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Live A Happy & Successful Life You’ve Always Imagined With These 4 Simple Steps

Live A Happy & Successful Life You’ve Always Imagined With These 4 Simple Steps

Happiness and success are both subjective. There is no doubt about that. Despite having vastly different standards, few would be bold enough to call themselves happy and successful in life. So many of us set out to accomplish great deeds, only to be floored by the numerous meticulous tasks and ended up scurrying back with our tails between our legs, defeated.

Our goals became but words on a document. We keep telling ourselves “I will do this some time later”, then completely forget about them a few weeks later. Olin Miller had it right –

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”

It is time to change, and there is no time better than now. But how?

The Westenberg Framework

Jon Westenberg is an entrepreneur, comedian, and writer. He also launched a coaching program to help people build their roadmap in life. Earlier in September last year, he introduced his life-changing framework in his article How To Invest In Yourself on Medium. With four simple steps, he set out to become more productive, efficient, and regret-free.

Let’s get a summary of what you can do!

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Step 1: A list of 100 things

In the first step, he said with much conviction –

“It’s not a bucket list, it’s not things I wish I could do — it’s things I really am going to do.”

Put down 100 things that you wanted to do but are not completely out of reach. It can be anything. From “finding a company” to “going surfing in Montauk” to “replacing the furniture at home” – it’s up to you. Just remember, these are things that you will eventually tick off your list. These are things you have always wanted to do but just never really had time for. This is a plan instead of a mirage.

Then, divide them into three categories:

  1. Things that I need skills for
  2. Things that I can do immediately
  3. Things that I need time for

    Tip: As you would see in this excerpt of my list, there are things that lie in between needing skills or time. Just think of it this way: the things that need time are those that you already have the ability to do but either takes a long time to complete or cannot be done right now.

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    There, the first step – done. Not bad, right?

    Step 2: A skill chart

    There are things on your list that you would need to acquire certain knowledge before you can complete them.

    If you want to build a mobile app, you need to know how to code. If you wish to make a cake for your mom on her birthday, you need to learn how to bake. If you want to write a poem to propose to your girlfriend, you need to master rhyme schemes, meter, and imagery.

    To keep track of the skills you need to learn, create a spreadsheet and put down the following into four columns:

    1. A column that lists the skills you have to learn
    2. A column for Research
    3. A column for Action
    4. A column for Progress

    Research and write down the things that you need to do to learn the skill in the “Action” column. Then, in the “Progress” column, estimate how far you are from learning the skill. For example, one of my goals is to relearn the piano after dropping it for five years. The “actions” I would need to complete in order to achieve this goal are things like learning the music theory, practicing the method books such as scales and sight-reading, etc.

    Personally though, I merged the “Research” and “Action” column to save time. When you completed one task, simply add an asterisk (or any way you would prefer) to said task in the column.

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    There is just one thing to note here: be honest. You may start slowly, but the pace will pick up as you get more used to the methodical approach towards learning different skills.

    Step 3: Immediate action

    You will have things on your list that can be accomplished right here, right now. Yet somehow, you never got to do it. Be it painting your room another color, or getting a new keyboard for your computer, these things are easy.

    So make a plan and get them done.

    They might be easy. They might be meager. They might not hold much significance.

    But accomplishing simple things like writing in the journal every day gives me the drive to tackle the more difficult tasks, such as studying literature and writing a book. That’s because every time I completed one of these tasks, it gave me a small sense of achievement, and as the list of completed things grows, so does your confidence.

    Step 4: The things you need time for.

    Finally, we have come to the things that would take relatively more time and patience. It may be learning how to play Mozart or Beethoven. It might be writing a book. Regardless, it requires the one thing you lack the most: time.

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    “Our schedules are already filled to the brim!” You protested vehemently.

    The way to tackle this is surprisingly easy. Spend a day taking detailed notes of how you’ve spent your time. You will notice that a lot of your time is wasted on things that are not particularly helpful towards completing your goals. I realized, halfway through, that I spend more than 2 to 3 hours scrolling through Facebook mindlessly on a regular day. Are you doing the same thing?

    Work to make it suit you.

    Like I said earlier on, this is merely a framework. There is no need to follow it to the letter. Feel free to edit and customize it to suit your needs. But don’t stop there. Take initiative to make your life as enjoyable as possible, because –

    “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

    ― Mae West

    Featured photo credit: Aeipathy via aeipathyattire.com

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    Eamon Suen

    Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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