Do you ever feel like your life is running you and not the other way around? That's exactly what happened to me back in April.
After finishing the redesign of my blog, I got sidetracked by what was going on in my life and abandoned my new creation for five months.
Between having work done on our home for a couple of months, followed by the school year ending, my three kids being on summer vacation, and being the team mom for my son’s football team, I got totally off track.
I also stopped working out regularly. I neglected to be mindful about what I was eating. And the only writing I managed to get done was sending emails for my son’s football team.
Since I was so far off track in so many ways, I decided it was best to wait until my kids were back in school to pick up where I left off. I needed some open time and space to regroup.
I also realized that going forward, I needed to be careful about the timing of what I take on in life outside of my goals because things can quickly teeter out of balance.
What’s happening right in front of me always seems to take precedence over what I desire to cultivate from within. I need a strategy that enables my inner and external worlds to productively co-exist rather than allow the demands of the external world to take my inner world hostage.
Getting Back on Track
Now that my kids are back in school, it’s time to get my goals back on track while maintaining a delicate balance between my external and inner worlds.
I recently read somewhere about how Olympic athletes often have a hard time adjusting to normal, everyday life after returning from competition. The one thing that drove their every decision with such intense focus is suddenly gone AND they have all kinds of time on their hands. Sadly, in some cases, this vacuum brings on depression and other psychological issues.
As my three kids returned to school and my schedule more open, I could somewhat relate to that “Now-where-did-I leave-off-before-things-got-crazy?” feeling. Like the athletes, I felt overwhelmed and somewhat paralyzed by how I was going to pick up where I left off.
But rather than plant my beach chair in the sand on these temperate September Jersey Shore “local summer” days, I’ve been hunkering down to focus my energy and efforts on getting back on track in the areas of my life that will undoubtedly move me in the direction of my goals.
But First, Where Are You Headed?
In addition to resuming my blog, I’ve also been trying to get more clarity relative to my big, big goal of writing a book to share my personal story. Even though my goal is quite a ways down the road, I can’t lose sight of it.
But what do I have to do to get there? What steps do I have to take? Well, it’s not necessarily about taking steps, it’s about embracing a lifestyle (that I must guard like a mother guards her child) that will honor dedicated time to get stronger physically, mentally, spiritually and creatively.
Being dedicated to these four areas and a few others as much as I’m dedicated to my children will undoubtedly bring me closer to my goal. And once I arrive, I will be a heck of a lot more prepared!
If you can relate to where I am coming from and where I want to go, here are seven areas of your life to dust off the cobwebs and move in the direction your goals. This is a list I made for myself, but I hope it provides some degree of fresh insight for you too.
1 | Get Stronger Physically.
I honestly believe this is the most important thing one can do to achieve great things, and it’s not necessarily about looking good; it’s about feeling great and getting stronger.
What I have found from working out hard at least 3 times a week (5 is my new goal), is that the benefits of feeling stronger physically directly transfer to added strength in all areas of my life, especially when it comes to pursuing my goals.
When I was interviewing people for my blog, I suddenly had more confidence to ask for an interview and conduct it. I had more energy and strength when I was going about my day (even doing the day-to-day grind) and actually got more done.
I have also discovered that I have better results when I work out in a group setting instead of a do-it-yourself gym. I will share more on this in a later post.
Bottom line — confidence, endurance and just feeling great are the byproducts of physical strength and are essential ingredients for achieving great things.
2 | Clean Up Your Diet.
Keep a short list of healthy ingredients stocked an prepped so you can easily put together a healthy, nutrient-packed meal. I keep smoothie ingredients stocked and easily accessible so I can have one whipped up in less than 5 minutes.
I’m also keeping ingredients for a simple garden salad with poached chicken breast stocked and prepped as well. I think about what my family will have for dinner early in the day to avoid having to reach for take-out menus. Also, I don’t always have to eat what my kids are eating.
Keep it simple but set yourself up for success for when hunger strikes and better eating habits will quickly take hold.
3 | Get Stronger Mentally/Improve Your Mindset.
Everyone is on his/her own journey when it comes to this area, but I believe it’s important to continually be a student of improving one’s mindset and mental strength.
Read books, attend local workshops, or even watch a few Tony Robbins YouTube videos to further expand your knowledge in this area.
No doubt, being mentally strong goes hand-in-hand with physical strength, dedication, consistency, and endurance, which are all essential to continue down a path for the long haul.
4 | Set Up an Inspirational Space to Create & Work.
If your goal is creative in nature, it's important to set up an inspirational, dedicated space to do your work. I know people online often chuckle about those who work out of their basements, but I will be the first to admit that as a beginner, that’s where my space is set up. It doesn’t matter where it is; what matters is that it’s a dedicated space, preferably with a door that closes (h.t. Stephen King).
My creative space has evolved over time, but more than ever it resembles a studio. When I first set it up, I had a big wooden table for my desk, and I tried to keep it uncluttered because clutter would distract me when I sat down to write.
Recently, I found a really cool rustic workbench at a local antique shop, and I immediately knew it was the place for me to write. After thinking about purchasing it for about 30 seconds, I went with my gut and told the store owner I’d take it.
So, I moved my original desk over, and that’s where I now keep my inbox, calendar, file folders, books I’m reading, and office supplies, and my new desk is clutter-free for writing.
On my new desk, I have candles and a few items that my kids made for me to send me good vibes but that’s about it. I’m now in the process of framing and hanging a few small posters of Prince to keep me centered because to me, he was (and still is) the ultimate embodiment of creativity and human potential.
As I write this, I’m realizing that my old desk now manages many of the external things in my life, and my new desk is all about my inner world — love it!
Think of your creative space as a sacred garden to cultivate and plant the ideas that grow your dreams. It’s a place that’s comforting and there for you when inspiration strikes, but doesn’t distract you when inspiration is lacking.
5 | Establish an Early Morning Routine.
This is my next hurdle to clear, and I absolutely know it’s essential to achieving my goals.
For the last week, I have been getting up around 5:30 to start preparing for what I wanted to achieve that day. But my next step in this area is to implement an early morning routine that involves a little meditation and free-form writing.
There’s something about being up before anyone else in the house. My ability to think most creatively and clearly is strongest right after waking, and I should be taking full advantage of this time of day. And how great would it be to have some breadcrumbs already laid down as I restarted my day after the kids went off to school?
The worst thing for me to do at this point is to check emails and social media because those external influences tend to seize up my mind and immediately extinguish any small spark of inspiration or creativity.
It’s typical for high achievers have an established morning routine. Since it’s the only time of day when we’re rested and it’s quiet, no wonder it’s an optimal time to connect with our inner worlds.
6 | Seek Out Local and Virtual Mentors & Coaches.
As you look at the different areas of your life that need attention, who comes to mind as the experts or mentor you have access to — either locally or online?
My local mentors are the trainers at my gym and the woman who owns a mind/body studio. These people have dedicated their livelihoods to help others in these specific areas of their lives. It’s important to stay connected with them and tap into their energy, experience, wisdom and inspiration.
The same thing goes for those online mentors I’ve found — those who are further down the path than I am. Sometimes just tuning-in to a quick Periscope of someone offering a word of encouragement in real time can give my day a boost.
Acknowledge that you can’t achieve your goals alone and that there are many resources available to you to guide you along your journey.
7 | Tune Into Your Energy Level & Manage It.
Pay attention to how you feel after you’re with someone, have been somewhere, or have done a certain activity. Do you feel energized, depleted or about the same?
It’s important to be aware of how our energy level is impacted by those around us or places we go so we can protect the energy we need to do our important work.
If you’re about to do work that requires mental bandwidth and focus, don’t answer a call that may throw off your mindset. Instead, do your work and then promptly return the call.
If you have to run errands but still have work ahead of you, if possible, get your important work out of the way when your mind is still fresh before getting drained from running around.
Pay attention to how the people, places and activities in your life impact your energy level and intentionally mange it to protect your ability to work.
No matter what you’d like to achieve in your life, a great place to start is to get stronger physically, mentally and spiritually — in whatever form that may be for you. Seek out coaches and mentors in your community and online who can help you on your journey to get stronger.
Most importantly, making small positive changes will help you balance and manage your inner and outer worlds, adding up to meaningful results over time. By making small changes here and there and being consistent, I believe the right steps will appear and positive things will happen to move you closer to your goal.
All the best to you on your journey!