In these modern times with the perfect life people portray via social media, it’s easy to get caught up and think you’re not doing that great in life. The truth is, the goal should not be to compare yourself to others and secretly compete with them. All you need to be is the best you possible, and take well-thought out actions to improve on yourself daily. Daily? Seem too much? Little drops of water make a mighty ocean they say, so let’s dedicate a month (30 days) of amazing little actions to make way for an improved man/woman in the mirror. A great idea is to do this with someone so you hold each other accountable for making sure you cross these off every day, on your way to that better you.
Write yourself a love letter. Detail all the things you like about yourself. Don’t just focus on the physical (ok nice bottom!) but do you find you are genuinely always ready to help people? You are a loyal friend? These all make for an amazing you. Don’t be modest; go in! A full page about the uniqueness of you is perfect.
Work out for at least 30 minutes. Some people don’t work out because they envision “working out” has to be a gym session lifting 30 kilos and running for an hour on a treadmill. Nope. Find a simple app or online video to guide you, grab a bottle of water and use the space in your room to break a sweat and work those muscle groups. You’re looking for a better you, not the Hulk.
Make a smoothie and enjoy it! You may have not liked your greens as a child but as an adult, you gotta do what you gotta do! If you struggle with getting in the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily, smoothies are a sweet and fast way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients and vitamins it needs. Pick 2-3 fruits you like and even a veggie like a carrot or some spinach and blend with some soy/almond milk. All done. Superb as a light breakfast.
Call someone! Remember what that is? WhatsApp is an amazing instant messenger tool but this is an example of where technology has created a distance between people. We easily go days without calling our own siblings, parents, cousins and friends. Pick someone you haven’t spoken to in a little while and don’t text them, give them a ring. I guarantee it’ll make you (and them!) feel warm and fuzzy.
Compliment someone (or 3). It’s really not that hard and will give a positive boost to someone. Sure some people are aware that they are pretty or even expecting someone to say something about their new shoe, haircut or earrings. Let that someone be you. Quick, nice and sweet.
Read at least a chapter. You heard me! If the last book you picked up was a text book several years ago, you’re doing yourself a disservice. There is so much life, knowledge and excitement found within the pages of books, whether you prefer the fantasy of fiction, self-help books or biographies. I’m pretty sure you own a few good books. If not, ask someone for one. When you get home or as a break during the day, take at least a half hour, settle somewhere quiet and enjoy.
Pray/meditate. If you are pretty far along in your religious relationship with God, perhaps this is nothing you need to be prompted on. But there are quite a number that tick a box for being a Christian or whatever religion and don’t pray. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. You don’t have to speak in tongues. You don’t have to go down on your knees and put your palms together. Simply bow your head wherever you are and with a quiet spirit say ‘Thank You’ to God for life, for health, for your 10 fingers and toes, for seeing another day, for having a job and food to eat. If meditation is more of your style, sit, close your eyes and be conscious of your breathing and the sounds around you. Think of a few things that you are grateful for and send good vibes out to people you are happy to have in your life.
Treat yourself. If you are self-indulgent and do this daily…then this isn’t quite for you. Most people get up, go to work, work hard, push themselves, down-talk to themselves, and just do not give themselves much of a break. If you feel like that’s you, trust that you are not a bad person and you do not have a crappy life. As long as you genuinely give your best, you need to celebrate small wins. It is not only a new job or promotion or marriage that constitutes success. Did you check everything off your to-do list for the week? Did you step outside your comfort zone and do something to challenge yourself? Go out there are get yourself a scoop of icecream or that popping new lip colour you’ve been spying. You deserve it.
Analyze your finances. When was the last time you did that? This should be something you do monthly at least. Take a notepad and write down what your monthly income is. Do you have other income sources? What are your key monthly expenses? Write them all down. Is there unpaid debt? Write that down. Hopefully you have a decent amount leftover. If you don’t already, add EMERGENCY FUND to those monthly expenses and have an amount you save for unexpected drains like having to get a new car battery or when your microwave dies. Want to travel? Don’t just dream it; save for it. Even if just 100 cedis a month, you can make that overnight trip to Takoradi in a few months.
Drink lemon water. Sure it’s a bit of a fad and no it won’t make you skinny in a day, but you should be drinking plenty of water daily anyway and a little citrus does have its benefits. Have a warm mug first thing in the morning just after you rise. This helps flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body. Though it’s best warm, you can keep a bottle of water of this simple elixir and sip throughout the day to get your vitamin C.
Watch a cartoon. Whether you’re a TV person or not, pick a good cartoon/ animation and enjoy it. Many of these fun creations have amazing lessons to learn, for both children and adults. How many cartoons have you rewatched as an adult and seen the tidbits you subconsciously gleaned as a kid. Animations these days are very intriguing and fun so you’re inner child will smile and even cry at the sad parts but they always end well. Feed your young spirit and mindfully think of 3 lessons learned at the end.
Go vegetarian! Just for a day….Come on. You can do it. It’s actually quite easy you’ll see. Plantain and beans, kenkey with fried eggs and avocado, waakye, vegetable stew over rice – so many great options for lunch and dinner. Breakfast should be quite easy. If you want to take this further you can explore committing to “Meatless Mondays” by going vegetarian 4x a month. Not bad. It’s a great feeling to know you can discipline yourself and there are good benefits that come with lessening red meat intake especially, so more power to you.
Handwrite a Thank You note. Has someone been nice the past few days or weeks. Maybe someone did something in particular that really touched you. I’m pretty sure you said thank you but go the extra step and whip out a sheet of paper and a pen. With your best handwriting jot down your heartfelt gratitude and make sure that person gets your note. They are likely to keep it. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
Talk to a stranger. Ha! Seem scary? It really isn’t. It’s a simple way to step outside your comfort zone and meet someone new. As you open your gate to pull out for the morning, a quick “Good morning. How’re you?” to the man sweeping his house-front 3 doors down, “Nice car” to someone in traffic or a slightly longer conversation with someone waiting in the lobby or at the grocery store. You’ll feel good and may even make a new friend.
Treat someone. We all work so hard for our coins sometimes it’s so easy for us to be so committing to splitting the bill or taking back our exact change. This day make a conscious effort to bear the cost. If you sent for lunch for you and on behalf of a coworker, push away that GHS 15 they hand to you and smile. Perhaps your househelp is still doing a consistently great job after 3 months, bring home some Fanice. Tell the window-washer guy in traffic you don’t need the wash and hand him some money anyway. Give some less fortunate kids a stellar city experience.
Read your love letter. It’s been 2 weeks since you wrote your love letter and chances are you’ve hit some rough patches since then. That’s life. Just when things seem to be going great there always seems to be some wrench that comes through to smash your happiness. This is when it’s important to remind ourselves how strong we are, how beautiful we are, what amazing people we are.
Go solo. The comfortable thing is to get lost in the cushion of being with other people. Women don’t even like to go to the bathroom alone. It’s nice to do things with siblings and friends but you really need to start to enjoy your own company. You don’t always need people to do things. So today go it alone – lunch, a swim, the movies…Think of something you would not typically do alone and do it. Do you really need someone you know sitting next to you to watch a movie at the cinema? I went to see Black Panther alone and was able to better focus on the themes of the Wakanda blockbuster.
Print a photo. It seems like gone are the days of photo albums! This is quite sad. I remember a time when you visited people’s homes and they had family albums on the coffee table to peruse. Though there is some fun in taking selfies and putting up a different DP daily on WhatsApp or posting pictures from your phone on Instagram, there’s really nothing like having some lovely framed prints. Go through your camera roll of 1,000 pictures and pick one of you (even better if you and your family member or friend) you really like; take it to get printed, frame it and put it up on your work desk or at home by the end of the month.
Purge. It’s not a myth. A cluttered space makes for a disheveled life. Take an hour and put your house in order. Whether your room, living room, storage room or office, set aside the time to put things up and away, file and fold. You’ll find so many things you really don’t need that must go straight to the garbage and others that someone else could use. It’s really a good feeling to look around and see everything so neat and tidy. This also means you’ll find things you are looking for easily and will have the openness of mind to get things done faster. Research a place to donate the items you don’t need and deliver them.
Take a nice, long shower. Personally, my evening shower time is my favorite time of the day. After a long day of work, touching people and things, having dust circulate all over me…I look forward to getting home, stripping down and enjoying that alone time. The borderline hot water feels refreshing and cleansing, the scent of my fruity shower gel wakens me and the circular sponge motions across my body help me appreciate my body and the fact that I can even bathe myself. Don’t rush. Make this a long bathe.
Plan. There are 4 quarters to each year and it’s shocking how quickly they go by. All so soon we’re ending one quarter and entering another. It’s easy to just swish from one day into the next but you really need to sit down and take a look at the bigger picture of things you want to get done in this year. What are they? What do you need to do to get there? What steps have you taken already? What is challenging you? If things have somewhat been on autopilot, make a move to change that today. Make a precise move to make some progress towards at least one of those major goals today.
Eat something new. Variety is the spice of life. I’m sure you have your typical diet. Maybe you’re a “rice kinda gal” or do not play with your local Ghanaian food. Expand your palette and appreciation for different cultures by giving a new cuisine a try for lunch or dinner. Over the past decade Accra has become very metropolitan with tons of great eateries featuring dishes from around the world. From Thai curries to Indian roti to Ethiopian ngera, you have tons of great options for this one.
Color away! Here’s another activity for that inner child. There is a reason coloring is part of the school curriculum growing up and though you are no longer required to do it, many adults find peace and calm in it. The freedom to pick a design, where to start, what colors, how light or deep and all help tap into your creative side. You can buy an adult coloring book or simply Google “coloring page” and print one off. I’m sure you have a child or niece who can lend you their pencil kit.
Take a walk/jog. If you own a car then you especially may truthfully take less than 100 steps outdoor each day. If you also work a more sedentary type of job then that lessens even more. One of my favorite things about Ghana is our lovely weather! Sure the blazing sun isn’t always pleasant but if you catch the day right where afternoon meets evening, it’s quite perfect. Take a 20 minute stroll down the street and back. Forget the headphones. Just walk. Smile at passers-by. Look around. Take notice of your breathing and the sights and sounds around you. Try not to think any particular thoughts. Simply enjoy putting one foot in front of the other.
Offer your help. It’s as simple as this. Within the next 24hours ask someone “Is there anything I can help you with?” Maybe it’s a coworker or employee that looks a little overwhelmed. Maybe it’s your mom or uncle that’s always running around. Let them know that you see them and are happy to pitch in. Take something off someone’s hands today.
Learn something new. If you’re like me, there are several things you kinda know something about. If anyone were to ask you in-depth questions on it, you’d be lost for detail. Let’s change that today. Think of any one such topic – Who was Yaa Asantewaa? How does email actually work? What is bitcoin? Where is Bali? Whatever your selected topic, you may Google it or read via Wikipedia. Spend about 15 minutes getting a good grasp of it, and repeat it to someone else as a means to test your new knowledge.
Get a full night’s sleep. If you’re a mom, this may seem impossible, but that kid has a dad! Sleeping for 7-8 hours is important. It may not always be feasible but today plan to hop into bed at a decent hour, turn the phones down, TV off and allow yourself to doze off. A shower right before bed should help.
Challenge your ideals. We all have them. We have certain principals and things we believe should be a certain way. We find it hard not to start getting upset when someone expresses an opposing view. Think of just one such ideal. Maybe you think tattoos are bad or going to church is pointless. Just for about 5 minutes think for the opposite side. Feel free to grab a pen and debate style start to justify that view. It doesn’t mean you believe it now but it’s important to try to understand other people and why they believe something different that you. This helps us all respect view that differ from ours.
Start a side hustle! At this age, having “something on the side” is almost the norm. Even those who make top income happen to also have a side business. For them it’s likely a passion project but if you are truly “hustling”, it may seem quite difficult to figure out what to do. Today is simply step one. Think of your line of work. What you like to do. What you’re good at. Google will help with some great ideas. Pick something you think works for you and start planning how you can get it off the ground. Endeavor to kick things off officially within the next month.
Give it up! It seems like a lot of people wait for Lent to give up something. “I’m giving up drinking for Lent”, “I’m giving up sugar for Lent”. Come on. You don’t need Lent to admit some of your decisions are not the best. Today is just a single day but could be the beginning of a new good behavior. Some things seems so easy, like giving up soft drinks but it may be something that has become normal for you to have with lunch and dinner daily. Cut it out today, and then challenge yourself to keep going for a full week. Can you make it to a month? You’re on your way!
They say it takes 30 days to form a habit or break bad ones. Life is really about becoming the best version of yourself possible and it’s definitely easier said than done but I hope you push yourself to take this challenge and grow over the next month. We’d love to hear how it’s going or what your favorite day was! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Written by Awoyaa Mensah
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