Deciding to improve your life – in any area – can seem overwhelming if you don’t utilize the power of brainstorming, prioritizing, and focusing your energy.
Prior blog articles have included information on setting SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based – but where do you start when there is so much to inspire you and so many things you want to change?
A great way to get started on planning and then taking action toward a better life takes nothing more than a piece of paper and a pen or a word processing program. Write at the top, “Ways to Improve Life” and start brainstorming. Consider every aspect of your life and don’t leave anything out. There are no wrong answers.
Your body and health, finances, relationships, house and home environment, and your career or business are all fair game. Write down all the things that would make your life better, no matter how crazy they may seem. This isn’t the time to judge the value of an idea. Just record it and move on to the next one.
Brainstorming is defined as producing an idea or way of solving a problem by holding a spontaneous group discussion. Since you’re likely to be working on this list of ideas on your own, I’ve adjusted the action items and principles in this article to better suit solo work.
Give yourself the time you need. Work on your list off and on over several days if you need to. You’ll probably find that the first 5-10 items on the list come quickly, since these are the things you already know you should be doing, but aren’t. The others may take some time. While there’s no maximum, shoot for a minimum of 50. Often, the best ideas come later in the process.
Remember, you’re just brainstorming at this point. You would never want a to-do list that long, so follow these three steps to pare it down and get the absolute best results:
- Pick the 10 best ideas on your list. Several items on your list will probably be unusable. That’s normal. Many others will be possible, but not as important to you.
Focus on the things that would have the biggest positive impact on your life if you were to accomplish them. Take some time to really consider your options. Sometimes simple and easy changes can create significant effects. Get the ten best but be sure to save the rest of the list for another day.
- Rank those ten. Rank them from easiest to accomplish to most difficult. You might as well start with the easier items and get some momentum before you tackle the big stuff. You’ll have more faith in your ability to accomplish things if you have some recent successes under your belt.
Before you start, though, imagine getting them all done. How much would your life improve?
- Begin with the first item. Implement the first idea and make your way down your list. Now, your list only has 10 items on it. The Pareto Principle basically states that 20% of the actions available to you will give you 80% of your desired results. So, accomplishing these 10 things is likely to have a huge positive impact on your life, and will help get your motivated to continue making positive changes and checking off tasks on your list.
If you know that a specific area of your life really needs improvement, your list could be focused on just that topic. For example, you might want to make a list specific to getting healthy or becoming wealthy. After all, it’s your life and you can apply your focus as you choose.
If you need help choosing a specific area of your life, try this: Rate all aspects of your life on a 1-10 scale, with the areas that are most important to you at the top of the scale. Then, fill your list with ways you can make these most important areas more fulfilling. Set SMART goals, using the definition at the beginning of this article.
Focusing on the most important items is one of the fastest ways to make real progress in your life. No matter how well you’re doing, making this list is a worthwhile exercise. You can take control of your life each day by keeping your ideas for improvement in mind. Before you know it, you’ll have your best life ever!
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