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5 Tried, Tested, and True Ways to Level Up Your Life

5 Tried, Tested, and True Ways to Level Up Your Life

If you are reading this post, I know you are interested in hacking your life — but what exactly does that mean?

Every month or so, I get together with a group of like-minded businesspeople in Managua, and we discuss our latest projects, triumphs, failures, and sticky situations. The hours I spend with them are some of the best times of each month. Get a group of go-getters together and the theme of leveling up and achieving/striving/trying will creep in somehow.

Our last meeting, though, was different.

I’ve noticed a shift in my go-getter friends. We all want to do great things and live great lives, but we’re also tired. No longer were we talking about projects and business models. Instead, we discuss running ourselves ragged without creating a worthwhile impact.

The words I heard over and over again were freedom, family, and time. In essence, we all want to level up, and have more freedom, more family, and more time.

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How can we hack our lives to get more of those: freedom, family, and time?

1. Seek Out the “Hell yes!”

There are so many decisions we make each day, but few of them inspire us to throw our hands in the air with excitement. What if we were to use that reasoning to guide us?

  • A fun new client? Hell yes!
  • A useless meeting? No, thanks.
  • Dinner with inspiring peers? Hell yes!
  • Mind-numbing tasks? No, thanks.

Seeking out the “hell yes!” in every decision injects serious energy into every moment.

Noticing exactly how I feel about each incoming opportunity and task helps me navigate my decisions and stay true to what makes me feel awesome.

2. Do more of the good

Each and every day, I know what I should be adding to my life. I love to write when it feels like nobody else is around, no phones are ringing, and emails are blocked off. If I want to add more of that every day, I can choose to schedule it and stick to a writing schedule that feels great.

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Doing more of good stuff will feel like adding extra layers of awesome to your life.

What activities would you do more of if you had the choice? What can you do to achieve that?

    3. Do less of the bad

    Very similar to what I described above, there are activities that I long to partake in much less. Personally, the administration piece of my startup makes me feel drained and worried (even when we’re doing well). I will always have to oversee that activity, but I learned to significantly diminish my involvement by delegating straining tasks.

    Doing less of the bad stuff in your life will feel like avoiding so many traps!

    If you could choose to dump parts of your life, what would they be? Can you take some small steps to achieve that tomorrow or the next day?

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    4. Divide your life in two

    Every single action and activity in our lives falls on either side of a line. I use the line to divide my life into two areas: that which feels liberating and that which feels limiting.

    • Working from home? Liberating.
    • Taking on a picky client due to economic needs? Limiting.
    • Waking up early to write in privacy? Liberating.
    • Doing weights at the gym when I’d rather be running? Limiting.

    Keeping more of my day on the side of “liberating” opens me up to feeling free and joyful.

    What do you find liberating in your life? What do you find limiting? You can use that personal information to judo chop your decisions.

    5. Focus on the process

    I am not going to lie to you. I sit on the fence about goals and striving for better in my life. Setting goals most definitely helps me find direction, but sometimes I stress out way too much about the end result. Lately, I’ve offset that stress by trying to focus more on the actual process of achieving anything. When I’m running, it’s easy for me to start daydreaming about the beach body I want — but why not focus on the actual running instead?

    By focusing on the process, I let go of the stress to achieve something and I have a lot more fun with what’s going on in the actual moment.

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    In the end, improving our lives and living every single day as if it’s a vacation is a long journey of self-development — but it’s incredibly worthwhile.

    When you think of leveling up your life, what do you picture? How can you get there?

    Featured photo credit: Multiple layers of escalators in a shopping center via Shutterstock and inline photo by Alan Levine via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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