By Kate Ferguson
(According to my non-expert yet experienced guesstimate.)
I’ll be honest. I don’t know that these tips will precisely make your life ten times easier, but I do know that they will, in fact, make it easier. I know this because they have been paramount in making my own life way easier. Changing habits changes lives. There are, of course, a lot more than 13 ways to make your life easier. But let’s start with these.
1. Don’t Be Mad at Who You Were
I know how cringe-worthy it can be to think about the past and ponder WTF. I’ve felt a lot of shame, and I’ve also purged a lot of shame. We all do dumb stuff occasionally. It’s tough to wonder how things could have gone differently had we been different. But we weren’t. We were just who we were.
And here’s what’s cool about that…the fact that you can reflect back and cringe means that you already grew and changed. That’s the hardest part. You’ve got awareness for days. So take a moment to thank yourself for doing the work and becoming who you are now. Give the old you a break. Try to keep a sense of humor about all that. If you’re not going back there, perhaps it’s time to forgive yourself.
2. Clean Your Sh*t Up
I know they say that geniuses often have messy desks and fun stuff like that, but a lot of geniuses are also horrifically manic depressive and reclusive. I wouldn’t necessarily note your lack of organization as proof that you’re on the way to greatness.
I know how annoying it can feel to address a mess. But there’s a huge parallel between how you treat your physical space and your emotional space. Avoiding is avoiding. Getting rid of stuff is getting rid of stuff. Making room for new stuff is making room for new stuff. Clean out your closet or handle all those chores you’ve been avoiding and then try to tell me you don’t feel better. You won’t be able to. Life is simply easier when you don’t let things pile up.
3. Do it Now
Are you saving a cute little number for a special occasion? Waiting to start writing that book until you’re absolutely sure that the world will provide you a welcoming path in the publishing world? Procrastinating on a tough conversation? Perhaps you should just do it now. Wear the damn outfit. This is your life that you’re living, right here right now. You can always wear it again…and claim that you’re making more sustainable fashion choices.
If you’re waiting for permission for something, you better stop that right now. You might not ever get it in the form that you think you need it. And you most definitely don’t need it. The only way to get real affirmation from the world is simply to do stuff. You don’t need someone to grab you and pull your talents out of you. Or to tell you that you’re beautiful. Or to support your business goals. You just need to start living your own truth now, and then your authentic way of being will simply tell people who you are.
Not that everyone will support you once you start putting it all there, but you don’t need everyone. You need one group of people who believe in what you’re doing. Or one single person, depending on the circumstances. There are a lot of people out there. But you have to let them know what you’re up to.
4. Pivot Your Booty Off
Newsflash: not everything you try is going to work. That’s definitely not a reason to not do it. Just like you don’t need to stop (permanently) dating after you experience a breakup, you also don’t need to give up drawing because no one is buying your art.
Life is not a linear experience and no one ever said that it was supposed to be. Everything changes all the time, so you need to be able to change all the time too. You can cry all you want when things don’t go right, but then pivot. Pretend you’re some adventurous badass who enjoys a challenge and try it again in a new way. If you try this enough you might actually become an adventurous badass. Who knows.
5. Stop Blaming Other People
Other people can be awful hot messes. But that really doesn’t have anything to do with your experience. Yes, their behavior and words enter your awareness, but at the end of the day, you’re in charge of your experience. Regardless of what someone does or says, you’re in control of how you respond and what you do with the feelings that come up around it.
It’s easy to blame other people. It’s braver to look inside. The next time someone insults you, think about why it insults you. If there was no charge around what they said you would have already forgotten about it. Why are you still thinking about it?
Of course, people should still be held accountable for their behavior when appropriate. We’re not talking about their repercussions. We’re talking about how you feel. No matter what happens to them, you’re in charge of you. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on, but personal responsibility should be your top priority.
6. Set Your Boundaries
There are a lot of people who will push and take at their leisure if you let them. Letting people cross your boundaries is like hopping on a fast train to exhaustion. But you can tell them no. Don’t pick up the phone if you asked them not to call you during work hours. Walk away if they refuse to stop hurting you. Do whatever it is that you need to do to make it clear that your time matters. That your values matter, or your money matters, whatever.
As hard as it is to imagine, sometimes those people don’t even know that you feel like your boundaries have been crossed. When you let them know, they’ll probably get the message and back off. But if they don’t, then you have even more reason to back away yourself. Don’t waste time with people who don’t respect yours.
7. Stop Sharing Everything With Untrustworthy People
You don’t have to share every detail of your life with people who are snarky or bratty. It took me a really long time to figure out how to untangle some of those more frenemy breeds of friendships. It’s always confusing to love someone but not love their behavior. But if someone acts toxic, they are in fact, toxic. They might change, but you don’t have to overextend yourself in the meantime. Or get pulled along into their drama.
Don’t wait for things to get worse before you get the courage to state your own needs. Stop telling competitive people all your brilliant ideas. Stop gossiping with a backstabber. Stop looking for support in people who secretly want you to fail.
8. Ask for Help
You are under no obligation to do everything alone. You are under no obligation to know everything there is to know. You are under no obligation to protect people who are hurting you. Find like-minded people. Learn from people who know more than you. Confide in trustworthy folk.
Just because you’re in charge of your experience and living responsibly, that does not mean that you have to avoid other people or overlook their insights. It means that you learn how to be the best you possible, so that when you reach out to other people they’re willing to help you. And that you’re capable of returning the favor.
Similarly, collaborating can be key. When a concept is new or if you’re exploring a talent for the first time it can be tempting to keep it close to your heart. And sometimes during that incubation period that is absolutely necessary. Protect yourself and your art when you’re vulnerable.
But when you’re not vulnerable, accepting the fact that working together can work better can really save some time. If you can’t figure out how to do something, or it’s too big of a project for you to tackle alone, find a like-minded human to join you. It’s better to do something with someone else than not do it at all. You can always veer off and do your own thing later.
10. Retire Your Limited Beliefs
Many people have a running dialogue of limiting beliefs in their head, but most of those beliefs are outdated. You learned something false about yourself when you were five, or 15, or 23. But if you aren’t that age anymore, you’re not that person anymore either. Even if something was true at one point in time, that doesn’t mean it’s true now. You can rewrite that story any time you want. Change your mind. Shift your perspective. Come up with a new story that’s more supportive of what you want than of what you don’t want.
11. Write Down What You Want
Got a lot on your mind? Maybe you should be writing those thoughts down for safe keeping. I’ve been making lists of wishes and whatnot since I was a kid. (At my mom’s urging, most of this took place on new moons.) I still have a lot of those lists, and I can tell you that I have a really strong track record of gaining or accomplishing what was on them. The act of writing something down simply gives it weight. That idea immediately exists somewhere outside of your mind, which is one step closer to making it a reality.
If you’re motivated, or you’d like to become motivated, seeing it written down can immediately add some fuel to the fire. Once you admit what you really want it’s harder to back out. You don’t want to let yourself down, now do you. Plus, accomplishing things feels extra cool when you can reference back to the point you first conceptualized it. That’s pure proof that you’re capable, which will always help carry you onto the next thing.
12. Let Go of Failed Romance
I have failed at romance and been hurt in the classic rom-com ways and also in the more dangerous thriller film type ways. Dating is wild. But at the end of the day, I’m a better person because of all of that. Truly. I’m more humble because of some blows. I have more clarity about my needs and values. I’m sweeter because I appreciate more.
Everything you go through is going to change you. Just let it change you in the good ways. Let heartbreak soften your jagged bits. Give yourself credit for how much stronger you are when you bounce back. Many romances are not going to last. That’s okay. They don’t need to. Learn about relationships. Learn about yourself. Be grateful that you had the chance to grow.
13. Be Kind
Kindness is the real deal. It does mean that you always have to be nice or say yes to everything. It means that you have clarity of emotion and can communicate it. It means you can listen and empathize without taking on their energy. It means you can say no without being harsh. It means expressing true compliments and sharing your love. It also means being good to yourself, which is naturally the key take away from all of this. Other people respect you more when you respect yourself, which tends to make things run a lot smoother in a variety of ways.
Easier said than done? Not really. Sure, it takes time to change your habits. But that’s what things are. Mindset habits. The sooner you get started, the more quickly you’ll see results. And you will see results.