This week, we’re happy to unveil a post written by Abby Shope, who’s been on a journey of intentional self-improvement for the past three years. To document and share what she’s learned, she created Life By Grit where she not only writes about her experiences but also answers questions from her readers about personal development.
We highly recommend checking her site out.
To be honest, this is a timely post for us and we’re very grateful that Abby has taken the time to share her experience with lifestyle change and personal development. Life is currently taking us to lands unknown and whilst exhilarating, it’s also fear-inducing and somewhat overwhelming.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make a change in your life without feeling terrified, overwhelmed, lost, adrift or alone, then you’re reading the right post from exactly the right person.
Life can be pretty intimidating, especially during transitional periods or while intentionally redesigning it. All these new habits, that new bar to live up to, adjusting to new routines — it can be overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be.
There are some simple steps that you can take to make this process more enjoyable and some important things to keep in mind throughout your journey to make the difficult moments a little easier.
Take Care of Yourself First
One of my favorite bits of advice to give, and one of the first things that I did when I set out to live more intentionally, is to start your day with something that you love.
First and foremost, this makes it way easier to get out of bed!
When you know that the next episode of your favorite podcast, your current book, or even just a really, really nice cup of coffee is waiting for you once you leave the bed, it makes it much easier to get up and get moving.
Starting my day with something that I love — lately, it’s been an educational YouTube video and some reading — makes sure that there’s time to take care of myself before the bustle of daily life sets in.
Find something that helps you grow and feel more grounded.
Start your day with it.
Mornings are prime time for journaling, meditation, or yoga. Getting these self-care items taken care of first-thing each day means they don’t get skipped when life gets busy.
You’re important; make time for yourself first.
Don’t think of your morning self-care as just another thing to check off of the to-do list. That’s a great way to start dreading it.
Instead, remind yourself that this is for you.
It’s not something that you have to do; it’s something that you get to do.
You get to start your morning with meditation. You get to enjoy some yoga and quiet time.
But what if you don’t actually enjoy journaling or meditating or yoga?
I know where you’re coming from. It isn’t something that’s talked about often, but I know that I didn’t enjoy any of those things at first. Frankly, they felt boring. I didn’t feel like I was improving my life in any way, even though people kept telling me they were good for me.
It takes time to adjust to a slower, simpler, more intentional way of living. And if you’ve been at it for a few months and still aren’t feeling it, it may be time to look at why. Do you feel you should be getting something out of it that you aren’t? How can you make adjustments so that your self-care activities better serve you?
Or you could actually forget about meditation and yoga and do what actually makes you happy. Feel like belting out a song from The Sound of Music and channelling your inner Julie Andrews? Go for it! Do whatever floats your boat.
Oh, and in my experience, it’s easier to get up at 6 to do something that I love than it is to get up at 7 to do something that I hate.
Take It One Step at A Time
When you’re used to seeing all of these impressive people living wonderful-looking lives, it’s easy to want to overhaul everything all at once. We want change, we want success, and we want it NOW!
Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Your chances of success and maintaining reasonable stress levels are much better when you take things slowly.
If you’re new to meditation, start with ten minutes a day, rather than thirty.
When you’re decluttering, tackle one thing at a time and give yourself regular breaks to recover both physically and emotionally.
Build one new habit at a time.
It’s great if you want to start journaling, decluttering, working out regularly, and incorporating more vegetables into your diet, but tackle one thing at a time.
Once you feel fairly comfortable with your ability to maintain the first habit without too much effort, then add in the next.
You’ll be much more successful long-term and keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
It’s taken me nearly five years of slow and intentional habit building to create all of the habits that I have now. I know that sounds like a long time, but the journey has been enjoyable — and that’s important. It isn’t all about end goals because each time you reach a goal, there’s something new to go after.
Slow down and enjoy the journey.
Don’t let life pass you by.
What you’re doing right now is enough. Maybe a day will come where you know that it’s time to take on more, but until then, you are enough.
I get it.
When we’re used to constantly seeing the best of the best, it’s difficult to know what “good enough” looks like and accept that good enough is actually good enough.
But remember that you are here, you are trying, you are learning, and you are good enough.
Enjoy the feeling.When we’re used to seeing the best, it’s difficult to know what “good enough” looks like and accept that good enough is actually good enough. But remember that you're here, you're trying, you're learning, and you're good enough. Click To Tweet
Embrace Your Failures
Life lesson: Perfection isn’t real.
If I were to go out and ask 100 experts to build the best meal plan or the best way to schedule my day or the best way to keep a house clean, I would get 100 different answers. Not only that, but there’s no guarantee that any of those 100 are the best for me.
Oh, and those experts?
In order to become experts, they have failed thousands of times at the things that they’re good at now. They’ve made mistakes and experienced setbacks. That’s the only way to make progress and become an expert.
Failure is the first step toward success.
When something doesn’t go the way that you want it to, rather than letting it ruin your day or get you down, be kind to yourself.
Failures are okay and accepting them with loving-kindness toward yourself will bring you more success and happiness than berating yourself for them.
Take, for example, a child learning to walk. When that child falls down, as small children are wont to do, you’d never scold them. You’d respond with kindness and encouragement, “That’s okay! You can do it!” And furthermore, that child would never think, “maybe walking isn’t for me.” Falling down is part of the process.
You’re like a child learning to walk. You’re learning new skills and growing in this world. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself the way you’d be with a child. Just as gentle encouragement will help the child more than criticism and negativity, so too will gentle encouragement help you more than berating yourself for a misstep.
Focus On The Present Moment
The vast majority of the time, nothing terrible is happening right at this very moment.
Often, fear stems from things that you’re worried might happen in the future—but most of the time, the things you fear never come to be.
Or, if they do, they’re not nearly as bad as you thought they would be.
You can’t change the past.
You can change the future, but only through your actions in the present moment because this moment is all we have. Rather than worrying about tomorrow or next Monday or what you need to be doing in three months, focus your energy into this moment.
That isn’t to say never to plan for the future, only that the majority of the time, the best thing that you can do with your focus and efforts is direct them toward the task at hand.
Power is in the present.
Looking at what’s right in front of you is less overwhelming than looking at everything that needs to be done in the next 24 hours.
Put the to-do list down for a moment, ask yourself, “what is the next step?” and go from there.
You can handle the next step.
Focus on what’s happening in the next 10 minutes—rather than the next 10 months—and you’ll likely feel calmer and less overwhelmed. Sure, the big picture is a little unclear, but now is not the time to deal with that. Now is the time to cook dinner, or do laundry, or go to sleep. Take it one step at a time.
Simplify your routines. Simplify your wardrobe. Simplify your habits, your workouts, your meals, and your lifestyle.
Simple is better. Simple is less intimidating. Simple takes less energy.
We live in a world that loves to make things more complicated than they need to be. There are a lot of people making a lot of money selling solutions for complicated problems that they made up so they could sell you their solution.
You don’t need it.
Know the bare-bones version of your routines. Sure, I have a morning routine that can stretch for hours if I have the time, but I also have a fifteen-minute version of that routine that I can use whenever I need to get out the door.
Plenty of my meals are some variation of beans and rice.Power is in the present. Click To Tweet
I curated a personal uniform so that I don’t have to figure out what to wear every day.
And I have specific times set aside each week to reply to emails, swap out all of the towels in the apartment for clean ones, water my plants, and do the laundry so that I never have to worry about when that’s all happening.
Start small and figure out which changes will create the largest impact.
Build your routines one step at a time.
Don’t feel compelled to stick to a routine that isn’t working for you.
I spent years trying to find my “perfect routines,” but it turns out they don’t exist. What works in one season and time of your life may not work the next.
It’s okay for things to change often.
You’re doing great!
We go into journeys like this — improving our lives, aiming for more organization, more calm, more mindfulness — expecting to have some moment where we feel like we’ve made it.
As if one day you’ll just feel like you’ve finally got it together and you have all the habits you need and own exactly the right number of socks.
That end goal isn’t real. Accepting that this life you’re living every day — striving to be just a bit better than yesterday — is the goal is important.
You’re already doing what you need to be doing.
You won’t suddenly wake up one day feeling like you’ve figured it out, and you’ve made it.
Enjoy the process and give yourself credit for the steps you’re taking each day.
That isn’t to say that you won’t see progress.
Continue taking tiny steps forward, and you’ll look back in a few years and realize that you have come unimaginably far. You’ll be living a life that you didn’t even know was possible.
But don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
If you love this post or have some tips and tricks that you use to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed whilst trying to redesign your life for the better, then please do make sure to leave your comments in the comment box below.
We’d love to hear from you!