Does any of this sound familiar? We’ll start that exercise regime or new healthy eating plan “tomorrow.” We’ll start looking for a new job “next week.” We’ll coordinate new childcare plans “when things calm down.” But when does our intention for change turn into real change? Turns out the best time to make a change isn’t in the New Year, or at some auspicious date on the calendar — the best day to benefit from a true fresh start is simply Monday. Yes, any old Monday will do.
Many of us like to use the weekend to unplug and relax, and ideally that means that when Monday rolls around, we’re refreshed and revitalized. “Just like rebooting your computer improves its operating functionality, taking time for self-care and wellness will give you renewed energy to create positive changes in your life, including financially,” Joyce Marter, psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life.
Even if our Saturday and Sunday were a bit hectic (and sometimes, weekends can suck, let’s be honest) Monday will still mark a new beginning for you, emotionally. “Beginner’s mind is a concept from yogic traditions that involves having a fresh, open perspective so that the learning is always just beginning,” says Marter. “This also reminds us of the importance of being present in the here-and-now, and that life and change occur in the now. It also implies the letting go of the past, acceptance or forgiveness in that we all have the opportunity to begin anew and start healthy practices (emotionally, relationally, financially, etc.) now,” says Marter. This is a reminder that we can all begin again, and is an open invitation to get back on track with self-forgiveness and self-compassion if we fall off course… when we fall off course.
Facing the week ahead can help motivate positive change — even if we’re unaware of it. And even a healthy amount of stress can serve as a wake up call to get your ducks in a row and create a plan for the week.
“Monday can be the most stressful day of the week for anyone with a schedule, but we can take that energy and turn it into action with a mindset shift,” says Tara Stiles, founder of Stråla Yoga and author of “Clean Mind, Clean Body”. Every breath is an opportunity to feel better and reconnect with yourself. Every day is an opportunity to create new habits that help you reach your goals.
Ask yourself how you want to feel that week, and what you want to accomplish, and then create actions and habits that will support those goals. “Success to each of us isn’t really the things, it’s the feelings,” says Stiles. “Whether it’s peace of mind, harmony, empowerment, abundance, being seen and appreciated, or a combination of many feelings, we all crave feeling more than the things of success.” Stiles recommends taking as many positive actions as you can early in the week, which can lead to feeling better as you approach your goals — and even when you move past them.
Think about it. If your goal is to be a successful author, of course you need to write every day. “Take time to connect with that feeling each day and you will be energized to take action,” says Stiles. Likewise, if your goal is to have financial stability, focus on how you want to feel. Maybe those feelings would be along the lines of: stable, strong, secure, safe. “Take actions that support those feelings,” says Stiles. Reuse things you already have instead of buying new ones. “Start a simple practice of building strength and focus on yourself. With this mindset you are more likely to do what you can do to earn money and also be creative around not wasting your resources or your energy.”
It’s important to be intentional, too. “Monday always feels like the fresh start we’ve been waiting for, but if we’re not intentional with the goals we make, and the time it’s going to take to accomplish them, we can soon find ourselves ending yet another week feeling like we didn’t quite accomplish all that we set out to do,” says time management expert Jessica Bledsoe.
Being intentional with your time takes you beyond a to-do list and creates a plan of action. “That plan can then be executed and measured so you always know if you’re on the right path and able to end your week knowing that you accomplished exactly what you set out to do,” says Bledsoe.
How To Create An Intentional Plan For Your Week
Take a look at this simple process you can use to plan your week in under 30 minutes, every Monday:
- Get really clear on what it is you want to accomplish this week, says Bledsoe. Pick 1-3 things that are going to have the most impact. “Determine how much time it’s going to take to complete those tasks and ask yourself if you really have the time to complete them,” says Bledsoe. If not, is there something on your list that you can delegate or outsource?
- Once you know exactly what needs to be done and how much time it’s going to take, set an appointment with yourself on your calendar to work on completing each task. “If a task will take more than 90 minutes to complete, break it into multiple appointments throughout your week,” says Bledsoe. These should be appointment blocks on your calendar that you treat with the same respect you give to anyone else you accept a meeting with, meaning you do not cancel it unless absolutely necessary.
- After you’ve made time for your most important tasks, create a few more appointment blocks for things like checking emails, last minute meetings or phone calls, and for any other to-do list items that you hope to complete (but aren’t necessarily a top priority this week). “By making time for the things you know will take your attention away from your top priorities you can greatly reduce the chances of losing focus,” says Bledsoe.
Reaching For The Stars — And The Best Monday Possible
And although we all want to work as quickly towards our goals as possible, we should aim for longevity and sustainability rather than a quick fix, explains Jennifer Lazo, certified life, career and nutrition coach at Courage Collab. “Most people want that instant gratification, but we must realize that it is all about the journey,” says Lazo. And as cliché as that may sound, it’s true. Practice patience and compassion for yourself in this process, look inward and figure out what energizes you, brings you joy and fulfillment.
If your resolution is to eat healthier, one micro-goal might be to start cutting out processed foods and incorporate more whole foods, she explains. The same is true If your goal is to meet new people — you might start a new hobby and sign up for an art class, for example.
To keep yourself on track, don’t forget to document your progress. “Tracking your improvements and challenges on a regular basis helps you stay focused on sticking to your goals. Journaling or a progress calendar are great ways to track yourself,” says Lazo. This will build confidence and propel you forward.
Scheduling, Patience, And Celebrating Your Wins
We all have the best of intentions, but life happens! If you get discouraged when you find that not much progress is happening after your first few Mondays, remember that this is a marathon not a sprint. “It takes time to make lasting change. Through life’s inevitable ups and downs, having patience and forgiveness with yourself allows you to realize that we’re all human,” says Lazo. No one is perfect and that you are on the right path.
You may want to try scheduling focused time to achieve your goals. This could mean blocking off an hour each day to exercise, work on self-care, or dedicating a Saturday morning each week to start a new hobby, says Lazo. Also, when we find an accountability partner — ideally someone who shares our same goals, or who is looking to walk a path similar to ours — they can help us make consistent, steady progress.
Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your small wins. Any steps forward (no matter their size or impact) are impactful, and are important on your journey to change. Don’t forget to incorporate joy into the process, because celebrating your progress is key to helping make those new habits stick,” says Lazo.
And remember, it’s all a process. Not everything has to happen in the New Year, and not everything needs to happen on a Monday. The goal is that you’re setting intentions and working towards your goals, and progress will happen. You got this.
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