10 Ways to Massively (and Immediately) Improve Your Life

Life hacks. Tactics. Pro tips for stealing small, incremental improvements to your life...

Make your bed.

Organize your desk.

Drink eight glasses of water a day.

Who. Fucking. Cares?

Seriously, are these truly going to make your life better? Are you going to look back from your death bed and say, "you know, I wish I would have drunk so much goddamn water that I needed to piss 47 times every day?"

Fuck no.

You'll wish you had helped more people. You'll wish you had doubled down on a promising opportunity. You'll wish you had paid more attention to the extraordinarily marvelous world of sights and sounds and tastes and people around you instead of spending so much time with selfish assholes who handed you their problems instead of challenging you to be a better version of yourself.

Life hacks. Tactics. Pro tips. Maybe they work for some people.

Maybe someone once unearthed some magical piece of advice that solved all their problems at some point in their life.

Maybe they discovered some tactic that iced their proverbial cake.

Maybe they found some life hack that pushed them the few feet they needed to reach the summit.

Whatever it is, these hacks and tactics and tips are never the full answer. Most of the time they aren't even a part of the answer.

That tactic that iced someone's cake? They probably didn't tell you their cake was made with the blood and sweat and tears of struggle that they'd rather forget (and couldn't teach you if they tried).

That life hack that helped someone reach the summit? They probably didn't tell you they'd already scaled most of the mountain with good old fashion hard work.

Hell, for all you know, the latest pro tip could be some Instagram fucktard trying to make a buck repeating bullshit from the latest self-help book they read--one with no scientific backing because it was written by another fucktard who was trying only to promote their business.

Let's get back to focusing on what matters.

Let's get back to substantive things that lead to a better life.

Relationships. Meaningful work. Achievement.

When the train finally comes to whisk you away to Never Never Land, these are the things you'll wish you had more of.

Respect. Manners. Love.

When the Death himself locks eyes with you, these are the things you'll wish you gave more of.

Life hacks? Tactics? Pro tips for getting small, incremental improvements in your day?

When you stand awaiting judgment with your maker, I doubt very much any of that shit will have made one damn bit of difference.

So, let's stop pretending they will, and let's stop listening to the people who tout them as gospel.

Let's instead use these thoughtful, fundamental, back-to-basics ideas for living a better life.

1. Find Your Lighthouse, Lay Your Stepping Stones


I've already written about the benefits of planning here. And here. Oh, and here.

Planning your future is one of the most effective ways to the future you walk into is the one you envisioned.

When you don't have a plan, you're a paper bag in a storm, getting blown around every which way, unable to control where you'll end up. Every email that comes in is another gust of wind. Every Facebook notification blows you in a random direction. Every unplanned meeting whips you around, dragging you to unknown alleys full of untold obstacles.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.
— Alexander Graham Bell

When you plan your future, you build a lighthouse to your destination. You'll have a beacon to follow, to guide you, to drive every decision.

Better yet, when you plan each day (aligning it with your plan for the future), you're laying stepping stones to your lighthouse making it far easier to reach. You'll view emails and notifications and meetings in a new light--either helping you take a step closer to your lighthouse or causing you to step off the path in the wrong direction.

Ben Franklin himself was an avid daily planner, waking at 5 am to perform his morning ritual before moving into the meat of his day. His quote on the matter perfectly summarizes my point:

By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.

Don't leave the prospects of a better life to chance. A better life rarely happens by accident.

Instead, build a vision for your future, a plan to get there, and create a plan daily to help you make small, incremental progress every day. Over time, you'll find the distance between you and your lighthouse has closed significantly, and you'll be well on your way to a better life.

2. Enjoy the Scenery, Avoid Time Travel


Say what you will about motorcycles, they force you to pay attention.

After one weekend of training, I headed home with a new addition to my license: motorcycle class. It didn't take long to find a Harley store and pick up a used 2009 Fat Bob with black matte paint and chrome trim.

In the words of Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, "she's a beaut, Clark."

My inaugural ride though was treacherous.

During training and certification, I didn't take my practice bike over 25 mph. Now, I was about to cruise down the highway at 55 mph.

In DC rush-hour traffic.

In the cold.

In the rain.

Zen Buddhism may teach mindfulness, but a Zen monk's got nothing on me when I'm hurtling down the highway at death-defying speeds on two wheels with a gas engine between my legs. I'm instantly pushed into the same mindful state I crave all the time; focused, clear, and aware of my surroundings. If I weren't, it could spell death.

In some ways, living inattentively, thoughtlessly, and unaware of your surroundings is also inviting death, albeit it a slower one. Walk through life unfocused and distracted, and you'll wonder how the end came around so quickly.

If you've ever experience Instagram time travel--where you log into Instagram, and it's suddenly 30 minutes later--you know what I'm talking about.

Half an hour here. 20 minutes there. Another 15 minutes a few more times and you've blown HOURS of your day, unaware of what's going on around you, blind to the sights and deaf to the sounds of your life.

I'm as guilty as anyone.

It's too easy to feel "connected" triaging social media notifications from old friends. It's too easy to procrastinate important work with another email session. It's too easy to lose yourself in thought, hyper-analyzing a complicated problem or thinking of a better burn for that store clerk who treated you shitty at the Starbucks drive-through.

But triaging social media notifications isn't truly connecting; it's not building a relationship. You're merely stroking your friend's ego with like's and comments as they stroke yours with the same.

And email? It's probably the most misused tool in the history of humankind; one that makes you feel productive while you do nothing more than act as a traffic cop for digital information.

As for getting lost in thought, hyper-analyzing your problems? You might as well be on rocking chair; expending energy without going anywhere.

To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t zone out with social media for a few moments to rest and recharge.

What I am saying is, when we're lost in our own thoughts (or phones), time gets away from us.

Time, the only irreplaceable resource we have, literally passes us by.

We are in this two-legged vehicle called life hurtling down the road with a computer between our ears and an engine in our heart. Don't be mesmerized by the blinking of the passing road lines. Pay attention to the scenery. It's all around you, stimulating your consciousness with emotions, new ideas, and solutions to problems you weren't even considering.

Reject multitasking. Instead of succumbing to the urges of immediate distraction, refocus. Instead of allowing your mind to pull away from where you are, what you're doing, or who you're talking to, center your attention.

In other words, live mindfully.

Engage with your surroundings. BE where you are.

When you do, you'll not only reduce stress, improve your memory, and increase the effectiveness of your immune system (according to the American Psychological Association), you'll also enjoy the beautiful moments and find that life can't sneak on by.

3. Cut Lose Your Anchors


Two summers ago, I spent a week in northern Michigan with my family camping in the woods, lounging on the beach and, on one windy morning, fishing.

My two sons and I rented a rowboat (much to the chagrin of my youngest who desperately wanted the motorboat) and set out on Ocqueoc Lake to reel in some walleye and other tiny swimmers.

After 10 minutes of rowing, we reached the perfect fishing hole. I dropped anchor and cast my line. That's when the complaints started coming in waves; my oldest son moaning about sea-sickness and my youngest son grumbling that he was "soooo booorreed."

In a hurried effort to relieve my sons of nausea and mental malaise, we reeled in three empty lures and began the short row to shore.

Only it wasn't short. Nor was it easy.

I felt the wind at my back with every pull, and it seemed as if we weren't moving. I rowed harder, but the wind kept pushing. I rowed harder still, yet only managed to budge us a few feet.

After 15 minutes of maximum, back-screaming, purple-faced exertion, we only closed a quarter of the distance, and now I was the one who felt like he was going to puke.

While I rested and attempted to regain control over our predicament, a motorboat (much like the one my son originally wanted to rent) came trolling over to offer a tow, which I gladly accepted despite my sinking pride.

As it turned out, my pride would sink quite a bit deeper before we made land.

When these helpful fishermen pointed out that my anchor was down, my pride sunk deep down to the bottom of the lake where, sure enough, it found I had been dragging 50 pounds of steel through thick sludge and seaweed.

It's amazing I made any progress at all.

I'd like to think I'm relatively intelligent. I'd like to think that I'd never do something as braindead as leaving my anchor down while rowing ashore.

And yet, I did.

In a myopically-focused 30 minutes of vomit-inducing work, I didn't stop to think about *what* was holding me back. I only tried harder, and harder, and harder until I burnt out and needed help.

How often do you propel yourselves toward your goals without stopping to wonder why it's so damn hard to hit them?

How often do you push forward without checking to see what anchors could be holding you back?

You've got to cut loose your anchors.

Kill those habits and processes that waste your time, suck your energy, and don't contribute to a meaningful life.

Shed the devices and apps that command your attention, preventing you from working on what matters.

Rid yourself of the people who drag you down, who sap your energy, who keep you from growing beyond where you currently float.

It won't be easy.

Once you cut loose your anchors, you'll never get them back. That shiny, comforting heftiness of hot-dipped, galvanized, drop-forged steel will sit forever rusting in the muck at the bottom of the lake.

Some of these anchors may be friends. They may be beloved gadgets. They may be paying customers!

But ask yourself, what good are so-called friends who prevent you from being your true self? What good are gadgets that distract you from your main purpose? What good is a rowboat full of money if you can't take it ashore and spend it because some asshole-customer is holding you captive in the middle of the lake?

Once free of these burdens, you'll be free to row any which way, ten times faster, and with ten times less effort.

Cut loose your anchors and start rowing toward a better life.

4. A Better Life With Your Eyes Closed


Our culture thinks about sleep backward.

When trying to get more done in pursuit of a better life, we often sleep less to give ourselves more time in the day.

And sleeping less does provide you more time.

But in truth, to be more productive you don't need more time, you need more sleep.

Sleeping less has been shown to have a variety of serious adverse consequences well beyond productivity. Procrastination, negative mood, difficulty focusing, and lack of clarity are all side-effects of insufficient shut-eye.

Studies have shown that after 19 hours without sleep, your brain works about as well as it does after a few glasses of wine. After 24 hours, it's as if your blood alcohol concentration level is 0.10. Driving under that level of influence will land you a DUI in all 50 states!

But it gets worse.

A lack of sleep doesn't just cause mental errors; it has cost lives. Remember the 1979 nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island? What about the 1986 nuclear incident at Chernobyl? How about the Challenger space shuttle disaster or the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill? Yep, those were all found to have been caused, in part, by sleep deprivation.

On a positive note, more sleep (specifically more regular sleep) can improve your life in a variety of ways.

In a study comparing sleep schedules of Harvard college students for one month, participants who held a regular sleep schedule had better GPAs than those who didn’t. Even though both sets of students got a similar amount of sleep nightly, the ones with irregular sleeping patterns found themselves in a state of jet lag as melatonin was released at irregular times in their body.

Even better, surgeons who are well-rested commit, on average, 20% to 30% fewer errors than their sleep-deprived counterparts. Maybe the best thing to ask a surgeon isn't where they went to school, but how much sleep they got last night.

Errors and grades aside, sleep improves your health in almost every way. More rest has been shown to reduce stress, decrease fat gain, increase muscle mass, and significantly reduce the number of unforeseen doctor visits you have in a given year.

Sleep is the miracle drug, and you may not be getting enough of it.

The good news is, that's easy to fix.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults over 25 years old get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. But here's what I have to say about that: They have no fucking idea how much sleep YOU need.

So, instead of following their generalized advice verbatim, experiment with your sleep duration. If you typically wake up to an alarm after 6 hours of sleep, go to bed 7 hours before you need to rise and see if you wake up naturally before your alarm.

Didn't work? Try 7 and 1/2. Then 8. And so on.

Run this experiment for two weeks (you'll need the first week to catch up on accumulated sleep debt), and you'll find two things happen:

First, you'll learn exactly how much sleep you truly need each night.

Second, and most importantly, you'll begin to experience the benefits of better focus, higher clarity, reduced stress, increased health, and a myriad of other health benefits shown in study after study.

You can't live your best life by laying in bed all day. But neither can you walk around like a zombie.

Find the right amount of sleep for you, get that amount as consistently as possible, and you'll find nearly every aspect of your life improves in meaningful ways.

5. Use the Principles of Compound Interest


Someone gives you $100,000.

They give it to me too.

You put that money in a low-risk investment that earns 5% per year.

I keep mine in a return-vent in my kid’s room, Breaking Bad style.

In 10 years you’ll have $162,889.46.

I’ll have $85,724.80 (yes, my cash will be worth less due to inflation).

Now, I’m no financial advisor, but it seems that investing your money is a damn important strategy for building your net worth over time. But you probably already knew that.

Even so, the number of people that don’t invest their money for long term growth is shocking. Hell, I wasted the first ten years of career income buying gadgets that would be worthless in three years and saving leftover cash in shitty bank accounts that earned interest no faster than my own eyeballs grow (hint: eyeballs don't grow).

Luckily money can be earned.

Time, however, cannot. And with lost time, comes lost opportunity.

Once your time is gone, it's gone.

The things you learn will compound in the future and pay dividends. The things you don't learn will compound into nothing.

Invest in yourself.

Invest in your future net worth by improving yourself today.

Learning how to program is valuable on its own. Learning biology is the same. But learning both makes you invaluable. You'd be one of the few in the world able to make progress in the field of bioinformatics. Learn law on top of that, and you'd become sought out for extremely rare (and therefore wildly valuable) cases involving all three specializations.

In a world of specialized employees and customers with little attention, it's the combination of skills into creative ideas that are valued above all else. Think about the success of Netflix, the combination of movies and Internet streaming technology. Or Uber, the intersection of mobile phones and taxi services.

Just 20 years ago, we used a small fraction of the periodic table to manufacture "things." Devices, toys, houses, infrastructure, all created with a handful of elements. Today, we're using nearly the entire table of known elements. We use them to create incredible technology that fits in our pocket, connects to a ubiquitous data source, and allows us to call and share information with anyone from anywhere--your smartphone.

These advancements didn't come from one person knowing about one subject deeply. They came from people who understood two or more subjects and put them together in creative ways that solved real-world problems.

Fast forward ten years from today and acceleration of processing power and data storage will far exceed the ability of the human brain. In some ways, it already has. The latest headlines tell us we're watching the sunrise at the dawn of artificial intelligence.

  • Department of Energy Announces $20 Million to Develop Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Tools

  • DeepMind’s AI agents conquer human pros at StarCraft II

  • Artificial intelligence can now emulate human behaviors – soon it will be dangerously good

These headlines tell us that many of today's computationally hard problems will be able to be solved by specialized intelligent machines. But merging two disparate ideas into something new and creative and useful will be something that only humans can do. And the value those humans bring to the rest of us will be worth more than gold.

If you want a better life, invest in yourself. Grow your skills, your knowledge, your expertise. In doing so, you'll find you can shift your perspective, think from different angles, and connect the dots to creative solutions that nobody else had a chance of seeing. Like a good investment of cash, this knowledge will compound over time, broadening who you can help and by how much.

This will fundamentally change how you view the world, interact with the world, and help the world, for the better.

As such, your life will be better in every way.

6. Make a Life By What You Give


Though my daughter couldn't walk, I held it together.

Saturday morning, she crawled into our bedroom, eyes full of fear, cheeks lined with tears, choking out those words, "my legs don't work."

We first thought she had a nightmare. Or that she was exaggerating. Or that she was a 5-year-old who needed a reason to climb into bed with us.

But her legs didn't work. She couldn't walk. She couldn't even stand.

Fifteen hours later she was strapped into a gurney, looking out the back window of an ambulance. She stared out, and I stared at her; tired, worried, and clutching a lump of emotion in my throat before it could escape.

We got less than one hour of sleep that night. My wife didn't sleep at all.

She was home with our boys, worried sick, unable to help from afar, and imagining the worst between all-too-infrequent updates that came only as the doctors performed their rounds (which is to say, hardly ever).

When the boys awoke, she came to relieve me. I headed home to shower and prepare an overnight bag.

That's when the love poured in.

Calls and texts started coming. Friends and family were all worried about my daughter and our family. They offered their time and prayers. They stood ready to visit from afar. They sent treats to help the healing.

And then our neighbors. They cooked us dinners, brought us gifts, took care of our dog, watched our boys, visited us in the hospital.

100% giving.

Expecting nothing in return.

My daughter suffered from a post-flue complication (acute post-infectious cerebellar ataxia for you medical types), temporarily cutting off her ability to bear weight on her legs. We didn't know it at first, but it would resolve naturally in a few days time.

I had held it together through my daughter's condition, an ER visit, an ambulance ride, and no sleep. But this outpouring of love from neighbors and friends and family brought me to tears.

We are better people when we help others, when we show up, when we give of ourselves and ask nothing in return. As Winston S. Churchill once said:

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

I know this now. Not because I've given so selflessly, but because I've received.

To me, those who walked away from their problems, their goals, their desires, and their lives in support of us who were consumed by life and unable to offer anything in return... they aren't just better people. They are the best this world has to offer.


Give of yourself, your time, your thoughts, your prayers, your resources. It's a sure way to a better life, not only for others but for yourself too.

7. Make Your Mark


We live in a culture of consumption.

Consumption of devices. Consumption of information. Consumption of anything that we think may lead us to a better life.

But consuming doesn't give us a better life. Creating does.

According to a Neilson report, the average American spends 11 hours and 6 minutes per day consuming a variety of media sources including television, movies, internet, radio, video games, and apps. Add print media like newspapers, magazines, and books and that number only increases.

That's okay. There's nothing inherently wrong with consuming.

Nobody enjoys buying useless tech gadgets more than I. I'd wager $100 that I have more articles saved, more books stacked, and more YouTube videos in my watch later list than nearly anyone.

I'm constantly searching for that next-level of insight that will power-up my game.

Maybe you are too?

Maybe that's how you ended up here?

You opened this article with high hopes that consuming it would provide some snippet of information, some lightbulb moment, or some tidbit of wisdom that will lead you to a better life.

I sincerely hope you find that tidbit.

But for that tidbit to lead to a better life, you can't just consume it. You must use it to create.

Taken to an extreme, consuming fills our mind with information that will never be used to make a change in the world. If not applied to your work, the things we consume are informative, even entertaining, but ultimately useless.

Consumption is an easy play. Doesn’t ask much from us. A simple tactic to avoid the pain of our own hearts and the realities of a sinking world. But creating and making stuff for others is vital for our survival.
— Ryan J. Pelton

We live in a golden age of media.

With hundreds of 5-star television shows produced every year, thousands of top-rated books, and an endless supply of quality articles written by stellar writers from all walks of life, you can't not consume. Ignoring timeless classical music, soul-changing movies, or masterful works of pop culture seems borderline irresponsible.

But don't ONLY consume them. Let these works inspire and inform you to create and make your own positive mark on the world.

8. Only Do What Only You Can Do


One of my favorite business quotes is, "only do what only you can do."

I first heard it on a Modern da Vinci interview with Brian Roberts, though the original quote is attributed to Paul Sloan.

Regardless, this quote is often shared in the context of leadership--take care of your own business strategy, manage your own team, take responsibility for your own customer relationships.

Don't leave the important parts of your business to others. Only do what only you can do.

But there's an even deeper meaning which tickles my fancy.

"Only do what only you can do" speaks to delegating tasks that someone else can handle. It speaks to knowing your strengths. It speaks to embracing that which makes you unique and letting others worry about the rest.

Some might argue that this is the very reason we're here on this planet. To do that which makes you unique. To help others in a way that nobody else can.

The alternative is chasing the competition; others' achievements, others' happiness, others' success.

When you do what others can do, you compare yourself to them.

When you do what others can do, you must compete with them to get ahead.

And, if there's one thing I've learned in my 38+ years, it's this: Competing in sports and games is fun. But life isn't a game, and comparing yourself to others and competing to get ahead sucks.

In Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne urge businesses to stop chasing red oceans--oceans filled with the blood of your competition from countless battles over customers. Instead, they suggest chasing blue oceans--unexplored new markets where you set the rules and define the boundaries based on your company strengths and market needs.

Nintendo did this with their video game console, the Nintendo Wii.

In a cut-throat world of video games competing over who had the best graphics, they decided NOT to play their competitions' game and instead focused on that which made them unique. They built a video game system that, by its very design, encouraged an active and interactive style of game-play that was uniquely Nintendo; photo-realistic graphics be damned.

In other words, they focused on doing what only they could do.

The result (and their reward) was the best selling video game console of that generation and one of the best selling consoles of all time.

To be sure, this doesn't mean that someone else in the world can't have your superpower. Or that you can't build the same superpowers as another. There are plenty of situations when being in the right place at the right time makes you the most qualified and unique person to help. There are plenty of scenarios where doing the same thing as someone else for less money or with your own personal spin will be precisely what that someone else needs.

In fact, these situations perfectly illustrate the point of the quote.

Furthermore, you'll notice that this quote doesn't encourage thinking or ideas or meetings or planning. It encourages doing. "Only think what only you can think" is redundant and doesn't accomplish anything.

No, you must do what only you can do.

Find your superpower. Recognize your customers' needs. Stop playing to the competition. Leave the enemy's battlefield and find greener pastures to set up basecamp.

What is it that makes you unique? How can you help others in a way that nobody else can? Why were you put on this earth? How can you use your unique history, your unique experiences, your unique position in a way no one else can?

The answer lies NOT in doing everything possible, but by doing that which others find impossible.

Only do what only you can do.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
— Bruce Lee

9. Re-Frame Your Way Forward


I still remember his phone call.

I knew in my heart what it was about as I could hear his voice was laced with bad news.

Bad news for me.

My heart rate skyrocketed, and I stood motionless as my boss conveyed the message: someone else would be awarded the promotion (I believed) I deserved.

I walked home that afternoon.

I left my car in the parking lot and found a long winding path to my house.

Out in nature, I could let my feelings wash over me. I could think mean thoughts. I could scream and cuss and stomp my way through the fields, relieving myself of all I couldn't say to my superior (though I had desperately wanted to).

Despite having dozens of essential tasks to complete, that phone call temporarily erased them from my memory. It was as if all my desires, all my goals, and that I looked forward to was now being dragged behind, soon to be left forgotten on the road behind me.

Worry, frustration, anger, and disappointment negatively impacted my ability to focus on what mattered. These emotions can conquer your attention too.

Confidence, satisfaction, calmness, excitement, and joy can, on the other hand, do exactly the opposite.

They give you energy.

They bring clarity.

They positively affect your well-being.

My walk home started in frustration. I was consumed with rage and dismay. But every step along the way molded my self-limiting views.

Frustration and anger evolved into a plan of attack. I recognized that, while I had been kicked off my preferred career path, there was no use being stranded in the proverbial woods.

Sure, I was pissed because a new path to my destination might take longer or be more challenging.

But maybe it would just be different.

Regardless, in my anger, I had forgotten that there was more than one way to my goals just as there was more than one way home.

So, with every stride, I ignored the bad news and considered my options. Every step brought clarity on what my path forward needed to be. Until, when I finally arrived home, I realized that I never wanted that promotion; I wanted an entirely different position in the company (one I would ultimately get).

They say that when one door closes, another door opens.

All my life I've found that to be true.

But I've also found that, when you're consumed by negativity, you can only hear the sound of doors shutting.

To hear the tiny creak of an opening door you must quiet your mind, take heed of your situation, count your blessings, and use whatever resources available to find the new path to it.

It's a rare breed of person who can, when they are knocked off their preferred path, live in the calm and joy instead of the resentment and defeat. It's a rare type of individual that can re-frame a negative experience into something that benefits themselves and those around them.

Be that person more.

Don't get hung up on the negative. Don't fixate on the lack of progress, or on the goals that look unattainable, or on the problems stopping you from moving forward.

Instead, like my lost promotion and subsequent walk home, remember to re-frame your experiences into something positive. Remember to ignore what you don't have, be grateful for what you do, and find a way to use all your resources for a better life.

I don't do this nearly as often as I should. But I sure as hell try.

I challenge you to do the same.

10. Align With Your Purpose


I started strong.

I got up at 5:40, meditated, planned my day, got the kids off to school, exercised, and was ready before 8 am.

This rarely happens, but when it does, my day goes well.

Just not this day.

This day, I crushed my morning routine but watched my afternoon suffocate slowly until, by 3 pm, it had died with no chance of revival.

I found myself procrastinating, skipping parts of my plan, and getting distracted.

The result was an ending that felt as if I’d left a lot on the table. It was a day that felt wasted.

Where did things go wrong?

Why was I able to have so much success in the morning, and so little in the afternoon? What did I do that killed my momentum?

Was it the decision to eat lunch with my wife?

Was because I walked down to get the kids off the bus?

Should I have taken another break, meditated again, or eaten more protein?

If you’ve ever had a day like this, you may have also asked a dozen questions trying to figure out why.

Even if you start your day strong, ending it on a sour note feels as if you could have or should have done something else, something more, something different to keep the momentum and finish everything you’d set out to accomplish.

And while there may have been one distraction that derailed you, the problem is more fundamental than that.

After all, if you were truly committed to your tasks, if your job depended on getting them done, watching that cat video would have waited.

No, the problem isn’t the distractions themselves.

The problem is that your tasks aren't aligned with what matters. As such, the distractions beckon for your attention, and you can’t help but follow.

You can start strong with good intentions, but if you don’t have your why, your purpose, your end goal in mind, you’ll run out of steam and find yourself distracted by everyone and everything vying for your attention—a bunch of trivialities that seem important but are only urgent.

Every morning, or even the night before, take a moment to set your intention for the day. Remind yourself WHY you need to do what you plan to do.

Doing so will prevent you from starting strong, then going wrong.

Doing so every day will keep you focused on what truly matters, resulting in a productive, meaningful, and an ultimately better life.

10 Things For a Better Life

This was a lot. A lot of words for ten simple concepts.

If you've made it this far, you're either skimming, jumped to the conclusion, or were glutton for punishment and read every damn word.

Either way, thanks for reading, and I'll leave you with this simple takeaway. If you want a better life, focus on these ten things:

  1. Plan Your Every Day

  2. Live Mindfully

  3. Cut Your Anchors

  4. Sleep More

  5. Invest in Yourself

  6. Give Without Expecting

  7. Consume Less, Create More

  8. Only Do What Only You Can Do

  9. Re-Frame Negative Experiences

  10. Find Your Purpose

Ignore the life hacks puked out by Instagram celebrities who measure their self-worth by the number of likes they get on their latest positivity quote-image of Tony Robbins. Instead, focus on the fundamentals, the things that truly matter, the ten things listed here.

If you do, you'll look back a month, a year, a decade from today and see how much your life has improved in nearly every way.

Ready to Crush It?

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About the Author


Michael Mehlberg


I help high-achieving entrepreneurs organize their brain and schedule so they can organize their life and business.

Subscribe to my free, weekly newsletter on personal excellence and business mastery that one client called “The Owners Manual to an Awesome Life.”