Chasing your dreams can be both exhilarating and exhausting. You’re so excited and into what you’re doing -- growing a community, making connections, writing blog posts and sales copy, taking online courses, working with clients, etc -- that you forget to look after your biggest asset: yourself.
It’s easy to push away your needs and common sense when it comes to working towards that big, visionary goal - the one that lights a fire in your belly and makes you excited to sit down to work every day. You want to give everything of yourself all the time to your dream. But when you’re pushing yourself 12-14 hours a day every day and the only thing you do is work? It’s time to take a step back.
Implementing self-care into your routine will not only help you achieve your dreams in a more sustainable way, but it will also protect your energy.
Because being burnt out and still hustling? It isn’t a fun experience. To keep your passion and your dream afloat, it’s important to look after yourself and make sure that you’re in the best position possible to go after your dreams.
Here are seven ways that you can protect your energy while you pursue your dreams. Start with one and slowly build each of them into your daily life. You’ll be feeling energized and renewed in no time!
1. connect with people who lift you up
Having a group of people around you that lift you up, support you and inspire you is one of the best things you can do to protect your energy. Because when you’re constantly around people who make you laugh and that are there for you through thick and thin it keeps you vibrating at a high, abundant frequency.
BASIC ACTION: Get involved with the #firework community -- participate in a Twitter chat, join the #wearefireandlight campaign in October, or hop on the email list. This is one of the most positive, supportive communities that exists online, hands down.
TAKE MORE ACTION: Start paying attention to the energy of the people you surround yourself with. If you’re hanging out with people who constantly drag you down or make you doubt yourself, start figuring out how to stop spending time with them and find people who light you up to hang out with instead.
2. Get away from technology
When you spend all of your time staring at a screen, whether it’s your computer, your phone, or your TV, it can be incredibly draining. Your eyes get tired, your muscles get sore from sitting or standing for hours at a time (depending on what kind of desk you have), and you feel unfocused. When you feel this happening, get away from the technology in your life for a little bit. Close the computer, turn off the phone and do something that isn’t lit up by a screen.
BASIC ACTION: Instead of watching Netflix after you finish work for the day, close the computer and go for a walk or read a book instead. Take a bubble bath. Go to the park. Visit a museum. Try a new restaurant.
TAKE MORE ACTION: Schedule a day every week where you’re entirely unplugged. I find that doing this on a Sunday can be the most rewarding -- pencil it in your calendar as “Switch-Off Sunday” or something else that makes you excited to get away from screens and engage with the world.
3. Meditate for 10-15 minutes a week
Meditation is something that either gets people excited or makes them scoff. After all, it can seem like sitting still and listening to chimes or a guided meditation won’t really change anything. But it’s a magical practice to bring into your week: meditation allows you to really connect with yourself, turn off all of the overwhelm and go, go, go nature of your brain, and rejuvenate yourself mentally and emotionally. By building such a small practice into your week, you’ll have a consistent breather from how hard you’re working to make your dream a reality.
TAKE MORE ACTION: Invest in a set of guided meditations and do one every week. I personally love Melissa Ambrosini’s meditation series because there are a variety of subjects that she covers in her meditations and I always feel refreshed and reinvigorated when I’m done.
4. Move your body for 5 minutes every hour
Getting up from your desk for only a few minutes a day can do so much for you: it gets endorphins flowing in your brain (which make you feel happy), gets blood flowing, and refreshes your brain. Sometimes you can get in a cycle of waking up, working, going to sleep and it’s hard to snap out of it. But just stretching or having an impromptu dance party can help you feel more inspired and balanced.
BASIC ACTION: Once an hour, set the timer on your phone or computer for five minutes. Stand up and shake out your limbs, do a downward facing dog, knock out some jumping jacks -- just move your body until the timer goes off.
ADVANCED ACTION: Make a playlist of music that makes you really excited and pumped up. Play it every time you want to take a small break and dance to it for at least five minutes straight. I love to do this while I’m wearing headphones in my room and just lose myself in music.
5. Set boundaries around your time
Because you only have a set number of hours in a day, it’s really important to set boundaries around your time so you aren’t giving more than you have to give to any one thing you’re working towards. Now you might be thinking “Indigo, boundaries sound like the opposite of pursuing my dreams. I want to give 150% of myself to them 100% of the time!”. I used to think that too, until I started pursuing my dream of helping creative entrepreneurs with their businesses. But what I’ve come to realize is that by setting boundaries it allows me to make sure that I’m not overbooking myself, burning out, or neglecting any of my other obligations like school or dinner dates with my friends or myself.
BASIC ACTION: Start saying no to things that you really want to say no to. Stop saying yes or maybe when your gut tells you to say no. Now don’t be mean about it, but decline gracefully and honestly -- there’s no shame in saying “I have to decline because my plate is already full right now.”
TAKE MORE ACTION: Write out everything that you have to do on a daily basis. This can include your sleeping schedule, meditation time, preparing and eating meals, time you dedicate to pursuing your dreams, etc. Figure out the time of day those things happen and put them in your calendar, the same way you put in doctor appointments and family trips. Honor these commitments the same way and stick to the boundaries, both for yourself and when it comes to what other people ask of you.
6. Start a gratitude practice
Gratitude is something that is often overlooked when it comes to protecting your energy. By acknowledging and giving thanks for what blessings have come your way it attracts more things to be grateful for. It also allows you to realize just how abundant your life is right now and tells the universe that you’re ready for even bigger and better things. Having a regular gratitude practice also allows you to keep things in perspective, because writing down things that you’re grateful for and that bring you joy will help you from becoming bitter or cynical about the work you’re doing to pursue your dreams.
BASIC ACTION: Write down a list of one to five things you’re grateful every day. Then after a couple weeks or so increase it to up to ten things. Get really specific about what you’re thankful for. Writing down “I’m thankful for my sister for surprising me with a wonderful lunch in the middle of the week” is more powerful than writing down “I’m thankful for having air to breathe” -- a little extreme, but hopefully you see what I mean!
TAKE MORE ACTION: Make your gratitude practice public. This can be in the form of a blog post, a video, or something you share on social media. I’ve been really enjoying posting my gratitude lists on Instagram -- partly because I can use awesome emojis in my posts, and partly because it’s where I connect best with my tribe. I want to inspire them to realize things that they’re grateful for too, no matter how big or small the things are.
7. Write in a journal
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself while you pursue your dreams is to grab a journal and start writing. Getting everything you’re thinking and feeling out of your head and onto paper can help bring clarity, inspiration, and much-needed balance. Especially if you’re an introvert like me writing in a journal can be a really good way to recharge your batteries and vent without having to be around another person. There’s also something really rewarding about being able to go back and see your journey in your own words once you’ve achieved that dream.
BASIC ATION: Click here to get Ashley’s awesome journal prompts. Print them out and keep them with a notebook. I’d recommend starting with one per week, just to get your journaling juices flowing. Working with prompts to begin with is a great way to start a journaling practice without the terror of looking at a blank page and having no idea what to write.
TAKE MORE ACTION: Get a notebook of any kind and start by writing out what you’ve done that day or week. I like to start out with lists and then kind of write whatever comes to mind when I think about what I’ve been doing after that. You can set a timer for 5-30 minutes and just free write for that time. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing as long as you are!
While I’ve been working on these, I found it was handy to have a checklist that I could hang in my workspace to help remind me to step away from my desk and nourish myself for a little while -- and I want to share it with you!
Indigo Colton is a twenty-something virtual assistant, passionate blogger, and full-time college student. Her mission is to help and inspire as many small business owners and entrepreneurs as she can truly love their online existence. Right now she primarily does this through her eCourse, VA Crash Course, that helps creative entrepreneurs find + hire the best virtual assistant for their business in 30 days. She also hangs out on Instagram,Twitter, and Pinterest.