Do you ever think things should be different than they are?

It’s possible that as you look around at the people you work, live, and love with that you think “I could/should be doing more.” And, you’re right — the way your brain works, you can think of proof that you’re not doing enough, you don’t have enough, or in some cases, that you’re not enough.

But, I have to ask, “What gives you the right to judge yourself?

I’m serious. When you look at your bank account. When you look at your relationships, your positions, your opportunities, and the projects you’re managing, doesn’t it seem like things are moving forward?

That’s the problem most of the time; you’re judging yourself on a perception of how you thought things would be by now. No matter what stage you’re at in life, if you believe that you should be further along than you are, then you’ll think that things should be different than they are.

This is not the most effective or efficient way of going about your day. The activities below are designed to help you think differently.

You’ve already done the work necessary to convince yourself things should be different than they are. So, let’s redirect that focused thinking…

#1: Reflection

Reflect on the past year. Open your journal to a new page and make a list down the left-hand side of the previous year. Twelve months is enough to go back and remember how far you’ve come.

Next to each month, write a sentence or two about what POSITIVE thing happened; write what you remember, what you achieved, or what you overcame. The two-fold purpose of this activity is to identify what you’ve done AND see how far along the path of productivity and improvement you are.

Of course, the reason to do this is to let yourself accept the fact that new opportunities – and challenges – have come your way, and (most likely) a year from now you’ll celebrate achieving and overcoming new ones! If you have handled everything you’ve been given up to now, you can manage more in the future, right?

#2: Ask For Help (Sooner)

Meet with someone who can help you; someone outside your immediate family, work-group, or chain of command. Someone who has experience in the lane you’re swimming in, and who cares about you as a person.

Recently, here in Alabama, I met with a very successful Professor and researcher who helped me identify (and envision!) a path to publication that I had not seen before. In all, we’ve only had a couple of hours over the past five months together, but that has been enough to get me started researching and writing.

Identify that challenge you are ready to step toward and look around to see who might be able to help you.

The investment you make in finding someone and using their advice could help you achieve your goals faster while saving you precious time and energy that you can apply back to your family, your work, and yourself.

3#: Find a (Dead) Mentor

Finally, I read a biography. And, by reading I mean, spend some time with someone who had it tough and made it through.

Think about this: Do you remember reading that book about that one person who had a super-easy life, didn’t do things to get noticed, and left the world in about the same way they entered it?

No, neither do I! Who DO they write biographies about? People like you and I. (Not saying they will write a book about you, but you’re living the kind of life that stories are made of, right? Look at the last 12 months of your life!)

You can look around your work AND your life and think that things should be different than they are. Only you need to do that later! My coaching: a year from now. Over the next year, track your progress and acknowledge the progress you make. It’s not bragging if you happen to talk about what you did.

Future you will thank you for doing this work. Click “pause” on your day right now. Open your notebook and pick a prompt above.