As I was walking my dog through the neighborhood the other day, my eyes were drawn to a row of trees whose leaves had just turned a beautiful shade of gold. Witnessing fall colors is a rare site in the deserts of Phoenix. We usually have to travel to higher elevations in Northern Arizona to experience the majestic hues of red, yellow and gold. This uncommon site caught my attention.

Seeing the rare gold leaves on this random row of trees sparked a memory from my past. It reminded me of an activity I used to do with my kids when I homeschooled them years ago; tree journaling.  Every January the kids would choose a tree in the neighborhood and “own” it.  That tree was theirs for the entire year. Once a month they would go to their tree, sketch it, and record any changes; subtle or obvious.

In their drawings, they sketched all the details of the tree, its surroundings, and recorded changes they observed such as:

  • How did the leaves change from month to month?
  • Was there any growth from the previous month?
  • What types of birds found homes in their selected tree?
  • Were there any signs of fungus or mold growing on their tree?

4 Cornerstone Habits

It’s not only a new month; it’s a new year with inevitable life transitions on the horizon. How can you prepare for life changes that will naturally occur this year?

Let’s look at 4 cornerstone habits you can add to your day that will help you embrace change so that you will have a blueprint for your life and become more in 2018.

Journaling

Never underestimate the power of pen and paper. Establishing the discipline of journaling is one of the most pivotal habits you can create. A pivotal habit is one that carries over to other areas of your life. Scientific research confirms that the ancient tradition of journaling has a plethora of benefits that run the gamut from strengthening immune cells to reducing stress, to improving problem-solving skills, to increasing creativity.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” – Anne Frank

Awareness

Awareness is a master key to developing self-knowledge and is the starting point to navigate change. Developing self-awareness is like a magical wand that opens the door to a life of greater fulfillment, clarity, and success.  Getting clarity about yourself, your motivations, and your behaviors is foundational for steering through change.

Initiative

Initiative is an energy deep within and is the exact opposite of procrastination. It’s a proactive mindset that moves you forward; it’s an eagerness and willingness to act on your goals. Initiative is noticing and being aware that things need to be done and consequently doing them rather than merely observing your life.

Acceptance

There are many misconceptions regarding acceptance. Most people fight acceptance because they misunderstand what it is. To be totally honest with you, I did not understand this simple concept for years.  I confused acceptance with resignation or giving up. Eventually, I learned that acceptance is the opposite of giving up. Acceptance is a healthy skill set; it’s recognizing what you have control over and what you can let go.

Strategies for Transition

What do you need to do to “own” yourself this year and become the person you were designed to be?

Strategy #1. Journal

Set aside a few minutes each day to create a quiet place where you can tap into your subconscious mind and write down your thoughts. Journaling should be unrestricted and personal; devoid of rules. That being said, to help you get the most out of your journaling experience, consider these science based guidelines:

  • Start with gratitude
  • Review your daily to-do lists
  • Record your emotions
  • Incorporate as many of your senses as you can; what you can see, taste, hear, smell and touch

Personally, I have found incredible benefits to journaling. I add journaling to both my morning and evening routines. In the morning after I have spent some quiet time grounding myself, I take a few minutes to write down my thoughts, re-write my goals, and look at my to-do list.

At the end of the day, after completing my night time routine, I get my journal out and record some reflections from the day. I write the things I’m thankful for, the interactions I had with people, and what I’d like to accomplish the next day.

Strategy #2. Creating Awareness

Journal writing in and of itself creates awareness.  As you are reflecting on your day, think on some of these things:

  • Did I stay true to my core values today?
  • What did I do today that brought me energy?
  • Did I experience any negative emotions, if so, what triggered those emotions?

Unfortunately, most people sleepwalk through life. Awareness is the antidote to this; it is waking up and being the author and director of your life.

Strategy #3. Taking Initiative

People who take initiative move the world. How can you hone in on your initiative skills to help yourself, your team and your family move forward?

  • It’s important to evaluate situations but don’t get so caught up in the analysis paralysis syndrome that you fail to be solutions oriented.
  • Be creative. There is always more than one way to get answers. Don’t be married to the idea that things have to be done a certain way; be flexible and think of alternative ways to get the job done.
  • Have an interview mindset. I used to tell my kids, “Your life is an interview; someone is always watching you.” The person that stands head and shoulders above the rest not only gets the job done, he or she impresses and inspires those observing.

Strategy #4. Acceptance

Acceptance may be the most difficult yet courageous thing you can do; it is healing and a key to freedom. Acceptance is a choice; it’s responding to your circumstances rather than being a victim of your reactions or emotions. Learning to accept:

  • Understand what you have control over and what you don’t.
  • Make a distinction between the feelings of giving up and the feelings of letting go.
  • Once you’ve recognized there’s nothing you can do to change your situation, embrace surrender and know that it’s okay to move on.

My wish is that you will be as inspired by the account of my kid’s science project as I was when I remembered it. I hope you will do what I did; get your journal out and start observing your life as intentionally as my kids observed their trees.

IMG_7022As you are recording your daily life, take note of changes; similar to the tree observations:

  • What changes in your behavior occurred last month?
  • How have you grown from the month before?
  • What people are attracted to you?
  • Are there any red flags you need to be aware of?

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Unknown

The tree project was not intended to be an art activity; it was a science project that turned out to be a blueprint for life. I hope your life blueprint incorporates everything you were designed to be.

Rita Hudgens
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Rita Hudgens

Leadership and Personal Development Coach at Transform University
Rita is a Performance Improvement Coach. Her mission is simple; she helps entrepreneurs, achievers, and leaders make positive changes in their behavior. She empowers her clients so they are more in control of their present which in turn gives them a greater sense of self-confidence. She creates a safe environment for them and builds on their values, passions and strengths so that they can achieve their personal and professional goals.

Rita helps her clients:
• Embrace their true potential
• Change their limiting beliefs/thoughts
• Create Purpose
• Live Empowered, Confident, and Successful Lives
Rita Hudgens
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