Homeless. Heartbroken. Lost.
That was me at the start of 2018. I was living off the goodwill of friends and family for somewhere to stay. I was at the beginning stage of dealing with my marriage ending. I didn't know what the future held.
During 2018 I experienced a rollercoaster ride of emotions, situations and things to deal with. It was very much a case of getting through the year. But as I look back there were improvements, two steps forward one step back, signs of light at the end of the tunnel - things did get better.
And they all started with small changes. The five most impactful of which I want to share with you...
I can't remember who told me to do this but I just started noticing my thoughts more.
I did this when out walking my dog. I would have my headphones in but not listen to anything and just enjoy walking.
To start with I just pondered the idea of being more mindful. How do you even do that? What would it feel like? What is meant to happen?
Sometimes I would just stop in a forest and just look around. Other times I would just let my mind wonder with any thoughts that came in.
In time I started to notice my thoughts more and more. I wouldn't consciously choose what to think about.
It was often something related to things going on at that time. Or a problem I was experiencing. Or even just remembering something and then thinking about it and why it came back to me then.
I found the process extremely relaxing, a form of meditation if you will. In time though it became practically useful too.
I would notice myself coming up with ideas or solutions to problems on my walks. I noticed I was able to think outside the box during this time.
All I had to do was be open to the idea that ideas would come to me. I didn't start a walk saying I am going to solve X problem. Instead I just let what happened happen.
There was more to come - I found mindfulness a key skill in being able to manage my own emotions, handle my reactions and dealing with situations.
As I look back on the idea of just being mindful it has grow into something far bigger than I ever thought it might.
Another key thing I did was to consciously choose how to start and end my days.
No more waking up with hitting the snooze button 4 times, then checking my emails on my phone, followed by doing well whatever a groggy me felt like doing.
No more going to bed whenever or being distracted with Facebook or forgetting to do certain things.
I set out to start and end my day how I wanted to. I took some time to brainstorm what might make a good morning and evening routine.
I then created my routines. I then started to try them out. They changed a lot in the first few weeks but eventually I found what worked for me.
Whether I had ten minutes or an hour I knew I could start the day right.
For example my morning today consisted of...
Getting up as alarm went off. Drink full glass of water. Read 2 chapters. Review my ideal life plan. Stretches. Shower. Review my day. Dog walk. And all that was done by 7.15AM.
The idea is not about getting up early. It's about choosing when to get up and then deciding what to do first.
I continue to test and tweak my routines to this day.
This was a big thing for me. For all my life I've cared too much what other people think and too little about what I think.
One of the things I noticed from being mindful was how much of what I did was to try and get other people to like me.
This had to stop.
And so I made the decision to stop caring what others thought.
Now, it wasn't as simple as that. The decision was the easy part, the following through would be a bit harder.
And so I started to notice when I was caring too much about what others thought.
I started to do what I wanted. When I wanted. How I wanted. And as best as I could I would only ask whether this was something that sat right with my values.
If it did, then I'd do it...most of the time.
To start with there were some times I would fall into old habits. I noticed them though. And I knew a process had started which would mean I fall into old habits less and less.
This is an ongoing challenge for me. There are always new situations which I need to be extra conscious about. But on the whole I am living a life based on my values, not one for other people.
This was a big one for me.
I started to spend a lot of time with Gary Vaynerchuk... well at least listening to his podcast anyway.
His refreshing approach suffocated a lot of the problems I was going through. He wouldn't let me make excuses. He called out my entitlement. And much more.
I also cut out people who weren't good for me. I kept in contact with people who were good for me. I made new contacts. I consciously chose who I spent time with.
This small change of choosing who you spend time with is a life changer. Initially I actually spent a lot of time alone. Just me and GaryVee.
Then after a few months went by I started to reach out to the right people. Family. Friends. Connections.
Then in time a few more people. I also spent a lot of time building relationships with people within the YVM Community.
This was the first time I consciously followed through with this idea.
At times it felt awkward but once I saw the impact it was having it got a lot easier to do and stick to.
The final change I made was to let myself off the hook.
For too long I was my own worst critic, far too judgemental of my efforts and never giving myself any credit.
I chose to say that past was in the past, what happened can't be changed and to forgive myself.
I stopped building up this internal list of mistakes I'd made or things I'd done wrong.
I changed what I focused on. I chose to focus on the good things I was doing. I chose to celebrate my successes.
During 2018 there were small steps which really helped me. Celebrate a little win here. Truly forgiving myself for mistakes I'd in the past. Letting go of those mistakes. Each was like a little victory for my mindset.
In time this would liberate me and set me free by early 2019.
And those were five key changes helping me to transform my life. A lot more went on and happened but those changes were big for me.
I recently came across this quote from Brendon Burchard which sums up 2018 for me nicely for me...
As you can see these were relatively small changes.
It's not like I packed up my entire life moved across the world, changed my business and everything about my life.
But, amazing things happen when you are consistent with changes.
When you spend time being mindful daily.
When you do a morning routine daily.
These things add up and build upon one another.
Day after day after day this can then have a major impact on your life.
Choose one of the above and implement it for 30 days.
See what impact a small change can have.
Paul's area of expertise is planning. He helps people to create plans, make real progress and ultimately achieve their goals.
He is the founder of Your Virtual Mentors - he plans, facilitates, creates and delivers many of the online resources we make available.
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