2019 was my first year of being a “full-time entrepreneur”, meaning that all I did was work on building my business.
I started several side projects and online businesses during my studies and managed to run my business whilst studying and doing a full-time internship. But suddenly being able to put all of my time into my own business was harder than I expected.
I really struggled to set the right priorities and goals, which led to a lot of frustration and tons of hours that I wasted during 2019. What I sincerely regret, though, is not wasting hours, but wasting my own potential.
I know that I could’ve done and accomplished so much more if I just took the time to focus on the right things. One of my biggest mistakes was that I didn’t take any time to care for myself for several months.
Even though I was not making any progress in business, I refused to take the time to listen to my inner-self and find out what my problem actually was.
Looking back, I should’ve invested weeks, if not months, into caring for myself instead of hustling without plans and goals. Yet I am incredibly happy that I managed to shift my mindset and started prioritizing self-care in the last quarter of the year.
The effects are tremendous. I am feeling much more joy and pleasure throughout my days. And of course, by being happier and more aligned, I also spread much more joy to all the people surrounding me.
After reflecting on my process and what I learned throughout my year, I’ve come up with 12 essential tips, I wish I applied much earlier.
1. If It Feels Wrong, Don’t Do It
This one is probably my most significant learning points of 2019. I did waaaay too many things just because I thought I needed to.
I am running my business together with my boyfriend, which is not the easiest thing to do at all. Just like everything else in life, it has advantages as well as disadvantages.
I genuinely respect the opinions and ideas of my partner, but I know that at some points I should’ve placed less importance on his thoughts and instead focused on my gut feeling.
He never forced me to do anything, yet every time I was not 100% sure about my own opinion, I just went with whatever he said. In fact, I genuinely don’t remember a single situation in my life when doing something that didn’t feel good resulted in happiness or success.
I honestly swore myself not to do anything that doesn’t feel aligned with myself and my vision anymore. Everything that I go for needs to feel enjoyable and exciting.
Sure, sometimes we have to take risks and go for scary options. But being excited about something and having a bad feeling are two completely different things.
Just a little example: I am quite active on Instagram, and I am posting lots of stories of myself talking to the camera. I’ve uploaded many stories that I didn’t feel good about at all.
I just thought it’d be ‘better done than perfect’ and, since my boyfriend always encouraged me to upload them, I mostly did it. However, if I uploaded videos of myself which I didn’t like at all, I always had a bad gut feeling afterwards.
I don’t do that anymore. I just upload pictures and videos when I feel truly good about them. Everything other than that isn’t going to help me.
For 2020, one of my biggest goals is only to do things that feel right. I believe in the power of gut feelings, and I think that all of us should listen to our intuition a little more. In most cases, when we feel lost, we can find the answer within us if we just listen to our inner selves.
Taking risks might be necessary, yet doing things that feel wrong will hardly pay off. At least that’s my experience.
2. Say Precisely What You Mean
This might not sound like a self-care tip at first, yet it definitely is one. Throughout the year, I realized that saying what I mean could’ve benefited my life in many situations.
Especially in relationships with people who we feel close to, we tend to be vague in communicating. We don’t say precisely what we mean because we assume that our counterpart would know us so well that they understand what we mean.
But that’s bullsh*t. You can’t blame someone for not understanding your needs if you don’t communicate clearly.
Communication is really polysemous. Most words can have a dozen meanings, and additionally, nonverbal attributes make it harder to understand each other if our words and, e.g. our body language, are not aligned.
Being clear in your communication and saying what you mean, want, and need will not only make your life easier but also the lives of the people surrounding you.
By saying what you mean, you will get what you want, so there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
3. Don’t Be a People Pleaser
Just don’t. Doing things just for the sake of others won’t do you any good at all.
Besides, if we do things without feeling attached to them, the outcome won’t be good for us either. Pleasing others mostly comes with taking a pass on yourself and ignoring your own wellbeing.
You have one life to live, and every moment you experience is of great importance. What I promised to myself in 2019 is that I won’t do anything just to please others anymore.
I love seeing people being happy, and I also love bringing happiness to the lives of my loved ones, yet I won’t do anything just to please someone else if it probably harms me.
4. Trust Your Instincts
No matter if it’s about business, relationships, health, or any other field of our lives, trusting our instincts is often the best way to make decisions.
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell broadly explains how we make our decisions based on our feelings anyway. We just try to justify them with logical arguments.
Whenever we need to make a decision, we often do it within milliseconds without even realizing it — even though we’re not aware of it and tend to try and find a logical solution by thinking about a solution for hours.
If I had trusted my instincts in 2019, I would have achieved many more significant results in most areas of my life. I would have worked on projects and products that I felt good about, served more people, and ended up making much more revenue and impact.
However, I am grateful beyond anything that I made those mistakes. Having made them, I now can up-level myself and start this new decade with lots of experiences, being able to create my life just the way I want.
5. Never Speak Poorly About Yourself
How do you talk to and about yourself? Unfortunately, we tend to belittle ourselves when what we need more than anything is to start being our own motivators.
No one else on this entire planet can motivate and push you the way you can do. Our self-talk is often shaped by negativity and doubts.
Try paying more attention to how you think about yourself for a single day. You will probably realize that you have lots of limiting beliefs that are holding you back from unleashing your full power and greatness.
In the past few months, I realized that I was talking myself down several times per day. I was always finding reasons why something that I do would not work out. Now, I’ve completely shifted my mindset in a way that I empower myself every day.
I am meditating, practicing affirmations, doing power poses, and journaling. All these things help me to focus on my strengths and be aware of all my positive aspects.
Just think of yourself as your best friend. Your relationship with yourself is the most important one you will ever have — so you need to get on very well with yourself.
What do you tell your best friend when he or she is feeling upset and down? Do you talk her down or empower her?
I guess it’s the latter, and you should also do the same for yourself. Your success, happiness, and wellbeing are all up to you. Nobody other than you is responsible for your happiness. And that’s great because it means that you have 100% control over your feelings.
Make use of that power to ensure that you feel better and better every day.
6. Never Give Up On Your Dreams
This one is also something that would’ve changed a lot if I’d practiced it this year. I gave up on tons of ideas and dreams way too quickly.
Finding excuses for why something might not work out is so easy. No matter what you are dreaming of, in just a few minutes, you might come up with hundreds of reasons about why it’s potentially a bad idea. Yet, what I learned is that it’s exactly those big dreams that stand to make our lives worth living.
Chasing dreams is such a beautiful thing. Diving deep into something and pouring all your heart and soul into it is just wonderful.
For the rest of my life, I won’t let anyone talk me out of my dreams ever. I will go for whatever my heart desires, even if there are 500 reasons why it might not work out.
After all, I’d rather fail than live a life full of regrets and ‘what-if’s’. So should you.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Honestly, how often would you save time and energy if you managed to say no to things that don’t excite and serve you? Way too often we say yes to projects and people just because we are afraid of saying no.
But, as I mentioned above, there is nothing more important than your time and energy. If you spend them on things that don’t fill your heart and make you happy, you will have less energy to do the things that you genuinely love.
Saying no to things that don’t serve my goals or dreams has become one of my core values in life.
What’s also important to mention at this point is that you need to know what you want. If you know what your biggest goals and desires are, it will be easier to say no.
Not being clear about your life-vision makes it harder to say no because you might think that every opportunity is of great importance. But that’s rarely the case.
First, become clear about what you want. Then, say no to everything that doesn’t bring you closer to it.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Say Yes
Just as we are scared to say no, sometimes we are also afraid to say ‘hell yeah!’
If you don’t say yes to the right opportunities, you will have a harder time achieving your goals. Saying yes at the right time and place can accelerate your personal growth and help you to be more fulfilled.
And again: it starts by knowing what you actually want. Being clear about your vision is the first step for quick improvement.
If you know what you want, you will be able to distinguish between opportunities that are beneficial to your goals and those that might harm you.
9. Be Kind to Yourself
This one might sound cheesy as well, yet it is crucial for your self-care. We should love ourselves much more than we do.
You can’t expect others to be kind to you if you are not doing so yourself. How and why should anyone else be kind to you if you are mistreating yourself?
Treat yourself as if you are the most important person on the entire planet. Because you are. You are undoubtedly the most important human being in your life, and you should act accordingly.
Reward yourself regularly. Do things that excite you. Surround yourself with people that make you feel fantastic. Go to places that light up your soul.
Ensure to let yourself live the life that you dream of.
10. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
Holding on to the past is something that almost all people struggle with. Way too often, we keep worrying about things that we can’t control anyway.
If you can’t change them, it absolutely doesn’t make sense to waste time on them. Letting go is easier said than done, I know. However, some techniques helped me in doing so, which might also support you.
Journaling every day
Writing down my thoughts, feelings, affirmations, and goals helps me to focus on the good and the future. If I think about my blessings and what I want to create in my future, I stop worrying and start feeling empowered.
Meditating helps us to be truly present at any moment. By being present, you ensure not to get bogged down by the past. Even a few minutes of meditation can have a tremendous effect on your wellbeing.
If it’s new to you, start out with guided meditations and increase the minutes every time you practice
Focusing on my future
Being focused on your ideal future is a great way to stop thinking about things that you can’t control. Having a vision board full of pictures that show your ideal future is so empowering that you will immediately start working on them instead of blaming yourself for things that you can’t control at all.
11. Stay Away From Drama and Negativity
This one was probably my biggest gamechanger in 2019.
I’m not 100% there, but I guess I can say that in 95% of all cases, I am staying away from drama and negativity.
I don’t own a television, so I am not watching any news. I don’t read newspapers or other news that spreads negativity.
I surround myself with positive, uplifting people all the time. Every time I find someone spreading negative energy, simply end the conversation in a gentle way and leave.
I am consuming uplifting, positive content throughout all my days. Negativity is such a burden.
Why would you consume negative energy if you can focus on the good and empower yourself?
Of course, there is a lot of bad things happening every day. But honestly: can you change all of them? I don’t think so. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to know about every bad thing in the world.
Besides, I know that I can only change something and help people if I am successful at all. If I can hardly pay for my rent, I won’t be able to make any significant changes in the world. Thus, I focus on being positive and spreading good vibes among all the people that I meet.
Love is the strongest emotion that we can feel. True love is pure joy and happiness. In 2019 I often refused to feel and accept love. Yet, once I opened myself to it, I received so much of it.
There are so many things that we can love — starting with ourselves.
Just by loving yourself, you will send out love and positive energy into the universe, which will surely find its way back to you. Loving and being loved are indispensable feelings.