Do you sometimes feel like life is a runaway train? Like everyone else is out there having a good time and reaching all their goals while you are just wasting your life? We all have automatic ways of behaving, reacting to things, thinking patterns and habits we get into, some of these good and some not so good for us. Have you stopped lately and looked at this in your life? It can really help your wellbeing and your success in life, if you take time to consider the ways you are thinking and behaving, and decide what is helpful and unhelpful, what needs to change and what you want to keep steady.
Most importantly, stop holding onto things, or following paths, that are making you unhappy, stressed or sad. Difficult emotions are part of life and are very useful. We need to feel every range of human emotion. However, behaving or thinking in ways that increase your distress too much and make life harder than it needs to be, is not healthy and is in your control to change.
Here are 5 things you need to stop doing right now to improve your wellbeing
1) Comparing Yourself to Others
This is a tough one. There are more and more opportunities for you to start to wonder if you are in the right place at the right time. You may see your peers achieving things in their life that you have long held as a dream, but never seem to get there. Images and stories are fed to you through social media showing people making it, getting hold of their dreams, telling you that you just have to get out of bed, turn up and kick ass and the world, no the universe, will be yours.
The sad thing is that the idea of “making it” is usually measured by money, fame and popularity and now, by how many blog visitors, likes and followers you have online. I was thinking the other day that instead of “likes” on social media, we need some other word. I haven’t worked out what yet, but maybe it is more about understanding each other and being on the same page, because having “likes” implies that there are those who are “unliked” and popularity contests have never been my favourite thing.
I see success as more about engaging with each other and celebrating each other’s achievements. When you can look at a competitor and celebrate their achievements, you will be a far happier and more balanced human being, and will achieve your own success far more easily.
Stop comparing, start celebrating your peers and your competitors, and success will come more easily to you.
2) Staying Where You Are Unhappy
Whether this be in a relationship, a job or some other situation, if you are unhappy either sort out the problem and make it better, or accept it and change your attitude, or GET OUT. Making changes in your life is in your control and it is time to stop staying where you are miserable. Life is short, grab it with both hands.
If you are unable to change the situation, instead change your attitude, your approach to every day and some of the conditions of the situation.
If you break down the question of what you want to FEEL in life, you come to the real centre of things. We are often driven by our emotions and our values, and every step you take is connected to these things in some way. If you are stuck in a job or a relationship you hate, or striving always for something you just can’t reach, some goal to achieve that seems to far away because it is really someone else’s goal, your wellbeing will suffer. More and more we are creating our own destinies. Make choices to improve your life.
The best time to make a change is right NOW – take the leap
Have you noticed lately that every time you ask someone how they are they say “oh so busy!” It is like we have fallen into some hamster wheel and we all think we need to pedal faster and faster and faster, or we will be seen as out of the race. Many of us are very busy and often running from one thing to another, or racing to meet deadlines. It is a challenge, yet when you stay mindful and realise one thing – there is always something more to do – then you can stop and stay focussed on the tasks at hand, and leave the rest for another day.
Learn to prioritise your workload and focus on batching tasks, outsourcing what you can, breaking your time down into sections and letting some of the less important things go. I am a classic multi tasker and actually work better when I have more than one thing to do at the same time. Yet I use batching for example, to write my blog posts for the week in advance, then move to editing and adding the photos, and finally setting up the social media, so that when the week comes around I can focus on other tasks. It is the weeks that I don’t have this in place that I feel the most stress.
I also decided years ago after working for myself since 2001, that there is no point trying to have a clear to do list as there is always something coming along behind.
Do what you can in the moment, have good plans, then let it go and work on what you can manage. That is all we have.
Whether you formally set goals in your life or work, or simply know where you want to go in life, before any goal setting you need to clarify what values are underlying your goals.
Values are the directions you stick to always, if you value something you will usually stay true to that your whole life, but goals are what you want to achieve along the way.
Like picking the place you want to end up, your destination, values hold you steady, remind you of the reasons you are on the road. The goals are like the river or mountain or valley you will aim to cross whilst traveling in that direction to your destination.
When it comes to setting goals, make sure you set a SMART goal. There are different versions of this acronym which you may have heard of.
In this case, SMART stands for:
– Specific: specify the actions you will take, when and where you will do so, and who or what is involved. Example of a vague or non-specific goal: “I will spend more time offline.” A specific goal: “I will put all technology away on Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm to spend time with the family playing games or going out for a family activity.”
Another non-specific goal: “I will be more organized.” A specific goal: “I will take 30 minutes at the start of every working day to declutter my desk and work area, practice 5 minutes of mindful breathing, write a to do list for the day and check this against my larger goals and activities for the week.”
– Meaningful: The goal should be personally meaningful to you. If it is genuinely guided by your values, the ones you have identified, instead of trying to stick to some rule or do something you think other people want you to do, or a way of burying your head in the sand to avoid difficult emotions, then it will be meaningful. If it lacks a sense of meaning or purpose, check in and see if it is really guided by your values.
– Adaptive: Does the goal help you to take your life forwards in a direction that, as far as you can predict, is likely to improve the quality of your life? Is it something that feels right, that is heartfelt and will increase your health and happiness?
– Realistic: The goal should be realistically achievable. Take into account your health, competing demands on your time, financial status, and whether you have the skills to achieve it.
– Timely: to increase the specificity of your goal, set a day, date and time for it. If this is not possible, set as accurate a time limit as you can.
Write down a graduated series of goals, starting from tiny simple goals that can be achieved right away, to long term goals that may not be achieved for months or years.
Here is a guide to the types of goals to set:
1) An Immediate Goal (something small, simple, easy, I can do in the next 24 hours)
2) Short Term Goals (things I can do over the next few days and weeks)
3) Medium Term Goal(s) (things I can do over the next few weeks and months)
4) Long Term Goal(s) (things I can do over the next few months and years)
What will you do today or tomorrow, in the next few weeks, the next few months and the next few years?
The most important part of being able to give to other human beings and have a life filled with good stuff, is to care for yourself. You need to care for you, just as if you were a child who needs protection, nurturing and love.
This means taking time out to assess your current health, wellbeing and self care:
- Are you eating well?
- Regularly exercising?
- Spending time with loved ones?
- Following your hobbies and dreams?
- Practicing mindfulness and relaxation?
- Getting enough sleep?
- Participating in activities that give back to others? ( this is key to flourishing in life).
Here is a quiz for you to do to see where you are at with your self care
1. Rate how you currently feel about your self care if “0” was the worst possible and “100” was the best possible, spot on track
2. Is there anything you think you could do more of?
3. Is there anything you think you could do less of?
4. Is anything getting in the way of you caring for yourself? Maybe a person, situation, problem, life issue, thinking pattern or behaviour? Or maybe you feel totally at peace with your life? If so, what is helping you to feel this way – do more of this!
Stopping to take time out to look at where you are with your life, the ways you are behaving and thinking, the roads you are choosing to travel, is not a luxury and it is not selfish. Life is short. It is not always easy. It can be magnificent and amazing and wonderful, but unless you tend to your garden it will wither and die.
Be sure to give it some love and watch you and your life flourish.