It can be rather tempting to remain in your comfort zone, doing the usual things that you do day after day or in other words having the same daily habits. But if you are at a stage in your life in which you feel there is a need for growth and improvement, then these habits may require some alteration or be entirely replaced by new ones. This is usually the point at which many will make an attempt to change but soon after give up and return back to their old ways. The result can often be a sense of emptiness, frustration and unsatisfaction with your current situation.
There is of course a way out. Every day is a new opportunity to make that positive change in your life which for some reason you were afraid or felt unable to make. Whether it’s uncertainty, lack of confidence or lack of motivation that has been preventing you from achieving your vision or goal, it is never too late to make a positive difference in your life.
Here are some key points which can help you move forward and make a positive change in your life:
Learn to acknowledge the fact that change in life is inevitable and a natural part of it. It can happen quickly or gradually over time. It may or may not be dependent on you. Try to make the best of the changes in your life and use them as opportunities to learn, grow and develop on both personal and professional level.
Make Positive Choices
Life is all about the choices that you make. A choice to take the elevator instead of the stairs; a choice to befriend a person with good (or bad) habits; a choice to eat more or less fruits and vegetables in comparison to processed foods; a choice to greet your neighbour when you see them walking down the street; a choice to quit your job and create your own company; a choice to buy the daily newspaper or watch the news.
Many of the choices you make, no matter how simple they are, would lead to habits which with time will start to feel as though they are natural or automatic. You no longer have to actively think whether to eat a biscuit or a fruit as an afternoon snack – if biscuit has been your choice for the last couple of months you will automatically reach for the cupboard and the biscuit storage.
Satre has said ‘We are condemned to be free’. And indeed, you are free. You are free to make choices in life, but also to take the responsibility for the choices you have made. So take ownership over those choices and ensure that they are positive. The result of this will create more opportunities for you to improve and live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Let Go of Fear
Whether it’s fear of failure or fear of not being good enough, remind yourself that such feeling will only prevent you from achieving what you are truly capable of. Let go of worrying about what could go wrong. Regardless of the end result you should always praise yourself for trying.
Everyone has fears, even those who appear to be highly confident and successful. Perhaps what makes them appear this way is not the lack of fear but the ability to confront it and to do their very best despite everything. Some people are afraid of speaking publicly, others are afraid of failing at a job interview, but the important thing to remember is that most of the time fear is created within the mind. Therefore, in order to confront it you must learn to control your mind and more specifically your thoughts.
Before you imagine the worst possible scenarios simply visualise yourself working towards achieving your desired outcome. The progress you make along the way is what really matters. After all, if you have prepared well and have put some good effort in, the chances are you will naturally feel more confident. And finally, if you find yourself experiencing fear ask yourself the question – ‘who is in charge me or my fear? ‘. As Bill Cosby has said ‘Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it’.
Be Clear With Yourself
Perhaps one of the reasons that you may find yourself feeling insecure, unsatisfied or without a purpose is the lack of a clear vision. A vision of what it is that you really want or are trying to achieve. So before you start setting yourself goals, spend some time reflecting upon your true passions, what they mean to you as well as the outcomes you would like to see at some point in the future. Direct your energy and focus and be specific with yourself.
Create a Vision Board
This usually consists of a compilation of images and phrases that represent your ideal goals. It may sound silly but a visual representation of all the things that you would like to achieve and experience (such as good health, a happy relationship, more opportunities to travel and/or landing a dream job etc.) can be an effective way to remind your brain of the direction towards which you are moving. Place the vision board near your desk, in your room or anywhere where you would regularly be able to see it.
Do Not Compare Yourself to Others
The process of comparison starts at an early stage in life. For example, you might have noticed that in school certain people find maths or science a lot easier to comprehend than you. They seem to get their concepts as soon as they have be explained by the teacher. You may have worked hard along the way and still not have achieved a mark as high as theirs. But once again the main principle here is that what matters the most is the effort you have put in and your consistent hard work. It may take you longer to understand a certain topic but that doesn’t mean you are not capable of becoming an expert at it.
Throughout the years as you grow older you may see people around you succeeding and perhaps doing exceptionally well. But don’t be discouraged by the fact that others seem to be doing well while you find yourself in a state of struggle or slower progress. Everyone is individual and each one of us has different passions and strengths.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself just try to be happy for others’ success – they have probably worked hard for it too or perhaps it’s just their time to shine. Your time will come soon too, as long as you never stop to persevere and believe in yourself. Use others’ success stories as a source of inspiration, ask questions and try to apply some of the techniques that have worked for them. You have nothing to lose, in fact you will be gaining valuable knowledge and experience to help your own personal development for the future. Do not measure you progress against others, instead simply look for improvements within yourself. Celebrate each small achievement day by day.
Let Go of Competing
In today’s world, predominately in the western civilization, it can be easy to lose yourself in the constant desire for being bigger and better than the rest. Whether it’s about achieving higher grades in college, having a highly successful job, a better income or a great reputation – do not let the ego take control over your true passions.
Spend Some Time In Reflection
Remember to be grateful for what you have. Accept who you are and do not put too much pressure on yourself to be different or see an immediate change in your life. Learn to appreciate what you have accomplished so far, as well as each and every step that you have taken towards a better you. Focus your energy on finding inner peace before starting a new project or setting yourself an ambitious goal.
Enjoy and Focus on The Process, Not on The Final Outcome
Being aware of the desired outcome can be useful as a way of leading you towards a certain direction but it shouldn’t be your main focus and way of measuring the results of your hard work. Instead concentrate your attention on what you are doing right now. The present moment is what is taking you another step closer towards the goal that you have set yourself.
At the end you may succeed or you may not. What matters the most is that your mind is free of doubts because you know, deep down, you have done your best. It’s also important to remember that not everything is in your control so do not waste your precious time and energy trying to control things that are not dependent on you. Simply focus on what is within your power to change and improve – the rest will come into place eventually. As the famous basketball player and coach John Wooden has said:
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
Learn From The Experience
No matter what changes are taking place in your life learn to make the most of your experience. Evaluate your thoughts, emotions and actions during that time and extract valuable lessons that can help you to continue to improve in the future.
No one is perfect, but practice makes perfect. The most efficient way towards making a positive change is to never stop learning from each and every one experience along the way.
Move On and Forgive
Let go of regrets or any other bitter emotions from your past to allow yourself to move forward. Forgiveness will set you free. It is time to look at what is happening right now. You are the one who is going to write your own story, and going back will not help you achieve this.
Patience is Key
Once you have identified the positive change or new habit that you would like to create, do not rush or become impatient as soon as things get a little challenging. Set yourself realistic and achievable goals and take it one step at a time. Allow for at least a couple of weeks to turn your positive choices into habits which in turn will contribute towards a significant and positive change in your life.
I think the following quote by Frank Outlaw perfectly summarises one of the main principles of making a positive change and feeling happy and satisfied with life.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”