Waves of gratitude met me in 2017.
The first day of the year I opened my gratitude journal and wrote out what I was thankful for, what would make the day great, and what steps I would take to make the day amazing.
Looking back on those moments, I didn’t realize what kind of year 2017 would be, although I hoped and prayed it would be far better than 2016.
2016 was the year that broke me. My revenue took a nosedive and I had writer’s block. Basically, everything that could go wrong went wrong.
2017 made up for it in every single way possible and then some. It was a year I challenged myself by writing and publishing three books. I tried something new with book marketing and invested in my ongoing learning. Most importantly, I focused on being more intentional about taking time for self-development and growth.
The most important decision I made in 2017 was deciding not to focus so much on what everyone else is doing, but just to be myself and focus on the things I can control.
I am a firm believer that you can improve your life by the things you surround yourself with and by cultivating the correct mindset. I’ve written about mindset a time or two, but in 2017 I dug into a mindset of gratefulness and abundance.
My mindset was a key thing that made a difference between a terrible year and a wonderful year. Here are the steps I took to make a change and focus on gratitude.
Write down what you are thankful for.
My parents gave me my first journal when I learned how to write, and at first it was full of childish ramblings.
As I entered my teenage years, I discovered just how powerful journaling is. It’s a non-judgemental place to get down all your thoughts, a listening ear that won’t voice its own negative opinions, and a secure place to hold all your dreams.
Journaling helped me to step outside of myself and figure out who I am, what I like and dislike, the values I hold near and the goals I will achieve.
Handwriting is one of the keys to journaling and studies back me up in this case. Something takes place in your memory when you write something down versus typing it up. You’re able to keep the item you wrote down in your memory longer.
I’ve found this to be true which is why I believe in writing things down, even if you will not look at it again. The process will help your mind.
Have a daily quiet time.
How you start your day matters. While it’s tempting to snatch up your phone and scroll through the list of notifications that occurred overnight, it’s not the most effective way to start your day.
(Although, in all honesty, I am a bit of a gamer and I like to wake up first thing in the morning and see how the growth of my empire has progressed.)
Starting my day out with prayer, reading something inspiring or listening to music always gets me in the right frame of mind for the day.
It’s also important to focus on being proactive during the day instead of reactive. What’s an example? When you open your phone and find a message from a fan asking for a tracking update on their shipment. Or you receive a text from your mom asking for a call. Or you have 42 notifications on Facebook because you went 8 hours without checking in. Or you have an email from a client asking for help. All of these messages put us in a very reactive frame of mind. Instead of feeling frantic, start out your morning with peace and calm, and sit down to answer those messages once you’ve had your morning coffee.
Having time in the morning, whether it’s 5 minutes or an hour, to get in the right frame of mind will help you react well when situations arise in your day.
Take time to reflect.
While we may have zen in the morning, it’s easy to lose it towards mid-afternoon, which I why I have another habit of mid-day reflection.
In 2017 I signed up for Shine Text and wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. However, it turns out to be an impact daily text with a message with a word for the day. While the text is a brief message you can read in 10 seconds, if you want to dig deeper, they have an app now which sends you the same message along with some actionable steps to put into practice.
I’ve been using Shine Text for over a year and I love the encouraging and deep thinking it’s inspired in me. I’m happy to announce I’m a better person than I was a year ago, but that’s not merely from observing, it’s from understanding my shortcomings and taking action.
Make your encounters intentional.
In 2017 I made more of an effort not to be attached to social media by turning off notifications on my phone and deleting apps. I helped my stress levels a ton! Since I get hundreds of emails each day and even more notifications from social media, guarding myself from the onslaught saves me precious time, (and probably adds a few more years to my life.)
Instead of reacting, I focus on being present. When I’m on Facebook, I’m only on FB scrolling through the newsfeed. If I’m at dinner with a friend, my phone is nowhere to be found, (unless we’re taking selfies.)
Additionally, I want to make encounters matter. If there are friends I’m spending time with, it’s because there is a mutual benefit. If I have a call with a professional to pick their brain, I write down all the questions I want to ask so I can make the most of their time. Multi-tasking has gone out the window because I want to make more of an effort to be productive.
Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself.
I have a problem with trying to be all things to all people. Each year I improve, but often I feel like I need to jump into situations just because someone else wants me to be involved. In 2017 I had to ask myself a hard question: If I spend my entire life doing things for other people, and end up miserable and unhappy, whose fault is that?
You don’t have to be the social butterfly, or the one who posts in social media 24/7, or the person who takes screenshots of their successes. You can operate quietly in the background on your own time.
As an indie author, I find it tempting to word vomit every little success I have, share income reports, or brag about how great things are. Regardless, I realized everyone’s journey is quite different. Some people launch an instant bestseller, others have trial and error and need to work for even 100 book sales a month. Comparison isn’t something you should do, nor can you directly copy others to achieve the same results. Your journey is your own and success is subjective.
Comparison isn’t something you should do, nor can you directly copy others to achieve the same results. Your journey is your own and success is subjective.
Have your best year ever.
While I outline these steps for you, don’t be afraid to dig deep and find your own unique way to do things. Although social media makes it feel like you have to copy other people in order to find success, you don’t. Follow your own path of self-discovery that leads to success. There’s a reason we are all unique people with different perspectives.
In December I finished my Goodreads Reading Challenge with 50 books! The last book I read is quite popular: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F—k.
While the title of the book is a show stopper, the actual content is fantastic and a relief to read in a time of instant gratification, entitlement and blaming others for what happens in your own life.
Some of my biggest takeaways from the book are:
- We are constantly learning. The older we become, the more we know and if we remain open-minded, we can continue to learn and grow and become better people.
- We need to take responsibility for our own actions. When I first entered the workforce, I made many mistakes. Ultimately I blamed those mistakes on other people and situations: I wasn’t trained right. No one told me that. I didn’t have enough coffee. etc. There are many things in life which are out of our control, but we can control our reactions and take responsibility.
- Our mindset determines how we react in life. One of my friends put together a blog about abundance: what we put out into the world, we get back. I’ve experienced that throughout 2017. If I walk into a situation with good vibes and expect the best, it generally turns out fantastic. Of course there are always those situations where everything that goes wrong just dumps on us, but we have a lot of say in what happens. If we have a negative mindset, lack confidence and are constantly doubting ourselves, we’ll see it play out in life.
Interesting in reading more? Grab the book here.
Share your thoughts. What have you learned from expressing gratitude? How has a mindset of abundance made a difference in your life?