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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

More by this author

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 June 2, 2020

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

Whenever you hit a rough patch in life, it can seem like the problems you’re confronting are unique to you and that the whole world is closing in. It might be that you are struggling to find a way out and just can’t see the light of hope anywhere when the going gets tough.

Thankfully, although you might not see it, there is always hope. Nothing lasts forever—not even bad times—and doing things like remembering why you started in the first place and practicing using your courage muscle are just a couple of things that can shorten the difficult times.

If you could find a way to not only survive but thrive when the going gets tough, how would your life change for the better?

Here are ten ways you can do to make that happen today.

1. Realize How Far You Have Come

Whenever you get discouraged on the path to wherever you want to go, it is usually because you are only looking forward, not around you or behind you. Your journey through life will last until your final day, so it is no wonder that you still see a long and sometimes daunting path ahead.

To keep going despite this, it’s important to take a moment or two to look around. Look at where you are standing now compared to when you first started. Look at how far you have come since you first began. Look at how many obstacles and challenges are behind you that you managed to overcome successfully.

The benefits of reflective practice are also extensive, and it is little wonder why.[1]

Looking back at how far you have come is usually the fire you need to keep on burning brightly into the future.

2. Remember Why You Started

When the going gets tough, you need something to cling to in order to keep your grit and remind yourself why you started doing something in the first place. Without this all-important “why, you will be quick to wander from your path.

Whenever things are at their worst, your number one reason for doing the thing is going to be what pulls you through.

As ex-Navy Seal and motivation master David Goggins puts it:

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“‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight!”

Sometimes, life can be a bit of a fight, especially within yourself. So, having your reasons for continuing will always help pull you out when times are tough. Try writing these down and posting them in places you look at every day to help them have even more impact.

3. Make It a Habit to Move Forward

Habits are some of the strongest behavioral predictors that we have. Most of our habits happen in our subconscious and are triggered by external or internal cues.

The great thing about habits is that they can be formed through conscious, repeated behaviors, and when practiced enough, they can eventually take their place in the subconscious and guide your life.

Of course, you want good habits to be guiding your life in the background, not bad ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it a habit to always move forward.

Contrary to what most people say, moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be better every single day for the rest of your life. There are going to be slip-ups, bad days, and circumstances that blow you off course.

Moving forward is all about getting back on track as fast as possible. If you can make that a habit, you can always get closer to where you want to go.

4. Use ‘If-Then’ Planning

When the going gets tough in your life, one of the most effective frameworks that you can put into place is called the ‘if-then’ planning.

This is the simplified version of something called Implementation Intention, a concept created by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer in the mid-’90s.[2] It helps you to make sense of confusing situations and to be able to take action when you are really struggling.

The simplified process is as follows:

“If x happens, I will do y.”

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For example:

“If I start to have negative thoughts, I will take ten seconds to just breathe.”

“If I feel extremely stressed for three days in a row, I will take the fourth day off to recover and reset.”

If-then planning puts a strategy in place for when times are tough. It takes away the element of thinking, planning, and worrying as you already know exactly what you need to do in each situation.

The beauty of using if-then is that you can change the if and then for different situations based on whatever works best for you at any given moment.

5. Find Some Mentors

With the internet becoming more expansive and accessible as it has ever been, there are so many ways to get a peek into the world’s top minds and see what they do in their own lives when the going gets tough.

Most successful people have had to overcome some serious struggles to get to where they are. Do a simple search online, and you will no doubt find out about all of the challenges that your favorite people have had to overcome.

Because of this, you should try to take inspiration from these people and find your own mentors. It’s worth recognizing that nobody trying to live their best life can ever get through it without their fair share of challenges to overcome. That’s just part of the hero’s journey.

6. Get out of Your Head

Sometimes, all of the reasoning, thinking, planning, and ruminating in the world doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact, for the serial thinkers and problem-solvers out there, it is oftentimes that too much time in your head results in even more struggle rather than a release of it.

Yes, some things can be solved by thinking. But when the going gets really tough, it is usually just pure heart, emotion, and grit that are going to carry you through. Your mind can become a tyrant, and it is worth being aware of this.

When you feel your own thoughts weighing you down and can’t stop the incessant thinking and worrying about the past, present, and/or future, it is time to step out of your mind for a little while and get into your body. Lift some weights, go for a run, or take a pleasant walk.

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The mind and body are much more connected than most people think—especially when it comes to emotions and fears and doing something beneficial for the body often benefits the unsettled mind as well.[3]

7. Ruthlessly Forgive Yourself

One of the worst things you can do when the going gets tough is to come down hard on yourself. Everyone has these external and internal struggles, and the harder you are on yourself for having them, the more difficult and traumatic the episodes will be when you inevitably slip up.

A lot of people are far harder on themselves than they are on other people, and to keep going in tough times, you need to be just as empathetic with yourself as you would be with your best friend.

Made a mistake? Forgive. Are you still giving yourself a hard time? Forgive. Are you still getting angry over small things “even though we talked about this”? Forgive.

The hard times are much easier to get through when you are at peace with yourself. You will be astonished by how much less pressure you feel when this happens.

8. Take Smaller Steps

It is common for people to stumble in life because they are simply taking on too much at once. Whether it be too much ambition, unrealistic expectations of themselves or others, or some extra curveballs, big steps can sometimes be too much to take.

The truth about big steps is that they are rare, disruptive, and difficult to keep up without crumbling. The big steps—the real life-changing goals and dreams that you have—can often be broken into much smaller steps that are more manageable and that will get you to the same place.

If the going is getting particularly tough, it might be the case that you are simply trying to do too much at once. Try taking smaller, more manageable steps, and see if obstacles and difficulties become easier to navigate.

9. Use Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage

Everyone will agree that the courage we have stored within ourselves is often finite and difficult to sustain for long periods. We tend to think that making a big change in our life and getting out of a rut requires courage for long periods that we simply cannot manage.

The good news is that this isn’t true. Most of the pivotal moments of change in your life—including pulling yourself out of a hole when the going gets tough—come from small, courageous decisions in short, precise moments.

Quite often, using twenty seconds of insane courage when it is needed is enough to completely change the trajectory of our lives. Whether it be asking for that promotion, deciding to go to the gym for the first time in months, or having the courage to break through your insecurities and ask someone out, most of these only require a few seconds of insane courage.

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Standing up and walking into your boss’s office, getting the gym kit on, picking up the phone or sending the text—you only have to be courageous in these few moments, and then you can relax and let life unfold.

Twenty seconds? You can do that, easily.

10. Accept That Your Motivation Will Wane

One of the main reasons that people get discouraged and struggle to keep going in hard times is that they never expected their motivation to dip.

When we start a project or enter a relationship or take something new and exciting on in our lives, our motivation is high, and we are in a mindset of excitement. We start thinking about all of the positives that could come from these things.

However, as time wears on, motivation levels inevitably drop, and you start to focus on the negatives of what’s happening or the added responsibility that you forgot to consider.

When this happens, you have two choices:

  1. You can put on your rose-colored glasses of the past and falsely remember how perfect everything was;
  2. Or you can put on your realistic glasses, face the difficulties, and keep moving forward into something better.

The true test of character comes when you hit a dip, motivation wanes, and you just don’t feel like doing stuff anymore. The secret is to realize that all of this is temporary and that you don’t need motivation to act.

It’s nice to have motivation, but the true test of character comes when motivation inevitably wanes. In those moments, will you keep going?

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Each of these ten ideas for how to keep going when the going gets tough is versatile enough to be applied to almost any difficult situation that you find yourself in.

Life is going to present many difficulties. This isn’t something to fear but something to embrace. With these steps, you can navigate these stormy waters a little easier.

More Inspirations to Help You Stay Strong

Featured photo credit: Gaelle Marcel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: What Is Self-Reflection and Why It Matters For Wellness
[2] American Psychologist: Implementation Intentions: Strong Effects of Simple Plans
[3] The International Journal of Psychoanalysis: Emotional Processing: The Mind-Body Connection

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