5 Simple Steps for Creating a Life That Sparkles
If you have a bad habit of saying disparaging things about yourself, like “I’m too old to start a new career” or “I’m too weak to cut out sugar,” it’s important to understand that self-criticism constricts the mind.
“As a client once said, ‘If I spoke to my friends the way that I speak to myself, I would have no friends,'” Barth says. “Being compassionate with yourself is a muscle — especially for women — because we can be so hard on ourselves.”
She offers this simple exercise: Think about your BFF and the way you speak to each other. The next time you’re feeling doubtful, defeated or worried, start talking to yourself using the same tone and language you would with your friend.
“It’s not about rationalizing our own behavior when we’ve made a mistake or acted inappropriately,” Barth says. “Compassion provides a soft landing to open our hearts more, toward ourselves and others, while navigating life’s sometimes seismic challenges.”
Barth stresses the importance of connecting with your goal each day in order to keep the momentum going. But it involves more than just hanging positive mantras or images on the bathroom mirror (which isn’t discouraged, by the way) — it’s about consistently taking small actions.
Whether you have the desire to go back to school, write a novel, or just live a less stressful life, Barth highly recommends “a morning ritual that inspires you — one that is easy and applicable to your life.”
Her suggestion: Start the day with the following six steps (taken from the book The Miracle Morning). And before you freak out and say you don’t have time to do more stuff in the morning, relax: You only need to spend one minute on each step.
- Silence: Focus on your breathing.
- Affirmations: Read a mantra that reminds you of your purpose.
- Visualization: See your wish as a reality.
- Journaling: Jot down everything you’re grateful for and the tasks you want to accomplish that day.
- Reading: Grab a favorite self-help book and read one page at random.
- Exercise: Stretch, dance, do jumping jacks or anything else that will give your body a quick jolt of energy.
“These six minutes can be a game-changer,” Barth says.
“People keep thinking courage is acting in the absence of fear, but courage is the willingness to act in the presence of fear,” explains Barth. “The courage comes from taking the action. If you wait until you’re feeling fearless, that moment will probably never come.”
So if you find yourself feeling like the Cowardly Lion, keep in mind that’s actually a good thing. Barth — who admits to having stage fright whenever she gives a presentation — refers to the term “eustress,” aka “good stress.”
“Our fight-or-flight mechanism doesn’t know the difference between the charging buffalo or asking that attractive person out on a date,” she explains. “This is your body doing its job. It’s saying you’re energized!”
And lastly, Barth insists on surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you to be courageous, which she dubs your “Sparkle Squad.”
“Friends don’t let friends live mediocre lives,” she says. “Find friends who will help you stay true to what you want — and who will not take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Many people abandon their goals because things aren’t going according to plan. “Life ain’t linear!” Barth says. “We can be linear thinkers, but life is not linear. And you will always get off track because life intervenes — that’s its job!”
One way to redirect yourself toward your goals is to eliminate the black-and-white, all-or-nothing language. For example, stop using words like “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong.” Instead of saying ‘I’ve made a bad decision,’ reframe it as ‘I’ve made an ill-informed decision’ or ‘I’ve made a decision solely based on my emotions.’
“It’s a healthier way of looking at your choices,” Barth says. “And this change is especially helpful when speaking about your diet, as well as your career.”