Tag Archives: happiness

This Summer, Get Your Life Back Together

This summer is all about big and scary changes for me. What about you? What areas in your life — mental, financial, relationships with siblings or spouses, diet, etc. — need the most improvement? What makes you frustrated or unhappy is the area that needs the most work. Let summer 2013 be all about making healthy steps forward, not backward.

1. Mental Health 

Do you wish you had someone to talk to in confidence? Do you feel depressed, angry, hopeless or frustrated and not sure how to get out of this mess? Gather up your courage and locate a mental health professional. Focus on practical methods of therapy that will help you to focus immediately on the major issues and he or she will guide you to make the necessary changes in life.

  • Find a therapist at therapists.psychologytoday.com and enter your zip code.
  • Choose someone that specializes in areas you need work on (eg: anxiety or substance abuse, marriage counseling) and that accepts your insurance or offers a sliding fee scale — one of the most common reasons for putting off seeing a therapist is the thought that one cannot afford it — not true!
  • Make an appointment for next week.

2. Physical Health

Feel sluggish all the time, tired, and winded going up a few flights of stairs? Recently gained weight? Never exercise? It’s time to change.

  • Start small — 3 times a week for about 30 minutes.
  • Make it easy — take a walk after dinner. No purchases required to get fit.
  • Make it fun — involve your friends/family. Play tennis, play tag with kids, go to the beach and walk along the shore, go swimming, take Zumba, etc. Find something you like.
  • Make it last — attach the habit of exercising with something you already do everyday. Drive past a gym on the way home from work? Keep your gym clothes in your car and head there immediately before going home. Need to watch a certain show every night? Exercise during that program.

3. Spiritual Health

  • If you are religious and have been slacking on going to your church/temple/place of worship, it’s time to recommit. It’s a great place to feel a sense of community and faith like nowhere else and feel like you’re part of a bigger whole, which is comforting. Also, start reading your passages and reflecting silently, too. How can you be a better Christian/Jewish/Buddhist/etc. person today? Can you volunteer, help someone, read a new passage, pray, be closer to nature?
  • If not religious, you can still work on your spiritual health. Practice saying a mantra everyday that makes you feel empowered. Or go to a quiet place of nature and reflect silently.Take steps everyday to remain positive in your life and believe in the magick/karma/The Secret. Meditate. Do yoga. Feel more in tune with your body & soul. Align yourself — become more balanced.

4. Diet/Nutrition

  • This is an important step. Diet has a profound impact on the way we feel, think, and our ability to perform/function in our daily lives. Take this summer to practice eating habits that make you feel better. Journal what you eat, at what time, and how hungry you were. Note how it makes you feel after eating and what emotion you were feeling. Note trends in how you feel hours later or the next day, too — especially if you eat a lot of carbs (sluggish, tired, bloated). Change your habits one meal at a time and become more conscious of the calories you consume — though you don’t have to count them, it’s a good idea if you want to lose weight.
  • Eat cleaner, local, organic foods — search for local farmers markets in your area.
  • Eat more vegetables. Every meal. And try a new veggie once a week or so.
  • Drink water, not calories. An easy way to lose weight and feel better is to drink more water and replace sodas/juices/etc. with water.

5. Social Life/Happiness/Relationships

This is an important one to work on. Ask yourself honestly: How can you be a better…daughter, mother, son, father, wife, husband, friend, relative?

  • What relationships in your life are fading and need TLC? Who can you call that will brighten their face? Catch up with old friends.
  • Ditch the toxic people in your life, as well. If you feel negative when you’re around, make bad decisions like drink/smoke, or if they treat you badly, ditch them. Life is too short to hang around with awful friends. You can always make new friends that align with your goals. Seek them out.
  • Do something that makes you happy everyday. Even if it’s a little bit selfish. If you are not happy everyday, than what is the point of living — seek help if you are feeling depressed, and seek ways to bring happiness into your life on a constant basis.
  • Make an effort to be social, friendly, and confident — even if you don’t feel like it, fake it. It will get easier, I promise.

_____________

If this article helped or inspired you in any way please let me know what you will be working on this summer. I have my own list and I’d like to see what you will be up to.

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When Sh*t Happens, or When You’re Not Happy, Change Something

I’ve been having the most awful, cortisol-stuffed vein producing days lately. Sh*t keeps happening to me and I’m in a daze. Confusion settles around me like heavy cigarette smoke. It’s hard to feel like there’s ever a way out.

The important thing to know when you’re dealing with a day/week/month like this, is that you are never alone. There is someone who has been there, who has gotten through it, who is currently experiencing the same damn thing as you. Your situation is never 100% unique — there is always someone who has already walked in your path, overcome the sh*t and owned it.

Sometimes sh*t happens for a reason. Whether it was your fault or not, or whether you just had a stroke of awful luck and happenstance, it can bring along an unfortunate series of events. Most people will crumble. Give up. And they will never pick themselves off from being beaten down and throw themselves at whatever challenges them.

But the important thing to know is that you have the amazing ability to control the now. The present. F*ck the past, that’s spilled milk. Done. Over. Worst day of your life? Okay, but that was yesterday. It’s done, you can move on. 

Figure out what went wrong, find something you can learn from yesterday.

When sh*t happens, it’s easy to fall into an endless cycle of feeling sorry for yourself. 

Don’t. Stop right now.

The freedom that many have can be paralyzing to act — you CAN change the outcome. You CAN do something about it. It might be hard, or take a lot of courage, but there is always something you can do to make yourself happy when you’re not. 

The strategy is simple. But I didn’t say it wasn’t hard.

Not Happy? Change Something.

1. Figure out what makes you angry, upset, depressed, frustrated, and stressed.

2. Eliminate or get rid of these things. They are mentally, physically and spiritually destroying you slowly.

3. If the items in #1 require much planning, do that planning now. Need to quit your job that brings tears to your eyes every time you wake up in the morning? Establish a set of action plans to do this month, this week, and tomorrow.

4. Replace the negativity with healthier things that bring happiness. Especially if #1 items will take time to get rid of…paint, vent on the phone with a friend, go out to eat at your favorite restaurant, take a walk at the park, play with your kids or pet.

5. Establish the focus on your emotional state and stress levels, and do things to reduce it: get enough sleep. Eat vegetables and fruit. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Meditate. Journal. Paint. See a life coach/counselor if you really need to, it truly helps. There is no stigma — help yourself.

Remember this: If you’re not working to make your life better, your life will not get better.

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February, or the month of GSD

So January is almost over, and PROGRESS-WISE, that leaves me barely a stone’s throw away from where I started since 2012 ended.

I figure since February is such a short month (28 days!) that it’s time I mentally, physically, and metaphorically get shit done. Hence, Feb 2103 = Get Shit Done Month (GSD for short or if you don’t like swearing).

I’ve been lurking over at jessicamullen’s blog for a while to generally inspire myself and to think more positively about stuff. I’ve been trying to inject pieces of positiveness into the universe, take risks, and do things that terrify me, like participating in my classes. Just recently I took the plunge and gave myself a raise, technically speaking, on Fiverr: instead of getting 500 words for $5, I’m charging $5 for 250 words. And people are still ordering from me! My fears have been abated. I deserve more. I write good (er..well). People like my work. I’ve been committing to going to classes like it’s my job. I like learning when I’m there. I like my teachers. I like feeling productive, instead when I skip I feel useless and generally crappy.

the only thing that I’m not working on at all is my weight situation, which is, er, a huge problem. I’m tired of gaining and not losing. I want to be healthy, happy in my own skin. But I’m not acting like I want to be those things. I’m behaving like I want to be unhappy, unhealthy, and uncomfortable. I have to reverse this horrible habit. So this month I’m mostly going to concentrate on going to the on-campus gym (which is right there and, free) after classes at least three days per week for 30 minutes to start. The weather is a tad less wintry and awful, so I’ve been walking to school some days, which takes 15 minutes one direction. I will end up not taking my car completely when it is consistently warmer out.

I’ve been adding healthier things in my diet, but I also eat a lot of nonhealthy things, and just plain unfood. Cookies, chips, and other things I inhale to distract myself from other things just has to stop. It’s time for lettuce. tomatoes. broccoli. Things that make me feel better after eating, not worse. not things that make me sick. figuratively and literally.

I also need to make my DAYS more productive. How do business people act? People who freelance professionally? People who have the lifestyle I want? I need to emulate that. People who create multiple streams of income online do not sleep until 2pm. People who freelance professionally do not stay up until 3am eating cookies (I think).

These people wake up early, at a set time everyday, exercise first thing in the morning, eat a real breakfast, get their work done early and don’t bullshit on the internet half the time, and keep their house clean and orderly. They manage their time well and don’t have to rush for deadlines, well unless they like the rush (don’t all writers? we like punishing ourselves this way, don’t we). They know how to get into FLOW and FOCUS. They take breaks and eat regular, balanced meals. They still have plenty of time for other creative and social activities. They know what to do to avoid getting depressed or feeling hopeless.

This February, I will GSD. Will you take the challenge with me?

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Take a Mindful Break: 3, 2, 1

Stop what you’re doing.

Open a blank document in your preferred editor, or grab a notebook and pen.

Completely fill the page freewriting about the goal you are working on currently and specify the steps that you are going to do

  • TODAY, by the time you go to sleep.
  • TOMORROW, as early as you can fit it in.
  • BY THE END OF THE WEEK, list the steps you are going to do and what you plan to accomplish.

THREE.

How are you feeling? Do you feel good about yourself, your day, your current situation? If not, make sure you brainstorm at least 3 actionable steps you can do to shift that attitude.

TWO.

End the page with naming 2 things you are grateful for and/or love.

ONE.

On the top of the page, write the date, and write 1 word that most echoes what you’re trying to achieve. Here are some examples:

  • creative
  • inspire
  • trust
  • worth
  • health
  • fitness
  • intelligence
  • wealth
  • skill
  • YOUR OWN: ____________
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3 Ways to Immediately Live a More Fulfilling Life

westie painting leftoversHave you ever thought to yourself, “there must be more to this life?”

There is. You just have to figure out what it is.

Stop living your life absentmindedly, going through the motions, and self-medicating with food, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Stop hating your life each morning, swearing under your breath as you brush your teeth. Stop yelling at your spouse or kids because you are so stressed at work and stop being disgusted with yourself. The time to act is now. Grab a pen and piece of paper, and find out what you need in your life to be happier.

1. Do what you love. Stop what you don’t.

There’s no point wasting your time being miserable. Focus on what you enjoy in your life and make a strong effort to replace time-wasting activities with activities and hobbies that make you smile or lose track of time.

DO: Try drawing in a sketchpad, painting on a canvas, reading a good book, hand-writing in a pretty journal, taking pictures with a real camera (not your iphone), going outside and laying in the grass. What makes you happy? Munching on chips probably makes you (temporarily) happy, but choose a more spiritually rewarding or creative task. The key is to replace a negative aspect of your life (what is harming some aspect of your life in any way, big or small, literally, morally, spiritually, or mentally), with something constructive and positive.

STOP: Get rid of mindless web surfing, bad television show-watching, sitting on the couch, sleeping in, toxic friends, smoking, over-consumption of alcohol or indulging in high-caloric food, social media….and anything else that bring no worth to your pleasure or career, things that give you anxiety or are tedious, and things that are not critical to your life and have no sense being in it.

Consciously remove yourself from that negative situation (caught yourself in front of daytime TV again?). If you cannot leave the room or environment (you hate your job, but you need to pay bills? See number two), use some quick relaxation exercises to calm yourself down and bring yourself in the present moment mentally. Stop shutting out your emotions and realize what behaviors or feelings are bringing you to desire this harmful activity.

Example: I mindlessly surf Facebook when I am bored.
What is at the root of this activity? What am I feeling? Boredom.
Why do I feel bored? Because I have no one to talk to, and I feel lonely. Because I can’t sleep, so I’ve logged onto the computer to waste time and distract myself.
What am I distracting myself from? My current financial situation.

This example shows how to write out and get to the root of your stress/worries that is causing the negative behavior. Free-write uninterrupted until you hit the gold-mine.

The next step, of course, is to figure out proactive ways to solve your problems. But first:

  • Remove yourself from the situation.
  • Calm yourself down and get back in the present. Realize why you are doing this behavior.
  • Physically get up, change gears, and begin doing the activity you’d rather be doing — the one that brings you joy, is productive and creative, and more fulfilling to your life.
  • Keep consciously changing gears until you replace the bad habit completely.
  • Feel infinitely better and more creative.

2. Get a job you love – the smart way.

It is easy for self-help books and blogs to say, “if you don’t like your job, QUIT.” But seriously, we all need to pay the bills. Sometimes the only job out there is one that is mind-numbing, below your pay rate or skill levels, or has a horrible and stressful work environment or co-workers. The smart way to do this is to look for your dream job — on the side. Keep your job for the necessities in life: utilities, rent/mortgage payments, car payments, gas, food, clothes, and insurance. But when you’re out of work, fill an hour or so per week hunting down that job. Update your resume, make an account on Linked In or SnagaJob, search Indeed or Monster for open positions, practice job interview questions. Glassdoor is a great resource for getting the inside scoop on job interviews, salary levels, and workplace satisfaction. Discover companies in your area and contact them.

Make a deadline for when you would like to quit. If you find it hard to work without pressure, type your letter of resignation now, and seal it in an envelope addressed to your manager. Bring it to your manager in the two weeks before your previously chosen last day.

Note: you may be tempted to find a job and rush in there, tell off your boss and stick up the middle finger and waltz out the door. DON’T. Remain professional and civil, and you will keep a reference for your future jobs. Also, most managers will not provide a positive reference to your employers if you do not provide the two-weeks-notice or more; please see your employee handbook for specific information for your job. Do not lose out on your reference, especially if you’ve been at the job for more than six months. Consider this a stepping stone to your true job.

If your employment relationship includes either an explicit or implied contract that says you must give two weeks notice of resignation and you don’t, your employer might have the right to take punitive action. For example, your employer might legally have the right to deny you termination benefits, such as accrued vacation pay. (source)

You may consider taking this hour or so every week to contribute your time to starting the business you’ve always dreamed of (see youngentrepreneur.com), starting a website to monetize/sell products/blog, or advertise for handy man work or cleaning positions on your local Craigslist. These side endeavors, with some hard work, and time/money investments (dependent on the nature of the project), will lead to a decent side income or may even a replacement to your paid-per-hour or salary job position. (See SmartPassiveIncome.com)

3. Be a constant learner.

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
~Chinese Proverb

One of the greatest joys of life is that there is much to be learned — everyday. Seek out opportunities to learn something. Whether it’s a new word (like this one), a new language (great list of free language learning tools and sites), a program (like Photoshop), or something extremely out of your element (for me, it’s politics), the most fulfilling life is one that is full of constant learning. Here are just a few amazing online free resources.

  • Khan Academy – online courses/videos.
  • W3Schools – learn HTML, Javascript, CSS, ASP, PHP, etc.
  • Codecademy – interactive code-learning program for beginners.
  • Reddit.com – millions of amazing subreddits with opportunities to learn everyday with user-uploaded content and interesting debates like r/psychology, r/science, or this question/answer format r/IAmA (posters claim they are some interesting person, prove it, and answer reader’s questions). You can literally search anything and they will most likely have a reddit for it.
  • Tell me why? – random tidbits of knowledge and facts in a blog format.
  • DumbLittleMan has this great list of free online resources for learning something new everyday.
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Focus: 5 Things to Do Right Now For a More Productive Life

Focus on SightThere’s a lot of keys to success, and tons of different life paths, but you must have this in order to reach the door.

F O C U S.

What is a life without focus? It’s staring at the bottom of a bottle every night in a dive bar. It’s avoiding the mirror when you wake up so you don’t see the fat accumulating on your belly. It’s a pile of unpaid bills, half of them notices from the college you earned the degree from — the one collecting dust in a bent folder somewhere in your bookcase. It’s like driving without watching where you are going, kind of like texting and driving. Sure, you peek up here and there, just to make sure you’re still on the road. But someday, you’re going to crash. Hard.

Does it feel like a dream? Where does the time go? You have no idea, because you’re not keeping track. You’re not caring.

Suddenly, you wake up and you’re 25, or 30, or 40, and you must pull off that pile of regrets like you pull off your comforter in the morning, and get going with your life.

So how does one find focus in a blurry life? Start doing these things, and you’ll start seeing a more productive life.

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier. It is true, the early bird gets the worm. But you don’t need to wake up at 5am to reap the benefits of a more productive, relaxed morning. Start at just 20 minutes earlier — enough time to read the newspaper, get a quick at-home workout in (just walk around the block!), eat an actual (balanced) breakfast, or ponder your life’s current path.

2. Write one page a day. It can be a Word document on your computer, an Evernote page, or an actual page in a notebook — just start your day by writing about anything that comes to mind. What is on your mind? What bothers you, upsets you? What are you thinking of doing today – this week – this month? End the page by writing down at least 2 productive things you will do today that is in line with your goals. Don’t have goals? We’ll fix that.

3. Determine your goals. Take a good chunk of time to really think about your life for a minute. Dig deeper until you find an aspect of your life that really depresses you or makes you angry. Is it your weight? Your lack of a job? Not having insurance or a reliable car? Horrible debt lingering over your head? Having poor friends or no one to talk to — or being single? Once you find something that sparks emotion, determine what would change that reaction to happiness and content about your life.

Do this: I would feel happier if I __________…

4. Stop doing something. Everyone has a bad habit, most of us have more than one vice. One way to have better focus is to stop poisoning your body with them. Is is smoking? Vodka? Or something else? Make the decision to quit, and you’ll feel a lot better — maybe not immediately (quitting drugs is difficult and can result in feeling withdrawal symptoms, even physical discomfort or sickness), but overall you will live longer and have something to strive for daily: not using/drinking.

Note: it does not have to be a drug/alcohol addiction. It can be anything big or small that you wish you would stop doing because it harms your body, bank account, friends/family, or life in some way. Do you have a horrible habit of reckless thrift shopping? Collecting new purses? Ignoring friend’s phone calls? Taking anger out on your wife/husband?

5. Remind yourself daily. A habit that is not watched quickly dies, so find ways to remind yourself of your new goals. Tell your significant other to wake up earlier with you, and make breakfast together. Call a friend and go for a morning gym session. Make an appointment to see a doctor about ways to quit smoking. Set your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up. Post photos of whatever inspires you on your mirror, on your fridge, in your car. Find resources online to help you. Check back weekly, and then monthly, to see your progress.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

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Are You Happy? No? Then Change Something

are-you-happy-infographicvia

I found this awesome infograph and it inspired me to write a brief post. The graph asks, Are you happy? If no, then change something. If yes, then keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re not happy, but don’t want to be happy, you can also keep doing what you’ve been doing. I think this illustrates very clearly that you are responsible for your own happiness, and that change begins with an awareness of the need to do something about it.

You’re not going to wait around and become happy. You’ve got to put a little work into it, and deserve that happiness. So how to do this?

Step One: Change your Attitude.

Happiness is an emotion, just like the hundreds of other emotions we have the ability to feel and comprehend and put into thousands of words. Instead of thinking negative thoughts, think positive ones. Instead of being upset about something, think of something that you can be happy about. Even if it’s, “Well, I could be dying or dead.” Because some people are dying or dead. You still have an entire life to live, so don’t waste it.

Step Two: Realize that Change is Possible.

You’ve also got to seriously believe that you can change your life. It is YOUR life, and although there are some things we cannot change (the economy, the climate), there are lots of things that you can change. This is called your locus of control. What things inside your locus of control can you change? You, your relationships, your job, your education, your location, your inner thought processes, your behavior and your actions.

Step Three: Decide What Your Goals Are.

You cannot start on a road trip without knowing where to go, can you? Sure, you can just kind of jump in the car and go, but you’ve got to at least know where the highway is, which direction you feel like going in, and where your keys are (damn!). Write down what it is you’d like to change about your life (see If Your Life Sucks, Do Something About It), and why. Then figure out how you’re going to do just that…

Step Four: Make Action Steps and DO IT

You can’t be WINNING if you’re not even trying. So once you figure out what your goals are, then you have to figure out exactly how you’re going to do it. This can take a bit of research, but it’s totally worth it, especially if you want to avoid wasting time (and probably money) through trial and error. These are action steps – your to-do list from here on out. But just writing it down isn’t enough, you have to do it. You can’t change your life without actually changing anything, duh. So don’t look stupid (even to yourself) by not following through. Don’t you care about your own life, and think you’re worthy of being kept a promise? Then don’t break your own promises to yourself.

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How Positive Psychology Can Help Improve Your Life

Most psychology topics deal with dysfunction or mental illness, and it can take a toll on how we feel about the state of human life and question the intentions of people. However, the burgeoning field of positive psychology explores what makes life worth living, which can be a radical inspiration in the midst of  this crazy/beautiful life.

There are many things that the science of positive psychology has taught the world since its introduction just over a decade ago, such as that most people are happy and resilient and that strong relationships are critical to one’s sense of happiness, but perhaps the most significant one is that the good life can be taught. It is not by fate or genetics that people become happy. Happiness and feeling satisfied in one’s life truly is a journey that must be discovered through trial and error, of break ups and make ups, of reading and learning and experiencing all that life has to offer. So how can this scientific breakthrough help your life?

Don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment. Grow out of your comfort zone and do something a little bit crazy. Explore a new city or town, meet a new friend, try a new dish. Take a class you would never have thought to take, read a book in a genre you thought you’d hate. Try a new exercise, a new fruit, make a recipe from scratch. Bake vegan brownies. Browse around Wikipedia and learn something new. Discover new heroes and inspirational figures. Watch the sunrise, watch the sunset. Learn a new sport, learn a new language. Try a new hobby. Try painting. The ideas are endless.

Keep your mind flexible by always reading and learning something new. Read a new blog article per day (such as this one) or a new chapter in an inspiring book. And keep your heart full by nourishing your relationships with your family, friends, and significant other. Give hugs and kisses, and talk on the phone and in person. Have deep, meaningful conversations.

Think about the positives, not the negatives. Whenever you catch yourself thinking a negative thought about yourself, catch it and re-write it in your mind so that it states something positive. Review an affirmation everyday and read your goals to keep your vision in your mind. Free write every morning in a journal and get out all of that negative thought garbage out of your head and literally rip up the page and throw it away. On a new page, write 10 things you love about yourself and 10 things you could do today to work towards your goals on improving yourself.

Think of your goals in a positive light, not negative one by stating that you wish to achieve financial abundance, not to get out of debt. Work out everyday to become a healthy, thin person instead of losing weight. Say that you want to only put healthy things in your mouth, don’t say that you want to stop eating junk food or drinking alcohol. Think of what to replace in your life, not what to get rid of, which usually has a negative connotation. Think back to operant conditioning, where the positive reinforcement system is better than a negative punishment. Think of giving yourself positive things in your life to increase good behaviors, rather than thinking of always adding punishment or decreasing good things to decrease bad behaviors. Not only will this way of thinking help you think of life as more satisfying and positive, but it also tells you more clearly what kind of life you are after, and not what you are not after.

Inspired by Psychology Today’s What is positive psychology and what is it not?

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How to Really Get Things Done

To Do List for 2009Your to-do list is a mile long, yet you’re just lazily surfing Facebook and thinking about how you spent too much money last night at the bar. Bill stubs and half-read books litter the desk, and you just ordered out Domino’s — Again. You’re trying to figure out what it is that you needed to do right now, but you misplaced the napkin you wrote it on. Something needs to change here, and you know it. You need to start really getting things done.

It just so happens there is a great organizational method called “Get Things Done,” or GTD for short. GTD is a simplified system for people who hate organizational systems and complex, color coded planners, and there are many levels so you can be only as organized as you want to be. Inspired hugely by Study Hacks, here is the down ‘n’ dirty version of how to git ‘er done.

Materials needed:

  • small pocket or purse sized notebook with pen handy
  • a pocket planner or monthly calendar
  • a large calendar to hang in your room or dorm
  • optional: weekly and/or daily calendar (depending on how specific you want to get)
  1. Collect – every time you get a new appointment, assignment, task, or goal, write it down somewhere as soon as you get the notice or idea. It is handy to keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse. Anything that is time sensitive, write it down on a calendar or planner (or both, if you have both). In your planner, write assignments down on both the dates they are due and the date you hear of it, so you know how long you have. On your calendar, write down only the due dates and appointments.
  2. Plan– Plan out tasks, assignments, papers, and personal goals in your notebook. If something will take longer than a few days, then mark reminders in your planner or calendar. If you like to make daily plans, outline blocks of time to work on your tasks each day – make sure you leave plenty of room and time for breaks and time with friends or outside. Choose ONE time per day to check email and make your plans. Morning or the night before is best, so you can either relax or wake up and mentally get ready for the day.
  3. Act – When it is time to do a certain task, cut off all other distractions and work through until it is done. Get all materials needed, as well as a to-do list already mapped out. Keep water and snacks nearby so you won’t have to get up or go to the store. And when you check regular mail and email, make sure every piece of mail has a place – garbage, save, reply, or act. Your inbox should be zero by the time you’re finished, then you won’t have to worry about it later. If a piece of mail has a time-sensitive piece of information on it, then make sure it’s in your calendar or on your to-do list. Try to do the worst thing first, so you can just get it out of the way. You can also take a look at your calendar and see what needs to be done first, like a paper due tomorrow.

Have you heard of GTD or tried it? How has it worked for you?

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If Your Life Sucks, Do Something About It

SadYou know when you get in one of those moods, and you start to feel pretty frustrated with your life? Maybe even depressed? I was feeling it a couple of nights ago, and fueling the fire with more and more pitying thoughts. After a while, I started to get sick of it. I forced myself to stop the lonely pity party and do something about my problems. I’ll make it easy and even provide some suggestions so that the next time you’re feeling this way, you’ll be able to stop yourself and attack it at the source.

The only way to get yourself to stop feeling like your life sucks is to be proactive about your problems and find solutions.

The “Do Something About It” Template
you can use this template to really think about your goals. What part of your life can you not stand the most? Which area is the most pressing? Your health? Your job? Your wife or husband? It’s time to align your life with your priorities. It starts with defining exactly what it is that upsets you or stresses you out the most, and then finding a model (ie: a person to look up to) so you know what it should look like. I strongly recommend that you write this down; fill in the blanks on a piece of paper or online journal:

  • Something you dislike about yourself:  ___ (choose one each time for simplicity)
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10=most), how much do you dislike this? ___
  • Why does this part about your life suck?
  • How did you end up in your current situation?
  • Whose life (or facet of life) do you look up to or wish to be?
  • How do you think you can emulate this person’s life so you can improve your own?
  • What tools or resources will you need to have? What will you have to learn or buy?
  • Define your goal for this change: ___
  • Now make steps for working towards this goal, of changing what you dislike about your life.
  • What can you do this year? This month? Today?

Examples to get you thinking and on the path to change.
Here are some ideas of common life suckers and how to change them. I can’t give all the answers, and I wouldn’t know them anyways (since there are many paths to the right choice), so I’m going to lay out all the options I thought of for each of the scenarios and it’s up to you to put them to the test and see which change will work.

  • You hate your job. Start by finding out what it is that you hate: your boss, your coworkers, the industry you’re in. You may have to switch departments, location, or even find a new career that you love. The first two reasons will mostly consist of finding out how to do those things, and interviewing at a new branch. You may want to brush up on job interview skills and update your resume. If you choose the last option, your goals will also include perhaps going to community college or new training. Research what you want to do and see what schools will allow you to get a job with a degree or certification. What brings you the most joy?
  • You don’t like something about yourself – clothes, weight, hair. Physical appearances are relatively simple to change. If you don’t like your clothes, find out why and start learning about how to have style. Buy a fashion/style magazines (girls, go to Allure or Glamour; men, try GQ) and go online for ideas. Try some retail therapy. Depending on your budget, go to stores like Macy’s Kohl’s, etc. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money: try thrift stores, Savers, Goodwill. Or, swap clothes with friends and ask them for advice. If you dislike your hair, do the same thing, but look at hair magazines and consider a totally new change like cutting your very long hair or straightening your curly hair. A good color change and hair cut will do wonders for self esteem. Weight is a different animal. This requires learning new nutrition and fitness information and implementing better habits daily. Start exercising every morning and eat more vegetables to start. Read a fitness-minded magazine like Fitness or Shape and go online to find a good exercise equipment, video, or gym membership plan. Make sure you also tackle the bigger issues here – emotional eating, large portions, or even depression. Seek professional help when necessary, even if it’s just one session with a personal trainer.
  • You hate where you live – your room, your apartment, maybe even your state. Make sure you define clearly what it is you dislike before doing anything drastic. What bothers you the most about where you live, and what answer do you think will make you happier? Look around for different apartments in the area and find a better floor plan, more space, less money. Tackle roommate issues head on, even if it means you moving out. If it’s your area bothering you, start exploring new cities around you or in a different corner of the state. This could be hard if you live in a large state. Ask around in forums or craigslist for information on other cities and towns in your state for better living areas. If you dislike your state, find out why (the snow, the harsh summers?) and choose states to visit first that don’t have what you dislike. If you hate snow, consider moving south or west where the snow barely hits. If you hate summer, move up north. If you like all the seasons, go towards the northeast. Search online for places to visit and that would interest you – make lists of the perks they would offer – excellent schools? low crime rates? cheap rent? nicer people? no hills? culture-rich city? quiet rural area? commuter friendly? Consider what is important for you. Visit places first and if you like a place, look for jobs and apartments/houses to move there. Make sure you consider all risks and costs involved with this step, especially the further away you move. Make sure it is something you really want.
  • You don’t have many friends, or the ones you do have suck. Look in the mirror first. Are you a bad friend too? Consider working on your weaknesses like being bossy or avoiding calls to hang out first. Then consider what bothers you about your friends. Are they sketchy? Do you feel like you’re being used? Do they never call but hang out with their other friends? Do they lie? Are some of them downright abusive or manipulative? Get rid of toxic friends first. This is an awkward situation, so end it as clean as you can. Be straightforward and end all ties that are holding you down or making you feel awful. If you’re feeling lonely, find out if depression isn’t making you avoid your friends and/or interests. Then force yourself out of your comfort zone and find ways to make new friends — at parties, clubs/bars, libraries, gyms, school, the bus station, the park. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to ask people for their number or email address. Make plans to hang out with people and have fun with new activities. Pretty soon you will introduce him/her to your own circle of friends (and your new friend will introduce you to his/her’s) and your friendships will expand, giving you more opportunities to meet new people.
  • You feel like crap, and you want to eat and live more healthfully. This usually goes hand-in-hand with being overweight. Figure out what your bad habits are and why you do these things. Make an active effort to learn more about healthy eating (magazines, library books, youtube) and start buying more fruits and vegetables. Start small and replace unhealthy versions with better ones that offer more nutritional value and lower calories. And if you eat out a lot, learn to cook a few healthy staples — you will lose weight, eat more vitamins, and save money, too.
  • Your life is a bore, and waking up feels like a chore. If you have the following symptoms: lack of appetite or increase, insomnia or sleeping too much, not interested in things you used to love, isolating yourself from friends and family, feeling down, sad, or irritable, and thinking about suicide or death, you may have depression. If this has been going on consistently for more than 2 months, please make an appointment to see a therapist. It may be hard to take that first step, but it is worth it. Depression may underlie many of the symptoms listed here as hating your life, and may manifest itself into eating too much (or not at all), avoiding friends, hating your job, or not feeling pretty or worthy of affection. If you feel like your life is never good enough, and it is a struggle to do even simple everyday tasks like take a shower, eat, or get out of the bed, then you need to seek help immediately. Search for a psychologist in your area A.S.A.P.
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