The most common question I am asked anywhere I go from my day job, to book signings, to live events is this, “What is one thing that I can do to improve my life?” In a society where people are used to quick universal solutions, it can be hard to understand that the solutions can be as varied as the individual. That being said, there is one thing that I would recommend to everyone looking to improve their life. It is at once both universal and customizable. This may sound crazy, but let me assure you that it is 100% true. How can the same solution work for both neighbor Bob and me if I am trying to get in shape and he is trying to fix his relationship?
Let us take the example of getting in shape. Although this can work no matter what area of life you are working on, from parenting to going to a job that seems to suck your soul out of you. If you were to ask someone what the best thing to do to get in shape is, you would, no doubt, receive a million different answers. Some people, like my mother, say walking is the best exercise. I have read that a rowing machine uses roughly 87% of your muscles. Throw swimming, bicycling and other such things in the mix and before long your head starts to spin. If I seek the advice of my friends at peak physique, Jodi and Ricky, I may hear weight lifting, cardio or yoga. So who is right in all of this? They all are. What determines success in fitness, as well as self-improvement, is consistency. While it is true that certain activities use more muscles that others, they do not use any unless you do them. Therefore, the great secret to improving your life? Find something you enjoy. Why? Because you are more likely to keep doing it. Maybe you like battle ropes like the people in the picture above? Let me say, for the record, I have never seen anyone smiling while doing battle ropes, especially while being ‘encouraged’ by a trainer as seems to be the case here. While rowing or walking may use more muscle groups, if you do not like those activities, you are less likely to maintain doing them.
What does all of this have to do with the broad topic of self-improvement? Everything! What events are more likely to change your life? I think fostering an attitude of gratitude is number one on the list. How can you do that? The way that works for you. Do you like keeping a gratitude journal? Then do that because you are likely to stick with it long enough to make a difference. How about carrying a little talisman in your pocket to remind you of something you are grateful for? Then do that. The secret is maintaining a behavior long enough to see results. Relying on will power sets you up for limited success at best. The best chance at success in whatever area of life you are trying to improve is to find something you like and start with that. As things improve, which they will, you will find it easier to add things that may be more beneficial, but would have been harder to stick with in the beginning. You gain momentum by doing an activity that you enjoy. You can use that momentum to make sticking to the more difficult activities that might be needed to accomplish your goals. I would love to hear some of your favorite activities that you use to improve different areas of your life.