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New Year’s Day has come and gone.
January means back to reality for students and members of the workforce who are forced to finally change out of comfy, Christmas-themed pajamas and return to real life.
We partied hard, and celebrated the holidays with good food and friends. We did the requisite reflecting back on what kind of year we had and recalibrated to greet a new one.
We’ve been doing the internal work—setting new intentions, goals, and maybe an unofficial resolution or two. We figured out what we truly want and are going for it. We’re putting new routines into action, creating connections, making new commitments, and trying to rewire old thought processes and patterns of behavior that are no longer serving us.
How do we keep the dream alive when we suddenly feel sucked right back into our old life and all we truly desire is change?
What do you do when there’s no time for you again?
When everyday life gets stressful and demands our dedicated time and attention, here’s how to check in with ourselves so we can train our brain to come back to this newly crafted happy place:
1. Go into gratitude.
This is the secret sauce to quelling my own anxiety, annoyances, anger, frustrations, or depressed feelings. Whenever I am feeling triggered by someone or something, immediately shifting into gratitude squelches these negative thoughts and feelings. Focusing on what I am grateful for in any given moment keeps my mind from wandering down a dark path.
I teach clients how to practice a “Reverse Gratitude” method where they turn an annoyance or source of frustration into a moment of appreciation. Reframing complaints into sources of gratitude switches circumstances out of our control and into learning opportunities.
How many times have you woken up on a Monday morning and groaned, “Ugh, I hate getting up when it’s still dark outside!” Try appreciating anything about the situation by saying something like: “It’s really nice to be awake in the house when everything is calm, quiet, and peaceful” or “Oh, the colors of the sky are so exquisite this early in the morning. How lucky am I to get to witness that kind of unique and rare beauty.”
Before you know it, even the most annoying of situations can be flipped to a moment of gratitude. “My husband kept me awake last night with his loud snoring” turns into, “I am grateful my husband is healthy, alive, and breathing (loudly).”
If we can recognize when we start to switch over to a negative self-talk track, we can press pause on that noise and discover an energy that feels better. Start by mentally listing the things in your life, even at this exact moment, that you are grateful for—or even better, write them down in your calendar, gratitude journal, or the notes section on your smartphone. You can also text your gratitude list to a friend.
2. Schedule (and keep) appointed time for you and your dreams.
Don’t be too quick to fill your fresh 2019 calendar up with events and activities. Leave some blank space, but also put yourself on the calendar. Literally, pencil the word “Me” on your weekly (or daily) schedule. And make it permanent—write yourself in in ink!
If you have a busy schedule coming up this month with work or kids, it’s even more important now to set aside specific, dedicated time to keep working on a project that fires you up. Remember, this may require saying no to certain people or things.
Block out time to wind down or regroup after something you know will drain your energy. You are in control of you, and of your schedule—even 15 minutes matters.
Make time to journal, meditate, get quiet time alone in your room, walk outside in the fresh air, or attend that class you’re interested in at the Y. Whatever makes you calm, happy, and allows your mind to unwind and refocus on what’s really important.
Dreams are kept alive when you continue breathing life into them.