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13 Ways to Get Your Grip on Life Back

With each passing year, I find more truth in this:

“The days are long, but the years are short.”  — Gretchen Rubin

It’s that time of the year again. Tax day’s got you throwing your hands up in frustration, your New Year’s resolutions have long vaporized into thin air and you feel like your hold on 2017 is getting weaker and weaker.

I’m here to tell you: You still have time.

The year’s not even halfway over, and you’re already giving up? No. Not this time. You will make 2017 the best year of your life. Period.

The way you do that is by getting your grip back on some of the things we all need to succeed. For some, it takes longer than for others. That’s okay.

Because you will start today.

1. Get A Grip On Your Sleep

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

—  Dr. Seuss

It all starts an ends here. This is the alpha and the omega.

Sleep should neither be an annoying necessity, nor a desperate desertion of reality. It’s not a matter of how many hours you sleep, it’s about what you do in those you’re awake.

So figure out how much you need and then build a life you don’t want to escape from.

2. Get A Grip On Your Body

“Be careful about reading health books. Some fine day you’ll die of a misprint.”

—  Markus Herz

We’re obsessed with looking fit and tanned and having all the latest gadgets, yet on most days, we sit more than we sleep. Don’t overcomplicate health.

An ancient Chinese saying goes: “Walk 100 steps after every meal and you’ll live to 99 years old.” Why not start there? It doesn’t always have to be 10,000 steps. Ten more than yesterday will do.

It’s okay to be a slow walker, as long as you don’t walk back.

3. Get A Grip On Your Mind

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

 — Mahatma Gandhi

Only a healthy body can carry a healthy mind. Walking a lot outside keeps you from pacing back and forth between worry and frustration on the inside. Most of the time, we’re the ones clouding our own thinking, by jumping from feelings to conclusions.

Step outside your stream of thought for once. Watch it pass by. Label your thoughts. Call out your emotions. Make two boxes: “useful” and “not useful.” Put them inside.

Organize your thoughts to clear away your inner clouds.

4. Get A Grip On Your Words

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

 — Rudyard Kipling

Better thoughts lead to better words. What you say shapes who you are. In fact, how you experience the world is in large part defined by how you describe that experience.

Out of 3,000 words to label emotions in the English language, 66% are negative. In Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins suggests playing down bad emotions and reinforcing good ones with unusual words.

Don’t just feel “fine.” Feel content, or blissful, or delighted, or serene, or amazed.

5. Get A Grip On Your Food

“Let thy food be thy medicine.”

— Hippocrates

What comes out of your mouth can only be as good as what you put in. We are what we eat, so let’s eat less of what we don’t want to be.

Whatever grows naturally where you are, usually comes cheap. Eating locally is the ultimate form of being all there wherever you go.

Drink water, wait minutes before you have seconds, delay the dessert and when you’re 80% full, tune in. Do you really need more?

6. Get A Grip On Your Finances

“If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots.”

 — T. Harv Eker

Imagine all your dollar bills as passengers on a bus. As it drives along, some get off at the rent stop, some at the grocery stop, some at the dry cleaners.

Did you just feel like watching from the back? Because the truth is you’re in the driver’s seat. You have been all along.

Especially if you don’t earn a lot of money, it’s really important to know how to use what you have. No matter how much you make, you can always take 10% of it to save or invest.

7. Get A Grip On Your Job

“Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.”

 — Seth Godin

In Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth shares the story of the three bricklayers:

When asked, “What are you doing?” the first bricklayer replied: “I’m laying bricks.” The second bricklayer answered: “I’m putting up a wall.” The third bricklayer responded, with pride in his voice: “I’m building a cathedral.”

The biggest barriers between a job, a career and a calling are made of perspective. No matter what you do, how you choose to do it is up to you.

Choose to be generous, kind and courageous.

8. Get A Grip On Your Attention

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

—  Oscar Wilde

Part of doing a great job is giving whatever task at hand your undivided attention. A study by Microsoft found our average attention span to be just 8 seconds in 2013. A goldfish has 9. Technology is an enhancement to human performance, not a replacement.

Detached workers serve detached customers, which become detached parents to detached children.

So look up from your phone, shut down that display, take in your surroundings, make the most of today.

9. Get A Grip On Your Possessions

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

—  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Technology isn’t the only thing tugging at your attention. Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? When we’re possessed by our possessions, our brains are filled before we even begin our day.

Every item you own not only takes up physical, but also mental space. Pick up something you haven’t used in a year. Look at it. Be honest. Will you ever need it?

If the answer is no, deal it, donate it or ditch it.

10. Get A Grip On Your Time

“Half our time is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”

 — Will Rogers

A smaller garden requires less tending to. Things you don’t own don’t have to be maintained. Tasks you can delegate need no doing.

Spend your time doing things that will make other things easier. Use time to make time for what matters. It’s the only resource you get to spend just once, and we all have 24 hours each day.

If it won’t matter a week, a month or a year from now, is it really worth doing?

11. Get A Grip On Your Relationships

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

 — Eleanor Roosevelt

The best thing you can do for the world and to anger your enemies is to be nothing like them. There might indeed be toxic people in your life, but they don’t come with an obligation to engage with them.

5 friends, 4 friends, 3 friends, 2 friends, they come and go. When you’re your own best friend, it doesn’t matter how much wind is beneath your wings.

Even when you’re all alone, you can still fly.

12. Get A Grip On Your Happiness

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

 — Ralph Waldo Emerson

In The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt determines where happiness comes from: making progress towards a goal, finding love, a lifestyle and location you like, spending time in flow and collecting memories, not things.

We confuse pleasure and happiness when in reality, it’s not about glass half full vs. glass half empty, but about what you choose to see when you look at the glass.

13. Get A Grip On Your Life

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow.”

—  Dalai Lama

All of these are different variations of saying: one small step taken today is better than a large step left to be taken tomorrow.

The world truly is small. We all live in the same place and it’s called the present. All you have is today. The question that remains is:

Will you choose to make it matter?

Come To Grips

I hope this makes you get to grips with how much of your grip you can get back. You have a lot more control than you think.

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

— Marcus Aurelius