It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Life

by Henrik Edberg


Image by mattzor (license).

.“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Maria Robinson

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
Karen Lamb

I didn’t really try to improve my life very much until I was 25. Before that I mostly just moved along in the same old rut.

Since then (I’m 32 now) I have tripled my effectiveness, lost more than 30 pounds, adopted a more optimistic view of my life and raised my own self-esteem greatly. I have learned to simplify my life and to inject a lot more happiness into my days and years.

Why am telling you this? Well, the point here is not to brag. My point is that you are not stuck permanently in the life you have now. Even if it may feel that way.

It may sometimes feel like you should have started to change your life earlier, when you were a kid or in your teens or early tweenties. Or that you should have been born into those right circumstances right away as you came to this earth. It may feel like it is too late now.

You may look to your past and tell yourself: “if only had done this or that then things would have been different and better now”. That may be true but you cannot really change the past unless you got a time-machine. And reliving the past in your mind does not change today and this week and month. It just has you hooked on mental reruns that keep you in your regretfilled rut.

It isn’t too late for you to improve something in your life that you really want to change. No matter what age you are at. Over the past 5+ years I have received thousands of emails from readers of all ages – between 14 and 72 – that have told me about how they have changed their life in a positive way.

I understand that you may not be able to change your life in any way you want right now. There are real limits in most people’s lives and personal development isn’t magic that can fix just about anything quickly and easily.

But you can do what you can with what you have where you are right now. Start there.

Make a small change if that is what is possible. From that small change and success you will gain confidence and you can build upon that to make more and perhaps even bigger changes.

4 steps that will make it easier for you to get started

1. Think about what you really want to change.

Maybe you already know it. It could be your social life, your confidence, your health or money situation. Or take a few days to think about it. Take time to focus on this because if you really want something then it becomes a whole lot easier to keep going.

Or let your curiousness guide you. Ask yourself: what would I like to explore in life now? Find one or a few areas to improve or habits you would like to incorporate into your life. Write them down.

2. Choose one thing or habit to focus on for now.

If you have found several things or habits you would like to focus on then choose to focus on just one at a time. Spreading yourself too thin pretty much always leads to failure because life tends to get in the way. If you have a regular life then you’ll probably won’t have the time and energy to change three things at once even though you really hope and think you can.

If you like, choose a theme for a year and focus just on that. I have chosen themes in the past like health and social skills. Then put most of your efforts for 365 days into creating new habits and routines in just that one area.

3. Take small steps.

This is very important. The feeling that something is too big or scary or difficult is one of the most common things to hold people back from taking action at all.

On the other hand, people also tend to overestimate their own willpower. The plan sounds so good in your head but when you execute it then you can’t really take as much action or move as fast as you thought.

Focusing on just one thing at a time and doing it in small steps may feel kind of like something a child would do. I have thought that was the case – like so many other people have  in the past – and then fallen flat on my nose after a few days or weeks of trying to change too many things too quickly.

Instead, ask yourself: what is one small step I can take to move forward in this situation?

I use that question pretty much every day in some way and it has been immensely helpful over the last couple of years.

4. Ask yourself: What is one small step I can take right now to get ball rolling ?

Don’t get stuck in planning. Or thinking that you will get started tomorrow or next week. Get the ball rolling instead. Do that today by just taking one small and practical step towards what you want.



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{ 40 comments }

Radmila June 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Thank you Henrik for such awesome tips, I am to change ,y life from this minute))

Terri June 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

What a wonderful article. You are absolutely right, there is nothing in your life you can’t change if you put your mind to making it happen. Stay positive and the improvements will come (with a little work, of course).

Grady Pruitt June 29, 2012 at 8:51 am

Funny thing… I was just reading on another blog about taking things slow. I’m making a commitment now to take things one step at a time.

My small step is to start taking some action, any action, no matter how small, on a goal that I want to achieve. I’ve been struggling for a long time with procrastination and I’m working on developing an action habit.

Thanks for sharing!

naman June 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

just awesome

TPDC June 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Great post.

The sad thing is that too many people see change as daunting. However by breaking things down into simple steps it soon becomes possible.

Gruidy, you should make an personal development plan and you will get there.

Yes you can Change Your Life in 30 days. http://thepersonaldevelopmentcafe.com/change-your-life

Keep up the good work.

Ken Wert June 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Great advice, Henrik. It’s so often that initial first step that is so hard to make.

We think of a millions reasons not to take it and then look back on a life filled with missed opportunities to grow and learn and become something more and sigh.

There is so much riding on each decision we make to break free, to change our attitudes, to learn and develop and evolve. But inertia is the comfort zone for far too many of us.

Those first couple steps can change everything as momentum is created and lives start to change, perhaps imperceptibly at first, but before you know it, like you, you are able to look back and see the progress you can never see sitting on a couch with a bag of potato chips in hand doing what you’ve always done.

Wild Goddess June 30, 2012 at 12:34 am

Agreed that changes — like eating an elephant — are easiest do in small, one-at-a-time bites.

I also think it is super important to discover WHY you want to make change — when you know the underlying desire behind a change, you give yourself that much more power to actually DO what it takes and follow through to make the change.

Rock on!

Steve - Public Speaking Secrets June 30, 2012 at 1:11 am

I’m really glad you take a realistic balanced approach. I find it frustrating when people in the personal development space take a pie in the sky attitude. You admit that some things can’t be changed and there are real limits in the world, but that, within that context, we should take small steps, one at a time, to make things the best that we can.

That’s the attitude I support so thank you for promoting it.

Sof - The Unbounded Spirit July 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Thank you for this post! Just what I needed today.

Dana Lightman July 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Great tips. I particulary appreciate the strategy of taking small steps and the insight that we overestimate our willpower. I liken making a change in an area that has been a long-standing problem to trying to stop a train going at 150 mph. The momentum is too strong to just change course. Success requires slowing down the momentum. Hence, small changes that will slow down the train so you can either change course or get off.

Ali Davies July 2, 2012 at 9:50 am

Great points. So many people resist change but it is important to shift the mindset on change to see it as your friend – a friend that will help you achieve what you really want in your life.

I think a good starting point is to create your own definition of success based on your core values and use that as your compass to navigate the seas of change.

Kumar Gauraw July 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Henrik,
I enjoy your posts every time I come around. If you need to change your life, YOU need to change your life. Of course, one step at a time. It must be intentional, it must be planned. I liked the insight into the 4 steps as well.

Thank you for sharing these tips.

Regards,
Kumar

Mike July 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Yes, I agree that small steps is the way to go; Too many people who want to change a lot decide to change it ALL RIGHT NOW:

“That’s IT….NO MORE BEER OR SMOKES..I”M GOING TO LOSE 70 POUNDS AND EXERCISE EVERY DAY AND SAVE 400 DOLLARS MORE A MONTHS AND GET A DIVORCE AND START MY OWN SHOP>>>”

And of course, very little or none of that happens because they get overwhelmed and don’t how to start ONE thing let alone EVERY thing.

Naomi July 3, 2012 at 1:21 am

I love your articles. This really gave me a lot to think about and also has given me the courage to take the first small step to something bigger.
Thank You.

Marie- picture quotes July 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Very nice read and very inspirational. I especially like tip #3. It really makes change achievable. Like they say you can’t swallow an elephant whole.

Nathan Rice July 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Changing your life is treating the symptoms rather than the cause. Your life is a natural manifestation of your inner self and will. Change yourself and your life will transform itself automatically.

Most people are who they have been told to be. You are given a name, a social class, a peer group, religious beliefs (these run deep), cultural traditions, ad nauseum. Often, when we try to change or assert our independence, we merely end up trading one set of instructions for another.

You have the freedom to be whoever you want. If you can imagine a person who is truly happy and lives a heroic life, you have the ability to become him or her. All that you need to do is realize that you are not your past; you are not who other people think you are; you are responsible, and you have the power to change. Stop trying to escape blame. You don’t need to feel bad because you aren’t what other people want you to be.

Sally July 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for valuable tips on how to get “unstuck.”
As long as there is an easy, practical way to move forward there is always hope.
Sally Marks
http://www.erasenegativity.blogspot.com

Shawn July 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I agree completely. I am going on thirty eight , have two teenagers and I am reinventing myself. I like how you simplify the steps and make not so insurmountable! Thanks so much for sharing!
Shawn
itsashawnthing.com

savleena narula July 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Thanx a lot for writing such an inspirational article.very well explained and motivating to start doing something for yourself from this moment onwards.Very Impressive.thanx savleena

Di July 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

Thanks for a nice post Henrik. I like the quote of the yoga guru Bikram Choudury: “It is never too late, you are never too old, never too sick or never too fat, to start from scratch again.” :)
I am 32 and recently started on improving my life. I’ve tried before, but this is the first time I can actually feel and see the progress. It is wonderful to be able to read inspiring blogs like yours. Med venlig hilsen, Di.

Mike July 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm

This is a good way to get started, and I think it is essential that people do everything they can to assure that they go all the way through number 4. It is far too easy to get stuck in the planning phase when we are contemplating change. Before you know it, you’ve spent months or years just planning how much better you are going to be. Promise yourself that you will take at LEAST one small action per day toward your goal of changing.

Seth Cohen July 6, 2012 at 1:11 am

Great post Henrik:
It really never is to late to change your life no matter what stage of life you are in. I use the 25 Rules of Action to help me with any struggles http://sethdcohen.com/2012/07/02/the-25-rules-of-action/
-SDC

Rudolph July 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Thank you so much Henrik and many of you:) I’ve been feeling miserable about myself, my life and how come I couldn’t change myself…! Just like what Mike said above, I am exactly like that, there are too many things that I wanna do, to change! I thought I did, for the past 10 years, but none of them turned out to be successful! And I have a feeling that I am drowning deeper and deeper in quicksand, at first I thought I could escape 10 years ago, but 10 years later, I am still the same, no…worse! It gets to a point where I have come to believe that I have lost the ability to do that…stick to a routine, make a change, so that I could become who I want to be, or at least not what I used to be!

But today, when I was just browsing around on the net hoping to find new insight, I found this article. Thank you Henrik for putting the action in such simple steps and thank you Mike for listing such a concrete example which hits me right on my head. Now, my challenge will be, from the zillion things that I want to do(and having been doing), or things that I want to change in my life, I have to find the very one thing that I need to focus on this year, starting today!

Tommy July 7, 2012 at 3:52 am

I’ve certainly been guilty of being in a “regretful rut”. At times, I can’t help but fantasize about the present me going back and talking to a 13 year old me. My teenage years would’ve beens much different! Ahhhh, I can dream can’t I???
But yeah, it does no good to wonder “what if”, or “if I could go back”. I try my best to focus on the present and how I can continue to change for the better. I started studying positive thinking 9 years ago at the age of 22 and it completely turned my life around. I take what I’ve learned both good and bad and pass it along to my nephews and other adolescents that could use some guidance.

Olli July 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Yep, great as usual, I like Karen Lamb -quote. And taking small steps every single day, that’s really proven to be the most important thing for me these days! I’m also here to show people my new website where I’m collecting people’s dreams ;) Go check it out, it’s cool! The link:

postourdreams.blogspot.com
Share your dream. Live your dream

Remez Sasson July 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm

It is never too late to make any changes, and at any age. Most people are afraid of big changes, so it would be a good idea to make gradual changes. This would be easier, and there will be less resistance from your subconscious mind, and from people close to you.

Making big changes might be inconvenient at first, but you can quickly adjust to the new situation. I know this, because I made such changes. I left my job, which I had for many years, to do something completely different, and also moved with my family to a new town.

Making changes on the personal level are no less important, than making external changes. Developing willpower, concentration, kindness and forgiveness, learning meditation and becoming peaceful are all possible, at any time or age. It would be foolish to wait for “the best time”, or “appropriate circumstances”.

The four steps you suggested, Henrik, are practical and useful steps.

Pierre July 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for the article. I just feeling so stuck due to the lack of social life. Well it sounds overcomeable for must, but I just can´t make it connect with people leading to a relationship. Pretty alone all free days. I have no problem talking to people in my department and so, listen to people and take attention. But I´ve realized that I lack “social stamina”, persistent to contact people after being “denied” to socialize with them when proposing something. I´m quite radical in a sense, very entusiastic when I arrived and took initiative but no I do not, thesis is taking more time, no much money left for social expenses, but the most serious is that my dairy life reminded as the one at home. Im not alone because Im in a new country, its because I lack essential social skills to have social life on my spare time. You can never escape from yourself, and all this issue has more or less been 8 years back. I really detest myself so being so useless in such essential part of life, hate that. Thanks again for the article

Pierre July 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

And yeah, I dont blame anyone for this, I know its my responsability to make things happen. It so natural for other people just to have social life they dont even need to think about, I get so mad in mind that I cant. I have that belief because it has been like this almost a decade, or maybe I just have wrong concept of what socializing is and what friendship is. I know I´m paralized when taking initiative right know…

John Smith July 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Great article! Also this is a great blog with many usefull information. What you told in article about life is so true… you did a god job.Thanks.

Cameron July 9, 2012 at 6:47 am

Nice post.

We humans have this tendency to forget that time is incremental and that our existence happens over seconds, minutes, days and years. We get way to caught up in the now.
Small steps over small periods of time lead to large steps over large periods of time. It’s elementary really!

Perfection is the accumulation of small things done right.

ravinder July 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm

its good

Tathata July 10, 2012 at 7:19 am

A lovely post, thank you!
I’ve always struggled with forming new habits, and over the years
I’ve found that above all, the key is awareness of what you want to change/do.

To this day, I have not been able to set a stable habit towards anything that I want to change for myself. Exercise, think positively, meditate…these are all things I’ve been wanting to put into my life more… keyword PUT INTO my life more.

I realized I don’t need to have a HABIT in order to start doing something more often.

Through awareness, what I have been able to do is just remind myself periodically of what I aim for. Then, in that moment, I do it, right then and there. And then I forget about it. No schedule, no promises… nothing like that.
Slowly but surely, these things are making their way more often into my life.

I’m really loving it….

Graham Dragon July 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Very good advice. Perhaps also readers should be aware that most of us who plan to change end up overestimating what we can do in the short term and usually massively underestimating what is possible in the long term. Begin any such task the way you would eat an elephant – in bite sized chunks! And do not be disheartened if you do not reach an initial targets by some probably random deadline you set yourself.

angel July 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

sir,
I try to change my self positive..but when ever i get decided to act positive something negative happens to me i try maximunn to stop bothering abt it and continue bt still i dont get any positive incidents happening to me.so i have developed a fear that happiness doesn’t stay with me for long tym.usually we i feel dat today my day is good am happy immediately i have a bad incident following me.i try to be strong but situation push me back.because of this fear am not able enjoy any happy moment or especially with share my happiness wid others fearing that i may loose it. can u post perfect sol for overcoming this stupid fear.

LesserEvil Life July 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

We completely agree with the idea of taking small steps make those big changes in life. Reaching “big picture” goals is daunting, but breaking them up into smaller, more attainable tasks makes it a lot easier! We read an article by nurse Bronnie Ware, who spent time with many dying patients who were filled with “if only…” thoughts, things they just didn’t get around to doing. We added our own take here:
http://lesserevillife.com/what-the-dying-can-teach-us-about-living/

Kelsey @ Self Storage Investing July 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I try to make daily goals that will help me accomplish my one big goal!

Vishnu July 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

Thanks a lot for the article Henrick, and to all commenters – both the article and comments were inspiring . I particularly liked ‘keep the ball rolling’ thing , it was kinda new but innovative and sounds wonderful . I’m so excited to change my life … Thanks a lot again and best wishes :)

Ali July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm

it is really hard for some people to change though, I found this post really helpful, hope it helps all the ones who need a change in their life. pranaworld.net

Nikhil R. Jain July 29, 2012 at 8:40 am

Guys! We need to change our attitude towards life and things will start becoming simpler. check out this link.
http://asknrj.com/life-or-death-who-is-the-mightier/

Gary Shane August 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Good tips. Good Post
Thanks

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