Last night I had a dream.
It was Christmas Eve. And I was receiving presents.
At that time, all I could think of was “I don’t want these. It’s just more stuff I won’t use.”
Looking back, I can see how much I’ve changed. I almost haven’t noticed the change, because it sneaks up on you, until it’s impossible to ignore.
It’s like when you were a kid. You got taller, but you didn’t notice until you stood up against the wall with the marks.
The same holds true for life changes.
You are constantly changing, but it’s hard to notice until it pokes you in the ribs.
It’s not even a question of if you’re changing; it’s a question of in which direction are you changing.
Most people want change because they want to escape. But it doesn’t work.
It is by facing your inner demons that you heal yourself, and change your life for the better.
Below are the 21 things you can do to change your life. It’s a hefty and spicy read, so grab your beverage of choice and enjoy.
1. Take Tiny Steps
A baby learns to crawl before it can walk, and it learns to walk before it can run.
Most people expect rapid life changes. If they’re wasting their time at a soul-sucking job, they expect success and fame within six months.
I’m not saying it isn’t possible, because it is, but in most cases it’s not going to happen.
People who need life changes right away don’t realize that it’s not going to make them happy anyway.
All they want is their dream of a problem-free future. When they get there, reality sets in, and another goal is set.
And the wheel keeps turning.
So realize that there will always be problems in life. It’s not our job to eliminate them, but to do our best, take tiny steps, and see where life takes us.
2. Take Quantum Leaps
Something I’ve learned in working with people is that changes can happen in an instant. Old pains, fears, and negative emotions can vanish and be replaced by something more useful.
This may seem contradictory to what I said above, but it isn’t. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and.
We don’t live in a black and white world.
Quantum leaps are tipping points (as Malcolm Gladwell, the author likes to call them).
As you keep taking one step at a time, you will eventually reach a tipping point where your thinking shifts.
The problem is that most people never get to those shifts. They stop drilling when they are about to hit gold.
3. Accept Where You Are
When I was 18, I started playing poker professionally. I wasn’t going to work at a regular job, because there was no way I would survive doing that. I couldn’t stand it.
Poker helped me realize many things, and one of them was that if I wanted to be happy, I had to accept where I was.
Things come and go. People live and die. Your life feels good, and it feels bad. The more you accept this, the easier it is to change your life.
In fact, it seems as if life changes itself when I stop pushing so hard.
Here’s a video I recorded on being in the present moment:
4. Be Patient
I’ve been building my online business since 2009. I say building, but what I really mean is learning.
I stumbled a lot in the beginning. I made mistakes, I failed, and I gave up in frustration more times than I’d care to admit.
I began seeing results when I became absolutely determined to succeed.
It was a big lesson in patience. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. There will always be problems. But they don’t have to clutter up your whole life.
Be patient with your progress. Stay true to your heart.
You can change your life. Sometimes it just happens in its own time.
We all have memories—painful memories.
What you may not realize is that the person hurting you with those memories is you.
You are the director of your mind. While the event may have happened in the past, it’s you who keeps playing them over and over again.
Reliving the past will get you nowhere. That’s why it’s essential to forgive and forget all those people in your memories.
You don’t even have to forgive. All you have to do is pay less attention to those thoughts and memories.
Once you see that the only one suffering is you, the grip tends to loosen.
Healing yourself goes hand in hand with point #5. When you know that you can let go of past memories, fears, and obstacles, your self-confidence grows.
Most people aren’t ready for life changes. They avoid any and all solutions, because they are comfortable where they are.
And that’s fine with me, but if you make that choice, you have no right to complain or make excuses.
You either choose to be where you are, or you choose to change your life. The choice is yours.
Healing starts with seeing that you are not your thoughts; you are the awareness behind them. Thoughts come and go, but your true nature never changes.
7. Face Your Fears
When you face your fears, possibilities open up. Even now, there are time when I’m scared.
Fears don’t disappear, they simply become less important.
And remember, this is not about comparing yourself to someone else. This is about following your inner GPS, and living the life you were meant to live.
Here’s a short video on how to stop comparing yourself to others:
8. Kill Your Excuses
Your excuses are mere illusions.
You may have excuses about why you can’t follow your passion and build an online business, but are they really true?
If you really wanted to, you could take one tiny step forward.
That’s all it takes.
One tiny step.
Then see what happens, re-assess, and take another step.
9. Take Responsibility
Since talking with more and more readers, clients, and people in general, I’ve started to notice a scary pattern.
That pattern is the lack of responsibility. I see people wanting to change their life, but they aren’t willing to take responsibility.
They wait for a white knight (or black, depending on your preference) to sweep in to save the day and make change effortless and comfortable.
I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not going to happen. When you take responsibility for the life you’ve created, you can begin to move forward.
If you’re blaming someone else for your situation, you’re stuck.
Learn to make decisions from your inner authority. Here’s a video where I share how I do this:
10. Follow Your Heart
And what would an article of mine be without me telling you to follow your heart?
If you’ve been reading my articles, you know that I keep writing about following your heart, and there’s a reason for it.
As I’ve been living my life, I’ve started listening to my heart more and more.
And when I say following and listening to your heart, I mean it in the broadest sense of the word. It can mean anything, such as following your gut, intuition, feelings, or going with the flow of life.
When you begin putting the pieces together, and taking responsibility, and healing yourself, you naturally begin to follow your heart, your inner GPS.
11. Follow Your Passion
If you drive to a gas station, and fill your car with the wrong kind of fuel, it won’t run very well, if at all.
That’s what most people are trying to do in life. They are listening to outside influences, and that’s when all the “shoulds” come in.
It’s the belief that you have to focus on money in order to build a successful business. I did this in the beginning, so I know what it’s like.
You want to do your research and know whether or not your idea is viable, but if you don’t do something you’re passionate about, your car will run out of fuel sooner or later.
It is your passion that will fuel your journey for the rest of your life.
The problem is that you may not know how to even start finding and following your passion. I had the same problem when I was starting out, but eventually things clicked.
I share my whole story and how you can find and follow your passion in Passionate Living.
And here’s a video on how I follow my heart and passion:
Ever had the experience of your mind racing out of control? It almost feels like you’re going crazy, doesn’t it?
A great way to calm yourself (and your mind) down is to meditate. Even five minutes of meditation can do wonders.
Meditation has taught me to see through the dance of thought. I have thoughts. I have worries. And I have fears.
But I can observe them without getting too involved. It’s not always so simple, but knowing that I am not my thoughts is a tremendous help.
What’s important is not to just know it intellectually, but to see how you create your experience of life.
13. Express Yourself
I find writing therapeutic. It’s something I love to do. It calms me. It’s inspiring, and it infuses my life with serenity.
I highly recommend you try journaling or just writing down your thoughts after every day. If you’ve tried to solve problems in your head, you know it doesn’t work.
You can have a conversation on paper, freewrite, and solve problems easily. It has the ability to change your life completely.
A great book on freewriting is Accidental Genius by Mark Levy.
14. Kill Your Comfort Zone
If you want to change your life in the most positive sense, get comfortable with being out of your comfort zone.
When you’re learning something new, you’ll bump into the walls of your comfort zone.
Your spirit yearns for freedom. It’s when you put yourself into a little box that your spirit feels the need to rebel. You start feeling bored, and restless.
You don’t have to suddenly infuse your life with discomfort. All you have to do is dip your toes from time to time.
Let’s face it. You don’t know what you want.
Most people think they know what they want. They make five and ten year plans, acting as if they know all the variables of life.
I’m on board with making plans and setting goals. But I don’t rigidly stick to them. You will miss opportunities if you disregard the whispers of your heart, if you trade the present moment for the future.
You miss life.
It’s like driving with all the windows painted black except the front window. You see where you’re going, but you miss everything else.
Accept that life brings you possibilities. You don’t always know where your life will go. But go with the flow, and you will be where you need to be.
In order to change your life, you have to change your focus.
If you don’t take control of your mind, it will run amok. You will focus on the negative. You will imagine the worst possible scenarios.
What works for me is to focus on who is aware of the thoughts swirling in my head.
There’s an awareness there.
When I focus on it, I almost immediately relax. I see how my thoughts take me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. One day I can feel fine, and one day I can feel miserable.
The only difference is thought.
But there’s one thing most people miss when I share this: I’m not talking about changing my thoughts. I don’t try to change anything. Instead, I observe my thoughts, and let them be. I’m mindful of what’s going on.
Here’s a quick video on how I went from miserable to loving life:
I love reading.
We live and die by stories. My life has changed several times by reading a book.
The stories you read have a profound effect on how you view the world. You can be stuck on a problem, and the solution can pop into your mind while you’re reading.
Your mind does not work sequentially. You can be reading something, then something goes click, and your life changes forever.
And as you’re reading these very words, it causes you to think, doesn’t it?
In order for you to make sense out of the funny letters you see here, you have to go inside, and make sense out of it from your own map of the world.
Change is inevitable. It’s all about in what direction you’re changing.
If you’re looking for something to read, you might want to check out my books: Find Your Passion: 25 Questions You Must Ask Yourself and Do What You Love: Essays on Uncovering Your Path in Life.
Just a friendly suggestion
18. Befriend the Unknown
You never know what you need. Remember point #15, going with the flow?
When you’re open to the unknown, which is a synonym for possibility, you accept that life may bring you something negative to teach you a positive lesson.
I had some horrible days when I played poker. It can murder you psychologically, especially if you’re playing it for a living like I was.
At one point I was looking up at the sky and asking “Why?”
I’m not religious. But it helped me realize what’s truly important in life. It isn’t money, or material wealth, although those things can be nice.
You just never know what life will bring, so you might as well become curious.
How will the seemingly negative turn to positive in your life? What are you learning?
19. Reclaim Your Personal Power
Stop looking to others for approval. Just like taking responsibility (#9), you have to reclaim your personal power.
You know what to do. You can feel it. You just haven’t been listening to that inner voice until now.
It’s easy to give the decision to someone else, but it’s your life. The sooner you realize that, the more fun you will have.
What do you want to do right now?
If you don’t know, then start somewhere, because action will bring clarity.
20. Accept Failure
You will make mistakes.
And you won’t even know if they are mistakes when you make them, because mistakes and failures have a tendency to transform into blessings.
You only fail if you give up, so if you never give up, you can never fail, only learn, and grow.
21. Remember Who You Are
And above all, remember that you are always more than you think you are.
You are more than your problems, more than your fears, and more than your body.
I learned this from an excellent NLP trainer called John Overdurf.
It’s only when you focus on your problems and believe them to be you that you get into trouble.
So, remember to relax, because life is way too important to take seriously