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Do you look back on your life so far and wonder if you’re making the most out of it?
Do you see others doing so much more with their lives, with seemingly fewer opportunities than you’ve been given?
Do you feel discontent, out of sorts, and forever wanting more due to the monotony of your existence?
Perhaps it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly the problem is. But one day you were fine and the next you are asking if this is all there is to it. You don’t feel happy or fulfilled, not sure if you’re depressed or in a rut. All you know for certain is that something is off.
Whatever it is, you’ve reached a point where you are no longer satisfied with where you’re at in life. You have started to wonder if there is more to it than your present reality.
If you’re tired of the endless cycle of work, bills, and home and want to get the most out of life, keep reading to discover 18 ways to do just that.
1. Know yourself.
We know who we should be. We know who other people think we are. But do we truly know who we are?
At first glance, it seems like an obvious yes. After being alive for a few decades, you should have a pretty clear picture of what makes you, you… right?
But what happens when you strip away all your titles (father, boss, wife, etc.)? Who are you without the job, the family, the material possessions? Without the expectations of society or the viewpoints of other people, who are you? Do you even know? Can you describe yourself in light of who you are and not what you do or what you have?
You need to know who you are without all the extras. That’s the first step. Because it will be impossible to get the most out of life, if you’re chasing a life that is best suited for the person you think you are.
You’ll always feel like a square peg in a round hole.
To get the most out of life, you need to know yourself at your core, without all your responsibilities or expectations.
Have you been pigeon-holed for so long, you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, just start small. First figure out your likes and dislikes. Find out if you are a morning person or a night owl, what skills are you good at, and so on. Re-examine everything you think you know about yourself to be sure those opinions are truly your own.
Listen to your heart. Figure out what fills you up.
2. Define your big picture.
What’s the endgame? What is your big picture; the reason you get up every morning?
You wake up early so that you can get to work on time, earn a living, pay the bills, and then what? What are you working toward? Your life can’t just be about paying your bills.
When we don’t have a goal we’re working toward, there is every likelihood that we’ll get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. But when there’s a big picture – something we’re focusing on – life has a special energy.
Outline what you want your life to look like and why. You can write down what your big picture is or create a vision board that is a visual representation of what you want your life to look like. Just make sure there is a physical record of your ideal life.
Follow this exercise up by writing the reasons why this life is so important to you or why it’s your ideal. This will help you weed out things that do not actually appeal to you because you’ll have difficulty explaining their significance or why they are a part of your big picture.
3. Set actionable steps.
Once you’ve defined your big picture and know what your ideal life looks like, break it down into actionable steps. You’ll know if the steps are small enough or actionable if they are things you can do with little effort and planning.
For example, if your ideal life includes visiting every country in the world, that means within a specific amount of time you need to visit 195 countries. Step one might be to figure out how many countries a year you’d need to visit to hit your goal, while step two could be to get a passport. These are two easily achievable steps that would take a few hours to get done and cross off.
When you break down your ideal life into actionable steps, one of the first things you’ll notice is what seemed like a lofty goal is actually not that out of reach after all.
Make sure you break your big picture down into steps that you can take daily or weekly. This will help you keep it in focus, front and center. By taking regular steps toward your ideal life, you’re ensuring you don’t push it to the back burner as life’s challenges get in the way.
4. Review your progress.
The only way to make sure you stay on track with your ideal life is to have regular review sessions. Schedule weekly, monthly, and quarterly reflection and planning sessions that include a review of your big picture to make sure it still reflects your ideals, the steps you’ve taken, the steps you’re to take next, and any challenges faced in between.
This is the time to review and adjust your plans. Using our goal of visiting all 195 countries in the world as an example, perhaps initially you thought you could visit ten countries each year, but after finalizing your budget you realize you can only afford to visit five. Or maybe you received a huge, unexpected bonus at work which lets you visit two more countries next year than you originally planned.
Periodic reviews also serve as reminders of your goals. We are able to see how much farther we need to go or how close we are to finishing. This in turn serves as motivation to spur us on when enthusiasm is low.
5. Don’t compare your life to the lives of others.
We know that we have our own lives to live. No matter how close we are to another person, we have our own unique life experiences, talents, dreams, and paths to walk. But far too often, we get caught up in trying to keep up with the Joneses. We compare our lives and our accomplishments to theirs, with us usually falling short. Thus, making what we have seem less valuable.
What we fail to realize is that when we look at other people, we don’t always see the reality. Often, what we see is what they want us to see. Most people don’t let us see the hard stuff, the part that is not so picturesque. The struggle has been edited out of the narrative, showing only the white picket fence, doting spouse, and angelic children.
This is especially true with social media. How many times have we witnessed a seemingly happy social media couple “suddenly” break up to the shock of their fans? Then rumors start coming out of abuse, infidelity, and much more. Or maybe the couple stays married but one of their children escapes and gives a tell-all interview or writes a book exposing all the deception. Situations like these definitely make you see your situation in a new light.
It’s easy to feel inadequate when you compare the reality of your life, with all of its challenges, against the idyllic, picture-perfect, perception of another person’s life.
It’s important you recognize that what you’re comparing yourself to is not the full picture. It’s a very skewed portrayal that has most likely been carefully cultivated to give a one-sided view of reality. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, focus on hitting your personal goals.
If necessary, take a social media break so you can’t see what other people are up to. Don’t let their perfectly branded life fool or distract you.
You’re running a very unique race and the only other person you need to beat is yourself. Don’t let comparison push you into running a race that was never meant for you.
6. Take care of your body.
It will be difficult to make the most out of life if you are not in the best possible shape you can be in. Now, this does not mean you need to lose a bunch of weight or have washboard abs; it simply means you need to be healthy enough to build your ideal life.
That big picture of your life you’ve designed needs you to be as healthy as possible to turn it into a reality.
In order to do so, you must focus on three key areas when it comes to taking care of your body:
Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Moderate aerobic exercise includes anything from taking a brisk walk to mowing the lawn. It doesn’t have to be painful or something you hate.
You can be creative with it, too, by choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator or parking the car far away from your destination, so as to get a few extra steps in before you reach your destination.
Exercise doesn’t have to be an excruciating experience. In fact, if you’re going to stick with it in the long run, it should be an activity that you enjoy. Pick anything, just make sure you stick with it.
Get proper nutrition.
Eating balanced meals ensures you have the proper vitamins and nutrients required to accomplish your goals. Without them, your brain and your body won’t have what it needs to function optimally. You’ll constantly be battling different ailments or generally just feeling tired.
Now, a complete overhaul of your diet is the quickest way to make sure you quit as soon as you start. Rather, make small changes that will improve your health but won’t be a shock to your system. For example, you could increase your daily water intake or eat one serving of fruits or vegetables per day, or cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke.
Take tiny steps each day to make sure you’re getting your body ready to build the ideal life you’ve created.
Get enough sleep.
We often underestimate the importance of sleep to our overall health and well-being. With everything we need to get done in a day, it’s easy to scrimp on sleep. After all, we can always catch up on it later, right? Unfortunately, later never comes and sleep is not exactly a commodity that we can store up.
Studies have shown that getting the right amount of sleep can help prevent disease, boost immunity, and improve mental health. It’s just as important as exercise and nutrition to your overall health.
On average, adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
To figure out exactly how much sleep you need, count back 7 1/2 hours from your normal wake-up time and use that as the time you go to sleep. So, if you are supposed to wake up by 5 AM, then you should go to bed by 9:30 PM.
Try this for 7 to 10 days. If you’re not waking up five minutes before your alarm after a week, push your bedtime back 30 minutes and continue to do so until you can wake up without your alarm.
7. Take care of your mental health.
Your mental health has as big an impact on your general well-being as your physical health does. Just like your physical body gets sick sometimes, so does your mind.
You wouldn’t blame yourself for catching a cold or getting cancer, would you? Most likely not, because those are illnesses that are out of your control. You’d probably visit your doctor, get your treatment, and move on.
Mental illness is just the same. It’s an illness that you cannot fully control. It’s not your fault that you’re having a mental health crisis or an illness. But it is your responsibility to get help. It is your responsibility to take care of your mental health. You shouldn’t treat it with levity or feel shame about getting the help that you need.
Only when you are sound in body AND mind can you make the most out of your life. Visit a doctor, get the necessary treatment (if any), and move on.
8. Be present.
From the time we wake up to the time we collapse in bed to sleep, we’re constantly moving or planning to move. We’re always in a state of motion, our minds racing as we go about our day. Before we know it, the day has gone, weeks, months, and years have passed seemingly in the blink of an eye.
We often wonder where all the time went.
In order to make the most out of your life, you need to learn how to slow down and live in the moment. You need to learn how to bask in the simple pleasures of the life, instead of passing through it at warp speed.
Being present is a tough concept to grasp for someone who is used to multitasking all the time. It can be hard to switch off.
Being present, as simple as it sounds, can take a few tries to master. Essentially, you focus your five senses on your present surroundings. Your mind is not full of thoughts about the past or the future. You’re not rushing to be anywhere, nor are you distracted by your phone.
Rather, you are fully aware of what you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. Any thought aside from what you’re getting from your senses, push away and bring your mind to the present.
9. Be grateful.
A huge part of life is perspective. From your perspective, it may look as though you do not have a lot going for you. From another person’s perspective, you are living a blessed life. Stop focusing on what you don’t have. Don’t focus on your inadequacies. Change your perspective and focus on the things you do have or what you can be grateful for.
For example, according to the World Bank, about 689 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2020. Your low-paying job where you earn several hundred dollars a month seems like a gold mine when you consider that in this world, some people live on less than $1.90 a day (less than $60 a month).
Create a gratitude diary and challenge yourself to write at least three things you are thankful for each day. If you struggle to come up with three, a quick search of the horrible economic situations that people live in will help you see the silver lining in the dark cloud of your life.
You can also volunteer at a local hospital. There’s nothing like seeing people fight for their life to make you grateful for the good health you have.
An added benefit of being grateful is that gratitude encourages more positive emotions. The more you find to be grateful for, the happier you become.
10. Challenge yourself.
Intuitively, we know when we’re not working to our capacity. That’s usually around the time when boredom sets in. We’re not excited about what we’re doing; it feels monotonous because subconsciously we know that we’re working below our abilities.
We are not being challenged.
Stop settling for average when you know inside that you can do much more. Think of it this way: you are not being true to yourself by being or doing less than what you are capable of.
In fact, you are the solution to someone’s problem. If you don’t show up at full capacity, their problem may remain unsolved. Being and doing less doesn’t help anyone, including you.
Set a challenge up for yourself and stick to it. Push yourself to the limit to see where yours are.
Volunteering to help those who are in need is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Not only are you helping a community with much-needed resources, but you are also helping yourself by building your self-esteem, reducing your stress, and improving your psychological well-being.
A study by the London School of Economics found that volunteering also helps to create the happiness effect. According to this study, people were 7% more likely to say they felt “very happy” if they volunteered monthly, 12% if they volunteered twice a month, and 16% if they volunteered weekly.
The benefits of volunteering encompass physical, mental, and social well-being.
12. Do things you love.
Far too often, we spend all our energy and time doing what we should do. Rarely do we make time to do what we love to do. Review a typical day – do you spend even five minutes on things that fuel your passion? Or do you find yourself spending hours on activities that don’t really matter to you?
Looking at what you do on a regular day, identify your three biggest time wasters. Is it social media? Checking emails? Talking on the phone? Playing video games?
Is that really how you want to spend your day or life? In your old age, when you look back on your life, what do you want to remember? What adventures do you want to reminisce about? It’s not likely many of us will remember the social media posts that consume our days or our marathon telephone conversations.
Time is gold. Once you’ve spent it, you can’t get it back. Do things you love.
13. Be part of something greater.
Find a cause to champion. There are so many issues that need people who will fight for them. Be part of something that is greater than you.
It could be a religious issue or working toward changing a law or even fighting to protect the rights of a marginalized group in society. Many people, and even animals, cannot fight for themselves. They could benefit from your passion, your skills, and your platform.
Join a movement that will push for a change and create a positive impact. By lending your voice to a worthy cause, you’ll help many people you may never meet and leave a legacy that will outlive you.
14. Stop blaming others.
Ultimately, the buck stops with you. When it comes to your life, you are responsible for the outcome. Yes, there can be extenuating circumstances and challenges that negatively affect your life. But when it comes down to it, you are responsible for the life you live.
Stop blaming others for your situation. They may have gotten you into the situation you are presently in, but it is entirely up to you if you chose to stay there.
Don’t give up just because there is an obstacle in front of you or because people are being so mean to you. Everybody has challenges, some even bigger than whatever you are facing.
Stop putting the blame for your lack of fulfillment, happiness, etc. on things outside your control. Take ownership of your life.
You have the power to get to where you want to go. Use it.
15. Pursue fulfillment, instead of happiness.
Emotions are fickle. One minute you’re cheerful and the next you’re angry. One moment you’re crying and the other you’re busting a gut from laughing. Happiness is an emotion, fleeting like all the rest. You may feel happy one minute, only to enter grief shortly after due to an unexpected loss.
It comes, it goes.
Don’t pursue happiness, pursue fulfillment. Fulfillment is sustainable because it doesn’t depend on how you feel. It’s the result of living a life geared toward what you value.
Pursuing fulfillment requires finding your purpose and working toward that. It’s a long-term process. You can feel fulfilled even in the midst of chaos. In fact, fulfillment is what makes the chaos worth it.
16. Practice forgiveness.
Nothing saps your energy and focus more than refusing to forgive others and yourself. Forgiving someone else does not mean you have to forget what they’ve done to you. It just means you have to let go of the control the incident has over your emotions. Forgiveness removes the power the person or incident has to hurt you or make you angry.
As hard as it may seem, forgiving others may actually be easier than not forgiving them in the long run.
Forgiving yourself for your past mistakes requires accepting your imperfection. We hold ourselves to impossible standards and then beat ourselves up for being unable to meet them.
When you forgive yourself, you accept that you are only human and are prone to making mistakes.
Forgiving others and yourself simply means taking back control of your emotions and treating yourself with compassion.
17. De-clutter your life.
Whether it’s too many activities or just too much stuff, you’ve got too much happening and crowding your space all at once. You don’t even have time to think or the space to do it.
De-clutter your life with the passion of someone cleaning out the house of a hoarder. Everything that does not add to your values or contribute positively to your well-being has to go.
Activities that sap your energy and take up your time without aligning with the priorities in your life have got to go.
Relationships that drain your resources without giving anything in return have to go.
Any thing (or object) in your space that does not have a specific use or does not serve a purpose has to go.
Don’t be sentimental about reclaiming your life and space. If it’s not adding to you, it’s taking from you. So it has to go.
18. Focus on the positive outcome.
Fear is the negative assumption of an outcome. Far too often that is what we focus on, the negative. It’s a defense mechanism we use to protect ourselves from rejection, disappointment, and pain. But it also prevents us from experiencing new things and making the most out of our lives.
Have you ever considered that there is just as much chance of a positive outcome as there is of a negative outcome? In any given situation there is a possibility that it could go as you fear, but it’s also possible that things could go well or even beyond your wildest expectations.
Sadly, we rarely focus on the good possibilities.
Focusing on a negative outcome doesn’t make it any less likely to happen. So, why not focus and prepare for a positive one?
Stop letting fear rule your life. Shift your focus toward a positive outcome.
There comes a point in everyone’s life when you rethink your life choices and wonder if you’re making the most of the opportunities set before you. You worry that you’re not making the most out of life.
No one wants to be at the end of their life with regrets. Luckily, whether you are 21 or 71, there’s always a chance for you to change course. As long as you have life, you have the opportunity to make the most out of it.
Still not sure how to make the most of your life? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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