How to Win at Life by Focusing on One Thing at a Time
My life is kind of a mess right now. How’s yours? I definitely don’t feel like I’m winning at life right now, but I aim to change that.
If you want to improve your life, improve your pay, optimize your schedule, or just feel like you’re living your best version of yourself, take it one step at a time.
I have so many things I want to improve on, optimize, and squeeze more out of. What I’ve learned over the years is that if I try to do all those things at once, I just fail at everything.
I’m a software engineer, so I’m always looking to optimize processes, remove bottlenecks, and make things go faster. Something quite useful I’ve learned as I’ve progressed in my career is to break large problems down into manageable chunks.
How to Chunk up Your Life
Let’s say you have a goal for yourself. An ideal lifestyle, ideal pay, ideal relationships, ideal level of raw sexual prowess…you get the idea. An ideal you.
Then you look at you and you wonder how to get from point A to point B. What if you’re a slob? What if you’ve got several habits that have made you medically unhealthy? What if your job sucks?
Before you begin to chunk things up, the first thing you have to do is to just simply love yourself. You won’t get anywhere without doing that first. What are you going to do, get more fit to spite yourself? Hate yourself into a better job? Go ahead and try that and see how far you get. See how much success you can shower upon yourself by hating you.
So just start from a point of love. Love all your flaws, accept the mistakes you made in your past because you cannot change them (even with a time machine, it’s too risky…breaking spacetime and rolling back universes and such), and start this journey with a positive mental attitude about you.
Then, break everything down into big chunks. Write each chunk down on a piece of paper or maybe use Excel and Word, or Pages and Numbers if you prefer.
I’m talking big chunks. Money. House/Apt. Health. Appearance. Stuff like that. You decide. And maybe you’re not going for a complete re-invent. Maybe you just want more money and a better job. In that case, you have two broad chunks.
From there, start breaking each chunk down into smaller chunks. Keep breaking down each smaller chunk until you get to something you can do.
Then do that thing.
Then do another thing, and so on until you die (preferably very old and happy).
Small Changes Turn into Big Results
Small changes, consistently applied, turn into big changes over time. It’s like compounded earnings. You add a little bit of money to your retirement account, consistently, and then over time, you end up with a lot of money (assuming the billionaire class didn’t raid anything or cause some crash so they can buy another yacht fleet).
Take health and fitness, for example. Let’s say your doctor tells you you’re a little overweight, have high blood pressure, and that you need to start taking better care of yourself so you don’t end up with heart disease.
That’s not a great place to start and there’s the potential for a scary end-game. So you want to take action to prevent that potential negative outcome. If you sit down with a piece of paper and write down all the ways you could improve your health, I bet you’ll have a whole shitload of things that end up looking like an overwhelming list you could never complete.
But what if you could complete it?
Look at that list — I realize it’s imaginary at this point — and pick out the one thing that would have the most impact. Maybe it’s getting 8.5 hours of sleep each night. Maybe it’s walking 30 minutes a day because there’s no way in hell you could run a mile without calling an ambulance. Maybe it’s cooking vegetables at home instead of hitting up Taco Bell for another Fresco 7 Layer Burrito pile.
Take that one thing, and figure out how to do it. How do you integrate that thing into your life? And I’m not just talking about doing it once or a few times. I’m talking really weave that one thing into you.
Make it a habit. Make it that one thing you’re doing right now to improve your life. Remember, this is about being more awesome…not depriving you of things. Come at this from a positive angle, from a position of loving yourself, and you will succeed at this one thing.
Now Pick Another Thing
This is where it gets good. Now that you have a daily exercise habit or you’re eating more vegetables and your blood pressure is down and your doctor gives you a high five (virtual/air high five, because of COVID-19), pick another thing.
Pick your next one thing you want to improve upon. Figure out how to make it a habit and integrate that thing into your life.
Then pick another.
Repeat until end of life.
Never stop improving yourself. Always strive to be a better version of yourself. Nobody’s perfect, but we can always be better. We can be more kind, more giving, better at our job, show more love to strangers, and leave the planet a better place than we found it.
For you. For your family. For your pets. For our planet. For our species. Be the best version of yourself, one thing at a time, and live well.
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