Having goals and things you want to achieve is fantastic - it is linked to Positive Psychology and focuses on accomplishment and achievement. But instead of placing such importance on what’s next, here’s 4 ways you can be happy - now!
The strengths of future focuses like goal setting can be life changing, but the limitations of these mindsets can be just as detrimental because by focusing on what’s wrong or what’s next you are also never really being present, in the moment and happy with you, just as you are now!
Let’s create some awareness for where this could be coming up for you - some really common examples can be with your health and fitness goals, career or work life goals and financial goals. You might notice thoughts like ‘I’ll be happy when I’ve reached this fitness level or goal weight’ or “I’ll be happy when I’ve reached this milestone in my career’ or ‘I’ll feel good when I have this amount of money saved in the bank’.
Be proud of yourself!
This mindset is also called Overfocusing on what’s wrong or what’s next. Essentially it means that by placing such importance and focus on the things that you are still to achieve, or striving for there is much less importance placed on the life you’re living right now, in the present moment. Which also means there’s less ability to cultivate those feel-good emotions you want to be feeling like gratitude, appreciation and pride for yourself.
As with all mindset thinking patterns, the key isn’t to stop them all together (that would be impossible!) but to find a balance between the strengths and limitations.
The number one thing that is missing in these thinking patterns is the lack of focus on what you are already doing for yourself. The things you are already achieving! Ask yourself these 3 questions once a week:
- What am I doing well this week?
- What would the past version of me be proud of if they looked at my life now?
- What habits are making me feel good this week?
Leave time in your to-do-list for you
These days most of us are so busy that a to-do-list is helpful because it can reduce overwhelm by closing out some of the open ‘tabs’ in your mind. On the other hand, it can also mean that you get so stuck on trying to get it all done that you forget to take moments for you to just be.
Find the middle ground of using your lists to your advantage - reduce your stress and overwhelm by writing it all out, but schedule moments into your days (or your calendar) that are notification free, work free, child free - just 5 minutes for you.
Be more present
Following on from tip 1, by creating some more space just for you, even when it is only 5 minutes, be careful not to get caught up in common distraction techniques like scrolling social media or responding to notifications - emails, text messages, missed calls etc. The point of leaving that 5 minutes for yourself is that you can bring yourself into the present moment to feel more calm and relaxed. Some techniques to do this if you find it difficult can be focusing on your breathing for 5 deep breaths or noticing 3 things in the environment around you that you can bring your awareness to eg - the blue sky outside, a hot cup of tea and the cars going past your house or workplace.
Get into flow
Your flow state is when you are so engaged in an activity that you lose track of time. You’re not thinking about what you have left to do for the day, what you’re cooking for dinner or what notifications you have on your phone.
Think about the thing or things that you do where you feel really present and go into your flow state - for some people it can be exercising or moving their bodies, painting or being creative, cooking and baking or even simple activities like having a shower and actually feeling the warm water wash over your shoulders. Schedule your flow activities into your calendar at least once a fortnight to give yourself the space to calm your mind and stop the overflowing thoughts.
If you love to listen to podcasts, I also have a podcast episode on this topic that you can listen to while you're out and about (or even while you're cleaning the house!) Click here to listen to the episode, or search The Nourishing Ami Podcast on your favourite podcast app.
Ami Rankin - Emotional Wellbeing Coach