Instagram will have us believe that the path to an excellent life involves green smoothies and yoga poses on the beach. While that may work for some, for most people, building a strong and healthy body and mind involves a much greater investment of time and energy.
Although this sounds daunting, don’t be put off, because the rewards are huge.
According to Gallup research, people who invest time into building a healthy mind and body are kinder, happier and more forgiving.
They have more energy, find it easier to maintain a positive attitude, learn new and more difficult things, can concentrate longer and are generally better problem solvers.
And importantly, they deal better with stress, trauma and depression.
In this three-part series, we give you some easy, practical tips on how to feel more refreshed and energised so you can focus on creating your excellent life.
Part 1: Notice
By doing things that we excel in on a regular basis, we can maximise our sense of achievement, satisfaction, confidence and contribution. This can make us feel like contributing even more, further enhancing our productivity.
How to tackle those annoying tasks
We all have those tasks that we need to complete, but don’t particularly enjoy doing. Household chores, work emails, exercise… I could go on!
A practical tip to help you tackle those unavoidable tasks is to notice what time of day you feel most awake, strong and capable.
If you feel best first thing in the morning, great! Get those less inspiring tasks done and out of the way early so that you can enjoy the rest of the day. If it’s later in the day, make sure you set aside time then to get those items ticked off the list.
The next thing to take note of are your priorities. This will help you focus on the important items rather than what’s urgent. This can help you work smarter rather than harder and feel more in control. We can’t manage time, but we can manage our priorities.
You may have seen the idea of prioritising important tasks illustrated with a container being filled with large rocks then topped up with smaller rocks, then pebbles, then sand is added to fill in the tiniest gaps. And just when you thought nothing else could fit, a cup full of water is tipped in, to trickle into all the crevices. The point being, if you begin with the Big Rocks, your highest priorities, you can fit everything else in. But if you start with the pebbles and the sand, you’ll never get to the Big Rocks.
To illustrate this, here is a personal story about my husband and I, and our garden. Our garden had been neglected for a few months and was a complete mess. Feeling overwhelmed, my husband was stressed out and paralysed as he couldn’t see where to start.
To help remedy the situation, we created a list of all the things he could see that needed attending to. To our amazement, once it was all down on paper, he got his head back. His sense of overwhelm started to clear and he could make sense of what he wanted to achieve. We prioritised the list, by looking for just a couple of things that would make the biggest difference and that was enough to get us started. He was also able to delegate jobs to me and clearly communicate what he wanted done in a way that I could understand.
Breaking tasks up
Another way to trick ourselves into success is to create 20 minute sessions. This allows us to work through larger projects that might look daunting. Once we’ve reached the end of the 20 minutes, we can choose to do another session, but we don’t get stuck there.
Breaking tasks up can be invaluable. Each component of the job, in its smallest possible piece forms a list. Completing these smaller tasks seems doable, almost a no brainer. They can often fit into these 20 minute bites and ticking them off can get addictive.
These 20 minute sessions can be interspersed with breaks to clear your head and re-energise. A few ways you can utilise these spaces include:
- Meditation or visualisation. You can do this on the train or bus, a walking mediation while you’re walking through the park or by the water. Or just by sitting quietly and focusing on a positive, uplifting statement.
- Books, podcasts or music. Reading or listening to something uplifting can be a great way to keep your mind focused and positive. For example, reading about successful people who’ve already crossed those tricky minefields ahead of us can help us gain ideas, perspective and confidence.
- Incorporating daily movement. Going for a walk or even doing stretches at your desk are quick and easy techniques that allow our unconscious mind time to process, assimilate and file the previous experience and help us mentally put it away, rather than dwell on it.
Einstein said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In other words, no one is good at everything, so it’s important not to judge everyone by the same standards.
Let’s start by taking a moment to notice what we’re good at – our own personal strengths. Think for a brief moment about a time when you felt you were operating at your best.
Are you more likely to be:
- Dealing with big picture challenges, or does getting into the small details light you up?
- Energised by starting a new project, or by doing and completing an existing one?
- Focusing mainly on tasks, or do you come alive when you are dealing with people?
- Buzzed by doing the researching, analysing or refining of concepts or when you are sharing, presenting or selling these concepts?
Now that you are aware of some of your strengths, notice where and how you already use them, whether you’re at home, at work, in your local community or engrossed in a hobby?
How might you be able to utilise them even more?
When do you notice that you’re operating at your best? Let us know in the comments below.