What’s a great way to get into the flow? Fine-tune your environment. Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, a Claremont Graduate University psychology and management professor who has studied highly effective creative types for more than 30 years, says that a sense of control helps trigger focus. And, in an increasingly chaotic world, our homes and offices provide environments we can control.
It’s difficult to enjoy your home or work space if you can’t stand its water-stained ceiling, unforgiving lighting, or clinical wall color. Beautifying your surroundings and making the space work for you (like lowering a table that's too tall to be comfortable) won’t just improve aesthetics; it will boost other aspects of your life as well. “Having a healthy home and work space is crucial to creating new deals, creating opportunities, and having energy flow around your work space so you can be energized throughout the day,” Bernstein says.
Mess and chaos can block more than your physical walkway from your door to your desk. “If you have a messy wallet, you’re blocking abundance. If you have a messy desk, you’re blocking new opportunities,” Bernstein says. “Clearing out desk drawers can really help you bring in new business. And, if you have a wildly messy closet, then you’re not actually dressing well, because you’re not finding what it is that you like.”
Maybe things aren’t what they once were with your partner of six years. Perhaps the hottie that you’re knockin’ boots with leaves you feeling all, “Psh, whatever,” when you aren’t in the sack. Either way, your relationship needs an attention infusion.
Big Change: Recognize Whether It's Worth Keeping
So, you’ve got yourself a girl or a guy. Whether you have yet to have labeled it a “relationship,” or you think that the person you’re dating may be “the one” (or one of the ones, anyway), it’s important to take inventory and determine whether it's a healthy relationship. The answer, says Bernstein, is surprisingly straightforward: “If it’s making you feel energized or happy, then it’s healthy.” And, if your relationship isn’t satisfying those two vital criteria? Work on the relationship. If you’d rather call it quits, Bernstein advises asking yourself, "What did I learn from this experience?"
Little Change: Swap Negligence For Negligees
On Tuesdays, your partner makes tacos for two, and on Wednesdays, you do laundry. That’s nice and all, but that predictability is not the least bit exciting. What’s worse, not only do you expect these things from one another, but you rarely say “thank you.”
“I think it’s naive to say that we don’t have to 'water the plant,'” Bernstein says. “You always have to be mindful of how your relationship is moving forward, and you always have to be mindful of the energy that you bring to it. If you stop watering the plant, then it will not grow.”
To make sure you’re not letting your most intimate relationship die on the vine, challenge yourself to do little things on a weekly or daily basis to surprise your love interest. Leave a funny drawing in the medicine cabinet, or text a picture that triggers a great memory of the two of you. Your partner will likely want to reciprocate (though if that doesn't happen, don’t suppress your disappointment — vocalize your needs instead).
Developing your inner self is the most dangerous aspect of life to forgo. It’s also the easiest. While making your spirit feel whole is vitally important to how you carry yourself in all other aspects of life, it’s also something that requires confronting core bad habits—which is not only difficult, but something that others likely won’t call you out on (until it severely cracks the façade) — plus, it can’t be farmed out to someone else. Only you can make it a priority and do the work.
Little Change: Talk To Yourself (And Be Nice)
“Everything you say is an affirmation," Bernstein says. "Either you’re affirming positivity into your life, or you’re affirming more chaos.” By being mindful of what our inner voice says (as well as what we voice verbally), you are directing both the way in which you interpret the world and your sense of personal well-being.
“There’s energy in the words. If you are saying something like, ‘I can’t get a job,’ redirect that to ‘I am open to creative opportunities in my career path,’” Bernstein says. Just don’t lie to yourself or set yourself up for failure. “The most important thing is this: Make sure you believe in whatever you’re affirming. If you redirect ‘I can’t get a job,’ to say ‘I’m a millionaire,’ your mind is going to say ‘I don’t believe that.’ You want to reach for a positive thought that you actually believe in,” Bernstein says.
Big Change: Tackle A Recurring Problem
Maybe your relationship with your dad is messed up. (Still.) Or, maybe you can’t seem to shake that passive-aggressive behavior. Whatever the case, if an issue has bugged you for longer than you can remember, it might be time to work though the problem once and for all. Team up with a professional — be it a therapist, life coach, or some other trained expert — and make a dedicated effort to address the issue. Why? We want to be defined by our greatness, not the things that weigh us down. Making the effort, time, and financial commitment to get the monkey (or daddy issues) off your back is a bold, whole-hearted move that means business, and ultimately, a better self.