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Let me guess: You put in the work at school, got good grades, bagged a prestigious university or college degree, and landed a socially acceptable corporate job. But now you’re beginning to realize that it won’t be sunshine and rainbows from here on out.
If you’re lucky, you’re only working 40-hour weeks; most people are doing 50 or 60 hours a week. Right now, life just feels like a merry-go-round. Same shit, different day. You know something needs to change. And that something, my friend, is you.
This is why you’re sitting here reading this post right now.
As the title suggests, I’m going to give you five things to start doing today that will help to move your life in a more positive direction. I can’t promise that they will completely change your life — true change takes time and effort. But if you practice them diligently, after seven days of consistent application, you should be happier and feel motivated to chase your dreams.
1. Write Down Everything That Is Stressing You Out
I cannot overstate how important this simple task really is. It’s a form of what gurus and philosophers call “self-reflection”. It is probably the single most important skill you must cultivate if you really want to change your life. It is not surprising to learn that countless successful people, including Jim Carrey, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein, have incorporated a form of self-reflection in their daily routine.
Get a pen and paper and find yourself a quiet space. No phone, no laptop, no distractions. Now, write down all the things you can think of that are causing you stress, frustration, anger, or are overwhelming you in your life.
These could include the people you work with, how much money you have or don’t have, the relationship you’re in, the condition of your body, and so on.
Next, write down the thoughts that are associated with these issues. Usually, there’s a chain of negative thoughts that surround the stressful situations and emotions in your life. Why is this?
The stress and suffering we experience always originates from our own thoughts. We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.
It’s like wearing rose-coloured glasses. Everything you see is a different shade of that one colour. But when you take the glasses off, you can finally perceive the richness and diversity of all the surrounding colours.
2. Choose One Thing and Stop Stressing Over It
Out of all the situations and experiences you wrote about in the activity above, choose just one of them and make a commitment to yourself to remain calm and unreactive the next time you encounter this thought or experience.
Let me give you an example.
You’re constantly worried that you’re wasting your life and can’t possibly pursue your dream job or career. This causes a lack of engagement and motivation at your current work. There is a painful canyon-sized gap between your current reality and where you’d like to be.
Instead of getting caught up in the intense emotions of these thoughts, just observe them. Pretend you’re watching a movie in your mind from a distance. You’ll notice that after some time, these thoughts will subside or even disappear.
To make this process even more effective, you must install a new thought process into your mind. So, when that stressful thought or event happens again, run through these phrases in your mind:
“I accept my life as it is right now”.
“These challenges are here to help me grow”.
“I am taking positive steps in the direction of my dreams”.
Apply this process every time a stressful thought or situation comes up. Soon, your fears will release their vice grip on your happiness and peace of mind.
3. Stop Binging on Netflix and YouTube
Pause for a moment and ask yourself how much time you’re spending on your phone distracting yourself with mindless crap on YouTube or Netflix. Estimates suggest that many people will spend a total of 11 years staring at a screen during their lifetime.
So, if you’re trying to use the excuse that you don’t have enough hours in the day to chase your dreams, I call bullshit.
If you’re spending four to five hours a day on your phone, it’s clear: Your priorities are fucked up. Don’t know how much time you spend on your phone? Get an app, like Moment for the iPhone, and figure it out. This is important information you need to know.
Just think of what you could achieve if you were to invest just two hours a day on a new project or side hustle. That’s 14 hours every week and 56 hours every month. Shit, I once created and launched a new business from scratch in less than 56 hours and made over $5K from it!
It will amaze you what can be accomplished with a consistent effort over a few weeks or months. Now, you just need to figure out what to work on.
4. Buy a Book on Something You Want to Learn More About
There are two types of information in this world: fictional information, otherwise known as entertainment, and nonfictional information, which covers a whole range of real-world topics.
Can you guess which kind of information will help change your life? Yup, nonfiction. Learning about new things that you’re interested in will help spark new connections in your brain between previously unrelated pieces of information.
Reading a business book will give you new ideas on how to turn your dreams into reality. Reading a psychology book will teach you how your mind works, so you can finally become its master.
There’s a whole wealth of information out there. You can find stories by and about people who are already living the life you want. This gives you motivation and belief that if it’s possible for them, it’s possible for you.
But don’t just burn through the pages — the amount you read is not what matters. It’s easy to get stuck gathering information just churning through book after book. I know, I’ve been there myself. Here’s what you can do to move past that: Simply take notes and figure out how to apply your new discoveries to your life. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.
5. Visualise Your New Future Every Day
It’s awesome to engage in self-reflection, learn new things, and reduce the amount of stress and wasted time in your life, but you can absolutely take it all one step further.
Visualisation has the power to literally rewire your brain. Neuroscience tells us that your brain exhibits the same activity regardless of whether you’re visualising a movement or performing it physically.
Today, many athletes use visualization to improve their performance. Studies have shown that a combination of 50 percent visualisation and 50 percent physical practice leads to significantly better performance than physical practice alone.
If that’s not a good enough reason to try it out, here’s another piece to the puzzle.
There is an area of your brain called the reticular activating system, or RAS. This is the structure responsible for processing the information we receive from our senses and letting us know where we should focus our attention.
Let’s say you’ve just bought a new black Audi. It’s the car of your dreams and you’ve been thinking about picking up the keys for weeks! It’s extremely likely you’ll now start to see black Audis everywhere you go.
This is your RAS at work. It will help you pay more attention to the information that you prime your brain with. So, when you visualise your new future, you are priming your RAS to pay attention to new opportunities that are more in alignment with what you want to create.
So the neuroscience is clear: This shit works. Here’s what you need to do to install the process of visualisation into your routine. Use the following three steps daily, either in the morning or just before you go to sleep, for maximum effectiveness:
- Close your eyes and set an intention by mentally verbalising what you want to create in your life.
- Imagine your future self living your new life. Make the scene as real as you can, like a simulation or movie. Involve all five of your senses. What will you see? What will it feel like? How will it smell? It may sound a little crazy, but the more vividly you can imagine the scene, the better it will be recorded in your mind as a “memory”.
- Incorporate strong positive emotions. This is key. Without strong emotion, the visualisation won’t seem enough real to be recorded as a memory.
You’ve Got This!
There is no “right” time to change your life. It’s going to be scary, challenging, and painful. But it’s the pain that will show you how strong you really are.
Change takes time and commitment. But if you sincerely attempt the five things I’ve shared with you in this post, you’re moving in the right direction. Giving up is not an option. You don’t want to go back to your old life, do you? Now is the time to create a life you love.
I believe in you. Go make it happen.