During this topsy-turvy year when what was up seemed down and vice versa, it was easy to freeze in place. To go through the motions of life rather than engage. I know I did a lot of that. In fact, I joked that I needed a new emoji for my state of mine: frozen woman.
But I have finally said “Enough,” to disengagement. And have made 2021 My Year of Renewal. I hope you’ll join me.
Renewal means to shed some skin holding you back and reconfigure your innards so you’re in a different place. Think of it as a mini-rebirth, giving yourself new wings and a new perspective.
Don’t think you need to do extravagant things or turn yourself inside out. What’s great about renewal is that it can start with small steps.
There are simple ways to renew and refresh yourself. No fancy equipment, no complicated programs — just you!
Why We All Need Renewal Right Now
Let’s face it — it’s no exaggeration to say that this past year has left us all feeling a little unsteady. It could be worry over the pandemic, working from home, or even for some of you, a feeling of uncertainty as you embark on your career reinvention journey.
Add to all of this the dark, cold months for those now in winter climes, which are taking more of a toll than usual on our general mindset and well-being.
All of this has left many of us feeling deflated and powerless.
But that doesn’t have to be your story for 2021.
With some simple steps you can take today, your story can become one of resilience, renewal, and power.
So how can you achieve your own renewal? Here are some ways that might help.
10 Things You Can Do Now to Achieve Renewal
1. Enjoy Your Now
Many of us fall into the trap of looking forward instead of focusing on the present. “I’ll be happy when XYZ happens” — this could be “when I get that promotion,” or “when this pandemic is over.”
Don’t get me wrong. Goals are important.
But when we pin all our happiness on some future contingency, we forget to be fully present. Instead, enjoy what you’re doing now, be it a walk in a park or a tasty meal. Find something every day that gives you pleasure.
2. Practice Self-Kindness
These are difficult times. Don’t beat yourself for not performing to your usual standards. Be mindful of your physical and mental state and know when you need to take time for you.
Self-kindness looks different for everybody. Some might need to take time for some self-care — a warm bubble bath, a cup of tea, silent reflection. Others might notice signs that they need more help — perhaps an overhaul to their schedule or even reaching out for professional help.
Self-kindness encompasses all of this. Take stock of your personal situation and determine what’s needed to plow through these difficult times. And most of all, don’t fault yourself for pampering yourself.
3. Get 7-8 Hours of Sleep
Let’s be practical. Our bodies need 7-8 hours of sleep to be most productive —- it’s science.
But this can be easier said than done. After all, you’ve heard this before and it still can be tough.
It takes effort to set aside your phone, iPad, or whatever else might keep you up at night. But when you do, your mind and body both benefit.
Many experts recommend a bedtime routine that signals your mind it’s nearing sleepy time. This could include shutting off your TV and phone, drinking a steaming cup of caffeine-free tea, or meditating. Do whatever gets you into the bedtime mood.
4. Walk Every Day
We’re not talking a long, strenuous hike. Just block out 30 minutes of your day to walk around your neighborhood.
This is especially important now when with so many working from home, days might pass without your seeing the outdoors. A walk is meditative, changing your perspective and energizing your mind for what lies ahead.
5. Read Every Day
This is one that I delved into a little in my conversation with personal branding expert, Tom Peters, who attributes a good deal of his success to regular reading.
There are so many health benefits to making reading a part of your daily routine. It bolsters your brain connectivity, lowers stress, and prevents cognitive decline.
So if you haven’t already, bite the bullet and start reading whatever interests you, whether fiction or non-fiction. With enough daily reading, it will eventually become a habit you can’t live without.
6. Practice Unselfish Love
How much love do you have to give? The reality is that there is no limit to love except the limits we put on ourselves.
Some horde this quality as if it were in short supply. Some even hold back showing love for others unless there’s some personal profit in it — recognition or personal advancement, for example.
But the more tight-fisted we are in our affection for others, the more we deprive ourselves of the joy that comes with it. Look for ways to show love and compassion for those around you.
7. Make Sacrifices
Many people, when they hear the word “sacrifice” think of a religious experience, such as Lent or Ramadan. They give up a certain pleasure — such as chocolate or alcohol — for a certain period of time.
But studies show that, far from being a miserable experience, these voluntary periods of sacrifices enhance an individual’s overall happiness and enjoyment. Many in the studies even noted that they enjoyed the thing they had sacrifice even more once they could return to it.
Not only did this make individuals happier, but it also helped them to develop self-control, or mastery over themselves. This is a quality that all of us can use in both our work and personal lives.
What can we glean from this? Taka a break every once in a while from something in your life. It could be sugary sweets, social media, or even Netflix. Whatever it is, make the temporary sacrifice. Then come back to it and see how you feel. The results might surprise you.
8. Set Priorities
This is a productivity strategy that you can use to maintain your focus.
Do not create a long-winded list of to-dos — instead, create priorities. Choose 3 or 4 things that you want to accomplish in a day. And stick to small, achievable tasks that you know you’ll be able to finish that day.
Prioritizing like this will help you to focus and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of every day.
Journaling is an effective way to put your thoughts in order. It doesn’t have to be pretty or the next great American novel — no one will see it except yourself, after all.
Start simple. Write down your thoughts and emotions. If you’re stuck on what to write, you can use some simple prompts such as “I feel happiest/saddest when…” or “I wish other people knew this about me.”
10. Be Grateful
Even with this crazy year we’ve had, there are still many things that we can be grateful for. Sometimes we simply need to reframe our negative thoughts and feelings and put them in a more positive light.
And it actually helps!
There have been studies on this. Researchers in one study found that those who feel and show gratitude on a regular basis experience a greater level of positive emotions, such as happiness, joy, and optimism.
Want to give it a try? Take a few minutes every day to write down a few things that you are grateful for. And sit with that feeling of gratitude for a little bit. The act of writing these things down in itself might not lift your mood — instead, use such exercises as an opportunity to really reflect on why you’re grateful.
And those are 10 simple ways for you to embark on your own renewal journey. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I do hope that it helps you to approach this coming year with power, resilience, and a positive mindset. You deserve it!