“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
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.