Happy New Year!
I know it’s midway through January, but this is my first post of 2016 and I wanted to start it off by sending some positive vibes your way. I’m feeling really good these days, like better than I’ve felt in an extremely long time. I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been doing over the past few months to set myself up for what will hopefully be the best year of my life so far. I want you to have the best year of your life too! Here are my tips for making it happen.
1. I Accepted That I Play A Role In My Own Happiness
For the longest time I ignored my role in my mental well being. I thought depression and anxiety were just part of my life and I would become angry when it was suggested to me that I do something about it. I went to the doctor, I got prescribed meds and had a few sessions with a therapist. Wasn’t that enough?
No. It wasn’t until fall of 2015 (yes, just a few months ago!) when I realized I needed to confront my unhappiness head on. No more being a passenger on this journey, it was time for me to jump in the captain’s seat and fly this plane myself.
I quit my job so I could refocus on projects I was truly passionate about. Half the eggs in my happiness basket stem from my work, and while I know we are more than our professions, what I do for a living is important to me so I re-calibrated. This was not a seamless process though. I had agonized over the decision to quit for so long that by the time I did it I was so stressed out, exhausted and burnt out that it took almost all of October for me to get back on track. But once I did, it was worth it. I had exciting new projects to work on and ambitious people to work with. A new fire had been lit beneath me and I knew I was on my way to something great.
2. I Started Asking For What I Want
Ask and you shall receive.
I remember when I was a 14-year-old girl from small town Ontario just beginning to discover my passion for journalism. A few friends and I started an “online zine” as they were called back then dedicated to all things punk rock. Before I knew it, I was landing interviews with some pretty heavy hitters in the pop punk scene at the time: Sum 41, Good Charlotte, Finch and a ton of other notable acts from that era. People didn’t understand how I was getting these people to talk to me, but it was simple: I asked.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped asking for what I wanted. I fell into the swing of things and rolled with whatever punches life threw my way. Sure I pitched articles and landed some assignments I wanted, but in retrospect it was pretty passive. Mostly I was just saying yes to opportunities worried that if I passed on them others wouldn’t come my way. I ended up working on a lot of stuff that didn’t necessarily inspire me just for the experience (and the paycheque).
Now, things are different. I’m leveraging my network, reaching out to people I want to work with and asking them how my skills can help them achieve their own dreams and business goals. I’m so excited about what I’m working on right now and where things are going (some incredible things are in the works!). Sure it can be scary being out here on my own in this freelance world, but I’ve got my hand gripped firmly on the wheel this time and I’m not afraid to ask for direction (or help) when I need it. This extends far beyond just my career.
3. I Focused on my Health
I’ve been pretty active throughout my 20s, but not necessarily because I wanted to be healthy so much as that I wanted to be skinny. Working out was something I did in an attempt to accomplish what I considered a goal. It was also something I often found myself doing as a form of punishment, not because I liked it. Same with eating healthy. This was problematic for me at various times throughout my life and it wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that I realized being active was something I could enjoy. It made me feel good physically and mentally, and it helped me recover from some of those disordered thinking patterns and habits that had plagued me for so long.
Then in November, I discovered kickboxing. Kickboxing has been a miracle workout for me. It’s empowering and I absolutely love it, which is why I find myself at the studio at least five times a week. I’m finally starting to see those results I always longed for (toning up, getting stronger, weight loss) and for the first time ever they are a side effect of my healthy habits, not a direct result of unhealthy ones.
Now I work out and eat healthy because I want to be healthy. It makes me feel good, which has helped restore my confidence in myself and significantly improved other areas of my life (like the bedroom!). I also focus a lot on actively improving my mental health and being more mindful of what makes me feel good. I haven’t drank alcohol once in 2016 and don’t plan to at all this month. Instead, I’m dedicating my time to things that make me happy like reading, hanging out with my man and my pup, grabbing brunch or dinner or just chilling with my girlfriends, calling my parents more, planning my wedding, and allowing myself more time on my mat.
Basically, I made myself a priority.
Looking after yourself and asking for what you want is not selfish. It is really the only way to start living your best life, which you absolutely deserve to be living.
These changes take time, hard work and dedication. They won’t happen overnight and there is no shortcut (trust me, I tried them all). I’ve been dealing with many of these issues since I was a teenager and I turn 30 this year (shh, don’t tell anyone!). I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be even if it’s not where I thought I would be.
Remember to be kind to and compassionate with yourself. Start small by beginning to dedicate more time to things that bring you joy. If you need some inspiration, please check out my new Pinterest board Self Care Sundays. I’ll have a post about this movement coming out on Sunday (of course!) because it’s something I’m really trying to make a mainstay in my life.
I hope you found this helpful. Here’s to making 2016 our best year yet!