Clearly, my daughter thinks the way to be more joyful is to sing Christmas carols every chance she gets.
Or perhaps I should say Christmas carol. She only knows one.
The truth is, as much as I love the big picture of my life, my daughter will tell you I sometimes get a little … serious. And for someone who’s already pretty busy doing what she wants to do, the holidays can be a distraction I’m not always as grateful for as I should be.
But you know, that Christmas carol eventually won me over. Joy is contagious. And so I’d like to pass some along to you, just without the singing.
Here’s what I’m doing to bring more joy into my life, now and hopefully year round.
1. Be well rested
About a month ago, I asked my Facebook followers how much sleep they were getting each night. The post exploded, generating 347 likes, comments, and shares from sleep sufferers around the world. Many were only getting 3-4 hours a night on average. And I know what that’s like, because I use to be one of them.
For years, I would wake up in the middle of the night–I’d hear a noise or have to go to the bathroom–and then I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. My mind would start spinning, worrying about everything from to-do lists to relationships to the state of the planet.
It took a lot of trial and error, but I found two things that were primary contributors to my sleep quality: the temperature of the room and an organizational system for my thoughts. Simple things, profound difference.
Absolutely nothing will change your life more quickly than getting better sleep. If you’re not getting enough, make this your #1 priority for the new year.
2. Be present
I’ve talked before how hard it was for me to leave London, where I had a strong community and group of friends. But one of the things I’m really loving about Seattle? Being so close to family. For the first time in many years, I spent Thanksgiving surrounded by my extended family and it made me realize how much I’d been missing.
3. Be more generous
And then there are those times when you simply don’t have the means to be present.
Which is why I’m offering to fly one person home for the holidays who otherwise can’t afford it.
Just leave me a comment below, letting me know who you’d love to see and where you want to fly to/from. My daughter and I will choose one person to go home for the holidays (Note: the contest is now closed).
It’s the least we can do. All we ask is that you find a way to pay the love (and joy!) forward. Singing is optional.
4. Be more creative
I know there are some people who say they aren’t the creative types, but I don’t believe it. That’s the inner critic talking. You can express yourself however you want: gardening, drawing, writing, photography, or my personal favorite, dancing like I’m at a disco, but from the comfort of my kitchen. Or if you’re an overachiever, you can go for a paper mache dragon or something.
5. Be entrepreneurial
The 10-year-old daughter of a friend of mine recently launched a new business on Etsy: handmade duct-tape wallets. Sounds weird, but then I checked them out. Totally cool. She came up with the entire concept in a day. The point of a business doesn’t always have to be about money. In fact, just starting is something to be proud of, and from that pride you’ll also find joy.
6. Be daring
All of us tend to admire an adventurer or two. Maybe you’ve daydreamed of pitting yourself against the elements like Shackleton or pushing the limits like Earhart. But hey, it doesn’t have to be so dramatic. Need some ideas you can use today? Try out my free Everyday Courage Challenge series.
7. Be committed
Most of you know I’ve been working on a book for over a year now. I’m making progress–I’m about halfway through the first draft. But somehow I managed to go the entire month of November without writing. So I committed to working on my book every single day for the month of December–and I’ve already surpassed the progress I made in the last several months combined.
Commitment to something you care about, even when (or especially when) it’s hard, is pure joy.
8. Be spontaneous
When you’re pursuing big dreams and challenges, you pretty much have to be a planner. As I know all too well, you don’t write a book or start a business just by sitting down whenever you feel like it.
But it’s easy to get over-scheduled and worn down. When the passion starts to feel like work, you need some more spontaneity.
So I’ve started planning for it. Give yourself 30-60 minutes each day to do whatever comes to mind at the time. Sometimes I read a book with my daughter, but soon I want to make a 2015 calendar from our family photos. Whatever sounds appealing at the time is what you should pursue. No need to be productive!
9. Be willing to experiment
As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as much (due to the book taking up my writing energy), but I still wanted to stay connected to my community. A friend recently released a course on how businesses can use Facebook (affiliate link) to better engage with their audiences. I was skeptical, because in the past, Facebook’s crazy algorithm made it next to impossible to get my posts seen by anyone (this is why, for example, Copyblogger quit Facebook all together).
I told my friend I’d try out his method for 30 days. And as I learned the ropes, it was a lot of work. I will admit this overachiever was impatient and ready to quit. But I’m so glad I gave it a chance.
Now my Facebook page is not only allowing me to keep up the conversation while I write my book, but I’m growing new readers and fans every day.
Not every experiment will work–that’s the nature of experimentation! But the willingness to try is itself a reward.
10. Be open to something new
Next to my writing, some of the most gratifying work I’ve done this year is to help my clients make breakthrough progress on their dreams and goals. This almost always required them to think differently about their problems, try new approaches, and stop doing the stuff that wasn’t moving them forward.
And they’ve had some spectacular successes this year. But the truly hard work, the transformational work, was theirs alone.
It was being open to trying something new.
Humans are creatures of habit. Even when we know something isn’t working for us, we have a hard time trusting that something else will work any better. When we run the “What if…” scenarios in our head, they’re almost always negative.
But “what if” our hesitance is holding us back from something truly amazing?
For myself, I plan to focus my ambition on being more bold, passionate, committed, and creative than ever before–without losing sight of my health and relationships.
I don’t have it all figured out, but I trust in myself to figure it out as I go along. I’m willing to experiment, fail, and try again. And love the process along the way.
It’s time to level up, my friends.
May we all think fondly on our past and the lessons we’ve learned there. Let us be present and grateful for the moment. May we look forward with courage and joy.