Before this 7-day personal-improvement plan becomes lifestyle, the greatest advice I can impart on you is to approach it with that side of your humanity that says, "This is not about me."

Sure, it will improve your life, as it has mine. But don't think for a minute (as you scroll down further) that these life hacks are merely for your own self-gratification. It took years for me to develop the understanding that improving my life was really about giving, service, life balance, and meaningful relationships.

Moving forward, these are the very habits that will reshape your path as entrepreneur, spouse, parent, friend, and leader.

Your 7-Day Personal Development Plan

Many can be practiced in minutes per day. Others will require some courage and stretching. Use this to acclimate yourself to a life of happiness and success

Sunday: Do a "five minute favor" for someone.

Five-minute favors are selfless giving acts, without asking for anything in return from the people that you help. Examples of five-minute favors include: sharing knowledge, making an introduction, serving as a reference for a person, product, or service, or recommending someone on LinkedIn, Yelp, or another social place.

Monday: Rediscover your purpose and enjoy the journey.

Remind yourself frequently that the purpose of your life is not to work 10 hours per day, five days per week for 30 years, then retire to a golf course in Florida. Your true purpose should be to discover your calling in life, basking in the joy of the journey along the way, one step at a time. In the end, your legacy is left to these two questions:

  • What impact did I make on the lives of others?
  • Who did I serve and make better?

Tuesday: Just. Say. No.

Truly happy people live a simple life. They have a simple schedule. They don't take on more than they can handle. They live according to their values and purpose. They have strong boundaries around what comes into their life. What does this all mean exactly? They have no problem saying no. If it doesn't serve you, if it has little value, and if it doesn't make you better tomorrow than you are today -- just ... say ... no.

Wednesday: Do something fun at work.

Science has found that people who have fun on the job are more creative and productive, make better decisions, and get along better with colleagues. Another study discovered that to unlock your creative potential, "go out and play" to lift your mood, and then come back to the problem. Humor also helps you think more broadly and creatively. In one study, psychologists had students solve puzzles after watching a clip of Robin Williams doing standup. Twenty percent more puzzles were solved by sudden insight from students who had watched comedy compared with students who had watched scary or boring videos beforehand. There are other benefits: Laughter releases endorphins into the body--a chemical 10 times more powerful than morphine--with the same exhilarating effect as an intense workout at the gym.

Thursday: Soak up the wisdom of another person.

If you're a smart person (an d I trust that you are since you're reading this list), you want to view yourself as a small fish in the great big pond of life--seeking out connections to learn from. Who are the people of influence in your life? Invite one of them to coffee, and learn something new from this person. It will make you better, and he or she will appreciate the chance to pay it forward. Another way of learning the authentic way, no ego attached, is seeking out younger people who bring extreme value in an area unfamiliar to you, the older person or leader. Ever heard of a "reverse mentor"?

Friday: Share your positive experiences with friends and family.

Now that you're heading into the weekend, make it a habit to reach out to family and friends and spread your joy. Studies published in BPS Research have found that sharing the good things that happen in your life is the way to happiness. In one study, participants that journaled and shared positive experiences with another person at least twice a week were more satisfied with life. Why not make this a habit with those closest to you?

Saturday: Give thanks for it all.

I don't care what religion you come from, start Saturday with gratitude for your week. Thank your higher power (and those who have supported your journey) for the things you take for granted. If it feels like you're just making ends meet, reframe to a more positive conclusion because things will get better. As it turns out, if you make more than $30,000, you earn more than 53.2 percent of Americans. If you make more than $50,000, you earn more than 73.4 percent of Americans. Feeling grateful now? Say a little prayer and give thanks. Then take it a step further: Journal about three new things you are grateful for that happened the day before. Psychologist Shawn Achor told Oprah that if you do this gratitude journal for 21 days in a row, you actually train your brain to be optimistic, permanently.

Closing Thoughts

Now imagine practicing some of these things every week, and modeling such behaviors for others to improve their lives? Instead of settling for whatever comes your way, be intentional, step out of your comfort zone, and create the life you've always imagined.

Published on: Apr 28, 2017
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