You’re frustrated in your job, or with a relationship. You’re angry at your circumstances, or with your boss. You’re tired of being unfit, unhappy, or unlucky in love. Yet deep down, you know life can be better; that you are capable of more, even deserve more.
Perhaps you’re merely treading water in your career or in life. Maybe you’re struggling to meet the demands of a new role, or dealing with a curveball that’s come your way. At this point, you can either stay as you are until you’re worn out (or worse, burnt out), or you can choose to level up.
So, what does it mean to ‘level up’?
Simply put, it means to make a move for the better.
If you’ve ever played a video game, anything from Mario Kart to Minecraft, you’ll understand the concept of ‘levelling up’ – to progress to the next level of the game, you need to hone your skills, unlock new tools, conquer the obstacles in your way, and take risks.
Similarly, levelling up in life can be described as a process of intentional self-development during which you practise, explore, learn, revise and, ultimately, grow into becoming a better version of yourself.
Typically, the process of levelling up will include:
Leveraging your strengths
Identifying your weaknesses
Letting go of self-limiting beliefs
Breaking unhealthy habits
Pushing beyond your comfort zone
Developing new skills
Through levelling up, you’ll:
Deepen your self-awareness
Unlock your potential
Boost your confidence
Face your fears
Spark your creativity
Increase your resilience
Find more fulfilment
Play by the rules
Just as any hard-core gamer would, there are a few points to keep in mind when you feel ready to level up.
First, you need to identify your current ‘level’. Reflect on why you’re stuck here or how you arrived at this point; and consider what the next level looks like.
Remember, you can’t jump from the first level to the last! In order to improve, you need to level up in stages – as you hone your strengths, develop new skills and overcome unexpected obstacles, you’ll gain the knowledge, experience and tools required to progress successfully. For example, if you’re hoping to level up your physical wellbeing by losing 15kg of unwanted weight, it would be unrealistic to expect to reach your goal quickly and without giving yourself the time to adopt healthy eating strategies, incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, and address any self-limiting beliefs or harmful habits.
Carefully consider and plan the actions you need to take. Get clear, be specific and remember it’s OK to start small. For example, if you want to improve your wellbeing, you could start:
Going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night
Drinking more water every day
Practising meditation for 10 minutes in the morning
Adding a big salad to your lunch every day
Keeping a gratitude journal
You must claim your reward. Once you’ve levelled up, celebrate your win. You could treat yourself to something special, enjoy a night out with friends, indulge in a favourite activity, or, better still, make the reward related to your success. For example, if you’re taking your wellbeing up a notch, you could take a day off work to focus on you – book a day at a wellness spa or spend time in nature. Rewarding yourself will keep you motivated to keep levelling up!
Which life areas can be levelled up?
You can level up any area of your life in which you seek change, and regardless of where you’re at. But, in order to move forward – be that in your professional life, relationships or wellbeing – you need to be willing to accept that growth and comfort cannot co-exist; be ready to take action; and be prepared to learn from your mistakes.
Mental growthincludes expanding your knowledge, training your brain, and boosting your mental fitness through, for example, formal education, coaching or counselling, reading, learning a new language, developing your creativity, visualisation techniques, and getting adequate sleep.
Emotional growth relates to emotional intelligence. Levelling up will help you cope with stress and anxiety, develop empathy for others, manage your emotions in a healthy way, and increase your self-awareness. You can build emotional intelligence through reflecting on and learning to regulate your emotions, and activities such as meditation, practising mindfulness and journaling.
Physical growth refers to improving the physical state of your body through, for example, movement and exercise, losing unwanted weight, adopting healthy eating habits, giving up behaviours that harm your health (such as smoking and drinking excessively), and getting enough sleep.
Our desire to feel connected to others is a basic human need, and our relationships can have a significant impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. To level up your relationships – be that at home or in your professional life – you may choose to work on your communication and active listening skills, practise empathy, learn to express your feelings, and show appreciation to those around you. You can also level up your relationship with yourself through becoming more self-aware, learning to accept yourself, and adopting proper self-care.
Levelling up in your career isn’t just about promotion. Rather, it relates to the process of learning and growth which equips you with the skills you need to reach your short- and long-term goals, builds your confidence, increases job satisfaction, and brings all-round greater fulfilment. Of course, you may wish to negotiate a pay rise or get your resume in order to start applying for another role; but you could also build your networking skills, put your hand up to take on more responsibility, find a mentor to learn from, or hire a career coach to help you find solutions to specific challenges you’re up against.
6 simple ways to level up your life
1. Love yourself.
The first step before you proceed to level up any other area of your life is to learn to nurture and love yourself. Without self-love, you will have little self-worth and lack the confidence to go after what you truly want. Through connecting with your true self, accepting who you are, and practising regular self-care, you’ll build self-belief, become more confident, and develop the positive mindset you need to reach the next level and, ultimately, achieve what you dream of.
2. Step out of your comfort zone.
In the words of author Roy T. Bennet: “The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Leaving your comfort zone is a risk, but it allows you to open yourself up to new possibilities, learn more about yourself, and become more creative, adaptable and resilient as you progress through subsequent levels in your self-development journey.
3. Mix with the right people.
Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. That’s because the people we surround ourselves with have a big impact on our thoughts and feelings, our behaviour and our life choices.
Negative people can drain your energy, undermine your confidence and decrease your motivation. Instead, spend time with those who build you up, make you laugh, cheer you on, help you find new opportunities, and inspire you to become the best version of yourself.
4. Get up early.
There’s good reason why many high achievers are early risers. We’re all short on time – but by getting up an hour earlier every day, you’d gain almost 15 days in a year! Early birds know that waking up early gives you time to kickstart your day with exercise or meditation, enjoy a healthy breakfast, reflect on your goals for the day, and get organised without distractions.
5. Read every day.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose to lose yourself in a great story, or read about a topic that relates to your career, reading is good for you! It fires up your imagination, inspires and educates you, increases your ability to focus, builds perseverance, expands your vocabulary, and helps you unwind. Studies have shown reading develops emotional intelligence, decreases stress levels, and can significantly decrease symptoms of depression.
6. Dress the part.
While clothes do not make the (wo)man, dressing for success is a big step towards levelling up your life. Of course, it creates great first impressions, but It also helps you feel empowered, confident and more positive, and may even affect your thinking – a recent study has shown formal dressing may increase abstract thinking and give us a broader perspective. Perhaps it’s time to make revamping your wardrobe a priority on your self-development to-do list!
At the end of the day, we all want to feel fulfilled in our personal and professional lives. According to renowned American psychologist Abraham Maslow, who developed the Hierarchy of Needs, all people have an in-built need for personal development, and every person has limitless room for growth. Acting with more intention helps us make the changes required to level up – and become better versions of ourselves.
If you would like to take your career, wellbeing or relationships up a notch but don’t know where to start or how to progress, it may be time to seek professional support.