Skip to content

Weekly dose of self-improvement

Sign up
change your perspective

How to get your life together: 10 Practical steps to organize, improve, and transform your life

Learn how to get your life together with actionable tips and strategies to help you organize, improve, and transform your yourself.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

I used to be a sad human being.

I was an alcoholic working at T-Mobile with zero prospects and nothing promising going on in my life. My physical health was bad and, even though I was in denial about this, my mental health was no good either.

I was a fucking loser.

Had I continued on the same path, I’d probably be dead or in jail by now. But I’m not.

Today, I’m sober, retired professional boxer, a military veteran, a college graduate, and an author. I’m in a relationship that brings me happiness, and I make multiple six figures from my writing and speaking.

What does it mean to have your life together?

You want to be healthy, happy, and have enough money to not worry about bills and emergencies. Basically, your life is together when all areas of your life are stable. I know what works and what doesn’t to get here.

It’s easy to browse through endless posts about changing your life and getting your shit in order, but unless you take action on what really matters you’re not going to get the results you want.

If you’re ready to experience real personal growth and change your life, then follow these 10 simple steps to get your life in order.

1) Be honest with yourself

The first step in getting your life together is also the most painful:

You have to admit your life is fucked up.

We all want to believe that we have things under control and that we’re just going through a temporary rough patch.

It’s not a rough patch. It’s the wrong road entirely. If you don’t get off this road, the hard times will continue and get even worse.

You know that your life is fucked up when you repeatedly find yourself in the same stupid-ass situations.

The first time, you’re just unlucky.

The second time, you’re stupid for not learning your lesson the first time.

The third time, that’s when you realize you need to address the underlying issues.

When I kept getting “surprised” by bills and needed to borrow money, I thought I was just unlucky.

When I kept getting into stupid drunken fights, I thought people were just too sensitive.

To outsiders, it was obvious that I had some serious problems that I needed to take care of. This is equally obvious to me looking back now. But for the longest time, I refused to admit it to myself.

That’s why I wasn’t making any progress in life:

Before I could fix myself, I had to admit to myself that I had a problem in the first place.

No one likes thinking they’re in the wrong, but in order to make real change, you’re going to have to break yourself down before you can rebuild yourself into someone stronger.

**Actionable small step #1: Write down the 3-5 areas in your life where you have 80% of your issues. **

Is it your lack of punctuality or discipline? Poor sleep schedule or diet? Get brutally honest with yourself, and even take a few minutes to reflect on this if you can’t think of anything right away. If you don’t know what your problems are, then there’s no way to solve them.

2) Grow up and take responsibility

You are responsible for your life.

It doesn’t matter where you were born, what your parents did, your race, gender, or how much of a dick your teacher was.

You must look in the mirror and accept that you are where you are in life because of what you’ve done.

Every action, choice, misstep, and failed project has led you to this exact point in your life.

If you really want to get your life back together you have to stop making excuses. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re unlucky or were dealt a bad hand in life.

You have to step up and take responsibility for your own life. Personal development and growth are impossible if you don’t.

I spent a lot of time holding on to negative thoughts about my mom for having me and my sister when she was poor and living in the projects. I felt like this set me back in life. I blamed my problems on my mother’s life decisions and growing up poor in a shitty neighborhood.

While growing up that way didn’t help, it didn’t rob me of my ability to make decisions. Blaming my problems on my childhood didn’t make my adulthood any better.

It only served as a crutch to keep me from doing the hard work of becoming respectable, productive, and creating a life to be proud of.

Personal responsibility is hard, and it takes practice, but you can’t take control of your life unless you claim full ownership of it. Take inventory of your problems and failures. See how you made choices that allowed each of them to happen. And then start working towards a stronger mindset that allows you to thrive.

**Action small step #2: Ask yourself are you making any excuses in your life and pinning your problems on them instead of taking responsibility? **

A bad upbringing, unfortunate mistakes, business failures? Write them down, get them into the open, and allow yourself to bear the full weight of your actions.

It doesn’t matter if they weren’t your fault. They’re your responsibility.

The mental and physical price you’re paying by holding onto these negative things are only serving to destroy and will tear apart anything you try to build in the future unless you can truly accept ownership of them.

3) Let go of small thinking

For most of my twenties, I didn’t mind living the lifestyle of a drunkard service employee making just above minimum wage as long as I had enough money for the bar and occasionally catching a movie or eating out.

I defended my shitty lifestyle by telling myself I didn’t really want anything better.

While I was glad that I had enough food to eat every day, and a comfortable home outside the ghetto, the truth was that I wanted more out of life.

I wanted to be more than some guy whose greatest achievement in life was “not living in the ghetto”.

A lot of people are afraid to want more out of their lives because they fear they’ll be let down. Don’t fall into this trap.

The truth is, our lives can only become as great as we believe they can. If you think you’re always destined for failure, to wind up in the same mess time and time again, then that’s what’s going to happen.

If you genuinely believe you’re destined for success, and that you have an abundant life where you wake up happy and energetic every day—you will.

Once you decide to be better, nothing can stop you. It may take longer than you want, but once you commit to improving your lot in life, the result is a foregone conclusion—you will get your life together.

Action small step #3: Figure out the kind of lifestyle you really want, and what you need to do to get there.

How much money do you want to make? What kind of hobbies do you do? How many friends do you have? What do you do when you wake up in the morning? What are your long-term goals? Get specific.

You need to create a vision of your perfect life that’s so strong and vivid that you can practically reach out and touch it.

4) Seek out tough love

People say they want to change things. What they really mean is they want things to change.

No one wants to change themselves, they just want things to be different without effort.

But life doesn’t work this way. Your habits and mindset have to change before your environment follows suit.

If you want to get your life together, you must prove to yourself that you really want to change.

The first test of your commitment is obtaining perspective from an outside party. You don’t need a full-fledged life coach, but you need someone to keep it real with you. [Here’s a site that can help you find someone to keep it real with you.]

Self-awareness is important, but introspection will only get you halfway.

Others are much better at judging us truthfully, and in self-improvement, the truth really will set you free. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s necessary.

You’ve admitted to yourself you have a problem. Now it’s time to prove that you’re serious about fixing it.

Action small step #4: Ask your close friends and your most bitter enemies to give you their opinion of your life and what you should do to fix it.

Some people have already said it to your face. Others have kept their mouths shut for various reasons.

You need to invite them to criticize you. You may even have to give extra reassurance to your friends that you can handle their honesty. If you want to change for the better, it is crucial that you get their feedback.

Being willing to face constructive criticism you hate is the most effective form of self-love there is.

5) Improve your grooming and fix your appearance

Regardless of what’s wrong with your life, you must always look like you give a damn.

You have to get in shape, fix your personal hygiene and grooming, and dress well. There are two reasons why this is so important:

  • Firstly, taking care of your appearance requires discipline. Dressing well, eating healthy, and working out are habits of discipline. For many people, improving their personal appearance is the first act of self-discipline they’ve performed.
  • Secondly, it’s a quick win. Compared to the other changes you’ll have to make, your efforts will have visible effects very soon. You will immediately get positive feedback from your surroundings in terms of compliments and positive attention.

Improving your grooming and fashion is instant. The changes in your weight and body shape will be evident within a couple of weeks. The quick wins keep you going as a self-sustaining source of motivation.

You will witness, first-hand, that it’s possible to change something about your own reality. You have the power to change your emotional state almost overnight, and all it takes is a few small actions.

Actionable small step #5: Figure out what you want to wear, and come up with a few quick wins you can carry out this week.

Remember that ideal person we crafted up earlier? Let’s take it a step further: What kind of clothes do you wear? What are your grooming habits like?

If your hair isn’t the way you want, or you’ve been putting off getting it cut, book an appointment or go to a barber and get it sorted.

If you’re not empowered by the clothes you wear every day, how can you change that? Do you simply need to organize your closet? Or do you need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe? Figure it out, and get it fixed.

Lastly, what about your body? Do you have the ideal physique you want? If not, what can you do to change that? Chances are you already know the answer, but if you’re serious about getting your life back together, you need to get serious about your health & fitness.

Little things like ironing, well-fitted clothing, losing extra weight, or putting on a little more muscle can have a big change on how people perceive. This, in turn, has a tremendous effect on the opportunities that you receive.

6) Eliminate the negatives

Before you can fill a bucket with water, you have to fix the holes.

Your bad habits, faulty mindset, and degenerate environment. That’s what’s holding you back. If you don’t change these, you will never get ahead.

No matter what you do or how much progress you appear to make, you’ll always fail when one of these things catches up to you.

This is the same reason that many lottery winners go broke. The lump-sum gets them ahead, but they still have the same habits, mindset, and environment.

If you want to fix your life, you’ll need to correct deficiencies in these areas. If you aren’t sure where your holes are, use the feedback you get from friends coupled with the ideal life you’ve imagined for yourself.

While I don’t believe you can move away from your problems, many of your bad habits are triggered by the people and places you spend the most time around.

There is no easy “life hack” to avoid this. You must simply distance yourself from the negative environment and toxic people who bring out and reinforce the worst in you.

Actionable small step #6: Carry out an audit of your current environment, relationships, and bad habits.

Is there anything about where you are right now that’s holding you back? You need to take an objective view of your life right now, write down everything you can think of, and start cutting away anything that’s bringing you down.

Your environment could be the city you live in, or it could be your constantly messy bedroom. I know my mental state is noticeably worse if I leave dirty plates out, clothes on the floor, and I don’t keep my place looking clean and tidy.

Your relationships might be your family or loved ones, or it could be your colleagues. You’re an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so it’s important to spend time with the right people.

Finally, think about the habits you carry out every single day. When you wake up in the morning do you automatically start to get things done? Or do you get on your phone and scroll through social media? Our daily habits shape our lives, and replacing the bad with the good is a crucial step in getting your life back on track.

7) Develop a monetizable skill

At the end of the workday, I was exhausted, frustrated, and didn’t feel like I had enough time to pursue any personal development or self-improvement. I felt trapped, and this sapped my motivation in all things.

This feeling of hopelessness is what ultimately drove me to enlist in the military and start developing skills to make myself more valuable.

If boxing didn’t work out, I didn’t want to be stuck working as a customer service rep for the rest of my life.

If you want to improve your life, you need to prioritize developing a skill.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, elaborate, or rare. It could entail working on a side business or learning a trade. The specifics don’t matter, so long as you’re learning something people are willing to pay money for.

Not only will you earn more cash, but you’ll also boost your self-esteem.

You’ll finally develop the unique confidence that stems from knowing you will always be able to put food on the table and pay your bills.

Action small step #7: Come up with a plan for building a skill set and making some extra money.

8) Learn from your past

One of the things that set us apart from other animals is that not only can we learn from our own past, we can also learn from others’ pasts.

You’re equipped with the most sophisticated learning mechanism in the world and yet, you keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result each time.

Start learning from your mistakes. No one gets it right the first time. No one expects you to get it completely right the second or third time either.

However, each iteration should be a dramatic improvement over the previous effort.

Part of the learning process is self-reflection and analysis. You must be able to break down and dispassionately explain to yourself where you went wrong and what mistakes you made.

Additionally, you need outside input. This is why I stressed the importance of tough love earlier in this post: other people will have valuable insight and advice for you and you need to be able to absorb it.

Make sure you treat all things in your life this way.

You should be constantly learning from your past—both from your successes and failures. If you make the same mistake twice, you didn’t learn your lesson the first time.

Actionable small step #8: Figure out where you keep making the same mistakes and write them down.

Perhaps it’s always the same bad habits that cause a snowball effect, or maybe you keep doing things you know you shouldn’t like playing video games or drinking booze.

Now, do any of these things have a common thread? Usually, our biggest mistakes come from a series of small mistakes we make every day, they just pile up over time until eventually the dam bursts, and you end up reading another article on how to get your life together.

Once you know what they are, you can make sure you don’t let yourself fall down the rabbit hole of bad mistakes in the future.

9) Have specific goals

Aiming to accomplish something specific forces you to confront whatever is holding you back. Trying to achieve a specific goal also galvanizes your actions and mindset toward a particular task.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. It forces you to be disciplined. You’ll have to consider how each thing you do—or don’t do—will help you get closer to your goal. The mere act of pursuing a clear goal forces you to be proactive rather than reactive.
  2. It replaces the bad habits which ruined your life. By taking deliberate constructive action, you make it difficult to behave self-destructively.

Every time you work out, save money, or hone your skills, you’re spending time that would otherwise have been wasted eating junk food, blowing your money on bullshit, or drinking the night away.

Even if you don’t reach it, merely pursuing a goal keeps you from doing shit that will ruin your life.

Actionable small step #9: Come up with both long-term and short-term goals.

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of where you want to be in your life, what you want to be doing, and how you need to get there. Now it’s time to put it all together.

Spend some time setting goals for your finances, health, relationships, and skills. Make them as specific as you can, and work on a 6-month, 12-month, and 3-year timeline.

You need to make it as easy to follow as possible so that you know exactly what you need to do every single day.

10) Be driven by fear

Many of us live in fear of what will happen if we fail in our efforts. We fear others will ridicule us, we fear we will feel silly, and we fear we will end up even worse than our current position.

This can be paralyzing.

Maintaining the status quo feels safer and more predictable to our monkey brains. But we ignore something important:

If you don’t change, the best-case scenario is that you’ll grow old and die as the exact same person you are today.

The more likely scenario is that your bad habits will continue to escalate, making your life worse as time marches on.

If you’re doing the same things at 33 that you were at 23, you’re a failure.

Do you want to suddenly wake up when you’re 60 or 70, only to discover that you’ve wasted your life away?

To me, that’s a terrifying prospect.

Fear is a far more powerful motivator than the desire for change. Each day that passes without change leads you further away from the good life. Each day your bad habits gain more momentum, making them more difficult to change.

The sooner you get started on the hard work of fixing your life, the easier it will be.

Actionable small step: Start putting the work in today, and take control of your life once and for all.

Learn more about overcoming fear by reading my guide here.

Summary of the 10 small steps to get your life together in 2022

  1. Be honest with yourself
  2. Grow up and take responsibility
  3. Use sheer will to make your life better
  4. Seek out tough love
  5. Clean up and fix your appearance
  6. Eliminate the negatives
  7. Develop a monetizable skill
  8. Learn from your past
  9. Have specific goals
  10. Let the right kind of fear drive you

Now what should you do to get your life together?

These are the steps required to fix your life, whether you’re in deep shit or you’re just generally dissatisfied with your position in life. They’re the steps I took to go from an alcoholic loser with no prospects to a truly productive member of society with a fulfilling life.

You have the roadmap. Will you take action or will you choose to remain a loser? It’s up to you.

Good luck and talk soon.

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

Follow me on Twitter.