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You want to live your best life, but don’t know where to start? What does it even mean to live your ‘best life’? Life is a crazy journey, and we all take completely different routes. But what is the destination? To be happy, rich, in love, alive or just content?
Living your best life is doing what you can to make the most out of the time you have – and that can be different for everyone. The way I see it, imagine life is a day out at a Theme Park, with rollercoasters, arcades, sweet shops, fast food stands and big open beautiful park grounds.
Living your best life is doing as much as possible to tick everything off your list, for whatever you wanted to do that day. Maybe it’s to ride every coaster until you puke, or maybe just to enjoy watching your kids have the time of their lives.
As long as you give it your best shot to do anything and everything that makes you and those around you as happy as can be…
No one has cracked the code to life, it’s down to us to figure it out as we go. I am learning every day how to live better, be happier and make the most out of the time I have. So, here are 7 Simple Life Hacks to Live Your Best Life.
Do Not Compare Yourself to Others
A Futile Task
Who hasn’t been guilty of this at least once in their lives? Comparing ourselves to our peers, loved ones, rivals and idols is as natural as a sunrise. However, the entire process is a largely irrelevant task that provides nothing but diminishing returns.
Firstly, there are no valuable insights that can be gained from making social comparisons with others. Everybody’s circumstances are different and therefore success is relative.
Take for example 2 entrepreneurs, one born into a family of great wealth and established enterprise. The other, born into poverty with no financial backing or existing networks within which to operate.
How can the self-made entrepreneur make serious useful comparisons with the dynastic entrepreneur? Likewise, it would be fruitless for the entrepreneur born into an advantageous position to compare themselves to a similar individual.
Even if another person were to be born into an advantageous position, they may not have had the will, drive, ambition or luck to achieve comparable results.
Secondly, the comparison itself is flawed. The perception is almost always not a full reflection of the truth. When comparing ourselves to our friends, for example, how much of what we see is a mere illusion.
The friend who has just pulled up in a brand new BMW, with all the sports extras. ‘Wow, they must be doing really great at work.’ But look closer. The friend isn’t doing so great at work and maybe about to lose their job. The car is on finance, and the friend can barely afford the monthly payments.
The illusion presented by the friend and caused you to make a companion was based on a falsehood. Therefore the comparison itself was false and the feelings that were evoked, pointless.
Wasted Energy for Wellness
It is an undeniable human urge to make these social comparisons. We can even justify them to ourselves by saying it spurs us on to do better ourselves.
But then it begs the question, to what end? I agree that we should strive to do our best and succeed. And using social comparisons as benchmarks for this success is an easy guide for us to follow.
However, the overall goal in life surely is to be happy? Therefore, scaling back these comparisons to individual benchmarks doesn’t encompass the full gambit of the life experience.
The friend that has the new BMW. Are they happy at home? Are they healthy, in love, settled and content? The singular comparison to their job and perceived success misses out on nearly every other aspect of their lives.
It is easy to compare every aspect of your life on an individual basis to other people for that one singular comparison. The results will always be the same, because it is human nature to be envious of others.
Imagine comparing your entire life situation to that of anyone you know? Sure, there will be aspects that you are envious of and this will encourage you to work harder to have what they have. But when you continue through the comparisons you will find many aspects of their lives that you would not trade for.
What to do Instead | Temporal Comparison
Deborah Carr PhD from Psychology Today talks about an alternative to making social comparisons. The process, known as a temporal comparison, maybe a better solution when making an evaluation of our lives.
Living our best life will, undoubtedly for most, start with a preconceived notion of what a ‘best life’ looks like. The obvious starting point for this preconception is to make social comparisons.
This process will then give us an idea of how we want our lives to look. Therefore, in order to live our best lives, we must strive towards this ideal.
This process is flawed though, as living ‘our’ best lives cannot start with a perception of someone else’s life. What might be a winning formula for life contentment for me, will not necessarily work for you.
A temporal comparison makes it all about us. For example, we might compare ourselves today to where we were in the past, or to where we want to be in the future.
Changing the focus makes the comparisons useful, truthful and actionable. It is much healthier to compete with yourself than to compete with an illusion of someone else’s perception.
So, do not compare your car ownership situation to that of your BMW driving friend. Instead, have an ambition for the car you wish to own. Then you can compare it to the car you have now and work towards that goal. You can also compare the car you have now to that which you drove 10 years ago.
Already a healthier relationship between your goals and ambitions will have developed. No longer are you envious of this friend, but instead competing with yourself to achieve your desires.
You will have a much better chance to live your best life because the comparisons for success you are referencing are ‘actually’ from your own life. You will not be living ‘friend with BMW’s best life’, but instead, your own.
Set Realistic Short Term Goals
I want to be rich by the time I’m 50.
To be married and have 4 kids.
I will travel the world and see every country.
What’s the problem with these goals? Why are they useless and how can they be reframed to be meaningful? How will this help me to live my best life?
These statements are dreams, maybe not pipe-dreams, aspirations perhaps, but not useful from a practical point of view.
Having goals such as those above are fine for long term aspirational purposes. But in order to have a realistic chance of achieving these aspirations, we must take a step back, and plan.
Setting short term realistic goals is a far more achievable way of actually accomplishing more long term aspirational goals.
Firstly, it is very difficult to take actionable steps towards broad none defined goals. For example, the ‘I want to be rich by the time I’m 50‘ goal. This is such a broad description that each day will likely not involve incremental progressions towards seeing it’s realisation.
Therefore, great lengths of time will pass without actually making any significant headway towards the goal. If, however, the aspirational goal is broken down into well-defined objectives, the chances of success will significantly increase.
For example, the aspirational goal ‘I want to be rich by the time I’m 50‘ could be transformed into the objective ‘I wish to grow my total wealth by 10% year on year.‘
Instantly, this change in structure makes the steps towards the aspirational goal realistic. Therefore steps can be taken immediately towards achieving the goal. Also, as the goal itself is a realistic proposition, the chances of success will significantly increase.
This will have another added advantage in terms of overall motivation towards the aspiration. If as a 30-year-old your goal was to ‘ be rich by the time you’re 50‘, then at 40 years of age, not being rich will diminish your resolve.
However, if you are able to successfully ‘grow your total wealth by 10% year on year“, then each year you will feel psychologically motivated to continue towards your overall aspiration.
Setting SMART goals is a great way to frame your aspirations into manageable and workable solutions.
Take a look at the SMART goal framework:
Take your aspirations and break them down into SMART goals. You will now have a significantly increased chance of achieving your aspirational goals – and can begin to live your best life.
Harness the ‘Power of Now’
To live your best life you must find an element of peace and contentment to the daily grind.
Stress and anxiety are enemies of the soul and can eat away at happiness. Although we all suffer from these inherent human emotions, they can be minimised.
I have suffered from a sought of anxiety, namely ‘overthinking’ for as long as I can remember. Although I consider myself a happy person, I can be set back from my joyful momentum when overthinking a current problem or possible future scenario.
A few years ago I began the process of trying to buy a fast-food business freehold. I had been on a number of viewings to different possible locations and finally settled on a choice.
The offer was made, and to my delight, accepted. All that was required now was the finances. At that time I used a financial advisor to handle the acquisition of funds and allowed the process to be managed independently. This service cost a fair chunk of change, but their unique expertise in the sector would enable faster and more in-depth dealing with the lenders.
Once an appropriate lender had been found that allowed the required amount to be borrowed based on my individual circumstances, the legal proceedings also commenced.
At this point in time, the whole process had already taken a number of months, and I had ‘lived’ every aspect of the new business in my mind a thousand times.
As I was currently already running my existing business, these thought processes became exhausting. I was literally working one job, whilst simultaneously ‘thinking’ another job that had yet to materialise.
The stress and anxiety were pointless. I was not living in the ‘now’ and becoming increasingly agitated by my own projected thoughts.
Not Meant To Be
Needless to say, about 6 months into the whole process, something happened. I was contacted by the bank and told the valuation of the freehold was much lower than previously anticipated.
This meant a larger cash deposit would be needed for the lender to continue with the transaction. I could not find this newly required extra funding, and to my dismay, the whole thing fell through.
6 months of wasted energy on something that never came to be. If I had only harnessed the ‘power of now’, I would have been able to live my best life there and then, without the distraction of something that was never meant to be.
The Power of Now
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is one of those books that really changed things for me. Although not cured completely of my over-thinking, the Power of Now has truly helped me to be in the present. As a result, I am much happier and find it vastly easier to deal with these types of situations.
The book is a spiritual self-help guide to releasing pain and finding inner peace. It teaches you to have to focus on being intensely present in the now.
The author suffered from anxiety and depression for many years until a personal epiphany at 29 years of age changed the course of his life.
‘If you are not present in the here and now you are either living in the past, which causes depression. Or, you are projecting into the future, which causes anxiety.’
Focus on the now and be accepting of your current situation as if you had chosen it. Then, take action, as any step you then take will be much more powerful.
This is a proven pathway to give you the abilities to ‘live your best life’.
Change What’s Holding You Back
This is one of the hardest things to do, but essential to live your best life.
We all go through life doing things we don’t necessarily want to. The job you work, the area you live, the events you attend. Making changes to simply stop doing these things is often not feasible, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
To really live your best life, you have to make the most of the limited and indeterminant time available. By taking steps to change the parts of our lives that are simply not working could be the best decision ever made.
Take for example a job. This is the anchor to which our lives derive stability. It provides an income that we use to buy the things we need and do the things that make us happy.
But think about it for a moment. A job is more than likely taking up the majority of our waking lives. All those hours ploughed into an activity to provide the means to do what we actually want.
If you do not love your job, or at a minimum, enjoy what you do and with whom you do it, then why not leave?
Obviously it is easier said than done, but imagine making that change, and seeing the improvements it could bring.
I am in a fortunate position and love what I do. However, my job is extremely physical, and I don’t think I could do it forever. That is why I started this blog. To explore my interests in more depth, share what I learn, and perhaps eventually make an income.
‘It was the ‘best decision I ever made’.
However, I did make a big and difficult change in my life when I was just starting high school. After a few months being there, I had not made good friends and didn’t settle.
I decided one day to tell my parents that I thought I should move to a school nearer to my new home, and where friends from my swimming club attended.
This is a monumental decision to make as a 13-year-old boy just starting at high school. But in my gut, I knew I needed to do it, to be happy.
‘It was the ‘best decision I ever made’.
And isn’t that the line you always hear people say when they make huge changes to their lives.
‘It was the ‘best decision I ever made’.
I’m not saying making these big changes will always work out for the best. But to truly live your best life, you will have to act upon the things that are holding you back from living your best life.
If the change doesn’t work out, change again.
Learn New Things
So maybe you think making changes to what’s holding you back is the right thing to do. You want to live your best life, but don’t know what your best life looks like.
Well, there really is only one way to find out.
You have to be open minded to ‘learning new things.’
Then, you have to actively go and actually ‘learn new things.’
Before you can live your best life you have to know what that best life will encompass. You may not have already experienced what it is that will truly make you happy, and continue to bring you happiness for years to come.
Knowing What to Do
A study by Allaboutcareers.com revealed statistics showing that 44% of undergraduates are unable to define the industry that they would like to work in once they graduate.
Over 37,000 undergraduates and 1500 school and college students were asked about their career aspirations and 52% of school students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I have no idea what I want to do with my career”.
This is quite frightening, but I also include myself in these statistics, as I am sure many of you do as well.
I decided upon a degree in Business Economics when I was 17 years old because I grew up with family-run businesses. The TV show The Apprentice inspired me and I liked the idea of money being a driving force for what I would do.
I now run a small fast food business, which I love, and this blog, which I also love.
However, this was a broad focus of study which did lend itself to my eventual career. I was fortunate though, as my life path has led to me owning a business in which formal education was not an actual requirement.
What if I had discovered later in life that I had a passion for forensic science, or an intrigue in astro-physics? Does this mean I am unable to explore these options, imprisoned by my youthful past decisions?
Why should it be like that?
I suggest to you that it does not have to be that way. Living your best life may involve something you had previously thought to be unavailable to you. But why not learn new things, follow your passions, and explore the possibilities.
The pathway to living your best life is not set in stone. The directions may change, but the destination should always be the same.
Learn new things at every available opportunity and your best life may reveal itself to you.
Have you heard the expression ‘everything in moderation’ before?
More often than not it’s in reference to the ‘bad things’ in life. Drinking alcohol, eating fast food and so on and so on.
The ‘bad things’ in life are always fun, and allow us to take a break from the stark reality of existence. However, the side effects of overindulging can be more harmful than you perhaps assume.
It is not to say there aren’t a great many people for whom this is of no concern. Many live perfectly clean and healthy lives. But it can be extremely beneficial to do a great many things in moderation, not just what we eat and drink.
Take for example the individual personality traits that we know at times hinder our wellbeing; overthinking, worrying, analysing, judging and stressing.
Don’t hesitate, moderate…
It is perfectly normal and probably healthy to allow ourselves to indulge in these emotions. However, to live your best life, acknowledge the power of moderating the frequency for which you allow them.
This is true of both physical and emotional indulgences. It is probably unrealistic to rid yourself of certain inherent characteristics. After all, this is what makes you, you.
Focusing on reducing the negative physical and emotional aspects of your life will give you power. This can then, in turn, be channelled towards more positive pursuits.
Remember, certain traits and emotions are hugely beneficial to us. For example, drive and ambition. So you may wonder why is there a need to moderate them?
Anything done to excess is emotionally and physically tiring, difficult to maintain and unnecessary. A best life can be lived by utilising the power of these traits within moderation – whilst still seeing the same results.
Adopting this practice will allow the mind and body times of rest and recovery. A professional athlete who smashes the 100m world record will rest after the winning race. They will then train, refocus and be ready to attempt the record again.
Live your best life with moderation.
Do Unto Others
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhileAlbert Einstein
Finally, to live your best life, try to help others do the same.
We all have extremely hectic lives and priorities that make altruism often difficult. When we have to ensure our loved ones are safe and provided for, helping those further away from us is often overlooked.
This is understandable, and at times essential to ensure day to day life can continue.
Understandably, it is frustrating when you see high net worth celebrities somewhat boasting about their charitable achievements. It can be pushed into our faces by means of guilting us into action for worthy causes.
It is not so easy though for many. The single mother of three who works two jobs simply does not have the funds. The couple who have recently lost their child does not have the motivation. The heroin addict who has been clean for a few months does not have the urge to help others.
To be altruistic though should be relative to your means and abilities. I am not a high net worth individual, but I can afford a monthly donation to a couple of charities that resonate with me.
For those without financial means, but are more time-rich, volunteer work is a perfect place to start.
And don’t forget, simply helping those around us is altruism in its purest form.
Altruism is the disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
The simplest way to do for others is to simply do for others, as and when you can. This feeling of helping others is akin to the high received from exercise. The endorphins fill you up and strengthen you and your own personal wellbeing.
The entire process is a win-win situation for all those involved – a continuing cycle of improvement to wellbeing.
To live your best life, take some time to do for others, and you will be amazed at the emotional charge your entire self will experience.
So there you have it, 7 Life Hacks to ‘Live Your Best Life’.
It has been a joy to share some of my own personal experiences with you for this particular endeavour.
I am a firm believer that the purpose of life is to live the best one you can. This will mean many different things for different people.
However, if you are able to act upon some of the things I have shared, perhaps you will see a life improvement.
And maybe your journey towards living that perfect life will be one step closer…