You’ve probably seen it all over the internet at the moment—videos and articles about how to become ‘that girl’ in 2021. And while I admit some of it is toxic and problematic, I don’t think there’s any issue with striving to be the best version of you that you can be. In fact, recently (even before I realised this was a trend), I found myself wanting to get back into the self-improvement mindset that, honestly, dominated my life for years and got me to where I am today.
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First of all, as I’ve said before in my articles about motivation and learning new things you NEED to have a why. If you say you want to get in shape, but you don’t actually have a reason why you want to do so, you’re simply NOT going to stick with it.
Let’s get into some potential ‘whys’ for being ‘that girl’ in 2021.
You may want to work on starting that business or blog you’ve been dreaming about for months (side note: if you want to start a blog, check out this article). Or, maybe you want to get up early to start taking classes and learning to code to switch careers (you guessed it, I also have an article about learning to code).
Maybe you’re not happy with how your body has been looking or performing recently. Now, this can quickly get unhealthy so, PLEASE, if you’re experiencing significant negative thoughts about your body or yourself, seek professional advice. But, if you’ve just realised that even going on walks with friends is starting to tire you out thanks to the quarantine 15 and you’re not feeling your best from eating takeaway 4 nights a week, go for it.
New hobbies are some of the best ways to feel more fulfilled and happy. I’ve been reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. He talks about incorporating analogue hobbies in place of mindless scrolling as a key factor in improving happiness.
Maybe you’re eyeing a promotion at work or a job change. Maybe you want to feel more fulfilled in your work. (As a side note, for more advice on reaching your career goals (and other goals!) check out this article).
Well, I’d been feeling pretty stressed and run down and just like I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’d gained some weight from staying at home all the time and not eating very healthy, and I wasn’t dealing with the stressors in my life particularly well. Since I was home so much, I’d also stopped putting much effort into my appearance. On top of that, while I passed my mid-PhD defence and it generally went really well, I got a paper sent back from a journal with major revisions and started feeling pretty inadequate as a result. I know that I feel my best and most resilient when I’m taking care of myself and pushing myself to be better. So, that’s my why for becoming ‘that girl’ and writing this article on how to become ‘that girl’ in 2021.
With becoming ‘that girl’, it’s important to weed through the toxic and unrealistic expectations and focus on what will actually make you happy. I, too, find videos of girls waking up at 5 am to go to the gym incredibly motivating, but, I also know that, for most people, that’s not real life.
For me, becoming ‘that girl’ means waking up at a slightly more palatable time—8 or 8:30.
It means going to the gym and actually pushing myself (rather than doing half-assed workouts). It also means incorporating LOTS of fruits and vegetables into my meals and cooling it a bit with the vegan butter and salt in my cooking. Becoming ‘that girl' means feeling confident in how I’m looking and performing as a result.
It means spending a little time each day reading a book and watching YouTube videos where I’m learning something new I’m interested in (right now, I’m looking to learn more about ethical hacking, for example). Another book I’m reading is A Promised Land by Barack Obama.
It also means staying on top of my life admin and giving myself the best tools I can to deal with small, daily stressors.
It means actually working when I intend to and not getting distracted by Twitter or YouTube. To me, it means getting into that ‘deep work’ state when I’m doing my research that makes me feel unstoppable.
Finally, becoming ‘that girl’ means looking good doing it all. I’m not saying I’m going to put on a full face of makeup every day, but I have ordered myself some new clothes that actually fit and also some hair lightening spray (I got Sunbabe and haven't tried it yet, but people seem to also really like this one). I’ve also got this self-tanner and bought myself some new earrings. I feel a lot more confident and able to take on the world when when I’m taking care of myself ~aesthetically~ as well.
So, now on to how to actually become ‘that girl’ in 2021, whatever that means to you. Since it’s so personal for everyone, I’ll give pretty general advice, but I’ll also discuss how I’m planning to apply it in my own life, which will hopefully be helpful as well.
Your version of becoming ‘that girl’ is unique to you. For example, I watched a video yesterday of someone challenging herself to become the best version of herself. One of her things was going to church more. That’s not something that’s personally important to me but was very important to her vision of becoming ‘that girl’. Being ‘that girl’ means being the best version of YOURSELF not of anyone else, as cheesy as that sounds.
I’ve already gotten a head start over the past few weeks eating healthier and going to the gym. This week, I’ve been ill, so I haven’t been the best, but I’m ready to get back into it. I can’t go from not going to the gym at all to going super hard 5x a week, so I started with easier workouts to get back into things.
Fail to plan, plan to fail, as they always say. You need to figure out exactly how you’re going to become ‘that girl’, step-by-step, every day.
Looking to work out more? Choose a workout you actually enjoy? Make it a no-brainer—put your clothes by your bed the night before so it’s easy to just roll out of bed to the gym.
Maybe there’s some jewellery you’ve been eyeing or a new dress you want to buy. Maybe there’s a new restaurant you want to try. Building in rewards for reaching your goals is super helpful and motivating.
It sounds corny, but you need to believe in yourself and also acknowledge your successes. It’s okay (and necessary!) to be proud of yourself for becoming the best version of yourself!
For me, my partner is a good accountability buddy, and we keep each other on track when we’re not feeling it. Eventually it’ll all become habitual, and we won’t need to rely on each other so much, but it’s super helpful when you’re first starting out.
Tracking your progress can be motivating and also help you figure out what you need to work on a bit more. Companies like Papier sell Wellness Journals which include habit trackers.
Ultimately, the only way to become ‘that girl’, not just in 2021 but beyond this year, is to build habits. I was listening to a podcast the other day with James Clear on it (author of Atomic Habits) who said:
‘You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems’James Clear
You simply need to build lasting habits and systems to reach your goals.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you slip up. Resilience is key to becoming ‘that girl’. Figure out how to do better and move on with it. Also, in order to keep up with your plans for how to become ‘that girl’ in 2021, you’ll need to practice self-care. Check out this article for tips on incorporating self-care into your life. Make sure you still enjoy your life and relax as you become the best version of yourself.
So, how am I going to become ‘that girl' again in 2021?
My partner is on board with these first two and he’ll help me make sure I reach them. I find it best to go to the gym in the mornings when I first wake up, but sometimes I’ll probably have to go at night. In general, I’ll take routes to get places that include the most walking to up my incidental exercise levels.
Now, I’m not going to give up butter and vegan cheeses, but I am going to try to use them slightly more sparingly. I’ll continue planning my meals in advance before I do my weekly Amazon Fresh purchases and we’ll keep meal prepping healthy lunches in advance.
I’ve started to do this and am really enjoying it. I don’t think it’ll be too hard to stick to. Also, instead of watching the videos I normally watch, I’m going to watch one ethical hacking one per week (they’re about an hour each and I already have them picked out).
I’m also going to schedule in time to deal with my life admin things like paying bills, instead of dropping everything to do them. I also am going to get back into a routine with my blog work and make a plan for that. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired and unmotivated, but I’m ready to get back into it.
I’m going to use the hair lightening spray I bought for some beach babe highlights, wear cuter lounge outfits around the house, and self-tan. These things all make me feel better about myself, but I haven’t made the effort to do them.
I hope you found this article on how to become ‘that girl’ in 2021 useful. Let me know in the comments below what you’re doing this summer to become the best version of yourself and share this article with anyone who might find it useful!