Making positive changes, growing, and evolving for the better aren’t easy tasks. If they were, we would all walk around as our best selves every day.
I’ve changed SO MUCH for the better in the past couple of years — in the past couple of months and weeks, even! — and I still try to be better every day. I’m very happy with the person that I am becoming and with my life in general, but I know there are still things that I can do even better to be the best me that I can possibly be. One of my biggest goals lately has been to invest more time and energy into what fuels me, what fulfills me, and gives me a sense of purpose. One of those things is writing, and another one of those things is sharing my passion for fitness and living a positive, happy, balanced lifestyle. So, this month (the month of my birth!), I’m celebrating the beautiful life I still live by challenging myself not only to push harder towards my goals, but to share that with all y’all and blog every day about my experiences with obstacles, depression, anxiety, and the things that ultimately conquered them: love, happiness, resilience, positivity, change, and growth.
The first topic that I want to approach is change at its most basic level: how do you begin to change? More importantly, where do you even begin knowing what to change?!
1. Who do you want to be?
For me, the first step in change is always thinking about what I could do better in order to be who I really want to be. If I’m unhappy or dissatisfied about something, I ask myself why, and what I could do to make it better. I ask myself what I’m doing any given day to work towards achieving my goals and being that best self. If the answer is nothing, I ask myself why? Why not be my best self? What’s the point of being anything less than the person that I want to be in life? Who do I want to be, and how could I do better?
In one of my classes recently, we had to write out a “mission statement” for ourselves, and that really helped me focus on a forward direction. While my goals and “mission” are constantly evolving, thinking about your best self and who you want to be can act as a great guidepost to refer to when you find yourself drifting, uncertain, doubting yourself, feeling down on yourself, or craving change. What did I do to exemplify my best self today? How did I work towards my goals? What could I do differently tomorrow?
2. Think about the things that you can change
You don’t have to be unhappy to want to change. You don’t have to satisfied with everything in your life to be happy or simply make strides towards being happier, either.
Whether you want to make big changes or small ones, all the tools that you need are already within yourself.
Whether things are going super great in your life or things are going terribly, devastatingly, catastrophically awfully, there are always things that you can change. The first thing is your mindset. In my experience, a positive mindset always wins out. I used to not be able to handle any challenge that came my way and if things weren’t going my way I simply played possum, which isn’t the best approach to solving problems, or moving forward when something bad happens.
When it comes to things that you literally cannot change, try not to dwell on them, and focus on positive changes that you can make. It’s of no use to become mired in self-doubt and self-pity over things that you cannot control. Choose productivity over stagnation. Choose positivity over self-pity. Choose to focus on the things that you can change instead of dwelling on those you can’t (such as the past).
There are some things that I will never be able to change. I can’t change that I have depression and anxiety, but I can change my reactions, and the degree to which I let these things affect me. I can change how I deal with them, I can change my outlook on life, I can change my habits and be aware and proactive when I feel like I’m lapsing into a state of depression or panic. I can choose not to feel bad about myself and spend every day saying “boo hoo poor me I have to take these pills and I’m fundamentally flawed so I’ll never be useful or whole or happy”, and I can choose not to use it as an excuse. I can choose not to let these things become my whole identity, and I can choose not to let them define me and control my life. For example, finding a positive outlet for stress and finding something that I am passionate about that gets me excited for every day has completely changed my life. If you’ve ever experienced depression, you know how hard it can be to do even things that you love. On days when I just don’t “feel like it”, I try to remind myself of how good it makes me feel and that I really do love it, and that the voice telling me that I don’t want to or don’t like to is the misleading voice of depression talking, not my true self (that’s not to say you shouldn’t take rest days when you need them cause you deffo should lolz I’m talking about when you go for long periods of time not doing something that you really love).
You are NOT helpless. And you’re worth a million times more than any negative thought. The voice in your head that tells you that you can’t or that you don’t want to doesn’t define you.
3. Any day can be day one
Don’t wait for next week, next month, or next year. Positive change doesn’t need to have a specific start and end date set in stone. It’s not a gravestone with permanently etched dates. Progress consists of mile markers along the way, not just an end and a beginning. You can make any day your day one, and you can always choose to hit the reset button, recharge yourself, and refocus yourself towards your goals and reaching towards being that “best self” — the best version of yourself, the person you want to be. You can be that person, if you stop doubting yourself and telling unkind untruths to yourself about yourself.
Any day can be the first day of positive change, with patience, persistence, a positive mindset, and with love for yourself and for who you want to be. Any day of the year can be the day you decide to make changes, big or small, to live a happier, more positive and fulfilling life. Heck, you can even decide at 2pm on a Tuesday that you don’t want to have a bad day anymore and hit the reset button and do everything in your power to have a better day. It’s never too late or too early.
4. Change because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself
I’m a firm believer that an integral part of change is honesty with yourself, and knowing what can be changed for the better in order to enable you to determine what you need to change and reach towards being your ideal self.
BUT!!!!!!!! That’s not to say that you should rip yourself to shreds and brutally attack yourself over what you view as “wrong”. Self-awareness doesn’t mean a lack of self-love — it means loving yourself and being in tune with yourself enough to recognize that you are more than your bad qualities and your bad days. You’re more than the negative things you tell yourself. You’re more than a bad habit or something you view as a physical or mental “flaw”. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says you are not x, y, and z enough. Identifying too closely with the false and negative things you think about yourself and all those bad things about you that the lil demon voice in your head hisses at you in your darkest moments makes you believe them. Choose to separate yourself from those criticisms, and don’t let them become you or define you.
Wanting to change and acknowledging things that you want to change doesn’t mean you have to hate yourself. For instance, for me, I know I have some bad habits: I’m impulsive, I procrastinate, and I complain a lot. But that’s not who I want to be, so I’m trying my darndest not to let it become a permanent part of who I am at my very core and become even more ingrained in my every day actions and habits. These are things that I want to change not because I hate myself for being a procrastinator and having poor self-control sometimes, but because I love myself enough to want to be my best self. I choose not to accept or embrace these things as part of who I am because they are bad habits, and I choose to believe that I’m not just destined to be a flagrant complainer for the rest of my life who can never and will never change. Rather than identifying with myself as a complainer and thinking of it as simply part of who I am, I tell myself, “that’s not who I am, who I want to be, or who I have to be. I don’t have to complain — I’m not being my best self today!”
The power of your mindset really cannot be overstated. When I was motivated by hatred of myself, I found that I was not capable of making lasting, positive changes. Trying to change things that you vehemently “hate” is exhausting and frustrating. For instance, I used to hate that I have body fat, and I would get so frustrated and upset when I didn’t see immediate results from my endless cardio sessions and strict dieting. I’ve seen the best results now that I’ve embraced fitness as a lifestyle and a vehicle for positive change mentally, physically, and emotionally, rather than a means to change a body that I hated. Positive change starts with a positive mindset, and a deep love of yourself as a uniquely beautiful individual who can and will be better than even your worst habit. One bad habit or one perceived “flaw” does not define you as a human being, and we can always choose to change because we want to live our fullest life as our best self.
5. Make an action plan
WRITE THINGS DOWN! Make a plan. Set goals. Know what they are and remind yourself of them. Ask yourself what you’re doing to work towards them on any given day. Be the incredible bad ass you were born to be. Even if it’s one tiny baby step or one positive thing that you did each day to work towards your goals and your best self, that is AWESOME. You are awesome, and you can be your best self. And you can start now!
This week, challenge yourself to achieve a goal, whether it’s a big one or a small one or an in-between sized one. My goal this week is to turn complaints into gratitude and not feel so sorry for myself all the time. I’ve caught myself slipping quite a few times, and that’s not the end of the world! I just remind myself that that’s not who I want to be. Don’t beat yourself over the little mistakes you make and the obstacles that you face throughout whatever your personal journey is. Achieving happiness, fulfillment, and whatever else you want to achieve is, after all, a journey, and there are no fast passes or cheat codes. Frodo didn’t take the expressway to Mordor and simply walk in.
So… who do you want to be? What do you want to achieve? What are you doing to achieve it?