For my birthday, a good friend bought me Arianna Huffington’s latest book, Thrive. It is one of those gifts where I wanted to buy it for myself since it is come out but just never got around to it; it worked out perfectly.
I have to be honest, I was a little wary to get started on it. There are so many of these types of books out now; women who have succeeded who want to tell us how to do it. It’s great and inspirational and all, but even after reading Lean In, I felt I had to push myself even more to get where I wanted rather than at the already too-fast pace i was trying to go.
Thrive was different in that it didn’t just focus on work, but improving all aspects of your life to become one. There is a line in there that says there can’t be a work-life balance because you only have one life. “Over time our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power (3); what Ms. Huffington goes on to explain is the Third Metric that we need to measure success which she breaks down into four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. As she goes on to say, over the long term “money and power themselves are like a two-legged stool-you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over” (3). So we need to focus on the Third Metric if we want to feel more successful.
This was the perfect book to read right before New Years as my brain is whirling with resolution ideas; reflecting on the past year and thinking about what I want 2016 to be. What stood out the most for me was the notion of slowing down and disconnecting to really appreciate life around me and stay in the moment. I am known for packing my schedule so full that I can barely breathe, thinking that any minute wasted is counterproductive. As you can imagine I come very close to burnout often, but am lucky that my family likes to travel and I can escape for a couple weeks at a time.
Ms. Huffington dedicates a whole chapter on the importance of getting enough sleep and if anyone knows me, you know that I try to keep sleep a priority so I can function properly (and cheerfully) the next day. However, most people sacrifice sleep for things like Netflix, or video games. For me, it reaffirmed my need to get enough sleep, instead of feeling guilty about missing out on the night activities of my friends.
One of the other pillars is mindfulness which, as science has proved, is essential for our overall well-being. I have never really meditated. I go to yoga but not for the meditation benefits but for the exercise part. Related is also our connectedness to he world around us and less connected to the actual people in our lives. This is completely the fault of smartphone’s and the fact that we now all have it strapped to our bodies at all times of the day.
After reading the first few chapters, while thinking about how I am one of the stress-plagued Millennials, I started to put a list of resolutions together in my head. Making resolutions is such an interesting process; it’s very personal and it’s entirely up to you to control the outcomes. To set realistic goals, you need to be aware of what you can do and what you can’t do. Setting yourself up for failure with 30 goals will not help your well being at all. As much as I would like to run a half marathon, I don’t like running so I won’t ever do it; didn’t write it down. I want to read a new book every week he I have school textbooks to read and I am usually too tired at night to read; didn’t make the list.
1. Stay in the moment. Instead of using my phone at the gym, I will start using a non-smart iPod. I need the music, but to fully get the benefits of the gym, my mind needs to be focused on what I am doing instead of being half focused on the text and emails coming in and my workout.
2. Take time to sleep. Stop planning early morning events on Sunday’s. As I mentioned above, sleep is very important to me and I know I can function properly without it. Yet I don’t give myself time on the weekends for R&R; I always have an alarm set, even on Sunday.
3. Disconnect. Leave my phone outside of my room at night. I can’t keep it downstairs because I don’t have a landline so I need the phone accessible but there is no reason to sleep with it 6 inches from my head.
4. Volunteer. I’m not aiming for ten hours a week; being realistic I would like to start off with once a month. Giving, as explained in the book, has been shown to improve people’s outlook on life and reduce stress levels.
That’s it. Four resolutions that I hope will help me slow down and reduce my stress levels. Life is a beautiful thing filled with beautiful people, and at the end of the day, it’s who you share your love and time with that will truly let you measure your success.
What are your New Year’s resolutions?