How To Get Your Life Together

Do you ever feel like your life is spiraling out of control — as though you’re running around in circles with no clue about what you’re supposed to be doing?

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, and it’s an unsettling, painful place to be.

When you’re caught in this trap of confusion, it feels impossible to take the first step to extricate yourself.

But that’s the thing about life — it’s overwhelming and difficult, but at the same time it presents you with a unique opportunity to gain clarity as you grow and evolve.

If you’re feeling stuck and want to make some changes, these 25 strategies show you how to get your life together so you can feel confident and happy again.

At What Age Should I Have My Life Together

There is no magical age at which you “should” have your life together. For one thing, having your life together will look different for you than it would for someone else. Basic financial literacy helps you get to a place where you feel more or less on top of things. 

So, it doesn’t help that around two-thirds of Americans would fail a financial literacy test. That said, consider the other factors that come into play: 

  • Different goals and habits
  • Different needs and wants
  • Different strengths, skills, and challenges

You will learn in your own way with your own unique timing. There are things you can do, though, to keep moving in that direction. And the more of these you make your own, the sooner you can set your life in a healthier direction and reap the benefits. 

And the sooner you decide to set yourself in a healthy direction, the more experience, knowledge, and success you’ll accrue over your lifetime. So, the best age to start getting your life together is the age you are right now!

How to Get Your Life Together

1. Utilize the SWOT Analysis

You may have heard of the SWOT analysis in relation to business planning.

It’s a technique (and handy acronym) that helps you identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) in order to make a strategic plan for the future.

It can easily be applied to your personal life as well.

Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down a few points for each of the four areas.

  • Try to be honest about both your positive and negative traits.
  • Weigh opportunities and potential threats according to your current life situation.

This analysis will help you gain clarity about potential roadblocks you’re facing, as well as possibilities and future prospects you may not have previously considered.

It’s the first step towards getting your life back on track.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Sometimes, putting the time and effort into something as simple as creating a schedule can make a huge difference in your life.

Setting goals that are realistic and manageable gives you the momentum to move forward and set yourself up for success.

People often make the mistake of going straight for the gold without making sure they’re properly equipped to win it.

They set goals that are too big or challenging without knowing what it takes to achieve them.

Having unrealistic expectations can be just as harmful as not having any expectations at all.

This lack of forethought is one of the main reasons people get stuck in a rut and eventually lose motivation to move forward.

Life is not a race and there’s no reason to jump ahead. Slow your pace, take baby steps and enjoy every step of the way.

It’ll be worth it.

3. Take Proactive Action

Some people believe that “Life has a funny way of working out.”

And while having a positive outlook can help you get your life together, the reality is that you must pair optimism with action.

It’s you who holds the power to create change.

That’s the difference between the proactive and reactive approach to life.

Instead of dealing with problems and difficulties once they arise, which is a typical reactive response, try to identify and eliminate issues before they appear, in a proactive way.

This technique can help you stay in control over your life.

Being proactive can also foster a more creative mind and allow you to see things from a different perspective.

It’s a wonderful tool for self-improvement that can be learned with just a bit of practice. Don’t allow life to happen to you. Make it happen for you!

4. Keep It Organized

Do you feel more productive and motivated when you declutter your room and do some chores around the house?

There’s a good reason why this happens.

According to research, overly cluttered and messy spaces may hinder your ability to focus on your primary tasks.

Clearing out your living space can have a positive effect on your life, as well as on your mental and emotional health.

You know what they say: clean house – clean mind.

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

This is a tough one for everyone.

Sometimes, it takes me a long time before I’m ready to view a mistake as a lesson.

Making mistakes is human. It’s a normal part of life — at least for anyone who is brave enough to take action.

Instead of viewing your mistakes as failures, change your mindset to see them as an opportunity for growth.

Research suggests that trial and error is actually more effective for studying and retaining information than not erring at all.

This applies to everything you do in life.

How will you learn to perfectly season a meal if you don’t mess it up a few times first?

How will you learn to pack for a vacation if you don’t under-pack or overpack the first couple of times?

It’s the same with the work you do and the decisions you make in your life.

You will never be able to excel at something if you’re not able to compare your results with previous attempts.

Trying and failing is always better than not trying at all.

So, chin up and don’t be afraid to make a blunder or two.

6. Learn from Others

Have you ever wondered how to get a life that’s less monotone? Less repetitive? A life that’s filled with excitement and new opportunities?

More often than not, people get comfortable with their daily habits. Sometimes, too comfortable.

Living life on repeat might seem secure and stable, but it doesn’t really open many doors.

I’ve learned that I bloom when surrounded by people who can teach me something new.

While I definitely recommend spending time with others who share similar interests, I also advise you to look for more diverse relationships.

People might surprise you. You never know what skill sets, information, knowledge, and wisdom someone possesses until you make the effort to know them.

And remember, as Bill Nye (the Science Guy) reminds us, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't.”

7. Take on More Responsibilities

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, scatterbrained or simply exhausted, your first instinct is likely to lay off work and take some rest.

You probably wouldn’t even think about adding more responsibilities to your schedule, right?

Well, as it turns out, more accountability just might help you get your life together more easily.

This doesn’t mean that you should bite off more than you can chew, though.

Starting with something simple like caring for a plant might do it.

Once you graduate from Gardening 101, you can take the next step and bring an animal into your life.

Having a pet can teach you more responsibility and add more value to your life.

Not only is it a great learning experience, but also it shows you the impact you can have on other lives.

8. Track Your Progress

People are forgetful. We tend to forget our successes and wins but cling to our past mistakes and failures as though they solely define us.

Not only is this behavior toxic, but also it prevents us from seeing how far we’ve actually come.

That’s why tracking your progress is an important step towards getting back on track.

Doing something as simple as writing your success stories in a diary can make a huge difference.

You’d be surprised to learn the amount of change you can have in just a couple of years.

It’s good to have something to remind you of your journey to a better life.

9. Be Patient

Most people believe that the hardest part of creating a better life is finally implementing those changes you've been postponing for so long.

While creating new habits is definitely challenging, the biggest test comes when you try to maintain those changes.

Lack of motivation and self-discipline are among the main reasons people abandon their resolutions after some time.

So, what is the best way to stay consistent and finally make a difference in your life?

One word: Patience.

You can’t expect immediate results when trying to create new habits. Developing new, positive behaviors that are automatic and consistent can take several months.

A study published in Psychological Science claims that practicing gratitude and thankfulness can help us become more patient in the process.

Ask yourself: “What am I grateful for?”

If it’s easier, try writing it down on a piece of paper.

Write down five things you’re thankful for in your life.

Doing this regularly might give you a sense of fulfillment, helping you become more patient in the process.

Be aware that patience is something we build over the course of a lifetime — it can’t happen overnight.

10. Focus on the Here and Now

Most people spend far too much time obsessing over the past and worrying about the future.

These mental ruminations hinder our ability to focus on the here and now.

As spiritual master, monk, and author Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Life is available only in the present moment.”

Mindfulness is an immensely valuable daily practice for becoming more present, self-aware and focused on the task at hand.

Not only can mindfulness help you become more aware, but it has proven to be a great tool for combating anxiety, depression as well as stress.

11. Take a Breather

You might have noticed that most recipes for success follow the same pattern: Work. Work. Work.

And yes — hard work is an essential part of getting your life together.

But so is rest.

When’s the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Or a day off?

If you only focus on work, you’re setting yourself up for burnout and stress.

Make sure to take some time for yourself each day. Read a book, exercise or catch up with an old friend.

You’re only as successful as you mentally and physically healthy and fulfilled.

12. Be True to Yourself

Nothing good has ever come from being dishonest.

But you know what’s the worst kind of dishonesty? Being untrue to yourself.

Before you’re able to become the person you want to be, first you need to acknowledge the person you are right now.

Getting to know your true self is a key step in your journey of self-development.

Ask yourself:

  • What drives you?
  • What makes you get out of bed each morning?
  • What internal roadblocks are holding you back?

The answers to these questions can give you a good insight into who you are and in which direction you should be moving.

Don’t allow others to paint a picture of your person — become the artist of your own destiny.

13. Upgrade Your Self-Talk.

The way you talk to yourself has a lot to do with how “together” your life is. If you’re constantly berating yourself for not having this or not accomplishing that, you are the number one thing holding yourself back. 

Think of what you tell yourself in the following situations: 

  • When you remember an embarrassing mistake
  • When you look in the mirror or catch your reflection
  • When you’re looking at a menu on a date 
  • When you’re having an off day at work 
  • When you think of the life you want

You can’t control everything, but you can control your own internal dialogue. Try swapping out negative statements for positive ones as often as you can catch yourself. 

14. Let Go of the 3 C’s: Complaining, Comparing, and Catastrophizing. 

They’re called cognitive distortions (or thought distortions) for a reason: the thoughts behind complaining, comparing yourself to others, and catastrophizing are based on a distorted view of reality. 

  • “Things never go my way” or “I’m just not allowed to be happy.” 
  • “So-and-so has it all together. Why is their life so much better than mine?”  
  • “If I fail this test, my grades will be less than perfect, I’ll never get into the graduate school I want, and my career will go down the toilet, along with my life.” 

None of these thoughts serve you well. Practice countering each of these with truth-based positive affirmations. Gratitude statements are also a powerful antidote.  

15. Identify Your Core Values.

Go through a list of personal values and circle the ones that matter most to you. Then, if possible, narrow it down to five core values, and ask yourself how you’re putting those values into practice. 

Also, look at where you might be sidelining those values to serve someone else’s interests. You can’t live by your own values if you’re continually crossing yourself off the day’s to-do list to please someone else. 

You’re not responsible for making others happy. You’re responsible for making the most of your gifts, your resources, and your time — to become the person you’re meant to be. Your values should reflect that.

You’re responsible for your own becoming — not someone else’s. 

16. Collect the Tools You Need. 

Assess what you need to accomplish your goals and live by your core values. Then look at the options available: 

  • Online resources
  • Physical resources: 
  • Planner/planning pages 
  • Journal (pen & paper)
  • Helpful/instructive podcasts
  • Music (different kinds for different purposes)

Gather your tools and keep them easy to access when you need them. Put reminders in place to ensure you don’t allow them to run out or go stale. 

For example, you may want a refresh on your “flow state” music playlist at some point. You’ll also want to make sure you have a physical journal or planner, because writing things down involves more of your brain than simply typing the words. 

17. Accept the Things You Don’t Know.

You don’t have to know everything to have your life together. None of us does. And even those who know more than you don’t necessarily have their stuff together. They might just be better at faking it. 

It’s okay to admit you don’t know something, even when you’re supposed to be an  “expert” in the field. For example, you might know more than most about how the brain works, but that doesn’t mean you know everything about it.

Allow yourself to enjoy the excitement that goes with always having more to learn. The most “together” people are animated not by how much they know but by how much they love to learn. 

18. Act Like a Leader.

Leaders tend to focus on what is helpful — not what is “lacking.” They look at the bigger picture, but they also know how to focus on the most important thing and take decisive action. 

Think of the best leaders in your life and what made them so. 

  • Readiness to risk others’ criticism or judgment 
  • Readiness to take action rather than worry about what could go wrong
  • Willingness to be “the bad guy” when doing something unpopular but necessary
  • Willingness to consider other viewpoints and perspectives
  • Acceptance of their responsibility for their own thoughts and actions

Take the initiative and step up when leadership is needed, always remembering that leadership is about service — not being on top. 

19. Take Control of Your Physical (or Outer) Space. 

Aside from decluttering and organizing, you need to consider how your physical space is affecting you and the people who share it with you. Consider the following: 

  • Seating  — comfort, ergonomics, aesthetics
  • Flow space — Is it easy to move around the room? 
  • Color scheme — how does it affect your mood or thought processes? 
  • Lighting — natural light and lamps with brain-friendly (not fluorescent) bulbs
  • Temperature — Keep it on the cool side to keep your brain alert. 

Take note of everything you can change — it not all at once than one at a time. Every positive change makes a difference. Your outer space should grow with you. 

20. Take Control of Your Inner Space. 

Your inner world needs some TLC, too. Consider the following areas that might be ripe for a DIY renovation or upgrade: 

  • Morning thoughts
  • Morning routine
  • Your to-do list (and the thoughts connected to it)
  • Your self-care habits (or the lack thereof)
  • Nighttime thoughts
  • Nighttime routine

Every thought you accept as true and every habit you hold onto has an impact. The longer you hold onto it, the greater its impact on your mental health and well-being. 

So, why not make a conscious effort to exchange those thoughts and habits for those that lift you up, celebrate your wins, challenge you with love, and make you an unstoppable force for good? 

21. Be the Chief Guardian of Your Own Health and Well-Being. 

Think of the things you’d like to do or have considered adding to your daily routine to improve your health: 

  • Daily strength-training exercise
  • Mindfulness meditation or mindful movement
  • Swapping out unhealthy snacks for healthier ones
  • Spending more time in nature
  • Adding vitamin, mineral, and nutrient supplements to your diet

Take one habit from the second list, and nail down the essential activation details: 

  • When and how often will you do it? 
  • Where will you do it?
  • Why do you want to do it? 
  • How will you do it, and what tools will you use?
  • How will you measure your progress? 

When you know the answers to these questions, you’re more likely to stick with these habits, even when they’re inconvenient. 

22. Take Charge of Your Own Learning and Growth. 

Unless you’re a young child just starting school and depending on your parents to get the education you need, your learning is up to you. 

Even when your parents are still asking you about your homework and helping you with a school project, you’re the one who determines how much you learn and what you do with that learning. You decide whether you make the best use of your time. 

And you’re the one in charge of whether you continue learning and growing as you get older, go to college (or not), get a job, move out, and find your own way. 

Your path will look different from others, and that’s okay — as long as you keep growing. 

23. Create a Budget and Make Room for Savings.

About 72 percent of Americans experience daily financial stress from mounting debt, difficulty paying the bills, or just not having enough for all the things they’d like to do. 

About 25 percent have used a credit card to buy groceries (out of necessity) and cannot pay off their charges each month. 

So, the debt keeps climbing, and so does their stress over money and the lack thereof. 

While downloading an app like Mint can’t fix everything, it can give you more awareness of your exact financial situation. From there, you can set goals (i.e., pay off debt, start saving or investing money,  etc.) and reclaim some control over your financial present. 

24. Learn to Breathe (the Right Way). 

According to a study on breath control, slow, controlled breathing can improve your emotional control and increase comfort, alertness, and vigor while reducing anxiety, depression, and anger. 

The more mindfully you breathe, the more you’re aware of whether you’re inflating your abdomen as well as your chest. Both should swell with each inhalation. Breathe in slowly through the nose (if possible) and out through the mouth. 

Obviously, you can’t be focused on the length of each breath every moment of the day.

Start by making time each morning for some deep, grounding breaths. Then, when you’re feeling tense or overwhelmed, stop for a moment and practice deep, mindful breathing. 

25. Let Go of Regret and Resentment.

Growth is impossible when you’re holding onto regret over your own mistakes or resentment toward someone else. Life is about choices, but you’re the one who has to choose to focus on the present rather than the past. 

To move forward, you need to forgive. Forgive others their mistakes and offenses. And forgive yourself for not knowing better sooner. 

Focus on what you’re learning now, on what you’re doing, and on who you’re becoming. Who you were in the past is yesterday’s news. It’s not something you can fix. 

So, stop acting as if you owe it to the universe to wail and gnash your teeth over the jerk you used to be. You’re doing your best.

Get Your Life Together Checklist

Are you serious about this getting your life together thing? Reading this article is a great first step, but what are you actually going to do about it? And how are you going to make sure it gets done?

Amorphous concepts like “getting your life together” can scramble your brain when you're trying to make real change. That's why an old-fashioned concept like creating a checklist can be so helpful. Cold, hard action steps on paper with a little box you check when done — feels good doesn't it?

So how might that look for you? Let's say you start with point #1 we outline here — the SWOT analysis. You've got your strengths covered, but what about those weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

Start with your weaknesses, and write them down. Then pick the one that you believe has the most negative impact on your life. Let's say you need more skills or education to move ahead in your career.

Your checklist might look something list this:

  • Brainstorm where I want to be in five years in my career.
  • Research the skills or education I need to be in that position.
  • Reach out to someone in that job who can give me guidance.
  • Research schools or training programs that offer what I need.
  • Find out if they have online or part-time options.
  • Create a spreadsheet of all education options, tuition costs, and other relevant info.
  • Determine my budget for further education.
  • Begin a savings plan for education or apply for a school loan.
  • Determine how to fit this training into my current schedule.
  • Enroll in the program and begin classes.

Of course, you may add additional action items under each of your checklist points as you go along. But having a checklist gives you a framework for taking action.

You can create a checklist for all of the strategies we've covered. Just use a little creativity to turn a concept into an action plan. If you need more help with this, take a look at some of the books we recommend below.

Books on How To Get Your Life Together

Here are few good books you can grab to get inspiration for changing your life situation.

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Quotes about Getting Your Life Together

Ok, we don't want to leave you with all work and no inspiration. Before you put on your get-moving boots, read through these quotes and let them fill you with “I've got this!” inspiration.

1. “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” — Amelia Earhart

3. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

4. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

5. “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Lyndon B. Johnson

6. “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” — C.S. Lewis

7. “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”— Walt Disney

8. “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
— Terry Pratchett

9. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.
— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

10. “You Don’t Have To Be Great To Start, But You Have To Start To Be Great.
— Zig Ziglar

11. “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
— Helen Keller

12. “True, we love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving. There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness.”
— Petrach

13. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
— Francis of Assisi

14. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
— Edith Wharton

15. “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
— Margaret Mead

Final Thoughts

As you set yourself up for this journey of self-improvement, remember that it takes time to put all the pieces in the right places.

Getting back on track is a work in progress — it never stops because you never stop learning and growing.

You will always have to jump over obstacles, tear down walls and elbow your way through difficulties.

But, it does become much easier over time.

As you teach yourself to be more mindful, more aware and less critical, the obstacles you encounter along the way will not seem so insurmountable.

So, what’s your next step towards a better life? How will you implement these changes into your daily schedule?

May you find wisdom and courage on your path to enlightenment.