Success means different things to different people. For me, it includes the idea of “living well”.
I love what Diane Ackerman said, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
I know that I can’t do everything. So, if I am going to live well, I have to get very clear about what’s most important to me, personally. It’s true for you, as well. Here are some suggestions:
6 Steps to Living Well and Focusing on What’s Important
1- Study yourself.
In the hustle-and-bustle of daily life, it’s easy to neglect introspection. We are so busy and surrounded by noise, we forget to look inside and figure out what’s going in in our hearts and minds. It’s surprisingly easy to be functional, yet broken.
Who are you, really?
If you’re not sure, you may need to block out some time to figure it out. To reconnect. To sit in silence and think about how your life is shaping up. To look back over your days and figure out why you do what you do and where you’re going.
Before you can go forward, it’s important to know your current location.
2- Be honest about what you find.
Sometimes, when we take inventory of our lives, we don’t like what we see. We can be tempted to deceive ourselves. It’s important that we don’t try to cover up those parts or try to make it look like something that it’s not. If you find yourself trying to justify the parts you don’t like, STOP! Call it what it is.
At this stage, we’re not talking about what we want to be. We’re just getting a clear picture of what exists, today.
You’re not condemning yourself or putting yourself in a permanent category. You’re just being honest with yourself. If you’re not clear on what a failure looks like, you’ll never change it to a success. So, for the sake of your future awesomeness, be honest! It can be tough, but it’s worth it!
3- Determine what you want to become.
If we don’t know what we’re shooting for, we will almost certainly never get there. If you’ve never taken time to determine your values, do it soon! If you haven’t reconsidered these things in a while, it’s probably time for a refresher.
- What do you want to become, anyway?
- What type of person do you want to be?
- What things are most important to you?
- What do you hope to accomplish during your lifetime?
- Who are the people you care about the most?
- What character traits do you want to demonstrate?
Only you can answer these questions. It doesn’t matter how others would answer these questions. It matters how you answer them. You will only consistently chase after things that you truly care about. So it’s important to get clear about what those things are.
If you have a hard time getting your wheels turning, there are a number of exercises you can use to prime the pump. Here’s one example:
Imagine you’re sitting in the back row of a funeral, and you realize it’s YOUR funeral! People are standing up, one by one, to talk about your life. Who are those people? What would you like them to say? Pretty heavy, huh? Your answers will give you a hint about what’s important to you.
4- Fix what doesn’t match.
If you see a clear gap between what you are and what you want to be…fix it. It seems obvious, but it still needs to be said.
Living well requires action.
Of course, we will always be making tweaks to how we approach life. Perfection is not a reasonable goal. We have to get used to the fact that we will be continually working on ourselves. However, when there is a gaping hole in our approach to life, and the solution is within our ability to adjust…we must act. Life is too short to neglect our shortcomings.
5- Fight to focus on the most important.
Once you determine what is most important to you, pursue it tenaciously! Nobody else will make it happen. You have to make it happen. Remember, this is your life and nobody else’s.
You will face opposition. You will have setbacks. You will walk through times of confusion and discouragement.
But stick with it.
Constantly look for ways to keep first things first. Be willing to say “no” to anything that hinders you from your big “yes”.
6- Get help.
Don’t try to do it alone. We are our best selves when we have the support of our tribe/ family/ team/ community/ friends/ whatever-term-you-use-for-your-”people”
Let people in.
Open yourself up for relationships.
Learn from other people. Read. Listen to podcasts. Join a group. Do something to get the help that you need.
There are other people who are doing what you’re doing. Let them help you.
The task of living well is a noble task. We have what it takes.
Let’s do it.