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For years, I felt like I was sleepwalking through life. My days were a monotonous routine of waking up early, working all day, and collapsing on the couch at night to binge-watch Netflix or whatever was on Bravo. Even my weekends were filled with activities that left me feeling drained and unfulfilled, but I felt obligated to say yes to avoid disappointing others; often overbooking myself. It wasn’t until I hit a breaking point during an especially stressful week that I realized I wasn’t living the life I truly wanted.
Despite having financial stability, a supportive circle of friends and family, and all the material possessions I could want, I still felt empty and unhappy. I knew that if I wanted to show up as my best self for the people I loved, but most importantly me, I needed to make serious changes to my lifestyle. So, over a few months, I implemented some habits that transformed my mood, my health, and my relationships.
Table of Contents
When I noticed my unhappiness, I took a step back to do some introspective work and assess all aspects of my life. I realized that I had been so focused on productivity and optimizing every moment that I had forgotten the importance of doing things simply because they brought me joy. Research shows that people with hobbies and leisure activities have fewer negative emotions and experience less stress, which is why making time for the things that make us happy is important.
In my case, I rediscovered my love of reading, which I had abandoned after college due to a demanding career with my social media agency. I set a goal to read one book per month, took classes on MasterClass to expand my knowledge on how to cultivate mindfulness with Jon Katab-Zinn, made a career shift to focus on wellness and fulfillment, and ultimately focused on creating a morning routine to set the foundation for each day. This simple habit shift helped me start my day with joy and positivity, setting the tone for a more fulfilling life.
If you want to add more joy to your life, keep reading to learn about the seven strategies I used to become my best self.
These strategies are tried and tested and have helped me on my own personal growth journey. From mindfulness to goal-setting, productivity, and self-care, we’ll cover various topics to help you cultivate positive habits, build strong relationships, and achieve your goals.
I used to struggle with an all-or-nothing mentality. If I couldn’t do something perfectly, I would be overly critical and wonder why I even bothered setting new goals. This would cascade into feelings of failure that killed my motivation and kept me stuck in self-destructive habits. Letting go of perfectionism and giving myself some grace allowed me to shift my mindset and perspectives and control my emotions by practicing mindfulness. Reframing mistakes as learning moments instead of failures helped me see the progress in any slip-ups that occurred, which helped maintain a growth mindset.
Gratitude journaling, meditation, and breathwork are all mindfulness practices that help to be fully present in the moment and observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. It’s a powerful tool for reducing stress, increasing focus, and improving overall well-being. When you’re mindful, you can be more aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to respond to situations more constructively.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life. One of the most common ways is through meditation, which involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. But you don’t have to meditate to practice mindfulness. You can also be mindful by paying attention to your surroundings, savoring your food, or taking a few deep breaths.
To make mindfulness a part of your daily routine, try incorporating it into your morning or evening routine. You could start your day with a few minutes of meditation or end your day with a mindful walk outside. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you’ll be able to reduce stress, improve your focus, and cultivate a sense of calm and inner peace.
Tools For Practicing Mindfulness
A meditation cushion can be a helpful tool for practicing mindfulness. It allows you to sit comfortably during your meditation practice, which can help you stay focused and relaxed. Check out the ALO Yoga Mindful Meditation Cushion and incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. If you need some guidance, I can’t recommend the Muse Meditation Headband or the ALO Moves app, with offers a 14-day free trial to test out. ALO offers a library full of mindfulness practices, including meditation. Regarding gratitude journaling, I cannot recommend The Five Minute Journal enough! It’s been a gratitude practice that I have been using for the last 7 years.
Realistic Goal Setting
Setting clear and achievable goals is essential for personal growth because it gives you direction, motivation, and a sense of purpose. When you have goals to work towards, you’re more likely to stay focused and committed to your personal growth journey. However, it’s important to set realistic goals and allow for flexibility. I noticed that when I started to set realistic goals for myself, I allowed myself to have grace in achieving them, taking a slower pace with baby sets to the bigger picture. This allowed me to work towards the end goal at a natural pace that felt right.
To set effective goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, and time-bound. This means that you should clearly define what you want to achieve, create a plan for how you will achieve it, and set a deadline for when you want to achieve it by. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “I want to exercise more,” set a specific goal like “I want to go to practice Pilates three times a week for the next three months.”
It’s also important to write down your goals and track your progress regularly. This will help you stay accountable and motivated to achieve your goals. Consider using a planner or journal to write down your goals and track your progress.
Remember, personal growth is a journey, not a destination. Your goals may change over time as you learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to adjust your goals if they no longer serve you or if you achieve them sooner than expected.
Take some time to reflect on your personal growth goals. Are they specific, measurable, and time-bound? Write them down and create a plan for how you will achieve them. Remember to track your progress regularly and celebrate your successes along the way.
As someone who has struggled with procrastination and feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list, cultivating productivity has been a game-changer for me. When I prioritize my tasks and manage my time effectively, I feel more in control of my day and more fulfilled by my accomplishments.
One strategy that has helped me is using the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize my tasks based on their urgency and importance. This helps me focus on the tasks that will impact my personal growth and success rather than getting bogged down by busy work.
Another strategy that has worked for me is eliminating distractions and creating a conducive environment for productivity. For example, I turn off notifications, implement Focus Mode on my phone, and use noise-canceling Airpods to block out background noise while working. I also get into a routine of working for 90-minute blocks and taking a 30-minute break, and permit myself to rest when needed to avoid burnout.
Cultivating productivity has helped me feel more fulfilled and successful in all areas of my life. If you want to improve your productivity, I highly recommend trying some of these strategies and investing in a productivity planner to help you stay on track.
Take some time to reflect on your productivity habits. Are you prioritizing your tasks effectively? Are there any distractions you can eliminate? Consider trying a productivity planner to help you stay focused and achieve your personal growth goals.
I used to be one of those people who believed that self-care was selfish. I thought taking time for myself meant neglecting my responsibilities or letting down the people around me. It wasn’t until I hit a breaking point and experienced burnout that I realized the importance of prioritizing self-care.
One of my favorite ways to practice self-care is through exercise. Going for a run or taking a yoga class helps me clear my mind and release any pent-up stress or tension. I also love using essential oils and aromatherapy to create a calming atmosphere in my home.
If you want to prioritize self-care, start by identifying the activities that make you happy and relaxed. It might be different for everyone, but the key is to make it a routine. Remember that self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for personal growth and well-being.
Take some time to reflect on your self-care habits. Are you prioritizing self-care regularly? Identify the self-care activities that make you happiest and plan to incorporate them into your routine. Remember that self-care is essential for personal growth and well-being.
Developing Positive Habits
Negative habits often held me back from achieving my goals and feeling my best. I would stay up late scrolling on my phone, skip workouts, indulge in unhealthy snacks when stressed, go out far too often, and drink more than 3 drinks a night, often throughout the week. However, over time, I realized that these habits were not serving me and that I needed to develop positive habits to improve my overall well-being.
One habit I wanted to cultivate was a regular exercise routine. I created a plan for how I would fit in exercise into my daily schedule, including setting reminders and blocking out time in my calendar as an “Important Meeting.” I also found exercise activities that I enjoyed, like Pilates Reformer classes, yoga, and indoor cycling. And, most recently, I learned how to play tennis.
Another habit I wanted to change was my tendency to indulge in unhealthy snacks when stressed. I started keeping healthier snack options on hand and finding other ways to manage my stress, such as meditation or a quick walk outside. I cut out drinking altogether and seldom enjoy a drink or two if a special occasion or brunch with friends arises. Plus, an episode on Huberman Labs’ podcast on the effects of alcohol on our brain has reaffirmed my decision and outlook on drinking.
Developing positive habits has not only helped me achieve my health and fitness goals, but it has also improved my overall mood and mental health. By identifying the negative habits that were holding me back and replacing them with positive habits, I have been able to live a happier, healthier life.
If you’re looking to develop positive habits, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your current habits and identify any behaviors you want to change or improve. Create a plan for how you will develop positive habits, including setting reminders and finding ways to reward yourself for your progress. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way. With time and dedication, you can develop positive habits to help you achieve your goals and improve your overall well-being.
Building Positive Relationships and Cutting Out Toxic Friendships
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of positive relationships for personal growth. I used to think that success and happiness were all about working hard and achieving my goals on my own, but I soon realized that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed the support, encouragement, and accountability of others to thrive truly.
One of the biggest changes I made was cutting out toxic friendships. These relationships left me feeling drained and not great about myself or the experience with them. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I needed to prioritize my well-being and surround myself with people who brought me joy and support. It was difficult. With some, I started to phase them out of my life by minimizing my engagement with them, while for others, I had to have an uncomfortable talk and essentially break up with a said friend. And to be honest, moving to Spain made it easier.
Once I freed up space in my life for positive relationships, I started seeking mentors, coaches, and friends who shared my values and could help me achieve my goals. These relationships have been instrumental in my personal growth, providing me with guidance, encouragement, and a sounding board for my ideas and aspirations. Removing the toxicity gave me space, time, and energy to nurture the positive friendships in my life and truly show up for them.
Building positive relationships isn’t just about finding the right people – it’s also about putting in the effort to nurture those relationships. I’ve learned the importance of communication, honesty, and active listening in building strong connections with others. Whether scheduling regular check-ins or simply sending a quick text message to say hello, I consciously try to stay connected with the people who bring joy and positivity to my life.
I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your current relationships. Are there any toxic friendships or relationships that are holding you back? Plan to distance yourself from these negative influences and prioritize the people who bring you joy and support.
Seek mentors, coaches, or friends who can inspire and challenge you to grow and make an effort to communicate openly and honestly with those around you. By building positive relationships, you’ll be able to achieve more than you ever could on your own.
As someone who used to be a perfectionist, I’ve struggled with the fear of failure for most of my life. However, as I’ve grown and experienced more, I’ve learned that failure is a natural part of personal growth and an opportunity to learn and improve. This lesson was wholeheartedly learned through divorce and business.
One personal example of this was when I started my first business at 22. I poured all my energy and resources into it, but despite my best efforts, it didn’t take off as quickly as I had hoped. Initially, I felt devastated and like a failure. However, after taking some time to reflect, I realized I had learned valuable lessons to apply to my next venture. I took the time to analyze what went wrong and where I could have done better and made a plan for how I could improve in the future. By reframing my failure as a learning opportunity, I could move forward with a new perspective and mindset.
Another example is when I took up a new hobby and didn’t excel as quickly as I had hoped. I felt frustrated and disappointed, but I reminded myself that learning something new takes time and practice. I planned to practice consistently and sought resources and guidance to help me improve. By embracing my failures and using them as motivation to keep pushing forward, I was able to improve and find joy in the process of learning eventually.
These experiences taught me that failure is not the end of the road but a chance to grow and improve. By reframing failure as a learning opportunity, practicing self-compassion, and making an improvement plan, we can become more resilient and successful in all our lives. So, if you’re struggling with failure, take some time to reflect, reframe your mindset, and remember that personal growth is a journey full of ups and downs.
Reflecting on my personal growth journey, I’m grateful for the seven strategies that have helped me become my best self. By practicing mindfulness, setting goals, cultivating productivity, prioritizing self-care, developing positive habits, building positive relationships, and embracing failure, I’ve overcome obstacles and achieved amazing things.
But I know that personal growth is not a destination. It’s an ongoing journey of self-evolution that requires constant effort and dedication. Sometimes I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I’ve learned to be kind to myself and keep moving forward.
As you embark on your growth journey, remember that taking things one step at a time is okay. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and remember that setbacks and failures are opportunities for growth and learning.
Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I hope these strategies have been helpful and inspiring for you. Here’s to your continued personal growth and empowerment!
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.