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Published on April 14, 2020

How to Get a Life and Live to the Fullest

How to Get a Life and Live to the Fullest

I will never forget a moment I had with my daughter a few years ago. I was lying next to her as I put her to bed. As she held her stuffed animal close to her face and we talked about the day, she paused from our conversation for a moment and leaned in… “Mom,” she said thoughtfully. “You want to spend life the best way you can. Because you only have one life and you want to make it good.”

She was 7 at the time, wise beyond her years. And she was right. We have one life to live, and I believe we should all live a life we love — or at least really like.

When you look back at the end of your life, you want to be able to confidently say, “Yes! I am satisfied, content and feel like I lived my life to the fullest.”

Sure, you will likely be faced with setbacks, obstacles, stress, and frustrations along the way. Some days you’ll feel on top of the world, jumping out of bed in the morning; other days you’ll feel like the proverbial stuff has hit the fan, and you’ll just want to pull the covers back over your head.

Part of living life to the fullest extent is completely experiencing all that life has to offer. After all, we cannot fully appreciate joy unless we have felt pain. We cannot fully experience love until we have lost. Experiencing the full range of good and bad is what gives life meaning and purpose.

So whether you are in a period of thriving, or a time of just trying to survive, here is how to get a life and live it to the fullest.

1. Take Care of Yourself

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”. –Jim Rohn

If your body is falling apart, if you’re unhealthy and struggling with disease, you will never be able to live life fully. Taking care of yourself isn’t just about taking care of your body. It’s taking an integrative approach to your health and wellness.

This means taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So many of us focus on one area and forget the others.

Try this: Find ways to take care of yourself holistically. Start with the basics: stay hydrated, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, eat nourishing foods, spend time in nature, take deep breaths, and meditate.

Check out 30 more ways to take care of yourself here.

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2. Be True to Yourself

“To thine own self be true.” –Shakespeare

If you are going to live life to the fullest, you must first know what that means to you.

From a young age, there are many competing expectations, demands, and dreams coming from every direction: family members, friends, and your community. This leads many people to live a life that others want or expect of them, not the one they would choose for themselves.

Often, people are living a life that looks good to others from the outside, but inside they are unhappy, stressed, or feeling insecure or like a fraud.

Add to that the constant and relentless messages from social media, books, and resources that tell us how we should do things, what we are supposed to do, and how we are meant to succeed, and it can be easy to lose yourself.

Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who has worked with hundreds of patients in the last few weeks of their lives. When she talked to them about the most common regrets they had or things they would have done differently, the number one answer was this:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.[1]

Try this: Get to know yourself and what you need to thrive. Identify and honor the visions, dreams, and goals you have for your life. Make a commitment to dedicate time and energy to the things that are important to you.

3. Get a Job You Love (Or at Least Like)

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” –Confucius

Most people spend at least a third of their lives at work, and yet 85% of the world’s full-time workers hate their job. A whopping 85%! That’s a disheartening statistic. Are you bored, hate your job, or feeling unfulfilled and unhappy as you go to work each day? If so, it’s time to make a change.

There are likely realities about what job opportunities might be available where you live, how much money you need to make to support your family, and the skills required to land the job you really want. I also know and have worked with hundreds of individuals to confirm that there are always other options — even if you can’t see them right now.

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Try this: If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your role, actively seek out other options. If, for some reason, you truly can’t change jobs, find a way to make your job work for you. Ask for a raise, flexible work hours, or an increased level of responsibility or experience. Perhaps you can start a side hustle, go back to school, or do something to make progress towards what you really want to be doing.

4. Find Your Tribe

“Choose people who lift you up.” –Michelle Obama

We are social beings hardwired for connection. That means we need to spend time engaging with others to thrive. Studies have shown that people who socialize often have higher levels of happiness than those who don’t.[2] In addition, in the longest study in history on happiness, Robert Waldinger found:

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”[3]

However, it’s not just about spending time with people. You must spend time with people who you love being with, who understand you, and who you trust. They should be people who support you and make you feel safe and loved, as well as heard and seen.

Try this: Make an extra effort to grow and nurture healthy relationships in your life. Spend time, in person, with friends, family, and colleagues. Schedule a regular date night with friends or family. Find more ways to create a sense of community and be social in your life – and have fun in the process!

5. Let Go

It is only when we let go, that new, untold possibilities present themselves.

Sometimes living life to the fullest is as much about what you let go as much as what you hold on to. Remember in the movie “Up” when Mr. Fredricksen is trying to get his house to fly? It was too heavy. He had to dump his belongings until the house was light enough to lift off. The same is true for your life. What do you need to let go of so you can move forward, live life to the fullest, and ultimately fly?

Try this: Identify what you need to release to move forward. What are you holding on to that’s holding you back: an old habit, limiting belief, or story you are telling yourself? Let it go. Perhaps it’s resentment, anger or frustration. Then forgive. When you wake up each day, treat it as a clean slate. If things didn’t go the way you wanted yesterday, leave that behind and move forward.

6. Be the Best YOU Can Be

“All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings.” –Oprah

We are all here to become the fullest expression of ourselves. That means being the best YOU that you can be. Take every opportunity to learn, grow, and evolve. The only way you can do that is through new experiences that push beyond your current capabilities, beliefs, and boundaries. Learn anything you can from anyone you can. Be open to feedback. Seek out opportunities for growth.

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Try this: Take chances. Say yes more often. Get out of your comfort zone. Make a goal to have one new experience a month or take time for your own personal and professional growth and development. With each new experience, ask yourself, “What did I learn? How can I progress? How can I move forward on my life’s journey?”

7. Be Thankful

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” –Eckhart Tolle

The best way to live a life you love is to love the life you live. Studies have proven a multitude of benefits from expressing gratitude, ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, mental stamina, energy, and overall happiness. Being grateful is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to live a full and happy life.

Be appreciative for what you have. Yes, I know thing may not be perfect, and you likely want something more. But you can still be grateful for what you have. You can always find something to be thankful for.

Try this: Start a daily gratitude practice. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

8. Listen More

How often do you find yourself somewhere, but not really there at all? Your mind has wandered far from the moment and the people you are with. Maybe you’re talking with someone, but you’re distracted, in your head, multitasking, or thinking about something else. With so much going on in our lives, I know I’m guilty of this.

Take the time to listen. Tune in to the world around you. Listen more. Listen better. Listen harder. Listen with all of you. Listen with focus, love and intention. Listen to yourself. Hear your inner voice. Heed your intuition. Listen to your partner, friends, kids, nature. Just listen.

Try this: The only way to truly listen it to be still. Be present. Focus on what is in front of you. Put everything else away. Put your phone down. Stop multitasking (yes, it’s possible). If you’re in a conversation, focus on hearing what’s being said, ask questions, seek to understand at a deeper level and find out more. Listen to yourself by being mindful, doing one thing at a time, journaling or tapping into your inner voice.

9. Have Fun

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” –Grace Hansen

In order to live life to the fullest, we must experience all that life has to offer. The only way to live life to the fullest is to truly live life. Do things you enjoy. Chase your dreams. Achieve your goals. Take advantage of every experience and opportunity you can.

So much of what we do is wrapped around what we have to do or what we should do. The result is that we often don’t do things just because we want to. Find things that bring you joy, invigorate you, and light your fire.

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There will always be a reason you can’t do something, and the timing will never be perfect. If you want to do something, do it now, or at least make a plan. Don’t get caught in the “when, then” trap. “When I get the promotion, then I’ll go on that trip,” “When I have enough money, then I’ll start volunteering.” What can you do now?

Try this: Identify what brings you joy and makes you feel happy or fulfilled. Do more of that! Plan more time for fun and adventure. Say yes more often. Make an effort to truly live a full and happy life.

10. Be Generous

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

Studies prove that the act of giving lowers blood pressure, increases self-esteem, improves happiness, and even helps you live a longer life![4]

Not only that, but giving provides so many benefits to others, ensuring that you are not only living life to the fullest for yourself but that you are contributing to a positive, greater good for the whole — and helping others have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest, too! You can leave people, animals, or the earth a little better for having been here.

Try this: Identify how you can serve, contribute, and give back. This may already be part of your daily life or job. If not, find a cause you care about and jump in. Giving back can come in many forms. It can be as small as smiling at everyone you see on the street or as big as starting a foundation for a cause that’s important to you.

Do One Thing. Do Them All. Just Do Something.

Your life will likely be full of ups and downs. Good and bad. Tragedy and triumph. How can you ensure you live your life to the fullest?

Imagine yourself many years from now, at the end of your life, looking back on the life you lived. What will you wish you had done? How will you wish you had spent your time? What would you be proud of? What would you regret? What would it mean to live a full and happy life? Ask the questions, get clear on the answers, and then work your way back to now.

Remember, our lives are made up of moments. Those moments make up hours, the hours make up days, the days make up years, and the years create your life. Ultimately, the best way to live life to the fullest is to live each moment to the fullest.

“You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” –Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindl-Rast

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Reference

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Tracy Kennedy

Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide)

If you’ve found your way to this article, I’m guessing you consider yourself a perfectionist. And if you’re reading about how to stop being a perfectionist, you also know your drive for perfection can be as much a curse as it is a blessing.

Like any natural force of nature (e.g., wind, fire, or water), too much of anything can lead to chaos. When the rain waters the earth, for instance, think about how it revives and brings new life to everything it touches. But excessive rain can cause flooding and leave a trail of devastation in its wake.

The same principle is true with perfectionism. You already know the benefits of being meticulous, detail-oriented, conscientious, and successful. The challenge comes when pursuing these things does not lead to a sense of well-being and fulfillment.

Continually striving to get everything right and be the best can come at a high cost and affect your personal relationships, health, and well-being adversely.

I’ve worked with many highly-successful people quick to identify themselves as perfectionists — striving for the perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect body, the perfect email, the perfect image, or to be the perfect student, the perfect wife, the perfect employee… You get the point.

They are talented people whose relentless drive has helped them achieve many great things. Although others may be in awe of their achievements, they talk about feeling stressed and anything but perfect.

Listening to clients’ experiences, I’ve seen very clearly that striving for perfection is destined to bring pain, exhaustion, and a sense of failure because it is unattainable. There’s no finish line, checkbox, or wrap party. (Even if it were attainable, and there was a party, would there be anyone left to celebrate with?)

What Is Perfectionism?

The dictionary defines perfectionism as “the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.” One study describes it as “an irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others.”[1] Perfectionism is an unrelenting need to meet your or others’ expectations of yourself.

Refusal. Irrational. Unrelenting. These words represent difficult feelings for anyone to live with daily. These feelings can be attributed to the underlying fear and belief that they will never be good enough.

As author and speaker, Brené Brown shares on Oprah’s Lifeclass:[2]

“When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying backseat driver….[perfectionism] is “a way of thinking…if I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, do it perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, criticism, blame, judgement or ridicule…perfectionism is a 20-ton shield that we carry around hoping it will keep us from being hurt. When in truth, it keeps us from being seen.”

So, how do you harness your perfectionist powers for good? How do you honor your drive, ambition, and motivation without causing undue stress, frustration, and pain?

9 Steps on How to Stop Being a Perfectionist

As you read the following steps, remember that it isn’t about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, it’s about thinking deeper and wider about how you can keep those high standards without experiencing negative consequences.

1. Acknowledge

A mentor once told me that awareness is 90% of the solution.

When you are aware, and you acknowledge something in your life, it loses its power over you. When you bring it from an unconscious pattern to a conscious choice, you are now back in the driver’s seat.

how to stop being a perfectionist

    2. Understand

    Seek to understand what fuels your perfectionist nature. What’s your core driver?

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    There’s a reason why you are striving for perfection. Perhaps you learned that you needed to achieve that somewhere along the way or someone praised you at some point, and such comments made you feel worthy, validated, and recognized.

    Many strive to be perfect to fill a need for love, or a lack of self-esteem. I learned that much of my own perfectionist behavior came from my fear of getting rejected, even though it was ironically causing the rejection I was trying to avoid.[3]

    Take Action:

    Consider what drives your perfectionism. Being a perfectionist – no matter how painful or problematic it becomes – is likely serving you in some way, so try to understand the reasons behind it.

    3. Identify Consequences

    Based on an article, perfectionism can cause low productivity, troubled relationships, lack of confidence, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.[4] This drive you pride yourself on can come at a cost. When you identify and acknowledge the consequences of your perfectionism, it compels your mind to want to do something about it.

    How is perfectionism impacting your health and wellness? Have you missed opportunities to do something new out of fear that you wouldn’t do it perfectly? Is your pursuit of perfection causing friction in your relationships with your partner, kids, or friends? How is this trait sitting with your co-workers?

    As a leader and team consultant, I’m highly aware of how those perfectionist tendencies can be career-limiting if not recognized and managed.

    Take Action:

    Identify three negative consequences of perfectionism on your life, career, health, or relationships.

    4. Know You Are Enough

    Many people beat themselves up for not being ‘enough’ of something; for example pretty, fit, rich, successful, at home, etc. This is the inner critic’s voice. But guess what? That little voice that tells you that you’re not enough is wrong!

    You are enough. You are more than enough. You were born enough and will always be enough. You are deserving of love, happiness, and success, regardless of the things you do or how perfect you are. It might not be believable right now, but deep down, some part of you knows this to be true.

    I know it’s not easy. As a perfectionist, you tend to see what’s wrong before you see what’s right, including the one wrong question on the test, the single typo in your winning presentation to the team, or the three pounds you didn’t lose versus the seven you did.

    But instead of focusing on what went wrong, why don’t you acknowledge all the things you’re doing right? At least do that before you try to figure out how to make future improvements!

    Your new mantra: progress over perfection

    Take Action:

    Acknowledge your successes, talents, and strengths. Every day for 30 days, write down three things you are good at and what you like about yourself. These can be personality traits (kind, loving, hard-working); strengths (writing, speaking, your job); or wins from the day or lifetime achievements.

    Check out these articles for more tips, insights, and strategies to build your self-esteem and confidence.

    5. Do Your Best Every Day

    how to stop being a perfectionist

      Over the years, Dad has shared countless words of wisdom with me. However, “do your best every day” is the piece of advice I rely on the most. I’ve called my dad many times, worried about something that happened, beating myself up or second-guessing a decision. Here’s how our conversation goes every time:

      Dad: Did you do your best?

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      Me: Yes.

      Dad: That’s all you can do. You can’t control what happens from here.

      That’s it. Simple, right? But if you really stop to think about this, it’s a powerful way to stop being a perfectionist.

      When you do your best, you can rest, knowing you did everything you could. You can live with no regrets. Sure, you might want to do things better next time, and there are likely areas of improvement, but it’s just that — next time. You can’t change what has already happened, so using energy to beat yourself up about it achieves absolutely nothing.

      Take Action:

      Next time you beat yourself up over something you’ve already said or done imperfectly, ask yourself,

      “Did I do my best that I could [with what I had, with what I knew]?”

      If the answer is a resounding yes, then permit yourself to let go, move on, and use your time and energy to make things better next time.

      6. Switch

      Replace perfection with something more significant and attainable.

      Take a conversation I had with a friend of mine about my daughter, who is a successful and awarded competitive gymnast.

      Friend: Is she going to be in the Olympics?

      Me: No, she isn’t.

      Friend: Then, why does she spend so much time at the gym?

      Me: Because she loves it.

      Friend: Yes, but if she’s not going to the Olympics, why the waste of time and money?

      Me: Well, you run your own company, right?

      Friend: Yes.

      Me: Will your company be the best and most recognized one in your industry?

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      Friend: No, of course not. You know we’re a small company.

      Me: If you are aware of that, why would you keep the company running at all?

      That’s when she got it, but I was still concerned by her logic.

      “If my daughter won’t be THE BEST in the ENTIRE WORLD, why would she even do the sport at all?”

      Is this what our kids are hearing from us? If they won’t play NFL football, sing on a sold-out stage at Madison Square Garden, or display their work on the Guggenheim, why on earth would they continue pursuing sports, singing, or art, respectively?

      If you talk with my daughter, you will quickly learn that she does the sport because she loves the challenge. It pushes her body to the limit, and she finds joy, satisfaction, and purpose by going to the gym. I love that she loves it and know that she is learning life lessons that will serve her future success.

      Why not replace your drive for perfection with something much deeper and more significant?

      Take Action:

      Make the switch and identify what’s really important to you. Perhaps you can replace your drive for perfection with purpose, kindness, joy, fulfillment, contribution, or love. What resonates the most with you?

      7. Embrace Failure

      You’ve likely heard countless stories of successful people who have used their failures as a stepping stone for success.

      Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Oprah Winfrey was told she was “unfit for television.” And, in the words of Michael Jordan:[5]

      “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

      Most successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and elite athletes will tell you that failure has made them successful. Embracing failure is, of course, easier said than done.

      In one of my first jobs out of college, I worked on a project to get more people into a program I helped create. I was convinced it was awesome, and we could easily fill seats. I spent time, money, and energy trying to get it off the ground but to very little effect.

      I was embarrassed, defeated, and felt like a complete failure: I had let the company and myself down. One day, wallowing in self-pity, I called my mentor and told him what had happened.

      He said,

      “Tracy, failure is an event, not a person.”

      That single sentence has stuck with me throughout my career.

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      If you are growing and striving (which you likely are), you will fail a lot in your life. You will make mistakes, mess up, and let others down.

      When that happens, remember that you have made a mistake, but you are not the mistake.

      8. Celebrate Imperfection

      What if your greatest weakness was actually your greatest strength? What if your adversity is your advantage?

      In the famous 1937 personal development book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Napoleon talks about his son, Blair, who had a birth defect. He had no physical signs of ears and was destined to be deaf and mute.[6]

      Napoleon believed, “His affliction was not a liability, but an asset of great value.” He also thought that “every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.”

      While he had no idea how his son’s affliction could become an asset, Napoleon had faith that it would. And he was right — Blair went on to lead an incredible, successful life. He attained his hearing and lived life on a mission to bring hope and help to the deaf and hard of hearing, positively affecting millions.

      Think of all the people who have overcome imperfections. Think of those who have inspired you many times. Often, our vulnerabilities and ability to overcome struggles and fears can create not only inspiration and hope but also a connection with others.

      “We cannot connect through this façade called perfection. Now more than ever, we are craving connection, but it is in the imperfect moments that our hearts speak to each other and the lessons are learned.” — Petra Kolber

      9. Step Back

      Chances are, sometimes your perfectionism gets a hold of you. Like a runaway train, you don’t even realize you are wasting time, money, or energy on something that doesn’t need to be perfect.

      When this happens, here are a few proven ways to get perspective.

      • Don’t do an A+ job on a C-level task. Identify what’s needed and decide on what is really important. After that, let the rest go. In economics, this is called the law of diminishing returns. It is the point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.
      • Learn to satisfice (yes, that is a word). In his book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz talks about the power of satisficing instead of maximizing. Maximizers want to make the absolute best decision, while satisficers seek to find what is “good enough.” They know there is never a perfect choice, so they seek a decision that meets most of their needs or requirements. When you learn to satisfice instead of maximizing, you can make better, faster decisions with less regret.
      • When all else fails, meditate. Meditation has become the cure for all that ails you, and there’s a good reason why. It allows you to calm your thoughts, achieve greater clarity, reduce fear and anxiety, and create a silence that enables you to access your true self. Simply put, meditation will help you quiet your perfectionist tendencies, reduce your worries, and return your mind to a healthy state of balance.

      We Are All a Work-in-Progress

      You are human. Simply by being a human, you cannot be perfect.

      We are not finished “things” — we are ever-evolving beings. There will always be room for improvement, mistakes, and something new to learn. Like Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill, perfectionism is never-ending.

      How to stop being a perfectionist when you are already one?

      Instead of focusing on perfection, focus on the learning, the growth, and the journey, and strive to be the best version of yourself every day.

      I’ll leave you with this beautiful passage from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

      “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”

      More on Ending Perfectionism

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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