There are times in life when we need a sweeping change, in order to move forward, feel better, or be happier. Then at other times, small tweaks are all we need to refresh our life, and feel more satisfied. Tweaks can be just as effective as sweeping changes, and have just as big an impact.
So if you feel like tweaking your life, yet aren’t sure where or how, read on for 25 simple tweaks that will make a difference to your life.
If you’re not quite happy with your life (anymore), or feel stuck and want to make a change, one of the first things to consider is whether you need to make a sweeping change, or small tweaks.
Sweeping changes are sometimes necessary for us to really move forward. But they can also be pretty scary!
So the good news is that often, a few well placed tweaks can make a big difference – to you and your happiness and satisfaction with your life.
If you want to make some tweaks, and can use some help in finding out which are the best ones for you, and how to go about them, then why not check out my Mini Life Assessment ?
Alternatively, get inspiration here from my
25 best ideas for small and simple tweaks that will make a difference to your life!
They’re in no particular order – just as they occurred to me.
Oh, and: This is a looooooooong post. But you can scroll down and selectively read, by the headline, only those tweaks that sound most interesting to you!
1 Honour your meals
Eat breakfast every day, and don’t skip lunch, or dinner, for any reason.
Skipping meals is easy to do when our days get busy, or our nights get late, or we can’t get out of bed in time in the morning.
But not letting meals slip, and taking a bit of time on them, will not only keep you well nourished and keep the sugar-troughs away – it will also add to your energy, and your joye de vivre!
And cooking your meals, if you’re culinarily inclined, can help you relax, too.
2 Put rest and down time into your schedule first
When was the last time you got enough sleep? Had an afternoon where you did nothing much, or pottered about the house? Lay on the grass looking at the clouds in the sky?
We all need do-nothing time in order to process what’s going on in our life, and recharge our batteries. But it often falls off our agenda when our To Do List becomes packed.
So why not try scheduling your down time in your diary first thing – in the year, month, week, or even day – and schedule everything else that comes in around it?
Then, when that rest time arrives, make sure you take it. Do that for a few weeks and notice how you feel!
3 If in doubt, choose moving
I spend a lot of time sitting – with clients, and writing at my desk, at the computer. And somehow, it always seems easier for me to say: “I’m going to sit down and do this, or do that”. I get the satisfaction of ticking things off my list, too. But I end up not moving as much as I would want to.
Then a while ago, I noticed there are choice points in my day: When I finish one task, and am about to choose the next thing to do.
So I gave myself the challenge, at such choice points, to prioritise moving over other tasks. Particularly if I’d already spent a good chunk of my day sitting down.
I might go for a walk. Or put a bit of music on, and dance in my office for 5 minutes. Have a mini yoga session. Or stretch out and breathe deeply. Or take my laptop to my kitchen buffet, and continue writing standing up. Or…
If you could use more movement time, too, what could you decide to do at your choice point? (And find out if you’re missing your choice point, here.)
4 Take a regular class in something you love
Love languages? Music? Gardening? Design? Business studies? Dance? History? Wines? It doesn’t matter what you pick, as long as you love it.
Then book yourself onto a course in that. Something with a regular class happening every week, for the next months or year.
Block that time out in your diary.
Attendance levels in many courses for adults drop dramatically a few weeks after they start. So if you’re worried that you might struggle completing it, here’s a few tips:
- Choose something local, which will minimise the difficulty or resistance you might feel to turn up regularly.
- Pay for it, which will give you motivation to actually attend the course and get the value you paid for.
- Make friends with other people on the course, which will give you added comfort and interest in attending the lessons.
And then: Go and enjoy!
5 Build fun and adventure into your life
Most of us don’t have enough of this in our life – certainly once we come to mid life! We have responsibilities, endless task lists, obligations, work, serious stuff to do… But fun and adventure? It often gets prioritised down.
Yet when we miss it in our life, we’ll feel joyless and a lot less alive. So take a few minutes now to ask yourself what fun and adventure means to you. And how you could build it into your life more.
It doesn’t have to be massive stuff, like travelling the Route 66 in the US of A, or go on a bungee jump, or climb the Kilimanjaro. (Although it can be – why not?)
It can also be everyday stuff that you enjoy and don’t do enough of: Join a Meetup group. Visit a part of your city you don’t know so well. Sample a food you’ve never tried before. Spend a night at the zoo (yes, you can do that, at the London zoo, for example.) And so on.
6 Read more
For fun. For enjoyment. For wonder, discovery, and learning.
Read slowly, if you can – and really savour what you’re reading. Perhaps try reading a book twice: Once for the story, and once to enjoy the beautiful language and writing. Make notes of memorable passages, or useful facts, if you like.
Let yourself be transported into a story. Or be fascinated by facts you didn’t know before. Or be inspired by someone’s life story. Or be taken in by what you can discover.
You could join a book club, or a reading club (just reading together with others, without discussion), if you like. Or how about trying a Slow Reading Club?
There are many ways to enjoy reading – what is yours?
7 Get your priorities straight –
and learn to say yes or no accordingly
What’s really important to you and your life?
Chances are that those are not too many things. Your loved ones. A meaningful work. A subject matter, field, or activity you are passionate about: Animals. Nature. Art. Science. Technology. Spirituality. Learning. Helping others. Languages. Travel. Looking after your own health and wellbeing.
List yours. All of them.
Now: What are your top 5? Mark them with a star.
Then look at how you spend your time. What do you say yes to, and what do you say no to?
Are you spending enough time on your 5 top priorities? Or are you always leaving yourself wanting, and being pushed by other people’s priorities, needs and demands?
Now start saying more yes to activities, people and things linked to your top 5 priorities. And more (politely) no to what’s a distraction, unnecessary, or someone else’s urgency that really isn’t for you to sort out.
I’m not saying be rude, or unhelpful to others. Just focused on your own priorities first. Then, once you’ve done those, you give to others.
8 Try something new each week
Join a Meetup. Go to a social dance. Visit a place you’ve never been to – in your town or village, or somewhere else. Shop in a different place. Take a new route to work. Taste a new food. (I’m a big fan of regularly cooking or baking something I’ve never cooked or baked before.) Start rollerblading, or ice skating. Have one evening a week without telly. Say hello to someone you don’t know in the street. Invite a neighbour to dinner. Have acupuncture, or angel healing. Paint your own portrait, or have it painted by someone else. Support a new charity, in a different way to what you’re used to doing.
The possibilities are endless – trying something new will spice up your life and increase your enjoyment of it.
I am a quick learner, and used to like to pick up things quickly, then hop on to the next thing, and the next, and the next. But since I’ve matured a bit in life, I’ve discovered the joys of practicing – a skill, a behaviour, a technique.
You could practice Buddhist meditation. Yoga. The flute, the piano, any instrument. Singing, or dancing. Running, or any sport. Craft skills. Drawing. Painting. Sewing. Listening and responding. Whatever you feel drawn to and can see yourself spending some time with.
There is something in the repetition that practicing brings that is very soothing and relaxing.
Practice also teaches you patience – with yourself, and with what you’re doing, whatever your skill level.
You’ll start noticing interesting things about your practice, and about the thing you’re practicing, because practice brings deepening. And you’ll notice that you progress, and increasingly start mastering what you practice – which is closely linked to feeling purposeful and fulfilled in your life.
Go on – try it!
10 Mix things up
This is linked to point 8, really. It’s not so much about what you do, but about how you do things.
So start varying things, people and activities you are involved with.
Do a little bit of one thing, then change. If you’ve been sitting a lot, let the next thing you do be something that has movement in it. If you’re always doing something in the same order, try switching the order once. If you’re always wearing the same colours, change them. If you’re right-handed, you could even try doing things with your left hand every now and then!
Habits and focused working on one thing are great – but mixing things up keeps your brain on its toes, and gives you more variety and joy in your life.
11 Stop pushing
Are you endlessly trying to achieve stuff, driving yourself, striving for things, pushing yourself and others forward, putting in the hard work?
I’ve certainly done that!
It has its places and its rewards.
What if you relaxed a little? Let things happen as they happen, observe them, and then respond? Go with the flow instead of always trying to be ahead of it?
You might surprise yourself in finding this a more pleasant way of being – and things will still get done!
12 Live from love, not from fear
Notice how you feel about things, situations, activities or people you come in contact with.
Then favour those that bring out love in you whenever possible. Those that feel right for you, and right for the moment you’re in. Those that give you a sense of flow. Those you can do or be with effortlessly, without pushing, without straining.
Equally, stop or avoid what makes you stress or strain, or causes you unpleasant feelings. Those things you do because you feel pressure or obligation to do them. Those things you put up with. Those things that don’t agree much with your body, heart, mind, or what you believe in and value. And if you can’t stop or avoid them, at least find ways to make them easier, more pleasant, or quicker to get through.
That’s got nothing to do with self-indulgence. Instead, it’s all about creating the right circumstances for a happier life.
Happiness comes when love flows out of you – because of who you are, what you do, who you’re with, where you go!
For more reading on this check out The Mastery of Love, by Don Miguel Ruiz.
13 Make an effort to keep in touch
People can be one of the greatest sources of joy in life – particularly, if they’re on your wavelength.
But contacts are easily lost or fall dormant, when we get busy and bogged down in getting stuff done, or sorting stuff out. And before we know it, we’ve left it so long that we feel a bit embarrassed about getting in touch.
But you know what?
In order to reap the joy that’s in human relationships, we’ve got to tend to them.
So make an effort to keep in touch. Particularly with the people you love, or those who are on your wavelength – they’re rare!
In times when you’re particularly busy, light-touch contact can be all it takes. It lets people know that you’re thinking of them, and keeps you in their life, and them in yours. Then you can always have a longer catch up when the time’s right.
At first, I had this tweak down as Smile to strangers in the street. But then I realised that’s only a small part of what this tweak is about, and of what it can do for you.
By all means try the smiling at a stranger in the street. Not in a creepy way, mind you – just smile when someone catches your eye, or your eyes meet as you pass each other.
I find it connects you straight away. It’s even worked for me with a rather scary-looking, hoodie-wearing youth I once crossed on the stairs to a train platform, at an eerie hour of the day. He smiled back, and I wondered what I’d been scared about in the first place!
That instant human connection is amazing – it can break down feelings of being separate, alone, or isolated.
But there’s more to smiling: Even if you (initially) fake it, it will lift your mood and your spirits. (How smiling affects your brain)
Therefore, smile a lot: At other people. At yourself – in the mirror or when underway. Smile about things you read or see. And smile for no reason at all.
I’d say we need at least 5-a-day of this stuff, don’t you think? 🙂
This is another thing we often don’t get enough of, once our adult life of responsibility kicks off! (Some would say even earlier: Once sports and school start, bringing us learning by competition, memorization, practice and recitation.)
Playing is how we learn as children, and it has a vital role in increasing our personal awareness, emotional well-being, creativity, problem solving and learning ability. In short – it makes us into successful adults!
And regularly bringing play in our life as adults is a proven way for us to stretch, evolve, innovate and – most importantly – enjoy ourselves. Playing is about exploring, being creative, having fun. And it is probably the most enjoyable and relaxed way for us to learn, too: Without constraints, pressures, or the need to achieve results.
So if you have children, nieces or nephews, or grandchildren – take the opportunity to play with them. They can probably teach you a thing or two!
And if you don’t. Who said you can’t buy yourself some lego, play doe, marbles, puppets or marionettes, colouring books, or whatever else you fancy playing with, and give it a whirl?
16 Free yourself from the terror of goals
Because they can be relentless, and lead us to striving, and driving ourselves. To unhappiness when we don’t achieve them. And to a sense of emptiness and ‘what next’? when we do achieve them.
So try a different approach and see how you feel: Set your direction of travel. Create a rough road map for how you’re going to move in that direction. Find your first step. And get underway.
Then see what happens. What works, what doesn’t, and what you learn from your journey. Adjust your course if you need to. Make a U-turn if it’s appropriate. Even change direction, if you discover something that’s more appropriate for you. And keep moving. Keep travelling.
That way, you’ll be more likely to travel to places you’ll actually want to be in – and with a lot more ease and enjoyment. Read more about this here: Set direction, not goals
17 Listen more
We tend to listen to what someone else is saying, whilst making up what we’re going to say in response in our head. Which means that we don’t listen very well, because we’re busy planning our response.
What if you let go of that, and just listened? Focused on the person speaking? Took in all they’re saying – and not saying – verbally, and physically? Tried to understand what exactly that person is trying to get across?
And THEN – when the person has said what they needed to say – let a response bubble up in you?
And if no response comes up: What if you had the courage to say: “I’ll need to think about that and get back to you”? What if you had the courage to say: “So what you’re saying is…”, or “I don’t know what to say to that”, or “Thank you for sharing this with me.”?
Because sometimes, people just need someone who will listen to them and acknowledge and witness what they’re saying – without offering advice, or tips, or solutions.
Wouldn’t more listening like that take a lot of pressure off, and make our conversations more effective and relaxed?
18 Spend time outdoors every day
Even if it’s just ten minutes.
Breathe outside (and hopefully fresh) air. Feel the temperature on your skin, and the wind in your hair. See all that’s around you, all the way to the horizon. Get a sense of space from the sky above, even when the clouds are hanging low. Smell the rain as it wets the pavement – or the grass.
The outdoors – even the relatively tame ones many of us in urban environments live – are sensual. And engaging your senses makes your body happy. And you, too!
We need that every day, really – don’t you think?
19 Focus more on what’s good than what’s bad
Because our nervous system is primed to notice the negative stuff much more strongly. This is called negative bias, and it’s to do with our primitive survival instincts. They’re normal – everyone has them.
It’s just that today, we often don’t need the big nervous response to save ourselves from danger, because the dangers that threatened us in ancient times don’t exist anymore. But bad stuff that sets us off still does. And it can really affect us and drag us down.
What we need to do in order not to let it do that, is to focus on what’s good more than on what’s bad. (‘Cause life will always be a mixed bag, right?)
So go on: Start that gratitude journal. Note those 5 good things that have happened at the end of each day. Say or write positive affirmations. Or just notice what’s good deliberately, and acknowledge it out loud when you see it.
Apparently, it takes 5 good experiences to compensate for one bad one. And Dr. Rick Hanson knows much more about this than I do!
Better get started now, ey?
20 Shop in friendly stores
I love stores or stalls where I’m treated well, and with a personal touch. I love a friendly interaction with whoever is serving me, or selling me stuff, or taking my money – even in a supermarket. And if I’m buying something from someone who is self-employed, or has created their own business, I love to hear about them, or their business, too.
Why then shop in impersonal stores where you’re just a transaction to a bored and probably not very well-paid employee?
Think about it: It’s just unnecessary unpleasantness. (I don’t know if any unpleasantness is necessary – but some of it is unavoidable, and it’ll probably hit you anyway, one day or another, whether you want it, or not. But the unnecessary one, you can avoid.)
I believe that having more pleasantness around you, and being more pleasant yourself, can change the tone of your life – and how you feel about it and the world – for the better!
21 Turn things on their head
Try saying yes when you were going to say no. If you normally wear make up, have a make-up-less day. If you normally speak softly, experiment with speaking more loudly. If you were going to go out, stay in for a change. If you’re a cat person, make friends with a dog. And if you take your Martini shaken, why not have it stirred for once? 🙂
Or vice versa, for all of the above.
See it as an experiment – doesn’t that make you curious?
Some of the things you turn on their head might feel a bit unpleasant, and not right for you. Others might surprise you, and you might decide to keep them for a while – until you turn them on their head again.
In any case your experiment will open your mind, and help you get out of well-worn and perhaps superseded habits. And have fresh and interesting experiences!
Connection is one of my 10 Key Ingredients for a Life You Love.
When we get too busy, or when life gets a bit difficult, we can get tunnel vision and just get bogged down getting done and sorted what needs to get done.
We might draw in on ourself, and, as our problems churn and churn inside us, feel increasingly lonely and disconnected. From other people, from the world – and, if you’re spiritual, perhaps even from your source (or whatever you prefer to call it.)
Now – some things only we ourselves can work out for ourselves. And this needs a bit of time alone (see point 23).
But this here is different. This is falling out of the flow of the life, if this makes sense. Happens to all of us. Such is life!
When it happens to me, I can feel it clearly in my body, and in my mood: I feel more sluggish, as if my vital energy isn’t moving as it should. My energy levels go down, and I feel less joyful. I have less ideas and less motivation. And my moods and thoughts turn darker.
Then I know I need to move more – see point 3. And seek to re-establish that lost connection to the flow of the world, of life, of the universe that I am a part of.
Reaching out to others is one way of doing that: You could have a quiet cup of tea and and in-depth conversation with a friend. Or sing with your choir for an evening (here’s a great London-based choir – open to everyone, taught by amazing professionals, friendly and warm. Or you might want to share your own, in the comments below?). If singing isn’t your thing, then maybe bowling, sailing, golfing, or doing anything at a club could be, or walking with a walking group for a day.
If it’s very bad, reach out to a counsellor, a therapist, or a coach. Or the Salvation Army. (Yes, really – they’re great!)
It doesn’t matter whom you reach out to – just people you like and can connect with, to remind yourself that you belong, and are part of the world, or our society.
And if you want to reach out to the higher force you normally feel connected to – God, the Universe, the Supreme Being – you could pray, have a little ritual for yourself, meditate, sing or dance. Whatever you prefer!
23 Spend regular time alone
Who was it who said that your most important relationship in this world is with yourself?
I believe they’re right.
Because, no matter whom you’ve got around you: Ultimately, it’s you who’s going through your life. You who’s experiencing its joys and sorrows. You who’s making choices and decisions, and living with the consequences. It’s you who’s got to live with who you are, and what you do.
So you better get to know who that is, and make friends and learn to be comfy with your self!
Spending time alone will help you do that.
Without the distraction or even noise of others demanding your attention, you’ll be able to quieten down, and find that connection into yourself, and into that part of you that knows what you’re about, and what is good for you (or not so good for you). You’ll be able to come down from the excitement, and process what happens to you. Reflect on yourself and your life, and discover and understand yourself at ever deeper levels.
So that you can face life and whatever happens to you better, more rooted in yourself. Make decisions that are right for you. And live more authentically – true to who you are.
If that doesn’t make it worth turning alone-time into a regular habit, I don’t know what does!
24 See more art
Because art is beauty. Art is uplifting. Art is inspiring. Art is thought-provoking. Art is shocking. Art is expressive. Art is deep. Art is fun. Art is colourful. Art is monochrome. Art is creative. Art is original. Art is intelligent. Art is playful. Art is gorgeous. Art is unassuming. Art is explosive. Art is political. Art just is.
Art is life-affirming, and enlivening.
Go see as much art as you can!
25 Ah – I’m still thinking about my 25th one! 🙂
Can you help me with that?
What tweak have you made to your life, that has made a big difference?
Let me know in the comments box below – thanks!