I’ve found that many of my clients in today’s fast-paced, hyperproductive world feel like they are on a treadmill of neverending tasks and obligations. They never get off that treadmill, and wake up 10 years later wondering what the past decade was all about.
So here’s a pop quiz: At the end of the day, do you typically feel,
a. Anxious and dissatisfied that you didn’t get more done.
b. Upset about a few things that went wrong.
c. Overwhelmed by all that you need to do tomorrow.
d. Happy and fulfilled with how your day went.
If you answered anything other than “d. Happy and fulfilled,” then this blog is for you!
The ultimate bummer is that each day is a precious canvas on which we paint our lives. If you are not taking the time to truly enjoy the works of art you are creating, what is the point?
The solution is to develop a set of nightly practices that get you off the treadmill, savoring the art you created with your day, and pondering what works of genius you want to create in the future. Here are seven ways to do this:
1. Write a list of 10 wonderful things that happened during the day.
If you’re like many of my driven clients, you end the day wishing that you could have gotten a few more things done. But this distorts your view of what actually happened during the day, making it seem more negative than it actually was. When doing this exercise, most people find that their days were actually quite amazing!
2. Rewrite one thing that you would do differently.
This is a great way to gradually shift yourself. Pick one incident from the day and imagine how you would have acted differently, in hindsight. Imagine that scenario as if it had actually happened that way. The neat thing about our human brains is that they treat things we imagine and things that actually happen similarly! What this means is that by imagining how you would have done something, you are actually training your mind to do it that way next time.
3. Praise your partner for one thing that you love about them.
Send both of you off to sleep in a feeling of deep love and gratitude for each other.
4. Watch or read something that aligns with your dreams.
I used to watch episodes of Homeland right before bed, until I noticed that I would have paranoid dreams about the people in my life betraying me. I would wake up feeling negative and mistrustful. What we feed our mind changes how we think, so be careful about what you’re feeding yours. Does your mental diet help you be the person you want to be?
5. Find what is worrying you, and commit to one action the next day to fix it.
This one is key to avoiding the wake-up-at-3am panic attacks. We all have things weighing on our mind, like finding a new place to live, dealing with a difficult situation at work, or money problems. Taking action helps get you out of worry and into a mindset of possibility; by committing to the action you will take tomorrow, you can rest easy, knowing that it will be handled.
6. Make arrangements for a calm morning.
Each morning you want to set the tone of the day to be one of positivity and possibility, and running around as a clock-watching stress ball does not help the cause. Take the steps the night before to make sure that you have an easy and cheerful morning: pack your lunch, straighten up, pick out your outfit.
7. Read your dreams and celebrate the progress.
You should have your dreams for your life written out (if you don’t, consider this to be a homework assignment!). Once you have them, the next step is to keep the dream in your heart and mind, like a dear friend who accompanies you throughout the day. Reading it each night helps you remember what you are going for, and celebrate the small victories that you are making to get there!
If you follow even one of these seven, you will start to savor and cherish each day as the gift that it truly is.
Which of these nightly practices will YOU start doing? Write me a note and declare it!