Your Future Self Will Thank You for Integrating These Simple Practices Into Your Life Today
“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” — Wayne Dyer
The things you do on a daily basis add up over time. Routines become habits. Your daily thoughts become the background music for how you interpret what happens in your life. The way you perceive life plays a key role in the daily actions you take.
Sometimes it feels like we spend most of our day reacting to what happens instead of proactively creating our life. We are pulled in a hundred different directions, feeling as if we’re stuck in a rut. We rarely take the time to check in with our soul — to get in tune with what we REALLY want.
If you are not clear on what your ideal days would look like, it makes it nearly impossible to know where to most efficiently channel your focus.
Any extra time you may have on your hands may be the perfect opportunity to do just that. Instead of watching another Netflix series, why not re-allocate that time to planting the seeds for many brighter tomorrows?
Here are 6 things you can do every day to invest in your most important asset — yourself. Pick a few ideas that resonate and find a way to integrate them into your day on a consistent basis. Your future self will thank you.
1) FINE-TUNE YOUR LIFE VISION & YOUR PRIORITIES
Where we place our mental attention determines where we use our physical energy. If we label something as a “priority” in our minds, we will find a way to take the steps needed to make it happen. If we’ve never taken the time to identify what truly matters to us, we end up drifting throughout our days with no clear destination in mind.
When was the last time you thought about what you want the big picture of your life to look like? When was the last time you consciously took a mental inventory of every area of your life (health, mental well-being, family & social life, relationships, livelihood, finance, leisure)?
Illuminate every category of your life — shine a light on the weak points and celebrate the strong ones. Thinking about the areas of your life where you see room for improvement, consider the following:
What is the ideal scenario for how you want that part of your life to look? Where are you now? What would it take to bridge the gap?
What habits do you need to replace, what skills might you need to cultivate, what small daily steps do you have to start taking?
What are some of the character traits that have allowed you to be successful in the areas of your life where you’re doing well? Can those be brought into the “weaker” areas of your life?
As it relates to finding your life’s purpose — your brain may already have an answer in store for you — read here about how your curiosities may be the breadcrumbs to your contribution in this world.
How would your daily actions be different if you spent even 5 minutes a day thinking about your big-picture life vision? This is not meant to be a one-time exercise because our lives are complex, living, breathing creations. It helps to know which direction we want to go but it is just as important to remain flexible and adaptable to changes that come our way.
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Seneca
2) ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE, ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE
Make a conscious effort to notice the little miracles in life. Choose to perceive the “ordinary” things, situations, and people in your life in a new way — as life’s little ways of letting you know that you matter to the world. A thoughtful message from a family member you haven’t talk to in a while, a helpful customer service representative, the smell of freshly washed sheets before you lie down in your comfy bed — all of them are little blessings that reflect what a blessing YOU are.
We become desensitized to life’s little pleasures because we get used to them. It takes conscious intent to be able to recognize the abundance that is already present in the most mundane corners of our lives.
Express gratitude when you can — whether verbally, in your mind, or through creative outlets. This helps reinforce neural networks linked to the feelings of gratitude so that your brain makes it easier to spot blessings in the future.
Start a gratitude journal or think about all the things that went well in your day before you go to bed. If you’re not a “journal” kind of person, there are also many gratitude apps out there. I personally use Presently — it uses a very simple format and notifies me to list my blessings at the end of every day.
“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.” — Hans Christian Andersen
3) HAVE A POWER MORNING ROUTINE
Set aside at least 15 minutes every morning to consciously start your day in a positive manner — yes that means waking up earlier if you have to — it will pay off in the long run!
Do something that makes you feel great about who you are - something that brings out the feeling of your own power, your own fierceness, your own kindness. Become the sunshine you want to see in your day!
Listen to uplifting music — make a “feel-good” playlist
Listen to inspirational videos or podcasts — Need ideas? Here.
Spend some time reading an inspirational book or a list of uplifting quotes you’ve compiled
Exercise (pay extra attention to how good your body feels afterwards and soak that feeling into every fiber of your being)
Meditate or do visualization exercises to remind yourself of your life vision
Spend time in nature (even if it’s just in your backyard) and reconnect with the abundance that mother nature brings us daily
“If you win the morning, you win the day.” — Tim Ferriss
4) ELEVATE THE ENERGY OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Actively seek out situations, people, associations, books, art, or media that are in line with how you want to feel and what kind of person you want to be.
Be more conscious of whom you spend time with; spend more time with those that uplift and inspire you. Look to those people that inspire you through who they are being, not just what they are doing. Pay attention to how they perceive life and what habits they consistently implement. How can you apply some of their wisdom into your daily life?
Bring positivity even into life’s most mundane maintenance tasks. Listen to positive or upbeat music or inspirational/motivational content while you are doing activities such as cleaning, folding laundry, or cooking. Be grateful that you “get to” do those things rather than thinking of them as “I have to…” Some people aren’t so lucky — they may not have access to a stovetop to heat their eggs on or a washing machine to wash their dirty T-shirts in.
“Surround yourself with people who have dreams, desire, and ambition; they’ll help you push for, and realize your own.” - Anonymous
5) REPLACE ENERGY-DRAINING ACTIVITIES WITH HAPPY ONES
Make two lists: a “Happy List” and an “Energy-Draining List.” Find little ways every day to shift more of your energy from energy-draining activities to your Happy activities.
Happy List: Activities, places, and people that tend to bring out positive feelings in you (excited, fulfilled, joyful, relaxed, strong, empowered)
Include as many things as you can think of — especially the little things that you may call mundane (listening to upbeat songs when you get ready in the morning, eating dinner with your family, hanging out with good friends, participating in group sports, working on challenging but interesting projects, expressing your creativity through any form of art, reading a good book etc.).
For each item, consider whether it provides a short burst of happiness or longer-lasting fulfillment and growth; see if you can increase the time you spend in the longer-lasting fulfillment activities.
Energy-Draining List: List the things, people or places that you encounter frequently that weigh you down.
Is it possible to spend less time with the people that drain you? Is it possible to not visit the stores, restaurants, or clubs/associations that don’t make you feel energized? Perhaps at this time, you may not have a choice — use that to your advantage! Is it possible to not buy food that you know makes you feel lethargic after eating it?
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” — Michael Altshuler
6) BRING BACK THE GOOD FEELINGS
Consistently placing your mental energy on positive feelings that you brought forth elevates your emotional baseline. This helps you act on opportunities as they arise and strengthens your resilience when challenges come up.
Bring awareness to the things you are currently doing that are moving you towards your life vision. Make a list of things you’re proud of yourself for doing yesterday and a list of things you commit to yourself for today. This will motivate you to want to do them more often as your brain rejoices in a rush of dopamine.
Go back in your mind to those times when you felt great about yourself as a result of who you were being — when you felt powerful, strong, loving, or courageous. Become aware of the sensations you feel in your body as these memories come rushing back. Recognize that those feelings were a result of your own doing — you were the source of joy — just as you can be in every moment.
Go back in your mind to those times when you felt loved, understood, and accepted for who you are. Be grateful for the people that triggered those feelings - know that there are always those that accept you fully for who you are and who understand you. You are also a gift to many others for whom you play that role. Know the gift you are. Be it.
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.” — Jack Canfield