Have your perspectives in life ever cost you valuable mistakes? Would you know which of your perspectives are limiting you and which are empowering you?
Our life journey is cyclical with ups and downs. Yet, these are what make our experiences and journey interesting and worth living looking back. If you are struggling to change your life by embedding new perspectives, here is a guide (that I find extremely useful and effective when applied) to start changing your life.
We will discuss the eight steps in general, with examples on how to apply them to specific areas in our life.
Step 1 – Eliminate (the Unhappy and the Negative)
When you desperately want to change your life, it usually means that you are quite tired or have had enough of your current situation.
But, most of us trudge ahead thinking that we have no choice, unaware of the avenues or the choices we can take to shift ourselves from the negative situations or unhappy relationships. The truth is we do have a choice.
We need to actively and consistently seek out other ways of solving our problems, getting out of our current situation and moving on. Or choose to stay status quo for as long as you can take it. This is not advisable at all considering the time and energy you waste in this endless loop.
Hence, the question you might want to ask yourself is,
How are your thoughts and beliefs in your current situation (not) helping you?
What can you do about your situation now?
What factors that are causing you this unhappiness or feeling of being stuck can you remove from your life now?
These could be something that may not necessarily serve you any benefits in removing them from your life now. Think of the steps you need to take now in order to make way for better opportunities to come in.
For example, staying in unfulfilled relationships for years that does not ignite any sparks anymore yet comfortable being together for the last ten years. Removing the relationship may seem like a silly thing to do because now you have someone who is always there for you. It might be just that something feels amiss but you don’t know what. Why rock the boat when it’s still? However, without finding out the exact root cause, how could you know for sure? Perhaps you might be able to rekindle your relationship after a heart to heart talk. Or you might have to disconnect yourself from the relationship that does not serve you anymore. How would you be able to move on to find the one that truly can understand you, support, care, challenge and grow together with you in the long run?
“What to do with the unchangeable?”
There are times and circumstances that are beyond our control.
What if you cannot change certain events or people in your life? How then, can we remove these unhappy situations from our lives?
Look at the bigger picture. Think of the long term. These may be events or situations that you cannot change now, but it does not mean it will stay the same forever.
What can you change from your end that could help improve the situation?
Adapt or change your perspectives accordingly.
Our character and personality are hard to change, but they can be improved, just like attitudes and behaviours.
If you are a hot tempered person, you might find yourself on the verge of getting more abusive as time goes by if you do not make the effort to be consciously aware of how you react when your emotions strike. A hot tempered person usually cannot control their outbursts when it strikes, so it is better to curb the anger before it even surfaces. If you want to change badly, you will make the effort to pay more attention to your temper, and be more vigilant in monitoring your feelings even before it rises up.
Change starts with you.
Step 2 – Enforce (the Happy and the Positive)
This may seem direct opposite of the first point, but there is more to it.
Enforcing yourself to sign up for happy and positive moments require efforts, to say the least, especially when you are down and stuck. The saying ‘fake it till you make it’ is effective to some extent, but the real benefit you’ll get is when you really want yourself to be happy.
However difficult the beginning may be, it will be easier with time and practice.
Do nice things (not indulging) for yourself, be kinder to yourself and be more understanding of yourself. It means that you are willing to treat yourself better by showing yourself and others how to treat you right.
In essence, it demonstrates that you care, respect and most of all, love yourself.
Enforcing yourself to do and feel the upsides also pushes you away from short term rush and prevents you from doing things you’ll regret later on, such as overspending or overeating on junk food when you’re feeling down. If you tend to reach out for comfort food or go shopping to feel happier or complain about it to everyone you know, would it have any positive impact to your issue on hand? After the comfort food, swiping your credit card on expensive stuff and wasted time grumbling, you might even find yourself feeling unhappier and more frustrated.
On the other hand, if you do the right thing for you, i.e. push yourself to workout, engross yourself in activities you love like dancing, painting or reading, or be still and meditate, you might find yourself feeling better afterwards.
If you struggle with weight issues and have been trying ways and means to lose weight but end up more and more disappointed and frustrated each time, you might want to find meaning in the activities you’re doing. Many think of working out as a chore and a task that they don’t enjoy. Yet, there are people who would happily spend hours being active, e.g. playing basketball or hiking, not for the sake of purely losing weight but also enjoying the sports itself. Similarly, if you are one who enjoys good quality food, a delicacy to you is more than just quantity.
Find the right support and be in the right company.
Step 3 – Have a Growth Mindset. Explore and Learn.
What is fixed mindset and what is growth mindset?
Someone who deems education ends at the point when they obtain their degree has a closed and fixed mindset. A person who thinks that things only work out a certain way has a fixed mindset. The belief that ‘we’ve always done it this way‘ as seen in many organizational cultures having fixed mindsets, usually limit their growth and development.
We get stuck when we have a looping closed and fixed mindset which could result from culture or upbringing to even the environment we are in, until certain experiences, events or people we come across forces us to see things differently and enlightens us of otherwise. Usually, our perception of how things work is set (which in turn affects our view of the world in a broader sense) when we are conditioned to think the same way all the time and they have been proven correct with each experience.
For instance, someone who has passed his exams all the times through memorizing all the notes may be reluctant to try other methods of revision for fear that if the new method didn’t work, he would then fail his papers. However, if he is willing to try to first understand the notes and content, revising in advance and find that he not only passed his exams but also realized that what theories or understanding he grasped earlier tend to stay longer than simply memorizing, he has effectively practised growth mindset towards his method of study.
A growth mindset is constantly seeking new ways to learn and apply, grow and improve to be better.
It is not inbuilt within us. Someone who grew up with a fixed mindset can change and improve to having a growth mindset over time, with conditioning. It also means that you are open to options, ideas and suggestions to improve.
Similarly, while we learn best from making mistakes, the lessons are only good for when we do actually learn from them. If someone makes a mistake over and over again without learning, it is not only causing unproductivity, inefficiency and ineffectiveness but also making everyone’s lives more difficult.
Step 4 – Inject Variety To Your Life (Do something different every week)
There are many advantages to setting routines. For instance, when we have a set of Monday to Friday work outfits, we spare ourselves the headache of choosing what to wear in the morning, thereby saving time and energy as well. When we have a system in place, we operate out of automation and familiarity, hence increasing efficiency and productivity as well.
However, there is a limit to staying routine all the time. As some point, we will experience boredom and the need to induce creativity otherwise we will end up feeling disgruntled. This is the same for the work we do as well. If you are typing reports every day, the learning curve dips after a while. And, productivity stale with increasing lack of interest over time. Going through the motion is common in these situations, and we cannot find further growth or change in them.
Therefore, we need to inject variety into our routines, as frequent as weekly or monthly.
What variety can you inject into your routines? What can you do different each week? In terms of your workout regime, your tasks at work, your relationships at home and so on?
Challenge your way of thinking. Explore different methods to get to places. Figure out other ways of doing things.
When we explore and challenge our routines that we are used to, we are exposing ourselves to see things in different lights and opening ourselves up to different experiences which not only spice up our days but also allow us to become more creative and productive.
Rejuvenate yourself with a different routine one day a week. Do a short road trip. Explore museums. Sign up for courses that you find interesting. Take a different route. Do something nice for yourself with different activities each week. Go facial or massage, head out to the beach or visit the library, enter a knit shop or enjoy figurines, etc.
One small change action can make or break a moment. It can also change a life.
Step 5 – Impress Yourself (with New Discovery or Knowledge Everyday)
One of the better feelings in the world is when you experience amusement learning something new but also discovering something which has been around for a long time, like the right way to cut a pineapple.
Or the unconventional way of thinking, that we need not fall back on the tried and tested all the time. Sometimes, the maverick way of thinking may work for us.
Every situation, environment and people we meet offer us a chance to learn and discover something interesting or worth knowing. Visiting a different country opens up a broader perspective to the world. Reading about biographies lets us into the world of others’.
Even something as simple as kitchen hacks or folding clothes could also change the boring and time-consuming routines we dislike. Little knowledge pieces like how to grow different home plants and herbs that could benefit our health. Listening to people’s stories can also provide you great insights to what amazing things have been achieved or how things were done (not necessarily less effective or efficient) in the past.
There are gems of wisdom to be discovered, even in our daily lives.
How can you impress/amuse yourself in little ways today?
Step 6 – Figure Out Your Priorities
When you don’t prioritize what is important to you, you will be pulled in all sorts of directions with the distractions and wants of others.
Identify what you value, what matters to you more than anything else and how you can prioritize them.
In our day to day activities, we get caught up with a lot of fire-fighting issues. By the time we are done with the urgent tasks, we feel so drained to even work on those that are important to us. How many of us go home after a long day at work and fall asleep on the couch with the TV on? How many would change into their workout gear after work and head off to expend more energy?
Our values are important to us. I have written about them here if you have no idea on how to identify what is most important to you. When you value health, naturally your choices are skewed towards healthier options and more active lifestyle. If you value integrity, you will understand why you feel out of sorts and unwilling to show mercy or forgive at even the slightest lie, despite innocent white lie.
When you know what you value, you will know what to prioritise in your life. You will be motivated to do what you value despite being tired or busy. At the same time, you help yourself make your life easier because then you already know where you stand and what to choose.
Step 7 – Simplify (Your Life)
Simple is not easy. In fact, it takes more effort to live simple especially with the distractions and resources that we have access to these days.
You need strong internal resilience to want to live simple, and not be affected by all the material temptations like trendy clothes, luxury bags, bigger house and car, prestige and class.
You need more time, effort and sometimes money to be able to enjoy simple diets. Organic food is costly. Takeaways are cheaper than cooking for yourself. Soft drinks are cheaper than fresh juices which also take longer time and hassle to prepare. How can you eat healthier and more affordable?
You need clarity on what you need versus what you desire. A car is a car, a mode of transport which can be easily replaced with public transportation which is cheaper and more convenient in some cities, yet there are many who resist the idea of travelling in public transport for various reasons.
Simplifying your life is not easy, but it is worth it. And, it goes hand in hand with Step 6 – Figuring out your priorities.
When you value productivity at work, you know that the quality of your work means more than just deadlines. If you want to lead effectively, you need to be clear what is the right thing to do. Even when you have to prove your case to your superiors.
When you are clear about what you want, you can effectively trim away all the nice-to-haves and embellishments or add-ons.
Don’t over-complicate or over-think matters. Many products in the market are costly because of the additional designs and features engineered into the products (not necessarily helpful or useful) when they work well just being in its simplistic design. Similarly, when we over-think matter, over-worry or over-analyze, we make ourselves suffer and our days harder to pass!
Quit your addictions and entanglements. Not being able to let go is one of the many reasons why people are unhappy and stuck. Be it in relationships or at work, when you are emotionally entangled, you need to learn to let go to be able to disentangle yourself. When you cannot let go of the entanglement, you will not allow yourself to switch jobs or remove yourself from the dis-empowering position you made yourself stay in, even when opportunities come up.
Step 8 – Act On It
Change in perspectives, thoughts and mindset is one thing. We also need to consistently act on what we want to change.
Actually, this step is the most important and should be the first step because, through action, you will be able to experience immediately first-hand effect the change you want. However, there is a need to go through the above seven steps to be able to fully comprehend why we need this last step.
We can think all day about what we want, but ideas and opinions, thoughts and decisions are only as expensive as the work that follows. Without action, there will be no change.
Additionally, we might think we’re evolving when we understand certain principles or perspectives. However, without acting on them, we are not able to effectively reinforce our change in mind frame through condition (Step 3).
Also, we improve through tweaks in actions. We don’t know what works for us or what is effective until we try them out.
For instance, you might already know that exercising is what you need to do because you value health. But without actually working out or practising a healthy lifestyle, you won’t be able to change your life to be a healthier person.
When you act on it, i.e. head out to the gym, you might find yourself that you hate running on the treadmill. With some tweaks and changes, you might realize that you prefer running outdoors, or through other forms of exercises.
You might experience the positive effects after working out (e.g. feeling more energetic, focused, losing weight and so on). Coupled with having a growth mindset to explore and learn little wisdom (e.g. more effective when coupled with better eating habit, fewer snacks, more fruits and vegetables, less oily, less flavour, less processed food). You are positively conditioning yourself to turn them into your habits and hence, your lifestyle.
The process of winning against our current situation and problems is a challenge in itself. Besides the physical situation we are in, we also have our internal struggles to break through and overcome before we can feel the positives. However, so long as we keep going, we will reach there, sooner or later.
SO, HOW YOU CAN APPLY THESE 8 METHODS TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER
Eliminate (the Unhappy and the Negative)
Enforce (the Happy and the Positive)
Have a Growth Mindset. Explore and Learn.
Inject Variety To Your Life (Do something different every week)
Impress Yourself (with New Discovery or Knowledge Everyday)
Figure Out Your Priorities
Simplify (Your Life)
Act On It
Through the above steps with examples, we have crafted manifestos with a step-by-step approach to effecting changes to certain aspects of your life.
Click on the individual links to get the manifestos.
Guidance is available if you are facing difficulty moving forward. Time and again, it has been proven that we gain better clarity with support.
For more understanding, shoot me an email or book an informational call with me.