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4 Simple Things That Will Change Your Year

At some point, you’re going to think I’m a broken record because you’ll hear me talk about self-reflection a lot. I had no idea the amount of power – the amount of answers I could find on my own– just by taking a step back and going through how I got to a certain point, whether it be on a project at work, marriage, health, relationships, finances, etc.

I want to give you 4 easy things to do to shape your year differently than last.

1) Find your source of stress.

Take a few minutes to think through the different aspects of your life: do you have kids? Are you married or in a relationship? Do you have a grueling job? Do you exercise regularly? Are you happy with the way you look and feel? Do you have any “tough” relationships in your life? Is your schedule well-balanced?

Chances are, one of those questions irritated you. The answer to one of the questions maybe wasn’t an easy “yes” but rather made you think of something that is missing. Or something that is just plain tough at this point in life. Or something you really, really want margin for but just don’t have the time to work on it or fit it in. Girl, that thing that struck a cord… that’s what I want you to identify and put aside for just a moment.

2) Read (Stop rolling your eyes.)

When is the last time you read? Be honest. No, magazines don’t count. No, your FB or IG feed doesn’t count. Most people say it was back in college. Reading (or listening to an audible or a podcast) with intention is incredibly powerful.

I’m not hating on the fictional stuff, but keep in mind that reading fiction is just for pleasure. It might be your release and escape (which is super important!), so don’t ditch that. But I’m telling you that reading nonfiction – with intention – is so good for the soul. In other words, find experts that tackle the very topic that you’re struggling with.

Reading is the gateway to transforming your mindset. A transformed mindset changes your approach to life.

Okay, go back to #1 for a moment. What was it that gnawed at you? What needs work in your life? Let me give you some examples:

  1. “I don’t feel well-balanced. I’m just going through the motions day in and day out. I need some inspiration or a kick in the ass.” – Try Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.
  2. “I’m in a tough spot with my ___(career/marriage/life)__. – Try The Seven Decisions by Andy Andrews.
  3. “I need to work on my career. I grind and grind, but feel like I’m only scratching the surface.” Okay, truth be told, there’s SO many books I could recommend here, so here are some of my favs: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg *Really great for those in Sales, Play Bigger by Al Ramadan (and others) *Awesome read for Entrepreneurs, or Linchpin by Seth Godin *Great for any career path

You get the point, right? If you’re breezing over this section, just know that you’re not going to get where you’re headed unless you make a change & figure out a path. Change is hard as hell. I’m telling you… you’ll start to read and sometimes the books resonate, sometimes they don’t. I’ve read some books that people raved about, and I couldn’t get through it fast enough. Nothing struck me. Others had me crying, laughing out loud, journaling and putting things into practice. Stick with it. I personally love to hold a book in my hands and read, but I know its tough to find that time. More about that in #4. Another option, download the audible. My husband does it this way and knocks out books super quickly because he listens while he’s driving, while he’s working out, or while he’s watching our daughter at soccer practice. There’s no excuse, friends.

3) Write out the plan.

Whatever you’re working on, you need to put it down on paper, a whiteboard, a Word doc, etc. You know the problem, now focus on what obstacles are in your way from solving that problem. Reading will really help you see more sides to your story than you realize on the surface, but you know some of the main obstacles you’re facing. 

Let me guide you on how to start writing it out. 

Identify the problem. – What is it that you’re going to focus on this year? (that was #1 above)  

Why is it a problem in the first place? – ie. Do you not have enough time? Enough money? Enough control? This will often be multiple steps because you need to keep digging from the perceived problem (your first excuse) to the root of the problem. 

Then identify possible solutions – whether you like them or not. 

As your mindset shifts and you grow, you’ll start to see that your approach to problems does as well. In the beginning, don’t be surprised if you’re giving out excuses left and right though. Call yourself out on the carpet.  

Here are some examples of problems and possible solutions. Note: People don’t often like the solutions (that’s why they haven’t dealt with the issue thus far), but this is where you get to decide what is more important… live with the problem, or change it once and for all.

“I don’t have time to get to the gym. My scheduled is packed solid.” – Can you go at lunch? Can you work out at home? (Yes, there are short online video workouts that don’t require equipment…). Can you get your butt out of bed early and go before kids are up?

“Our finances are a mess. We can’t save a penny.” – Print out your bank statement for the last 2 months. Grab a highlighter. Highlight every discretionary dime you spent (eating out, clothes/shoes, gym membership, recreational activities, your cable bill, the absurd amount you spent on your kid’s birthday party, gifts for others, etc. Now have an honest conversation with yourself (or spouse). The reality is you can change ANY of those. No one is forcing you to spend $300 on your 2-year old’s birthday party. No one died from going without Cable. You won’t fall out of love with your spouse if you nix the $50 movie dates and cuddle up on the couch & rent Netflix instead. Go without cable or your gym membership for awhile (you can work out at home, remember?) Pack your lunch. Create free & frugal date nights. Dig yourself out of the hole. It’ll make you appreciate the discretionary spending that much more once you’re out of debt and have breathing room again. More on budgeting and cutting debt? Check out the Dollars & Sense section of my website.

4) Make the time. Time blocking is about to become your best friend.

Carve out the time you need in order to find your breathing room: to read, to make your kids lunches the night before, to get your workout in, to spend 20 uninterrupted minutes with your kids at night, to work on whatever is gnawing at you. Baby steps, my friend. Baby steps go a lot farther than no steps at all.

I like to time block on Sunday before the start of the week with my planner. My planner breaks out my day by the hour. Plan & implement with grace though. You need to remember that life happens, surprises pop up, and things get rescheduled. Don’t let that frustrate you. Once you’re time blocked, you know what you need to do and what amount of time it’ll take. Adjust. We’re women, that’s what we do.

This is the year for you. It doesn’t need to be January 1st to make a change. Any day is as good as the next. If you’re not ready to make the change, then don’t hate on yourself for still being stuck weeks or months from now. We all have our own journey and our own breaking point. Until you reach your breaking point – or have a shift in mindset – you won’t begin to carve out the path to where you want to go.

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