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Last Updated on December 9, 2020

How to Get a Life and Live to the Fullest Every Day

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How to Get a Life and Live to the Fullest Every Day

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.” In order to do this, each of us has to learn how to get a life and live that life in the best way possible.

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 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.

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.

2. Be True to Yourself

“To thine own self be true.” –Shakespeare

If you are going to learn how to get a life you love living, you must first know what that means to you. What is your life purpose?

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.

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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 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. Take personal responsibility for identifying and honoring 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. 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 start working at 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.

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 as we learn how to get a life we can enjoy. 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]

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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, and 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 get a life, move forward, 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 a 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.

Try this: 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.

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One study found that “gratitude training significantly affected all domains of psychological well-being and happiness”[4].Gratitude training can simply include writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. When you do this, make sure you remember why you’re grateful for these things, and let it really sink in.

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.

Take the time to listen and tune in to the world around you. Listen with focus, love, and intention[5].

Active Listening Skills

    Try this: The only way to truly listen is to be still. Try living in the present moment, and focus on what is in front of you. 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 learn how to get a life and live it 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. Set goals in many areas of your life, and 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.

    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, and say yes more often. Make an effort to truly live a full and happy life.

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    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![6]

    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.

    The Bottom Line

    Your life will likely be full of ups and downs. 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 will you be proud of, and what will you regret?

    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

    More on How to Get a Life You Love

    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.

    12 Proven Ways To Increase Your Intellectual Wellness How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

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    Last Updated on October 18, 2021

    9 Practical Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance in a Busy World

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    9 Practical Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance in a Busy World

    When I worked in college housing, I found myself in a position that made me so uncomfortable, I had some big choices to make. I could continue to do things the way my supervisor wanted me to, or I could look for another job. In favor of more balance, I chose the latter.

    This was a big choice for me. I was basically giving up a (rather) stable job that made me unhappy for the unknown.

    And you know what? Focusing on balance was the right thing to do.

    It was also the impetus that led me to FINALLY finish my book, Making ‘Work’ Work for You. I absolutely needed to take my work/life balance into consideration and make some drastic changes. I’ve done that. And I’ve found that this message is resonating out there in the world of higher education and many other fields.

    I wanted to share some of the tips and hacks that I’ve developed and learned over the years. These are strategies I’ve used to make the work day more palatable and improve my attitude about balance.

    1. Be Intentional on How You Schedule Your Time

    You may have one of those jobs in which one could easily be in meetings for a full day, leaving very little time to actually get your work done. Staff meetings, senior management meetings, committee meetings, supervisory meetings (also called One-on-One’s), disciplinary meetings…this list goes on and on. Where’s the balance?

    During my years as a Manager and Senior Manager, I was in meetings all the time and felt entirely too much pressure to stay late, work on the weekends, or god forbid you try to multi-task in those meetings! I’m blessed in my current position that I don’t have that problem – but I think a person can be much more intentional about time is scheduled during the work day.

    In the first place, you know the saying, “if you don’t control your calendar, it will control you.” So control it (I have a great planner for that!). You need work time? Schedule it. Call it just that: WORK TIME.

    I currently hold blocks of time as work-time and in the “location” section of Outlook, I write down what I want to get done during that section of time:

    • work on the science grant
    • clean up email box
    • web site changes
    • clean desk

    And I try to do this at least one full week in advance so that I don’t get overwrought with meetings before I save time for me.

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    However, don’t fill your entire calendar lest you get in trouble for not being available. I look at my recurring meetings first – which days are my busiest meeting days and which days are very open. I usually schedule a 2 to 3 hour block at a time, at least 2 to 3 times each week. My current supervisor actually really likes this strategy and has begun to try it for herself.

    If you are working for a company who schedules a great many meetings, you may need to speak with your supervisor regarding your need to schedule more work time; especially if those recurring meetings are frequent.

    Give yourself a month to get used to the meeting schedule, and then you can approach your supervisor about options you have to delegate or remove some of those meetings from your calendar.

    2. Deal with Additional Priorities and Opportunities

    Working in higher education, I haven’t always had the luxury of getting to decide for myself what’s important. But in considering how you are spending your time, think about the extra things you take on in addition to your regular work.

    I’m going to be the first person who tells you that getting involved outside of your job is super important – for the professional development, making friends, networking, etc. But you may have to limit that involvement or consider that it’s part of your free time instead of your work time. And make choices that sustain this.

    I was very active in my professional association once I moved to California, and I carried that with me a great deal. I chose to have much of my social life connected through that organization…and I chose to be involved rather than going to a movie or doing other social things on the weekends. When I became a runner, I had to further alter some of these choices of how to spend my time outside of work – I saw fewer movies and was less involved in my professional association. And then, during times when my volunteer work was really busy, I just was not training for races.

    But sometimes you really do need to make a choice between the extra work/responsibility and your home life. Saying “no” means that you can say “yes” more often.

    “Instead of saying, ‘I don’t have time,’ try saying ‘it’s not a priority’ and see how that feels.” –Courtney Carver

    Figure out what projects mean the most to you. Which extra responsibility will you enjoy the most? Which project will aid in the advancement of your career, or help you to work with someone new and influential? Really consider this before taking on a new project or committee. It’s better to do a couple things really well than have mediocre performance in a ton of things.

    Of course…there’s always the “other duties as assigned” clause in many of our job descriptions. You know what I’m talking about, they’re usually at the very bottom of the page, that “catch all” which seemingly gives your supervisor or other managers the option to throw extra projects at you. This can be tricky to navigate, especially during times when you are short staffed and surviving budget cuts. Be honest with your supervisor if you feel overwhelmed. Remember that you must communicate with peers and committee members who are sharing the workload with you.

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    It should also go without saying that you ask permission to take on professional association committee work before you volunteer. It’s a common courtesy. It gives your supervisor the chance to assist you with skill sets and/or connections that could assist in your new project or committee work. If they’ve been in your field for some time, they could even have great suggestions and recommendations for you.

    3. Find Portals for Flexibility

    If you have the luxury of a flexible work day, then you can make room for longer breaks. You can be creative with your lunch hour or come in later/leave earlier when you need to.

    Do you have the ability to work from home now and then? Will your supervisor allow that? Are you lucky enough to have one of those gigs? Make sure you keep it in perspective and get your things done. Don’t take advantage or take for granted, because you might lose it!

    The flip side of this is having no flexibility – zero, zilch, none. Your work day is rigid and you have meetings, meetings, meetings. That’s tough. You may need to build in buffers between your meetings. Don’t schedule back to back meetings. Start a meeting at 9am, and if it’s over at 10:30, don’t schedule another meeting until 11am.

    Don’t go back to the office and work before the next meeting. Take a walk, get a cup of coffee, and breathe. Control your calendar, or it will control you.

    4. Put Your Work Day into Perspective

    You know what? It’s just work. It’s meaningful for you – you put your heart and soul into it. But it’s just work. If you can’t draw the line between where your job ends and you begin….that might be a problem.

    The big thing for me was being able to realize that I was no longer going home angry. That was a beautiful thing. I took my work home – in an emotional manner – for such a long time. I would be so frustrated with the tough day and/or negative students and/or a rotten staff meeting…I’d internalized so much of it and it made me angry.

    So I needed to draw that line and say, “I’m going home and I’m going to be me.” That’s it.

    5. Find a Buffer

    You may need a buffer from your work day into your home life. If you are a live-in professional, this can be difficult. I’m lucky to have figured this out for me in my current vocation.

    For two years, I was a walking commuter and listened to podcasts on my walk to and from work. Currently, I commute by car but the travel time is about the same. I still listen to podcasts but have been on a mad audiobook phase for the past three months. Jen Sincero just rocks. This usually clears my mind from any daily funk and puts me in a lighter mood when I get home.

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    Some of you may have very long commutes and so, time in traffic further complicates your transition time. Loud music may turn into road rage, so I recommend podcasts (again – I’m a big fan), audiobooks, comfortable/slow music. Even something that you are familiar with and can sing along. But any drive home can feature these things, and you really only need a few minutes to make it happen.

    During that transition time (otherwise known as your commute home), let go of everything that happened at work that day. The work day is over. What are you looking forward to once you get there? Spouse or significant other? Family, kids? Dogs? Someone making an amazing dinner for you? A very nice glass of wine and a fire?

    Focus on one of those things to think about while you let your work day go…and SMILE — even if you have to force yourself to smile. Because even just smiling will brighten your mood.

    6. Unplug from Technology

    Even as I’m writing this, I know good and well that I struggle with this myself. My husband and I have smart phones and tablets, and I often bring my work laptop home. So I myself am not the model of unplugging. Writing for The Bulletin, Sarah Comstock addresses the fact that technology has been a double-edged sword. Advances are helpful and convenient but “have placed an enormous burden of relentless pressure on people as expectations rise in parallel with the speed of technological progress.”

    Computers and gadgets are suddenly able to do just about anything; as human beings, we need to recognize that we can’t do everything. Being able to get away from our devices and technology is paramount to finding work/life balance.

    In the first place, the main reason we add our work email to our phones is for convenience and flexibility. Having that connection allows us to respond to certain requests maybe between meetings, or while otherwise occupied. It’s most certainly not meant to keep us from our families or friends or to occupy our down time. You pull out the laptop with the intention of doing some personal research or maybe you are checking your bank account, and the next thing you know you’re opening Outlook and responding to emails. Suddenly a 15-minute task turns into an hour, or two. Next, there’s the itching desire to “quickly check email” while you are at a restaurant with your significant other or friends and there you go again – you get caught up in an email chain of crap that clearly could wait until the next day.

    Does any of this sound like you? It’s me too, much of the time. Some different strategies to consider include…

    7. Do a “Detox” from Some of the Apps on Your Phone That Suck up Your Time

    These apps could include social media, games, fitness, or sports viewing. Based on a challenge I learned about on the Rich Roll podcast, for the entire month of June 2015, I took all social media off my phone. I did not check in anywhere, I did not tweet or post on Facebook, there were no new Instagram shots in my feed.

    That gave me some balance when spending time with family and friends – it was nice to just be with them and not otherwise occupied with distractions.

    8. Tackle Your Cell Phone Stuff

    Consider whether your employer requires you to have a department-issued cell phone; and if your institutional culture dictates that you have access to your email all the time. One of my previous institutions did require a department-issued phone with work email intact. I received compensation for this, but it was expected that email notifications be turned on and the focus be on staying up to date with all communication.

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    Thankfully, that is not the current culture for me. I do have work email on my phone, but notifications are turned off; and, in fact, from time to time I think about removing work email from my phone because I’d just as soon not have to worry about it. But given that my boss has work email on her phone, I model that example. And our classified staff members are not required to have email on their phone.

    If the culture of your institution or your department requires this – don’t be a rogue employee for the sake of balance. But consider other ways that you can insure that your work email doesn’t dominate your device. Are you able to turn off the work-related phone on the weekends or at night? Can you talk to your supervisor about expected response times?

    No one can check email 24 hours a day and still expect to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the office. That is NOT work/life balance.

    9. Set a Time You Spend on Checking Emails

    Try to keep your email at the office from dominating your day. I’m doing the best I can to open, read, and respond/delete to my emails as soon as I get into Outlook, and then close the application until the end of the day. I try to be at “Inbox Zero” before I go home. This insures that I’m not wrongly multitasking during the work day (which, by the way, there is no such thing as multitasking) or spending too much unnecessary time on email when there are projects to complete.

    A new strategy I’m employing is to not open my email until I return from my lunch break. This was something my current supervisor read about in an article, and I really love the reasoning behind it. When you start the day with email, you are letting others dictate your priorities rather than controlling these yourself. If the email truly is an emergency, that person will call you or come find you.

    Hit up your main priorities in the morning, and then settle into the questions after you get some food. I’m enjoying the productivity of my morning and the peace of mind I feel because I’m not letting others dictate my work day.

    Essential to unplugging and finding balance is the notion of separating. Don’t multitask your work and your life. Unless part of your job is posting to social media daily, leave all that stuff at home during the work day. Do you need Facebook and Twitter open on your computer while you try to write that report (or get your email to “Inbox Zero”)? In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport suggests “the overuse of social media unwittingly cripples our ability to success in the world of knowledge work.”

    Social media is lots of fun, but in the office it’s just a diversion that’s keeping you from finishing your vital tasks. The sooner you get your stuff done, the sooner you get home.

    If you must make a personal call, check in with your significant other, or connect with your family; you can do so by taking a quick break and making your call from the break room or outside.

    The Bottom Line

    You’re probably scratching your head by now because most of these tips seem SO easy. They are! You just need to make the commitment to yourself, make the effort, and then go for it. You can do this!

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    Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

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