Updated: Apr 20
Ever wanted to make serious changes in your life, but didn’t know where to start?
Knowing you need to do something and doing it, are two different things.
It’s easy to know what you have to do, but doing it can be quite overwhelming and in some cases, just exhausting.
So, how can you make needed changes in your life?
Here are 17 steps you can take to make necessary changes right now that can lead to extraordinary changes for your future.
Step #1- Think Small
First, you need to take some pressure off yourself by thinking small. I know you don’t normally hear that but when it comes to making real changes in your life, you have to take it one step at a time.
If you're the type of person that procrastinates, it may be because you're trying to take on too much and when you start, you get so overwhelmed, that you stop.
Pushing the task back further and further until you just don’t get it done. Taking one thing at a time can help.
Even if the task has many parts, starting on one small thing, still means you started. Then the next day, take another small part.
Before you know it, your small parts have become one huge task.
Don’t feel you have to finish it all at once. Especially, if it’s a change you're making in your life and it’s not affecting others. Take the time you need to gradually make the change.
Step #2 - Get a Planner
Having a planner allows you to solidify your ideas and tasks by putting them in writing.
This is a cool mental trick to help you get things done. Putting your ideas and tasks in writing makes your mind understand that these things have to get done.
Remember in school, when your teacher told you that taking notes helps you remember the information better and you tried it one time and you passed your test.
Well, that’s because it does, note taking is just a way of inviting more senses (sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell) along for the ride that makes up your thoughts. The more senses involved, the more your brain realizes this must be important.
Having a planner is like notetaking, you’re not only thinking of the idea or task, but you're writing it, and seeing it. You’re telling your brain more than one sense agrees, this idea or task should happen.
Heck, you're even smelling it, because the paper and pen you use have a smell to them. With that in mind, try to get a planner and writing tools that you enjoy.
It’s the little things. Right?
Don’t knock a good planner and what it can help you accomplish in your life. You can start today, by deciding how you like to plan.
If you struggle with procrastination, a monthly planner may be overwhelming, so try a daily or weekly planner. Remember, start small.
Step#3 - Tell a Friend
Another great way to make changes in your life is to tell a friend. Speaking out loud and telling others what you want to accomplish is a helpful way to solidify your ideas.
You want a positive response, so you want to tell a trusted friend that’s going to just listen as you explain how you plan to accomplish your goal.
No "Debbie Downers" allowed!
Telling others your plans is another mental exercise that works. It invites two other senses ( hearing and speaking) into your plans and again tells your mind that this is something you have to get done.
Another thing that happens when you do this is accountability. When you invite others into your mind and tell them your plans, it’s as though you're not only holding yourself accountable for what you have to do, but you're also allowing someone else to support you.
We all need cheerleaders to pump us up and remind us of what we said we're going to do. Remember, in a positive way.
Step #4 - Have a Plan A-Z
When deciding to change, it's also important to think about the failures that come with that change.
Failure is not a bad thing when you’re mentally prepared to face it. So how do you prepare to fail?
One way is by thinking about the possibility. Once you think about it, you realize it could happen, then you can think about what to do if it does happen.
It's less of a shock and you can regroup. You regroup by having a plan B, then if that doesn’t work have a plan C, and so on. Keep planning until you find what works for you.
Many successful people will tell you, the plan they have at first doesn’t always work out the way they think.
They had to take another route to get down the road of success. But one thing that remains the same, although the plans changed, they succeeded because they didn't give up.
When it comes to changes, no one thing way is correct all the time. You can have different roads leading to the same place.
You just need to keep in mind, that failure is not that a particular plan didn’t work but that you gave up trying, that’s the real failure.
So, don’t be afraid to change the plan. Write that in your planner too, “Today, I had to change my plans”. LOL!
Step #5 - Get Inspiration and Motivation
Get inspiration from quotes and people who have made changes in their lives, similar to the ones you're trying to make.
Sometimes, we confuse this with comparing ourselves to others but the difference is, you're using their life and experience to build yourself up, not tear yourself down.
You’re looking at the possible, not the impossible when it comes to what you can accomplish.
Everyone needs a hero, to motivate them and remind them that anything is possible. Find your hero, and allow their experience to inspire and motivate you to accomplish your goals.
This is why the next thing you can do is so important.
Step #6 - Social Media On Your terms
Use social media to “positively troll” people you want to be inspired by. Social media can be a dangerous place. It's most times filled with an inflated version of people’s lives that can seem perfect.
But instead of thinking like that, keep in mind that the most influential person had to start somewhere, many of them started right where you are right now.
Mix up your following as well. Follow those who are were you want to be and where you are right now, that way you have a nice balance of inspiration and motivation.
Whether you use social media for business or personal, block the haters. Please don’t even respond to negativity, once you respond they will waste your time in a loop of bad energy.
Take a break when you need to as well.
Step #7 - Define Yourself and Stand By It
Defining who you are is important when it comes to making changes in your life. It helps you to make changes that are right for you and not based on what others feel you should be doing.
Changes made by you for you, have a better chance of succeeding because you own these changes.
Sometimes you may have to leave people behind to make changes because they want you to stay the same. Give them an apology if you like, and stand your ground.
Stand by your plans and stand by why it works for who you are.
Step #8 - Compare Yourself to No One
The one thing people struggle with the most is comparing themselves to others.
No matter who we are, even if for a brief moment, you may have let our mind slip and think about what so and so is doing and what we should be doing because they're doing it.
See you're doing it now, so stop!
Listen, in all honesty, you have to learn how to compare yourselves healthily. Because you’re gonna compare yourself. The way to do it healthily is to use the comparison as inspiration.
Use another person's life to inspire and motivate you, not to belittle your accomplishments.
This takes purposeful redirection and mental energy but is worth it in the end. After some time you’ll be able to catch yourself negatively comparing your accomplishments to others and you’ll be able to redirect your thoughts.
You may not have a big problem comparing yourself to others, you may just deal with others comparing you to others. Speak up!
Tell them that you're not at that part of your journey but as soon as you get there, they’ll be the first ones you tell. Also, you’ll be accepting a full congratulation upon arrival.
Step #9 - Check Your Progress
Check your progress and celebrate. Go through your planner and look at where you started and where you are now.
Celebrate that milestone. Whether the changes were numerous or just one, did you succeed? Did you fail, but learned how to succeed next time? Ok, let’s celebrate!
Any change you make has to be acknowledged by you. Don’t wait for others to celebrate you. Celebrate yourself.
Don’t downplay what you’ve done no matter how small. Remember, it’s the little wins that lead to the big ones. So take a moment to rejoice and enjoy that one success you had.
Step #10 - Build Your Confidence
Some people lack confidence due to upbringing, experiences, or mental and emotional struggles, but whatever the case, they have to build it to overcome obstacles.
For some, depending on their circumstance, it takes years to build confidence, they may seek professional help or help from family and friends.
But no matter where you need to seek help, the one thing you’ll hear from these sources is the need to celebrate your small wins.
Celebrating your small victories and using others as inspiration is going to help you build confidence.
Also, surrounding your thoughts with positive images and affirmations about who you are and what you want to accomplish will help you build confidence, especially if you're doing it solo.
Avoid negative people, posts, and thoughts. If you struggle with negative thoughts about yourself all the time, seek professional help. There’s nothing wrong with taking care and protecting your mental health.
Step #11- Stop Complaining, if You're not going to change it!
There are two types of complaining, complaining with a purpose and complaining for the sake of complaining.
Complaining with a purpose is a good thing, you’re complaining but it’s because you're about to make some serious changes and take it to the next level.
Or just make changes that better suit you.
Then there’s complaining for the sake of complaining. Stop doing this. Ever been around someone that seems to find something bad in every little thing around them?
You know how it feels to be around that person. You find yourself avoiding them by waiting until they're gone to leave the house.
Well, sometimes you’re that person, but to yourself.
Telling yourself, there’s no way others are going to give you the chance, or that you're not the type of person good things happen to, you're just complaining for the sake of complaining.
You’re doing this because you're looking for excuses not to start or you're scared, it’s ok to be scared, admit that and move on from it.
If you’re not ready to change, then be realistic with yourself and save the change for another time. But don’t complain just because you're not ready.
If you have to complain, then do it while you're making changes because at least you’ll have a reminder of why the change is necessary. It will get you to stop complaining!
Step #12 - Watch the News a Little Less
Hearing bad depressing news all day takes a toll on your mental health and your confidence, it can also hinder you from being motivated to make changes in your life.
How can you make positive changes, when you’re constantly being reminded of how horrible the world is?
Now, yes it’s their job to report the most shocking stories and the most shocking stories tend to be bad stories, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen, right?
So, don’t. If you’re a news watcher but find that the stories limit your productivity and depress you. Try finding another way to get the main news about what’s happening in the world.
Limit the amount of news you take in, and cut it down to twice a week instead every day. They tend to repeat the main stories so you’re not gonna miss the important things.
Remember, you don’t have time for "Debbie Downers", which includes the news. So, get what you need and get out of there.
Step #13 - Say “No” When you Should
Making changes starts with your mental and physical health, when you're worn out mentally and physically, you don’t have the energy to do the tough things in your life.
Changing is hard work, the bigger the change the harder, so you're gonna need that time and energy to brace yourself. So, it’s ok to say “no” when you don’t have the time and energy.
Yes, saying “no” does not make you a monster. You're not selfish because you need time for yourself.
Remember, time is priceless because it can never be replaced. You have to carve some of it for your needs and wants.
If you have a big family and your kids are young, this can be hard. But it’s possible.
Start by saying “no”. Trust me, your kids will survive and it won’t change their love for you.
But let’s say you don’t have kids, maybe that’s not your issue, what about your friends? Are they running you ragged because you don’t have kids?
Just say “no”. You may not have kids but sometimes you can be single with no kids and still be dog-tired because you let other people convince you you have so much time on your hands.
It’s a trick to get you to do stuff for them. It’s ok to be the friend that everyone relies on, but that’s more reason why you need time for yourself.
Make yourself scarce for a bit and let them miss you. Say “no” and put that time and energy toward changes you want or need to make in your life.
Step #14 - Get a Schedule or Routine
Having a schedule will help you accomplish things. Some people are not the schedule type. It makes them feel confined.
That’s understandable, but you can still have a routine or due dates to help you stay focused.
This is another reason why a planner will help. It allows you to give yourself some type of routine or deadline and remember what it is.
Even if you don’t like having every day look the same or every small detail in your life mapped out, you still need to set time for the big things you have going on so you won’t forget.
This helps your confidence as well because you’ll learn to be the type of person that gets things done, even if it’s on your terms.
Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself by trying to remember to do everything you have to do in life, get help by setting a schedule and write it down in your planner.
Step #15 - Use Your Past for "Educational Purposes Only"
People always say forget the past because you can’t change it, but it’s hard to forget the past because you can’t change it.
So instead of regretting the past and allowing it to cripple you, use your past for "educational purposes only".
Use it to educate yourself on what to do differently. Use it to inspire you to make changes in your life.
It’s impossible to forget the past, but it is possible to accept it. Once you do that and give it its proper place in your thoughts, “educational purposes only”, you’ll be able to build your confidence and move forward with making changes in your life.
Step #16 - Get Productive Friends
In the words of the famous pop group TLC, “what about your friends”?
Think about the type of changes you want to make and surround yourself with a few friends that are gonna keep you motivated.
If that’s your old friends then great, but if you need to change your friendship circle, do it.
Sometimes you outgrow friends and that’s ok.
You may have friends that don’t understand, but they're gonna support you anyway. They’re keepers because they are offering emotional support.
But the ones that don’t want you to succeed because they're not ready, put them in time out. Now whether the time out is indefinite is up to them. But do what you have to do.
Step #17- Decide to find joy in what you have
Being content is more about looking at yourself and deciding to be happy with that. No one else is involved.
Making changes in your life doesn’t always have to happen because you're unhappy, sometimes they can happen because you want to grow or try something different.
Finding joy in who you are and what you have will help you make changes for the right reason.
When the reason is right, the change no matter the obstacle will come easy to you.
Major Take Away
Making real change in your life is not easy, but it’s possible. With a few helpful steps, you can get on and put yourself on track to start.
A start is all you need. Once you get started the changes will come easy, your confidence will build, and your mindset will change thus changing your actions.
You’ll be where you always wanted to be and where you knew you could be in no time.