So many people are unhappy with their lives. They blame family, friends, jobs, circumstances and anything else they can think of for their current situation. Just check out all the comments on this post.
As long as someone or something else is to blame, there’s no way to change things. If you want something different, it’s up to you to take the initiative and make the change.
If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one. ~Dolly Parton
Imagine what your life could be like if you stopped blaming people and started taking small actions each day toward the life you want.
Do you know what you want? If you answered, “not what I have now,” you’ll end up with more of what you have now. Your subconscious doesn’t know what to think about, what vision to pursue, if you don’t create one. When you say, “not what I have now,” it envisions more of what you have.
Get Clear on What You Want
Creating a vision for your life and living towards it means living mindfully, with intention. It means making choices throughout your day that are in line with your vision.
Take some time to get quiet, meditate, breathe. Take out a pen and some paper or your journal and start writing about your perfect average day in as much detail as possible.
- Where do you live?
- What does your home look and, more importantly, feel like?
- What do you see from your windows and front door?
- What does the environment outside of your home look, smell, sound, and feel like?
- Who do you spend time with (partner, friends, family, etc.)?
- What do you do with the people you spend time with?
- What do you eat?
- How does what you eat make you feel?
- How do you move your body throughout the day? Where do you do that?
- What’s the weather like in each season?
- What do you do to earn money?
- How do you feel about the value you give in exchange for the money you earn?
- How are you sharing your unique gifts?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What do you do after you get out of bed?
- What do you do in each hour of your average day?
- What are your recurring thoughts?
- What do you do before you go to bed at night?
This is the level of detail that your subconscious needs in order to create a vision for your life. This is your target, goal, intention – whatever you want to label it.
This vision may currently seem completely out of the realm of possibility for you. Or you may realize that it wouldn’t take much to get there. Writing out the details helps you to make the swirling ideas in your head more concrete. It makes them more real, even if you think it’s not realistic for you.
The key to bringing to life things that are outside of your comfort zone or zone of reality is to take small actions that are in your comfort zone.
The Big Impact of Small Daily Habits
Morning and evening habits are key to creating the life you want. Whether you realize it or not, you already have these habits. The question is: Are they serving your highest needs? Do you know what your highest needs are?
Small steps like not sleeping with your phone, not checking it before you go to bed and first thing when you wake up can dramatically change how well you sleep and how you feel during the day. If you feel more anxious, depressed, or stressed during the day, these actions can help you sleep more soundly.
If you check emails or social media at bedtime, your mind may be swirling with things you can’t control or act on but keep you up half the night thinking about them. Restless sleep or lack of sleep lowers your energy levels the following day making it harder for you to deal with the daily stressors, thus creating more stress and depression or anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle that you can easily step out of once you’re aware of the causes.
Getting out of bed with the initial alarm (without hitting the snooze button), doing some stretches while you’re still in bed, drinking a big glass of water, taking ten deep breaths or meditating, taking a short walk or doing ten minutes of yoga, and eating a healthy breakfast can transform your morning, your day and thus, your life.
If you normally hit the snooze button a few times then jump out of bed knowing you’re late, grab a quick cup of coffee and a bagel or doughnut and hit the ground running, you’re likely to feel wired and stressed at first, then crash mid-morning, feeling anxious and tired all day.
How you feel throughout your day depends on how you start and end each day.
In addition to morning and evening habits, you have habits around how you choose your food, how and where you choose to eat, how you choose what you’ll wear each day, how you choose to interact with the people in your life, how you choose to spend your time, and how you choose to manage your responses to your thoughts and emotions.
If you’re not intentional with these choices, you’ll do what you’ve always done and get the same results you’ve always gotten.
The Holistic Approach to Lifestyle Design
Consider each area of your life and how close you are to your ideal. Your answers to these questions will also factor strongly into your perfect average day.
- Physical: Are you at your ideal body size? How’s your energy level? Are you dealing with any health issues?
- Intellectual: What are you learning each day? How are you expanding or deepening your level of knowledge on topics that interest you?
- Social: How deep are your connections with your friends? Are these relationships where you want them to be?
- Financial: How do you feel about your financials situation? What would it take to feel comfortable? How do you feel about how you use your money?
- Spiritual: Are you regularly engaging in practices that get you more in tune with your True Self and any Higher Power that you believe in?
- Romantic Relationship: Whether or not you’re in a relationship, how do you feel about it? How do you feel about yourself in that relationship?
- Parental: If you have children, how is your relationship with them? How does it differ from your ideal?
- Vocational: What do you do to earn money? How do you feel about your job and career? What could you do to feel more engaged?
- Avocational: What kinds of hobbies do you enjoy? What do you do simply for the fun of it? How often do you spend time practicing these things? How do you balance your work and your fun?
- Emotional: Do you feel balanced emotionally? What types of emotions do you experience on a daily or weekly basis?
Last year I was feeling out of balance in some areas of my life and not moving forward in others. As a bit of a productivity nut, I tried all kinds of systems to “get things done” but ended up not progressing much from where I started.
Tools That Actually Work
Simplification and focusing on what’s important have been the key. When I enrolled in Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever and Free to Focus programs last year, I found that both programs (which complement each other very well) held these elements as their core tenets.
He recently came out with a hard copy Full Focus Planner that gets and keeps you focused on your goals/intentions every day. Before the planner was available, I tried to create my own versions to simplify and organize my days. While they helped, they weren’t nearly as effective as the planner.
As a tech geek, I thought I couldn’t go analog, but this planner complements my digital life well. This article explains how Michael balances the two which is similar to my methods.
I love that his programs focus on all aspects of your life in a holistic way. Being productive isn’t just about checking things off your list and getting things done. It’s about making intentional choices with how you spend your time – how you spend your life – in order to create the life you designed at the beginning of this article.
His programs and systems have helped me to stop putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own most of the time (which caused intense exhaustion). They’ve helped me to prioritize making time for myself and my projects which has revitalized my energy, giving me more energy for the things I do for my job and others. And I’ve been regularly taking action toward the goals that had alluded me for so long.
Being productive is about healthy, supportive habits; taking time to care for yourself and your relationships; prioritizing things before choosing what gets done; and delegating or deleting things you shouldn’t be doing.
If you’re not happy with the life you’re living now, choose the day and time that you’ll write down the vision of the life you want, start making different choices and taking different actions to create the life you want.
If not today, then when? Why wait?
On the 50th anniversary of my time here on earth, I've released my first book: The Joy of Now Journal: Mindfulness In Five Minutes a Day. It's a beautiful, full-color guided journal that you can use to better appreciate the beauty of the present moment and “live in the now.”
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