Life can be rough. Really rough, sometimes.
It can feel like you are struggling to catch your breath.
People let you down, plans get derailed, and dreams can crack under the stress and chaos of it all.
That doesn’t mean that you have to remain a victim of circumstance or let your life pass you by!
You can seize the initiative, find your peace and happiness, and go after what you want.
So, let’s talk about how to get your life together once and for all!
1. Do talk, but stop complaining excessively.
Here’s the thing that people aren’t going to tell you – listening to someone incessantly complain about their life or position is draining, mostly a waste of time, and actually harms you in the long run.
People generally strive for a middle ground; they politely nod and say, “That’s too bad.” as their friend complains about their situation for the twentieth time.
…and nothing of value gets accomplished.
Does that mean you shouldn’t talk about your problems at all?
But do be clear about why you are talking in the first place.
– Are you just talking to talk?
– Are you trying to process the emotions associated with the problem you’re having?
– Are you looking for solutions?
There are lots of messages in the self-improvement and mental health space telling you to talk about what you feel.
Yet this is not always good advice.
In psychology, rumination is when a person keeps going over the negative things in their life, over and over and over again, which causes them to spiral deeper into their problems.
Ruminating on your problems can worsen depression, anxiety, and cause additional stress.
And that’s really all that complaining without a constructive purpose is.
By all means, vent if you need to vent, but do remember that the people around you have their own problems to deal with too.
Make sure you’re there for them in turn, or you’ll find that they disappear.
And that is an unfortunate, unpleasant lesson to learn the hard way.
2. Live your life proactively instead of reactively.
Do you procrastinate?
Plenty of people do.
We put off until tomorrow what we can get accomplished today!
The problem with procrastination is that it gives you the opportunity to forget to do things that are important or it lets them pile up until a molehill of a problem turns into a mountain.
And then you’re left scrambling to try to make things come together while dealing with the additional problems your inaction created.
Choosing to do nothing just means the decision will be made for you by whatever external forces are pushing you.
What should you do instead?
Get the things accomplished that you need to do as soon as possible so you clear them from your mind and move on to more important things.
A simple productivity hack that you can use right now is “the Five Minute Rule.”
If it can be done in under five minutes, just do the thing right then and it will be out of your way forever.
Don’t wait until the last minute. If you do that, life will force you down paths that you don’t want to be on.
Be proactive. Get done what you need to get done as soon as you can get it done.
3. Get organized. Organization is an essential part of success.
Why is organization so important?
Well, if you want to build anything of substance and quality, it’s going to take time and direction.
Organization is important for planning and then executing on that plan.
Let’s say you wanted to construct a building. You don’t want your electricians showing up to install the lights before the crew has poured the foundation, right?
Organization also ties in with living a proactive life.
It’s through organization and prioritization that you can plan what needs to get done and when (if it’s not something that needs handling immediately).
Maybe it’s something you need to deal with next week.
Maybe you have a deadline a month away.
Maybe you need to make those reservations three months from now.
Find a method of organization that works for you, whether it’s keeping things meticulously neat or embracing the chaos because you know that you left the bills that need to be paid on the pile because that’s where you always put the bills!
You don’t need to live in a state of clinical cleanliness to reap the benefits of organization.
4. Set short, mid, and long-term goals.
The ability to set goals can guide you to where you want to be in your life.
There are many types of goals in life, but they can all be broken down into three categories.
Long-term goals provide the destination that you are traveling to.
Mid-term goals help you gauge progress and make sense of the clusters of short-term goals that you have already knocked out.
And short-term goals are the individual footsteps that carry you on your journey to accomplishing your goals and long-term success.
Goal-setting doesn’t need to be a complicated process…
All you need to do is pick one long-term goal and then reverse engineer how you’d accomplish that goal.
The internet is great for doing that research because you can learn from people who have already accomplished that same thing:
Where can you start?
What do you need to do to get to that goal?
What are the potential pitfalls of pursuing that goal?
What kind of resources and knowledge do you need to accomplish that goal?
Where can you find those resources and knowledge?
Some people like to break their goals down into chunks of time…
What do I want my life to look like in six months? A year? Five years? Ten years? How can I accomplish that goal within that time frame?
5. Cut toxic people out of your life.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
That saying is pointing to how much of an influence the people we surround ourselves with have on our life.
But it goes deeper than that.
It’s difficult to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay focused on your goals if you surround yourself with bitter, cynical people.
It’s difficult to make progress if the people you surround yourself with are constantly belittling you or your efforts.
That doesn’t mean that you need to cut ties with everyone that disagrees with you.
The word “toxic” is thrown around far too casually, particularly at people who might be saying something that needs to be said, but isn’t what you want to hear.
A genuinely toxic person is someone who is doing harm to your well-being.
That can be a calculated effort, but more often than not, it’s a person who is drowning hard in their own problems or dysfunctions to such an extent that it’s damaging the people around them.
It’s important to be kind and sometimes understanding.
It’s also important to have good boundaries in your relationships to ensure that toxic people can’t screw up your life and happiness.
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6. Take better care of your physical health.
Most people could stand to take better care of their physical health.
A healthy diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise can provide monumental benefits to one’s sense of well-being, mental and emotional health.
After all, how hard is to feel good about life and oneself if you are constantly feeling run down and lethargic.
Contrary to popular belief, one doesn’t need to live a super expensive whole and natural lifestyle to get some of these benefits.
Small steps, such as limiting sugar and caffeine, can improve your overall energy levels, help you sleep at night, and bring your body into a healthier place.
There are a number of processed foods that are just loaded with refined sugars that have a cumulative negative effect on your body.
Make time in your day for some exercise. Even a 20 minute walk a few times a week provides a number of benefits with your internal chemical production, heart health, and brain health.
Exercise also helps improve one’s quality of sleep, which filters down into a positive benefit for your physical and mental health.
7. Do more things that are in tune with your passions.
People need some form of passion in their life.
And the best way to get some of that passion is to tune into what really gets your fires roaring and do more of those things.
Yes, it’s important to be able to provide for yourself and live your life.
But there exists within each of us an artist of some kind, yearning for some creativity, emotional and mental stimulation, and to create.
Maybe you can find fulfillment at your job or in your work, or maybe you can’t.
If you’re not sure where to find it, simply ask:
What do you love doing?
Do you do any of it?
Do you do enough of it?
Do you look forward to it?
If you’re not doing it, why aren’t you doing it anymore?
Was someone unkind to you about something you feel passionately about?
Well, time to start ignoring that toxicity and embrace your passion. Create the thing, play the sport, read the book!
Do more of whatever it is that stokes your fires!
It is so very important to your mental and emotional health to balance your work with some adequate play.
Otherwise, you just wind up burning yourself out and having more difficulty when it’s actually time to get more work done.
Not passionate about anything? Can’t remember what you’re passionate about? Pick anything that interests you and try it for awhile!
8. Work to examine, better understand, and accept who you are.
That’s a big one, isn’t it?
Understanding oneself, let alone accepting oneself, is often a long journey of unwinding difficult thoughts, feelings, and ideas about oneself.
The journey of self-love and acceptance is an all important one.
Being able to wake up in the morning and love who you are, what you bring to the table, and live your life in your own authenticity is a powerful thing that can help guide you to where you want to be.
This ties in to discovering your passions and unlocking the greatest you that may very well be buried under the cruelness of other people or indifference of the world.
And that’s why you need to take the time to get to know yourself.
You need to carefully peel back the layers of those things to find out who you really are and why you are the person that you are.
But those negative life experiences are not who you are as a person.
They are part of you, a part of you that you need to be able to understand and accept… but they are not who you are.
9. Stop chasing external happiness and validation. Practice gratitude.
Chasing external happiness and validation is much like running on a treadmill to try to catch the carrot that is dangling in front.
It is a constant race that is going nowhere.
Because the happiness that we are chasing in the form of external things is not genuine happiness.
What we’re chasing when we buy the new thing, put the substance in our body, or seek external pleasure is a temporary dose of endorphins and dopamine.
If only I had this, I’d be happy.
If only I had that, I’d be happy.
Maybe for a little while…
But sooner or later you’ll get bored with the thing and then start looking for the next boost of feel good brain chemicals.
It locks us into a nasty cycle of pursuing stuff for the sake of having stuff because we think that stuff is what will give us happiness…
…but it won’t.
That doesn’t mean that money and stuff cannot provide any happiness. To think otherwise is just ridiculous.
Some people aren’t happy because they can’t afford to live or get the help they need.
And that’s understandable because it’s not buying stuff just to buy stuff and be happy.
That’s being able to conduct and live your life, which should be a goal for everyone.
You won’t find happiness by chasing it externally.
Happiness is a quiet, peaceful thing. It’s something you find when you start being okay with yourself and where you are presently at with what you have.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for more. Just don’t get sucked into the trap of thinking that stuff will make you happy.
10. Take action. Do things.
You know what’s worse than failing?
Doing nothing guarantees that you will not succeed in what you want to accomplish.
By all means, do take some time to plan and consider your path, but then get out there and actually do things.
Far too many people waste too much time agonizing over every little detail to try to come to their favorable conclusion.
All they’re doing is wasting valuable time; a commodity that you cannot get more of.
Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
So do things.
And yes, you will fail at some of them. Failing is inevitable.
You can choose to fear it and look at it as some great and drastic stop, or you can choose to look at failure as a step on the path of success.
By trying and failing, you are learning things that don’t work, which allows you to hone your approach and build on your strategy.
Furthermore, you learn when you actually get out there and do things.
Direct experience can be a great teacher.
So don’t fear failure. Turn that fear into motivation to succeed.
And don’t let the idea of failure derail you from pursuing what you want out of life.
A lot of times things don’t go as planned, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they can’t go well or that a setback is the end of your progress.
It’s not an end so long as you get out there and keep trying.
11. Delay gratification.
Today’s pleasure is nice, but if it means you have to sacrifice your future dreams, it’s never worth it.
Sometimes you have to resist your instinctual drive to maximize enjoyment in the present moment in the knowledge that doing so will push you closer to the life you really want.
This could mean putting money aside for a later day rather than spending it on something you might get temporary enjoyment out of now.
Rather than drinking more than you really ought to on a Friday night, you could mix in some soft drinks so that you can actually function and enjoy your Saturday.
Saying no to social events in order to study hard for a forthcoming exam gives you the best chance of achieving a good mark.
Passing up an opportunity now may well lead to better opportunities later.
It’s worth remembering that the next time you feel the urge to put short term pleasure ahead of long term happiness.
12. Develop an effective routine.
The things you do on a daily basis without having to think about them – that’s your routine.
But what does it consist of right now?
And are those things helping you to get your life together?
A good routine is one that addresses all of the small but necessary day-to-day tasks.
Getting these things done efficiently and without fail means they don’t build up and weigh on your mind.
A routine also takes the pressure off your thinking mind. Instead of having to constantly worry about what needs to get done, you just know because you always do them at certain times or on certain days.
You might set Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings as laundry times.
Sunday afternoons could be for catching up with all correspondence and personal life admin such as renewing insurance or making travel plans.
An effective routine keeps your life running smoothly and it does so without too much additional effort on your part.
13. Think more carefully about your decisions.
You make hundreds, perhaps thousands of decisions each week.
Some are big, many are small.
But those decisions can affect the way your life unfolds.
Each decision you make has an outcome. And that outcome can either benefit you or not.
When it comes to the really important decisions in life, don’t rush them.
Take your time to weigh up the various options, the pros and cons of each, so that you might make as optimal a choice as possible.
Make sure to think critically about the information that’s relevant to the decision. Don’t blindly take the advice of others simply because you think they know what they’re talking about.
That said, once you have considered all the options carefully, do actually make a decision. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.
Improving your decision-making abilities can really get your life heading in the right direction.
14. Push yourself.
You may consider yourself to be hard working, but often there is reserve in your tank that could be put to good use.
Whilst it may not be a long term solution to your problems, sometimes you can just put in extra hours to get things done.
Whether that’s asking for overtime or starting a side hustle to get out of a tricky financial hole, or spending your weekend renovating a bathroom that isn’t fit for purpose, you’d be surprised how hard you can push yourself.
You may not realize it, but you are a resilient person who can endure the physical and mental hardships that are sometimes required to get things done.
15. Aim for progress, not perfection.
You can’t expect your life to go from what it is now to your dream existence in the blink of an eye.
In fact, that dream may always remain a dream because it is likely to be perfect in every little detail and perfect doesn’t exist in the real world.
Instead, focus on making progress on the things that matter most so that your life can slowly improve until it reaches a point where it is more or less enjoyable most of the time.
If things are bad right now, aim to first make them okay.
From okay, try to get to fine. Then to good. Then to great.
If you can get to great, you’re doing better than 99% of the population.
Use this approach in each important area of your life.
Try to improve your work situation just a little bit at a time.
Take your health goals step-by-step rather than rush them.
Do the small things that can make your personal relationships that bit more happy and healthy.
Keep the forward momentum going whenever possible. When you face setbacks (and you will), just return to the things that can improve the situation and focus on those.
16. Focus on mastering the basics.
With a lot of things, getting the basics right is 90% of the work. Only then should you worry about the finer details that get you that extra 10%.
If you are hoping to lose some weight, don’t worry about the precise balance of carbohydrates, fats, and sugars in a meal, just focus on getting your portion sizes under control.
If you want to become a better partner to your loved one, forget the fancy presents and over-the-top expressions of affection and make sure you are acting out of respect at all times.
Most things in life have foundations that are important to get right. As with any structure, these provide the solid and stable base onto which you can build a positive future.
You wouldn’t try to bake a fancy patisserie item without first mastering a basic loaf of bread. The same goes for other areas of life too.
17. Work to face and overcome your fears.
What stops you from getting your life together?
One potential answer is fear.
Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to achieving the results we wish for in any endeavor.
And in life, fear is something that can hold you back from taking the action that is necessary to improve your circumstances.
What do you fear? Spend some time in self-reflection and be totally honest with yourself.
Once you have identified your core fears, the key is not to try to rid yourself of them entirely, but rather to move forward in spite of them.
Courage is not being fearless. It is facing the fear and acting anyway.
Eventually, if you can keep taking action regardless of the fear you may feel, that fear will diminish.
It won’t go entirely, but it will feel more manageable.
18. Celebrate your wins.
Whenever you manage to overcome an obstacle, face a fear, or just get a thing done that needed to be done, give yourself a pat on the back.
Treat yourself to some small reward that is just enough without being overly indulgent.
And be proud of yourself for the steps you have taken toward bettering your life.
See the achievement as something worthy of celebration because even the smallest deed is one that can push the needle of your life in a positive direction.
19. Ask for help.
Some things are going to be difficult for one person to manage by themselves.
But get two or more people working together to solve a problem or tackle a task and it stands a far better chance of a successful outcome.
So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
You’ll probably find that many people are happy to lend a helping hand to someone that they care about.
And if there is no person who is able to help with a particular thing, there might be organizations that can support you.
Keep in mind that asking for help does not make you weak and it does not make you a burden. We all need a little help from time to time.
20. Ask for feedback.
Another thing you can ask for is feedback on something you have done so that you might improve the way you do that thing in future.
After all, you may not be able to see something as objectively as a third party. They might be able to see areas where you could change your approach to give you a better outcome.
Take job interviews, for example. When you aren’t successful in getting the role that was being offered, you can ask the employer if there was anything in particular that you might work on.
This can help you prepare for future interviews and give you a higher chance of securing the job.
You can even ask those in your personal relationships what you might do to be a better friend, partner, parent, or sibling.
Just be sure to listen to them and be open to any constructive criticism they may give.
21. Quit taking things so personally.
It’s a fact of life that bad things happen to good people.
This doesn’t necessarily reflect who you are as a person or what you can expect in future.
Similarly, one person’s opinion of you isn’t a truth that you ought to believe and take to heart.
Some people won’t like you and they may even do or say things to hurt you, but you shouldn’t accept this behavior as something you deserve.
The problem is often theirs and their actions reflect them as a person, not you.
On the other hand, getting offended by every little thing that someone says or does – even when there is no ill intention – is a waste of your time and energy.
If you feel as though you are constantly under attack, you’ll be too busy trying to defend yourself to take your life in a more positive direction.
22. Be frugal.
If you don’t live within your means and plan for future financial needs, you will face difficulties sooner or later.
Frugality doesn’t mean denying yourself every simple pleasure in life, but it does mean choosing when to show restraint.
It means budgeting carefully to ensure that what goes out does not exceed what comes in.
It means identifying areas where you can cut back on unnecessary waste or lavishness.
It means making full use of the things you already have instead of purchasing new things for the same job.
Being frugal is something that will serve you well regardless of your income level. It can help to ease the stress that might exist if money is tight.
23. Turn your back on drama.
Life has its calm and peaceful moments, but it also has times when people interrupt that peace by creating drama where there was none.
Drama is a drain on your time and energy. When you are thinking about or dealing with the personal issues of others, you are not focused on getting your own life in order.
If you can eliminate much of the drama from your life by simply refusing to get involved, you will be free to tackle those things that can improve your own situation.
Don’t give your opinions unless specifically asked for them. Avoid becoming involved in the disagreements of others. Don’t be afraid to keep your distance from people whose lives are filled with drama.
24. Set boundaries.
On a similar note, you ought to set clear boundaries with the people in your life and in your own mind so that you can avoid getting drawn into things that don’t benefit you.
Learn to say no to people and opportunities that don’t fit with the goal of getting your life together.
Be choosy about who you help and what you help with.
Of course it’s good to lend a hand to a loved one who is in genuine need of your assistance, but be sure people don’t take advantage of you.
If someone leans on you heavily to help them in their lives, ask whether you can really afford to spend this time on them and not on you.
It’s not selfish to put your own needs first at times.
In the long run, you may be better equipped to help others once things are more settled in your own life.
25. Discover what motivates you.
Motivation helps drive you forward to take positive action and improve your life.
But there are many types of motivation and they won’t all work for you.
Spending some time to figure out what really gets you energized to do things will allow you to get more done.
Perhaps you feel most motivated when part of a group of people who are all working on similar things. People who support and encourage each other to achieve their goals.
Or maybe you are motivated by the actual doing of the tasks themselves and the feeling you get when you successfully complete something.
Whatever motivates you, learn to harness that so that you can keep going when your enthusiasm wanes.
What you did yesterday can no longer be changed. In many ways, it’s of far less importance now.
What you might do tomorrow matters, but it matters most when tomorrow comes and you actually do the thing.
Today is the day that really counts.
So rather than spend your time worrying about the past or preparing meticulously for the future, stay grounded in what you can do today, now, in this moment.
What can you do today that will put your life back on a more positive track? What can you work on that needs to be worked on? What jobs can you do, what obstacles can you tackle?
Planning for tomorrow may well be the thing that needs doing today, but even then you should focus on completing those plans.
Don’t get bogged down in so much detail that the action of tomorrow gets delayed until the next day and then the next until it never gets done at all.
27. Remain calm during setbacks.
When your life is not where you’d like it to be, you have to find a way to move it to a place you do want to be.
This journey will involve setbacks. That’s inevitable.
The key is to keep your cool during these backward steps and not allow them to derail you entirely.
Yes, there will be pain and discomfort associated with these setbacks, but if you can focus on the action you can take to push through them, they will be temporary.
See them as opportunities to test your resolve. And once they have passed, look back on them as moments where you showed character and perseverance.
28. Understand cause and effect.
When you take an action or make a decision, you set things in motion that then lead to an outcome.
It is vital that you understand this link between what you do and what happens in your life.
It’s useful in two ways.
Firstly, it helps you to see when an action might lead to a negative outcome. If you think that this might be the case, you can choose not to do it or to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk.
Secondly, it allows you to predict the positive outcomes of your actions. This knowledge of a likely future win can be a motivating force that pushes you to take that action.
Don’t walk blindly through life, unaware of where you are heading. Open your eyes so that you can see the path that your actions are taking you down.
Then decide whether you want to stay on that path or find another way.
29. Be accountable for those things you have a say over.
When you accept the role you play in the way your life unfolds, you empower yourself to choose more wisely.
But you won’t make the ideal choices every time. In fact, there will be times when you get swayed by your instincts or compelled by other people into making poor decisions.
When this happens, take responsibility for those actions and learn from them.
Don’t blame others for your mistakes or try to minimize the part you played in them.
A child learns how to do the very basic things a person does through trial and error. Scientists make great breakthroughs by getting things wrong and trying a different approach.
Admitting that you made a poor choice is the first step toward making a better choice the next time.
If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.
30. Let go of the things you can’t control.
Whilst you do have a say in many of the things that happen to you, there are powers beyond your control that may lead to negative circumstances.
As unpleasant as these things may be, don’t allow your mind to cling too tightly to them.
If you sit in sadness or anger over the negative things that happen in spite of your positive intentions, you begin to lose sight of your own power.
This can lead to a victim mentality that leaves you feeling unable to create a better life for yourself.
Instead, try to accept that something happened that you did not wish to happen and that there was little you could have done to stop it.
Let go of any resentment and bring your focus back to the things you can control.
This is where your power lies. This is how you get your life together once and for all.