by Bridger Frandsen
This isn’t your typical 12 step program on the road to sobriety. This is a set of guidelines to help you become a better you. Below is a list of principles that can help you change your life for the better. I myself have, in no way, mastered all of these, and I probably won’t anytime soon. Baby steps are the key to redefining who you are and who you want to be. I believe there is always room for improvement, and we should constantly be striving to better ourselves; whether it be financially, physically or mentally. I can’t promise that following these steps religiously will bring you the success you desire, but pursuing a few of them will, at the very least, make you see yourself in a more positive view.
Step 1: Educate Yourself.
This doesn’t mean you have to enroll in college and get yourself a degree. This means put down the remote and pick up a book. Reading creates mental stimulation and keeps your brain active. It improves your focus and concentration, and strengthens your analytical thinking skills. Likewise, reading can help expand your vocabulary, not only building your knowledge base, but makes you sound more attractive. What’s a woman going to find more appealing, that you have all 6 seasons of Lost on DVD or that you have a plethora of novels that you can damn near recite? Probably the latter. Another tip on educating yourself, follow the news. Not celebrity news that only reveals who Kim K is fucking, but global news. Know what’s going on in the world we live in. Follow CNN or the Wall Street Journal, keep up to date on real issues.
Step 2: Exercise
Working out shows discipline and that you care about your health and physical appearance. In addition, exercise releases endorphins in your body that trigger a positive feeling. This uplift in your mood will create a more positive outlook, stimulating a more favorable perception on life. Step number 2 doesn’t imply that you need to become Mr. Olympia, but going to the gym or running 3-4 times per week will increase your mood as well as the way you appear. Look good, feel good, right?
Step 3: Eat Right
Sure, Taco Bell is cheap and gives your taste buds an orgasm, but you have to take into consideration the health aspect. Likewise, McDonald’s breakfast is quick as you’re on your way to work or school. It can be a nuisance cooking every meal and having to do dishes, but benefits outweigh the chores. Wake up 30 minutes earlier and make yourself a healthy, filling breakfast; after all, it is the most important meal of the day. Even if you’re not hungry upon waking, it’s important to get that nutrient intake early on. For lunch, meal prep; making all your meals for the week Sunday night means less dishes and less hassle later in the week. Not only are you eating healthier, you’re saving time and money on fast food.
Step 4: Think Positively
It can be difficult keeping a positive mindset all the time, especially when times are rough. Difficulties build character, and they make you stronger in the long run. Regardless of your religion, I like to believe that God has a plan for everyone. What may seem like the end of the world now, often times turns out to be a blessing. You just have to grip the wheel tight and go for the ride, knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. An easy task to help keep you thinking positive, is to think of 3 new things each day that you’re thankful for. This relieves stress and helps you realize that there are positive influences in your life. Negativity can have a domino effect on you, you can’t be happy if you only see the bad in situations.
Step 5: Help Someone in Need
If you see someone with a problem, do what you can to help them out, and don’t do it expecting something in return; this will only make you frustrated if you aren’t compensated. Not only will this help someone, but will help you feel better about yourself. This isn’t donating your paycheck to charity, this is seeing the person on the road holding jumper cables, hoping for someone to give them a jump. We pass by people struggling every day, whether it’s a helping hand or a listening ear, lending someone your time can go a long way. You should look for ways to help others each day.
Step 6: Put Money Away
You may be in college and don’t have much funds as it is, or you may be working full time and have bills to pay. Regardless, it’s important to have a backup plan when life throws you a curveball. One of the most wealthy men in the world, Warren Buffet, said “Don’t save what’s left after spending, spend what’s left after saving”. Money left over from bills doesn’t need to go to shoes or the bar. Having money doesn’t mean you need to spend it right away, sure you can’t take it with you when you’re gone, but you don’t have to go broke “YOLOing”. If you’re going downtown, take a limited supply of cash, this eliminates that gut wrenching feeling of checking your bank account the next day. Open up a savings account, and put a fraction of money away every paycheck. Not only does this create a sense of security, but when a large investment comes along worth dumping money into, you’ll be able to do it.
Step 7: Don’t Procrastinate
Get shit done before it needs to be done. Saving tasks for the last minute not only makes the end result look like shit, but it’s far more stressful scrambling to get multiple things done at once. Get ahead so you can take your time. The relief of finishing something is far greater when it’s done in advance, then if a problem occurs you’re not left without any options. This step is easier said than done, especially when you’re working two jobs, going to school and just want to unwind. If you get in the mindset that you should always be grinding, you’ll find yourself more success. If you’re in school, pretend it’s a job. Give yourself a certain number of hours each day to devote to school work. Preferably on campus where there are less distractions. When a task arises, so should you.
Step 8: Live Tidy
They say a house never gets cleaned as fast as when a man expects a woman over. Why not just always keep your house and vehicle tidy? Whether you expect company or not, you shouldn’t be living in filth. Do your laundry and put that shit away, don’t leave it to sit on your bed and wrinkle. Do your dishes when you’re done eating, they don’t need to soak for a week. Clean your bathroom regularly. If you do happen to bring a lady home, she won’t be there long if she sees your bathtub scum. When you go to pick up a date and you open the car door for her, empty bottles or beer cans shouldn’t be falling out. Likewise, your backseat shouldn’t give the appearance that you’ve been living out of your vehicle. Keep yourself and your living quarters clean enough to be proud of.
Step 9: Dress to Impress
No, the clothes don’t make the man. You don’t have to wear a button up shirt and slacks. But dress everyday like you’re going to meet the girl of your dreams. You’ll feel much more confident in jeans and a long sleeve than you would in sweats and a hoodie. If you’re just staying at home by yourself, who gives a shit if you’re in a snuggie, but if you’re going out, wear something prideful. Granted, no girl is going to sleep with you just because you’re wearing designer apparel, but if you look good, your odds go up.
Step 10: Drink Less
Like I said earlier, this isn’t a sobriety program. Believe me, I know how to paint the town and I certainly do. But don’t be that bar rat that goes out three nights a week. Limit yourself to one night out a week, at most. This will help your health, your bank account, and your reputation. Sure, there’s a sort of limelight attached to a party animal, but they never go anywhere. It’s hard to build your success if you’re either drunk or hungover all the time. By cutting back on the booze, you’ll have a clearer mind and can focus on your goals. Take care of all your assignments or tasks before you decide to go toss a few back, then you won’t have to do it the next day with a headache.
Step 11: Set Goals
There’s no better feeling than achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself. Without a goal in mind, what are you really doing with your life? There’s no way to improve if you don’t have an idea of what it is worth improving. Whether it is to lose 20 pounds or save up enough money to purchase a new vehicle, know what it is that you want and strategize a plan to accomplish it. It’s important to set a deadline. There’s not much satisfaction in losing 20 pounds over 5 years, or buying that 2016 Silverado if it’s 2030. Setting a deadline gives you a sense of urgency, and the moment you decide what you want, gives you that drive to succeed. Goals are essential to success and improvement, without them we will just remain the same, indefinitely.
Step 12: Be Yourself, Be Confident
“Be yourself” may sound counterproductive when we’re talking about improving. What I mean is, be a better you, but make sure that it’s still you. You’re not improving yourSELF if you’re actually trying to be someone else. Make sure that while you follow these steps, you’re doing it for you, not for any other person. Don’t set a goal that will impress others, set one that will ultimately satisfy you. Improvement doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience, be confident and take pride that you’re bettering yourself. Changes are going to occur, without them you wouldn’t be moving forward. I will reiterate, be confident! What you think of yourself is far more important that what others think of you.