We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve our lives. Most tips we find are complex, difficult to implement, or distant. We find it far less interesting to make our lives better at some faraway place or time in the future. We want to make our lives better right now—and we don’t want to need a degree in rocket science or a lifetime to do it.
While we know there’s no such thing as a free lunch—meaning, we have to act to bring about the changes we want—we don’t want to, or we don’t have the luxury, of making a second-career investment in doing it. Isn’t there an efficient, easy to implement something we can do—today—to make our lives better?
There is. It won’t create perfection. After all, life is messy. But there are things we can do to help ourselves have a better life. The kind of life we want. Now.
THINGS THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
Decide what you want and create a plan to get it.
If you don’t know what you want, improving your life is impossible. This life and desire is unique and personal to you. Nobody else’s “wish list” will do. You need your own. So answer the question—What do I want in my life?
Now ask yourself, How am I going to get it?
That’s your plan. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like, but do list a couple of concrete steps you can take toward your goal of getting what you want. Think little steps. And put them in order by your priority. Despite claims to the contrary, everyone takes little steps to get where they want to be. Do the most important step to you first!
Now you know what you want and you have a little-steps plan to get there. Don’t be daunted or overwhelmed. You can take one step at a time; you do it every day. And remember, any step you take improves your life. You’re working toward your perfect life, as defined by you and every step you take changes your life for the better.
Put a little step on your daily agenda.
We all have the same number of hours in a day. The difference in success is how we use them. Carve out an hour, half-an-hour, or fifteen minutes and claim it as yours. Use that time to take your most important little step. Maybe you can’t take the whole little step, but you can take part of it. That’s progress. That’s improving. You’re working toward what you want—and you’re closer to it than you were yesterday, right?
A tip from the trench. You can’t always put everyone else and their needs ahead of your own. You need your time, too. Not just want it; need it. It’s key to your sense of fulfillment and satisfaction—and that impacts you and everyone you impact.
Notice others and encourage their efforts.
Every day, make an effort to notice what’s going on with others. You do this because, if you don’t, you’ll become self-absorbed and you’ll miss opportunities to share experience. We don’t all have to step in the same mud puddles to know that if we step in them, we’ll squish mud between our toes. We are all students and teachers. Take an interest. Learn. Teach. Encourage.
Why encourage? Because everyone has times when they need a kind word, a bone. Everyone struggles and fails their way to success. Be there for them and, when you need encouragement, others will be there for you.
Encouraging creates such a win/win situation. It’s networking on steroids because it comes from a pure place. People recognize sincerity and genuine interest. They also recognize its absence.
Once, I had a student who asked, “Why bother? That does nothing for me.”
In truth, encouraging others does more for you than you can do for yourself. There’s a satisfaction that comes from being good to others. I replied to that student, “Life lesson. Never hesitate to offer others the grace someday you’re going to need.” One day, we all need that grace.
We all mess up. We all flounder. We all get lost sometimes. If we’ve reached out to others in good and bad times, odds are really good that when we need that grace—whether to share a success or commiserate on a setback—it’ll be there.
Do these three things today, and you’ve created a map for improving your life. Do them today and tomorrow, and your life is improving day by day—right now!
Read what happened that “encouraged” Vicki to create the ICE workbook.