After reading Part One of How to Make the Most of Life, there are three more steps to consider.
As we said earlier, “Imagine yourself an explorer traversing new territory. Climbing a few mountains will be worth it in the end. Now, lace up those hiking boots and follow me through these additional steps for a more fulfilling life.”
4. MAKE PROMISES YOU PLAN TO KEEP
Too many of us try to be the good guy and promise more than we can realistically deliver. Are you the kind of person who wants to make everyone happy? Do you see yourself as a “people-pleaser?” If so, you might tend to overpromise.
To reduce stress, feelings of overwhelm, or the resentment you feel when you’ve promised more than is possible, be choosy about the things you agree to do. Give yourself a “budget” and stick to it. Just like any medical office, allow yourself X number of commitments each week. Then, leave 20% of your time or energy for unexpected requests, appointments or tasks.
Before you agree to anything, build in some buffer. Ask for an hour or a day to check your calendar to be sure it’s something you can accomplish. This will give you time to think it over without being influenced. For example, you could say, “Mary, my plate is pretty full. Let me review my task list and I can give you a definite answer by 5pm tomorrow.” Whenever possible, follow this guideline, even if it’s your boss asking the question. Even if your first instinct is to say “yes.”
When you consistently deliver on your promises, your reputation will improve. Even better if you can deliver earlier than expected. Your credibility will increase. You can focus on what’s important and you’ll feel much more successful in the end.
“Don’t judge me by my past. I don’t live there anymore.” —Petteri Tarkkonen
5. DON’T VENT
It’s tempting when you’ve had a bad day with your boss, a customer, co-worker or your kid to let it all out. Who hasn’t indulged in venting at some point in our lives? Admit it. Doesn’t it feel good to get all those pent-up frustrations out on the table?
There are many reasons why venting, especially at work, is a bad idea. Studies show venting is like jumping on an emotional hamster wheel. It creates a habit we default to, time after time. It lowers our self-control threshold or trigger point. There’s a difference between venting and asking someone for advice. Asking for advice means you are solution-focused and invested in making things better. Venting can suggest we feel morally superior.
Here are two ways to get it under control:
1. Challenge yourself to go 48 hours, or one week, without venting. This will give you a taste of how good self-control feels. It also trains us how to focus on positive solutions, rather than just the irritations in life.
2. Before you let loose, ask yourself, “How do I want this to end? What are three things I can do to resolve the issue?” This will disrupt the cycle of negativity and help focus on working towards constructive outcomes.
I believe most of us try hard every day to be a better person. No one is perfect, certainly not me. So, the more self-awareness we can develop, the better. This exercise will limit the times we have to second-guess ourselves. You also won’t need to apologize for our words or actions quite so much. Your self-confidence will increase. When you realize you can manage ups and downs without indulging in out-of-control words and actions, you’ll gain newfound respect for yourself. And life will look a whole lot brighter!
Read more about the virtues and vices of venting here.
6. CREATE A MASTER LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
A Master List is a way to keep track of all the wonderful things you’ve achieved in every job you’ve held, every board position or committee you’ve served on, every book or article you’ve written, etc. This list should incorporate every accomplishment in your resume or curriculum vitae.
Segment your accomplishments into functional categories, like communication, leadership, operations, crisis management, project management, budgeting, etc. Continue to add to the list with each new responsibility you accept. And whenever possible, quantify with numbers, percentages, dollars, years or awards.
Your Master List will be very handy when you update your resume or if your manager needs to be reminded of what you did all year before they write your performance review.
You can also use it as the basis of your bio should you decide to:
- run for a political office or board position
- seek investor funding for a project
- apply to a leadership school
- enter a graduate program
- find an agent or a publisher, etc.
- or impress your neighbors
The Master List also works wonders when you need a psychological lift. Just sit back and look over all the great things you’ve accomplished thus far. Then, take great pleasure in knowing you still have time to live a life of meaning and purpose!
If you read over this list and feeling overwhelmed, just pick one of these steps each month to build into your life. I promise you’ll feel more in control and proud of the improvements you’ve made!