If you want to have a better day tomorrow, identify what brings you pleasure.
If you want to have a better year next year, identify what brings you pride.
If you want to have a better life in 10 years, identify what’s keeping you gridlocked in the habits you think bring you pleasure and pride.
1. Identify your root motivations.
If you dislike someone, yet can’t seem to stop hanging out with them, there is a reason. If you want to lose weight, yet feel the need to keep overeating, there is a reason. If you want a relationship badly, but can’t seem to put yourself out there and find someone, there is a reason.
The human psyche is self-preserving. Everything that we are doing we are doing because we think it is benefiting us in some way. If there’s some habit you can’t get past, or some reality that you desperately want to change, you first have to figure out why you are here in the first place. There is some core wound or belief or experience that is scaring you into repeating the behavior.
You are not a victim of your chronic problems, you are in love with your chronic problems because you think they serve you in some way, so you keep re-creating situations in which you can experience them. Figure out what need they are feeding, and learn to fill it another way.
2. Ignore your problems. Focus on their solutions.
“Ignore your problems” sounds at face value like potentially the worst advice in the world (and by the way, at face value, it is) but it’s also the only advice that will actually work in the long-term.
When you are constantly struggling with your problems, thinking about what you want and wish you had, you are repeatedly putting yourself back in the state of “not having.” If you want more money, you are making yourself feel as though you don’t have it. If you want a relationship, you are making yourself feel as though you’re unloved. What creates change is not the ability to dissect problems, but to create solutions and put all of your energy toward them.
Healing is just getting over your fears. Getting over your fears is acting in spite of them.
Change is rebuilding the city, not sitting in the ruins.
3. Stop consuming toxic crap.
You know that saying “you are what you eat?” It’s more like “you are what you consume,” and it goes so far beyond just what you’re putting in your mouth.
Everything you put around you is conditioning you. The people you spend time with, the things you read, the place you work, the habits you sustain, and yes, of course, what you eat and drink. You are molding yourself into the person you will become with each of these actions, every single day.
If your fate is your character, then your habits are your destiny.
Stop eating unhealthy foods and expecting to feel good. Stop sitting around your house scrolling on your phone and expecting to be productive and accomplished. Stop hanging out with negative, draining people and expecting to feel positive and fulfilled. Stop drinking yourself into an oblivion every weekend and wondering why you’re stuck in life. It’s not a mystery. Pretending it is keeps you in denial.
4. Stop waiting until you “feel like it.”
A lot of people will say that they feel like they need to “take some time and heal” before they get back out and start living their lives again. This is true if your intention is to take some time to yourself to reflect.
However, it is also a way that people avoid doing what they want and need to do. Do you know how you “heal” yourself? You start behaving differently. You start thinking differently. That is how you eradicate the life that you no longer want to live – by building a new one. Waiting around until you feel better is literally sitting in your leftover crap and wondering why it’s not getting cleaned up.
Stop waiting until every wound is healed before you get back up and start again. It is the doing that changes you, not idling.
5. Do tactile things.
Making sure you do tactile things isn’t a fun little suggestion for your Saturday afternoon, it’s how you make sure you’re differentiating actually creating a life you want and creating the image of a life you want. If you want a better life in 10 years, make sure you’re not just making one that looks good online. It needs to feel good IRL.
Make enough time each day to do something other than type and scroll. Read a book (a print copy). Go outside. Build or craft something. Cook. Do anything that requires you to experience a range of sensations. It’s not that any one of these things will magically transform you (though, of course, they can). It’s that staying connected to your real life keeps you aware of how things feel, not just how they look.
6. Stop being “busy.”
Busy is lazy. Busy means you don’t know how to manage your time. “Crazy busy” is the most boring and self-important thing you can say to people when they ask how you’re doing.
People either make themselves super busy, or pretend to be super busy, and they do both for the same reason: avoidance. They are either trying to avoid themselves, or avoid other people. Both are weak. Both lead to nothing.
Schedule your hours mindfully. Work better, but less. Leave hours open for people you care about. Leave hours open for yourself. Create a life that overwhelms you with peace, not mindless chatter. There is no merit in being “busy.” It says nothing about your status in life other than that you are worried you don’t have any.
7. Make daily decisions for your long-term goals, not short-term desires.
Most people live within a few hours long mental bandwidth. This is to say, they make choices based on their immediate desires, fears and ideas.
When you choose what you want for lunch, you think: “What am I in the mood for?” not “What will give me energy and make me feel good not only now, but in a few hours, and in a few days, and in a few years?” It is so easy for fleeting feelings to override logic, but we pay for it in the end. We assume we’ll “get healthy one day,” or “start saving one day,” and then one day comes and we realize that all of the little daily habits we have compiled have created the opposite of what we said we wanted.
We forget that “someday” is today, and the future is created right now.
8. Choose goals with your mortality in mind.
If you don’t know what to choose or what to do, zoom out of your current situation and imagine looking back at your life after you’re dead. Hell, imagine looking at your life even just 10 years from now. What would you wish you had done today? Would you be happy that you wasted so many hours shopping for clothes, watching TV, wondering what you should do with your life? Will you be happy that your greatest accomplishment was your appearance, or being someone who intimidates others?
Or will you wish that you had let go and done something meaningful – something you felt called to? Will you be happy that you wrote music, that you spent time outdoors, that you told the people you love that you love them, that you had long, lingering meals with them, and supported them, and shared, and looked at your demons and dissolved them by choosing otherwise?
9. Stop wasting your time evaluating the lives of people you dislike or disagree with.
Okay, we get it. You don’t understand why so-and-so did what they did. You disagree with their behavior. You would have done better. You did do better. You won’t show them empathy. You dislike them as a whole.
You are also subject to naive realism, which is that reality is self-evident to you based on your own perspective and experience. You don’t see the full picture because you can’t. You don’t know that had you been in someone else’s exact situation you wouldn’t have behaved similarly. In fact, your disdain toward them seems to imply that you feel afraid that you could, and maybe would have.
But all you have done here is illustrate the depth of your ego. All you have done here is make judgements about people’s lives that do not serve you or move you forward, they just make you a hater. And people do this all of the time. Gossip is a sustaining social life force a lot of the time.
Focus more on studying the lives of people you admire and want to emulate – lives that humble you – rather than lives that inflate your worst traits and make you want to position yourself to play god and tell someone (who isn’t that person) what’s right from wrong.
10. Wake up and ask yourself every day: “What can I do today that will change my life forever?”
Every single day, you have the potential to change your life forever.
Every day is an opportunity, a portal, to do something that will have an irrevocable impact on your life.
So many of us waste that on doing something that pacifies fear.
Ask yourself this every day, and then start making a list of what you could possibly do in the coming hours that would change everything, always. The answers will surprise you.