“Your day is determined by a thought you had this morning”- Dandapani
What is your default thought when you wake up? Oh, another day to get through!
First you may hit snooze a few times and then ask yourself the same question. This matters because it is the theme song you are planting into your mind which will dictate your entire day.
In the book ‘The Four Sacred Secrets’ by Preethaji and Krishnaji, they pose a powerful question:
“Recognize the state in which you have spent most of the past year. If this state were to become your mental and emotional baseline for the rest of your life, would you be a happy person or an unhappy person? Please see the truth.”
If you answered the latter, here is the good news — you are one decision away from creating the life you want. It all begins by choosing to own your headspace.
The starting point is simple — do a software upgrade. Your phone does it automatically and sends you the notification that it will happen tonight at midnight. It doesn’t ask you for permission if it can, it gives you notice.
This is how you need to approach your mind — don’t ask it for permission if you can upgrade the old thoughts and beliefs, just give it notice. In order to upgrade, you need to be willing to let go of the outdated software first. Remove the obsolete and install the new shiny modernized version. Here’s how…Replace ‘I should’ with ‘I choose to’
“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.” — Tony Robbins
How many times do you ask yourself: ‘What should I be doing? How should I approach this? I know I should be eating healthier; I know I should probably go for that run; I should get started on that presentation document’….
When you begin a task from this perspective, you have immediately tainted the activity. This is often unconscious and you’re not even aware that it’s happening.
‘Should’ doesn’t work alone, it has cousins like I’d better; I must; I should have. These phrases are commonly referred to as ‘Mind Sneakers’ and create anxiety and cause you to put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
These mind sneakers eradicate your power and spark thoughts like ‘What if I do it wrong, what if it’s not good enough, what if I make a mistake and what if it’s not perfect?’.
When you approach the task from a place of ‘I choose to’, you infuse your creativity and your authentic style. It gives you permission to do it your way. Even if you do have a fear of failure, know that this is normal and there is a solution.
You can start the process of changing your negative thoughts by simply being aware of the words you use.
Have you ever been driving with the radio on or your music playlist on shuffle and you completely zone out only to realize you have spent the last 10 minutes listening to your kids Disney sound track or a song you really don’t like?
Once you come back into the moment, you immediately change the station or move to the next song.
It’s the same with your words. If you are on autopilot and not paying attention to the words filtering through your every action, you will take in the playlist of self-doubt, negativity and fear. Be specific with the words you choose.
‘I choose to’ also has cousins: ‘I want to; I can; I allow myself; and I deserve’.
You’ll be surprised at how these words can positively impact your thinking and energize you to action.
Whenever you reinforce positive self-talk with positive action, you’re strengthening the impact on your neural pathways and truly paving the way for transformation.Replace time scarcity with time abundance
‘Time is the currency of nature. Our success depends on how we spend our time.’ — Anurag Prakash Ray
You cannot expand time, but you have the choice of the state in which you experience it.
My kids are 5 and 7 years old, I am quite strict when it comes to the time they go to sleep at night because I know how a good night’s sleep will impact how they experience their days.
With this great intention, I was focusing so much on the clock to the point where I started sucking all the fun out of bedtime. I started rushing them to do their teeth and get frustrated when they wanted to have one more round of hide and go seek because it would make everything later.
What I realized is we would miraculously get to the identical point whether I made it fun and enjoyable or whether I stressed us out. It made zero difference; I didn’t save time. All I did was create tension around what should be a very special time of the day. This was the attitude of time scarcity.
I decided to change my attitude to one of time abundance. ‘There is plenty time to finish everything they want and get to sleep at the appropriate time for them to have plenty of energy the next day’. And you know what? It worked.
This is fine for a bedtime routine but what about your state and attitude during the working day?
When you find yourself getting tense or anxious because an urgent email arrived or an unexpected deadline cropped up, how do you prevent yourself from falling into the time scarcity mindset?
Ask yourself: What is the best use of my time now? And then only focus on that task and ignore everything else.
You can also ask ‘what is the real deadline?’ Is there really a critical deadline or is this self-imposed?
What would happen if you did the activity later or tomorrow? I used to do that with my newsletters. I read an article that the best time to send a newsletter is on a Tuesday morning and I would get quite flustered when I hadn’t completed it on Monday.
I started to get quite tense and asked myself — what will happen if it goes out on Wednesday? Nothing. So, I relaxed into the writing and as it happens, I completed it anyway in the time I needed. But as a principle, I sent it out on Wednesday to show myself nothing will happen.Planning is key
“Lose an hour in the morning and you will spend all day looking for it” — Richard Whately
If you are experiencing the time scarcity mind-set, start by planning your week before you are in it but with a new spin. Think about it differently this time — start by including everybody else’s schedule into the diary first.
For example, if you have kids — schedule in their lessons, homework, activities, and your daily zoom call with your team. In this way, you can clearly see what gaps are remaining in the week.
Now — insert your self-care blocks, work blocks, housework blocks, etc. If you don’t take all of this into consideration, then you will constantly feel like your time is scarce.
Having a clear and realistic view of the time available to you will enable you to manage your time better and not panic when something comes up unexpectedly.
You know in advance the blocks available to you and this boosts your confidence that you do indeed have the resources available to complete what you need to.
It is important to ground yourself with the phrase — ‘I have more than enough time to complete what I need to’. Often it is the habit of panic or anxiety that creates this destructive thought loop.
Interrupt the pattern and approach the task from a space of knowing and not fear and your day will transform.Replace negative thoughts with a mental screen saver
‘Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.’ — Honoré de Balzac
Your thoughts truly do create your reality. When you find yourself in a negative spiral or anxious about something you need to tackle that day, simply become aware of the negative thought and replace it with an anchor image.
This is different to a positive thought, a mantra or affirmation because in the moment, you may say it, but it doesn’t really resonate with you. Your mind just isn’t buying it.
Instead, use the technique of a mental screensaver I learned from author Srikumar Rao.
As a start, think of one to three experiences you have had that has been validating for you. It could be a moment when you accomplished something significant, when you were complimented, or overcame some difficulty.
Unearth some of your most delightful, most exhilarating, most powerful memories. You’re creating an inventory of every time you ever felt a sense of achievement. Every time you felt amazing, accomplished, comfortable, confident, whole, complete and authentically you.
Take yourself back to those defining moments. Immerse yourself in them. And remember how you felt. Now go fully HD. See those moments with absolute clarity. Make your mental image clearer, crisper, sharper. Make the colors brighter, more vivid. Enhance the sound. Add applause if you want to.
And most importantly, recall your feelings. Make those emotions of triumph, joy, exhilaration, completion and happiness as tangible as you possibly can.
Finally, ‘pin’ those memories onto your mental screensaver with a click of your fingers, a clap of your hands or a long, deep breath. This is now your trigger to recall those memories at will, and to replay them whenever you need them.
Recalling positive past experiences and visualizing them before speaking up in a meeting, going for an interview or giving a presentation, is a powerful antidote to nerves and fear.
You tend to focus on your insecurities, to downplay your successes. So often, you start believing in your own mediocrity and forgetting just how accomplished, skilled and talented you really are.
With your mental screen saver ready to go, you enable yourself to shift your focus to what you do well, and by doing so you remind yourself of your ability.Replace fear with intention
‘You want to feel that you have the power to bring your full, spirited self to the situation, stripped of the fears and inhibitions that might typically hold you back.’ — Amy Cuddy
How do you approach your work? Do you find yourself procrastinating on the important stuff?
This habit of postponing is often a means to avoid the feeling associated with the task. If you are inventing a reason not to do it, then it most likely it brings up emotions like fear, anxiety and overwhelm.
In order to avoid the feelings, you avoid the task and break the promise you made to yourself which conjures up even more harmful emotions like shame and guilt.
Before you begin your task, invite fear to the table and write down everything you are afraid of with this project. ‘I’m scared I won’t be taken seriously, I’m afraid I will fail, I will not add value, I won’t get the promotion I wanted’.
Once you have named every reason that is holding you back from starting, then set your intention. You can’t change how you feel about the task — the fear is real to you but when you confront it, you are able to see it is not based on facts.
You fear a particular outcome in the future but then you transport that situation to the present and start living it as if it were real. This is where the real anxiety sets in.
By setting an intention, you are clarifying who you want to be, what you want to bring to the task, and how you want to show up to it.
Set the intention to be your boldest, most creative and inspiring self. Set the intention to add value. This removes the focus off yourself not being perfect to one of service.
It almost always comes down to the fear of judgement. If you need to present something to your team or leaders, remind yourself why you have been invited to do the talk. You are the subject matter expert; you have real value to share.
Replace fear with the intention to contribute. When you show up with this mindset, you realize it is not about being faultless and the fear dissipates because it is no longer about you.Replace the monkey mind with the mat
“My yoga practice, I do it because when I get on my mat, I know I’m going to be transformed. I know that whatever stresses are in my life or whatever worries I have or whatever monkey mind is happening for me, when I get off the mat, I’m going to be transformed” — Michael Franti
The monkey mind is the impossible room mate who doesn’t pay rent and eats all your best food. It creates unwelcome commentary all day and most of the time, you stop paying attention to it.
But this narrative is often destructive ‘Why can’t you be better, why did you let yourself down, you’ll probably mess this up, go and get the doughnut, you can never stick to your health goals’.
This voice appears the moment you wake up. When you feel like you don’t have the energy to deal with it, head straight to the yoga mat and shut it down in its tracks. Yoga moves you out of the thinking mind and this is where the monkey mind sets up camp.
The trick to mastering your monkey mind is giving yourself a different place to focus. Yoga or meditation is amazing because you have your breath or the poses to do this for you, all you must do is show up.
When you find your mind wondering into thought, you simply notice the thought and bring your attention back to your breath and body.
Your mat is not just about spiritual fitness but mental fitness. You are training your mind to notice the thinking and hear what is being said.
When it happens during your day or before a daunting meeting, you can become aware of it and immediately shift into your mental screen saver and not let it sabotage you.Replace guilt with permission
“Guilt is a useless feeling. It’s never enough to make you change direction — only enough to make you useless.” ― Daniel Nayeri
What is the self-talk that comes up when you take some much-needed self-care for yourself?
My self-talk used to be major guilt — I would focus on the work I ‘should’ be doing. How can I possibly take this time for me when I should be with my kids? Sound familiar? …
It’s not enough to take the time for yourself — that is the easy part. The challenge is how you allow yourself to experience that time.
I have a memory of walking into a salon to get a facial with a sense of dread and guilt for even being there. I got myself so worked up and was convinced I had missed something urgent while I was ‘selfishly spoiling myself’.
I left the facial more stressed than when I arrived and ruined the entire experience for myself. I vowed I would never do it again.
Time is just time but the state I choose to experience it is completely within my power. I simply gave myself permission to be there.
The next time I had my appointment, I reframed it and used those precious minutes to relax, reboot and recover.
I was more creative and energized because I allowed myself the time and often came up with my best ideas in this relaxed state.
When you do take a self-care gap, please make sure you go into the time with a mindset of permission that you deserve it because you are worth it.Conclusion
“You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling, than feeling yourself into action’. — Jerome Bruner
The key to owning your days is not about having more hours but better hours.
The way to achieve better hours is by deciding in advance how you want to experience them.
You can’t always control what you must do, perhaps certain meetings and activities are what are required for you to perform your role.
Remember — you always have the autonomy on how you choose to show up.
Decide in advance the feelings you want to bring to the activity and align your actions accordingly. Those moments will pass irrespective of what you choose to do with them.
When you find yourself reverting to the old software, ask yourself:
“Do I want this state to become my mental and emotional baseline for the rest of my life?”
Take ownership of your headspace by making a bold declaration: I choose to do today in happiness. Irrespective of what the day brings.
This is the path to truly own your days.
Here’s to owning your headspace,
LoriCall to Action
Ready to own your days and not feel like they are owning you?
I’ve created an ultimate guide to Show Up To Yourself: In Life & Business. If you follow this daily, you can build new habits — and actually sustain them; schedule yourself into your calendar, guilt free; and manage your inner critic, free of anxiety and fear.