We all have those times where we feel like we want to make a change in our lives and improve our outlook. Sometimes we know exactly what we need to do… other times, not so much. I have often been plagued by that feeling of Meh where I don’t necessarily know what needs to change, just that something does!
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, as if everything needs to change – and then, ultimately, we are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and so nothing changes.
When I want to make a positive change in my life, here’s what I do.
How to decide which area of your life needs a change.
Take a look at the list of 10 life areas below, and give each one a mark out of 10. At this point don’t worry about what you could do to improve each one; just give yourself a score based on how you feel about this aspect of your life:
1. Health and fitness
Do you feel physically healthy and fit right now? Perhaps your diet has been a little off lately, or maybe you’re feeling really unhealthy and unfit. It’s important (with all of these points) to think about this from the perspective of how you feel about your situation, not what other people say or what society says you should feel. If you’re unhealthy and unfit and you’re genuinely happy that way, by all means mark yourself with a 10!
2. Mental health
How is your mental wellbeing these days? Are you struggling with mood swings? Feeling down for no apparent reason? How healthy are you in this area of your life?
3. Career/life purpose
For most of us, this is about the job we are in. Do you enjoy your work? I don’t mean the amount of money you earn; I mean that actual work you do. Is it enjoyable and fulfilling, or is there something else you’d rather be doing? Perhaps you don’t know what you’d rather be doing, but you know you’re not enjoying your current work.
4. Home environment
How do you feel about where you live? Our home should be our sanctuary and a place to close the door on the rest of the world and relax; can you do that? Is it too cluttered? Not cosy enough for your liking? Again – think about how you feel about where you live; not what anyone else thinks. You don’t need to live in a showhome if that’s not your taste.
5. Romantic relationship
If you’re in a romantic relationship, how do you feel about it? If you’re not, how do you feel about that? It is perfectly reasonable to score a 10 in this area and be happily single – if you have absolutely no desire to be in a romantic relationship right now, that is.
6. Relationships with family and friends
Do you feel that you have friends who are always there? Are you always there for them? Are you making enough effort to be a good son/daughter/brother/sister?
7. Financial situation
How are your finances? Are you living at the very edge of your overdraft? Or perhaps you have a comfortable buffer of a couple of months’ expenses tucked away in case of an emergency. Perhaps you are heavily in debt and doing your best to avoid thinking about it.
8. Spiritual connection
This is not necessarily about religion; for many of us it’s about spiritual practices like meditation. And if that side of life does not appeal to you at all, then you can give yourself a 10 for being exactly where you want to be in this area of your life!
9. Personal growth
This could be about formal learning on a course at college or through work; or it could be about listening to podcasts or developing yourself through reading. How do you feel you are doing in this area right now?
10. Fulfilment/joy in your life
How joyful do you feel? Do you have things in your daily life that make you feel fulfilled and happy? Do you do enouhg of the things that light you up?
Identify your 3 key areas
Once you have scored each area of your life, take a look at the two or three with the lowest scores.
You might look at your list and think, but every score is a low score! I would still suggest it’s better to stick to only two or three priorities, otherwise you’ll end up with a ton of things you want to change, and you’ll soon feel overwhelmed and back at square one – perhaps that’s what’s happened for you in the past.
How can you improve?
Now that you have your three key areas, sit down and have a good think about what you could do to improve those areas of your life. This will be different for everyone, but might include things like taking up a new hobby, spending more time with your partner or friends, or even finding a new job. Just write down everything you can think of for each area.
Break it down into chunks
Once you have your list of ideas, choose one idea for each area, and begin to break it down into chunks: how can you go about achieving this?
For example: my living situation has a pretty low score for me right now, and I’ve decided the main thing I can do to improve that is to clear out some clutter. Clear out some clutter is a bit of a generalisation though; I could take one box of things to the charity shop and call it a day! Instead I’m going to break it down into chunks: a list of areas I need to declutter, in order of priority.
What if I don’t know how I can improve?
Sometimes we can feel like we just don’t know where to start; we know a change needs to be made, but we don’t know what we can do.
At times like this, I find that Google and social media can be a great help. Just ask the question: How do I improve my health or How do I feel more spiritually connected and you will find a whole host of suggestions and answers.
Remember: none of this is set in stone. If you decide you want to make an improvement in your life by doing something, and then find a month later that it’s not helping – you can just stop and do something different!
What if I have more than 3 areas I want to improve?
I think most of us feel that there are more than 3 areas of our lives where we’d like to improve things. As I mentioned above, if we try to make a change in every area at once, we’ll only end up feeling overwhelmed.
If you have more than 3 areas of your life where you want to make a change, start now with the areas that have the lowest score. Once you have implemented those changes, in about a month or two, come back and re-do this exercise, prioritising those 3 areas with the lowest scoring again. In this way you can implement a process of evaluation where you can clearly identify the areas you need to make a change, and then put those changes into action.