For me, what you do before you go to bed, is just as important as what you do when you first wake up. I’m a morning person. Generally, I’m up by 6:30am. And feel most productive when I have finished at least a 1/3 of my to-do items before noon. But given the amount of stress that I’ve been under lately, I’ve begun to take some time to myself at the end of each day too. I evaluate how the day went, what progress was made and make plans for the following day. Lately, I’ve become more intentional about establishing 5 or 10 minute rituals for myself that ground me and really cause me to think about my most immediate needs and how I will achieve them. And also, allow me to think deeply about if the actions that I am taking are bringing me closer to my “ideal life.” What rituals have you created for yourself? How are you bringing yourself closer to achieving your goals, dreams?
Those who know me know that know I am currently going through one of the most difficult periods of my life. My mother’s seriously ill and my finances are tight, all of which converged as I began launching my first business. It’s amazing how one minute life can be great and one phone call can change all of that. As a result, for the last 6 or 7 months, I have been forced to respond to my new circumstances in improvisational and creative ways. Nothing stays the same. This much I know. But when life happens, your response is crucial. I’ve had to learn how to not just cope but thrive amidst very difficult circumstances. Here are a few of my best practices for making it through an extremely tough time when there seems to be no end in sight:
1. Prioritize self-care. When I’m stressed, its very difficult for me to eat well, especially several times a day. I subsist on coffee and maybe a small snack per day. But this is way too little and not healthy. Its of paramount importance to prioritize your health while going through a stressful, difficult situation. In not maintaining your health, you compromise your ability to fully make it through your current circumstances.
2. Take a moment each day to express what you feel. Every day, I cry. I take a moment to myself to just release what it is that I am feeling. But I only give myself 10 minutes to do so. Whether, its in the morning or at night or sometime during the day, I do it. And then move on.
3. Do 10 things every day to move yourself forward. You have to fight for the life you want. Life may look different after bad news, but you have to push through it. Staying busy has really been a godsend for me. Doing 10 things every day that will take my life into a different place, has allowed me to take some sort of control.
4. Celebrate small victories. It could be a hello or a kind word or basically anything. But being present in the moment to acknowledge the good and the positive is an excellent strategy when it seems as if life has thrown you bad lemons.
5. Exude the opposite of what you feel. In other words, the more anxious, worried and sad that I feel, the happier, friendlier and more generous I have decided to become.
6. You may not choose what happens to you but you can choose how you will respond. Early on, I made the explicit decision to choose to learn from these experiences and that this sort of thing happens to people every day. I am no different than anyone else.
7. Surround yourself with a support system. The only thing worse than going through this would be going through this alone. Don’t walk through something like this by yourself if you don’t have to.
8. Have faith. I have leaned quite heavily on my own faith during this time. As many do when things are not good. But I don’t think this caveat applies to just the religious. I think having faith in that life happens to everyone and that life is series of ebbs and flows can be a powerful realization. Things can be great, things can be miserable. Know that this too shall pass.
The above video is an interview with comedienne Tig Notaro. Her career is on the rise, thanks to a resounding endorsement from the formidable Louis C.K. But before all the recent accolades came her way, she experienced the following: a bad breakup, life-threatening pneumonia, her mother’s death, and then being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a double masectomy. Yet Tig managed to survive it all.
How you respond to difficulty has a huge impact on how you will move through it. The choice is yours.
It will make a significant difference in everything you do. Be (more) interesting. Interesting can take different forms. Find what is authentic to you and makes you stand out. Hone in on that. Perhaps you’re funny or slightly mysterious. Maybe you are deeply intuitive or a bit eccentric. Whatever it is that makes you tick, use that and make yourself more interesting. If there is one thing that will kill any sort of relationship or interaction, its being a bore.
You should know by now that Marie Forleo is one of my all time fav success stories. As an entrepreneur, she has established a platform that’s inspirational, eclectic and open. The above is a video she did with “fascination expert (I love it!) Sally Hogshead. Sally makes the point of saying that everyone has the ability to be fascinating. One tip is to start with something external. Perhaps its a cool or vintage piece that you can add to your ensemble that will be a conversation starter. I’m currently growing an afro. A huge one. Make yourself interesting externally someway while crafting your inner diva (or divo). Be (more) interesting!
I am the face of NOT living in the moment. I’m always thinking about the future, trying to learn from the past, and scrambling to complete things in the present. The fact of the matter is is that each day, each moment that we have is unique and special and we will NEVER get it back. Because of this, I’ve been much more intentional about how I spend my time, who I spend it with, and making sure that I handle business at home first and then commit myself to creating experiences, in the moment, that will help shape the person that I am supposed to become. It’s hard to do this. Especially when you have the pressures of life knocking at your door every day. So, I have created a few tips that I use of make sure that, each day, I am living in the moment.
1. Every day, start up a conversation with a stranger. It sounds crazy and frankly, it can make an introvert like me nervous as hell but I think this is a good way to live in the moment by engaging with those in your space. Even if its just a brief hi, how are you with a genuine smile, engaging with those near you in an authentic, natural way is a great tactic for living in the moment. Besides, you never know who you will meet!
2. Be intentional but not rigid. Being intentional is very important for me. I am a compulsive goal setter and I supplement those goals with to-do lists that are designed to draw me closer to my goal. But I think its really important to not be inflexible. I think staying resolute, hard-working and determined are important but also remaining open to possibilities and a change in plans is also crucial.
3. Be generous. I am learning that there is no down side to having a generous spirit. Helping people, in ways that are appropriate and genuine, offering advice, showing up, being available, these are all traits that, I feel, are returned to you ten-fold. Now generous does not equate to naive but living with a gracious spirit is a wonderful way to live in the moment.
4. Ditch perfection. I used to be so obsessed with perfection that nothing ever got done! Now I’m over it. I just do the best that I can do, make sure it adheres to the quality standards that I have devised for myself, and then I move on!
5. Make time for YOU. Self-care is crucial and critical. Not just exercise and proper diet but monitoring the stories that we tell ourselves. If you want to achieve greatness, you need to take care of you first. Although our days are busy and we want to take care of everyone else, take at least 30 minutes to give yourself a pedicure, meditate, drink a glass of wine — take time each day to do something that gets you off, that tells you that you love you. Build a relationship everyday with yourself!
6. Journal. This is something that I admittedly, have just started doing again. I recently went back home to Louisiana and I found my journals from back when I was a teenager. I really valued reading my thoughts and feelings at that time in my life. Journaling is a great way to chronicle moments in your life. And its also fun to revisit journals at a later time.
The above YouTube is a video from one of my all time favorite female business owners, and a friend in my head, Marie Forleo. Above, she and actor John Pais share a few tips for living in the moment. Its not easy but I promise, its worth it!