Three tips to live your best life
Updated: Jul 25
1. IDENTIFY what your "best life" life looks like
Without a clear goal, even the most ambitious person can find themselves drifting. The goal does not have to be the "ultimate" one, it can be "for now" - and when it has been achieved, then you can move on to the next (and make sure that you do).
Think not only about what you will be DOING, but how you will be living. For me, my "best life" while it entails commercial success, would not be complete without those I love (including my furry friends!) in their hugely significant roles.
Once you know what it is you are striving for, try this exercise for staying focused on achieving it:
Imagine you are living your ideal image.
Now imagine the you in that life has come back to whisper their first words of wisdom into the ear of the you now. What would that be?
Use that advice to begin to chart your path.
While my personal drive and ambition is in no doubt, a great deal of my personal focus has been on maintaining my important relationships. I live without sentiment - I can move on from something I loved with a passion almost as easily as I connected with it...but that doesn't mean it's a healthy attitude. Good people are not disposable, and so the mantra from my "ideal" right now is "Never forget what you have when you are going after what you want."
2. DO something every day that pushes you a tiny step forward
Outline your goal
Identify the things you need to do to achieve it
Indicate where you are in proficiency at each
Every day, do one thing that pushes you close in one of those areas...even just a tiny bit.
The best thing about motivation is that we are most motivated by:
Our awareness that it works/our awareness that we can do it
Having a series of "effective things to get on with" - gives you the choice to fulfil preference each day, and using a visual representation (I have mine on a dry-wipe board so I can adapt it) - means it is easier to discern which behaviours are worth the effort for the second proviso.
...and when you are feeling totally demotivated, one question I like to ask myself is: If I did the same thing every day as I did today, how much closer would I be to what I want...that tends to pick me up again!
3. Just because something is part of your past doesn't mean it is part of your future in the same way
You only need to listen to the stories of those at the very top of their game in any field to know that what you start out in, you may not finish up in. It's OK to be ecclectic (that includes within a profession too), as like with motivation, the more skills you have the greater your chances of high-level success in one of them.
You will also find that your past will often underpin your present - for better or worse, and the most effective approach is to embrace the learning if not the experience itself.
In everything I have done I have met incredible people, learned useful skills, and even discovered strengths I didn't realise I had - but sometimes you have to give a little less of yourself to one area in order to concentrate on another that is right for you now.
This is where Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" comes to mind -
"I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness
But above all this, I wish you love"
Dolly wrote that as she needed to take that step away from an opportunity that had nurtured her.
Recently I've had a couple of conversations with friends who have experienced a sense of grief in moving away from fields that had served them well - but that were something they no longer had the same drive - nor even the "need" - for. I too have found - despite having produced shows since the age of 13 - I am drifting further away from theatre (although lockdown admittedly changed that temporarily as the skill of being able to say "This looks like a great barn - lets do the show here" remains an excellent means of fundraising). This is OK...you will be OK and those who remain will be OK - in fact, they may even be on the path that brings them success while it was simply "an option" of yours. The same goes for you too - even if someone else is "moving on" it doesn't mean that you are not on the right path for you.
Paths weave like a beautiful tapestry, some cross back and forth, some remain inline, others diverge completely - try to go with the flow with an open heart and mind.
BUT, that doesn't mean you're out the door and never looking back - often so many of the skills you learned will remain with you...I liken lifeskills to a gaming inventory, just because I'm not using something right now doesn't mean I don't still carry it somewhere. ...and neither does it mean reneage on your commitments! Having an exit strategy is important for both yourself and others as it gives you all time to ease into the change - and hopefully to see things you started through to the end (or at least enable a decent handover). If someone doesn't want to hear it there is not much you can do, but at least you tried.
In fact this, fittingly, returns me to my first point "Never forget what you have when you are going after what you want."
So my final tip is to:
Always recognise who has helped you build your best life - and if you haven't already told them, thank them. (When I was offered the opportunity to present my own show, the first person I told after my husband and dad - was Chrissy B - the woman who gave me my first chance with a regular TV slot...her trust, support and mentorship is central to anything I do in media.)
...and when you have the chance to give back to others, always make time for, not just those who inspire you and propel you forward and those you want to help yourself - but those who might have cleared your way, kept your footing firm and gave you a hand when you stumbled.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt