So, you want to change your life but don’t know where to start? What if I told you that of all the things you can learn today, this week, month, or year, there is one thing, that if you master it (focus on “if” and “master”), will completely transform your life? Sound too good to be true? In this article, I’m going to provide detailed tips on how to transform your life today as well as what that critical one thing is.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Based on the fact you are reading this article, I can surmise things aren’t going as well as you’d like. Before we can get to the solution, let’s start with some of the problems.
We are often our worse enemies – self-sabotaging, and critical about our looks, abilities, and life success. We constantly compare ourselves to others. It isn’t bad enough that we have to hear or see how we aren’t good enough all day, we go home at night (or even start our day) continuing the torture in our heads by watching “reality” television shows with beautiful people who became millionaires by the age of 20. Whenever we have a break in our day we scan social media just to be reminded we are “less than” (as if there were ever any doubt).
And over time, we look at our “failings” as an all-or-nothing event. “I failed at X” therefore I suck in general.
Related Article: Overcoming the Fear of Failure
We’ve been trained from an early age that our life will likely be mediocre and just get used to it.
We attempt to rectify a complete lifetime of this learning with a variety of approaches.
- Seeking approval from others (bosses, husbands, kids, complete strangers on social media).
- Shopping, drinking, eating, keeping busy (my personal favorite), or the addiction of your choice.
- Half-heartedly attempting positive thinking and self-talk.
My Personal Transformation Story
Some people like to know what qualifies the author to write a specific story. I mean, you can’t trust everything you read on the internet, right? The following paragraphs provide some context on how I have used the tools provided to change my own life . . . multiple times.
If you don’t need the context, you can just skip to the steps.
A Life Destined for Failure
At 20 years old I was passing out at random times for no apparent reason. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. There were days I was so weak that picking up the telephone to call in sick was an effort. Months of tests that I couldn’t afford resulted in no medical reason for my symptoms. I’m 20 years old – at the peak of physical health and vitality. What the hell?!
Finally, some brilliant doctor asked what had been happening in my life.
Well, let’s see. . .
At 18, both parents died within a 10-month period. My brother and I took responsibility for our 12-year-old sisters (twins) for six months so they could get reacquainted with their biological father. In hindsight, I think I needed them more than they needed us. But now they were gone too, living in another state.
My brother, who was only a year older than me and virtually the most important person on earth, was getting married (i.e. abandoning me).
I’m alone in a new city with two jobs.
I guess you could say I was going through some stuff.
But this was a normal part of my life. I was surviving, which is what I’d been doing for most of my life.
I didn’t know stress could #$%& with your body like that. The doctors encouraged me to get counseling which, of course, I could not afford (did I mention I was working 2 jobs).
So, I did the next best thing – utilized the financial aid I received for being an orphan and took a stress management class at the local college.
Turning Things Around
My life transformation started with a simple book report about managing stress. I think there was a list to choose from and I’m sure I picked a book based on how short it was. It was written by Normal Vincent Peale and titled The Power of Positive Thinking.
It literally changed my life.
Related Article: My Top 5 Self-Help Books
That book taught me I was not destined to have the same life my parents had or even the life I had right now.
I was not destined to be broke and poor and married seven times.
Up until that point, that’s all I had ever witnessed and believed about my future.
But I could no longer blame others for the trials in my life. It was all me.
That’s a hell of a lot of responsibility.
It’s also an amazing amount of power!
And the realization that I had so much power in my own life was mindblowing.
I learned that if I tell myself a different story, I begin to act differently and expect different things in my life.
Related: How Beliefs Affect Behavior
It was so simple yet completely mind-blowing.
Do you mean to tell me, all I have to do is start to think differently to change my future?!
Related: What are You Thinking?
What?! Are you telling me that I, me, moi, have complete control of my destiny?
Just by controlling my perceptions, the stories, and my self-talk? Shut the f$%^ uuuuuuuppp! No way. Can it be true?
Related: How to Stop Negative Self-Talk
Eager to prove the author wrong, I embarked on a journey to test the theory. At this point, really, what did I have to lose?
Overcoming the Odds
Here’s the deal. That little bit of wisdom completely changed the trajectory of my life. Over and over again, it changed my life. I’ll save all the details of how for my memoir but suffice it to say I consciously tested this theory on everything from getting an education, a career, and promotions to designing a life I would have only dreamed of at 20 years old.
Was it all sunshine and rainbows? No. I still had challenges but now I had tools too.
I would apply for better jobs expecting to get them, and I did.
The more I started believing different things about myself, the more my expectations changed about my capabilities and the world around me.
Related: Is Limitless Thinking Possible?
My attitude, desires, and expectations changed. I expected more of life and felt confident I could make it happen.
I believe there is nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it.
That belief was not a part of my past. That is not at all who I thought I was at 20. It comes from learning to tell myself a positive story and acting on it.
It comes from believing with all my heart that there is no such thing as failure, there are only experiences, and cause and effect. Some things we try, don’t work, and that’s data, that’s the effect.
Related: How to Develop a Growth Mindset
How to Transform Your Life Today
Finally, it’s time to talk about you and your next steps! Let’s talk about how to transform your life today and help you become the beautiful butterfly you were meant to be.
If you want to transform your life in any way, it starts with changing your mindset and beliefs regarding what you are capable of doing.
If you prefer to learn this type of content via video, here is one I created on what to do when you feel stuck.
1. It All Starts in Your Head
It’s not about changing your external environment, your job, your partner . . . at least not yet.
If you want to know how to transform your life today, the first step is to realize it’s all about you.
It starts in your head, with your mind.
Related Article: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
You may not have control over the events that happen during the day but you do have control over your interpretation of those events.
How you talk and treat yourself is completely within your control.
Related Article: Maybe Your Interpretation of That Event Is Inaccurate
I know that’s a little disheartening. It would be a hell of a lot easier to just move and have all your problems solved. I’m here to tell you I’ve done that multiple times and yeah, that’s not the solution.
You have a unique and powerful purpose that you are fully capable of fulfilling.
You are so empowered to make your life the best it can be and it really starts with controlling that little shit in your head that wants to talk smack all day!
Our self-talk truly does define us. It’s not what others think that shapes our lives (unless you choose to give them that power over your life), it’s what we think about ourselves.
Related Article: How to Stop Negative Self-Talk
Surely you have seen the stories of people that have overcome tremendous odds because they believed they could. They only believed they could because they chose to control their internal dialog.
It’s such a powerful concept really. You have so much power in the words you tell yourself.
Feeding the Beast
Transforming your life isn’t a one-and-done event. While one book or article may start the trajectory, it takes continual replenishment (i.e. feeding) to keep the mind focused on the right things.
Here’s the thing – your mind wants to be fed continually. You can feed it with Netflix or Social Media, or you can feed it with information that will help you in life. It’s your choice. Just know, like our bodies, when you feed it crap, you’ll also feel like crap.
Related Article: The Benefits of a Social Media Fast
Even though I’ve been practicing this concept for thirty years, I have still found some times are more difficult than others regarding my own views of myself. Unfortunately, it’s a continual process.
We are bombarded with comparison, criticism, and negativity on a daily basis so it’s no wonder. It’s a constant battle but it’s a battle I won’t give in to. There have been times I have literally had to write my positive comments on index cards and post them everywhere so I’d see them regardless of the room I entered. First thing every day and last thing each night I’d say what was on those cards over and over. And throughout the day as I would pass one, I’d challenge myself to say it with enthusiasm. You know what they say, fake it until you make it. I have to admit, it feels a little foolish at first, but I have accomplished many a goal because of those index cards. We tend to believe what we hear, so saying it out loud actually helps.
Video: Daily Affirmations for Women
There are many books, podcasts, etc. on mindset today. Fill your mind on a daily basis with this content. Become a student and learn as much as you can. This concept will take you farther in life than anything else you can possibly learn. I don’t care how old you are, it’s never too late to learn this. Please, please, please, invest in yourself in this regard.
2. Take Action by Creating Goals
Once you have your mind under control (and not until), it’s time to create goals. Take some time to think about what you want to achieve in your life. This step is really difficult if you are feeling overwhelmed or in a negative space. That’s why it’s so important to get your mind right first.
Write down your goals and make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Related: How to Create Life Goals
3. Create a Plan
Once you have your goals, create a plan of action. Break your goals down into smaller, achievable steps and set deadlines for each one.
I like to create detailed plans because it reinforces my behaviors and gives me a rush of adrenaline every time I’m able to mark something off my list. Literally, I create lists just so I can mark items off of them. That being said, don’t get so hung up on this step that you don’t move to the next. Analysis paralysis is a real thing that stops people from making progress.
Here’s an example of a plan for the specific goal of obtaining an advanced degree.
- Investigate programs (online & in-person) and determine which program/school is best.
- Discuss desires with partner/family and the implications of the decision (lack of availability, time commitment, etc.).
- Complete application paperwork.
- Complete financial aid paperwork.
- Create a family and study schedule.
- Listen to motivational podcasts daily to remind myself I can do this.
4. Execute the Plan
Once you have a detailed plan in place, it’s time to start executing. Your plan might include more than one goal that has multiple steps. This is the step where the rubber meets the road.
Without execution, nothing happens. It’s just a dream and a plan. Get moving!
Take that list and find time each and every day to do something on the list. This is why I love to break down the action plan as much as possible. It allows me to add an action step to my task list every day or week. The more often we take action, the greater opportunities we have to reinforce our positive steps.
Start incorporating positive habits into your daily routine that align with your goals. For example, if you want to be healthier, start exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet.
5. Reinforce and Reward the Actions You are Taking
This is the step most often overlooked and it’s why we lose motivation and quit. We don’t reward our actions. First of all, we falsely believe we should only be rewarded by results. This isn’t true. And I know that because I’ve been a people leader for 25 years. People are more motivated when they receive positive reinforcement for taking the right actions. And when they take the right actions, they generally get good results (or at least they learn what doesn’t work).
Think about it. Wouldn’t you be more motivated at work if your boss stopped by while you were working really hard on a project and said, “I really appreciate all the hard work you are putting into this project?” Wouldn’t that make you want to continue to work hard?
You need to find a way to recognize and reward the actions you are taking along the way. Even if it’s just a “Good job, you walked right past those donuts today. That took a lot of fortitude! See how strong and capable you are!”
6. Surround yourself with Positive Influences
Surround yourself with positive influences. This includes people who support and encourage you to reach your goals and information that motivates and inspires you. Listen to positive affirmations. I’ve included some resources you might like at the end of this article.
Avoid negative influences that may hinder your progress at all costs.
Related: How Negative People Impact Your Life
You are on this planet for a very important reason. Learning how to transform your life today and at any other point in your life if a critical skill to accomplish what you were put on this earth to do. You are so capable! Now, go out there and crush it knowing you have the power within you to do whatever it is you want to do.
A lot of the books I read through the years are now dated so I’ve only included a few recent books on this topic I liked a lot.
Everything is Figure Outable, Forleo: https://amzn.to/3GWt6sA
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck: https://amzn.to/3H27TNY
Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds: https://amzn.to/3H4nIn8