Susie Moore is a best-selling author and life coach columnist whose work has been featured in Oprah.com, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan and CNN. She helps people become more confident by understanding what's limiting them. You can follow her on Instagram.
2020 has to be one of the trickiest years on record. It's felt so long, with everything and nothing happening simultaneously. But with four months left to go, we can still make the last third of this strange year the very best version possible. Here's how.
If the changes in your life haven't felt welcome, consider reframing what feels lost or unusual
2020 has been a year of change. If the changes in your life haven't felt welcome, the first step is to consider reframing what feels lost or unusual. For example, this may not be your year for making money, but has it been a year of family time, increased rest or even creativity? You might never have had these different opportunities unless 2020 unfolded exactly as it did.
Some people have experienced changes at an accelerated pace, too. You may have started a "turbo relationship," which moved ahead at a faster pace than normal. Many have instituted work-from-home policies and thousands of die-hard city-dwellers have left their city homes in favor of the suburbs -- changes they didn't anticipate making until they'd had kids. Even savings rates have hit an all-time high, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Isn't progress better than standing still? 2020 has still brought opportunity, clarity and focus. What hidden blessing has this year accelerated for you?
Think about the changes you want to make this year
With these shifts in mind, let's consider the second way to seize 2020: thinking about the changes we still want to make this year.
September is a bit like a second January: a chance for a fresh start. As the world slowly opens up again this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ask yourself the following three questions: What do I want to quit, what do I want to keep and what do I want to add?
Spend just one minute writing down an answer to each of these questions, and in just three minutes, you'll have engaged in a simple but effective exercise to help direct your future.
It takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior or habit to become automatic. This means that, due to the exacerbated repetition in our daily lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've most likely developed some new habits -- both good and bad.
When you answer the question, "What do I want to quit?" think about those unhealthy habits you may have formed, like watching too much TV or sleeping in longer than usual. Maybe there's even a relationship in your life that no longer serves you.
Next, consider, "What do I want to keep?" Take a minute to reflect on the positive changes that have come from the pandemic. Maybe you've had regular phone calls and video calls with friends and family. Despite social distancing, many of us have been closer than ever to the ones we love most.
And finally, think: "What do I want to add?" Think about what could be missing. What can benefit you as the year comes to a close? Maybe you want to learn a new language or cook more at home. Maybe this year you lost your job, so it's time to find a career you actually love (a career that perhaps you were too afraid to pursue because it meant giving up a career that you now know was never "safe" in the first place). Maybe you want to start a new side hustle to hedge against an uncertain market?
Here's a tip you might want to keep handy: Instead of asking "What's wrong?" whenever something feels off or you get an unwanted result, ask, "What's missing?" When you ask what's missing, your brain gets flooded with ideas. (I share more about this process and how to make it work for you in my new book, "Stop Checking Your Likes.")
Focus on what you have control over.
The third way to make the rest of 2020 really count is to focus on what you have control over.
Nothing outside of you makes you happy for long. Only you can make yourself happy by controlling your thoughts, where you put your attention and how much appreciation you cultivate toward your life -- no matter the external circumstances.
So take regular news and social media breaks if you need them!
Spend more time on what you have control over: your effort, your action, how you treat others and how you spend your time occupying the corner of the world that you touch.
You're powerful, even though it's natural to feel powerless at the moment. It's OK. Feel your presence in your body, your feet on the floor, your breath coming in and out of your body. No matter the year or day, you can always feel calm in the present moment when you try. The present moment is all there is and all there will ever be. So you can trust "future you" to handle any problems down the road.
Institute a deadline.
The fourth and final way to really seize 2020 by the horns: institute a deadline. You're probably already aware of the fact that deadline-setters get results.
Reflection, journaling and focusing are great ways to get us started, but nothing changes without action. What is a time-bound goal you can set today? For example, you can set your alarm clock for an earlier hour tomorrow morning, or make the choice right now that you're only going to order take-out on Fridays. Maybe you'll decide that starting today, you'll call your grandmother every single day, just for a five-minute chat.
Following through on what we say we will do is also proven to boost our self-esteem, so we reap not only the reward of the new action, but of more self-assurance, too. You know how you learn to trust the friend who always follows through, no matter what? You can develop that relationship with yourself, too. Isn't now the right time to lean on yourself? I think so, too.