This is part of a series. The others are:
Here are 13 things many people don't do but should.
Prioritize the not-sexual in choosing a long-term partner. Of course, initial infatuation can cloud even the most clear-eyed person. But if you’re considering a long-term relationship, try to not overweigh the sexual. Most people in a long-term relationship find that more important is how well you get along out of bed: in conversation, in recreation, in addressing day to day problems—from money to chores to how much time to spend together and separately.
Look into each other’s eyes. Whether in flirtation or a relationship, looking into each other’s eyes for an extended time is intimate, bonding. Of course, in flirting, “extended” may mean only a second or two, while in your relationship, you might try looking into each other’s eyes for a whole minute.
Eat dinner together as often as possible. Couples and especially families benefit from the routine of nightly dinner, in which each person is asked about their day and listened-to carefully.
Spend a weekend with a friend(s). Many people think of such getaways as a life highlight. It can be particularly rewarding if you don’t so fill the weekend with activities that there isn’t enough time for relaxed, extended conversation.
Write thinking-of-you notes. Many people are so busy that they let even close friendships slide. A way to keep them alive is to write brief thinking-of-you notes. You might even include them in your child’s school lunch bag.
Your internal self
Journal. You needn’t journal daily but when facing a thorny issue, it may help to write the pros and cons and what you decide to do. When something bad happens, write about it briefly, ending with the baby steps you want to take to move forward. Journaling is helpful because it concretizes your thinking, gets your bad feelings out, and facilitates getting unstuck. And because all the ideas come from you, they’re more likely to be on-the-mark than advice from friends. Plus, it’s empowering because you’ve taken control of the situation.
Watch the clouds scud by. Looking out the window, sitting on an outdoor chair, or lying on the grass watching the clouds move is a beautiful sight and can facilitate stepping back from quotidian life to contemplate bigger things.
Use Google as the prime way to see if a career is right for you. Most career-seekers do an informational interview or two on a prospective career. The problem with that is that the person you interviewed may be atypical. It’s smarter to google the career, for example, (psychotherapist career.) Looking at relevant articles and videos can quickly expose you to many people’s take on the career.
Send collateral material when applying for a job. Most good job openings get dozens if not hundreds of applications. Unless you’re clearly a star, your application is likely to go into the reject pile. A way to differentiate yourself is to submit a piece of collateral material. For example, let’s say you’d love a job as a counselor in a major health care system but you have not experience at that. You might write a two-pager white paper, “Best Practices in Short-Term Psychotherapy within a Health Care System.” That may compensate for lack of experience. Create the white paper by googling to find relevant articles and synthesize them, ending with your own take on the subject.
Work long and slow. Rushing is bad, but working long hours, slow-and steady, can be intrinsically rewarding as well as helping you get a lot done. At least among my clients, the ones who work long hours but at a steady pace do better than the clock-watchers and the rushed ones.
Thank your boss. Many bosses are under significant pressures from above and below. So if your boss has done something kind or wise, s/he might welcome a thank-you note, perhaps handwritten. You might even end it with, “Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?”
Invest like a machine. In investing, subjectivity usually causes loss. It’s too often tempting to buy when the price is unduly high and sell when the price is unduly low. The investment highway is littered with people who tried to time the market. It’s wise to be mechanical, for example, whenever you have an extra $500 or $1,000, to invest it that day in the Vanguard All-in-One Fund that matches your risk-tolerance. (NOTE: I am not a licensed financial advisor and everyone's situation is different so, consider this only as a consumer advocate's generic advice. Also, I am not paid by Vanguard or anyone else to suggest your considering their funds.)
The Big Picture
Take a baby step toward the biggest contribution you want to make. It's easy to drown in today’s “musts.” Alas, too often, months, years, even a lifetime can pass without getting beyond the quotidian. What’s a big goal you’d like to accomplish? What baby step toward its achievement could you take today?
Dr. Nemko's nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at email@example.com.