Back in 2006, when I began researching my book about how women can overcome the twelve most common professional crises and learn to thrive, I was floored by some of the advice and stories I heard.

Rather than learning about huge cataclysmic changes that altered their lives, I heard more about tiny, daily mindset shifts that help people see the world in dramatically different, and more empowering and positive ways. And when they saw the world and their lives differently, they behaved differently.

It was these behavior changes that paved the way for more happiness, success and fulfillment. I’ve learned too from my own reinventions that it’s often the small things we do in life that make the biggest impact.

It was these behavior changes that paved the way for more happiness, success and fulfillment

Be disciplined about your “me” time

Five days a week, from Tuesday to Saturday, Rebecca Hill dedicates all of her time and attention to her customers. Whether it’s sculpting someone’s arms or the perfect vacation, her two jobs—as a fitness instructor and a combination innkeeper and concierge—keep her on her toes.

Sundays are devoted to “pajama day” with her husband. And then on Mondays Rebecca takes time to pamper her most important customer: herself. Mondays are her “My-days,” and she makes sure she spends them doing things that make her feel great. My-days give Rebecca the positive boost and recharge she needs to approach the rest of the week with the energy and enthusiasm.

Don’t be afraid to flout convention

Her friends and family all thought she was crazy for deciding to make the 16,000-mile trip from her home in Florida to Alaska and back—all by herself. Especially with only four months to plan. What they didn’t know was that Sheila Wasserman was making her dream come true.

No, she wasn’t nervous, and no, she didn’t need anyone accompanying her. “It was hard to tell them I wanted to be alone. I like my own company.” She planned out her grand adventure almost like she was in a dream. After packing a camper with all the essentials, she set out on the open road to discover if there was any more “her” left in her. It was exactly what she wanted.

Treat yourself as well as you would a guest

When Paula Klendworth Skory was a child, her mother put out special flower-shaped soaps for company. The family never touched them as they were for guests. Over time the little soaps collected dust, until they didn’t really look very special at all. As an adult, Paula continued in the same vein, putting out special things for guests, but never using them herself.

One of those things was another piece of soap, this one a handmade gift from her artisan brother-in-law shortly after her wedding. It wasn’t until she was diagnosed with cancer decades later that she realized it was time to treat herself as well as a guest. The soap came out of the drawer, and as the water ran over her hands, the colors and scent filled her with pure joy.

“I felt my troubles washing away with those tiny bits of foam.” It was such a small thing, but it made her so happy. Now Paula understands that she deserves the guest treatment, too.

breathing

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