When your life is a mess it can be extremely hard to clean it up—like asking someone to do maintenance on a plane's engine while it's hurtling through the air at 600 miles an hour.
Lucky for you, life isn’t like a plane (for one thing, the seats are way more comfortable.) If you can simply find 20 minutes to sit and think in a quiet place, it IS possible to get clear about what's not working and how to fix it.
(Don’t have 20 minutes? Likely that's the problem to start with.)
First, take a piece of paper and write down a list of everything currently going right in your life. (Because sometimes it’s only by putting our strengths under a microscope that we can best identify our weaknesses.)
If you have a hard time coming up with a list, write down some life categories, (i.e. “health, “marriage,” “career” etc.) and try to come up with ideas under each.
(Still coming up with nothing? Maybe you're depressed. Honestly, it happens to the best of us. Perhaps the whole point of this exercise is realizing you may need to get some help with that.)
Once you have your list of "good stuff," consider…
Essentially, treat all of this "good stuff" as fodder for learning more about yourself and where your priorities are. Then, move on to the harder part...
Take another piece of paper and list some life categories, (mine usually are: Physical Health, Mental Health, Career, Social Life, Marriage, Parenting, Community.) Think of these categories as a row of buckets on the ground in front of you.*
Start brainstorming things you’d like to change (about yourself, about your life, about the world…whatever floats your boat) and toss each idea into the metaphorical bucket that feels like the best fit. (e.g. "My pants don't fit" goes under "Physical Health," or "I hate my boss" goes under "Career".)
You will learn a lot from how your buckets start "filling up."
O.K., now you have two lists: one of good stuff in your life and another of organized bad stuff.
First, stick your good stuff list somewhere where you can see it easily and often. Use this list to remind yourself every day that you know how to win, (even if all it feels like you're doing lately is losing.)
Then, take the list of bad stuff and start thinking about next steps.
The truth is, changing the things that aren't working in your life is a tough task. Not everyone is in a place to do the work and not everyone has the courage to take the first step. Once you do, you'll often be faced with tedious tasks for which you'll likely get no praise or glory.
You should do it anyway.
You only get this one, precious life, my friends. Take 20 minutes now and then to ensure you're making the most of it.
Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash
*If you hate the three dimensional concept of "buckets" substitute the word "list."
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.