“In a new year, our hopes are high, but our habits are low.” When I heard those words uttered Sunday from my pastor, I thought, “Whoa! That’s so true.” It resonated with me. We’ve just come off a holiday coma. Those days between Christmas and the New Year - you’re not sure what you’ve eaten, when you’ve showered or how many Netflix shows you’ve binged. But somehow we emerge well-rested, bellies full, full of anticipation and with the best of intentions. As we push our children back out the door to school (Hallelujah!), we’re ready to tackle 2020. But this time, not only have we moved into a new year, we’ve transitioned into a new DECADE. I recently chronicled all the milestones that are going to happen in the 20s for me and our family. I’ll turn the big 5-0!, my baby will turn 20, Matt and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, my business will have its 15-year anniversary, both my boys will learn to drive, graduate high school and head off to college (we think!).
So, as we venture into this new year with a clean slate, empty planners, fresh ideas and the best intentions, how can we really create lasting habits that will revolutionize our 2020 and beyond?
I firmly believe you need to define your non-negotiables.
My executive coach Michele Cushatt.
Two years ago, I was sitting in a session with my executive coach, Michele Cushatt, when she asked me, “When do you feel your best self? When are you the best version of Heather?” I noodled on it a minute and then began describing specific times in my days when I felt the strongest, most authentic, healthy version of Heather. We then walked through the common themes and actual practices that I was implementing during those days. It was a light bulb moment for me. I was the best version of myself when I was practicing self-care and not sacrificing me for every single other thing vying for my attention. What does self-care look like for you? I’m not talking about pedicures and massages here. Nope. I’m talking about looking at your whole body holistically and prioritizing its care. How can you figure this out for yourself? Take these 5 steps and map out your own plan.
Here’s what I want you to do:
Put Pen to Paper: Sit down and literally write down moments throughout your life when you felt the best version of you. It could be from last week or 5 years ago. What were you doing for yourself to take care of you?
Notice the Themes: Circle anything you were doing consistently across those times. Always taking a walk in the evening? Keeping a gratitude journal? Spending time one on one with a loved one? Make note. Pay attention specifically to even the smallest practices that separately could seem insignificant.
Share with a Confidant: Get away from your own thoughts. Meet with a trusted adviser. Perhaps it’s your spouse or a counselor? Maybe a colleague you respect or your college roommate? Or even someone in your life group at church who knows you intimately? Review your findings and ask for their perspective. What did you miss? What do they confirm?
Determine What’s Realistic: Evaluate your current season of life and consider what practices you found can be incorporated into your days. Notice here I’m not saying it’s easy. It may require you wake up earlier or maybe it pushes you slightly out of your comfort zone. That’s okay. The point is not for it to be easy; the point is for you to be transformed.
Define Your Non-Negotiables: What is not up for discussion? What is most sacred in your life? What do you want to protect considerably? What will you absolutely not sacrifice? Write these down and consolidate into five top self-care requirements for your life. You don’t want a long list that feels intimidating or daunting when you look at it. These need to be incorporated into your every day.
This daily self-care practice will transform your 2020. Will you have to give some things up? Probably. Will it be hard? More than likely. But, after two years of implementing this in my own life, I have to tell you - it works. I am a stronger leader, with clear vision. I’m a more invested mother and wife. I love my body and feel better in my own skin. I’m not as short-tempered, tired, foggy, restless or hopeless.
Need some examples to get you started?
Here are my Top 5 Daily Self-Care Non-Negotiables:
Wake up 30 minutes early for quiet, one-on-one time with myself. For me, this includes reading my devotion, capturing gratitude, a cup of hot tea and prayer.
Pay attention to what goes in my mouth. I start my every day with a #Fab4Smoothie and throughout my day am mindful of nourishing my body.
Exercise at least three times a week. Garage Barre + Bike is what I’ve discovered works for me. I love it. It has become a passion, not a dreaded task. It provides an encouraging, beautiful, vulnerable community. My body feels strong (hello toned arms and muscles!).
Drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily. Side effects include luminous, quenched skin. I’m here for that, y’all!
Rest at least 8 hours a day. Gone are the days when it was a badge of honor to stay up till wee hours of the morning. Everything, quite literally, on my body functions better when this happens.
We’re almost a month into 2020. Let’s capture this year as one where our own care will not only be prioritized, but our non-negotiables won’t be sacrificed. Giving the best version of ourselves to the world seems like a pretty amazing way to start this decade!