In my pursuit to foster a growth mindset, embrace the new and different, and live my best life – whether I’m at work, writing, or toeing the start line of a race – here’s some practices that I’ve implemented to fuel my journey.
1) Beginner’s mindset: Every time I begin to write an article or story, show up at work, roll out my yoga mat, or tow the line of a race, it’s never about what I’ve accomplished last month or yesterday; rather, it’s about right now, this moment, today. What is possible? What am I capable of? Beginner’s mindset keeps us fresh, aware, and challenged.
2) Eat clean: Life is hard enough. Don’t complicate it by wreaking havoc on your digestive system. Whenever possible, opt to eat clean by choosing real food versus processed food. Think less sugar, less artificial everything, and more balanced nutrition. Opt for fruits and veggies whenever possible. View food as fuel for living your best life, and always ask yourself what you need to get through the activities ahead of you.
3) Drink water: Not only does water help you to flush your system daily, but it quenches your thirst, and tastes great! And nowadays, with all the filtered water stations at gyms, airports, and offices, it’s often free!
4) Early to rise: There’s a magic to waking up before the rest of your world comes to life. For me, workout sessions or writing/journaling sessions would never happen if I didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn. Learn to appreciate the early morning quiet and claim it for your time to do whatever you don’t get to do once your day moves into full swing.
5) Exercise: I learned in my early twenties that life made a lot more sense for me each day once I worked up a sweat. There are endless options, from running to cycling to yoga to boxing to high-intensity training (HIT). Find a few activities to rotate between that work for you, and schedule them into your daily agenda regardless of where you are – apps are a great tool for exercise support when you are on the go.
6) Patience: Before you flip out over something or on someone, learn to pause, take a few deep breaths, and consider what it is you’re flipping out over. Often, a little bit of patience goes a long way. I long ago adopted the mindset that everyone around me – including myself – is doing the best that he/she can. From that perspective, patience is a virtue versus a chore.
7) Persistence: The things that matter most to me – writing, sports, relationships – do not come easy to me. They require commitment and hard work. I’ve learned over the years that the more I practice writing, running, yoga, and communicating clearly with people in my life, the bigger the rewards are on a variety of levels.
8) Try new things (always): I long ago committed to doing three new things a day. Sometimes that means walking to work using a different route, or trying a new food item, meeting a new person, or wearing something new/different. New things require that we are open-minded and don’t get stuck in routines. They force us to see the world anew in big and small ways.
9) Lose excuses: Guilt is not a reason to do something, nor is obligation. Do things because you want to, because you can, because it matters to yourself or those around you. Whenever you begin to over-analyze or debate a meeting, activity, or event, let it go. Remember that you don’t have to do everything! Go with your gut. Do not overthink things. Live your life and have fun.
10) Let go of perfectionism: Aim for flow versus perfection. I long ago learned that when my goal was to deliver perfect work, it limited my creativity, caused me to overanalyze, and to take myself way too seriously! In contrast, when I work and deliver in flow, I am creative, open-minded, and ready and willing to engage in collaboration. Flow keeps me focused on forward motion versus analysis paralysis.
11) Make yourself available: Life is, for the most part, a team sport. Be available to your teammates – both on the job and in your personal life. Make time for the people who matter to you, and also make some space for people you think may matter to you over time. The first step to inviting new friendships into your life involves making time for people.
12) Solitary time: Build solitary time into your daily life. It may be a walk, a 20-minute meditation, reading, journaling, or even a car ride. Solitary time is necessary for everyone to recharge and reflect. Think of it as ‘plugging into yourself’ time and when you convince yourself that you don’t have time for it, think again: you do. Even your phone needs time to recharge before it can function.
13) Silence: Along with solitary time, silence is critical to our emotional and spiritual well-being. It provides us with an opportunity to connect with our inner selves, reflect, and to hear what we are thinking and saying to ourselves. If you are stuck or cannot find your way, silence is the antidote. Create silent space and time on a daily basis. It may be through meditation, closing your office door, or simply staring into space. Go silent to go within.
14) Read: Reading helps us to learn and reflect. It enables us to develop into critical and creative thinkers. Whether you read magazines, newspapers, novels, or nonfiction, reading enables us to experience elements of the world that are new and different to us.
15) Be kind: Always opt to be kind to yourself and to others, too. Examine your self-talk and adapt it to be positive and uplifting; let your self-talk pave the way for how you treat others. Hold the door for the person behind you, compliment people in your life when they do something special, or when they look nice. Kindness is free and makes you feel warm, a part of, and enhances your well-being.
16) Communicate: Aim to communicate with your professional and personal circles clearly and often. In life, we too often forget that others cannot read our minds or know our hearts. Communication is an incredible channel with which to let others into your life, into your thoughts, and into your heart. In a world where it’s second nature to shut people out, opt to let more people in. In the end, we all do life together and experience the same feelings, emotions, fears.
17) Move towards your light: Make time for the things you are passionate about. Know the difference between doing things out of habit and doing things because you are excited about them. Figure out what excites and challenges you and move in that direction whenever possible. It’s okay if the things that you are passionate about scare you, too!