There have many times in my life when the words “I want to change my life,” dominated my every thought. I know these all too well. Thankfully, I found a way to change my life. After years of struggle, including personal bankruptcy in 2006, I discovered how to turn the words, “I want to change my life,” to “I changed my life for the better and I will never look back again.”
A Practical Guide to Changing Your Life
It’s always easier to have perspective after the struggle. It’s much easier to be calm and thoughtful after a crisis. When I reflect on the periods of my life in which I truly wanted (desperately needed) a change, I’m aware of how difficult it can be, especially if you have nobody to help you through. You see, I didn’t have a mentor or a successful business person to guide me through and give me sound advice. On two separate occasions, I had someone who loved me and provided me with enough money to keep me alive but I had to figure it all out for myself. I had to find the answers.
Imagine being completely lost in the dark, without a flicker of light, and then starting to make your way through the maze of life. I started Pivot or Die to help others find their way in the dark. After all of the pain, confusion, frustration, depression and the feeling of being completely lost in the world, I made a promise to myself to try and help others navigate their own lives once I figured out my own life. It was the least I could do.
It’s funny how surviving a crisis of the soul can make one want to give back to the world. It’s only been recently that I’ve turned my life around but I have a lingering force within me that continually reminds me that all of my suffering would be a complete waste if I were to simply keep what I’ve learned all to myself. I genuinely feel that what I know can help others in their own struggles. I don’t yet know if that’s true or not just yet. Only time will tell. This is only my second post and I know that it will take many months for people like you to actually find this article when they search online.
I have to continually remind myself to take the long-view. All things worth doing take time. In an age of instant gratification I hear far too many stories of people who give up prematurely because the rewards don’t come fast enough. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned in life. Live in the moment and commit to every thing you do completely, but have a vision for the future and remember that what you do today are the seeds that you can harvest tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. I’m here writing this because I took the long-view, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to write this.
Start From Where You Are
So much of our anxiety and discontent in the world is rooted the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be. The wider the divide between the two the more likely your angst, anger, sadness or even depression. If you were living the life you actually choose or wanted then it’s unlikely that you would be dissatisfied.
It’s true, we often pursue goals and ideals that we think will make us happy but when we finally achieve or attain them we find that we are still empty. But the fact remains, if you are in this situation and you’re unhappy it’s because what you have is no longer what you want and therefore the divide remains between where you are and where you want to be.
Ultimately, we all want to be content and fulfilled. We want to feel that we are living a life in harmony with our nature and our talent. We want to be loved and respected for who we are, rather than criticized for what we are not. We all want to be accepted in the world while doing things that we naturally enjoy.
If you’re currently dissatisfied and want a different life, or simply want to attain a specific goal but it seems too far away, well then you need to listen to this advice.
Let’s say you lived in New York and your boyfriend or girlfriend got into a car accident in California while on vacation. This person you love is now in a hospital alone and you are on the other side of the country. Would you go to see him or her despite the fact that you have travel. Would you think to yourself “No, I don’t feel like spending 6 hours on a plane, I’ll just sit at home and watch TV and work?” Would you act like this?
No, you wouldn’t. You couldn’t. You would drop everything and put your attention on what matters most — the person you love who is alone and injured. You wouldn’t care about the travel time, or the annoying check-in at the airport, you wouldn’t think about that TV show you missed or the money it costs to get there. You have a mission that matters to you deeply — to get to the one you love. To be there for him or her. You would have a driving purpose in which all of your actions would propel you towards.
So, you need to apply the same drive and logic to pursuing the life you want. You need to stop putting it off and thinking about it. You need to decide on your destination then systematically move towards it step by step. You can’t jump to the end result and yet so many people are paralyzed because they can’t get what they want immediately. Instead of starting they do nothing and put there time in useless things; forever distracted in a world seemingly engineered to distract us.
It’s time to take control and make decisions that will propel you forward one step at a time. Yeah I know, it’s a cliche, but you can’t get from New York to California without leaving your house. It’s impossible. You can spend all of your time thinking about going to California but unless you actually start acting and taking steps to travel across the country, you will never arrive. This is obvious and yet it applies to everything you want to achieve in your life.
All you need to do is to do something every day to move you closer to your goal. In the beginning, you can start small. You just have to start, but I promise you that once you commit to these daily actions you will build momentum that will continue to move forward with ease. Once you have momentum you have power. The beginning is so difficult because you are starting from a standstill and you know the road is long. But you have to start there.
It’s so simple and yet people fail to live their best life because they don’t want to do the work to get there. Hey, if you want to be a singer then you better learn how to use your voice. If you want to be a dancer then you’re going to have to take dance lessons. If you want to be a physicist then you better study physics. If you want to be a great novelist then understand grammar and know what makes a good story.
These things are not optional. Instead of questioning every step just take action. Just do the things you already know you need to do to get to where you want to go.
Start at the end and move towards it. Read my article on this very idea.
Stop Thinking and Start Doing
So much of our lives is wasted in thinking about what we want to do, or should do or should have done. We ruminate and discuss and research all the things we dream of but imagine if instead of delaying what we want to do, we actually did them.
The power of life is in the doing, not the thinking. In fact, the very act of thinking is what creates anxiety and procrastination, or more accurately — analysis paralysis. I’m not advocating we put our intellect aside. Obviously thinking provides us with the ability to reason and make informed choices but, when all we do is think we lose our life in thought.
For example, if you’re thinking of playing piano because you want to try it and see if it’s for you then instead of spending countless hours researching it, and debating it with friends and perusing music stores you can simply enroll in a lesson or two and try. Just try the very thing you are thinking about and see if you like it. You can’t think your way to the answer when it comes to some things in life. That’s an error in thinking that many people carry with them.
Action will give you the answer you are seeking. Action breeds action and momentum while thinking and analyzing keeps us locked in a cycle of analysis and more thinking. The more we think the more we think and on it goes. The thoughts we repeat during the day follow us in our sleep. It haunts us when our guard is down. Freedom comes in proving things out and confronting the things we fear the most. Freedom comes from doing the thing we are curious about and determining in reality if it’s something that we want to do. Thinking keeps us bound to a fantasy world where anything is possible but nothing tangible actually gets done. It’s an illusion that you need to stop doing to yourself.