And how tiny changes can make a huge difference
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“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” — Amelia Barr
There’s something about simplicity that is universally appealing. To be “not complex,” I think, is something we should all strive for. I mean, doesn’t life throw enough complexities at us already?
I think so. And I bet you agree.
More so, couldn’t and wouldn’t life be so much better if it was simpler in every aspect of the word? I think we’d all be that much closer to truly living our best life. Sure, I know that “living your best life” is such a relative term, and while I don’t know your curveballs, you likely don’t know mine either. And heck, a day full of curveballs to one may be an ordinary day to another.
To live a “best life” doesn’t need to involve riches or gobs of followers. It can, but it doesn’t have to. What’s really important is that you know it’s possible and that you CAN change the trajectory of your life with simple changes at any time. Let’s say one degree of change a day, and over time, these compound to result in some extraordinary results.
The topic is so popular that even Harvard University conducted an 80-year study, following alumni through much of their adult lives. Researchers have collected a cornucopia of data on their physical and mental health after following the Crimson students for nearly 80 years as part of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the world’s most extended studies of adult life. And what it means to “live a best life.”
So if you’re ready to create a shift and truly set yourself on that path in pursuit of that “best life,” then the following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best one ever.
1. Begin with the end in mind.
If you don’t know where you’re headed, then any destination will do. That’s no way to wake up every day. Imagine waking up, and it feels like groundhog day. It’s all on repeat with no end in sight. So one of the first things to do is figure out who you want to be, then map out the steps you need to get there. Are you looking to be a founder or startup entrepreneur? Launch a cosmetic line? Maybe a partner in a prestigious law firm? Perhaps a professional writer.
The point is that when you know who you want to be and where you want to go, then mapping out the steps becomes more apparent.
2. Learn to habit stack.
So now you know who and where. The question is how to become more efficient. Life can’t simply stop so you can pursue your passion. At least for the majority of us, it can’t. This is where habit stacking comes in. When I decided I would write full time, I needed to get more done in the same amount of time, so I learned to do two things simultaneously. As an example. While my morning coffee was brewing, I’d sit down and outline my next article draft. Something that took about 10–15", or the time it took that pot to brew. Another wicked easy example is exercise. Whether it was a walk or getting on the exercise bike, I’d pop on my headphones and listen to a podcast or audiobook.
Figure out how you can effectively habit stack in your daily life to become more efficient and move closer to your goals.
3. Say “NO” more.
Some folks call this setting boundary. Others may say that getting used to saying “NO” is a great way to protect your time, to stay in your zone of genius, and frankly to maintain a sense of self and sanity. Learning to say no may afford you more time with family. More time with yourself. More time to focus on your goals and your business.
Simply put, saying no lets the world know that you’ve grown and that living your best life is more important than serving the needs of others first. It’s not selfish. It’s protecting yourself and your dreams.
4. Change your identity.
Ok, so to clarify, I don’t mean get a nose job or facelift. I’m not advocating changing your name either. I’m really just compelling you to identify as the person you will become. Whether living your best life involves losing a bad habit like smoking or snacking, identify as such. You’re not pleasantly plump; you’re on the path to fitness. Neither are you a man who wants to quit smoking; you’re a NON-smoker. Say it out loud. Believe it.
I stopped saying I wanted to write and literally changed all my profiles, my email signature line, and even how I present myself to folks in real life and started telling them that I AM a writer. Like Yoda says, “Do or do not, there is no try,” the same applies to who you are.
5. Find your tribe.
These are your people, your community, your group. After you embrace #4 above, you’re going to want to surround yourself with folks who are on that same path as you. Together you’ll rise. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help you keep that positive mindset too.
Dig deep, get to know them, and let them get to know you.
I’m a believer in simplicity, so one of the first things I did when I embraced being a writer was joining Facebook groups specifically for writers. Even more specific is I joined some for poets. Look for niches that may better suit your new you. Remember, it’s YOUR best life your striving for.
6. Dust off and get back in the saddle when you fall.
Because you will fall. It happens to all of us.
If it’s a weight loss goal. There’ll be days when you eat the cake.
Fitness goal. You will skip a workout.
Writer. Some days that writer’s block will win.
You get the picture here. There are days when the day wins, and you “lose.” But you only lose if you choose to not get back up and hop in the saddle again. It’s so much easier to get back up and re-start asap than it is to continue to wallow in that micro failure. You are human, after all.
7. Give your goals power.
Look, while everyone out there talks about setting SMART goals, I prefer to make mine ARMD. If your goals are too abstract, then they’ll always feel out of reach. More than that, you’ll not know if you’re closer, or further, from achieving them. That’s why mine is ARMD. Here’s how to do that, in a nutshell:
Actionable — What specific things need to be accomplished?
Realistic — How attainable is the goal?
Measurable — Is there a number (metric is ideal) or “completed/not completed” that can be attached to it?
Date — When is it going to be done?
In practice, this looks as such. Choose to write 400 words each day. You’ll be working that writer’s muscle and developing good habits. While each day may seem minuscule, over time, your getting better. At some point, it will become second nature — an engrained, new habit — then you can add another little practice to the mix.
8. Dream big, then bigger.
It goes without saying that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So take on that darn elephant. That novel won’t write itself, but those 400 daily words will compound, and over time you will no doubt have the basis for your masterpiece. Can’t write 400 words? Then start by reading about HOW to establish a daily writing habit and do that for ten minutes daily.
The point is that someone has done the thing you desire, and there’s not a single reason why you shouldn’t be able to do it too.
These tiny habits, which are the bricks on your path, are meant to become subconscious movements that you don’t think about once they’re a part of you. In the end, all these tiny habits build on each other, and you will find yourself not being able to stop at a mere 400 words daily.
Putting This All Together
As you can see, tiny habits are the stepping stones upon which we build our lifestyles.
Tiny habits, both good and bad.
Either way, you are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you and something only you can define. Your best life will reflect your true values and choices. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be filled in by what living the best life means to you.