Most of us constantly look for ways to improve our lives. We want to make more money, be more attractive, and be regarded more highly by our friends and our colleagues. We are on a mission to achieve more, earn more, and learn more. More often than not, we are in a hurry to do all of it.
Unfortunately, this mindset misses the point. Think about it, what do all the things mentioned above have in common? They’re all about ME. We’re all busy, we’ve all stretched out our limits and we’ve all got too much to do.
In the rush to improve our lives, we end up focusing too much on ourselves, which leads to disappointment and frustration when things don’t go as planned. But there are small actions we can take which help ground us in reality and make us remember what is most important about our lives.
Here are 10 things that you should do more often if you want to build a life that you truly enjoy:
Waking up early may not be your cup of tea, but I would urge even the most stalwart night owl to try this trick at least once over the course of the next few weeks. Set your alarm for an ungodly hour (like 5am) and make a concerted effort to get out of bed when your alarm goes off.
The brain functions differently in the early hours of the morning. Things may seem sharper, and ideas may come to you in different ways. On top of that, there is a subtle motivating factor that comes from the knowledge that you are up being productive while everyone else is still asleep in bed.
2. Spend a day doing anything you want to do
Many of us are shackled to our jobs, or studies and our personal commitments. We have become so overbooked that we rarely have a night off just to sit and relax. Even if we have that time, our minds typically wander to what we have to be doing the next day or later in the week.
Due to the above reason, I urge you to schedule one day a month where you actively schedule a full day of doing nothing but what you want to do. Not something for your business or your side project. Not something for someone else. Be selfish.
3. Reach out to old friends
The power of a network grows stronger based on how strong the connections are between each piece. Reach out to an old friend (or friends) and start the process of catching up and rebuilding relationships that have faded. You never know what opportunities may develop from these connections, so it is always a good idea to maintain these open channels.
“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
4. Ask someone to do something for you which you could do yourself
You may have the time or skill necessary to do something, but delegating will be invaluable to you as you continue to move through life. The practice of delegating is a subtle art that few of us are comfortable with, but almost all of us would benefit from.
Delegating requires you to plan exactly what you want to happen, and it also requires that you set clear expectations for what you expect from others. You can practice this by hiring someone from Fiverr or Upwork to help you with your job or a random task of some kind.
5. Say thank you to someone that made a difference in your life in the last year
You have no idea what a difference a gesture of this kind can make to someone. Reach out to a stranger, a colleague, a family member, or a long lost friend. Tell them why you appreciate them, and say thank you for what they’ve done for you. You don’t need to tell them it was because I told you so… just go for it. You won’t regret it, and you’ll make their day.
6. Give your opinion about what someone should do in their life or in their work
This is nearly as hard as asking someone to do something for you. As humans, we tend to avoid potential conflicts, and telling someone to change something about their lives has a huge potential for conflict or argument. Still, if you are able to share your opinion in a clear and thought through manner, that person will not only appreciate your advice, they will respect you moving forward.
7. Give a compliment to someone without expecting anything in return
Similar to saying thank you to someone, giving a compliment allows you to strengthen your relationship with others in and outside of your network while helping you build the self confidence to share your opinions openly and without self-judgement. If possible, focus on giving “growth mindset” compliments rather than “fixed mindset” compliments.
Growth mindset compliments are those relating to skills or traits which can be learned and improved upon (i.e. you did such a good job with that presentation), whereas fixed mindset compliments are those which relate to fixed attributes related to physical appearance, intellect, etc (you’re so smart).
“Everybody likes a compliment.” – Abraham Lincoln
8. Make something and share it with the world
Often we are told to create widgets for our employers or to churn out content for individuals that pay us. However, real creativity requires tapping into our inner passions and ideas about how the world works. Being creative in this way is a great way to reconnect with your true nature and ground yourself in the present moment.
9. Go to a free event and see something you’ve not experienced before
Always keep on learning! If you live in or near a big city, chances are there are a ton of free events being advertised online which you can attend. Look for new museum exhibitions, street fairs, musical concerts, talks, etc. and try to attend something new every month. Even networking events can lead to future job prospects or business opportunities.
10. Cook a meal for someone (or a group of people)
Some of the strongest bonds between human beings are formed around food. Since the discovery of fire, humans have been gathering around and feeding one another, sharing memories, advice, opinions and accolades. Even if you’re not a good cook, throw a few pizzas in the oven and invite a few friends over for a drink.
Now I know what you’re thinking right now. I don’t have time to do all that every week, or even every month. Heck, maybe even every year is asking too much. But I assure you, you do have time for these activities. Some of them let you reconnect with yourself at a deeper level, while others require you to connect with the ones around you in an empathetic and emotionally engaged way.
Remember that this life is not just about you, it’s about everyone you come in contact with. Every small action you take will have a butterfly effect which changes the hearts and minds of those you come in contact with.
How are you making sure you’re building the life you truly want to live? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com