My Life Is Anything but Optimal
My Life Is Anything but Optimal
In Life Mapping, I describe a personal wellness checkpoint called “Optimal Me.” Optimal Me is a list of seven to ten daily, weekly, or bi-monthly consistent, habitual activities that are automatic when we’re functioning on all cylinders.
These activities are specific and unique to each of us. When we’re clipping along in life, we make sure they’re taken care of because they make life easier and more enjoyable. They’re activities, for me, like running the dishwasher before I go to bed, working out regularly, or making sure my checkbook is balanced every week to ten days.
They provide a personal reference point for when we may be drifting from our normal, healthy mind-set.
The other day I had a close friend ask me how she can apply “Optimal Me” to her life when she feels like her life has been anything but optimal. It’s a legitimate question.
As she kept talking, I was able to extract that even though she says she’s not remotely close to how she envisions her optimal habits, she does know that she feels better when she actually gets dressed for the day, puts on some make up, and wears jewelry.
This may sound basic, but you need to start somewhere—exactly where you are. If the activity is not occurring consistently, I highly encourage you to try the following:
Place pictures of the activity in strategic locations in your house, car, or at work. They don’t have to be big pictures. You can find an image on the computer and print out a pocket-size 2”x3” photo of your desired activity. For example, if seeing your bed made makes you feel better, put a picture of a well-made bed near the door to your bedroom. When you walk out of your room, the picture you’ve taped on the millwork will gently remind you to think about whether you made your bed today. At that point, you have a choice. If you haven’t made it, I encourage you to backtrack and spend the 60-90 seconds making it. You know it will make you feel better! If it’s more a function of limited time and you acknowledge that you’re choosing not to make it, then so be it . . . proceed with your day. A word of caution: If lack of time continues to be the excuse after a week or two, you may want to give yourself a couple of extra minutes in the morning. I don’t recommend minimizing the importance of actually doing the things that make you feel good.
Acknowledge your accomplishments. On the “Today” worksheet (available for free download from www.lifemappinginstitute.com/resources), there are a couple of extra blank lines under the “Daily Practice” section. You can write in your Optimal Me activities as an extra reminder to pay attention to this area of your life. Utilize this form on a daily basis to reinforce your top priorities. In addition to being a great tracking method for all the things you need to do, there are several sections that support our health and wellness like writing down three gratitudes, tracking exercise and nutrition, and our daily practice habits.
Make a commitment to yourself to do the Optimal Me activities every day for at least 30 days. One 2010 research study cited in Time.com from The European Journal of Social Psychology suggests 66 days is actually the minimum to establish a new habit. However, it also goes on to say that study participants had a varied range of time from 18 to 254 days. Bottom line: Tune into your personal tendencies and commit to the time you need to establish a new baseline. Another resource available to you is the ‘Put It Into Practice’ tracker. You can print this form from www.lifemappinginstitute.com/resources and put it in your daily planner, on a bulletin board, or on the fridge. Once you feel you’re consistently doing those activities you know make you feel better, you’ll be ready to decide if you want to add in a new Optimal Me habit or swap one out for an even more desirable daily, weekly, or bi-monthly ritual.
Enlist your biggest fans to support you while you’re working on this new structure. The more encouragement you can surround yourself with, the higher your odds for success. Declaring your intentions will place heightened awareness for you as well as those around you. Consider asking a friend or coworker to be your accountability partner and set up regular check-ins so you can offer support to one another to accomplish your goals.
Envision yourself as the best you. When you’re tucked in bed ready to fall asleep, picture yourself showing up to your life as you desire. What do you look like? What are you wearing? Who are you with? What are you doing? What emotions are you experiencing? Where are you? What do you hear in the background? Is there a fragrance in the air? Imagine it all. Your subconscious will go to work on helping you manifest your vision. We are responsible for doing the day-to-day work, but our minds are powerful sources of positive energy to support our endeavors.
All of this structure working together will create greater momentum toward establishing new positive patterns. Showing up as the best version of ourselves is accomplished by a series of small actions, repeated consistently, that add up to your Optimal Me.