Top Four Life Skills for La Bella Vita = The Good Life
They aren’t sexy, but there are only four — let’s get it!
Do you know when you get that schlumpy unmotivated easily irritated feeling? That’s frustration from not being challenged. You can’t remain lost; you can’t be stagnant, you must move forward to know life, to love life. To move forward, you must acquire new knowledge, discover new points of view, and consistently grow.
Since learning is a lifelong endeavor, commit to discovering a learning method that works for you and perfect it. For example, my note-taking method has been the same since I learned to write. I write out key ideas in full as my headline, bullet supporting evidence or sound-bites, and put an arrow in front of any notes that requires additional action. That way I can easily skim headlines for retention of the concept, review bullets to reinforce details, and follow-up on arrows.
When you have a note-taking method, it will benefit you in 3 ways: 1) You’ll be consistent, even when facing tight timelines or dense content; 2) You’ll be able to review your notes from any point of your life and make sense of them; 3) You’ll get more effective over time = better retention, quicker uptake, less overwhem.
Other learning tips: Mix it up. Whether you’re loving a subject or slogging through, always study more than one subject at a time. Besides appreciating the novelty, and brain break, you’ll be surprised about how many links you’ll discover even among seemingly unrelated topics, and you’ll find the diversity sparks your creativity.
Work / life balance is one type of balance to pay attention to, but in a broader sense, balance refers to stability. Think about a stool: How many legs need to be touching the floor for it to remain upright? Similarly, if the rug was pulled out from under one part of your life, would the rest of it come crashing down too?
Consider your job. If you were fired today, do you have enough going on personally to retain your sense of self? Do you have savings to keep afloat temporarily? Or the reverse, if your spouse left you, could you manage life without him? Do you have financial options and personal support? Consider your wellbeing. If you received startling news about your health, could you fully focus on healing without disrupting your career or relationships? Do others know enough about what you do to step in and share the load?
You don’t have to work through worst case scenarios to know if you’re balanced, simply observe your life. Note the details. Does your microwave look like something exploded in it a month ago? Can you find your favorite sweater? Do you have a big deadline approaching but can’t find time to prepare? Do you almost always pay bills late or nearly run out of gas on the way to work?
Balance is about taking care of yourself, your life, your people, and going with the flow. That means making it easy for you to do your thing, setting yourself up for success, and having the freedom to spend your time the way you want, to jump on opportunities as they come. If you’re always caught scrambling, putting out fires, responding to urgent instead of meaningful, with your head down and no time or energy to look up, you’ll always feel unbalanced.
3. Self Care
Do your legs feel restless? Does your mind race? You’re probably not getting enough physical activity. Does your skin have a sallow tone? Are you getting enough fresh air and sunshine? Have you changed your skincare routine in a decade? If you feel blah and uninspired, take a walk outdoors, listen to music, dive into a creative project, or hug someone you love.
Self-care isn’t only about facials, working out, and massage club memberships. It’s about connection, inspiration, and reminding yourself that you are alive. One way to feel alive is to observe the world around you and let what calls you pull you toward it. Put another way, try stuff, do stuff.
Just like brushing your teeth, it should be automatic. You don’t have to tell children to watch a sunset, listen to the waves, take their shoes off to feel the sand, or jump in a fountain. They just do it. They listen to their bodies, feel things, and let themselves love what they love and do what feels right.
When you want to crawl out of your skin, you feel itchy and unsettled, it’s your body trying to tell you something, usually that you are neglecting yourself in some way. You don’t have to listen; you can dismiss the feeling or cover it up; our bodies and minds are resilient after all. But what lessons are you teaching yourself if you don’t put your health, sanity, and wellbeing at the top of your list?
The last fundamental skill is decision-making and it’s probably the most foreign of the four. There are so many layers to deciding: pushing past fear, evaluating what you want, weighing the consequences, appeasing the stakeholders, and more. It can be paralyzing, but if you can’t make decisions, you can’t choose, and if you can’t choose, you forfeit freedom.
Trust yourself to know what’s best for you, what’s right for those involved, that you’ll rebound if you’re wrong. Trust yourself to fail and not let it hinder you or define you. Trust that you’ll rise to the occasion if you succeed. Consult your goals, a trusted advisor, and your heart. Saying it aloud and explaining your choice often removes indecision. If you’re justifying, hedging, minimizing, or apologizing, those are clues.
Develop a system that gives you confidence and clarity. Make a pros and cons list. Prioritize love over fear. Try future-proofing your choice — play out a decision as far as you can by asking “and then what (would happen)?” over and over until you can’t imagine what’s next. Which answer brings you closer to your ideal and which moves you further away? Which answer feels authentic and elevates your life?
Finally, live gracefully with your choices. You can f%@k up; we all do, but don’t repeat your mistakes or miss the opportunity to learn from them. Don’t use indecision as an excuse to opt out, play it safe, or avoid risking what it takes to go for your dreams. Just decide and act. See what happens.