How to Use Summer Break as a Tool for Turning Your Life Around
July 25, 2016 12:00 AM EST | 8 min read
A recent self-assessment of my life allowed for some realization to set it.
With well-being on the forefront of my mind, a flash of discernment struck me.
My life has started backtracking due to laziness and negligence, as well as a lack of self-care in certain ways.
This moment of clarity was extremely motivational to me.
It’s responsible for making the following decision: I’ve decided to pursue something new this summer.
Something that will pinpoint all the things in life detracting from my success; everything that’s holding me back and causing me unnecessary stress, expenses, and frustrations.
I decided to turn my life around.
Here is how you can take control of your life too!
A 30-60-90 Day Check Point Plan For A Healthier Summer
My hope is that these ideas for betterment can be motivational, and potentially drive others to live a less idle lifestyle and ‘take life by the horns’ so to speak.
So here’s my plan for the first 30 days of a better life.
A Realization Centered Around Change: The First 30 Days
I decided to approach my goals for the Summer of 2016 in a way that’s broken into three benchmark checkpoints.
These checkpoints are centered around the 20th of every month.
It’s time to hold myself accountable for my own happiness and well-being, and a solid plan is the first step to success!
This is the first step in trying to take control of your life.
Planning is Everything: Making the First Big Changes
It’s quite simple: if I don’t have a concrete plan, I’ll likely fail at reaching my goals.
A solid plan needed to be established in order for me to follow through with my aspirations and keep myself accountable.
Realistic goal setting is the way to achieve a more comfortable lifestyle through intentionally placed guidelines.
I decided to take a look around at my surrounds and analyze what I was seeing.
I needed to be brutally honest with myself.
This helped me prioritize which tasks to tackle first and where to progress moving forward.
The first thing I noticed was that my room and personal living areas had become a mess, making my life uncomfortable and in some ways, unorganized beyond belief.
I took a look at my desk and the surrounding areas of my self-deemed ‘freelancer office space.’
As it stood, my work space resembled more of a garbage heap than a work space.
Outdated, unnecessary notes were strewn all over, the wiring for my computer was a tangled nightmare, and there was trash from junk food scattered all over the place.
I had effectively surrounded myself with heavy organizational stress.
This clutter induced stress was underlying, yet easy to combat once I recognized and addressed the issue.
Rather than simply cleaning my desk and office like I normally do when it gets out of control, I decided to start from scratch and rearrange the area.
After flipping the direction of my desk to face a window and some natural lighting, I rerouted my computer’s wiring, placed a few meaningful decorations near my computer screen, and surrounded my work space with plants.
After all, I’ve written about the benefits of plants at work in the past; I might as well take my own advice.
Using a single sticky note, I reminded myself to “SNACK HEALTHY” in bold lettering.
The note was to serve as a constant reminder to avoid unhealthy snacks.
Busy Days Forming Lazy Lunchtime Habits
After finishing up the renovations to my work space, I was becoming hungry, and the first thought on my mind was to go grab something to eat from one of the several restaurants within walking distance of my house.
This thought process made me notice that more often than not I’ve been eating out for meals, especially lunch.
This habit needed to end.
There has been a serious lack of planning in my life related to meal prep.
Sure I cooked dinner for myself most evenings when I had free time, but I was eating at restaurants and ordering delivery for lunch far too regularly.
On top of this I was settling for food that was unfulfilling and in most cases unhealthy.
It was at this time that I turned to the internet to solve my problems like I usually do.
I was lucky enough to find a resource that would help me solve my main issue: I was struggling to prep my meals for the week ahead of time, and I was lacking any creative drive for doing so.
The cookbook Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown is a gold mine of affordable and delicious meal ideas.
After quickly reading the free digital cookbook for the first time, I was sold on the recipes and had created a plan to prep my meals in advance.
Creative Approaches to Physical Activity
As a student and self-driven writer, I sit a lot.
In fact, most days I’m seated for a substantial chunk of time- upwards of 10 hours or more.
This has equated to a few issues, mainly lower back pain.
My biggest problem is that I lack planning related to personal fitness, and I need a workout routine that is entertaining; no typical gym routine for me!
For this reason I not only went on a scenic six mile hike this weekend, I also pulled my trusty road bike out of the garage and got it back in commission after a winter stored in the garage.
I’ve also been in contact with a local yoga studio and plan to attend yoga classes at least twice a week.
The Plan to Maintain Sobriety and Boost Self Accountability
As 2015 came to a close, I recognized a need in my life – a need for significant change in my twenty-something binge drinking lifestyle.
I was drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, basically every day.
This unhealthy pattern was becoming dangerous to both my health and my wallet.
So at the start of the year, I decided to take the Dry January challenge.
An article about my experience overcoming excessive drinking was recently published on WebMD.
After overcoming my over-the-top drinking habits I noticed many important changes taking place in my life.
At first, I experienced anxiety and trouble getting enough sleep.
I quickly realized that sleep without alcohol is a whole different level of rest.
Controlling Sleep is as Easy as 10-3-2-1-0
10: No more caffeinated drinks ten hours before bed
3: Do not eat or drink alcohol three hours before bed
2: Decompress from work: no more thoughts of work two hours before bed
1: Electronic devices powered down: no more screen time an hour before bed
0- The number of times you snooze your alarm in the morning
This system has proven to be effective at helping me fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
Slightly disconnecting from technology in the evening and especially while lying in bed has proven to be very helpful to my sleep patterns.
It allows me fall asleep with a clearer head and I find that when I disconnect from tech before bed, I experience longer more restful waves of sleep.
Striving For Improved Mental Health
I also realized that my mental health had begun to plummet.
I needed to get healthy again, not just physically but cognitively as well.
My mental health had seen a decline due to a serious lack of self-care in certain regards.
For me, it came down to two main things.
The first being that I put myself and my needs behind the needs of others (friends, family, etc).
The second being that I had difficulty saying no to people and events when I need time for myself.
A resource titled Social Work and Self Care gives an excellent definition of self-care, that really stuck with me: “Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent.
We cannot nurture others from a dry well.
We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance.”
This definition of self-care really resonated with me.
It helped me realize that I’ve been helping others too much instead of myself.
I’m very adept at helping others, when in reality I hardly have my own life in order.
I need to learn to say no when appropriate.
If I’d rather stay in on a weekend than hang out and party with friends, that’s my choice to make.
I won’t allow myself to be swayed in directions that are detracting from the success of my life.
I need more time for myself, and that’s completely okay.
The Next Phase, the Next 30 Days:
The next goal for my 90-day betterment plan is to create a real budget, a new calendar, and introduce some other money saving changes into my life.
These changes will hopefully channel a more financially sound life, eliminating financial stress.
I simply need to budget out my expenses.
I make enough money to live a comfortable life, especially when my spending is planned out: eliminate sporadic spending.
I’ve bought a brand new calendar and will write detailed info about my bills as well as placing budgeting info in a weekly fashion.
I will also set up a small savings plan and work on eliminating all the clutter in my home and life.