Small changes, consistently made over time, make the biggest difference in your life.
There is almost nothing that you can’t be, do, or have if you’re willing to be patient and to do the little things, every day, that will eventually compound.
When it comes to changing your life, it helps to remember something that my boxing coach once told me:
“Bad things happen quickly. Good things tend to take a while.”
Every “overnight success” story is usually the result of years of dedicated, deliberate, incremental effort. Any significant, enduring, impactful life change is the result of tiny decisions that a person makes every day to set themselves up for success in the long run.
In this article, I give you the most important things to do to change your life.
I know these changes work because I’ve used them to stop drinking, quit porn, get in shape, compete in professional sports, get a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, and make a semi-passive 6-figure, location independent income.
We overestimate what we can do in the short term, and underestimate what we can do in the long term.
— Arthur C. Clarke
If you want your life to look completely different in 2 years, the following habits and decisions will have a powerful compounding effect. The changes will be hardly noticeable at first, but then one day you’ll look around and your dreams will have become a reality.
1. Decide You Want Better
I’ve never met anyone who wants to change their life that hasn’t. All it takes is a decision.
If they haven’t made it, they don’t really want it.
First of all, you have to realize one thing:
A goal without a plan is just a dream. It’s not a way to change your life.
This doesn’t mean these people don’t desire the benefits of a changed life. Everyone wants more of the good and less of the bad. The desire for a fine life is as common as the need for water.
Lives aren’t changed by wishes alone.
A vivid imagination married to a wicked will is the only way to mold reality into whatever you desire it to be. But before willpower and imagination comes the decision: are you tired of the way things are now? If so, are you committed to doing something to make sure that next year this time, things are different?
This is the most important part of making change.
The only thing the decision requires is a relinquishment of the old ways. From now on, you do things a new way which will bring you closer to your desires.
2. Learn To Suffer
The problem with modern life is that it’s too easy. Poor people in developing nations live better than royalty in the Victorian era.
Our food is plentiful, our water is potable, our homes are climate controlled, and we live in the safest time period in history. There is no demand for you to be strong, smart, or capable. If you aren’t, life won’t be optimal, but you won’t end up in the homeless shelter.
This ease of life has made people allergic to the idea of being uncomfortable.
Why bother getting in shape when 70% of the population is overweight? Why make more money when Ramen noodles are $1 for a 4 pack and Netflix is $9.99 a month? Why improve yourself for better dating prospects when there is the low hanging fruit of Tinder and Pornhub?
However, if you want to improve your position in life, then you have to embrace doing the hard things.
People will exert more energy avoiding hard work that will make them better than the actual work demands. Modernity has made us so averse to discomfort. We’d rather work hard to avoid hard work than use that same energy to face the challenge and make our lives more comfortable.
If you can learn to suffer a little more than the average person, you can have a lot more than the average life. Things of value tend to be difficult to attain, and things that are difficult to attain–almost by definition–require suffering.
3. Use Your Imagination
Your imagination is a powerful tool to change your life.
Before you can do better, you have to imagine what better looks like. Even if you can’t imagine what a better life looks like, you know what your terrible situation currently feels like. You don’t need to see exactly where you’ll be, but you can imagine any number of lives different than the one you currently have.
The vision doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be realistic. It just needs to get you to see your physical surroundings in a slightly different light.
This is the part people get caught up on because they have no imagination. When you lack imagination, you’re forced to accept your surroundings as they appear.
I’m not saying that you have to believe that you’ll be in a better place. You just have to see it. Allow yourself to dream a little.
Don’t worry about whether it will come true or not. We often don’t let ourselves think about how much better it can be because we don’t want to suffer disappointment if things don’t pan out.
What I’m suggesting is different.
I’m telling you to enjoy dreaming. You only get disappointed if you have an exact idea of how things should be and it doesn’t happen that way.
You’re only going to imagine that feeling you have taking more control and being in a better place. This will condition you to make decisions that make it more likely that you’ll experience that feeling you imagined. Making enough of these little changes that get you constantly feeling better about your life is how the world will eventually reflect your thoughts.
4. Become Proactive
You can’t change your life if you’re constantly reacting to avoidable problems.
Things happen and many of them are beyond your control. This doesn’t mean that you have to be (too) negatively affected when they do.
I remember when I got an $800 dollar boot on my car.
If I had only paid my parking tickets, I wouldn’t have had any issues. The individual parking tickets were only $30-$60. Of course, if I had only paid the parking meter, I wouldn’t have had those tickets to miss in the first place.
This was an avoidable problem.
Saving extra money instead of wasting it on things that are bad for your health is another way to be proactive.
Just because you can’t tell the future doesn’t mean you have to be blindsided by it. It is so difficult to get ahead in life if you’re always being dragged back by things you failed to take care of when first presented with the opportunity to do so.
Get in front of problems before they become bigger ones, and watch how easy the changes in your life start to manifest.
5. Become Likeable
As much as we enjoy the myth of the self-made person, no one ever does it alone. It doesn’t matter how big or small the change is, you’ll need help.
Remember: no one is obliged to help you. People’s lives are already busy enough.
They have their own problems and issues to deal with. You need to give people a good reason to help you. At the very least, you need to communicate in such a way that you don’t piss people off and make them want to be rid of you.
This means you’ll have to get control of how you express yourself.
What will make a big difference in your life is your ability to control your temper and non-verbal cues. If people have said that you look annoyed, you roll your eyes, or you raise your voice when dealing with normal people, you’re probably poor.
You’ll likely stay that way because when people tell you that you do that, you tell them you don’t. Because you know it all, deserve to be talked like your special, and it would be uncomfortable to change and become an effective communicator.
6. Stop Thinking You Deserve Anything
Poor people love to tell you about how they “deserve” better.
Instead of working for it, they’d rather finance it or pay for it with credit.
Of course, every creditor knows this and extends lines of credit to people who shouldn’t have it. I watched my cousin get a car he couldn’t afford on 2 separate occasions because of these “everyone is approved” type places.
I’m not saying it’s the car dealer’s fault for loaning to people who can’t afford it–it is just business, after all. I’m saying that the world does nothing to disincentivize stupidity, and a lot of people stay poor because of their stupidity. Of course, he defaulted on the loan and got the car repossessed both times.
There’s nothing wrong with believing you deserve nice things. The problem is when you refuse to do the work to acquire them and take shortcuts to their acquisition.
This keeps you poor because not only does this never work, you don’t learn any skills to actually get anything. You just sulk, get jealous, live beyond your means or worse, commit a crime to acquire what you think you deserve.
If you feel like you deserve to “live your best life”, then start working towards that life today and every day forward.
When you start working instead of thinking you deserve something, only then is it possible for you to make changes in your life.
Physics teaches that time and space are inexorably linked.
Most people think when they make a decision, it will instantly manifest. When it doesn’t happen quickly, they give up and revert back to their old self.
The irony of impatience is that it guarantees you’ll wait forever to get what you want.
7. Face Your Fears
Everyone is afraid of something. That’s part of being human.
The problem is when you let these fears keep you from doing things that will change your life for the better. It’s tragic when the only reason you don’t take action is because you fear what people will think. This happens because it’s comfortable to know exactly what everyone thinks of you and you don’t want to change where you are, for better or worse.
The most life-changing experiences will happen when you get out of your comfort zone. It’s only when you face your fears that you can overcome the roadblocks on your path to personal growth.
I remember one of the reasons I delayed getting sober was fear. I didn’t want people to think of me as a guy who couldn’t control his drinking. It was only when I wanted to improve my life more than I wanted to look like I had control that I was able to stop drinking and make big changes to my life.
8. Always Take Action
Before anything can change in your life, you have to take action. You can’t exist in a passive state and just expect the world to make things just happen for you. You will have to push the issue.
The universe rallies behind those who commit to a path of action. When you make the decision to change your life, the universe recognizes this.
You will discover opportunities and talents you weren’t aware of. This sounds esoteric, but I have observed this too many times to doubt it.
All it takes is a little action that moves you in the direction of your goals. The change happens first in your mind. Then your actions will then reflect the change. Eventually, your surroundings will bear little resemblance to anything you’ve ever known.
9. Trouble Is The Only Guarantee
If you need a guarantee before you do every little thing, you’re gonna get smoked by people not afraid of risk.
You have to become comfortable with the unknown. At the very least, you need to tolerate the idea that you won’t always have the correct answer. Despite your best efforts, you’ll be wrong and make mistakes. Even if you’re right, sometimes life simply is not fair and you still come up on the wrong side of things.
That’s ok. These things are meant to weed people out who aren’t serious about being and living better. Even the failures and let downs you experience along the way can teach you something that could only be learned the hard way.
I suppose this means that there is one guarantee: shit will happen. This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll learn from it. This doesn’t guarantee that even if you do learn from it, that it won’t happen again.
However, if you do everything in this article, it will be easier to bounce back and change your life, no matter what this life throws at it.
10. Learn To Be Patient
My boxing coach used to always tell me, “Bad things happen quickly. Good things tend to take a while.”
Just because you make the changes now doesn’t mean that you’ll see the results instantly. This is why it’s important to focus on the process–not the outcome–when it comes to making changes in your life.
No one instantly becomes a master of any domain. You don’t even start out as a beginner.
When you make changes that are designed to improve your life, you start out as a novice, These are new habits and new choices that are designed to put you into a new place.
Because they are new, not only will you have to get used to them, it will take some time for the results to manifest. The growth starts small at first, but it compounds and you’re able to make bigger strides in smaller amounts of time.
But you have to be patient.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day but Hiroshima was wiped out overnight.
When You Change Your Life
People will say you’ve changed. You may no longer have anything in common with your past.
That’s ok because you made the decision. The decision to change your life. A decision most will never make.