The strength and stability of a building depend on its foundation. Everyone knows this, whether or not they are engineers.
Problem is, many people tend to ignore the importance of building a strong foundation when it comes to self-improvement and personal relationships. And like a house of cards, such self-improvement and relationship goals will eventually collapse.
If you want to make better choices and sound decisions to shape your future, you must invest the required time and effort in laying a strong foundation – an inner structure – that will guide those important choices and decisions.
The same is true for relationships; your life is a reflection of the people you spend most of your time with, whether they are friends, associates, or romantic partners. This is why you should surround yourself with positive and uplifting individuals.
A lack of solid foundations is why people have a hard time making lasting positive changes. Have you gone back to procrastinating after a few weeks of being productive? Do you find yourself skipping meditation after a few days of practice? Or are you beginning to fall out of your morning ritual of waking early? Perhaps you are beginning to overspend only after a month of setting a budget.
These are signs that something is off with your foundation.
If life seems to be knocking you down when you make important life decisions, this article will help you with the 5 solid materials to build a strong foundation for your life.
1. Mindset: Work on Your Beliefs
Everything about the quality of your life starts with your mindset. This is the first and perhaps the most important material you need to build a strong foundation.
Here’s what I mean by mindset.
Your general thought patterns or way of thinking show up as your perspectives, opinions, and attitudes.
Your life will move in the direction of your mindset, so making long-lasting positive changes can be difficult if your established attitudes tend to be very limiting.
To build a solid foundation for yourself, take some time to think about the beliefs you hold about yourself. Ponder the following self-reflection questions:
- Are my beliefs generally supportive, or do they tend to put me down?
- What am I telling myself that’s holding me back?
- Do I give up easily?
- Is positive change impossible, or am I just afraid of change?
Ever wondered why most people can’t stick with their New Year’s resolution beyond a few weeks? It’s because their new and lofty goals conflict sharply with their established attitudes.
Everyone knows not to procrastinate, overspend on frivolities, eat junk, or keep bad company. But many of us simply don’t know how to stay true to our positive resolves for long because our mindsets just won’t allow it.
Your building or life will not collapse under the weight and pressure of old habits if you use the right material when constructing the foundation of your mindset.
Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset requires work, patience, and commitment. But the returns are worth the investment.
Want to learn more about developing and practicing a healthy mindset? Check out this post for life-changing tips.
2. Values: Focus on What You Want to Uphold in Your Life
If you’re shifting your boundaries too frequently, you probably haven’t identified your core values. You will easily bow to peer pressure, quit too soon, and lack personal resilience unless you figure out exactly what your values are ― what you stand for.
Laying a solid foundation for your life requires focusing on the values you want to uphold. This will help you determine whether or not your life is going in the general direction you want.
To do this, ask what’s important to you in the various aspects of life.
For example, what is more important to you in your work: independence, flexibility, or accountability?
What about relationships and friendships? Is being loyal more important to you, or do you prefer honesty, irrespective of the situation?
If you’re having trouble coming up with values to stand for, think of the type of person you want to be; it should make things much easier. Some common values to uphold for a more positive life are:
To help you get clearer on your values, try to answer the following questions:
- What inspires you and why?
- What activities give you a sense of fulfillment?
- What upsets you easily? (The opposite is the value you prefer)
- If you were you develop a few good qualities, what would they be?
Here’s another crucial question that can help you choose uplifting values: How do you want others to describe you?
Although what others think of you has little (or nothing) to do with who you really are, outside perspective and feedback from others can give you insight into your core values.
3. Strengths: Leverage What You Are Good At
Here’s a common mistake people make when embarking on their self-improvement journey: They put the spotlight on their weaknesses and wonder why they consistently fail to improve.
The saying is true: energy flows where attention goes, and what you focus on expands.
In building a strong foundation, you must focus your time and effort on promoting and boosting your strengths rather than trying to correct your weaknesses.
Okay, should you ignore your weaknesses in a head-in-the-sand approach?
Here’s what I recommend: Identify the areas you don’t do too well and delegate them as much as possible.
Your primary concern should be channeling your energy to your biggest strengths and using them to support the life you are trying to build for yourself.
How do you identify your strengths?
- Start by keeping a record of what you enjoy doing over the course of one or two weeks.
- Ask a few close family and friends (people you trust and respect) what they think you are good at.
- Compare the feedback from your close buddies and the things you’ve written down. Look for patterns, such as recurrent traits or characters, skills, and talents. This should give you an insight into your biggest strengths.
Once you’ve identified your strengths, the next step is to use them to support your daily life.
I understand what it feels like to be unsure of your strengths. Sometimes, it can be difficult to put your finger on what you are good at, and even when you do, you might not be passionate about it.
To help you with that, I invite you to read this no-nonsense guide on how to ignite your passion.
4. Habits: Establish Helpful Daily Routines
The quickest and surest way to reach your goals and attain your life’s vision is by following daily routines that align with those goals and vision.
For example, publishing your first book may be one of your long-term goals. That vision won’t come to fruition if you don’t have a workable plan that breaks down the goal into smaller bits. And by workable plan, I mean daily helpful habits that steer you in the direction of your goals.
Building a strong foundation for your life involves giving up unhelpful habits. Some bad habits are apparent, while others require a bit of self-examination.
If your current life isn’t moving in the direction you want, stop and ask yourself these questions:
- What are my current daily routines?
- Am I holding onto routines that no longer serve me?
- What habits do I need to give up?
But don’t take this the wrong way, though. You can’t give up all your negative habits in one fell swoop ― that’s usually not sustainable. You’ll be crawling back to them before long.
A better approach is to identify the habits you want to drop and then make gradual changes.
Once you’ve figured out what’s unhelpful, it is time to find self-supporting habits that will help keep you grounded. Need help identifying helpful daily routines? Here is a list of mini habits that can bring about major positive changes in your life.
Like dropping off bad habits, don’t try to make positive changes in one go! Remember that sustainable changes don’t happen overnight. Start with baby steps as you replace one unhelpful habit at a time.
You will slip up occasionally, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean positive change is impossible. Keep practicing, and soon enough, the new habit will become second nature.
5. Relationships: Be Picky About the People in Your Life
You need others to thrive unless you want to live like a hermit. Science suggests that we are hardwired for social connections just as we have an innate need for food and shelter.
That said, you should choose those in your circle wisely because you are the average of those you spend a chunk of your time with.
If you hang around good people long enough, their positivity will eventually rub off on you, and you tend to be more optimistic about life. The benefits are mutual, as your circle of positive associates will benefit from the good qualities you bring to the table.
Equally important is that you have access to a network of supportive individuals who cheer you up when you’re feeling down, nudge you in the right direction when you are going off course, and demonstrate practical ways to handle difficult situations.
The opposite is true when you spend most of your time with negative individuals.
You should reevaluate the quality of people in your life if you constantly doubt yourself, abandon your goals midway, or go back to old, unhelpful habits.
You see, surrounding yourself with toxic individuals is like digging deep trenches too close to your foundation. You risk compromising your structure’s integrity if the trench collapses. To be on the safe side, avoid drilling holes near your foundation by choosing friendships and relationships that are positively uplifting.
Here’s an exercise I strongly recommend doing periodically:
- Get a dedicated journal for this exercise and list the closest people in your life (that means those you spend most of your time with).
- Think about the first name on your list and how that person influences you. Is the influence more positive or negative? Do you feel supported or drained when you spend time with them? Does this person fit into the vision you have for your life?
- Decide if letting go of this person will help you feel more grounded.
- Repeat the same thing for all the names on your list.
While it might be tempting, you shouldn’t hold onto a relationship or friendship that doesn’t align with your overall life’s vision. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone; if they constantly pull you down or derail you from your goals, you should let them go.
Don’t worry too much about letting go of unhelpful relationships. The individuals are not your enemies; you simply no longer want to hang around them as often as you used to.
Remember that building a strong foundation for your life is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. Your goals, visions, and values will change over time, habits may slip or need reinforcing, and you might need to weed off some relationships.
In other words, working on your foundation is an ongoing exercise, so do well to revisit the concepts in this post from time to time, especially when your structure starts to feel somewhat unsteady.
Do not put off patching up cracks in your foundation. Fix any cracks in your beliefs, values, relationships, habits, and strengths as soon as you notice them. This will allow you to feel more grounded, and you won’t easily bend and break under the pressures of life.
If this topic is something you’ll like to explore further, I invite you to check out my post on being intentional in life.