How to be successful in every area of your life – that is the big question. Some people appear to be born winners who naturally turn everything to gold with the slightest touch of their hand. Then there’s the rest of us, right?
You know how it’s said that every person has troubles in their life, we just don’t always see it? Well, that is completely true of every person on the planet. No one makes it through scratch-free.
But here is the truth of life: some people learn to overcome all of their obstacles in order to have a fabulous life. We have all seen people on the news who made a fortune, lost it all, but then made it all back again.
So why can some of us not make the fortune just once, we all ask.
It is simple. Those “lucky” people have leaned two things in life that the rest of us lack.
Knowledge of what to do
Discipline to actually do it
That sounds deceptively simple, but it is actually very hard to implement. How many of us have read a book, watched a podcast, or attended a seminar that was going to change our lives? We come away with all of this spectacular knowledge and we are FIRED UP!
But then what happens? We get up the next morning and the real world comes knocking, right? We have jobs and families and all the other responsibilities that come with being a functioning adult. Our goals and dreams seem to get sidelined and we put off things for another day until years or maybe even decades have passed and we are sitting stagnant in lives that aren’t quite what we planned for ourselves.
I, too, have been a victim of this scenario. And I have to say that another issue for me was jumping from one guru or motivational leader to another, while trying to implement everything each one promotes. While there are some overlapping things they all recommend (like mediation) things can really diverge from there and you are left with a list of self improvement tasks to do each day that goes on forever.
Then you get overwhelmed and give up.
What I didn’t truly realize until recently is that I was essentially getting a life coach. Everyone has heard of these, some of us have already tried one, and I have never heard anyone say they came away from the experience worse off.
This is why I am a proponent of finding one leader who resonates with you. While I especially love Bob Proctor and John Assaraf, I have decided to stick with Jack Canfield for the time being. I frequently watch his videos on Youtube (see them here) and use his meditations (buy them here).
However, in order to make all of his other information work you really must read this book first. It’s called The Success Principles: How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be. Think of this as the backbone of your plan, while the videos and meditations are the supplemental materials. You could live your whole life by this book and be successful every minute of every day. I have the 10th anniversary version of the book and read some amount of it every day, even if it’s just five minutes.
This might not be the path that works for you, but I encourage you to look around and find the life coach that does. Then stick with it until you see results. This is truly how to be successful in every area of your life.
Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about busy work. It seems our lives are filled with it these days. You might even say we are consumed by it.
What do I mean by busy work? Let me start by what it is NOT. Busy work is not the repetitive things we do in life that are necessary or make our life better. For example, cleaning our home is not busy work because it is beneficial to our health to have a clean living space, not to mention the mental benefits of living in a comfortable, organized home.
Rather, busy work is comprised of the many thoughtless, meaningless activities that fill our lives and do not make our lives, or anyone else’s, better. This would include mounds of paperwork that are sometimes required in our jobs (some of that is just ridiculous), the endless meetings our bosses require us to attend, moving piles of “stuff” around our house because we can’t make the decision to part with them, or the countless hours spent on social media. (Yes, I count count social media as busy work because we are using up valuable hours of our lives that we will never get back again.)
I realize that we sometimes have little or no control over the demands of our jobs, but we can definitely exert more power over our personal lives. And, actually, we control our working environment more than we think. Maybe you could make some suggests for streamlining tasks or other improvements (you are probably not the only one who hates all the paperwork and meetings). Or maybe it is time to pursue a different job or start your own business.
It is beneficial to loosely plan your schedule for the day, then examine it to see if you are using your time wisely. If not, find ways to cut out the meaningless activities that offer your life no added value. When doing this, be sure to think about ways to simplify tasks in the future in order to spend more quality time with family and friends.
My sister in law has undergone a metamorphosis that has allowed her to downsize her life in many ways. Her house is smaller than some apartments I have lived in. She made the decision to downsize to this degree because she wanted to spend more time with her children and grandchildren instead of cleaning, organizing, and maintaining her home. Incidentally, her smaller home also came with a smaller lawn, which she now pays someone else to maintain. She simplified her life, and she also gave a nice young man some paying work. It’s a win/win situation.
I, too, have been working on the journey to freedom from busy work. It can be easier said than done in practical daily life, but here are a few things I have done around my home that simplified things tremendously.
I bought this jewelry organizer that is so large it holds everything I own and also doubles as a pretty, full length mirror.
I added this jewelry organizer to my dresser for the things I wear most days so I never need to hunt for them.
I got some shoe organizers to get all of my shoes up off the floor of my closet. Amazon no longer carries the ones I bought, but this shoe organizer looks good according to the reviews.
We installed wall to wall wire shelving in our pantry. This allowed for lots of light to filter through the shelves and also cut way down on how dusty the shelves could get.
We bought these bamboo trays and now use them in three of our kitchen drawers so we have stopped having to rummage for everything we needed.
We bought two magnetic knife strips from Harbor Freight (much cheaper than most on Amazon and designed for heavier objects). We installed one in our kitchen and also one over the range in our camper.
Last Christmas I ordered these organizing hooks for my car and put them in my own stocking. I use them for countless things including my purse. Just love them!
We are still working on ways to organize and simplify our home and our lives. I have found that as our children get older it gets much easier, but I believe it is a process that’s never really completed. Luckily, I really enjoy streamlining and organizing, so this is not a problem for me.
Remember that you are the captain of your ship and life is a journey that we only take once. Don’t allow the precious minutes of your life to be spent on meaningless tasks and busy work. Live your life intentionally instead of blindly being lead around by circumstances.
Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For
Americans have a perception problem. In fact, Americans have SO MANY perception problems that you are probably considering which one I mean.
Here is the one I mean: happiness. It does not come with a new job, house, car or vacation. It also doesn’t come with having more stuff than your family/friends/neighbors. And it doesn’t matter how many reality shows or Instagram posts tell you so.
I could say that I was a bird 200 times a day, but that simply won’t make it happen.
One of the strangest things about this is the news. Media outlets of all types seem to push this mentality with their attempt to grab your attention with headlines. Since when did this sort of thing become news? And lifestyle sections….don’t get me started. Who cares what dress someone wore to an awards ceremony when there are hurricanes and starving people on this planet?
We think we know what will bring us happiness. Most of us are wrong.
It is a perception thing. We have been taught to achieve and acquire. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with either of those things – as long as the pursuit of them doesn’t get in the way of being happy.
The recipe for a happy life (in my opinion) can be summed up with the following bits:
having friends & family we love and who love us
enjoying freedom in life to do what we love
being financially secure (out of debt and with savings) to sleep well at night
feeling as healthy as possible
Most of us would agree with the above list in theory, but it can be difficult to implement in your life. There are two books that helped me to drastically change my perceptions about money and success. I love these books so much that I reread them often. I find these keep me grounded and my head clear.
Here they are: The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind. I recommend reading the Millionaire Mind first. It contains more of the straight forward information. The Millionaire Mind builds on those concepts and give more statistical information. Both are incredibly interesting if you are into money, human behavior, or any combination of the two.
These books deal mostly with money, but also touch on the other things that make life worth living. The millionaires are not always who you think they are. They are usually hiding in plain site. This book proves it.
People want to take control of their finances and their lives again. This is a good place to start. If we can switch over to a saving mentality instead of a spending mentality, that is the biggest step. Everything after that is easier. And I have never found a better tool to motivate me to change gears more than these two books. It’s difficult to dispute the numbers when they are in front of you.
Happiness is right around the corner waiting for you. Today is a great day to go after it.
“Do Something Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For”
Desire is a strong emotion that can pull at us mentally, emotionally – even physically. As living, breathing creatures we are often at the mercy of our wants and needs, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
In our hyper connected society we are often spoon fed the things we should want or need in order to be happy, productive individuals in this world. A curious thing happens when you follow the crowd and allow yourself to be tricked into believing the advertisers and corporations. You become more and more unhappy each day.
The sheer act of trying to keep up with everyone around you is exhausting. And it’s not just the stuff you must accumulate to keep up. Now you must also have meaningful, Instagram worthy experiences to feel normal. You are judged by the vacations you take, the concerts you attend, the innovative couple weekends you contrive – it is never ending.
One of the best things I have ever done was sit down and make a list of the things I truly desired in my life. Then I worked toward the things in life that would bring those desires to me the quickest. Here are a few of the things on my list:
Have happy, healthy, well-adjusted children
Be financially comfortable
Have fewer responsibilities
Take more family vacations that are simple and relaxing
I took specific steps for each desire and felt energized because my time and efforts were being laser focused on the desired outcome.
When I looked at the list I made I realized the person who achieves those desires is a happy, calm person – and isn’t that what we all crave?
All the material things and accomplishments we all chase are trying to achieve that perceived happiness at the end, right? Why not take a shortcut on the road to happiness and pursue the quickest route to true joy?
Our desires define us, whether we like it or not. Do we want to be people who chase materialism or meaningful things in life?
If you asked most adults in the United States about their biggest source of stress, I would the wager the most frequent answer to be overwhelm.
The number of things to do on most people’s “to do” list is staggering and it seems most people add more things to it than they accomplish on a daily basis. In fact, the dreaded “to do” list has become an affliction that weighs us down and steals our joy, year in and year out.
There are even rules now about how many things you need to have on a “to do” list on any given day, along with arguments about how large a task has to be in order to be written down. People are literally stressing over the lists that are supposed to eliminate stress!
I, too, am one of the many people who suffer from this affliction. If my list gets too long, then I get anxious. If it is too short, then I feel sure I am leaving out something important. One way to overcome this is to focus on your most important task (MIT) each day. There are lots of books and websites that touch on this concept. Here is an article by Leo Babauta that I really like.
With this being said, here are some other suggestions on how to stop feeling overwhelmed:
You Don’t Have To Keep Score Anymore
Sometimes we need to be reminded of even the most basic things in life. I read this quote today on Courtney Carver’s blog Be More With Less. She had posted an article about feeling overwhelmed that made several wonderful points, but this one especially stood out to me. (Read the whole article here.)
Although no one ever comes straight out and says “You are in competition with ever other individual on the planet” we all know that we are, or are expected to be.
Our well-meaning parents set us up for this when we begin school, or sometimes even before that. After all, academics are important, right? Then there’s sports, sibling rivalry, college entrance exams, job interviews, salaries, house size, retirement accounts, etc.
What’s even worse is that people now even keep score on social media. Who has taken the most lavish vacation or had the most elaborate wedding or baby shower?
And what’s worse still, we often compete through our children as well. It’s all about whose child makes better grades, is a better athlete, got into a better school, etc.
Well, guess what? You don’t have to keep score anymore. And we all do it to some extent, whether we realize it or not.
But we can all recognize it as something we do and then make the conscious decision to stop right now.
Is all competition bad? Of course not. Be we need to keep it in perspective. Then we can better allocate our time, energy and finances accordingly.
Working Part Time (Or Not At All) Does Not Make You Lazy
In the United States, we live in a society that is very accomplishment driven. People who do not possess the killer instinct to work excessive hours and ruthlessly climb the ladder of success are often deemed lazy in the eyes of others. Stay at home mothers catch a great deal of this judgement, but tell someone you are a stay at home wife with no children and people go nuts!
Why would one family’s personal lifestyle decision matter to anyone else? Especially f it doesn’t affect them at all?
As of February 27, 2019, there is a documentary on Netflix called Happy that I highly recommend everyone watch. It details what makes people happy in various walks of life, and it turns many conventional ideas upside down. It will literally change the way you think about everything in life.
But back to working – it is okay not to work full time, just like it is okay to want less possessions and more free time in your life. These things usually come together as a package deal for most people.
Never allow the judgments of other people rule your life. Your happiness matters, not their opinions.
It’s Okay To Be You
I know this one sounds simplistic, but most of us have still not learned this lesson no matter how many times it is taught. You should make the decision today that you will be yourself no matter what it takes. You should always:
spend time with just you
believe in you
be kind to you
see the beauty in you
take care of you
Until we all learn to do these things, we will never be truly happy. You must be happy in your own skin and your own head. Stop trying to do so much and spend some time just being.
Do Something For Someone Else
Nothing puts life in perspective so much as helping someone else. Many times this brings real issues to the forefront and allows insignificant things to fade to the background of our lives, allowing us to focus our time and attention on what truly matters.
Selfless acts of love and generosity are the root of many wonderful things in life. This happens because we are thinking of someone else instead of ourselves. Just think what would happen if everyone on the planet did that for one whole day!!!
Mother Teresa was quoted as saying:
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
Not so very long ago people who practiced mediation in the United States were considered to be a little “out there” in many ways. Thankfully, those days are long gone since people of all ages and walks of life have discovered the wondrous benefits of turning everything off for a few minutes each day and learning shut out all the noise.
It can literally change the structure of your brain.
If you have never tried mediation, here is a guide on Zen Habits to get you started. Also, there is a resource by Bob Proctor that I use virtually everyday, somethings multiple times a day. I often listen to it in the background using headphones while I am working at the computer during the day. It is a guided meditation that I absolutely love!
And last, but not least:
You knew this would be on the list, right? Because it is on every list of everything that makes our life better. Your brain actually changes when you practice habitual gratitude for an ongoing period of time (much like meditation, which makes these two a winning combination).
Begin each and every morning by thinking of all the good things in your life and saying “thank you” for all of them. Be sure to include small things in your list as well as the big things. Right now I am thinking how grateful I am for my sight, so I can see to type this blog post. I am also grateful for my computer, my internet and electricity, my desk and chair, the heater at my feet, the time to do this, etc.
It is especially helpful to practice gratitude when things are going wrong in life or when you feel discouraged or down. Gratitude can turn your disposition around in a matter of seconds if you allow it.
We have all heard that minimalism is only for single guys, right? Living a simple, uncluttered life might be easier with less stuff and fewer people under one roof, but when minimalism becomes a state of mind it can work for anyone – even families.
According to these Spare Foot Statistics, the self storage industry had a whopping $38 billion in revenue in 2018. And that’s just in the United States (we are surely not the only hoarders in the world). That’s a lot of money just to store some things we probably forgot we even had and will likely never use again.
But we don’t want all that in our homes, right?
Enter the Family
Going from a single person, to a married person, to a family with with kids can bring your clutter factor to scary proportions. Add in a couple pets and it is the perfect storm for chaos and disorder. But minimalism with a family is definitely possible.
Although clutter affects some individuals more than others, it is fair to say it disrupts productivity for everyone. Children are especially prone to the pitfalls of clutter since they are learning the habits they will carry into adulthood. It is important to model good organizational behavior for your children, but it can also help you live a less complicated life in the present.
Let’s assume you have decluttered your home. (If not, start with Marie Kondo’s book.) How do you keep it that way? Here are some practical ways to keep your home sweet home peaceful and tidy.
One Thing In, One Thing Out
This should be a way of life for all minimalist enthusiasts. Every time you bring a new pair of shoes into your home, an old pair goes out. Same goes for any other item in your house. This is one of the easiest ways to keep clutter down. Since you know something has to leave your house for something new to come in, you will begin bargaining with yourself each time you consider a new purchase. Sometimes just taking that moment to consider which item to throw out will be enough to talk you out of a new item.
Give Every Item a Home
Items that do not have a home can never be put away. Simple, right?
Yet, so many items end up in the “plop spot”. Every home has a plop spot. It is where everyone drops everything the minute they come through the door. It can easily become a jumble of shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes, sports equipment and dog leashes. Spend a weekend organizing items that don’t have a designated spot. This includes the items mentioned above. Amazon and IKEA are good places to look for organization items and Pinterest is always teeming with ideas.
If you do not have enough room for all of your stuff to be put away, either you still have too much stuff or you need better organization. Be honest with yourself about this and take appropriate measures.
Don’t Let Papers Pile Up
This is one of my worst categories. It seems I am always so busy in the afternoons when the mail and school papers come home that I often make a stack to look through later. The problem is that stack keeps growing everyday and so the task of going through it keeps growing as well.
I have helped myself to a certain degree by purchasing a file crate that I keep by the front door. (I bought a pretty one so it looks nice with my decor.) I also keep a trash can close so I can sort mail as soon as it comes through the door. I use the file crate to file away some things immediately, like bills that will automatically be paid online. I also designated one file for receipts called “possible returns”. Any receipt that has an item I am not sure about yet goes into that file. Or anything that has a limited warranty. I clean it out at the end of each year when I do my taxes and go through everything.
Any papers that need action of some kind are placed on top of the file crate. They are in my way each day when I file new papers, so that keeps them constantly on my mind until I follow through with them.
One person cannot keep a house tidy when multiple people live there. One of the best lessons you can teach your children is a good work ethic. This begins in the home. All the people who live in your home make up a team and each team member should do his or her part. It can take time to train both your children and your partner to do this on a daily basis, but once the training is over you will all benefit for years to come.
Besides learning to clean up behind themselves as they go through their day, they should each have designated chores that are done daily and/or weekly. I always tell my children that chores build character, and I completely believe that.
Make It a Habit
All of the above steps only work if you implement them consistently. According to John Assaraf (who I follow and greatly admire) it can take at least 90 days to form a new habit. This can increase greatly according to which habit you are trying to establish, of course. However, your goal should be to make these steps habits, and thereby put them on autopilot.
When you have done that, you have developed new lifestyle!