It's totally possible to learn how to change your life and live your dreams – it might not feel like it could be that way, but it's true.
If you look around, there is always someone in the world who grew up in a similar place, time, and situation as you, who managed to change their life for the better.
But just because it's possible to change your life doesn't mean it's easy.
I've made considerable changes in my life more times than I can count. And whether I was changing my perspective, career, or the country I lived in, I learned one thing over and over again: To truly change my life I first needed to change myself.
Easier said than done, right?
Still, whether you want to get motivated, become your own boss, or y'know, move to Italy, learn Italian, fall in love, and open a restaurant, this is the guide for you.
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How to Change Your Life
Step 1. Decide to Change Your Life
It may sound obvious, but this is perhaps the most difficult part of changing your life.
During my travels, I've had many conversations with people who've told me that they want to make significant changes in life, but they never seem to happen – why is that?
Because it's tough to change your life. Really tough.
In fact, changing your life may be the most challenging and uncomfortable thing you ever do.
In a moment of enlightenment, a friend of mine said, "Oh my God – if I want to change my life, I have to change my life."
At first, this can be very scary.
Depending on why you want to change your life, your dreams may lead you to move to a city or country where you don't know anyone. You may need to let go of friendships you've had for years to create space for new ones. Or perhaps you'll need to swap a steady career for the roller-coaster ride of entrepreneurship.
In other words, changing your life means making some tough decisions. So, how badly do you want to change your life? And what are you willing to do – and to give up – to make it happen?
Once you decide to change your life come hell or high water, suddenly, almost anything is possible.
Step 2. Learn to Embrace Discomfort
If you want to learn how to change your life completely, be prepared to say goodbye to your comfort zone. The very essence of growth is to move beyond what you've experienced before.
You have to break new ground.
Billy Cox, Jimi Hendrix's bass guitarist, once said, "Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone."
So, get into the habit of stepping out of your comfort zone at every opportunity. For example:
- Don’t order the same food twice
- Listen to different genres of music
- Watch eye-opening documentaries
- Sign up for a fitness challenge
- Take a different route home
- Text someone you haven't spoken to in years
Embrace change at every turn.
Step 3. Identify Why You Want to Change Your Life
When working out how to change your life, it’s often easier to start by determining what you don't want before exploring what you do want.
So, write down the aspects of your life that you don't like.
Do you hate your job? Do you dislike where you live, your social life, or how you feel most of the time? Are there destructive habits or circumstances that you want to overcome?
Don't dwell on these things or get sucked into negativity. Just write them down and move on to the next step quickly.
Step 4. Define the Changes You Want to Make
Now it's time to get creative: How do you want to transform your life? Perhaps you'd like to:
- Start a business
- Move to a new location
- Change careers
- Go traveling
- Make new friends
- Take up a new hobby
- Let go of the past
- Stop procrastinating
- Grow your confidence
- Stick to a morning routine
Whatever it is, as soon as you think of an idea, there may be a voice in your head that tells you all the reasons why your idea is 'stupid,' 'unrealistic,' or 'will never work.'
Don't listen to that voice. That voice is afraid of change.
Anything is possible. Take it from Madonna who once said, "No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself."
Step 5. Identify Things That May Hold You Back
Next, identify any habits, recurring thought patterns, or people that could hold you back from making life changes. For instance:
- Do you procrastinate?
- Are you addicted to sugar, alcohol, social media, pornography, or gaming?
- Do you beat yourself up with negative self-talk?
- Are there negative people in your life who discourage you from trying?
If you're struggling to see what could stop you from transforming your life, consider asking for help from a close friend or family member that you trust.
Be aware of potential pitfalls before they arise. But again, don't dwell on the bad things – just write them down and move onto the next step.
Step 6. Choose Your "One Thing"
When learning how to change your life completely, it's important to remember that this process takes time – it won't all happen at once.
If you try to change too much in one go, you'll likely become overwhelmed, burn out, and then revert to your usual way of operating.
So, conquer one thing at a time.
Here's what to do: Focus on one significant change, like moving to a new city or changing jobs. Or choose one 'keystone habit' to conquer.
A keystone is a middle stone in an arch that holds all the other stones together. Keystone habits encourage the development of other related habits.
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg suggests that exercise is a powerful keystone habit:
"Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and become more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change."
Another example of a keystone habit is practicing gratitude.
A 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that keeping a daily gratitude journal can increase our sense of well-being, improve our sleep, help lower symptoms of physical pain, and – get this – improve our willingness to accept change.
What significant change or keystone habit will you focus on first?
Step 7. Set a SMART Goal
Here's the deal: If you want to succeed, set a SMART goal:
- Specific: Define your goal clearly.
- Measurable: Set a finish line, so you know when you've achieved your goal.
- Achievable: Make sure your goal is realistic within the set time period.
- Relevant: Set a goal that will help you change your life in the way you want most.
- Time-bound: Set a deadline to motivate yourself to achieve your goal.
For example, instead of saying, "I want to start a business," set a SMART goal like:
"I will start a dropshipping business (Specific) and land my first sale (Measurable) within one month (Time-bound and Achievable). I'm committed to this goal because I want to earn more money, empower myself, and learn something new (Relevant)."
Then, treat your smart goal like a compass. If you lose your way, keep returning to your SMART goal to stay on track and change your life.
Step 8. Prepare for the Storms
"All great changes are preceded by chaos," said the spiritual teacher and author Deepak Chopra.
To put it another way, you may get stressed and tired of trying all the time. There may be voices in your head that say things like, "you'll never change," "I'll do it later," and "what's the point anyway?" And there may be people in your life who try to influence you to stay the same.
Bottom line, there are tough times ahead.
So, if you really want to change your life for the better, prepare for the storms before they hit.
For example, you could join an online community committed to achieving the same change that you want to make, this way you can access additional support when you need it. You could also create a vision board to remind you of what you're working towards.
You can also remove things that lead to bad behaviors to stop yourself from slipping into bad habits. For instance, if you're trying to improve your diet and fitness, you could remove all unhealthy food from your home.
Although no tactic can replace your inner motivation and drive, you can help your future-self to ride out the storms until clarity and motivation return.
Step 9. Get Your Friends and Family on Board
No one does anything great alone.
When learning how to change your life for the better, don't forget that you need others' support.
What's more, you also need to manage people who actively hold you back or discourage you from changing your life. As the author John Eliot said, "As soon as anyone starts telling you to be 'realistic,' cross that person off your invitation list."
Look, many people instinctively won't like it when you start to make changes in your life – but it doesn't mean they're bad people. Remember, change is scary, uncomfortable, and unnerving.
Still, if you want to transform your life, you may need to protect yourself from people who unconsciously try to pull you back into your old self.
As a result, changing your life can often mean changing your friends.
Keep in mind this quote from the motivational coach Steve Maraboli: “If you hang out with chickens, you're going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you're going to fly.”
Whatever you do, don't forget that the people you spend time with have enormous influence over your life.
Step 10. Go the Distance
Let me be frank: If you're trying to figure out how to change your life in 30 days, you're going to struggle to make a meaningful change.
The most successful people think long-term.
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, said, "Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years." In other words, Gates isn't thinking in days, weeks, months, or even years – he's thinking in decades.
So, strap yourself in for the long-haul and be patient.
Also, focus on the process, not the results. Here's what I mean: If you want to climb Mount Everest and all you think about is summiting, you'll never make it. Forget about summiting and focus on the training, preparation, and climbing that can add up to years of work.
If you take it one step at a time – one keystone habit at a time, you’ll get there in the end.
FAQs for How to Change Your Life
How do I start changing my life?
One of the easiest ways to start changing your life is to think about and decide what you don’t want your life to become. Then, you can look into what needs to change (e.g., new job, new relationship, new eating habits) to avoid that outcome. By eliminating negative aspects, you may get closer to the life you want—even if you’re never able to define exactly what that is.
Why is it important to change your life?
Ultimately, you have the best chance of changing yourself—and getting the life you want. While it isn’t easy to change your life, making changes to aspects you control gives you the best chance to get the life you want. After all, you get only one, so you might as well put in the effort to make it the one you want.
Summary: How to Change Your Life for the Better
Learning how to change your life for the better is relatively simple. However, actually changing your life – and changing yourself – is much more challenging.
If you want to know how to change your life completely, here are 10 steps to follow:
- Decide in your heart to change your life, come hell or high water.
- Practice stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing discomfort.
- Identify the things in your life you want to change.
- Define how you want to transform your life.
- Identify every possible thing that could prevent you from changing your life.
- Choose one significant change or keystone habit to conquer.
- Set a SMART goal to help you stay on track.
- Help your future-self stick with the program by preparing for tough times.
- Get the people in your life on your side and find ways to manage difficult people.
- Think long-term, be patient, and focus on the process, not the results.
Finally, don't wait to get started – start now.
What changes in life do you want to make? Let us know in the comments below!
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