In my life, September is the month I most look forward to. Always. I remember how much I loved going to buy school supplies. How exciting the thought that "Now I can start all over!" Somehow I always believed that "Things are different now." Many times, they weren't. Although I never had problems with grades, I always felt like an outsider. I was different from the rest. I wasn't better or worse, simply different. Then, one day, something did change. People began entering my life who strengthened that notion, which had only been a feeling before, that I am fine the way I am.
Perhaps you, too, have felt like an outsider. It's good to know that it's the best thing that can happen to you if you know how to put it to your advantage. Just think: The choice is in your hands. Will you play the passive role of victim, or take control of the situation? I took control. I couldn't allow myself to believe that it was my fault just because I saw the world differently than others. I took a deep breath, took the leap of faith and moved on. I straightened out my life and established it the way it is now. Here are some things that can help.
1. The big clear out!
Maybe it's time for a big cleaning-up. Since sorting out things in the spring, maybe you, too, have accumulated some clutter. All the things that you definitely won't have use for. It's time to unpack the cupboards and put your clothes and books in order. What have I read? What haven't I? What do I need? What don't I? What, say, are the next 5 books I want to read? And so on. If you find clothes you no longer wear, or books that you're sure you won't get to, give them to someone in need - for example, a village library.
TIP: Have you lived too long in the same place? What about acquiring some small things to spruce up your home? A little fabric and a couple of pillows can work wonders!
2. Get things in order
Every Sunday morning I spend sorting out my emails. I answer everything I didn't get to during the week. Then, I take out a notebook, collect all the week's notes (on the laptop, on paper, on the telephone, iPad, etc.) and sum up my tasks for the coming week. Then, I write it all down, broken up into days - what must be done when - and I rank them according to how much time each will take. Finally, they all get a spot in Asana.
TIP: Look through the list of incoming announcements. If there's something you signed up for years ago, or which is no longer necessary, cancel it. Whenever I open my mailbox, I constantly erase these emails. Now I only get the ones that are actually important to me.
3. New customs
Now that you've put your immediate environment in order and made some room, it's time to initiate a few new customs in your life. Write down a list of things that you've only just heard about (e.g., healthy eating, sports, meditation, etc.) and take tiny steps on the road to discovering them. That last point is important. Otherwise, you'll have a heart attack looking at the list of things you'd like to achieve and fit into your week. Right away, you'll find the old excuses: "I don't have time for this" and the like.
With new customs, it is very important to follow through with things that don't take too much effort in the beginning - say, no more than 20 seconds.
For example, if going to work out takes 2 hours with the traffic, then you're certain not to do it. You must find a way around this. Find a gym in the area, or begin exercising at home. (There are several videos to choose from, and you can even ask a personal trainer to teach you how you can exercise at home alone.) Reduce the effort required, so you don't just make promises, but actually follow through and face the challenges.
TIP: Find someone to support you in this! Someone who works out alone who can join you, someone who can try out a new diet with you, etc.
TIP: Make a list of things that you feel are sources of unnecessary stress in your life, so they can be eliminated. Ask for help from someone who is very good at the very thing that drains away at your energy (e.g.: what should I wear in the morning, what cream should I use on my face, where should I go to eat, where should I travel, how can I buy cheap airline tickets, how can I get over a heartbreak, how can I put my diet in order or my workout plan and so on...) Hundreds of experts are at your disposal, but maybe it's enough just to look through your circle of friends to get the help you need.
4. Morning ritual
When it comes to the topic of morning rituals, I always mention a friend. He does it religiously, always waking up early to have 1½ hours to himself. For him, reading and exercise are priorities, but you can plan your mornings however you like. You can what to do and for how many minutes , or you can be more flexible. Fill it with things that give you a boost - e.g., an episode of your favorite series, 20 minutes of reading, meditation, exercise, having a coffee, etc.
What's important for me: I don't begin the day with my telephone or laptop. I used to keep them by my bed at night, but then you know what happens. As soon as I woke up, I checked my incoming messages. If you do this long enough, eventually you reach the point that I did. I hated opening g-mail, because I knew there'd be another million messages waiting for me. If I had been capable of separating the hours that I work from the hours that I live, everything would have been fine - but until I did that, work, private life and relaxation all ran together. Consequently, I wasn't even in the mood to write anymore. Tips 4 and 5, though, put everything into place.
5. Theme days
Have activities that you can even devote a whole day to! In my life, for instance, there's the Sunday coloring. I'm sure you've heard of coloring for adults (Secret Garden). I love it, because you can lose yourself completely in it. While you color, nothing runs through your mind. All you concentrate on is staying in the lines. It's worth trying.
As your own boss, it's important to give yourself free time and opportunities to recharge. That is why I arrange my Saturdays and Sundays so that anything can happen and I can be anywhere. That way I can devote myself to things that I certainly wouldn't have time for on the weekdays. On weekday mornings, I read books about blogging. On weekends, I color and spend time with my friends. We have lunch together. On weeknights, I write. On weekends, I catch up with my favorite series. I don't bother with motivational content (be it in a video, a post or an article) on the weekends, only on weekdays... and so on. The end of the week is for resting, so if you can help it, don't drag in work - or anything else that causes you stress.
Finally, take a good look at your life and write down the habits you'd like to break, the relationships that are dragging you down, the activities that no longer work for you... You mustn't fall back into the role of victim. On the contrary, if things aren't working out, it's best to leave them out of your life altogether. Whenever you find yourself in some negative spiral, keep in mind: You decide. You can decide to carry on, but just make sure it's something that gives you strength. With that attitude, you'll always be able to overwrite the negative.
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