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There are perhaps a few people out there who can genuinely claim that they are living the lives of their dreams, across every conceivable dimension, and can’t possibly imagine a situation where anything could be going any better in any way.
For the vast majority of us, however, the situation isn’t quite that way, and regardless of how genuinely happy we may be with our families, our careers, and other specific facets of our lives, there are inevitably going to be things we would still like to achieve that we haven’t yet achieved, and ways we could imagine improving our lives that we haven’t yet turned into a reality.
Of course, however, even if you have a decent idea of some of the things you might want to do and achieve in your life, there’s a lot of difference between setting yourself goals, and actually taking proactive and effective steps, here and now, to increase the likelihood that you will achieve those goals – or in any case, head more in the kind of direction you want to head in.
If you want to take steps to enrich your life – the ideal situation would be if you could do things that would enrich your life both right now, and also in the future. Here are a few things you can do to make that happen.
Begin doing online courses
It may be that you have a particular career in mind that you would like to explore, that you haven’t yet made much if any progress towards, or it may just be the case that you would like to refine some of your skills and further your qualifications in order to plump up your CV for roles in the field within which you are already operating.
In any case, once you have already entered the world of work full-time, and have taken on assorted other responsibilities – such as starting your own family, for example – it’s not always easy, or even possible, to find the time and space to pursue retraining or higher education in the traditional sense.
Online courses, on the other hand, open a whole world of possibilities to you, without you having to leave the comfort of your own home more than occasionally.
Whether you want to pursue certified nurse midwife programs, or even get qualified as a personal trainer, there are online courses that will be right for you. But you don’t need to treat online courses solely as a way of furthering formal higher education, or gaining specific qualifications for specific jobs, either.
Online courses also exist in more “scaled-down” formats that allow you to enhance your general knowledge of specific areas and fields, for free – or almost for free – as a way of enriching your life in general and enhancing your overall skill sets in a broader sense.
Coursera, for example, is one “e-learning” platform that focuses primarily on allowing you to earn certificates in a wide variety of disciplines ranging from psychology to philosophy, to business and economics.
Doing these kinds of courses may have a direct beneficial impact on your future professional life, and may also make your life significantly more interesting and engaging, right here and now.
Focus on “acting as if…” on a daily basis
There’s an idea about “achieving your goals” that often gets floated around. It’s that working to achieve a goal has everything to do with making conscious sacrifices in the present, in order to achieve a glorious victory at some point in the future, with the implication being that once you achieve that thing, you will be able to bask in the glory and satisfaction of that achievement to your heart’s content.
In reality, though, there are various issues with this approach – not least of all the fact that it generally encourages us to undervalue the present moment and to have unrealistic expectations of just how fulfilling and life-affirming it will be to achieve our goals of choice.
In his book, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big,” Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, Argues that goals specifically put you in a state of permanent dissatisfaction – because you’re always looking to the future for fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment. Not only that but if and when you do actually achieve your goals, then you are simply left with a void in your life – no clear waypoints to guide your actions any more.
Amongst highly competitive public figures, you can frequently see this dynamic playing out in real time. In recent years, world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury had a very public battle with depression, at a time when he should have been at the height of his professional glory and satisfaction.
According to him, the realisation that becoming world heavyweight champion wasn’t the end all and be all, and didn’t serve as a universal panacea for his life, was crushing.
A far more positive solution may be to “act as if…” on a daily basis. If you want to become a painter, don’t set yourself a goal like “I will become a high-earning painter by 2023.” Instead, set yourself a “goal” such as painting each day for an hour.
When you do things this way, you will inevitably make progress in your life towards valued outcomes, while orienting yourself in such a way that you can enjoy the ride, instead of focusing too much on the endpoint.
Get your nutrition and vitamin intake dialled in
Diet and nutrition play an absolutely enormous role in all of our lives, both in terms of our overall health, and in terms of our mood, energy levels, and even our ability to really enjoy the positive moments we are confronted with.
There are a lot of different diet fads, ideologies, movements, and trends out there. Any, or all of them may have points in their favour, but the primary things to get right first and foremost are as follows:
A) avoid foods that cause you to experience an inflammatory response or feel terrible
B) make sure that you are getting your basic daily vitamin and nutrient needs met
C) eat enough so that you feel satisfied, without overdoing it to the point where you gain excess weight
You will have to experiment with your diet on your own terms in order to “get things right,” and learn what works for you. But it’s critically important to realise that everything in your life will be better if and when you have your nutrition and vitamin intake dialled in.
Deficiencies of various micronutrients are extremely common. According to some estimates, at least one third – if not more than 50% of people, even in first world developed countries, are deficient in magnesium. Among other things, magnesium deficiency leads to an increased incidence of depression, heart disease, trouble sleeping, and more.
Reduce the “ambient noise” in your life, and try to get a bit more peace and quiet
Have you ever felt as though you were just swamped by the absolutely incredible amount of information and “white noise” coming at you from all directions, on a daily basis?
A hundred or so years ago, the average person would engage in regular conversations with their friends, relatives, and acquaintances, maybe read the occasional newspaper, and that would probably be about it for the level of information they could expect to receive on a daily basis.
Today, on the other hand, TV, the radio, and the thousands of different news and entertainment sources of the Internet keep us bombarded 24/7 with adverts, dramas, suggestions, and news items that all vie for our attention.
In certain instances, there is good evidence that this constant onslaught of information can be severely overloading, and negative for our well-being. Research suggests, for example, that social media use correlates with an increased risk of things like depression and anxiety.
In order to increase your well-being, and free up your mental and emotional energy both in the here and now, and in the future, it might be a very good idea to work on reducing the “ambient noise” in your life – and to try and get a bit more peace and quiet on a regular basis.
Among other things, that can mean spending a significant amount of your time free of your digital devices of choice. With less information coming at you from all sides, you might be able to generate more positive thoughts, ideas, and initiatives of your own. You may feel a lot better, too.
Organise and pare down your priorities in life
Just as it’s possible to be so overloaded with information from external sources that we struggle to properly balance our own emotional energy, so too is it possible to be so enthusiastically engaged in the pursuit of various goals and ambitions that we have too little time or energy to actually make significant headway on any of them.
For many of us, “multitasking” is something like a sacrosanct pastime. On some level, we all want to try and get as much done as possible, in as little time as possible, non-stop.
Consistently, however, research finds that attempts to “multitask” or to juggle too many different projects simultaneously, just mean that we are more likely to underperform across the board.
Save yourself some stress, and increase the odds that you will achieve more meaningful outcomes, by organising and paring down your priorities in life. Do less, but do it better.