You decided that this would be the year you made some of those big dreams of yours turn into reality. Now that we’re beginning to see things open up, you’ve decided you’re READY. Especially to make up for the lost year that 2020 was for a lot of folks. Things started out strong: going to the gym, meditating, eating right, and cutting back your use of social media. You had high standards for yourself and by golly, you felt invincible. Actions were taken that were not only thoughtful, but mindful. You dove in with all your beloved attention , taking purposeful actions.
Then you had one of those days. You hit snooze four times instead of going to the gym. You told yourself you didn’t have time for meditation. Scrolling through Facebook became your number one obsession.
And before you knew it, every day was full-out reaction mode. Just like that busy life you swore you weren’t going back to.
You know what I mean: get up after hitting the snooze button four times, rush through your shower, discard four outfits before finding something that works, and then rushing out the door without breakfast let alone coffee. As you go through the Dunkin Doughnuts drive through – for the fourth time this week – you realize your life feels as if it’s careening out of control.
What happened to those high standards you had for yourself? Didn’t you decide it was time to really focus on living mindfully? And what happened with your beloved attention to the details of your life?
Darling, what happened was life. You forgot that the small stuff adds up to bigger things. Those new habits you were working on seemed small and insignificant, so the new lifestyle changes you were seeking just didn’t quite get cemented in place.
What we so often forget is that every day life matters because the culmination of each day creates your life. And while maybe a part of you gets that, another part sees a failure one day as an excuse to just forget about the big picture. Well, until your life feels so out of control and crazy you don’t think you’ll recover.
I’m here to tell you, my dear, that today is as good a day as any to begin fresh. Yes, even if it’s late in the evening, you can make a single decision to set yourself up for feeling successful.
The secret: set non-negotiable standards for your life.
Setting non-negotiable standards means that you are setting the rules for your life according to your desires, not the desires of others. It’s about choosing to take control on the quality of your daily life. It’s easy for a bad day – or bad series of days – get us off track. The way to recover more quickly is to create rules for ourselves that help us get back on track.
To set standards, you need to dig into those goals again. What dreams matter the most? Why did you set some of the goals you did? What’s most important to you about them? Then expand to questions like:
- What kind of experiences do you need in order to feel nourished?
- Are there particular actions make you feel present in your own life?
- Have you examined what spiritual needs are you craving?
- What makes you feel alive?
- When you think about standards for living a life that feels loving and nourishing, what bubbles to the surface?
- And how does progress towards your goals feel?
Then, my dear, you begin to take pen to paper. You remind yourself that these are going to be rules you set for yourself, not standards based on other people’s rules for you. It’s about taking control of your world. A non-negotiable is just that—it isn’t up for discussion.
You create a sacred agreement with yourself by laying down the law (aka your non-negotiable standards).
Begin by creating a list called Non-Negotiable Standards for Crappy Days. Yes, you begin there, because if you define what the bare minimums are for you on crappy days, you are less likely to slide away from those deep desires, those big dreams, and those goals for your life.
As you create these non-negotiable standards for crappy days, remember to be compassionate but firm. Keep your goals in mind while remembering that you are human. Be honest with yourself around what feels nourishing and what feels like a cop out.
Remember, too, that your brain will look for loopholes. So, in your Non-Negotiable Standards for Crappy Days list, include the bare minimums of grooming, eating, exercise, and overall activities. For example, allow that you can skip a workout, but not meditation. Or that even though you work from home, you’ll put on real clothes but skip a shower. Or that you can grab drive-thru for one meal, but not all your meals.
By having Non-Negotiable Standards in place for crappy days, it’s helps stop the snowball effect you’ve experienced, when one crappy day leads to another. You are also less likely to slide back into unconscious living out of habit.
Once you have those Non-Negotiable Standards for Crappy Days on paper, then create a second list: your Non-Negotiable Standards for Ordinary Days. It will include everything from your first list with add-ons that keep those goals of yours in mind.
Over time, by sticking to your Non-Negotiable Standards, you’ll begin making progress and forming new habits that allow your life to feel lush and nourishing. You’ll be working your plan instead of reacting to life. You’ll create a deeper sense of connection to your own life. You can learn to be nimbler and less reactive to your life no matter what happens.
When you set standards for your life, you make peace the the fact that crappy days will inevitably happen, but they don’t have to change your trajectory towards your dreams. You’ll be back on track to curating a life you love because you’re honoring that each and every day is what’s creating your life.