How To Actually Change Your Life

Change can be a difficult thing to instigate in our lives.

We think about it. We talk about it. We make big plans for it.

But we don’t actually do it.

Why is that? At this point we should all know the steps for changing our lives, right? We have read the books, watched the YouTube videos, studied endless courses, and made lists of everything we want to change.

So why isn’t it happening?

Three words: Lack of action.

We are all planning and no doing. And I can attest to this fact. My last decade has been one long (ever changing) plan to better myself. My intentions are true, but the end result always falls flat. 

After much thought and reflection I finally discovered why this keeps happening to me.  I bet you will find your reason(s) below as well.

  1. You Are Not Ready

I always think I need just a little more information before I take action. (The next book I read will give me the last piece of the puzzle to be successful, I just know it.)  But in this age of information there will always be something new to learn, so you can never learn everything needed to get started. So just start where you are. 

2. Need For Perfection

You will never be perfect, no matter how hard you try, so why does your plan have to be? Life is messy, period. Some of us know this (me included), but we still let small details hold us back. This is just another excuse for not going in the direction of a better life. Set a goal and align your actions in a way to direct you toward that goal.  If something goes wrong, simply readjust your plan. Sometimes when plans go awry, the end result is better than our original plan. Go for action, not perfection.

3. You Might Fail

The one and only reason this matters is you care what other people think. And when this happens you have given power over your life to other people. Usually, these are people you either don’t like or don’t know. (The ones you DO like and DO know will love/like you either way, and you know that.)  Don’t let other people dictate your life.  Besides, other people are rarely watching us as much as we think. Put on your blinders and go for it.

4. Change is Scary (Even If It’s Successful)

Humans are creatures of habit. Familiarity feels good to us. That is why abused children often marry abusive spouses, or why we often stay within the socioeconomic class of our parents when we grow up. It takes courage and determination to change any fundamental element in our lives. However, NOT CHANGING can be even scarier when you think about it. You don’t want to look back on your life with regrets. Suck up your courage and start today.

5. The First Step is the Hardest

A plan of action is only as good as its implementation. The only way to get started is to get started.  Take an action today. Any action is better than no action at all because it sets up momentum.  Small steps lead to great change without you even realizing it sometimes. So take the first step today, no matter how small it might be. 

One of my favorite quotes:

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”

– Sean Patrick Flanery

6. You Try To Do Too Much at Once

Trying to change a large behavior in a short amount of time almost always fails. The key is to change small things over time – which will lead to big changes in the long run. 

For example, instead of making “lose weight” your big change. Decide to leave the sugar out of your morning cereal or oatmeal every morning. Once that has become a habit, move on to the next small change. See the video below for a full explanation. (This may be the best TED Talk I have ever seen because it is so valuable!)

 

How I Got Started

My own personal goal for change was to  become happier and feel better both mentally and physically.  So I printed out a table and listed all the things that would move me toward that goal each day. This checklist included  things like meditation, gratitude, prayer, specific exercises, etc. Altogether, I have nine separate things I strive to do each day.

Do I check off every one of them every day? 

No, but some days I do. Other days I do most of them. And occasionally, I do none of them. But I am definitely moving forward and already reaping the benefits of my plan.  

Because of this I am more organized and calm, which leads to doing more of the things on the list since I have more time. It’s a big, beautiful cycle. The steps are beginning to become habits and it feels strange on days I don’t do them.

So decide your first step and do it before you go to sleep tonight. Then do another one before bed tomorrow night. And so on and so on. (Feel free to borrow my check list idea. Get it here.)

Within a short period of time, your life will begin to change.  Congratulations!

Here is a resource I recommend: