We humans tend to get very comfortable with our circumstances. Change is always hard so staying the same often sounds like a great choice. However not changing some things can lead to stagnation, which leads to unhappiness and boredom. Here are ten things that you could/should re-examine to keep yourself up to date and away from stagnation (in no particular order).
1. Sleep Schedule
Are you happy with how early you are going to bed or late your are waking up? Sleep cycles are one of the most difficult things to break because that snooze button just wants to get smacked. Taking control of your sleep cycle can make you better rested and more productive. You sleep for 1/3 of your life so you might as well do it efficiently!
Set a time that you want to wake up each morning. Tell yourself that you will wake up at that time (setting your biological alarm). Set a real alarm and practice getting up right when it goes off. Don’t give yourself time to rationalize another hour or sleep! It won’t do you much good anyways as you won’t be able to get into REM sleep fast enough. At night, simply go to bed when you feel tired. Your body knows how much sleep it needs so stay strict on waking up and sleep only when you feel like you should.
What do you want in the next week? The next year? The next 5 years? You need to know what you want if you want to accurately appropriate your time to different activities. Figure out what your priorities so that you can figure out if you are on track at actually reaching your goals.
3. How You Spend Your Time
After you have figure out what you want, you need to figure out how you should spend yout time in order achieve your goals. It’s very easy to get stuck in the habit of doing something too often that does not put you any closer those goals. Yes, fun-time is REQUIRED or you will go insane but make sure you aren’t overindulging and leaving your real desires in the dust. Many people also spend too much time working towards their goals. Get the job done but don’t sacrifice your family, friends or health to do so.
Write or type-out a concise agenda for the day with approximation for how long you will spend on each activity. Obviously you should be flexible anything serendipitous or spontaneous occurs but try to stick to it. This takes the same type of comittment as waking up with your alarm clock so hopefully you can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
You know from watching every movie and TV show EVER that friends are important. You are shaped by the people who you spend your time with. Tale a moment to analyze who your friends are. Do they support your goals, have a positive influence on your productivity, brim with optimism when you hang out? Or do they bring you down, doubt your ambitions and suck you into bad habits? Or maybe you have a friend or two that you have always spent time with but now you don’t share the same connection anymore. These are all variables that you need to weigh when deciding who your close friends should be.
This does not mean you need to kick friends that don’t make the cut out of your life. Simply try to choose wisely when apportioning time to different friends so that you spend your time with people that push you forward, not backwards.
Do you love what you do? Do you even like it? I surely hope so because that your job is what you have chosen to spend most of your week doing! This one’s easy: Ask yourself…
1. Do I like what I do for a living?
2. Does it provide me with enough money to satisfy my needs (and most of my wants)?
3. What I rather do for a job instead of what I do now?
If you answer “No, No” and have any answer for the third question, you should reconsider your job. Yes, I know the economy is tough right now so the idea of getting a new job is ludicrous… HOWEVER, if you already have a job, what’s the hurt in searching for a new one? Stay within the security of your current job and just see what else is out there. If you find something, apply and interview / start the company and you’ll be so much happier now that you’re passionate about what you do.
6. Physical Appearance
Even easier than the last one: Look in the mirror. Do you like your hair? Your skin? The way you dress? Ladies: Do you like your makeup? The way your legs look in those jeans?
Figure out what you don’t like and find a way to work towards changing it. For example:
Bad Skin –> Order skin treatment kit (ProActive, Neutrogena, etc.)
Yellow Teeth –> Buy whitening strips or schedule a whitening procedure at your dentist
Outdated Hair Style –> Go to a salon, ask what the stylist advises and pick a new dew
Flabby Arms –> Gym membership + start running around the block a couple of times every day
Most physical “problems” have very practical solutions that are often cheap too. Even changing small things about your physical appearance can result in a huge boost in confidence. No problem is too small.
7. Eating Habits
If you are an American, chances are you are out of shape (63% of Americans are overweight). It’s a disgusting statistic but a motivational one too. A big contributor to gaining extra fat is not eating well. All of that fast-food, microwavable sodium-traps and late-night treats take a tole on your physical appearance as well as on your overall health.
I’m all for eating the most tasty food you can find, but not everything that tastes good has to be unhealthy. Just try changing little things about your diet:
Whole Wheat Bread instead of White – flour mills use nitrogen oxide, chlorine, chloride, nitrosyl, benzoyl peroxide and various chemical salts as chemical bleaches to make the bread white
Drink water instead of soda – soda has absolutely no nutritional value, just sugar and sodium. Water, on the other hand, is required by your body to break food into energy
Cut out high fructose corn syrup completely – high in calories, zero nutrition
No Candy – again, high in sugar and calories and zero nutrition
Eat fruit when you are hungry instead of snacking – fruit is nature’s candy so pop some grapes instead of reaching for the Spicy Cheetos
Cut out unhealthy and unnecessary “additives” like ketchup, sugar, salt, cream, etc. – these are condiments, food that you add to other food. They are NOT necessary and are very unhealthy. Have you seen how much sodium is in ketchup? (A lot)
Avoid pasta, bread and rice as much as possible – white flour, refined sugar and white rice are digested so fast that they cause spikes in blood sugar and contribute to weight gain
8. Significant Other
At least for me, the person that can make me the most miserable (or happy) is the significant other. The girl/boyfriend/ spouse/ lover/ mistress, whatever you want to call him or her, usually has a big influence on your day-to-day. Unfortunately since love interests don’t grow on trees, we tend to get comfortable with who we’ve got even if we are far from happy. Being comfortable is not always a good thing!
Take a good, hard look at your relationship…
1. Write down the problems in your relationship that make you unhappy. Decide which ones you can fix by yourself and which you must talk to your partner about.
2. Discuss the problems with your partner without accusing them or placing blame and try to come up with a solution.
3. Also ask yourself these 3 super-important questions: Does he/she support my goals? Does he/she treat me with respect? Am I content sexually? “No” answers to any of these mean you need to fix something or you two won’t last much longer (without being miserable).
4. Get perspective. You may think that he/she is the best for you but try looking around at the other fish in the sea and comparing. This does not mean you should go experiment while in your relationship, just observe. Decide whether you want to continue trying to make it work with your significant other.
Do you spend enough time with your family? That is assuming you weren’t disowned or hold a deep hatred towards your kin. If you love them, show that you love them. As frustrating as family can be at times, you have to keep in mind that they love you more than anything. Even if your mom anoys the hell out of you and your father is constantly trying to convert you back to Catholicism, they still love you. Even one more day of family time a month can mean a lot them. Plus if you ever do need some love and support, they will be there for you instead of being bitter that you haven’t called in 2 years.