Imagine sitting on your deathbed. Would you be content dying, looking back at how your life turned out? It’s a scary thought—being left with the cold impression of distance between where you are now and where you may never end up if your time dries up to its very last second. So, how can you prevent yourself from being filled with regrets and empty dreams? Psych2Go shares with you 5 things to give up to live the life you want and 5 things to nurture:
1. Give up on instant gratification and the short-term mindset.
There’s a difference between setting short-term goals that help you achieve long-term goals later down the road and setting short-term goals that only give you temporary results. For instance, rather than working on eating healthier and exercising more to achieve the ideal body you want for the summer, why not work on sustaining those healthy habits for life? Perhaps it’s less daunting to make success temporary, so you don’t have to worry about letting yourself down when it fades, but in reality, instant gratification is only as sweet as the candy bar lasts. When you choose the short-term mindset, you also choose the disappointment you feel when you resort back to unhealthy habits. Allow your actions and decisions to bring you purpose, rather than just being a day-to-day occurrence.
2. Give up excuses and the limitations you set for yourself.
If you want to be happy and successful, first you have to take full ownership and responsibility for the life you lead. It’s tempting to call it quits when things get tough and use excuses like, “There’s not enough time in the day for me to exercise” or “I’m bad at math, so I’ll never be able to pass this class.” The magic we read about in books when we were young may not be real, but it doesn’t take magic to make great things happen. It’s about what we choose to focus on. Self-improvement is a step-by-step process and it’s not going to happen overnight. Don’t try to find the easy way out and stop setting limitations for yourself. Growth happens when you choose to step over the line.
3. Give up on perfectionism and your need to be liked.
According to Yale psychologist Sidney Blatt, perfectionism can lead to self-critical depression, and in extreme cases, drive you over the edge. Don’t follow down that dark path and free yourself from self-deprecating thoughts. It’s difficult, because we’re our own worst inner critics, but don’t forget about who you were before those voices pick you apart. To build a healthy sense of self, it’s also good practice to stop people-pleasing from fear of not being good enough. Initially, it may feel satisfying when you gain the approval and likes from others after going out of your way to help them with something, but it won’t be long until you feel hollow and hungry again for more attention. When people truly love and accept you for who you are, you won’t feel obligated to chase after the next person.
4. Give up your need for control on everything.
Although you are responsible for the choices you make, it’s also important to keep in mind that there are simply some things in life that are out of your control, such as tragic events of losing a loved one or being laid off from a company. Know that you can still do your best, despite the curveballs that may be thrown your way. It’s not about gaining full control over everything, but rather, learning how to let go at times and trusting that life will still work in mysterious ways to bring you where you want to be. You can have everything planned down to a T, but something will still slip and mess up along the way; that’s just how it is, but it’s your perspective on getting over the unexpected obstacles that will help you in the long run.
5. Give up the toxic people in your life.
It’s important to surround yourself with good people, so make room for them and don’t hesitate to say goodbye to those who you can no longer grow with. There’s a difference between relationships that need work and those that won’t. Letting go of people can be challenging, especially if it’s a friend you’ve known since early childhood or someone you’ve had the longest relationship with, but titles aren’t everything—not if they’re becoming people who are toxic for you. Giving up on people who are bad for your health may seem scarier than being alone, but being with them every day can actually make you feel lonelier. You deserve people who you feel happy with, not those who make you second-guess your own worth to them.
5 Things to Nurture:
1. Nurture healthy routines that allow room for growth, rather than the ones that make you feel trapped.
Routines may seem intimidating because they’re often associated with words like “boredom” or “predictability.” But, what if predictability can be good for you? Routines can be fulfilling if you set the right kind that tailors to your personality and lifestyle. Setting healthy routines that help you grow, rather than stifle you, is key to bringing you closer to reaching goals and self-actualization. For instance, if you’re someone that feels burnt out in the middle of the day, make it a routine to rest or take a nap before picking up your projects again. Or, if you’re someone that easily feels restless doing the same tasks every day, find and work towards a career that encourages movement and spontaneity. Ultimately, it’s important to do what works for you.
2. Nurture and establish healthy relationships with people who believe in you.
Just because you may be going after your dreams, doesn’t mean you have to give up on having good friends or a fulfilling relationship. Never feel as though you have to compromise your career to have good people in your life. The right people will understand how important your dreams are and will never threaten to leave or judge you for working towards them. Although it may initially seem difficult to simultaneously fulfill work priorities and your social life, it can be achieved when you nurture the balance of both.
To prevent yourself from feeling burned out at work, always leave communication open between you and your friends, family, and romantic partner. That way, you allow room for yourself to breathe and maintain close contact with them. When you make time to have fun with the people who matter to you, it’s a great way to let loose after a long day and they’ll be happy that you’re spending quality time with them. It’s a win-win situation—for them and for your wellbeing.
3. Nurture the person you’re meant to and want to become.
It’s easy to get sucked into believing you have to act or behave a certain way in order to be respected or loved in society. But when you give into the public expectations advertised and drilled into your head starting at a young age, you are also giving into oppression. The person you’re meant to be doesn’t have to die. Instead, build yourself up, and don’t worry about being too weird, sensitive, or kind. It’s a waste of time pretending to be someone you’re not when you’ll only attract the wrong crowd. Find out who you want to become and allow yourself to evolve into that person. I promise you—your future self will thank you for it.
4. Nurture the element of risk-taking.
Although it’s tempting to stay in your safe bubble and comfort zone, it’s hard to deny the days you spend daydreaming about adventures you yearn to have, but never experienced. Instead of letting dreams and ideas passively swim in your head, why not actively work on making them a reality? If it’s the challenges, downfalls, and fear of starting over that give you anxiety, know that it’s okay to feel scared and uncertain, but try not to let that stop you from going after the life you want. The self-doubts you have are not a true representation of what may become. You never know what may be waiting for you on the other side if you never try. Taking risks may not always result in the best stories, but a great story cannot be produced without taking that first step.
5. Nurture yourself not just on the good days, but on the bad days, too.
Instead of just celebrating your accomplishments and the days you’re at your best, why not applaud yourself for your failures and mistakes, too? You may find yourself experiencing a setback or having a hard time facing the truth to a difficult or heartbreaking situation. But, that’s when it’s the most important to still practice self-love and tell yourself that it’ll all pass, rather than resorting to self-destructive behaviors or thoughts. It’s so easy to fall back into bad habits or stop believing that things will get better the minute your life takes a drastic turn for the worst.
I’ve been experiencing nights where all I want to do is sink, but my boyfriend always tells me to put it down and let it go. It’s hard for me to digest his words when I feel so ill-equipped to handle my next set of challenges that pound hard onto my skin like a hellish round of dodgeball. But I listen anyway, because I didn’t come all this way just to give up, right? When you’re in a space that feeds on your misery, you give so much power to your inner monsters that try to talk you down. And I’m asking you to have the guts to stand up to them, because you’re not a product of fear. You’re full of potential and light.