“Push yourself everyday, until you push yourself in everything you do.”
I wrote this in my notes one morning and left it. A couple weeks later I looked at it again and, at first glance, struggled to understand what it even meant. Then it made sense to me. It is something that has been on my mind a lot recently. In the last three months I have had an abundance of time on my hands to discover new things and have fresh experiences–which I have utilised effectively, in that sense. This said, there have been times it has felt like too much of a holiday.
I am eighteen, in Cape Town–arguably the most desirable city on earth, whilst it’s summer here, and horrid weather back home in England. I could not be living more of an easy life right now. Which I love, but it doesn’t mean it is easy.
Allow me to explain.
One discovers the true nature of their character in free time, more so if it is a lot of free time, and especially if all your time is free time. Forget the notion of money deciding character; anyone is likely to be extravagant in some capacity if and when finding themselves with a lot of money. But time certainly is priceless.
Of course, in my holiday season, life has involved more sleeping in, bad eating habits and generally a less healthy and productive lifestyle, at points. This is fine until the holiday season becomes months long. I soon figured this out and sought to actively tackle this.
Before anything else, I realised, you have to be prepared to get uncomfortable. Of course, you can expect to step out of your comfort zone when seeking new and exciting experiences. What is less obvious is the importance of doing this on a smaller scale. To me now, I find the prospect of talking philosophy with a drug dealer on Long Street far less daunting than the thought of a cold shower.
Time is fulfilled better when you do the basics right, so I have ten things you can aim to achieve every day, which will push you slightly, and if maintained, will aid you in pushing yourself in achieving far more significant objectives in life.
1) Wake up earlier than you usually would.
Personally, I find setting an alarm for the morning makes the following day indefinitely more productive, thus better. Coincidence or not, the theory has been consistently proven to me. I know the struggle of getting out of bed, but I also know the struggle is pretty much equal at five o’clock in the morning as it is at ten o’clock in the morning (I accept this may not be the case of you have gone to sleep at three in the morning, but need I account for that?). When you wake, get up- it is a simple as that. Do not lay and switch on your phone first thing in the morning, stand up on your feet before you do anything else in the morning.
I cannot stress this enough. Whether constantly busy or wealthy in free time, make time for exercise, not even necessarily for your physical health, but your mental well-being (despite the two being in direct correlation anyway). It is so incredibly clear to me how exercising in the morning can begin your day with a positive outlook that no filter coffee or breakfast cereal will ever be able to give you. I notice this in other people too; there is a notable radiance that presents itself beyond a toned stomach and better skin.
3) Cold showers.
A great way to wake up, and for whatever reason I have always felt better about myself for doing it.
4) Drink at least 2 liters of water throughout the day.
Force yourself to carry a water bottle. It is something athletes are taught, so why would you assume behaviour any different? A substantial intake of fluids is vital.
5) Take the stairs.
6) Eat more salad.
Have a salad for lunch. Honestly, I have always been put off them because I never thought they could fill me up the way I would like, but you would be surprised how satisfyingly filling they can be. Besides, as long as you have a proper breakfast and a decent dinner, a bowl of green’s ought to be plenty to see you over in between.
7) Read more.
Set time aside to read, whatever it is you are reading. It is gym for your brain, it gives you quality time to relax and truthfully will make you a more interesting person, ultimately.
8) Try something new everyday.
Whether it be a new coffee shop or a new vegetable or a new sport. Anything that is unfamiliar to you can only enhance you as a person once you have tried it. Sometimes, challenge yourself to say yes to any opportunity that presents itself to you, whatever it may be. This said, there certainly is a limit to this- as I have discovered before. Just do not be naïve.
9) Speak to your family.
I need not have to assert reason for this one, but I cannot put into sufficient words how referring to family has been the only thing that has saved me in the tough times. Even when I did not realise how tough they were, and even if they didn’t either. They are the only ones who can truly keep you grounded and lift you up to be the best you can be at the same time (I also accept I am stupendously fortunate with this one, because not everyone has it like I do, but I do believe there are a lot of people that fail to realise how far family can carry you forward).
These are, realistically, small achievable goals that you can apply to your life everyday. Maybe not all at once, but you will notice if you can push yourself outside of your comfort zone in the small things, you will soon be able to overcome challenges you, perhaps, once deemed too great to consider.
Do not forget to reward yourself either. Always reward yourself when you achieve, even the seemingly most insignificant of things.
For me, this is how I improved my lifestyle in my first few months living and providing for myself. I would set myself the challenge to get up at seven o’clock, for instance, and running across the city to a café on the other side of town. Then my reward would be breakfast at the café. Immediately, deserving satisfaction replaced the sensation of guilt, when ‘rewarding’ myself.
You should never stop acknowledging your successes, no matter how big or small. So, once it is the norm to behave outside of your perceived comfort zone, you can push yourself in everything you do.