Do you feel like your life is unfulfilling and overly full of challenges? If so, you’ll be happy to know that you can make changes, starting today, to turn your life around! Creating the life you want is the consequence of building and maintaining behaviors, that turn into habits, that support your happiness and fulfillment.
Decrease stress and increase your quality of life by working on these behaviors:
1. Be proactive.
Avoid waiting until you’re forced to take action – the longer you wait, the more aversive taking action becomes. Waiting is not a behavior (it’s a lack of behavior), but it is a choice! Choosing to wait is choosing to not respond! Plan ahead. Many of life’s challenges (aversive events) are easily managed if you choose to engage and respond. Being proactive can result in many of life’s difficulties becoming preventable.
Behaviorally … if you being to respond to aversive situations/stimuli earlier, they will be dealt with sooner and with less effort, becoming less aversive, and decreasing your avoidance behaviors in the future!
Being proactive includes ANY task that you’re aware of ahead of time, such as projects and reports at your job. Waiting until the last minute (procrastinating) to engage in your tasks increases the probability that when you finally do begin, you’ll have higher levels of stress and anxiety, decreasing the probability of performing at your best, increasing the task difficulty and aversiveness.
Set goals, write them down, and schedule when you’ll take action to achieve them.
Do something each day to begin building your habit of being proactive, bringing you closer to the life you desire.
2. Pay attention to your diet and exercise.
A poor diet can ruin your health with imperceptible changes, a little at a time. And as many health experts will tell you, nobody can outwork a bad diet. making changes gradually will allow you to change your diet as needed, without shocking your system or taste buds. This will help your exercise routines increase in your desired results, reinforcing your diet, which will continue to reinforce your workouts.
Personally, I have always loved being a bigger person, but I can admit I feel healthier, more energetic, and have an easier time accomplishing goals when I pay more attention to both my diet and exercises routines.
3 .Minimize time watching TV or surfing the internet.
It’s not about never watching TV, being on the internet, or scrolling through apps on your smart phone. It’s about making sure 15-30 minutes doesn’t turn 3-4 hours. Most times we aren’t watching a favorite show, we’re just watching “whatever”, and we’re not researching something specific, we’re searching for “something” to do. If you take the excessive time you spend doing things out of boredom, you’ll find it easier to schedule time for things you keep saying you want to accomplish. And yes, I see the irony of you reading this online … and probably on your phone.
Small increments don’t always sound or feel like major changes. But think about it this way, if you did 25 push-ups every morning and every night, in one week you would have done 350 push-ups per week that you wouldn’t have, which is 18,250 push-ups a year. Those 25 push-ups represent starting and maintaining a behavioral routine (i.e., 350 push-ups per week) that can be maintained and become a habit (i.e., 18,250 push-ups throughout a year). Finding those extra 15-minutes throughout your day by reducing excessive TV, internet, and cell phone use don’t have to focus on exercise, they can be used for any behavior you want to start.
4. Save money consistently.
Everyone wants financial security, and eventually everyone will have to live off of some combination of their savings, social security, and investments. However, in order to have those things, you have to start saving now (no matter how old or young you are). Beyond starting/having a savings account, you have to build the habit of consistently adding to it, which takes discipline. To build this habit and successfully maintain it, start small and gradually increase the amount you save instead of spend, making it easier to live daily without spending as much. And if you want to start investing, you the time you’re spending looking up “whatever” on your phone to research investment apps and information. It sounds like a lot of work, but if you plan a specific time to do it each day you’ll be able to focus on it in short periods and then put it away until the next scheduled day. This should help it be less aversive and overwhelming.
5. Make value based purchases.
Focus on buying things you need, rather than things you want due to the impulse of the moment. Saving for things you really want isn’t typically the problem, the problem is the difficulty of saving money when routinely making unnecessary purchases.
6. Make decisions.
Making decisions can trigger feelings of fear, anxiety, and restrictiveness. Every decision you make won’t be the absolute smartest or best, but any self-made decision is typically better than no decision. Worrying that your decision won’t be the best possible decision leads to having a life based on others to choosing for you, and NOBODY will ever care about your results as much as you.
7. Maintain friendships.
Friends drift away unless you make an effort to maintain your friendships. As you get older, there will be fewer opportunities to make new friends. Maintaining friendships take effort, but it’s less work than finding and nurturing a new friendship. As we journey through life, it is often said that we don’t end up with the people we started with. There are few things better in life than a longtime friend, but the only way to have one is to make the effort and do the work.
A few bad habits can create a very hard life, while a few effective habits can reward you greatly. Working to build habits that support your happiness can be easier than it sounds with these steps. Be proactive, make your health a priority, use your time wisely, and be responsible with your finances. And if you paid attention, it should feel a little easier to combine all of this in small changes to your daily routines.