Live Deliberately

Live Deliberately: 15 Ways to Stop Life Simply Happening to You

Our time is a precious commodity that we can’t afford to waste.  It is a finite resource that is used up whether we like it or not.  If we don’t choose to spend it in a particular way, the world around us will choose for us.  WE CAN’T AFFORD TO LET THIS HAPPEN!

Here are 15 simple, yet essential ways that you can live your life more deliberately and stop letting your destiny be decided for you.

1. Choose your work

This may sound overly simplified, but it is relevant none the less.  How many of you are doing what YOU want to be doing?  There may be some of you who are exactly where they want to be, but I suspect that many are not.  Whether you hate your job, like it but wish you were doing ____ or just don’t like your daily routine, it is up to you to actively change your circumstances.

I think that many of us have been burned in the past when we attempted to land our ‘dream job’.  We might feel as though we’ve ‘given it our all’ and just can’t do it.  Well I’m here to tell you that if you settle now, you will feel stuck and unsatisfied the rest of your life.  This is not to say that ‘if you don’t do ____ you will never be happy’. Instead I am just sharing a truth of the human heart.  We are passionate beings that need to satisfy our visions of who we want to be and if we settle for a version of ourselves that is below this standard, we will always live in regret.

2. Stop Hanging out

‘Free Time’ is a wonderful thing.  The only problem is that it is not actually free.  One way or another, we had to earn it.  So to let this finite recourse just slip away is a terrible thing.  I think it is essential for all of us to have down time.  Even time where we are just watching the clouds go by.  I would just like to encourage you to make sure that the results of this time spent are positive.  Make sure that you are truly benefiting from it.  Because if you find that you are just wasting your time or ‘killing time’, then you seriously need to re-think the way you relax.

3. Eat deliberately

Our diet has a tremendous effect on our health.  Not just the ‘how long we live’ kind of health, but, more importantly, how we feel every hour of every day.  So the next time you buy your food at the grocery store, try to think about what kinds of foods will help promote good, clean, consistent energy and all around health.

4. Actively help others

There’s no question that we, as human beings, should help one another.  This is a given.  But if we aren’t actively doing so, we will not have a choice in how we want to help.  This is a common area where our society doesn’t live deliberately.  We just do our own thing and then hope to be in the right mindset when a need comes our way.  This is often a cause for frustration.

The fact of the matter is: we are not always ready to help. Maybe our health is bad or we’ve been overworked and just don’t have the energy.  Do yourself a favor and actively help others when YOU are in your best condition.  You will be more helpful to the receiving party and will enjoy the process much more.

5. Give yourself an allowance

Just like our time, our money will just slip through our fingers if we let it.  Most people will pay their bills before they do anything else.  This is fine, but not the best way to go.  Almost every financial adviser you talk to will tell you to pay yourself first.  If you don’t, you may never truly get paid.  One common argument to this idea is that you may not have enough to pay your bills if you don’t pay them first.  This can be true, but is not as common as you may think.

Picture your money as a pizza with 3 slices.  One slice is for essential items like your bills, another is for savings (paying yourself) and the last slice is for miscellaneous purchases.  This miscellaneous area is full of things that you may not even remember buying.  Things like eating out instead of eating in or buying that $5 cup of coffee once or twice a week.  By the end of the month these things add up and you will see that the money to pay yourself is usually there, it’s just being wasted instead of invested.

6. Have mini tasks ready for unexpected downtime

Throughout the day we are presented with little bits of downtime.  10 minutes here, 15 minutes there.  Not very much time on their own, but noteworthy if added together.  So instead of just ‘killing’ this time, try to come up with a few small tasks that can be worked on when the moment presents itself.  If you do this, you will have found a great tool to chip away at larger tasks, a little bit every day.

7. Play hot potato with your To-Do’s

One of my technology consulting clients uses my services to help him to be more productive.  One of his struggles is in trying to stay on top of all his emails.  He receives hundreds a week and always gets behind.  What I taught him was to treat every email as a hot potato.  Once it is passed to him he has to pass it back as quickly as possible or he will get ‘burned’.

This analogy can be used in every area of productivity.  It’s nothing new, but is a great way to look at the tasks that come your way.  All too often we let things get backed up and then feel overwhelmed as we try to play catch up.  So instead of allowing this to happen, treat every new ‘to-do’ as another hot potato that needs to be taken care of RIGHT NOW.  The more you get into this habit, the less behind you’ll be and the more productive you’ll become.

8. Cut the fat

One of the greatest enemies of living deliberately is clutter.  These unnecessary objects in our lives prevent us from moving throughout our lives with a quick, light efficiency.  Simplify now and create the necessary habits to stay streamlined.  The lighter your load and the less ‘stuff’ you have to take care of, the more time and energy you’ll have to focus on the more important things in life.

9. Back up your data

This might sound like an ‘out of place’ tip, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  We all have computers and most of us have data on these computers that is quite important.  And from my experience as a tech, most of you aren’t backing up some, if not all, of that precious data.

Since we are talking about not letting life happen TO you, I felt it was very fitting to bring this up.  Because once you’ve gone through one instance where you’ve ‘lost it all’ in a hard drive failure, you will know what I mean when I tell you that this is a completely preventable mess to be in.  There’s nothing more frustrating than losing your files and knowing that you are the only one to blame.  So don’t let this life disaster happen to you.  Keep your files backed up and sleep easy at night.


10. Capture your memories

It’s widely known and accepted that life isn’t about the destination but about the journey itself.  So why do we rush through this time without capturing the wonderful moments and memories that we encounter.  I would suggest that you make it a high priority to take many pictures and keep many journals or your journey.  15 minutes a day is all it takes to capture some of the key experiences that you can later remember and share with future generations.

This is also important for our ability to remember where we came from.  Knowing where you’ve been will help you see how far you’ve come.

11. Get out of debt

Debt is slavery.  You have to work off the money you owe or you’ll be in trouble.  Of course I’m not talking about your mortgage or even most car payments.  But taking out a loan so you can get a new ‘toy’ to play with is a big NO NO.  It’s not worth it.  Just like clutter can cause resistance to your attempts to make progress in your life, so too can debt be a barrier to making the most out of your time and energy.

12. Physically push yourself

I could have said ‘Exercise’, but I don’t think this is accurate enough.  Many of us may walk or run every other day or so and this is good.  But I find that many of those same people aren’t really pushing themselves to get stronger and healthier.  It’s easy to get comfortable in our exercise routines and stop breaking a sweat.  We need to consistently push our bodies past this point of comfort to continue to reap the full benefits that come from exercise.  And if you aren’t getting any kind of workout, well, then, START.  Exercise is one of the best fuels for our motivation.  Without it we are putting ourselves at a huge disadvantage.

13. Never stop learning

One of my clients is a 90 year old writer who is sharp as a tack.  When I first met her I figured she was in her 70’s, but even then she seemed to be no more than 50 years old in her mind.  When I asked her how she stayed so sharp she replied, “I never stopped writing.”  Our minds are muscles that need to be consistently worked out.  Once we stop challenging them, they will only grow weaker.  Just like my client, ‘never stop writing’.

14. Be a proactive sleeper

Sleep affects every aspect of our being.  Our minds and our bodies can either thrive or struggle based on the amount and consistency of sleep we get each night.  So in light of this I find it amazing how many people make sleep an afterthought in their lives.  They go to bed ‘whenever’ and don’t realize how much their actions affect how good that sleep really is.  But the fact is, everything from how much exercise we get each day to what and when we eat our meals, has a tremendous affect on how well we sleep.  So make it a high priority to find a sleep routine that works for you and stick with it.  Your motivation and all around well being depends on it!

15. Dream big with every intention of pursuing

People always say that children ‘have such a big imagination’, as if adults do not.  The fact is that you never lose your ability to imagine, only your ability to believe the ‘impossible’.  When you are a child you can believe that going to the moon is possible.  As an adult you become aware of all that is required to accomplish such a feat and how small your chances are of doing so.  But here’s the question:  Do people go to the moon?

Now this is an extreme example, but I want to challenge you to not let your ability to ‘be realistic’ stand in your way of reaching for the stars.  If everyone did this we would live in a much less amazing world.

But this is only half of the equation.  Notice I didn’t just say ‘Dream big’.  I added the second part because, if left out, you will just be doing what 99% of the rest of the world does.  It is not uncommon for someone to dream big, but rarely do they have any intention of forming a plan, putting in the time and making it a reality.

You can be different! You can be one of the few that actually pursue your dreams with every intention of attaining them.  Whether it’s going to the moon or starting your own business, your biggest limitation starts with you.  You may not have total control over your destiny, but if you’re not deliberately living your life, you are just handing the keys over to someone else.


This guest post was written by Eric Hamm. Eric writes about personal growth at his blog Motivate Thyself. You can subscribe to his RSS feed here.

Photos by pasotraspaso and riza.