Have you ever noticed that almost everything seems to come with an instruction manual these days? That is, except for the most important things. Kids don’t get one. Life doesn’t get one. My new toaster, on the other hand, came with 45 pages of diagrams, warnings, and various how-to tips!
Well, I’m here to help… at least a little. Allow me to offer you some handy life hacks that can make the process of living your life significantly easier.
1. Get yourself a team to take care of your insides.
I know first-hand that sometimes this is far from easy. I literally used to cry before, during, and after a trip to the dreaded dentist chair. The two dentists I’d previously dealt with had both exhibited significant OCD issues, talked down to their assistants, and made me feel like my best efforts were futile.
My then-hygienist Pat knew I hated Dr. OCD, and introduced me to my current dentist. (Thank you, Pat, you angel!!) This guy still has to give me not-so-great news from time to time, but he does it with compassion. He follows up. He laughs. He listens. In short, he gets it. And he has a great team working with him.
Can say the same for your own dentist? How about your doctor? We generally don’t enjoy tending to these chores of keeping ourselves healthy, but if you have a team with whom you can be comfortable and can have a conversation, you’re already halfway there.
2. Get the same team for your outsides.
Get a good accountant. Get a good lawyer. Get a good mechanic for your car.
If you live someplace where you need a car (as most of us do), then you’ll need to take care of it. Just like your doctor’s office, find a shop where you feel listened to and respected. If you’re a woman – and I’m not going from stereotypes, but from what I’ve actually seen – be sure to make it a place where you feel that you’re not being taken advantage of.
I’ve made it my business to learn the basics about my car so that when someone tries to sell me more than I need or want, I feel confident about saying, “No, thank you.” As someone with next to no mechanical ability, I took deliberate action and asked a lot of questions of mechanics that I know and trust. I even learned to change my own oil.
And I’ve done the same with finding an accountant and lawyer. Ask questions, go and interview them; don’t just take the first recommendation that comes your way. You need to feel like there is a connection. You need to like and trust them, and they need to like and respect you.
3. Get yourself “squared away.”
Now that you have a good lawyer, get your will and trusts taken care of. Do not, under any circumstances, leave planning your estate to the last minute, i.e. when you are literally on your death bed. There are a couple of problems with this, so let me elaborate.
When you’re in crisis you’re rarely thinking clearly. You may not even be capable of making such decisions when you are nearing the end. Time is often an issue. I know of a situation where the lawyer was on the way to the house for a gentleman to sign his will, only to get the call that he had died a few minutes prior. We don’t always have the luxury of time. Do this task now. You will not be hastening your own death; you will be making a clear statement about your intentions to get busy living.
4. Eat that apple a day.
We’ve all heard this one, along with similar suggestions: eat more vegetables, don’t eat junk food, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much (or at all), don’t do drugs, practice safe sex, exercise…
Do you know why we get these suggestions? Because they work. Plain, simple, and to the point.
I know of very few people, however, who can manage to do all these things all the time. Just do your best. Moderation is key, and don’t beat yourself up if you happen to make a questionable decision like drinking too much at your sister’s wedding. When that happens today, do better tomorrow.
5. Get a purpose.
One of the quickest paths to a life that is fulfilling and gratifying is by having a sense of purpose. A reason to get up in the morning, and a reason to slog through the snow or putter through traffic to get to work (to do a job which you hopefully enjoy!).
Without a greater drive, it can be easy to get bogged down in the muck and mire of life. Your purpose could be to raise amazing kids, or ensure the welfare of abandoned animals, or protect the safety of your community. Please don’t confuse purpose with ‘job.’ It could be that (and kudos to you if it is!), but I’m talking about what makes your heart sing, what gives you that special feeling that cannot be re-created in any other situation.
We can have more than one purpose, but one is a good place to start. When a client tells me they “get it,” or that they feel an amazing sense of relief because they have completed an important but previously scary task in fulfilling their goals, that’s when I get that feeling. Or when a client calls me five years after I last saw them to say, “I heard your voice in my head today. Thank you.”
Find what brings you this feeling, and nurture it for yourself.
There you go!
As promised: a mini-manual to make your life easier.
These may seem to be difficult items to add to your to-do list. They may even seem a little silly or mundane. But just like my toaster’s instruction # 217 (that might be a slight exaggeration) which says, “Plug it in,” you will see for yourself just how much of a difference they make.