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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Your Life Is a Mess? How to Fix It and Turn Things Around

Your Life Is a Mess? How to Fix It and Turn Things Around

Your home is a mess, but not even half as messy as your life. Your partner isn’t talking to you, your work life seems out of control, your social relationships don’t go the way you want, and you feel like something is missing in life…

We all go through a point in our life where everything seems out of control. Once you get to that point, it’s hard to know where to start.

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re at this point.

The bad news is that it will be hard. The good news is that you will get through it.

In this article, you’ll learn 3 steps to fix it and turn things around.

Step 1: Recognize the Mess You Have

It’s easy to say that you have to take back control of your life, but how do you actually do this?

If there was one right answer, most people wouldn’t deal with this problem for more than a minute.

The true is there isn’t one. There is no quick solution, but there are ways to deal with it.

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First, you have to recognize that you have a problem. If you tell yourself everything is fine, then there is nothing to fix. The moment you don’t prioritize dealing with your problems is the moment you lose.

It’s possible to get through your days even though your life is a mess. Because maybe your home isn’t a mess. Maybe everything looks alright from the outside. We can still go to work and pick the kids up from school despite our problems, but day by day you’ll become more and more anxious and depressed, until it finally hits you all at a once.

The first step is therefore to take your problems seriously and actively decide to turn things around. Maybe you’re not at a breaking point yet, but you will get there if you keep ignoring the mess.

Step 2: Know What Are out of Control, and Let Go of Them

When your life seems like a mess, it often comes down to a lot of things around us that aren’t going the way they are supposed to. It can be the small things like a messy kitchen and the big things like personal relationships not working out, or bills that are overflowing.

Start out by figuring out exactly where it all seems to go wrong at the moment. Sit down and write down everything that’s been bothering you.

It may seem basic and stupid to spend time on a list like that, because with everything you should be doing – making a list about it just creates even more pressure on you.

But by writing it down, you’ll be able to get a good look at your messy life. Sometimes, we need to see the problems on a paper written down in our own words. My boyfriend keeps cheating on me. I’m way over my budget every month. My co-worker doesn’t like me.

Once you do this, you’ll be able to see that a lot of the things that seems to make your life a mess is out of your control. Underline all the things on the list that you can’t control and then let go of them.

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It’s very normal (and okay) to have a lot of these out-of-our-control things on the list as well as problems that aren’t even really problems. Humans need problems, but we need to be able to solve them.

Mark Manson explains it like this,[1]

“Problems are a constant in life. When you solve your health problem by buying a gym membership, you create new problems, like having to get up early to get to the gym on time, sweating like a meth-head for thirty minutes on an elliptical, and then getting showered and changed for work, so you don’t stink up the whole office. When your solve problem of not spending enough time with your partner by designating Wednesday night “date night”, you generate new problems, such as figuring out what to do every Wednesday that you both won’t hate, making sure you have enough money for nice dinners, rediscovering the chemistry and spark you two feel you’ve lost…”

Problems are a constant in every human life, but stop creating problems you can’t fix.

We get so caught up in small things like our partner liking someone else’s picture on social media. It’s much easier to let our bottled-up anger out on a person about a picture instead of saying you’re not happy anymore and that you should have broken up six months ago.

So, to recap step 2:

Pinpoint all the things that are brining you down that you can’t control. Problems are okay. They are a part of human existence, but if you want to move on and fix your life, then you need to only focus on the problems that can be solved.

Step 3: Don’t Get Lost in Distractions and Fantasies

When your life starts to feel like a mess, it’s often because we’ve been moving forward at a fast pace, but somehow still feel like we’re standing still. You thought that if you just kept going for another week, another month, or maybe even another year, you would get “there”.

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You’re not sure where, but you told yourself that you would know this happy place once you got there.

Then you wake up one day and all the problems are still there. The magic solution you thought would save you from all the negative things in your life was nothing else than a tale.

We tell ourselves that we can overcome problems like having too many bills, if we just find our true love, or that it doesn’t matter you’re alone and miserable as long as you get the promotion at work.

We like to idealize the idea of a few good things in life that we’ve seen in all the movies: the perfect job, the perfect partner… And then we tell ourselves that instead of focusing on the small problems in our life, we should focus on getting those.

It’s in fact delusional to think that one good thing in life can make all the bad things go away. It’s a fantasy.

Even if you do get that one good thing that you’ve put so much pressure on getting, it will end up backfiring and make you feel even more sad once you get it, because you realize that all the other things in your life did kind of matter as well.

Instead of finding a quick fix, or chasing a fantasy, you should embrace the suffering. Mark Manson expressed his concern about today’s society in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck:

“I believe that today we’re facing a psychological epidemic one in which people no longer realize it’s okay for things to suck sometimes.”

While it’s important to not spend time caring about all the problems we can’t fix, it’s just as important to care about the things we do have the ability to fix.

Maybe you can run away from your problems for a while — getting caught up in a new relationship that makes you forget that you’ve broken the one with your family, or a new promotion can make you forget that you actually wanted to do something else with your life. Unfortunately, the on-going problems in your life will come back and they will hit you much harder.

The final step is therefore to keep your focus on the problems that can be fixed. The problems in front of you that you are in control of. Embrace them. Deal with them. One day at a time.

Don’t get lost in distractions. They might make you feel better for a minute, but they’ll make everything worse in the long run.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t fall in love or enjoy some good news at work while you’re dealing with your problems. But remember to deal with your pain and problems instead of pushing them to the side.

More to Boost Your Motivation

Featured photo credit: Riccardo Mion via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of motivation that lists five categories of human needs that dictate individual behavior. These five categories refer to physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.[1]

Motivation plays a big part in athletic coaching. I spent 44 years coaching basketball and each day at practice, I was trying to motivate our athletes to give their best effort. In this article, I will examine Maslow’s hierarchy and five areas of needs from an athletic perspective.

1. Physiological Needs

These needs represent the most basic human survival needs. They include food, water, rest, and breathing, and all four have importance in athletics.

Food has had an evolution in the world of athletics. I cannot recall my coaches in the 1950s and ‘60s mentioning anything about food. As time went on, the pre-game meal became important. Steak seemed to be the meal of choice early in the evolution. Research then indicated pasta would be the better choice.[2]

Today, I think most coaches prefer pasta. However, if the players are ordering from menus, some coaches believe the players should stick with their regular diets and order accordingly.

The next step in this evolution was that the pre-game meal, although important, is not nearly as critical as the athletes’ overall nutrition. At our University of St. Francis athletic seminars, we invited nutritionists to speak and to educate our players on their nutritional habits.

The ultimate change in food intake may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady. He adheres to a specific, disciplined diet that has allowed him to play superb football at age 43.

Water also has had an evolution in sports. It went from not being allowed in practices to coaches scheduling water breaks during the practices.

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Rest is extremely important in all sports, and statistics validate its importance. NBA research found that during the course of the season teams win 6 of 10 games at home but only 4 of 10 on the road. In the NBA playoffs, the statistics change to 6.5 at home and 3.5 on the road. Many coaches believe rest is the key factor to these statistics because the players are sleeping in their own beds for home games.[3]

Our St. Francis basketball team found the importance of breathing on a trip to play in a tournament in Colorado. In our first game, we were playing great and winning by 12 points early in the game. Then the altitude kicked in, adversely affected our breathing, and we lost the lead and eventually the game.

In our second game, having learned our lesson, we substituted more frequently! Maslow’s idea of physiological needs plays a major part in the athletic arena.

2. Safety Needs

Safety needs include protection from violence, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security.

If a fight breaks out during a basketball game, there can be serious injuries. This is the reason a coach steps in immediately when there is any violence or dirty play in practice. The coach must protect the players. You drill your teams to play hard—never dirty.

The importance of emotional stability has gained more credence in sports in recent years. Many teams hire psychologists to help work with their players. There is a great deal of player failure in sports and it is critical for the players to stay emotionally stable.

Health security is much more prevalent in sports today than in my playing days. I once got a concussion during a basketball game. We had no trainers. The coach handled it by telling me after the game, “Sullivan, you play better when you don’t know where the hell you are!” He was right, and my medical treatment ended there! Games today have trainers available to protect the health of the athletes.

Financial security is predominant in professional sports. Most players today use free agency to go where the money is because they consider sport not to be a sport at all. They believe it is a short-term business at their level. I personally appreciate the athletes who have taken less money so the team can retain teammates or use the dollars to bring in new players.

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3. Love and Belonging Needs

These needs can be summed up with two words: love and relationships.

After teams win championships, you will often hear coaches say, “I love these guys” or “I loved coaching this team.” You can tell by their body language and the tone of their voice that they really mean it.

I think coaches say this because the season can be a tough grind. Practices, scouting, film work, travel, and problems that arise take a toll on coaches. However, when you have teams that give all they have every night in practice, you do come to love them.

ESPN did a 30-30 segment on the North Carolina State national championship team coached by Jim Valvano. I was especially interested in watching it because I knew a player on the team who used to come to our camps. Terry Gannon played a major role in their championship.

The program was a reunion of their players. This was 20 plus years from their title, and if you were to take one thing away from the show, it would be how much the players loved each other.

In the last analysis, sport is all about relationships. You can meet former teammates with whom you played 40 to 50 years earlier and that athletic bond is as strong as it ever was. Although you may have not seen each other in years, your friendship is so cemented it’s like you have been seeing each other weekly.

David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, validates the relationship between athletics forges. Ted Williams is dying and three of his former Boston Red Sox teammates—Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio—make the trip to Florida to see him. Even though 50 years had passed since they played together, the bond among them never waned.

Love and belonging epitomize the essence of sports.

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4. Esteem Needs

These needs are characterized by self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect is “the belief that you are valuable and deserve dignity.” Self-esteem is twofold—“it is based on the respect and acknowledgment from others and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment.”[4]

Often the players on the bench are the ones the coach respects the most because they work so hard in practices yet receive none of the glory. The best coaches never let the starters or stars ever denigrate the players on the bench. Coaches must always acknowledge the value and the dignity of those who play little. They often turn out to be the superstars of their professions.

Some coaches will never get “it.” They think they can motivate their players by degrading them. They embarrass the athletes during games and they constantly berate their performance in practices.

Great coaches are just the opposite. They are encouragers. They do push their players and they push them hard, but they always respect them. Great coaches enhance the self-esteem and confidence of their players.

5. Self-Actualization Needs

“Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person.”[5]

I believe three words are the key to self-actualization: potential, effort, and regrets.

You often hear in athletics that a player has potential. It also is not uncommon for the person introducing the athlete to rave about his potential. I was fortunate to work with an outstanding man in the Milwaukee Bucks camps, Ron Blomberg. Ron had the best definition of potential that I ever heard: “Potential means he hasn’t done it.” Will he do all the work necessary to fulfill his potential?

Effort is great, but it’s not enough. If you want to reach your full potential, you must have a consistency of effort in your daily habit. Only consistency of effort can lead to success.

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John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said that success is becoming all your ability will allow you to be. He agreed with his friend, major league umpire, George Moriarty, even though he used to kid him. Coach told him he never had seen Moriarty spelled with just one “i.” He followed this with, “Of course, the baseball players accused him of having only one ‘eye’ in his head as well.”

In his poem, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, Moriarty wrote,

“. . . for who can ask more of a man
than giving all within his span, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.

When your life is winding down and you look back if you can say you gave “all in your span”—that you consistently gave it your best effort—you will have reached your full potential and there will be no regrets.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, consider reflecting on the last two needs (esteem needs and self-actualization needs) and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you doing all you can to enhance the self-esteem of those around you?
  • Are you doing all you can to self-actualize the potential you have been given?

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

Reference

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