5 Ways to Prepare for 2019 (+ GIVEAWAY!)

 

Positively Present - EDM 2019

 

The end of the year is upon us, which means it's just about time for all of the articles about New Year's resolutions and "how to make the most of 2019" to come out! Personally I'm not a fan of resolutions, as they're often too broad and rarely stuck to, but I am all about prepping for the year to come. There's only so much you can really do to prepare since you never know what the year-to-come will have in store, but here are five of the ways I like to try to get it together in December so that the new year will feel like a fresh start! 

 

1. ASSESS 2018's HIGHS + LOWS

You'll find no shortage of recommendations to "reflect on the year" in get-ready-for-2019 articles, but reflection is popular advice for a reason. Many of us dart from year to year without pausing to think about what did -- or didn't -- work in the past. While I'm all about staying in the present, taking a bit of time to look back at the year and jot down the highs and lows (and perhaps some things you might want to do differently in the future) is one of the best ways to make sure the year to come is filled with positive, proactive choices. 


2. CLEAR OUT YOUR CLUTTER

Clearing clutter is often discussed a lot in the spring ("spring cleaning!" articles will abound), but there's something about getting rid of what you don't need (or haven't used all year) that is wonderfully satisfying. I like to keep a bin in my closet and whenever I come across something I'm not using or no longer enjoy, I toss it in there. I usually try to clear it out a few times of year, donating it to a local charity, but I like do an extra run-through at the end of the year, checking my drawers and boxes and making sure there's nothing that wouldn't be better suited with someone else. Clearing clutter feels great, but knowing that the things I'm no longer using will find a new home is also a great way to end the year!

 

3. PREPARE YOUR PLANNER

As you might know, each year I create the Every Day Matters diary (available in desk or pocket sizes!), and the getting planner organized for the year ahead is one of my must-do December tasks. I set aside some time to fill in all of the birthdays, special events, and holidays, and, as a little kindness to my future self, I'll often write little bits of encouragement for myself on random pages throughout the year. It's silly, but there's something about having all of the key dates already marked off in a planner that really makes me feel ready for the new year! 

 

4. DECLUTTER SOCIAL MEDIA

Clearing out clutter isn't just for physical things! At the end of each year, I like to go through my social media and look at the accounts I'm following. Have I gotten joy from them throughout the year? Did they provide me with information or insights? When I spot one of their posts in my feed, how does it make me feel? Most of us spend a ton of time on social media so it's important to make sure that the content we're consuming is content we want to consume. (I'd also recommend making a note in your planner to do this throughout the year so you don't spend months consuming content mindlessly!)

 

5. CHOOSE A 2019 FOCUS

Now, I know I said I'm not into resolutions, but I do find it useful to go into the new year with some sort of focus. In the past, I've chosen a word of the year, which can be a great way to have a general-but-attainable focus for the year, but if choosing a word isn't your thing (or a single word isn't enough for you), consider choosing a general focus for the new year. Maybe you want more family time in 2019. Maybe you want to zero in on career growth next year. Maybe you want to direct your attention to self-love. Whatever you feel you didn't get enough of in 2019, make that your focus for 2019 -- and write it down in your planner so you don't forget about it! 

 

Speaking of planners, my publisher is doing an awesome giveaway for you to win one of the 2019 Every Day Matters diaries! Check out the details below for how to enter! The diary is available in desk or pocket sizes, and you can see more about it in my YouTube video

 

EDM 2019 Diary

HOW TO ENTER

Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry!   


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

  • Every follow / share counts as one entry
  • One winner will be chosen + notified on December 17, 2018
  • The winner will receive their choice of desk or pocket size diary

Two Little Words That Make A Big Difference


Right_Now

 

As someone who spends a lot of time writing (and thinking about) words, it's not unusual for me to stumble upon new revelations about them, but recently I had a realization about two words that make a really big impact: right now

I frequently find myself making sweeping statements -- things like "I'm so stressed!" or "I'm obsessed with [insert current obsession]!" or "I can't live without [thing I didn't even know about a year ago]!" or "I'm so upset with [irritant-of-the-moment] -- and, while those are partially due to my flair for making dramatic proclamations, I don't think I'm the only one who makes broad statements like these. 

The thing is, sentences like the ones above (and, to be honest, most sentences) are only true right now. Sure, they might be true in the future, but that's not a given. And, yes, they might have been true in the past, but so was the statement "I can only drink from a bottle," and (hopefully...) that's no longer true. The only time we can be absolutely certain of is right now. The only statements that are 100% true are the ones that occurring in this moment, which is something most of us frequently forget. 

I spend a lot of time trying to stay present, but the truth is: the only thing we ever are is present, like it or not, and using these two magical little words -- "right now" -- can transform how we perceive the present. It might seem minor, but I actually feel differently when I say, "I'm so stressed," instead of, "I'm so stressed right now."

Tacking those two words on the end of a sentence might seem silly, but semantics matter. Adding the "right now" to most sentences can have one (or more!) of the following impacts...

 

  • Adding "right now" can reassure you that a bad situation you're in isn't forever
  • Adding "right now" can prompt you to appreciate a good situation you're enjoying
  • Adding "right now" can bring you back to the moment (countering anxious thoughts!)
  • Adding "right now" can inspire you to begin again or do things differently
  • Adding "right now" can remind you that just because it's not now doesn't mean it's never
  • Adding "right now" can inspire you to focus on the task that's right in front of you
  • Adding "right now" can make huge projects or tasks seem less daunting
  • Adding "right now" can boost your enjoyment of a moment that won't last forever
  • Adding "right now" can allow you to mentally step back from pointless worrying
  • Adding "right now" can give your full attention when engaging with others
  • Adding "right now" can help you relax when you're feeling very overwhelmed
  • Adding "right now" can invigorate self-compassion and cut down on guilt 
  • Adding "right now" can maintain self-control and more easily overcome cravings
  • Adding "right now" can mitigate feelings of physical pain by easing mental suffering

 

To be fair, most of these things are benefits of simply being fully present in the moment, but knowing we should be present and actually being present are two very different things. For some reason, adding "right now" seems to work really well for me when it comes to triggering me to be in the moment. Here are just a few ways I've used it this week (and how it's helped). These examples are all kind of frivolous, but it worked for much more intense thoughts as well! 

 

What I Initially Thought   How I Felt When I Added
"Right Now"
How I Felt
"I'm spending way too much time on Instagram." Annoyed that I'm wasting my time on social media; frustrated that I can't stop scrolling; distressed that I can't find a way to make a living from my art that others seem to love "I'm spending way too much time on Instagram right now."

 

Still annoyed, but hopeful I won't always spend so much time on it; inspired to stop scrolling because I realized I can change; stopped identifying my current action as a guaranteed future state

 

"I'm so happy to be here in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!"

 

Comfortable and relaxed, but distracted by the to-do list I wasn't tackling; worried I should be out with friends on a Saturday night instead

 

"I'm so happy to be here right now in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!"

 

Grateful for the alone time I so desperately craved after socializing all day; engrossed in my book and assured that I'd tackle to-do's tomorrow; reminded that I often long to be in bed with a book when I'm out and about 

 

"I'm so overwhelmed by all of the things I have to get done this week!" 

Overwhelmed (obviously); stressed and anxious about the lengthy to-do list that seems to be never-ending; tempted to lie down and do none of it

"I'm so overwhelmed right now by all of the things I have to get done this week!" 

 

Still a bit frazzled by the to-do list, but reminded that I'll soon have the tasks done (it's always more stressful to think of them than do them!); grateful for projects that bring in money and for the personal to-do's that, while annoying at the time, will bring my future self (and others!) joy

 

 

"I can't stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks!"

Frustrated with my lack of self-control; angry with myself for buying the snacks in the first place; envisioned myself unable to ever stop eating said snacks, stuck in and endless snack-and-shame spiral "I can't stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks right now!"

 

Reminded that guilt is a waste of time and I should either enjoy the snacks or put them away (which I did!); felt lucky to have snacks (affording groceries isn't a given for me!); made aware that my future self could be someone who doesn't eat such unhealthy snacks (unlikely, but possible!)

 

 

Hopefully these little examples inspire you to give "right now" a try and see if those two little words motivate you to return to the present the way they have for me! It might seem small, but staying present is hard and you never know what little thing will help make it easier for you. It's cliche to say, but there's truth in the idea that every second is a chance to turn your life around. Your whole existence is just a bunch of choices you make, and you can change at any moment. It's not often easy to do, but the first step is paying attention to what you're doing now, how it's making you feeling, and deciding if it's what you want to be doing in the future. Your "right now" is always up to you! 

 

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Happiness vs. Positivity : What's the Difference?

 

Happiness vs Positivity

 

If you want to know the truth, I'm not often happy. I was born with a disposition that lends itself to melancholy and anxiety. I've always been a worrier and I'm prone to bouts of deep, dramatic sadness. But I'm not complaining. You know why? Because happiness isn't my life's goal. And, if you're looking for honesty here, it shouldn't be your life's goal either. 

One of the greatest struggles I've had over the past (almost!) 10 years of working on Positively Present is misconception that happiness = positivity. In fact, that was one of the greatest struggles of my life before I started truly understanding positivity. I was taught -- as most of us are -- that the ideal life is a happy life, but the fact is: happiness isn't something you can guarantee, and making that your life's focus is going to lead to intense disappointment and a constant, feverish need to find the next source of happiness as soon as the feeling fades. 

Back in 2015, I wrote a post called Happiness Is Not a Choice: The Difference Between Happiness + Positivity, and after reading a bunch of happiness-related quotes (in preparation for the 2018 Gratitude Challenge -- it's not too late to join in if you want!), I decided I wanted to revisit the topic since I think it's one of the most important distinctions for anyone who wants to live a more positive, present life to understand. 

Here are some of the differences between happiness and positivity, along with some thoughts on each! 

 

Happiness is a mood.
Positivity is a mindset.

Happiness is fleeting. No matter what wonderful thing happens, the happy feelings will only last so long, and that's because, like any emotion, happiness is transitory. Positivity, on the other hand, is a way of seeing the world. It's an attitude that you can embrace no matter how difficult the circumstances. Regardless of how you're feeling or what you're experiencing, you can always choose to look for the good (even if the "good" is simply a life lesson that will ultimately make you stronger) and hope for a better tomorrow.  

 

Happiness may be out of your control.
Positivity is a choice you can always make. 

When you're having a terrible day or something horrific has happened to you, it's going to be difficult (if not impossible) to be happy. Happiness can sometimes be within your control based on your choices in life, but there are a lot of things we can't control that cause unhappiness. Positivity is always within our control. Being optimistic -- no matter how bad the situation -- is a choice. You might be miserable, but with a positive attitude you can still believe that better things are coming and that you can take away something meaningful from every experience. 

 

Happiness is generally short-lived.
Positivity can be ever-present. 

Think about the last time you were truly, joyously, can't-stop-smiling happy. How long did it last? An hour? A day? A week? Happiness, no matter how amazing the cause of it, doesn't last for long. It's wonderful and amazing when it happens, but it's not a state of mind; it's an emotion. But positivity is different. It's a mindset, which means that, as long as you continue to work on it and practice it, you can keep it around forever. Happiness is fleeting, but positivity can be ever-lasting. 

 

Happiness is part of a disposition that can be inherited.
Positivity is life-changing skill that can be learned. 

Happiness is an emotion, but it's one that some people are more likely to experience simply based on how they were made. Some people are more likely to be joyful and cheerful, to have inherited a sunny disposition. Unfortunately, some are less likely to have inherited those traits, making the emotion of happiness more elusive. However, that's no reason to despair, because, regardless of the disposition you've inherited, you can learn the art of positivity through practice and patience. It's not always easy, but it's much more possible than changing your DNA! 

 

Happiness all the time would be miserable.
Positivity all the time leads to contentment. 

Can you imagine what it would be like to be happy ALL the time? In theory, it sounds amazing, but, in reality, there'd be nothing to compare it to, so it wouldn't seem like anything special. In fact, it would probably be quite maddening if all of the sudden you were given everything you ever wanted and never again felt any emotion other than happiness. Being positive all the time, however, is one of the best ways I've found to lead a more contented, accepting life. It's a skill that will transform every aspect of life -- making the happy moments happier and the painful moments less painful. 

 

Happiness is a goal that might not be achieved.
Positivity is a mindset one can adopt with certainty. 

No matter how hard you might work toward what you think will bring you happiness -- the perfect partner, career, etc. -- you might not be able to achieve it because, let's face it, life is like that sometimes. No matter how badly you want something, it's not guaranteed. And, once you get that thing, there's no guarantee it'll make you feel happy (nor a guarantee on how long it'll make you feel happy). A positive attitude is a mindset you can choose with certainty, no matter what life throws at you. And, I can 100% assure you that, no matter how bad things get, positivity will only make them better.

 

As you can see, the differences between happiness and positivity are multitudinous. As many times as they're interchanged in popular culture, it's important to remember that they're not the same thing. Happiness could have you chasing after things for decades, endlessly waiting for the day when everything feels perfect. Positivity will always meet you right where you are, good day or bad day, through all of life's ups and downs. If you spend your life chasing happiness, you'll always be on the hunt for something. But if you focus on mastering the skill of positivity, you'll be able to make the most of wherever you are, whatever comes your way.


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