We want you to know something: You can choose to change your life for the better at any place and at any time. No, really, you can. At any moment you can decide to change old habits and form changes for the year ahead.
You might set new year’s resolutions on December 31st or maybe you write out a lengthy list of goals on the first day of the year. Whatever way you like to do it, there’s a vital first step that ensures you can maximise the year ahead.
That first step? A great big annual review. This is the process of laser focusing on the year that’s just been by looking back on your long and short term goals, analysing the progress you’ve made (including successes and failures) and using all that freshly gleaned insight to inform your goals for the year ahead.
Why should you reflect and review?
It all comes down to motivation, alignment, improvement and wellbeing.
Looking back on your accomplishments is a powerful motivator, it instils a game-changing belief that you can and will succeed again. It also helps you to double down on your priorities, allowing you to reassess what’s important to you and align your thoughts and actions to the stuff that really matters.
What’s more, reflection is the secret ingredient to self-improvement. When you analyse what went right – and crucially what went wrong – you allow yourself to establish new systems for the future and overcome all the tricky stuff that’s been holding you back.
And finally? According to studies, taking pride in your progress is scientifically proven to boost feelings of happiness, wellbeing, and life satisfaction.
How To Reflect & Review
Take your time
Seriously, this is a vital step on the road to achieving your goals that’s not to be rushed. You might like to set aside 30 minutes every day for a week, spend a couple of hours on it at the weekend, or tackle each month of the year one day at a time. Looking closely and honestly at how your year has gone takes real focus, so carve out a dedicated time to do it, and ideally find somewhere you won’t be disturbed.
For added clarity, you might like to squeeze in a short meditation beforehand. Meditation is shown to improve memory recall and aid concentration, so before you put pen to paper, consider taking a moment to find your centre.
Celebrate Your Wins
Think of this as your very own highlight reel: it’s made up of all the shiny highs from the past 12 months; the moments you tasted success. When you really think about it, you’ve achieved more than you ever could have imagined. Take a moment to really savour that feeling of success.
Next, ask yourself ‘why was I able to achieve these things?’. It might be because you took daily action steps toward them using your Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal or because you enlisted the help of a mentor. Perhaps you took a course that elevated your learning or repeated affirmations that set you up for success.
Really struggling to recall your achievements? As humans, we’re hardwired to give more attention to the negatives, so don’t be surprised if your attention is pulled towards the times you didn’t succeed or you find yourself dwelling on the mistakes you made.
If counting your wins feels tricky, enlist the help of a friend. Our nearest and dearest often recognise our achievements more readily than we do ourselves. They could remind you of that big presentation you did or congratulate you on rising to an unexpected challenge.
Know this: No achievement is too big or too small, so if it felt like a win to you, write it down. And remember: You did that. Yes, YOU.
Look at your lessons
You know that saying ‘Never a failure, always a lesson? It’s especially true when completing your big annual review and we’ll bet you’ve learned a lot this year. Failure is a teachable moment, after all, and it’s often in our ‘down in the dirt’ times that we learn exactly what it is we need to succeed.
You might like to use some prompts to really get to the juicy stuff. Try questions like:
- What roadblocks did I encounter while trying to achieve this goal?
- Does this goal still feel aligned with my main priorities in life, or do I feel drawn to something bigger and better
- What steps can I take to improve on this next year?
- What have I learned about myself in the process of working towards this goal? Have I identified any strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the top three lessons I’ve learned from this experience?
Here’s the crucial bit: You need to create a space for yourself where recognising failure isn’t about beating yourself up or taking on blame. It’s simply trial and error and an essential part of your growth.
As the saying goes, you haven’t failed, you’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work – and, when you reflect and review, you’re right on the verge of finding what does.
Recognise your progress
At the end of the year, it can be easy to look back and fixate on the areas where you feel you’ve fallen short of your goals. Maybe you haven’t achieved certain things in the exact timeline you expected or some of your goals didn’t exactly go to plan.
If that’s the case, don’t fret. Here at The Head Plan, we believe in divine timing. We trust that everything happens at the perfect time and we know that over the past year you’ve undoubtedly made massive strides towards your success.
If there’s a goal on your list that you didn’t quite get over the line, remember this: your future holds something far greater than your past and everything in your life is unfolding as it should.
Remember you’ve laid the foundations for next year’s success. We’ll bet that goal you’ve been working on is just about ready to break through the surface; it’s just waiting for the most perfect time.
GOal Get ‘Em…
Now you’re all set. Armed with all the insight, knowledge and lessons you’ve learned over the past 12 months, you have the power to make the year ahead even bigger and better and we firmly believe there’s isn’t anything you can’t have, do, or be. After all, just look at the massive strides you’ve made since January 1st. When you put pen to paper and start setting your goals for the year ahead, we want you to bear this in mind.
Now, with the belief that you have the power to make it happen and the proof all laid out in front of you, it’s time to set even bigger goals for the year ahead. We’re right behind you, cheering you on. So, what are you waiting for?
YES. Yes is a magic word. No, really it is. Yes has the power to unlock some of life’s greatest treasures, but often we reserve our ‘yeses’ for the stuff we feel obligated to do, like that extra project your boss asked you to take on or the trip you have to take with your friends.
But what if you started saying ‘yes’ to big challenges, out-of-your-comfort zone opportunities, and invitations to connect with others?
It’s really this simple: saying yes can open you up to new opportunities. It encourages new ideas, can prompt innovative thinking, and push your boundaries in powerful, life-changing ways. That’s why we want you to make 2022 your year of saying yes.
Why do we sometimes say ‘no’ when we want to say ‘yes’?
Good question, and here’s the answer: fear. Yes, that’s right, good old-fashioned fear. Fear wears many disguises. When you get asked to a party and you say no because you’re worried you’ll look and feel awkward. That’s fear. When you get offered your dream job, but you turn it down because you (wrongly) believe you haven’t got what it takes. That’s fear too.
Sometimes we turn down ideas because they seem unconventional or out of the box as well, or say no because we already have a lot on our plates and don’t want to overcommit. Whatever the reason, ‘no’ often comes from the rational, fear-based part of our brains.
You can usually figure out why you’re saying no by getting still and asking yourself ‘what’s holding me back?’. Pay attention to the answer. Chances are it’s fear in some form or another and it’s often the very thing you need to overcome to get to your next level.
To clarify, we’re not talking about people-pleasing or suggesting you say yes to every request to satisfy other people. In fact, it’s the opposite. Developing a ‘yes’ mindset is about putting you and your needs first. It’s about aligning to your goals by grabbing opportunities with both hands, rather than saying yes because you feel obligated to. Don’t confuse the two.
How To Develop A Yes Mindset
All too often saying no is can be an automatic reaction. We say no without really thinking about it. But decisions – especially the big ones – are often deserving of real consideration. For this, we recommend The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and get it all out on paper.
Ask yourself a few questions, how could this help me grow? What might I learn? And what’s stopping me from saying yes?
If you’re really struggling, ask for guidance within. We all have an in-built GPS that always knows which way to go and will encourage you to say yes if it’s for your greater good.
Close your eyes, get into a meditative state and hold the intention of connecting with that spiritual part of you that knows all the answers. You might like to ask questions like, ‘which decision suits me best?’ or ‘Will saying yes to this opportunity bring me closer to my true self?’. Sit for a while and see what comes up.
Find your stretch zone
Have you heard of the stretch zone? It is a place just outside of your comfort zone where progress and learning take place. Research shows that as humans we operate between three primary zones: comfort, stretch and panic.
The comfort zone is familiar but unchallenging, while the panic zone is characterised by extreme stress. Often, we say no because we’re worried we’ll find ourselves in the latter zone: a place where we will be unable to cope.
The answer is finding your stretch zone: the sweet spot in the middle where you can grow and evolve without feeling out of control.
Getting into your stretch zone involves taking tiny, calculated risks that feel a little challenging but not overwhelmingly scary. Think speaking up in a work meeting rather than volunteering to host a presentation or agreeing to ‘drop in’ to that social event instead of staying the whole night.
The more you ‘stretch’ the more comfortable you’ll feel doing the stuff that feels a little scary, and the more willing you’ll be to say yes in the future.
Need a little extra jolt of self-belief to see you through? Write some empowering affirmations like ‘I am powerful and I am ready for change’ on your mirror with The Head Plan Mirror Markers and read them every morning.
Consider the risk in saying no
Let us ask you this: a year from now, do you want to be in the same place you are now or do you want to have made steady progress towards your goals? Do you want to feel accomplished, happier, and more fulfilled? The secret is saying yes.
If you’re still struggling, consider a quick visualization. Imagine the outcome of your ‘yes’. Whether it’s a date or a new job, picture it going well. Really get into it. Notice how the fear kind of dissipates and is replaced by excitement? Now imagine where you’ll be if you say no. You could stay stuck in the same place forever.
When an opportunity presents itself and you feel that nervous knot in your belly, reframe it. The mind and the body can’t tell the difference between nerves and excitement, and that means you can find relief by telling yourself you feel excited rather than anxious. The more you do it, the more you’ll believe it, and pretty soon you’ll be super pumped to give a great big yes.
Life is short, say yes…
Steve Jobs said, "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life." While that might be a little grim, there’s a nugget of wisdom in there. Do you really want to look back on your life and regret all the chances you didn’t take?The next time an opportunity presents itself and you feel in your gut that you should reach out and grab it, we want you to be brave, and say yes. You owe it to yourself and yes, you’ve got what it takes.
Here’s a question for you. What do you consume on a daily basis? We want to know what you give your attention to on an average day, from the news you read and the social media accounts you interact with, to the people you talk to and the books, shows, and podcasts you absorb.
Because guess what? All of these things affect the way you think and behave and contribute to your overall energy. Negative influences have a sneaky habit of zapping our energy before we even realise it.
Research shows that negativity actually distorts our thinking. When we encounter bad news, we overestimate its significance. It’s the very reason why, when a story dominates the headlines, we often fall down the rabbit hole of needing to know every single detail.
Over time, this can change our worldview. As humans, we have an in-built confirmation bias that means on a psychological level we will seek out information that confirms what we already believe.
So when you regularly expose yourself to negative news, toxic people, or draining social media accounts, you’re actually priming your mind to seek out more of the same. The more evidence you gather to support those things, the more likely you are to start believing that the world is a bad place to be.
But you can break the cycle. You can flip the switch and choose to see the good in the world. It all starts with being mindful of what you consume. Here’s how…
Limit your exposure to the news
These days, news is everywhere. We live in an era of 24-hour rolling news cycles. That means, protecting yourself is a little harder than switching the TV off come 6pm. But it doesn’t have to be a losing battle. Maybe you need to mute certain words on Twitter, uninstall news apps on your phone, or be firm with loved ones when they bring up the latest story that’s hit the headlines.
A healthy dose of perspective can go a long way too. A news bulletin is – for the most part at least – a collection of the absolute worst things that have happened across the world in a single day. It doesn’t include all the joyful news that has also filled the past 24 hours.
Somewhere someone in the world is saying I love you for the first time, someone is smashing a major goal, and someone else is welcoming their first child into the world. In a single moment, there are thousands of happy moments taking place around the globe. Despite how you might feel when consuming the latest headlines, there is always, always joy to be found.
When the news cycle feels heavy or another glum story fills our social media feeds, close the apps if you need to, turn off the TV and do your best to keep that in mind.
Consciously consume social media
Opening a social media app you never know what you’re going to get. You could be greeted with posts that make you feel uplifted, happy, and inspired or sad, unmotivated, and stuck.
Our advice? Find happy spaces online. It could be The Head Plan Community (where we share daily motivation, affirmations, and more), meme pages that make you laugh out loud, or accounts that exclusively share pics of puppies. You could even seek out a community of like-minded people who uplift and inspire you.
While you’re at it, mindfully review the content that drains you. Maybe you follow a particular news outlet that gets you down or regularly see toxic updates from someone you know. Remember this: the mute and unfollow buttons are there for a reason. Protect your energy and use them. You owe it to yourself.
Bubble wrap yourself
You know that saying ‘you are the grand sum of the five people you spend the most time with?’. It’s not just a hollow sentiment. The people around us literally impact the way we think, feel and behave. Thanks to mirror neurons in our brain, we’re primed to ‘mirror’ the behaviours of the people we observe. That’s why, if a colleague is in a bad mood, you might find you start feeling cranky too.
But guess what? You don’t have to take on other people’s energies. You could excuse yourself from a toxic situation, take breaks if someone is getting you down, or even try the bubble wrap method. To do it, simply visualise yourself wrapped in protective bubble wrap, and imagine their hurtful, unkind, or downright toxic comments bouncing off your protective layer.
You can also actively try to redirect the conversation. Try using phrases like ‘How are things with you? Tell me some good news!’ or What’s been the highlight of your week so far?’.
Conventional wisdom says that you should cut negative people out of your life, but not only is that not always possible, in some circumstances, it could be considered unkind. Instead, you can choose to be a positive influence in their life.
The old adage is true: You never know what someone else is going through, so if their begrudgery, skepticism, or downright negative attitude leaves you cold, be the person who brings some love, light and joy to the conversation.
Shift your energy
At any given moment, you can choose to redirect your focus. If social media, the news, or even the people around you are draining your precious reserves, you can make a conscious decision to change gears.
Not sure where to start? Get up and move your body (a few star jumps will show that foul mood who’s boss) crank up your favourite tune, recite some uplifting affirmations, or flick through some of your favourite photos.
It’s as simple as this: if you don’t like what you are consuming you can switch off or choose to consume something better.
Reconsider what you consume…
Can you imagine putting petrol in a diesel engine and expecting your car to get you from A to B? Feeding your body and soul with negativity is just like that: you can’t feed it bad energy and expect good results.
Getting to where you want to be and enjoying the journey along the way is all about developing the right mindset. That’s why we’re calling on you right now to reassess your habits. Have a think about what you’ve been consuming and the part it plays in the energy you’re able to bring to the world.
Here’s our motto: if in doubt, cut it out. That’s right. Eliminate those toxic habits, even just for a week and see how you feel.
According to an unattributed proverb, “your diet is not only what you eat. It’s what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, and the people you hang around with.” When you mindfully consume the world around you, there’s no telling what you can achieve.
Have you ever said ‘It’s okay, I’m fine’ when you really weren’t? Or painted on a smile when you were really struggling? If you have, you’ve indulged in toxic positivity – and these days, it’s widespread. You’ll see it on social media and maybe even hear it from friends and family when they tell you to look on the bright side.
For the uninitiated, toxic positivity is the urge to silence negative thinking and the belief that we should put a positive spin on every circumstance, no matter how crushing or trying. It’s when you do your best to appear unrelentingly positive and brush over your struggles by pretending to be happy.
Think of it as a symptom of #GoodVibesOnly: we’re taught to avoid negative thinking at all costs, even if doing so makes us feel worse. In fact, research shows that excessive optimism does exactly that: it can trivialise a person’s pain and cause stress to both the body and the brain.
Here at The Head Plan, we love to share the power of positivity far and wide because we know just how life-changing it can be. But we also know life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and remaining upbeat all of the time is just impossible.
Here’s the good news: you can still create your dream life while honouring how you really feel. Positivity can help us remain upbeat through difficult times, but negativity is an important and unavoidable part of life too, and there’s a balance to be struck between them.
Here’s how to embrace a healthy outlook on life and avoid the trap of toxic positivity...
How To Avoid Toxic Positivity
Feel all your feelings
Let us ask you this: when you’re feeling low have you ever stopped to sit with your emotions? Have you sat still and allowed those emotions to just be? This is the process of feeling your feelings, instead of trying to repress them or push them away.
To deepen this practice, you might like to open The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and write honestly about how you feel – it can be incredibly freeing when you do, but we get it, it can also be uncomfortable. That’s because acknowledging your true emotions can make you feel incredibly vulnerable.
Here’s the thing though, we need these vulnerable moments in order to experience all the good stuff, like love, joy and happiness. Just ask Brene Brown, a leading voice on vulnerability.
She says, “You can't numb hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions… when we numb [the heard emotions], we also numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.”
In other words, without the dark, we’d never see the stars.
Focus on healing
It might not always feel like it, but bad feelings are actually a blessing. They draw our attention to areas of improvement, highlight where we feel most insecure, and allow us to heal from bad experiences and limiting beliefs. They is an opportunity to do some serious soul searching.
When you’re ready, take the time to explore where your darker emotions come from. What causes you to feel low? What limiting beliefs, bad experiences, and long-held insecurities could be at their root? Think of it as a self-therapy session.
You know that saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved?’. It’s true, just consult the science. Californian researchers discovered that discussing our problems with others can dramatically decrease stress. In another study, 36 per cent of people said they felt brighter and more optimistic when they stopped bottling things up.
So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to a trusted friend and let them know when you’re feeling low. Sometimes we conceal our true emotions because we don’t want to be a burden on others, but the people who truly love and care about you, want to listen to what you have to say. When you share, not only does it provide relief, it improves your connection with others too.
Get this: as humans, we are more motivated to avoid pain than we are to seek pleasure. That’s why negative circumstances can be such a powerful catalyst for change – and reflection is the vehicle that’ll help you navigate it.
It’s the very reason we’ve included weekly reflection pages in The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal. We encourage you to note down what was a distraction to you each week and what steps you can take to overcome it in the future.
Think of it as an opportunity to take stock and change direction. Rather than numbing negativity, you’re taking a proactive approach to overcome it. Self-growth, coming right up.
Celebrate the good
Positivity turns toxic when we try to mask difficult times and push them away. But you can acknowledge the bad times while appreciating all that you still have to be grateful for in life. The Head Plan Gratitude Journal is a lovely space to practise gratitude, we are aware every day is not a good day but we know there is good in every day when you look for it.
You could start by recognising what a great support your friends and family are to you in tough times or express gratitude for the familiar comforts that give you relief on a hard day.
If it feels right, you might even like to express gratitude for your negative feelings and all that they are teaching you. After all, we grow more in struggle than we do in times of ease.
All vibes welcome…
Know this: life is beautiful and sometimes it gets messy. Whatever the world throws at you, you don’t need to be happy and have high vibes all of the time. If a friend was going through a rocky patch, you wouldn’t expect her to pretend otherwise. Extend that same kindness to yourself and remember this: when you’re feeling low, a little self-compassion goes a long way.
There is something magical about the year-end. It comes with a feeling of accomplishment and completion. It’s an opportunity to look back and reflect on how far you’ve come while making concrete plans for life’s next exciting chapter.
But Christmas is also a time when everything ramps up. Deadlines multiply and are pushed forward, coffee catch-ups and nights out with friends fill the calendar, and there’s an overwhelming pressure to get everything done by December 25th.
If the Christmas countdown often leaves you feeling overwhelmed, overstretched and running on empty, you’re certainly not alone. Statistics show that the season can be a source of great stress for many people – particularly women – and increasing workloads, financial constraints, and the pressure to have the perfect Christmas are just some of the common stressors.
But help is at hand, whether you’re crumbling under the pressure at work or can’t cope with another social engagement, we are here to guide you on how to get through the festive season by avoiding the Christmas burnout.
How To Avoid Christmas Burnout
Write everything down
And we mean everything… that hair appointment you’ve squeezed in, the last-minute shopping trip, that looming deadline.
Planning in this way is scientifically proven to reduce stress. It’s a process known as ‘proactive coping’. When we schedule events that we perceive as being potentially stressful, it can actually trigger feelings of anticipation instead of overwhelm.
And guess what happens next? The anticipation of the event, be it a work meeting or a big deadline, can spark increased productivity and performance that can make it more likely you’ll achieve your goals – and all you did was write it down and make it happen.
Control the Controllables
When you’re burned out and overwhelmed it can feel like so much is outside of your control. It’s as if you’re one wrong move away from smashing one of those spinning plates.
The secret to staying cool, calm, and collected this December? Looking after the basics: that means getting plenty of sleep, nourishing yourself with food and water, and making sure to move your body.
This may feel like another bullet point on the never-ending to-do list? But these 'prep steps' will make all those other daily tasks and actions easier to do.
For example; water is scientifically proven to improve focus, alertness, and concentration while boosting your mood and cognitive function. Meanwhile, nourishing your body with nutrient-rich foods is shown to impact the brain at a psychological level, prompting positive changes in the way we think and behave.
Want to stay on top of your food and water goals? Our Daily Drench water bottle and Nourish Meal Planner will set you up for success. Fill your 1 litre bottle and remember to sip at it at regular intervals throughout the day (we have motivational reminders on the bottle if you need it) and pack your day with nutritious meals that power you to perform at your best.
Put rituals in place
“We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” That’s a quote from Atomic Habits author James Clear and he’s making an important point about how the habits and rituals we put in place determine whether we succeed or fail.
Daily rituals are the activities that allow you to bring your best self to each and every day. It could be writing in your Gratitude Journal, starting the morning with meditation, or repeating affirmations. You get to decide what activities allow you to perform at your best – and it’s up to you to make the time for them on a daily basis this December.
When you prioritise your wellbeing in this way, it can sharpen your mindset, protect your energy, and give you a healthy dose of perspective that ensures you can deal with stress in a more positive way.
Learn to say No
No. The word has just two letters, but it’s loaded with negative connotations and saying it often comes with a side order of guilt, shame and embarrassment. After all, none of us likes to feel like we’re letting others down. But here’s the thing: when we say yes when we really want to say no, what we’re really saying is ‘my time and energy don’t matter’.
But your time and energy do matter and if you don’t prioritise them nobody else will. That’s why it’s time to get comfortable with saying the word no. You’ll institutively know when you don’t want to do something. You’ll feel the sensations in your body. Tune in to that feeling – and remember that when you get another Christmas party invite or need to pick up another task at work, you don’t have to respond immediately.
If ‘no’ gives you a serious case of the ‘fear’ try practising on your friends and family first. You might feel more comfortable adding an explanation too. If that’s the case, try phrases like:
- “I’m so sorry, I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people right now.”
- “That sounds lovely, but I have a lot on my plate at the moment and want to preserve my energy.”
- “I’d love to help, but I’m feeling very overstretched right now.”
- “I won’t be able to make it, I need some time to rest and recuperate.”
Be Gentle With Yourself
Sometimes anticipating burnout and overwhelm can be the result of not having faith in yourself; you may look at your list of to-dos and wrongly believe there’s no way you could get it all done.
If this is the case, we want you to remember that you’re more than capable and to keep Karen Salmansohn’s words in mind. She says, “You have dealt with so much and done the best that you can, take a moment now to appreciate how strong you are.”
While we’re on the topic, there’s no shame in relieving yourself of some commitments. You can’t – and shouldn’t attempt – to do it all. In fact, sometimes being unproductive is the most productive thing you can do, so when the Christmas lead up feels hectic, give yourself permission to rest.
‘Tis the season to be your best self…
Every Christmas people around the world put up a tree in their homes. They take great care putting pretty ornaments on the tree, untangling twinkling lights, and placing a shiny gold star on the top of the tree. But as life ramps up on December 1st, do you take such good care of yourself?
Just like that Christmas tree, our schedules in the lead up to Christmas inevitably come with a few extra embellishments and they can be a source of stress instead of celebration. But remember this, you’ve made it through a full year of ups and downs, navigated nearly 12 months of trials and tribulations and come out the other end the better for it.
There are just a few extra weeks standing between you and the year’s end and just like you’ve survived everything the previous 11 months have had to offer, you’ll make it through this moment too.
One moment you were scrolling Instagram and the next you’re consumed with feelings of inadequacy, failure, and shame. Your head is spinning with toxic thoughts and you can’t escape the painful sting of self-judgement. All it took was a glance of someone 'having it all' and suddenly your confidence has come crumbling down around you.
This is comparisonitis and without preventative action, it can strike at any time: when you’re on social media, during a period of intense personal growth, even when you’re chatting with friends.
If comparison has ever held you in its clutches you’ll know just how painful, disempowering and confidence-shattering it can be. It shines a light on all the areas you feel you are failing at while simultaneously knocking your confidence so badly that it can prevent you from taking steps towards your goals.
It will come as no surprise to you that here at The Head Plan we don’t want you to compare and despair. So let us take help and guide you in stepping into your self-worth and shaking off the feeling of comparison for good...
How To Overcome Comparison
Identify your triggers
Here’s what we want you to know: it’s not about the shiny new car your friend has just purchased or the business empire that stranger on the internet is growing. No, it’s all about you. That’s right, YOU. And looking at your comparison triggers in this way can be the essential shift that takes you from falling behind to living your best life.
Comparison is like holding a mirror up to your insecurities. It allows you to see with crystal clarity where you could use a little extra self-love. So, you need to begin by questioning why certain things trigger you the way they do. What insecurities, doubts and fears lie behind that negative comparison? What beliefs have led you to believe that you don’t measure up?
Turn to the notes section of your Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and get writing. You might be surprised at what comes up.
Question your inner critic
In her book Comparisonitis, Melissa Ambrosini outlines two key practices that will help you in areas that you might start comparing. She calls them ACES and CAST and they’re sure to stop your negative inner critic in its tracks.
When you feel the hurt of comparison bubbling up inside you, turn to ACES: it stands for Awareness, Choose, Eliminate and Shift. That means becoming aware of when you’re comparing, choosing what you want to feel instead (eg I choose love, I choose self-acceptance, I choose inner peace), and eliminating the trigger. That might mean logging out of Instagram or excusing yourself from a conversation that’s draining your self-worth.
Finally, you can shift your energetic state by going for a walk, turning on some music, meditating or even jumping up and down. This helps get those negative vibes out of your body. (Need more? Turn to our list of mood-boosting energy shifters here.)
When you’ve fallen down the well of self-judgement you can use CAST: It stands for Character, Awareness, Shut The Door and Truth.
To use it, you should give your inner critic a character. Go ahead and give them a name and even imagine what they might look like. Next, become aware of when your inner critic is popping up, then politely shut the door on them.
Finally? Find your truth. That means no more believing toxic lies about yourself but grabbing on to a new perspective. Look for evidence of the exact opposite of what your inner critic has been saying. Is it really true that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to succeed? Absolutely NOT – so go ahead and find evidence to the contrary.
Document your achievements
Denis Waitley, a renowned motivational speaker who appeared on The Secret, says, “The greatest achievement is to outperform yourself” but when was the last time you kept track of all that you have accomplished? When we compare, we focus on all that others have said and done and we ignore the amazing successes that we’ve created.
Right this second, think of a time you overcame something really hard and lived to tell the tale. YOU did that. Consider how many times you’ve hit a target, found the right words to comfort a friend, bought the perfect gift, or aced a project at work. No matter how you think you measure up to others, you have provided more value to others than you even realise.
While you’re at it, begin documenting your proudest moment at the end of each day in The Head Plan Productivity and Wellness Journal – we promise it’s guaranteed to boost your self-esteem.
Turn comparison into inspiration
You can do anything you put your mind to. Read that sentence again and really let it sink in. Knowing this, you can use comparison as fuel for the fire. When you feel the sting of inadequacy, you can use it to inform your goals.
If somebody has something you want, we want you to know that there is nothing to stop you from having it too. All it takes is a willingness to succeed and a little planning to get there. So, what are you waiting for? Open your journal and get going. Write it down and make it happen – because guess what? If they can do it, so can you.
There’s nobody quite like you…
You are doing the best you can. There are 7.8 billion people in the world and not one of them are exactly like you. In fact, there aren’t enough words in the dictionary to adequately describe you in all of your amazing abilities.
When you look at it like this, it seems silly to compare yourself to someone else. Just as you aren’t like them, they aren’t like you either. Swap comparison for celebration and recognise yourself for the once-in-a-lifetime miracle you are.
Have you ever had a really good idea but talked yourself out of it because you were worried about what people might say, played small in life, because you feared what others would think, or been so caught up in how others might perceive you that you’ve forgotten to consult the one opinion that actually matters: your own?
If you answered ‘yes’ then you’ve suffered from a fear of judgement and you’ll know that other people’s opinions can hold you back and can stop you growing in all sorts of ways if you let them.
Scientific studies show we’re four times more likely to remember criticism than we are to remember praise and for every negative judgement we receive we need to experience five positive events to recover.
But what if you could learn to pay no attention to what other people think? Imagine your success was just your success and you didn't care how you were perceived by others. Remember that saying that 'anything worth doing attracts both admiration and criticism'.
With this in mind, are you ready to let go of the fear of being judged for good?
How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged
Remember why people judge
Have you ever lashed out at someone when you were upset? Or felt the sting of comparison at a time when your confidence was low? Judgement is a similar reaction: It’s pain, insecurity and fear that causes people to criticise.
In her book Judgement Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein puts it like this: “Behind the wall of judgement lie our deepest feelings of inadequacy and shame… We resist [this] by projecting it onto others through judgement and then we grow to rely on judgement as a way of finding relief from our wounds.”
This means people’s opinions of you aren’t factually accurate. Rather, they are distorted by their own unique experiences and insecurities and are often a way for them to feel better about themselves. Basically? What people think about you says more about them than it does about you.
Or as Earl Nightingale puts it, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” The next time you receive unhelpful criticism or fear being ridiculed, remember that.
Change the story you’ve been telling yourself
Why do we fear being judged so much? It comes down to this: most of us are terrified that other people will confirm one of our worst fears: that we aren’t good enough. That’s why working through your own insecurities can keep the fear of judgement at bay.
Ask yourself this: where do you feel the most vulnerable? Write down what comes to mind. It could be that you don’t’ have faith in your abilities or you believe that you simply aren’t smart enough to succeed.
Next, create some affirmations to refute these limiting beliefs. (We provide a space in our Gratitude Journal to do just that!) A belief like “I’m crap at this!” could become “I’m new at this and I’m learning and improving every day.”
If you want to go one further look no further than our Mirror Markers. With these colourful markers, you can write empowering messages to yourself that will boost your confidence and improve the only opinion that really matters: the one you have of yourself.
Learn from it
Picture the scene: you’ve worked super hard on an important project and now it’s time to hear your boss’s verdict. Good news, they love it, except for one little thing. Your boss has given you ten wonderful pieces of praise, and one “area to work on”. So which do you focus on? We’ll bet it’s the area to work on, right?
In an evolutionary sense, we’re actually wired to focus on the negatives. This in-built negativity bias is a survival mechanism that has been protecting us from threats, and while negative feedback can really sting, it can actually be your greatest opportunity for improvement.
The next time you receive some constructive criticism, grab your journal and ask yourself a few questions. We suggest the following:
- Is this criticism fair and warranted, and ultimately something I can learn from?
- Does this trigger me in any way and, if so, why might that be?
- Can I use this to improve in any way, and if so, how?
Remember this: Sometimes criticism is completely unfounded, but occasionally it can be a wonderful way to learn and grow.
“If you’re going to trust one person, let it be yourself.” It was author Robert Tew who said those words, and he’s right. So often we place too much weight on the opinion of others while ignoring the ones we hold ourselves.
So how can you let go of fear and learn to trust yourself? You could reflect on a time you overcame adversity despite the odds, note down a few of your biggest life achievements, or make a chart of your best strengths, talents and skills.
Our suggestion - Open The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and start setting some goals for yourself. Every week make progress towards those goals and be sure to keep a record of the moments you’re most proud of. When you see just how much you are able to accomplish, you’ll realise just how capable you are.
This is YOUR journey, no one else’s…
A wise man once said that opinions are like noses – everybody has one. But just like you wouldn’t light a candle and expect to smell it while holding your nose, you shouldn’t let the opinions of others guide you and your journey.
Ask yourself this: if no one else’s opinion mattered, if I knew that no matter what I did I couldn’t fail and that ultimately everything I put my energy toward was for my greater good, what would I do?
Have you answered the above? Now do it, because people’s opinions are like a single grey cloud on an otherwise perfectly blue sky: they only matter if you let them.
Picture the scene: It’s 3pm, you’re hunched over your desk and you can feel tension sitting uncomfortably in your shoulders. A million thoughts are rushing around in your brain, and you can’t quite focus, but you must, because you still have so much left to do.
This is the feeling of being overwhelmed and it’s what happens when your attention is pulled in too many different directions. Consider it the mental equivalent of having too many tabs open. Unless you start closing off some of the distractions, pretty soon you’ll crash.
The brain actually perceives the feeling of overwhelm as a threat and triggers a series of survival reactions throughout the body. The overstimulation can weaken your problem-solving and decision-making skills, hamper your ability to learn and engage, and even affect your brain health over time.
Basically? Overwhelm is the enemy of productivity and left unchecked it can pull your focus not just away from your goals, but from the beauty of the present moment too.
If you’re a serious goal-getter - which we know you are - you’re probably wondering how you can get stuff done without falling victim to feeling overwhelmed. We have you covered...
How To Manage Feeling Overwhelmed
Find the source of your stress
Are you stressed out because you’ve taken too much on? Perhaps you just simply couldn’t say no to your boss and now you’re struggling to get everything done? Maybe you’re a bit of a perfectionist and you’re feeling overwhelmed because when it comes to your work, nothing less than perfect will do.
Once you know the source of your stress, you can resolve the issue that is making you feel this way and make plans to work through it. That means if you’re a perfectionist and a lot of your stress is self-imposed you can find ways to cut yourself some slack – and if you said yes to your boss when you really wanted to say no you can work on firming up your boundaries.
When you’re overwhelmed it can be easy to feel powerless. But we’re here to tell you something: No matter how bad things seem you always have the power to take back control.
Do it, delegate it, or dump it. That’s our motto when it comes to prioritising and the Eisenhower Method can be particularly useful when deciding what needs your attention ASAP and what can be put on the back burner.
To use it, jot down all your to-dos, and decide whether they are 1. urgent and important, 2. not urgent but important, 3. Not important but urgent, and 4. Not important and not urgent. Then? Schedule your tasks based on their urgency and importance.
Another method? Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog Technique. Instead of wasting your precious mental reserves stressing about that task you’ve been putting off, you simply ‘eat that frog’ by doing your most dreaded task first.
To keep on top of everything, use The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal. It’s your productivity base camp, helping you to narrow your focus by choosing one main goal for the day and organising your top three tasks into a prioritised list.
Practice being in the moment
What’s the opposite of overwhelm? When you’re overwhelmed, you’re not in the moment. Instead, your mind is often in fifteen different places at once.
In a fraction of a second you could be worrying about how you’re going to get all of your work done, stressing about that email you have to send, or fretting that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
The good news? There are so many ways to calm a racing mind and bring your attention back to the present moment from meditation and journaling to deep breathing and hypnosis.
Here’s one of our faves: when your mind is racing, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and place your hand over your heart. You feel that? That’s your heartbeat, in every given moment it’s giving life to every single organ and cell in your body. It’s proof that you’re alive and a reminder that you are here on this earth for reasons greater than you can even imagine.
Take a time out
We know what you’re thinking: “I have a million and one things to do, and you’re telling me to take a break?” Yes, that’s exactly what we’re suggesting.
You owe it to yourself to protect your precious energy, so work regular breaks into your day, even if it’s only a few minutes to make a brew or a moment or two to take some gentle, calming breaths.
If taking a break is something you struggle to do, schedule it in. Research suggests that we can maintain optimum concentration for a maximum of 90 minutes, so try working your breaks around that.
Get it all out on paper
Did you know that researchers estimate we have around 60,000 thoughts a day? It’s little wonder we’re stressed. When your head feels like it’s swimming with thoughts, grab your journal and get it out all out on paper.
This practice is known as freewriting and it allows you to ‘brain dump’ your thoughts and clear out all that mental clutter that’s making you feel so frazzled.
Here’s a pro tip: write without judgement. This is for your eyes only so write away to your heart’s content until your stress begins to melt away and you feel a little lighter.
How To Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed
Here’s the thing, in our busy, busy world, overwhelm is pretty much inevitable. There will always be tasks and to-dos that require your attention and occasionally there’ll be competing commitments that require all of your attention at once.
The good news is, you can prevent overwhelm before it strikes. If you’re gearing up for a busy period in your life, try our three-step process:
- Set firm boundaries
- Double down on self-care
- Close some metaphorical tabs
That means saying no when you need to, using your Head Plan Journal to practice self-care every day, and eliminating unnecessary distractions - excessive screen time to name a few.
When it’s been a long day and it’s not over yet, your thoughts are running a mile a minute, and you’re growing tired of spinning plates, we want you to turn to these words by Max Lucado.
He says, “The key is this: meet today’s problems with today’s strength don’t start tackling tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow. You do not have tomorrow’s strength yet. You simply have enough for today.”
To put it simply, the antidote to overwhelm is focusing on one thing at a time. It’s giving your energy to what’s right in front of you and trusting that when the time comes you’ll have the strength to manage what comes next.
As Louise L. Hay puts it, “Your point of power is always in the present moment.” So, what can you do NOW?
Roxie Nafousi is a Self-Development coach, manifesting expert, author of MANIFEST: Seven steps to Living Your Best Life, Mental Health Foundation ambassador, and contributor to Kourtney Kardashians’ wellness platform POOSH.
Her dedication to changing the lives of people suffering from emotional and mental health disorders and assisting them in reaching their full potential has made her a well-known figure in the wellness community. She works with 1-1 clients as well as hosting sell-out workshops and webinars each month, having changed thousands of lives in the process.
After years of living a hedonistic lifestyle in her early 20s, fuelled by partying and poor self-care, Roxie found herself at her rock bottom. She suffered depression on/off for 6 years and in 2016 she decided to open up about her issues with the world through her writing. From here, her inward journey to happiness began. She created a ‘mental health tool box’ to help her to recover from depression and immediately felt it was her purpose to help as many people as she could reach to implement a ‘tool box’ of their own.
‘I like to think of our mental health toolbox like our beauty cupboards. Some things inside you will use every day, as part of your daily routine, others you’ll use when you have a flare-up or in times of need, and some things you’ll use simply because you feel like a boost of self-love and relaxation’ - Roxie Nafousi
Here are some of Roxie’s favourite tools that you can include in your own Mental Health Toolbox:
One of the most empowering ways to let something go, is to voice it. Practice letting out your fears, worries, anxieties and concerns onto the page of your journal. Just a few minutes of journaling can allow your mind to empty itself of negative thoughts or limiting beliefs and allow you to get on with your day with greater clarity and ease.
Recently, Roxie has collaborated and designed The Journal with The Head Plan because she has been at rock bottom and from there she learned how to transform her life beyond recognition. We know you can do the same.
Packed with powerful weekly exercises including exclusive meditations that allow you to live the life of your wildest dreams, Roxie empowers you to harness the power of unconditional and radical self-love, inner trust and self-belief to make your deepest desires a reality and ignite an inner strength you never knew was possible. Journey back to your childhood self and unleash the unwavering confidence and self-love you were born with, strip back your limiting beliefs, and become the most empowered version of you.
In 12 life changing weeks, Roxie will help you unlock your fullest potential and unleash unwavering self- confidence to become the most empowered version of yourself.
Meditation is simply the practice of awareness. It is an opportunity to be still, to slow down our minds, to focus our attention onto our breath and to come back to the present moment. Even five minutes of meditation a day gives us an opportunity to reset and re-centre. Roxie finds meditation to be particularly helpful when she has a problem to solve: it gives her an opportunity to calm down her nervous system, step back, gain a new perspective and open up mental space for creativity.
3. Go for a Walk
What better way to let go of the day than to embrace the fresh air, move your body and just walk. Whenever things feel a little too much, get outside and walk it out. Roxie encourages people to go on a 20 minute walk every single day and to incorporate it as part of their routine. You can also turn your walk into an active meditation by focusing your attention onto the sounds that you can hear, the feeling of the air on your skin, and taking time to appreciate all the beauty in the world that you can see.
4. Candle-Lit Baths
Never underestimate the power of a bath. Set the scene by turning off all the room lights, burning candles, playing some relaxing music and soaking in a bath filled with essential oils. This simple practice is just such an easy way to unwind and relax your mind, body and soul
Repeating a mantra is a powerful tool to use to send a positive affirming message to our subconscious mind. When we do this regularly, we can actually reprogram our neurological pathways to support a more positive way of thinking. Roxie suggests repeating a mantra every morning to start your day, such as “I am open to all opportunities that present themselves today” or “I am worthy, and I am loved”. In times of stress or challenge try repeating a mantra such as, “I overcome challenges with ease” or “I am calm and I am resilient”.
Self-Care is Self-Love. Having a massage, applying a face mask, having a manicure, getting a blow-dry: it all gives us an opportunity to do something that is just for us. The added bonus is that blissful feeling of being fresh, clean and pampered.
Moving your body in a mindful way is key for optimum mental health. Roxie particularly loves yoga and Pilates because both practices encourage you to focus on your breath, which is crucial for managing stress and lowering stress hormones. Allow the mat to become your safe space; a space for you to explore your body and to stretch, release and energise.
Dr. Joe Dispenza found that practicing gratitude daily for just four consecutive days, can increase the strength of your immune system by 50%! It is a practice that Roxie loves so much, even more so because it’s benefits are backed by science. Practicing gratitude is a sure way to improve every area of your life whilst also providing comfort in challenging times. Every day, commit to spending just five minutes writing down, or saying out loud, every single thing you are grateful for. There is nothing too big or too small that you can include! After a few weeks of doing this daily, your mind will literally reprogram itself to focus its attention on the good in your life. When you face challenging or stressful times, you can always turn to gratitude to help boost you back up.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever reached for your phone and instinctively refreshed your work email at 9 o’clock at night or met up with friends and instead of being present you spent more time checking Instagram? We’ve all been there.
In today’s world, screen time has become a huge consumption of our daily lives. We flick on the TV at the end of a busy working day, scroll social media when we’re at a loose end, and rely on the internet for everything from booking train tickets to diagnosing a headache.
However technology can be a great tool. It allows us to keep in touch with the people we love the most and everything we’ve ever wanted to know is right at our fingertips, but without proper boundaries, it can also pull our focus away from the here and now. It can distract you from your goals, create a barrier between you and your loved ones, and crucially, consume our most important resource: time.
Here’s the really ironic part: in a world of constant connectivity, many of us have never felt so disconnected from ourselves. Between social media notifications, unread emails, and buzzing WhatsApp group chats, we rarely have a moment to just be.
But here’s the good news: you always have a choice. It’s up to you and you alone to make the decision to reconnect with what matters and when you do, it’s only a matter of time until you feel the difference.
Feeling inspired to reconnect and be present? We’re so happy to hear it. Here’s how to get started…
How To Reconnect To The Real World
Track your time
Ever heard the phrase ‘what gets measured, gets managed?’. Well, it applies here too, because you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from. That means taking a long, honest look at your screen time habits and actively deciding where you want to put your focus instead.
Here’s the important bit: this isn’t about shaming yourself into change or feeling guilty for where you’re currently at; it’s about sussing out where there is room for improvement and gradually shifting your habits so you can make a positive change.
All you have to do is make a note of how long you’re spending online each day or use a screen time tracker to do the hard work for you (most smartphones have them.)
Next, set a goal. Do you want to reduce your screen time by 30 minutes a day, an hour, or even two? This is your chance to get clear – you can use The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal to plan out your screen time goals and start putting that extra time to good use instead.
Discover the power of being bored
When was the last time you were bored? Like, really don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself bored? For most people, it’s been a while. In our world of unrelenting tasks and competing commitments, it can be tricky to find a second to just breathe and often when we do get a moment to relax we instinctively reach for our phones or grab the TV remote. Our brains rarely have a second to switch off.
Boredom is often seen as a bad thing, but in small doses, it actually has a wealth of life-changing benefits. According to scientific research, being bored can prompt you to engage in more meaningful behaviours. It can also spark creativity and aid problem-solving too.
So, start letting your mind wander. Turn the TV off in the evenings, pop your phone in a drawer, and see how it feels to sit and do absolutely nothing. You might be surprised to discover it actually feels pretty great to read a book, go for a walk- all without any technology.
Invest your time wisely
Not all screen time is created equal, and sometimes, tech can be used as a tool for mindset elevation. Used wisely, it can also be time to switch off and relax from life’s daily stresses.
So, rather than swearing off screen time, start thinking about how you could use that time wisely. Our advice? Click on to The Head Plan App for daily inspiration or create a Pinterest board of quotes that motivate you to give your all. Even cuddling up to watch a comforting childhood movie on a low day counts. It’s about finding activities that lift you up.
Having trouble deciding how best to invest your time? The advice of leadership coach John C Maxwell states that “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”
Basically? Align with your priorities – whether they’re connecting with the people you love most, making progress on your goals or investing in your self-care – you can’t go wrong with that.
Practice the art of being present
What does it actually mean to be present? To put it simply, being present means being actively engaged in your life, being aware of the sights, smells, and sounds that surround you and appreciating the present moment in all its glory.
Presence can be taking a deep breath and becoming aware of the sensations in your body as the air makes its way into your lungs, listening intently to your friend while they’re talking to you, or concentrating on a fulfilling task with your undivided attention.
We challenge you to find even a few moments in your day to be present. You could ask yourself the question ‘Am I present?’ (or use The Head Plan Mirror Markers to write on your bathroom mirror as a reminder) When you do this, you automatically connect to the present moment and become aware not just of your body, but of your surroundings too.
Need another way? If in doubt, there are a few activities that are almost guaranteed to help you reconnect with the present moment: think walks in nature, meditation, and journaling.
Be gentle with yourself
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits often take a little while to break (it’s the very reason they’re called habits, after all.)
So, if in the coming weeks you find yourself scrolling on your phone for longer than you intended, binging Netflix, or routinely checking your email outside of office hours, don’t give yourself a hard time. Document the progress you have made, and just keep going. You’ve got this.
When a piece of tech isn’t working our first instinct is often to switch it off and back on again. As humans, we need time to unplug in order to function at our highest level too.
So, consider this a sign to mute your noisy WhatsApp groups when you need to, log off all your social media platforms on the regular, and close that Gmail app after hours because you owe it to yourself to be free from distractions.
As an unattributed quote puts it, “sometimes you have to disconnect from the world to reconnect with what really matters”.
One moment you were flying towards your goals, ticking each task off your to-do list, and making amazing progress, and then suddenly, without warning, you’re hit with a obstacle. What felt easy, joyful and aligned, now feels difficult, challenging and draining. Frustration, doubt, disappointment and fear have began to creep in and now you’re pretty certain this might be a sign to throw in the towel.
A setback has occurred, but panic not, this obstacle isn’t here to steer you off course, and it certainly isn’t a sign for you to give up on your goals. Rather, it’s an opportunity for self-growth and to achieve more than you ever thought possible – and we know just how to get you back on course.
But before we begin, we want to introduce you to a concept that will change the way you think about challenges and failure…
Failing forward means that setbacks are merely stepping stones on your path to success. It’s the process of finding the lesson in every obstacle and adjusting your course as necessary.
When you fail forward you are destined to reach your goals, so long as you pick yourself up and try again with your newly gained insight and knowledge.
So, with that in mind, are you ready to turn setbacks into stepping stones? Let us show you how...
How To Turn Setbacks Into Successes
Review your progress
It’s what our weekly reflection pages in The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal are for. Look back through the pages of your journal and see just how far you’ve come. We’ll bet you’ve made stacks of progress, even if you don’t yet see it.
If it helps, make a list of your biggest achievements so far. This practice not only helps you recognise just how much you’ve achieved, it builds your belief and reminds you that you can and will achieve again.
While you’re at it, think about all the times you’ve experienced a setback in the past. Chances are you came back stronger, braver, and learned something along the way. Guess what? You’ve done it once and you’ll do it again. You’ve got this.
Change your self talk
Let us ask you this: does your inner critic hit the play button when things don’t go exactly as planned? Do you give yourself a terrible time when your best-laid plans don’t pan out perfectly? It’s time to turn things around with a whole lot of kindness and self-compassion.
When you notice negative self-talk, you can choose to change it. Try replacing phrases like “I’m so bad at this” or “I’m failing” with more empowering ones like “I’m new at this” and “I’m learning”.
The words we speak are like self-fulfilling prophecies. What you say about yourself and the world becomes your reality, so be careful about what you speak into existence.
Build your self-belief
Your belief in yourself has taken a knock. You can help rebuild your self-belief by writing empowering statements using The Head Plan Mirror Markers about yourself on your mirror, like “I am determined”, “I am talented” and “I am constantly learning and improving”. Let those phrases seep into your subconscious. Repeated often enough, these phrases are scientifically proven to rewire your beliefs and change the way you feel about yourself for the better.
Turn disappointment into motivation
Did you know that as humans we’re actually hard-wired to avoid pain more than we are to seek pleasure? That’s why setbacks can actually be a huge motivator. It might not feel like it, but hitting a hurdle can actually reignite that fire in your belly.
If you’re feeling more disempowered than motivated, write out a list of all the reasons you want to achieve your goal. Now close your eyes and imagine achieving them. Really let your imagination run wild. Can you feel your energy shift?
Go back to the drawing board
Often setbacks are a prompt for us to look inward. They can also be an opportunity for some self-reflection. Consider using some gentle prompts like:
- How could I approach this problem differently?
- Has self-doubt or fear stopped me from succeeding in this instance?
- Do I have limiting beliefs that are standing in my way?
- Would I benefit by taking some time out to rest and recharge?
- How might the people I look up to manage this setback?
- What stories am I telling myself about my ability to succeed?
Finally, consider what you need in order to grow. Maybe you would benefit from a mentor who can offer guidance or perhaps you could get to where you need to be by signing up to a course where you’ll learn new skills.
Looking at a setback as an obstacle to overcome rather than a signal to give up and never try again is known as a growth mindset. When you cultivate this mindset, you quickly realise that your talents, skills, and abilities aren’t fixed, and challenges merely exist to help you evolve and grow.
A growth mindset is a scientific concept by Dr Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck has stated that anyone can cultivate a growth mindset. All you have to do is change your perspective.
Think of it like this: our brains have plasticity. They are able to change, adapt and grow according to how we nourish them: your ability to succeed is no different.
Just keep going…
When you’re striking out time and again and it feels like setback after setback is pushing you further away from your goals, do not give up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and use it as fuel for the fire.
Setbacks are a test of your commitment. They force you to consider how badly you want it and they help you grow into the version of yourself that’s a match for your goals.
The next time you’re mid-setback, struggling to get back to your feet and wondering if it’s worth it, we want you to remember these words from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
You can’t stop now; you’ve already come so far.
How many times have you said ‘yes’ when you’ve really wanted to say ‘no’? Think about it for a second.
You might have told your boss that you’d take on that extra project even though you knew it would leave you stressed out. Maybe you agreed to attend a party this weekend, but really wanted some time to recharge instead.
Or perhaps you’re constantly bending over backwards tending to other people’s needs when you really should be looking after your own.
Here’s the thing about pleasing others before ourselves: It often comes at the expense of our wellbeing, and when you don’t set healthy boundaries, your attention is inevitably pulled in different directions. You end up focused on other people’s goals and objectives while yours are forgotten and neglected.
The fix? Having clear boundaries. Boundaries show people who you are, what you expect and what you will tolerate. They protect your emotional wellbeing and conserve your energy for the stuff that matters – but we totally get it, they can feel seriously nerve-wracking to set.
If you’re confrontation-averse or worried about coming across as rude, we’re here to help you set boundaries in a healthy way.
What do healthy boundaries look like?
If you’re reading this thinking and thinking 'what actually are boundaries?’, then let us explain. Boundaries are kind of like a personal limit. They’re a clear expression of what you will accept in every area of your life and are ultimately an act of self-care and self-preservation.
Boundaries aren’t about being unaccommodating, selfish or mean. They’re about putting you and your needs first, and you owe it to yourself to set them.
Some examples include:
- I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that right now. I’m prioritising other tasks and assignments.
- I’d love to help but I would be overcommitting myself and need time to rest.
- Sorry, I won’t be able to make it. This week has been very stressful and I need to focus on my own mental health.
- I can’t help on this occasion – keep me in mind for the next date.
- It is just bad timing. Can we hang out another time?
How To Set And Stick To Your Boundaries
Now that you have read some examples, it is time to set some boundaries for yourself.
Take a ‘zoomed out’ look at your life
With busy schedules, it can be easy to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of life, without seeing the big picture. Start looking at your life as though through a telescope and ask yourself where are you feeling the most tired, overwhelmed and drained?
Now look at your priorities and think about what you need to do to protect them. It could be telling your other half you need some alone time throughout the week to focus on your needs, asking your boss for more lenient deadlines, or letting a colleague know you won’t be replying to emails outside of working hours. Take this time to write down a few ideas that come to mind.
If you’re having trouble pinpointing where things need to change, here’s a tip: Tune into your feelings. When people try to push your boundaries you normally experience two main emotions: resentment and discomfort. Any time you notice these, make a note of it and consider what needs to change.
Establish some key phrases
After you create a list of areas for improvement you know need to put some energy-conserving boundaries in place.
We suggest creating up to 10 short sentences that can be used to combat all the instances of boundary overstepping you discovered above. Need some help? Consult our list of examples – and remember setting clear boundaries isn’t selfish. It’s perfectly okay to tell someone you’re opting out of their request because you simply want to put yourself first. When saying no feels uncomfortable, try your best to keep this in mind.
One of the main reasons we often struggle with setting boundaries is that, as humans, we hate disappointing others. If you consider yourself a bit of a people pleaser, take note of this unattributed quote:
“The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the ones who benefited from you having none.” The people who really love and care for you really won’t mind.
You could also keep Brene Brown’s advice in mind. She says, when communicating your limits, “Clear is kind.” By clearly explaining to someone what treatment you expect, you’re actually doing them a favour. You’re telling them exactly how to interact with you and giving them the space to set some boundaries of their own.
Please remember that setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad person - it is setting YOU up for success.
Use it or lose it
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase ‘practise makes perfect’. Guess what? That goes for boundary setting too. You’ve got to keep doing it to get good at it.
Try practicing on someone you’re really comfortable with first, like a close friend or a sibling before building up to your boss or a colleague. This process is known as Exposure Therapy.
Basically, the more you practice setting boundaries and see that it is safe to express your limits, the more comfortable you’ll feel asserting yourself in situations that feel a little more high-risk.
What once felt scary and made your heart pound, can now feel totally normal. All you have to do is begin.
When in doubt, review your goals
If you’re ever unsure about when and where you need to set a boundary, review your goals. Boundaries are there to protect your energy and to ensure you maintain your focus on the stuff that matters most.
Keeping your goals front and centre of your mind ensures you’ll know when your attention is being pulled off-topic. When that happens, you’ll know you need to re-establish your boundaries.
The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal is a great way to keep those big goals of yours at eye level; simply revert back to your long-term and short-term goals pages when you need a reminder about where to put your focus.
You control your limits…
Your life is vastly shaped by the behaviour you are willing to accept from others, and what you allow is what will continue. That’s why you owe it to yourself to put firm boundaries in place.
The next time you’re in doubt, remember this: setting boundaries is the ultimate act of self-love. Or as Brene Brown puts it:“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”
So, with that in mind, we would love you to set some personal boundaries today. ‘No’ can be your new favourite word.