Do you seem to be completely unable to get afloat? Perhaps you feel like you’re just treading water. All this can eventually start to get you down. This is not what we were promised. Perhaps you always pictured that your life would be different. Many of us assumed we would someday make a lot of money.
Many of us assume that we should have much more energy than we do. And we see people around us who seem to have the things that we want to achieve. We all know people who are polished, who are confident, who look attractive. We all know people who seem to have it all. So why can’t we have that? Why is life being so unfair to us?
Well, if you have read any of the other guides so far then you know that this is where you are going wrong to start with.
It’s blaming your circumstances and it’s blaming other people. You have everything you need to live a truly incredible life right now. All that is missing is the right mindset to go about achieving it. Do you know what’s even more likely? You’re already living a truly amazing life. You already have everything that anyone could ever ask for… but you just don’t appreciate it.
As we’ve learned over this series, your happiness and your accomplishments stem from you. And more than that, they stem from your mindset and the way that you view yourself and your life. They stem from having the drive to go out and get the things you feel you deserve. And from knowing how you are going to go about doing that. In this final guide, you’re going to learn how to make some simple changes.
You’re going to learn how to start fortifying yourself against challenges. You’re going to learn to start appreciating all the things you already have. And you’re going to learn to master your life so that you can decide precisely what kind of person you want to be. Precisely what you are going to achieve.
What Are Your Priorities?
The first thing you need to do is to start reassessing some of your priorities. Many of us complain that we aren’t healthier, happier, or richer but we never do anything about it. That’s because despite what we’re saying we aren’t giving those aspects of our lives priority. Let’s break down your current routine shall we and see if we can assess the problem?
You’re telling people you want to have six-pack abs. you’re telling people you want to be a successful author or a successful business owner. You tell people that your family means everything to you. Okay then. So, if that’s true, those are the things you should be spending the majority of your time on right?
Instead, what you will probably find is that your lifestyle looks something more like this:
Sleep: 6-7 Hours
Work: 8-9 Hours
Commuting: 1-2 Hours
Lunch Break: 30 Minutes
Everything else: ~5 Hours
And in those roughly five hours, you need to fit in waking up, getting ready for the day, washing dishes, doing the laundry, cooking. Now ask me again why you don’t have the lifestyle you want? You claim that your goals and dreams are your top priority and yet you don’t live a life that reflects that in the slightest. This reminds me very much of the problem with modern politics.
So often, we are told by our political leaders just how much money they have managed to save. They’ll tell us how they have increased the value of the dollar. They’ll boast that they’re paying off the deficit. But is this how we should really be judging their success? How about much more important metrics like quality of life? Or happiness?
You’re doing the same thing in your own life. You’re pouring 90% of your effort into your work and coming away completely exhausted. Of course, everything else suffers.
How it Got This Way
Have you ever asked how things got this way?
The answer, while it might not be very pleasant, ultimately comes down to fear and indoctrination. It’s fear because we are driven so often by a fear of our partners leaving us. By fear of debt. By fear of not being able to put a deposit on a house. Of being single in our 40s and missing the boat to have children. This means that you are motivated by the stick rather than the carrot.
You are focused on running away from all the things you don’t want, rather than toward all the things you do want. And this really isn’t helped by the media and by the way we’re brought up. This is where the whole ‘indoctrination’ part comes in. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m not here to tell you that this is a deliberate move on the part of the government or any such thing. BUT it is nevertheless the way most of us are brought up. We are raised to believe that we are born into some kind of debt.
That we owe this debt to society. That hard graft and work is something to be proud of. Meanwhile, we are taught to want all kinds of things that are just out of our grasp. These include widescreen TVs, lavish properties, expensive-looking cars, and more. We work toward these things, we work because we’re afraid of debt, and we work because it is what society expects of us. But let me ask you this: is there really any inherent value in work itself? Working toward a good cause is of course a good thing.
Working to support your family is likewise to be applauded. But those people who proudly state that they’ve ‘never missed a day of work!’ or who retire in their 80s, or who talk in a generally proud fashion about the work they did stacking palettes. It’s nice they’re proud. Really it is. But here’s the sad part: if they didn’t come in, the world would keep on ticking on without them. And even if it didn’t, the worst case scenario is that someone would get a palette late.
Meanwhile, wouldn’t it have been much better if they had looked after their health? If they had spent more time with their family? If they had pursued a passion and written a beautiful piece of music? Work in itself should be a means to an end and certainly not a means in itself. Work only has value as long as the end product has value. And even then, it’s not worth sacrificing every other aspect of your life for.
The simple cognitive shift I want you to make here then is that you are not living to work but working to live. It’s a cliché I know, but if you actually follow that advice through to its logical conclusion, then you find yourself with something akin to lifestyle design. Lifestyle design is a way of life that simply flips traditional notions of work on their head and instead focuses on building a lifestyle you can be happy with.
You decide what it is you want to accomplish, who you want to be, and then you change your career and other factors in order to fit around that lifestyle. For many people, this will mean becoming a digital nomad. Thanks to modern technology, there is no need for us to work from a stuffy office or make a long journey into work. Instead, we can simply load up the computer and work from home.
This affords an amazing amount of freedom, allowing you to work from wherever you like and whenever you like. Many people will take advantage of this by traveling the world with just a laptop and working from coffee shops. That’s lifestyle design and that’s being a ‘digital nomad’.But it can also mean something much smaller. It means looking at the promotion that comes with so much extra responsibility and it means asking yourself if it’s worth it.
Wouldn’t it be much better to spend more time with your family and keep the job you’ve got? Alternatively, maybe you take on that job but you negotiate to have one day off so that you get a whole day to yourself. Or perhaps you take on a part-time job and a side-income instead. Maybe you conclude that in order to follow your passions, the best option is to become a garbage collector so that you can be free by 2 pm in the afternoon. Need more money? Then get a smaller house!
It can even mean that you choose to move home somewhere that you’ll be nearer to work so that you have a shorter commute. A shorter commute means 30 minutes extra to yourself per day. Maybe you decide to pay for a cleaner so that you can have a beautiful home! There are so many variables here that you can play around with that you don’t need to take the most obvious route through your life. You don’t have to follow the predetermined path that has been set out for you by society and you don’t need to keep making life harder and harder.
Some More Changes
Choosing to design your own lifestyle and take back control is one way to start getting what you want from life. But there are a few others too that will help you with this. One cognitive shift is to know your worth, to stand your ground, and lose the fear. Another cognitive shift is to recognize that time and money are both interchangeable. This latter point means that if you are getting paid more but you are also working longer hours then you aren’t really getting a pay rise at all.
The only way this would count as a pay rise is if you got paid more for working the same hours. So, if you’re being offered a profession up the ladder but it involves staying later at work, there is an obvious answer: you’ll just take the pay rise thanks! This is where knowing your worth comes in. You see, many of us are afraid to ask for more money, or are afraid to increase our rates. We think if we do that, we’ll lose work and we’ll end up homeless. Again: lose the fear. This doesn’t happen.
If you are providing a good service to someone, or if you’re a good employee, then you can afford to charge more.
Think about how much they’re earning thanks to you and how much they’d lose if you stopped working for them.
You have the right to charge more. And not only that, but it is common for wages to go up regardless of responsibilities. So, if you feel you need more money then don’t be afraid to ask for it. And if they refuse? Then you look elsewhere for a new employer or new clients.
As Tim Ferriss says: ask for forgiveness, not permission.
Ultimately, you are worth what you think you are worth. If you put a price on your head that is too low, then you can work incredibly hard for no reward. Keep looking. And keep learning. And here’s one more thing: don’t wait. Don’t wait for life to get better. Don’t wait until you’re old and retired. Because life always throws you curveballs and the stars never align. The only way you can live a better life is to start right NOW. And don’t tell me you’re too old: you’re never too old to be the person you always wanted to be.
So if you’ve been putting off going traveling because of fear, because of opportunity, and because you worry that life won’t be there for you when you get back it is time to buck up your ideas. Take charge and go now. This is the only way you’ll ever go. Work will be there when you get back. And if it isn’t? At least you’ve done something truly memorable and worthwhile. What could be more valuable?
It Starts With Everything
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you to start getting more from your life simply by changing your priorities and going after the things you want.
So where do you start?
The answer is with everything.
What I mean by this, is that if you want to be healthier and happier and to live a generally better life, then you need to change everything all at once. We’ve discussed that your ability to change your life starts in the mind. But have you considered what affects your mind?
The mind has a limited amount of energy. Throughout these guides, I’ve asked a lot from you: to take more responsibility, to lose your fear, to practice discipline, to stay motivated. All those things take energy. And if you’ve only got 5 hours outside of work to be productive in, then you’re going to struggle. You’ll struggle even more if you’re highly stressed and if you’re burned out.
So as you start to put the emphasis a bit more back onto you. As you start to focus on your goals and on the things that make you happy, you can also look at how you can ensure you are charged and able to get the very most out of life. It starts with simple things: things like getting enough sleep, things like going out in the sun occasionally and maybe things like taking vitamin supplements.
Later it goes on to more profound matters: learning to meditate. Finding a passion. Surrounding yourself with the right people. Every aspect of your health and your lifestyle will feed back into the way you feel and what you can accomplish. You need to start small and build up the energy you want. Right now you might feel trapped by your circumstances, so find just that small crack of light.
That might mean getting a little more energy by taking a supplement in the morning. But if that gives you enough fuel to consider implementing systems to keep your home tidier and that gives you the mental space to start challenging your work-life balance… then it will all be worth it.
And finally? Learn to appreciate what you have right now. Because this is the ultimate key to happiness. The truth is that if you keep dreaming of that widescreen TV then you won’t be able to escape the hedonistic treadmill. You’ll stay in the fight or flight mode, you’ll keep pushing and fighting. And looking forward to a holiday isn’t much better. Looking forward to quitting your job isn’t that much better either.
Do it now. And meanwhile, learn to focus on what’s already just right in your life. If you stop and smell the roses, if you practice a ‘gratitude mindset’ you’ll realize you’ve probably already accomplished a whole lot. And you’ll find that you already have many happy moments in your daily life. Live in those moments.