To level up in life means to be better, to set goals and smash them, to take the bull by the horns and steer the course. The problem with this concept is that it relies on extrinsic motivation— external factors you’re working toward. In reality, leveling up requires intrinsic motivation— behavior driven by the internal satisfaction of success.
If you truly want to level up in life, you have to look inward before you look ahead. Before you start chasing goals, you need to become the person who’s capable of accomplishing them.
Here are practical tips for working on yourself so you can level up.
There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding men’s mental health treatment. Boys are taught at a young age to toughen up, internalize and compartmentalize feelings, and be strong. As a result, few men seek help to deal with mental health issues, which is why men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Mental health is physical health. These issues and disorders are diagnosable and treatable by a healthcare professional. They’re also a barrier to accomplishing the things you want to do in life, whether that’s climbing the corporate ladder, becoming financially successful, or feeling a strong sense of self-satisfaction.
Stop letting what your parents or society told you about your own mind prevent you from making the most out of this life. Reach out to a professional so you can start building ladders over these barriers and see what comes next.
Learning the art of healthy communication is another skill lost to cultural stigmas around what it means to be a man. Learning how to identify and clarify what you’re thinking or feeling, then communicating it constructively is a skill that will help you in all facets of your life. It will help you build a healthy relationship with a romantic partner and feel confident in sharing your expertise in a work setting.
A key part of communication is learning to listen with the intention of understanding. Take time to consider your words before responding. Ask clarifying questions to get more data. Try to understand where the other person is coming from, even if you don’t agree. These steps put you in a position of knowledge and control when it’s time to respond.
Stress is a silent killer. It causes physical and mental health problems while derailing progress as you pursue your goals. During periods of chronic stress, you’re more likely to experience sleep deprivation, poor cognitive function, and poor hormonal and metabolic regulation. This dysregulation can impact your progress at the gym, at work, and in all facets of your existence.
Create time for intentional stress management. Prioritize your physical health and find ways to move your body, even if you don’t have the time or energy to have an intense workout. Don’t devalue activities like yoga and meditation— they’re scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Create a routine and clarify your boundaries. For example, maybe you need to blast music on your commute to unwind and transition. Maybe you need a few quiet moments in the morning to drink coffee and catch up on the news. Ensure you’re making time in your day for these activities and planning longer-term stress management strategies as well. It’s also important to ensure that your partner also has the bandwidth and boundaries to engage in their stress management activities to minimize tension for everyone.
Stop trying to get rich and focus on getting financially healthy. There’s an overwhelming cultural narrative that more money will make you happier. In reality, ensuring you’re using the money you have wisely and creating financial security now allows you to pursue new endeavors while minimizing risk.
Look at your debt and your expenditures and create a budget and action plan to pay down what you owe, and start setting money aside. Set some hard limits for yourself and talk to a financial advisor about how you can prepare for the future. Take some time to learn about financial literacy and set realistic goals. It’s better to move incrementally toward being debt free and having a nest egg than chasing a high income and material status symbols. Leave those for when you’re financially independent.
If you want to level up in life, you need to stop looking at what other people are doing. Social media and stuff your friends say at the gym are small snippets that leave out the bigger picture. Sure, your friend might have a brand new, fully loaded car, but they could also be one bad week away from financial ruin. Yes, the social media mogul you follow could appear independently wealthy, but what are they selling you?
Unplug from things that make you second guess yourself and slow your progress. Consider other distractions as well. What’s eating your time? Are those Friday night happy hours killing your budget and ruining your productivity for the weekend? Are you still engaging in toxic relationships with family members and friends who don’t root for your success?
Cut the distractions and surround yourself with the people and environment you need to focus and succeed.
Success comes from valuing progress over perfection and understanding that small, incremental steps forward end up becoming leaps and bounds. Before you can achieve your goals and live the life you want, you need to look inward and do the things that lead to the man you’re becoming. Work on yourself, and the rest will follow.