Sometimes it feels as if life is entirely out of control. You look around and wonder, “How is everyone doing this better than I am?” or “How do I get my life together?”
The truth is, everyone faces different challenges. We don’t always see them.
Everyone makes different choices. We don’t always know or understand them.
There is no miracle cure or instant answer as to how to get your life together.
There are small steps that allow you to make significant changes, Try these steps as you seek the answer to the difficult question: “How do I get my life together?”
5 Ways to Get Your Life Together
1. Start with Small Changes
It seems to be human nature to think big. We make big New Year’s Resolutions. We convince ourselves that we can go straight from the first words we write on a page to best-selling author. We imagine walking out with our college degrees and straight into jobs as CEOs.
When we get smacked in the face with reality, it hurts.
Protect your face as you read these facts:
Approximately 80% of people fail their New Year’s Resolutions, usually by mid-February.
There are millions of books published each year. Literary agents, the ones who help authors get into traditional publishing, receive thousands of submissions every single year.
On average, it takes 24 years to become the CEO of a company.
Don’t let these statistics get you down. Even the biggest dreams can be broken down into minimal steps. The Japanese term kaizen means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement” or even “change, good.” The Kaizen method, often used by businesses, suggests making small changes that slowly build up to bigger goals.
When applied to individuals and life, this philosophy offers us an infinitely more achievable way to get our lives together. We succeed in small steps, making it easier to move toward bigger goals. We make changes one step at a time.
Chances are if your New Year’s resolution was to run 3 miles a day, you didn’t get very far. What would happen if you started by putting your sneakers on and jogging in place for 1 minute? Sound ridiculous, right? What would happen if you did that every day for a week? Could you celebrate? Yes, you could. Then, the next week you can add a little more. Add on a little more the following week. Running will be part of your routine before you know it, and you will have achieved that 3 miles a day goal.
Rather than saying, “I have to get my life together NOW,” recognize that it takes time. Start small. Buy a planner. Make a list. Set reasonable goals. Celebrate wins. Then move on to the next small step.
2. Allow Yourself Time to Rest
When did the key to happiness become always staying busy? For some reason, we seem to have lost the ability to slow down and simply appreciate what life has to offer. We all know the importance of sleep, and yet we often sacrifice sleep as we seek to get our lives under control. We seem to think that if we fill every moment of our day with doing something, that will help us achieve everything.
The opposite is true. Most people recognize the importance of good, quality sleep to our bodies, our immune systems, and even our mental health. Equally important, however, is allowing yourself time to rest.
Rest and sleep are not the same things. Yes, we rest if we are getting adequate sleep. We can also feel exhausted after a restless sleep.
Rest means stopping, if only for a moment. It asks us to allow our minds and bodies to slow down. Rest allows for an experience of emotional and calm the mind.
Rest is about choosing to shut down down the constant busy-ness and to-do lists. By making that choice, we allow our minds to clear and space for new ideas and discoveries. Rest is about taking a pause, or even several breaks, throughout the day.
How does this help with getting your life together? It’s simple. If we are continually whirring with ideas, should dos, lists, and responsibilities slip through the cracks. We lose our ability to be creative in a rush to get things done.
Stopping, resting, breathing allows us time to reset. Then we can reassess and move on to our next small step. Perhaps with a clearer mind and more creative ideas.
Schedule time for rest into your life every day. Rest can take many different shapes, including things like:
- go for a walk (without technology)
- take three long, deep breaths
- stretch, even for a few moments
- do something creative you usually don’t do
- watch a funny video–laughter heals
- read for pleasure
- listen to music
- dance (yes, exercise is a different kind of rest. You may be working your body and still resting your mind.)
- play a game with someone
The key is to find something you enjoy doing that allows you time to just be.
3. Get Organized
By now, you are probably thinking, “how is this going to help me get my life together?” So far, the advice has been taking small steps and time to rest. That doesn’t seem like it will get you very far.
Those two steps, however, are crucial to enabling you to succeed. Trying to do too much at once often leads to failure. Not taking care of yourself, your mind, and your body (not resting) can lead to burnout, illness, and the inability to change anything.
Now we move onto a more practical step: getting organized.
Organization also comes in many shapes and forms.
You can organize your space (both work and home). Focus on ways that allow your space to flow, function well, and be pleasant and comfortable.
You can organize your goals. Generate lists of small, medium, and big goals. Organize them into timelines. What needs to be done immediately? What will need a longer time?
You can organize your time, scheduling in things like:
- rest time
- play time
- work time
- meeting time
- meal time
- exercise time
- family time
- social media time
Notice that I started this list with rest time and playtime. That’s because we don’t often schedule those into our day. Play is seen as something frivolous. Like rest, however, play allows us to reconnect with our creative selves.
How you get organized comes down to what works best for you. Some people like to buy special planners that break each day up into 15-minute increments. Some people love sticky notes. Some people prefer technology.
Some love to have drawers for every object they’ll ever need. Some prefer minimalism in their work and home spaces.
The key lies in taking the time to figure out what works for you—and then taking one small step. The first step is to begin.
4. Celebrate the Positives
This does not mean ignore the challenges that come when you try to make significant changes and get your life together. Instead, it’s a way of silencing those gremlins and inner critics that tend to keep us from achieving our dreams.
You might be thinking, “I don’t feel like there are any positives. That’s why I want to get my life together.”
To do that, you have to see what you already have. How? Here are a few suggestions:
Gratitude: Start each day by writing down ten things for which you feel grateful. It could be as simple as, I am thankful the sun came out today.
Brags: Also, start each day by writing ten brags. This can be difficult, but I am asking you to celebrate yourself. Write ten awesome things about yourself. This doesn’t have to be about big wins. It could be something like, I got out of bed and smiled this morning. What a wonderful thing to celebrate.
Reframe the Negative: It can be hard to celebrate the positives when faced with challenges and negatives. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. On one side, write down (or draw a picture) of the negative feeling or situation. Make a list. Allow the negativity to flow. Then, in the other column, try to flip it on its head somehow. If the rain has made you cancel your party, it has given you time to finish reading your book.
It’s important to acknowledge and feel the negatives but then find ways to turn them into positives. This will help you get your life together.
5. Ask for Help
This last suggestion is perhaps the most difficult for many of us to do. We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it alone. We’ve been taught to believe that success comes from working hard without needing help.
Frankly, that’s nonsense. We all need help. We need coaches and teachers. We need mentors and guides. We need a friend and a supportive family. We need co-workers and collaborators.
We don’t need toxic people to tell us that we are doing everything wrong. We don’t need to struggle through significant changes in silence and loneliness. We also don’t need to wait until our life is falling apart.
If you genuinely wish to get your life together, look around for the people you can trust. Gather around your supportive friends. Hire a life coach or a career coach who wants you to succeed.
Ask them to help you break things down into small, achievable steps. And then, invite them to celebrate even your smallest wins. You won’t regret it.