the quality and quantity of sleep you get.
A ritual tied to “going for a walk every morning” may be “turning off the television at 9 p.m. and reading instead.” Or even, “going to bed in clothes I could get up and go for a walk in.”
Take some time to do the activity below:
For each of the three actions tied to your values and beliefs that you listed on day two, list five rituals for each that will help create an environment that will support this action. These rituals need to be specific in regards to time, frequency, activity, etc.
In three days, you have now created a blueprint for getting out of the daily grind and finding joy and happiness once again. Repeat this exercise every month and focus on one thing you want to change with a few identifiable action steps.