Valentine's Day Starts with You
Like many people, some of your New Year’s dreams may seem to fall away as time passes, if maintaining traction is not your strong suit. You may have a learning difference, or just be like most of us: Life happens, and we get derailed.
If you like to dream big, but tend to drop the ball when it comes to execution, consider slowing down. You know what they say about too much of a good thing! You might have an even better experience when you don't cram too many "wonderful" activities into your valuable schedule.
Our culture tends to push us to achieve, sometimes before we even know what to do, or why we are doing it. Without deliberate measures to keep us on track, we can get pulled in every direction. Routine demands of everyday life can pressure us to let some of our longer-term plans fall by the wayside.
Where is the self-love in this?
Even during downtime, we can push ourselves. I have at times bitten off more than I needed to chew, such as taking a relatively ambitious 2.5 hour drive to a beautiful coastline. While these day trips were gorgeous and fun, they also required a commitment to an intense commute. By contrast, I've gotten tons of enjoyment from 15 minute jaunts to a stunning local park. I even had time to get a slew of other things done that day!
Tapping into the quieter parts of yourself can yield precious insight.
Why not schedule less, listen more, and make sure the activities you ARE prioritizing are the things that will make the most difference for you? Self-love is about discernment, and starts with inward reflection. It requires stepping back from external distractions that pull your attention.
You can focus on signals from the outside world once you are ready, but if you first know what will balance your life, you will make more strategic decisions, and say yes to options that will be both energizing and inspiring.
A recent Forbes article on 6 Ways to Practice Self-Love describes a number of options for cultivating better relationships with ourselves. It also lists 5 benefits of doing so, including happiness, self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-forgiveness.
What do these 5 benefits of practicing self-love have to do with staying on track with goals?
- Happiness - While delayed gratification can be challenging for neurodiverse learners, seeing your progress can bring a lot of satisfaction. Our brains like little accomplishments. You can make the process of getting things done as pleasant as possible by rewarding incremental steps and small achievements.
- Self-Acceptance - Make academics relevant to you by exploring what captures your imagination. You are wired the way you are wired, and you find certain topics more interesting than others for a reason. You are designed to be a specialist in areas other people may never know much about. This is something to celebrate! Owning your brand of brilliance will boost your confidence. Get to know your secret sauce. Learn how to make this work for your teenage career exploration, as well as high school, college and postgraduate studies. If you want college to be a part of your education, highlighting your unique gifts will differentiate your candidacy from that of other applicants.
- Self-Esteem - Getting things done makes everyone feel better better about themselves. To make real progress toward your vision, you have to learn how to become consistent. Even if you struggle with organization, time management, and accountability, getting support can help you stick to your goals.
- Self-Awareness - Which pursuits could brighten your day and make you feel more alive? Learning what motivates you can be one of your greatest strengths. Take the time to slow down and explore your passions, because you can transform them into academic “superpowers.” Go off the beaten path, and do something just for you. If you are unsure of how to pursue an independent interest, a skilled mentor can help.
- Self-Forgiveness - If you have ADD, ADHD, or a learning difference that can derail your attention, let go of self-judgment each time you fall off track. Recognize that everyone has imperfections, and focus on the progress you ARE making. They key is to get back on the horse as soon as you can so you can enjoy greater momentum. Resilience is your friend.
You may have a vague sense of your academic and professional aspirations, but have a hard time visualizing the roadmap of how to get there, and the specific guardrails that can guide your success.
Start goal setting by tapping into who you really are, what you care about, and what drives you. You can create greater traction by slowing down, listening to your inner purpose, and connecting your planning to your deepest needs. You may get your best ideas in the shower, when you are half asleep, or when you are in the middle of a routine task. Capture that inspiration by recognizing when it resonates for you. Write it down, keep it in a note on a device, or say it out loud to yourself. These are your “aha!” moments.
Greater clarity can yield the insight that leads to next steps. It is the fuel that can propel you in a direction that feels like the right thing for you. This inner awareness can keep you motivated on that path.
Whether you prefer mind mapping, vision boards, journaling, or some other tool of inner exploration, the intention is to make a dedicated practice of uncovering more about yourself and your priorities.
Commit to making your life goals a reality by spending more time with your authentic self. Once you identify what you value, and what you feel motivated to achieve, you are then in a position to map out the steps that will support your vision. If you have a hard time organizing a game plan for large projects, you can enlist a mentor or coach to guide you in its execution.
Looking for support in living your authentic life and moving forward on your goals? Schedule a complimentary information session.
As an executive function coach and academic tutor, I specialize in helping individuals with learning differences exceed their goals for academics, organization, and college transition.