How to be the best version of yourself
How many of you have spent hours contemplating your New Year’s Resolutions? Every year, we think about what we should have done, what we said we would do and vow to do better. We write resolutions, promise ourselves this year will be better, we will take the steps we said we would. Resolutions could be a great thing, a motivator. But rather than putting the work into the resolutions to make them goals, to ensure we are successful, we just write resolutions that slowly slip from our memories.
What if we focused on becoming the best versions of ourselves? What if we spent the time, created a plan, and strove to be the very best version of ourselves every day? The power in striving to be our very best daily is so much more than the results of resolutions made annually in the dark of winter.
Creating a Plan to be our best version
The first step in becoming our best version is understanding some basic key information about our bodies.
Determining our Key Productivity Time
We need to identify when our key productivity time is, are we morning, afternoon, evening, or night people? When are we most likely to get the most done? When are our thoughts the clearest? When can we hold our focus the longest?
Learning what our bodies need
Next, we must understand how much sleep we need. There is no set answer, this varies for every person. Some of us can get by on less sleep during the week and then catch up over the weekend. Others want daily naps, and some like long nights in bed. Track your sleep for a week. When do you naturally wake up? When does your body tell you it is time to start winding down?
Once we understand our sleep needs, we must learn about our hydration and fuel needs. While it is recommended we get 64 ounces of water daily, depending on your activity level, the amount you sweat, and how much sodium you consume, you may need more. You will definitely not need less. Part of this is learning how much caffeine you can handle daily and when. Try to get rid of all drinks with calories and sugar. High-calorie drinks do not give our bodies any nutrients, rather they put empty calories in our bodies, often resulting in extra weight around our midsection.
Once we define our hydration needs and eliminate sugary drinks, we can focus on our food. When and what we eat is very important. Skipping a meal or grabbing a sugary snack can result in a feeling of hangry, which is never a good place to be. Or, we can lose our energy and want nothing but a nap. In order to learn what your body needs and how certain foods make you feel, keep a food journal. Track what time you ate, what you ate, how much you ate, and how this made you feel. After a week of journaling, you will have a pretty good idea of your eating habits your body craves to operate at its peak. Chronicling when you exercise and how long you worked out will also help you understand your food needs.
Have you ever wondered why exercise tracking devices encourage you to move every hour? Humans were not meant to sit. We were made to do physical labor. Our lives have evolved to a place where most jobs are not physically demanding. Thus we need to make daily movement a priority. In the chaos that has become our lives, rather than striving to find 30-minutes to walk, try adding three 10-minute walks to your daily routine. Grab a friend, use the time to catch up, listen to podcasts, or books on tape. As you get accustomed to more movement, add weights. Walking for 30-minutes daily with moderate weights at a brisk pace will have positive effects on your cardiovascular health and your overall wellbeing.
If you are feeling up to the challenge, consider joining a gym. You can get the recommended 150-minutes of movement in three sessions at the gym. Using equipment, taking classes, or working with trainers can help you achieve your fitness goals, and improve your mental and emotional health.
Mental and Emotional Health
The best way to maintain our mental and emotional health is to complete a daily check-in. Ask yourself how you feel, what hurts, and what unmet needs you have. Be honest. These answers will allow you to either fix the challenge or own the challenge, meaning you can reflect and answer not react. Sometimes you may feel off throughout the day, and be uncertain why. Do a check-in. Checking in with yourself allows you to know what you need and what challenges you are facing.
Another great way to maintain our mental and emotional health is to work on changing our perspective to one of positivity. Being positive doesn’t mean we aren’t realistic, we don’t have backup plans, or that we think nothing bad will happen. Rather it means we take things in stride, we look for the positive in each situation. Sometimes this is learning something new, other times it’s surviving a challenge. No matter what it is or how little it can seem, there is always a positive lining.
Did you know that when you are grateful you cannot be stressed? Practicing an attitude of gratefulness can help alleviate stress and help us to focus on the really great things in our lives. Every time you feel overwhelmed, list five things you are grateful for. These can be as small as having a great cup of coffee, to surviving what could have been a tragic accident. Starting and ending your day with gratitude will set you up for success and help you navigate the daily challenges.
Open your mind
No matter how old we get, or how many miles we collect, we will never know everything. Life has a way of knocking us down every time we start to think we know all the answers. I have found having an attitude of humility, being open to learning something in every encounter, and striving to read as much as possible challenges my mind and forces me to grow. I have learned life lessons from four-year old’s, seen experts embarrass themselves, and learned how to respect others from rescue animals. The minute we open our minds and make daily learning a priority, the universe shifts and sends us more lessons than we ever dreamed of. This knowledge is the knowledge we need to take our lives to the next level, to be successful, to achieve our dreams.
Every one of us needs moments to relax and recharge. If you want to be better at your job, to find yourself, be creative. Find a hobby that encourages you to be creative. Find another hobby that challenges you and pushes you to the limit. Then practice these hobbies daily. It may start to look like you are never still, but in the moments you are practicing your hobbies, your body is recharging, your brain is resting, and your mental and emotional health are recharging. Stop working more than 40 hours a week. Focus on your goals outside of your professional life.
Create routines and habits
Routines allow us to be more creative. The more structured we make certain parts of our lives, the more creativity will flow from our fingers. Create routines for your mornings and evenings. Use these to signal your body to wake up and wind down. Listen to a book on tape or music. Allow your brain to disengage. Limit your wardrobe. Fewer clothes mean fewer decisions, which mean less unnecessary stress for our brains. Create meal plans, rotate through a few weeks of recipes. In every area of your life that you can create a routine or a habit, do it. Give yourself 30-days to learn and perfect your routines and habits.
Discovering your Superhero
Do you believe there is a superhero in you? Each of us has special gifts that no one else has or will use as we will. These are our superpowers. In order to be the best version of yourself, you must know what these superpowers are. Ask yourself what you love to do, what is super easy for you to do, and what do people always ask you to do? These questions, conversations with family, peers, and mentors, will help you to identify your superpowers. Once you know what they are, strive to use them daily, in every situation if you can.
Understanding your purpose
I firmly believe every person has a unique purpose on this earth and each person who comes into our lives has a unique purpose in our lives. The key is knowing what this purpose is. Ask yourself what excites you, what jobs do you love to do, these are not necessarily the jobs that come easy. Look back over your life, what moments stand out to you as the moments where you felt most in line with what your purpose is? What were you doing in these moments? How did these moments make you feel? Once you know your purpose, create a vision statement, what you want to do with your life, and a mission statement, how you will accomplish your goal. Let these be your driving forces, the statements which assist you in every decision you make.
Ask yourself these questions
What do you want? Do you want a career? Do you want to be an artist? What do you want? How do you define success? What does an ideal day look like for you? Who are the people that bring out the best in you? Who are the people who positively challenge you? Who are the people that you learn the most from? Who are the people that make your skin crawl? What does happiness mean to you? Are you happy? Can you be content where you are while you grow into a better life? How do you find joy? What is your favorite part of each day? What are five things you love to do? What are five things that always make you smile? If you could run away, where would you go?
Putting it all together
The information you will gather will help you create the best version of yourself. When you know what you need to be at your best and actively work daily to give yourself what you need, your goals will suddenly not seem so hard to achieve. You will know what you need to do every day to make your goal a reality.
Take the time this month to learn more about yourself. Then use this knowledge to create the best version of you. This plan will be your road map, the plan you can use to center yourself on the days when nothing seems to be going right. As you work through the plan, don’t be afraid to change things up, adapt to new needs, or pivot to make achieving a goal easier. This plan is meant to grow with you. I think you will find yourself much happier when you strive to be the best version of yourself than working toward resolutions.