For many, if not most, of us, trying to overhaul our lives and change too much at once is rarely successful. You become overwhelmed and end up changing nothing at all. A recent AskReddit thread is of particular help in this matter, as it suggests small things you can do to improve your quality of life — without doing a complete 180 or trying to change all of your bad habits at once. While the idea of a complete makeover sounds exciting, when it comes to making your life better, one rule of thumb in particular applies: slow and steady wins the race.
The reason why setting small goals works more often than setting huge ones is because to have the motivation to change our lives, we need momentum; and one way to get the momentum going is to have a few "wins" that will inspire you to keep pushing forward. Look at it the same way we look at exercising: one huge sweat sesh isn't the solution to our problems. Rather, it's the cumulative effect of staying active over time that helps us improve our lives. In her research, Teresa Amabile found that setbacks are the most damaging thing when we're trying to improve our lives, and a powerful daily motivator is small, consistent progress.
So, take the advice of these Redditors, and try making these small changes to improve your overall wellbeing.
"Be aware of how many hours you waste each day and take steps to prevent doing it," suggests one Redditor. This might be something like checking your email too often: some research says we spend 13 hours a week on email alone. Other estimates are even more concerning, placing it at 6.3 hours a day. Imagine what you could do with all that time.
2Clean Up The Room You're In Before You Leave It
A lot of us have adopted a lackadaisical "I'll do it later" mentality when it comes to keeping our homes clean, especially if you hate cleaning; but instead of doing it later, how about right now? I'm big on this when it comes to keeping the kitchen clean: as much as I don't want to clear out that sink full of dirty dishes after cooking and eating, I really don't want to walk in here later and see it sitting and staring at me.
Do it and get it over with. Don't underestimate the power of walking into an already-tidy room.
3Follow The 5-Minute Rule
"If something takes you less than five minutes, never postpone it, no matter how lazy/drunk/tired you are ... Over years, that will save a lot of troubles," suggests one Redditor. This might be kind of brilliant. We humans are the masters of procrastination, even when it comes to something as quick and simple as taking out the recycling or sending thank you cards after your birthday.
4Make A To-Do List
At the risk of sounding dramatic, this totally saved my life. You can make a to-do list the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, or you can do it on your computer or phone. (I personally use Todoist, and I love it!) Says this Redditor, "Every day, make a to do list when you get up of 5 things you want to accomplish that day and do them all. Even if it's to just do 10 pushups or buy the girl you like a cup of coffee. Push yourself to come up with new things. Stuff that challenges you but are also quick to do. Things that make you a better person or improve or positively affect something or someone around you."
5Address People By Their Names
These days, there is so much distance between us, both literally and figuratively. We bury ourselves in our phones as a distraction when we think we have nothing else do to. On the subway, we avoid eye contact and immediately go on the defense when someone utters a word to us. We have "bubbles" marking our personal space; and people who enter them creep us out.
These things aren't necessarily bad; we do them for our own safety and comfort. But we've also isolated ourselves and grown uncomfortable with the most basic human-to-human interaction. We can help counter this with something as simple as addressing someone by their name — the strongest connection to their identity and individuality. It shows courtesy and respect when you do so, it's a surefire way to get their intention, and — put simply — it can make that person happy: it can be argued that a person's name is their favorite word in the world.
6Introduce Yourself To People
On the flip side, you should also offer your own name to people: "Introduce yourself to everyone you interact with. Learn their names and their stories over time," advises one Redditor. Introducing yourself and expanding your circle is rarely a bad thing; and it helps in breaking down the barriers we've built as we've become more comfortable with communicating via Facebook and Instagram.
7Help Without Being Asked
Sure, many of us will offer a helping hand when asked for it; but how often do you help when no one prompts you to? Instead of waiting to be asked, jump into action. It's a small courtesy that shows you're proactive and care about someone's happiness. "Take the initiative to do house chores and basically pick up after my daughter and I without my wife having to tell me to do. My wife and I both are employed so me helping around the house goes a long way improving the quality of our life," shares one Reddit user.
8Unplug And Think Every Day
It's safe to assume that taking a social media detox is something we could all use. We're constantly so hyper-connected that we've probably forgotten what it's like to be alone with our own thoughts. Social media is great, but it can also sabotage your happiness. One Redditor suggests, "Once a day, every day, take ten minutes to just sit and think. No phone. No radio. No computer. No books, magazines, papers. No rush. No other people."
9Unplug For An Entire Day
One Redditor took it a step further: instead of just 10 minutes unplugged, they suggest an entire day! "Embrace an 'unplugged' day, where you leave your phone and any/all technology at home and just enjoy the great outdoors." Spending time outside has been shown to improve both our physical and emotional wellness. And don't forget: there was a time when you easily went a whole day without being attached to your phone — and you were just fine.
We're always rushing. We look for the fastest way to do things because we're impatient and in a hurry; we eat in the car; we need constant entertainment or we get bored. You don't need me to tell you that this isn't the greatest news in the world.
You stand to benefit so much from slowing down and practicing mindfulness. Being more mindful might be as simple as eating your lunch away from your phone or computer, no distractions. Or you might take a 10-minute break at work and go for a short walk outside, without taking a picture of it for Instagram. Slow down and notice things around you — you'll be happier for it.