|Written on 10/06/2008 by Alex Shalman. Alex is an avid reader and is constantly learning how to improve his life. You can catch him at Practical Personal Development .||Photo Credit: sandy.zieba|
Each year we all gather as a species and proclaim some heroic New Year’s resolutions. Sadly enough, hardly any of these resolutions ever make it out of the drawing room. The good news is, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year in order to take a step in the right direction.
I believe that the domain of our lives is much like the Parthenon, a tremendous structure supported by 10 crucial pillars. You may survive without one of them, maybe two, but if you’re running on too many low or missing pillars, your structure is in danger of collapsing.
“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” ~Ashley Smith
- Health & Fitness
Are you significantly overweight for your height/weight ratio? I definitely am. It’s not easy to maintain that target weight when you’re busy working, traveling, or dating a very good cook! However, it’s our mission to take steps toward our goals, even if they’re very little steps.The best thing to do is to take your brain out of the equation by creating a set of rules for your diet. This way, when the question of ‘to cake or not to cake’ comes up, you’ll simply refer to the rule of ‘big fat no.’ I’ve currently set up several such weight loss rules and it’s working well so far. Remember, exercise is the key to life!
- Mental development & Education
Your mental development does not necessarily have to be tied into your degree. While I have a BA in psychology and MS in biomedical science, the great majority of what I know in life comes from experience, what I’ve read, and people that I’ve talked to.It’s important that you identify what you’re mental development goals are and then go to the library or internet and self-study on all of those topics. The topics that you’ll find most useful for a well-rounded life are psychology, motivation, success, productivity, career development, problem solving, health, wealth, conscious living, and spirituality. You can branch out from here.
- Work, Career, & Finances
Your job is your home away from home, and your co-workers are your secondary-family. It’s crucial to be in love with what you do, to the point that you get up in the morning and go to ‘fun’ instead of going to ‘work.’ There is a career for everyone out there, and it is possible to make money doing what you love.
While I’m currently not the best person to be giving advice on money management (I’m working on this one as well), I do know the fundamentals. Save enough for a rainy day, don’t spend all your money in one place, and live below your means. If you live under your means you can get into any career you want and thrive.
- Social life & Relationships
This is probably the strongest area of my personal life. Several principles allowed me to be in an amazing relationship and have truly great friends by my side. I realized that there’s no changing people. Option 1 is to accept highly flawed people and put a tremendous amount of work into the upkeep and survival of these relationships. Option 2 is to find people with really great character and personality traits and put the same amount of energy into boosting these relationships into the stratosphere.
Just like with any other area of life, you reap what you sow. Notice how both of the options above demand a high level of energy and effort on our parts. It’s also important to put that energy into a few people, let’s call these your ‘dream team’ of friends. For years I was the person that knew everybody but wasn’t close to anybody. All my effort was spread amongst the hordes instead of creating life-long bonds (still putting more effort on this, and it’s paying off!)
- Home & Family
The thing about your family life is that you can’t really exercise option 2 from #4. You can’t choose a different family that is everything you ever dreamed of. You’re kind of stuck with who you’ve got. With that said, you might need to put all your effort into merely surviving them.In my experience the more work I do on myself, without worrying what the family is up to, the more fulfilling I find those relationships. The key word here is acceptance, and it’s something I’m going to be reminding myself of for the rest of my life! Having a delicious relationship with the people you love is absolutely instrumental to you have the best possible life that you can.
- Character, Integrity, Ethics & Virtues
This is the essence of who you are. If you’re going to get anywhere in any of the other areas of your life you need to have the right framework. Integrity sits as the foundation of your character, and your ethics & virtues make the foundation even stronger. Everything else gets built on top of this.Think of yourself as a big square stone. The real you is a beautiful sculpture within this stone. It’s going to take a life time of chiseling away, little by little, at this big stone in order to uncover the true you. The true you is the character that shines through even if no one is looking.
- Emotion control & development
Even the strongest, most logical people are susceptible to emotional blockades. Emotions have the ability to create bottle necks in our experience of life. If you’re a violently angry person, you might have the genius to excel at your job, but your disposition will not allow you to work well with others and be a valuable contributing member to the overall benefit of your team.
Fear is another emotion that holds people back from getting a full experience of life. Read about emotional control, practice it, and talk to people that have a great sense of when they should cry and when they should laugh. You’ll be able to harness the power of emotions and use them to greatly amplify the efforts you are taking towards our goals.
- Daily habits & routines
There are some things in life that don’t need to take up mental RAM, and would actually work out better if we didn’t have to think about them. Our diet is one of them as I already mentioned, but other things such as our morning routines, exercise routines, our writing patterns and our commutes to work, don’t deserve to be given a second thought once we’ve mastered them.
Set up as many habits and routines as you believe are practical for your own life. Having a general wake up routine, then have another one for when you wake up late, and yet another one for the weekends. Eliminate the time wasted when you dilly dally around thinking about what your next action should be. Then when it comes to being fun and spontaneous with the people you love, drop the routines and have fun!
- Life purpose & contribution
The big question is what are you living for? Many people come to my site looking for suicide advice, and I think the number one reason that people consider it is a lack of a firm grasp on their life purpose. Even if you aren’t suicidal there’s still a huge difference between getting the maximum out of life and surviving a comfortable existence.
The trick to getting the maximum out of life is within the contribution part. Contribution is about giving the maximum to life. This means being a person that brings large amounts of value into this world, for proper compensation of course. I believe it’s the people with the big purpose and goal, that actively pursue and achieve, that are able to enjoy life to the fullest.
- Spiritual development
I’m personally in limbo on my spiritual development. I recently explored orthodox-Judaism, and while much of it resonated with me, I ended up dropping the exploration of this extreme. It’s important to realize that spiritual development and religion are not necessarily one and the same.
The essence of spiritual development is rising to a higher-state of consciousness and seeking out the truth in your everyday life. By tapping into this energy you’ll be able to relieve stress, find peace, and focus better on the important areas of your life.
The underlying goal behind all of these pillars should be to maintain a balance and reap maximum pleasure from each area of your life. You’ll notice that as you reach such balance each pillar will help you in your personal growth. Have a great day!
Which areas of your life do you want to improve first?
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