How can I make my life a little less noisy?
I’m an engineer. I like things to be logical. This doesn’t mean mechanical. It just means logical. Having a reason to do the things I do.
But not all things are logical. Intuition isn’t logical. Evolutionary biological influences in today’s world are not always logical. Where our thoughts go isn’t always logical.
So, in a world filled with ambiguity, how do I decide what to nudge next? What’s the next smallest measurable action I could take to live a more fulfilling life?
First, we need to decide what a fulfilling life looks like. This is no easy task. But until we spend time with this – journaling, reflecting, stress testing - we’ll never have any direction.
Once we do have a sense of who we want to be and where we want to show up, we can use this little matrix to help us decide what's next.
Start by developing a simple four-quadrant matrix, like so:
Title the matrix: Nudges to Reduce the Noise in my Life
The Y-axis (vertical axis) is the Degree of Importance to our lives. This represents the impact the ‘nudge’ will have if we implement it. Its importance to our well-being. Does it nourish or deplete? Is it helping or harming? This is subjective, but try to find things related to reducing significant stress in our lives, i.e., eliminating a specific toxic relationship, eating better, keeping active.
The X-axis (horizontal axis) is the Level of Control we have. Is it behavior we can change? Or is it something in our environment that we have no control over? Make this assessment from low to high, similar to above.
Here’s how we decide which ones to tackle first:
1. Low-Y, Low-X (RED): Park. Forget.
2. Low-Y, High-X (YELLOW): Make a plan. Check boxes. Be mindful of priority and order.
3. High-Y, Low-X (YELLOW): While you don’t have much control, thoroughly analyze what can be done to better the odds.
4. High-Y, High-X (GREEN): ACT Now
This may seem mechanical at first, but the clarity will provide an incredible sense of agency and peace.