Making changes in your life, even small ones, can greatly benefit your life, health, relationships and make you feel your best. Finding support, an accountability partner and trusted adviser can also greatly impact your success. If you have worked with me you know one of my sayings is "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time..." Small, baby steps towards changing a new behavior or thought pattern is key towards setting yourself up for success. Making big, sweeping changes all at once can be overwhelming and often leads to frustration and quickly sliding back into the unwanted thoughts and behaviors. Below are some easy, small steps you can take to begin to better your life.
Learn to forgive yourself
Letting go of past mistakes is a way to show yourself love and compassion. We all make mistakes, but we must forgive ourselves to move forward. A 2014 study from Baylor University found that the inability to forgive yourself can lead to depression, anxiety, and a weakened immune system. To forgive yourself, you can acknowledge your mistakes, allow yourself to feel whatever feelings arise, and find the lesson you need to learn from the experience. Working with a therapist, life coach or trusted adviser to help guide you trough this tender process, is key and valuable to your success.
Be of service to others
Volunteering for an organization you believe in or supporting a friend or family member in need are just a few ways you can help others. Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota, says that people who volunteer have higher self-esteem and overall well-being. When you see someone doing good for others, it makes you want to do the same. This domino effect can help boost your self-esteem as well as your capacity for compassion for yourself and others. Volunteering at animal shelters, beach clean ups, taking seniors to their appointments, packaging lunches for the hungry, entering data or answering phones at a nonprofit organization helps to give you a sense of purpose and doesn't require a lot of time and can make a huge impact on your community.
Spend time with people who lift you up
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Take a look at those you spend the most time with. Do they share the qualities and values you find important? It’s okay to end friendships that no longer make you feel like the best version of yourself. It may not be easy, but it is ok! Choose friends who truly want the best for you and will support you.
Learn to enjoy your own company
It’s important to spend time with family and friends, but it can also be satisfying and contemplative to take some time for yourself. Go to the movies alone, bring a book to your favorite restaurant, or take a walk by yourself. This is very different than isolating. Take your self on a date! Do something you enjoy. Having working in the "helping field" for a couple of decades, I used to remind my staff to find at least one thing they enjoyed doing on their own - that was just theirs. "Sacred time" as I would call it. Over time, you’ll learn to appreciate yourself in a new way.
Treat your body well
You don’t need to spend lots of money on face masks and bath products to take good care of yourself. Self-care can be as simple as drinking enough water, eating your greens, being active, and getting plenty of rest. To learn more ways to begin to cultivate your self-care, check out my book I coauthored - and that hit the best-sellers list on Amazon
Spend time in nature
Most people can make a short drive to beautiful terrain to explore. Whether it’s hiking, walking along bodies of water, or walking or biking around a park, there are plenty of ways to get outside. Research has found that walking in nature improves mood and self-esteem in healthy adults. When your self-esteem is high, you’ll feel good about yourself and better appreciate other people.
Honoring yourself and your own needs sometimes means you need to set clear, strong boundaries with others. Saying “no” to people that do not have your best interests at heart can improve your physical and mental health. And, not saying "yes" to everyone and everything. It’s not always easy to set or enforce boundaries, but doing so and sticking to them will help you to improve your relationships, health and wellbeing.
Stop comparing yourself with others
Comparison is the thief of joy and happiness. It’s important to remember that social media is a highlight reel. Most of the people you follow are only showing their best moments. "Their real lives are likely just as complicated as your own," blogger Erica Ligenza says. "The biggest mistake we make is assuming someone else’s story is better because of an Instagram feed.”
To learn more about how to take small steps in your life, move through life transitions successfully, find clarity and purpose in life, visit www.nikkibuckstead.com for details!