We all want better living at some level. It’s built into us! Fyodor Dostoevsky captured this┬átruth well, “To live without hope is to cease to live.” But how do we find better living? Here are 5 steps toward better living…

1. Know what you want. Simply said, it’s very difficult to pursue something without knowing what it is! Any meaningful journey has some kind of destination in mind, even if the destination is solely for the purpose of the journey. Wandering around aimlessly may be fun for some for a time, but we all want our life to mean something – it’s just the way we’re made. So, we need an endpoint, a destination, a goal, something that defines the better we are pursuing. Very simple concept. Very difficult to pin down for many of us! It may take quite a bit of work to figure this out, but the work is worth the effort! When you figure out what it is you want, you can begin to see it, feel it, and work toward it. Just being in this process is the start of better living!

2 Know why you want it. This goes hand in hand with knowing what you want. When you figure out what it is that you want, make sure that’s what you really want. Is there are a compelling reason for pursuing what you want? Is it just another toy or gimmick, or is it something meaningful, helpful, and inspiring to you and others? If it’s not compelling enough, your energy will soon fade. Napoleon Hill talks about knowing what you want and having a burning desire to achieve it. In order to have a burning desire, what you want has to be more than just interesting. The idea has to reach into your core and excite you. Paint the picture in your mind, so you can see and feel it until it becomes a burning desire.

3. Collect information. As you figure out what you want and why you want it, you will begin to notice things you didn’t before that can help you develop a plan of action. Take some time to collect this information, ponder it and let it inform you about how to collect more. Who can you talk to? Where can you go for more resources? What is available to you already?

4. Make a plan. This is not a set in stone kind of plan because we can’t tell the future. Things will happen that will force the plan to adapt and develop along the way. But if we know the destination is a town North and West of where we are, our plan will be to find roads that take us in that direction. Without a plan, we could end up heading South and be further from our destination than we started! As you collect information, a plan will begin to emerge. Go with it. Let that plan develop. But don’t get stuck here! It’s easy to try to work out all the details and never get beyond this step. Work out a plan and then…

5. Take the first step. The first step is often the hardest. But it creates momentum. You can’t steer a ship without momentum. You won’t carry out your plan without the first step. Even if your plan isn’t completely detailed, you need some momentum to maintain excitement. As you take one step and then another and another, you will begin to see things that you didn’t before that can inform and shape the details of your plan… and may inform you that what you thought you wanted may not be exactly what you want now!

As you can see, this is a work in progress. But being in the process is a start and better than living on autopilot. This process may take quite a while and you will probably want help along the way. Why not skip to step 5 and take the first step – start thinking about what you want?