As we learn and grow we are always adding new practises and better-living techniques to our lives in order to get the best balance of success and joy, and shedding those which drag us down. In the past year or so of building my business, I've found a few new habits which have really helped me live a fulfilled and relatively stress-free life (no hospital trips or major burnout-meltdown combos here). Some of these are practises that I've dabbled with in past years and haven't stuck to, and others are shiny new editions.
1. GETTING UP EARLY
I’ve never really been much of a night owl, but over the last few years I’ve slowly started getting up earlier and earlier. I know a lot of you are probably saying: “But Jordanna, I get all the creativity at night, it’s how I am!”
And that’s fine, really. But I dare you to try it. I think for most of us, productivity isn’t really happening late at night after we’ve been up for most of the day, staring at a computer. The fresh start that a morning provides is such a boost. Before my current two-person living situation with my husband, I loved getting up early before all the hustle and bustle of a house full of family or roommates. In the quite, beautiful, sunny hours of the morning I could sip my tea and get straight with what I really wanted to be feeling and achieving. I could get productive without the distractions of the day.
Try setting your alarm just fifteen minutes earlier (and actually getting up when it goes off). You’ll be saving yourself over three days each year that would otherwise be spent sleeping. Seriously.
No, I’m not talking about your email list (and let’s be honest, everyone is talking about building the email list these days). One of the best habits, which I sort of got into by accident, is writing detailed and super-exciting lists at the end of each day, getting down what I wanted to achieve.
Right, they say, waiting for the exciting part.
There really isn’t one. It is simply a list, but getting close with that list and bulking it out each day has been what really keeps me motivated, fulfilled, and on-track. I write them at night so that I hit the ground running when I wake up, and I put everything on this list. Potential lunch ideas? Check. My goal to drink three full water bottles? Check. Shower? Laundry? Answering email? Pinterest? Writing a blog post or working on a course? Check check check.
Although there is something to be said for focusing on your three most important tasks, this method is my Clydesdale. Sometimes when we only put work on our lists, we forget how many other tasks from the mundane to the wonderful that we achieve each day. Folks, showering, making lunch, yoga, and laundry all take time, and they are all worthy tasks. Plus, you get the satisfaction of scratching off a massive number of things on your list. Hell. Yes.
If anything on this list was the most epic life-changer, it is this one. For over ten years I struggled with crippling self-loathing and anxiety— sometime so bad that I wouldn’t leave my house for days at a time. I’ll spare you the novel, but getting real with self-love saved my life. It didn’t happen overnight, but with a little kindness each day and the encouragement of an epic husband I love myself in a way that transforms each day. For me, the biggest part of this was ditching the negative self talk. I’m one of those people that has a constant track of thoughts and conversations in my head— there is no silence— so limiting the things I said to myself to only things I would say to other people slowly began to change me from the inside out. The thoughts are still there, sometimes, but keeping them from spilling out into writing and speech did wonders for how I see myself.
Remember that self-love is a process, not a destination. If you’re on the path towards radical self-love, don’t beat yourself up for slip ups. We all fall back into old habits occasionally, and it’s integral that you are able to forgive yourself in the way that you would forgive others.
If you are on the self love journey or just starting out, I cannot recommend anyone as highly as KELLY-ANN MADDOX.
I admit this one is no longer a daily practice, but when it was, it was transformative. It helped me on the self-love journey, and it got me where I am today. In a way, my extensive list-building practice is a little bit like journalling.
Again, it’s not revolutionary, but it can be transformative. A journal can be like a pensieve, helping to get the clutter and the thoughts which are distracting and distressing you out of your head. It helps me get clear with what I am really feeling about a situation. Often, when I’m feeling down and can’t quite put my finger on why, a little freeform journalling will draw it out like a poison. When I thought I was angry about one thing, it turns out the issue was deeper, a little shadowier.
Becoming friends with the pen isn’t just about the negative, however. It’s a fantastic way to track your progress, to get our your most outrageous goals and dreams and to see them come to life. It’s a way to express your gratitude for all the great things in your life and to keep positive.
You know how I mentioned I have hornet-nest brain? Meditation is what has been helping. Don’t get me wrong, I still have major babble brain, but since starting to meditate for even a few minutes a day, I’ve found my focus as well as my ability to find calm and clarity in stressful moments increasing.
Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of a solid hour of sitting, trying to think of nothing when you’re starting out. Try just ten— even five— minutes a day, preferably in the morning, shortly after you’re awake enough to not fall back asleep. Thoughts will happen— that’s okay. Accept the thoughts, acknowledge them, and let them go. The goal of meditation is not to rid yourself of all thoughts. CHECK OUT ZEN HABITS FOR WAYS TO GET STARTED.
ALRIGHT, SO I LIED
The habit I’m currently trying to solidify? Yoga. Ever since taking The House of Muses full time, I have little reason to leave the house (hello, Canadian Winter), which leaves me sitting at a desk for hours on end each day. Needless to say, it’s not doing the greatest things for my body! My shoulders have migrated somewhere up near my ears and my posture has completely gone down the drain. I have other fitness plans for the year (husband has challenged me to five pull-ups), but I want to take things slowly and build a strong yoga practice before adding to it. My hope is that if I take things slow, rather than pushing myself to failure and self-hatred, the habit will stick and grow with me this year.
Are any of these habits you've been meaning to start up, or have recently added to your toolbox? Let me know how you're doing in the comments!
>> If you're struggling with procrastination, building good habits, and creating systems that pull you unstoppably toward your dreams, check out my newest e-course Mission System (which by the way comes with over $300 in discounts on other courses for creatives).