How do you get your life together?
What does that term even mean?
One thing is clear though:
We all have our own definition of what a “good life” is.
From having a stable career, becoming financially independent, to having meaningful relationships, having your life together looks different for all of us.
In this guide, we’ll tackle what it means to have your life together and the 8 seriously effective life hacks to get you there.
What does it mean to have your life “together”?
According to a 2016 survey, Americans in their 20s to 30s are struggling to find financial stability.
Less than half of 22-26 year-olds manage to pay their rent, health insurance, or retirement account.
But that’s not surprising. The younger generation don’t think “having your life together” means having a house and family by 30.
According to Andrew Plepler of Bank of America:
“Instead, the majority said that adulthood really begins when you’re financially independent – when you can find a job, pay your own bills, cover your own rent and stop relying on mom and dad for financial support.”
But being financially stable isn’t the only thing you need to consider.
Having your sh*t together means more than just being able to pay your bills.
Author Brianna West says:
“It’s easy to think that “getting your sh*t together” means perfecting your coping mechanisms, and that’s because so many people do that so well.
“Truly getting your life together is letting that image shatter. It is the day you decide you are ready for deep healing.”
“It is doing things for how they feel, and not just how they look. Life pulls us all apart in uniquely traumatizing ways, and for a while, most of us stitch ourselves back together using thin veils, semblances of healing.”
The key to having your life together is having “balance.”
You can be the most responsible adult in the world – pay your bills on time, have a house and car by 30, and ample savings in your bank account but still feel miserable.
According to the famous World Happiness Report, having a good work-life balance is now one of the strongest predictors of happiness.
Unfortunately, with our current culture, more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with their work. And you might feel the same. It’s not easy being constrained to a 9 to 5 job every single day of your life. The monotony might prove too much.
Which is why you need to find the perfect balance.
Work gives us purpose. It makes us feel like we are doing something productive.
But too much work is unhealthy.
You also need a life outside of your work. You need to spend time with your loved ones and do the things that make you feel alive.
If you truly want to feel like you have your life together, then you need a good balance of work, passion, experiences, a sense of community, and love. All of these factors give you a feeling of purpose – a feeling of a life well lived.
And the best part?
When you have this constant joy, everything else becomes easier.
Yes, especially getting your life back together.
So now that you understand those important aspects, let’s get you started on how to get your life together. Read ahead for our 8 best life hacks to help you get your life back together.
1. Be proactive.
Why is it important to be proactive in life?
Because if you want something, it’s not just going to magically land on your lap.
Organizational behavior expert Thomas Bateman says:
“Behaving proactively is distinctive and vital because most of what we do is pretty passive, and dictated by past habits and routines, current circumstances and pressures, or biases that support the status quo and keep us on a familiar path.
“Proaction thus differs markedly from our most common behaviors. The more significant the trajectory change that you attempt, and the more substantial and widespread the impact over time, the more proactive your actions.”
Part of having your life together means recognizing you have to pursue your goals in order to achieve anything worthwhile.
2. Set goals
Yes. You’ve heard it before: setting goals is important.
But… setting goals shouldn’t be wishful thinking. Goals are concrete – made from effort and sweat.
Clinical and health psychologist Dr Bob Montgomery says:
“Most people confuse a goal with a target or an outcome. A goal is actually an action plan, which if you follow it through will have a desirable outcome in your life.”
So don’t just list your goals on a piece of paper. Go out there and achieve them.
Most importantly, be realistic.
Dr. Montgomery explains:
“It’s important when you set your goals, or plans, to start out at a realistically challenging level.
“As soon as you’ve got that established, you nudge the standard up a bit, so that your goals are always a bit challenging, but realistic. The more you give yourself experiences of success, the higher your self-efficacy and the more motivated you are to stick to that goal.”
Wondering how, exactly? Check our Lachlan Brown’s SMART goals:
Specific: Your goals must be clear and well-defined.
Measurable: Label precise amounts and dates. For example, if you want to reduce expenses, what amount do you want to reduce them to?
Attainable: Your goals have to be achievable. If they’re too difficult, you’ll lose motivation.
Relevant: Your goals should be aligned with where you want to get to and what you want to do.
Time-bound: Set yourself a deadline for your goals. Deadlines force you to get things done, and not procrastinate.
You don’t need to have insane goals. Just ones that will bring you the kind of life you want to have.
3. Be with people who add value to your life.
Various studies suggest that the quality of people you surround yourself with can significantly affect the quality of your life.
Research from Michigan State University, for example, finds that relationships with family and friends are tied to higher self-rated levels of happiness and health.
Even this popular 75-year Harvard study proves that our closest relationships hugely impacts our overall happiness in life.
Surround yourself with lazy and unmotivated people, and you become like them too.
On the other hand, when you’re constantly with inspiring, talented, and passionate people, you become more motivated to pursue your own goals.
So which kind of people will you choose to be with?
As you grow older, you will realize that you would rather keep a few good friends than a lot of bad ones.
4. Practice honesty.
No, I’m not talking about the lies we tell others.
I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves.
In a TEDx talk called Honest Liars: The Psychology of Self-Deception, clinical psychologist Cortney Warren talks about the daily lies we tell ourselves.
“Humans are masters of self-deception. We fool ourselves into believing things that are false and we believe to refuse to believe things that are true.
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“At the core, we lie to ourselves because we don’t have the psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the consequences that will follow.”
Being honest with yourself involves taking responsibility for your own actions, decisions, and the outcomes that come with them.
Are you honest about your emotions? Does your work truly make you happy? Is this what you really want for yourself?
From time to time, reflect on your life and practice introspection. Are you living your life with honesty?
You will see a significant change in your attitude and the choices you make.
5. Learn to let go.
We hoard emotions the same way we hoard material things.
According to psychotherapist Ilene Strauss Cohen:
“Oddly enough, painful feelings can be comfortable, especially if they’re all you know. Some people have trouble letting go of their pain or other unpleasant emotions about their past because they think those feelings are part of their identity.”
But it is crucial to learn how to let go of things that no longer serve you.
“All you can do is accept whatever it is you’re holding on to and then let it go. That’s how everything changes. You have to let go of what is hurting you, even if it feels almost impossible.
“Deciding to hold on to the past will hold you back from creating a strong sense of self — a self that isn’t defined by your past, but rather by who you want to be.”
It’s important to learn how to let go. No matter how strongly we feel about certain things like love, our jobs, and our relationships – we just can’t fully control them.
Sometimes you just have to be okay with that.
6. It’s okay to be a little selfish.
“Selfish” sounds like a harsh word.
According to Bob Rosen, author of Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World:
“As we evolved, we developed higher order needs, [such as] becoming community centered. “Our theory of human development is based on a model that you’re either selfish or you’re community oriented. The truth is that you need to be both. It’s not an either-or.”
But it is actually human nature to want to take care of your needs first.
“When you take care of yourself first, you show up as a healthy, grounded person in life.”
“Selfish people have a drive to succeed.
“There is often a higher purpose to be a great leader–taking care of other people. But if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t care for others. Being selfish is critical.”
Being a little selfish means you will be able to have the time and energy to take care of yourself first, before you can care for others.
7. Maintain your overall health.
Health is wealth. And if you truly want to feel like you have your life together, then put some effort into creating a healthy lifestyle for your body.
It means feeling healthy mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.
You need to create a lifestyle that nurtures all areas of your life. You don’t need to be a gym freak or a counselor to fulfill these needs.
According to FamilyDoctor.org:
“Any lifestyle change is a “work in progress.” Lasting changes take time.
“So, begin by setting small goals that are easy to add to your daily life and that you control. Wellness and fitness involve being aware and making healthy choices about diet, exercise, and staying positive.
“This is the most important investment you can make in your life. Strive for the best health you can have in all areas of your life by making mindful, healthy choices.”
Simply practice awareness. Listen to what your body says. Nurture healthy relationships. And practice emotional intelligence.
8. Be financially-conscious.
While maintaining a good work-life balance means putting less focus on work, it doesn’t mean you should stop earning money entirely.
You don’t need to have a millions, that’s true.
But you do need comfort and security. You need a good home. You should have a comfortable income – enough that you don’t need to stress about paying the next set of bills.
Remember though,be realistic about it. You probably can’t afford to save half of your every paycheck. In fact, creating unrealistic financial goals can do you more harm than good.
“If you set unrealistic goals based on what you think you should be doing, you’re just going to feel disappointed in yourself and overwhelmed when you don’t keep up with them.”
Learn how to be financially literate. Prioritize what you need over what you want. Strive to be budget-savvy. And when you can, invest something for your future.
It can be something as simple as paying your bills on time, using coupons for good deals, and paying your minimum on your credit cards.
Taking steps now to secure your future financially will ease and unburden the majority of stress you currently have.
9. Practice gratitude.
Did you know that gratitude literally rewires your brain to make you feel happier?
This Harvard study found that gratitude is extremely healthy for the brain, and the psychological benefits are boundless.
Shawn Achor, the study’s lead author summarizes:
“Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months.”
Some of the benefits of having a grateful friend include, less anxiety, more willpower, and lower chances of depression.
In your effort to acquire the things you want, never forget to appreciate all the things you do have right now.
10. Learn how to organize.
I’m not saying you should be the next Marie Kondo.
But being a little more organized will change your life for the better.
Dana Gionta, Ph.D. says there are two major benefits that could contribute to getting your life together:
“First, it optimizes your use of your time. You focus on your priorities, because you have already reviewed them for the week or month ahead and have scheduled them in.
“Second, you feel more in control of your schedule, and less commonly, that your schedule is controlling you.”
Clutter – both mental and physical – is bad for your brain. According to this study published the journal Psychological Science, organization calms your brain, while clutter messes with it.
Author Dr. Eva Selhub says:
“At the end of the day, being organized is about having more time for yourself, and enabling you to live a more balanced life”
“Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you’re more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings.”
11. Just live.
Don’t think too much. Don’t try to control everything. And don’t try to have everything.
Just live your life. Experience everything you can. Learn from them – the good and especially the bad. Make memories you can look back on with a smile. Meet as many people. Be more open to opportunities.
As humans, it’s normal to feel fear and apprehension, to have insecurities, and even to want unreasonable things. These are all instincts necessary for our survival.
However, life shouldn’t be all about trying to survive. Getting your life back together shouldn’t be all about what you have to acquire and accomplish. It’s about living a life that makes you happy. It should also include doing things with purpose and having meaning.
Because at the end of your life, you will forget about all the bills you paid. You will not remember the material things you bought.
What you will remember are the small moments that made you happy, the victories you shared with important people, and the difference you made in the world.
So instead of asking, do I have my life together?, the more important question is, am I living a good life?