If you are a regular at your gym, you may have noticed that Mondays are crowded, and Fridays are a ghost town. Many of us start the week with the intention to live our ideal life, and lose our drive and mindfulness as the days go by. Some people are able to beat that loss of motivation by planning. You can start to develop the habit of being more mindful (and motivated) by planning for the eight most important aspects of your life.
Here are some tips and tools to help you be successful in the areas that are most important to you:
- Career: What do you do for a living? What would you like to do?
Are you generally happy with what your work, or do you dread Monday mornings? If it is the latter, don’t just endure it – take some time to consider a solution. Remember, satisfaction with your job is not only about what you actually do, it can also include elements like your commute time, the flexibility of your schedule, and the relationships you have with your co-workers. If you are dissatisfied, is it coming from one of those causes, and not your specific industry or duties?
It can be helpful to make a list of the pros and cons of your current job – can you see where the actual problem is, or what would you like to change? This can give you guidance for where to focus your efforts. Don’t be afraid to admit that your perception of an enjoyable job may have changed over time, or may be different from what your peers want from their role.
If you do want to change industries, books like What Color is Your Parachute can provide guidance, as well as informal meetings with contacts who are working in the areas or positions that you find attractive.
- Financial: Are you thriving or just surviving on your salary?
It has been said that there are two ways to change your financial situation. The first way is to spend less. Are there unnecessary expenses that can be trimmed from your budget? Take a careful look at both your variable expenses and recurring bills, including memberships or subscriptions.
The second way to change your situation is to make more. Relating to point number one, is it time for you to make a career change? Or, is there an opportunity for you to use your professional or personal skills to freelance or take on a part-time job? This can be a way to both make more money and explore alternate career paths.
- Relationships: How would you describe your social life? What are your relationships like? Are you happy with where you are?
There are different ways that people categorize their social lives. The most obvious is loneliness – are you missing the amount of interaction and depth of relationships that you want? Have you recently moved or experienced another change that has left you feeling lonely? An easy way to change this is to adjust your current interests to offer more social interaction. Avid readers can find a local book club, and solo joggers can try joining a running group.
It is also possible to find yourself overloaded with social obligations (or individuals) that you just don’t find fulfilling. Our personal needs and wants can evolve, and our lifestyles must reflect that in order for us to feel happy. Is there an obligation you need to decline, or a change that you need to address?
- Health and fitness: Do you make time for exercise?
If you feel unable to tackle the issues mentioned in the first three points, making a change in your fitness level may give you the ability to handle all of those tasks, and more. This is because regular exercise has been proven to improve your mood, boost your energy, improve your love life, and even make you smarter.
From free YouTube workouts that you can easily do at home, to programs like Couch to 5k that get you out and about, to Crossfit gyms where you will find new friends, there is an exercise option for everyone. Make working out a non-negotiable part of your week, and you will see a positive impact on nearly every other part of your life.
- Contribution to Charity: It’s been said that it’s better to give than to receive. Is there a charity or cause to which you donate or volunteer time?
Is there a cause that you truly believe in, or perhaps an organization that helped you in a time of need? Giving back can make a huge difference, for both those you serve and yourself. Volunteering helps you develop new skills and experiences, and has even been proven to increase happiness. One other positive result of spending time volunteering is that you will meet people with similar interests and values.
- Personal Growth: Have you taken any “me time” recently? How are you striving to improve yourself or burnish your skills? Are you a continuous learner?
You don’t have to enroll in a challenging graduate program to improve your skills and keep your brain sharp. From exploring personal interests to expanding your professional horizons, learning something new is a great way to grow as a person.
Browse the best sellers for some new reading inspiration, or try tools like Babbel and Duolingo to easily make progress with learning a new language. For inexpensive courses, check out your community recreation department, public library, or local university’s continuing education program. You just might find a new passion, and some new friends that share it with you.
- Spiritual Growth: Are you part of a church or faith community? Are you forming relationships with others? How important is the spiritual component of your life?
From social support to an ability to see the world differently, being a part of a religious community can help you in numerous ways. If being a part of a church is important to you, have you taken the time to find a group that is the right fit? Are you taking full advantage of the events and opportunities for involvement that are offered?
- Recreation: What are you doing to get away? What do you like to do on weekends or vacation time?
Travel offers many educational benefits, including greater specific insights and an improvement to your overall perspective. If your vacation days are piling up, make a resolution to use them to put some stamps on your passport or miles on your car. Can’t get away? Just going outside makes you healthier. Use the Alltrails site and app to find amazing places to hike and explore, no matter where you are.
Not certain how to fit all of these elements into your daily life? To ensure the progress you are looking for, many of my clients now schedule 30 minutes on Sunday evening to plan The Ideal Week. Ask yourself if your obligations align with your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to exercise daily to maintain your health; however, your obligations for the week have you at the office for 60 hours, then your week is out of balance. Taking this time is a way to make sure that what you want to do and what you are actually doing stays aligned.
What does your ideal week look like? What are you doing to make it a reality? Take some time to reflect on these questions and your answers and start planning Your Ideal Week.