Small changes, consistently made over time, make the most significant difference in your life.
You can be, do, or have almost anything if you set goals, are patient, and do the little things every day that will eventually compound.
Small steps, taken every day, is the best way to change your life and achieve your goals. Successful people understand this. My boxing coach once told me:
“Bad things happen quickly. Good things tend to take a while.”
Every “overnight success” story–whether in entrepreneurship, arts, athletics, or otherwise–is usually the result of years of dedicated, deliberate, incremental activity. The vast majority of people never achieve successful outcomes because they don’t understand this.
Any significant, enduring, impactful life change result from tiny decisions that a person makes every day to set themselves up for success in the long run.
In this article, you’ll learn the principles to practice to change any aspect of your life from garbage to great.
I know these principles work to make almost anything achievable because I’ve used them to:
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 performed every day will significantly impact your life. The changes will be hardly noticeable at first, but then one day you’ll look around, and your dreams will have become a reality.
Decide that you want your life to be 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 great 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 creativity come 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. This is the crux of all self-improvement advice. Deciding to be better and then figuring out things along the way to make it so. But it all starts with that decision.
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.
Learn how 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 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.
The ease of life we have today has made people allergic to the idea of being uncomfortable.
Why take up exercise to get in shape when 70% of the population is overweight? Why learn more to get paid more when Ramen noodles are $1 for a 4 pack and Netflix is $9.99 a month? Why improve your life for better dating prospects when there is the low-hanging fruit of Tinder and Pornhub?
Why build a good habit when bad habits are not only accepted but celebrated. However, if you want to improve your position in life, you have to embrace doing the hard things. The only way you’ll become the best version of yourself is by going through some of the worst things that life has to offer.
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.
Use your imagination to visualize a successful life
Your imagination is a powerful tool to change your life. It just needs exercise.
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. You don’t need the best visualization of the future. 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.
Make visualizing about the future a regular habit.
Don’t worry about whether it will come true or not. We often don’t 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.
This is why writing down your goals works so well. By writing down your goals for your life, you make what you’re imagining into something physical that you can manipulate, thus making it much more likely to come true.
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 positive 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.
Avoid avoidable problems
You can’t have a great life if you’re constantly reacting to avoidable problems.
I remember when I got an $800 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 is an example of what not to do. This was an avoidable problem that I wasn’t doing my best to avoid.
Saving extra money instead of wasting it on bad things for your health is one of the best ways 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.
Be more likable
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. To have the best chance at getting help, 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 make enemies.
This means you’ll have to get control of how you express yourself. You’ll have to make sure that any questions you ask and any answers give are with a confident, relaxed, non-agitated tone of voice.
You don’t have to be a ball of constant positivity, but your well-being and success will depend on whether people like you or not.
It wasn’t your reply that caused the problem. It was the tone of voice that you gave your reply in. This is a common problem with people who aren’t making progress in their life. They simply aren’t aware of how their communication is being received.
As a family friend used to tell me, “It’s not what you said, but how you said it.”
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 you’re special, and it would be uncomfortable to change and become an effective communicator.
Exercise a small level of self-awareness and watch how much easier it becomes to achieve whatever goal that requires working with others.
Lose the entitlement
Poor people love to tell you about how they “deserve” best.
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. For example, 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 the best. The problem is when you refuse to do the work to acquire the best things and take shortcuts to their acquisition.
This keeps you poor because not only does this never work, you don’t learn any skills to 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 to their old self.
The irony of impatience is that it guarantees you’ll wait forever to get what you want. Success is paid for by hard work and patience, Not through wishes and demands.
Face your fears
I don’t care what you say;
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. While fear breeds negative thoughts, you aren’t forced to stop making progress because of them.
It’s tragic when the only reason you don’t take action is that 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.
You’ll achieve the most personal growth 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 could stop drinking and make big changes to my life.
Your best life is found by getting past what you fear.
Always take action
Before anything can change in your life, you have to take action. You can’t exist in a passive state and 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 great action. Each day you do something is one less day until you achieve your goal. When you decide to change your own 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.
This is why procrastination is such a bad habit. When you procrastinate, you’re putting off the one thing that will actually make a difference in your life: doing something. Even if you make a mistake or act hastily, this is better than sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do things for you.
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.
You don’t need to make the best moves. You just need to make some moves to reach your goal.
Prepare for it to be difficult
If you need a guarantee before you do every little thing, you’re going to 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 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. If you lack a clear vision and commitment to your goals, these failures will get you down.
However, if you have a clear vision, something different happens. Even the failures and letdowns you experience along the way can teach you something that could only be learned the hard way.
The only guarantee is that shit will happen. This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll learn from it. This doesn’t guarantee that it won’t happen again, even if you do learn from it.
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. Remember:
The goal is not to have an easy life, but a meaningful one.
And meaning typically flows from overcoming difficult challenges.
“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 making changes in your life.
No one instantly becomes a master of any domain. You don’t even start as a beginner.
When you make change designed to improve your life, you start as a novice. These are new habits and new skills that take the place of the bad habits and get your life out of a rut. This leads to more positive changes and better choices that will put you in a new place.
You may never be the best, but you’ll be better than you would have been had you done nothing at all.
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. Whatever amount of time it takes to change your life is the amount of time it takes.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Hiroshima was wiped out overnight.
A recap of the 10 steps to change your life in 10 months:
- Decide that you want better
- Learn how to suffer
- Use your imagination to see a better life
- Make change happen in your life
- Make people like you
- Stop thinking that you deserve anything
- Face your fears
- Always take action
- Prepare for it to be difficult
- Have patience
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good!
Now that you know the best way to change your life, something interesting will start to happen. People will say you’ve changed, but the new you has nothing in common with your old surroundings.
That’s ok because you made the decision. The decision to change your life. The decision to achieve your goals. A decision most will never make.