zenhabits : breathe

The Best Way to Successfully Overhaul Your Life

I’ve done it before and I’m sure many of you have as well: decided I wanted to completely change my life, from diet to exercise to productivity habits to spending and career and family and more.

I’ve failed in the attempt to do this at least a few times.

I’ve also done it successfully. You might have read my story, but basically I went from overweight, sedentary, heavily in debt, overworked and stressed, unproductive, with no time for my family … to a runner, marathoner, exerciser, healthy diet, vegetarian, early riser, much more productive, debt-free, simplified life where I have time for my wife and kids.

And how did I do it all? One little step at a time.

Recently reader Christine asked:

I really want to be a positive, achieving, dedicated, in-the-moment, fun (& all the good traits you can imagine!) woman/wife/mother. How can I become that in my lifetime?

I want to be completely healed from past hurts, mistakes, doubts, failures, disappointments, pains, etc. I want to be free!

In short, Mr. Leo, I WANT TO CHANGE MY LIFE.

Christine, you’ve asked a lot of me, and I honestly can’t tackle it all in one answer, so I won’t try. Instead, I will give you the best suggestion I have:

Start small.

Don’t try to make all these huge changes, and change your entire life at once. It’s too hard, and overwhelming. You can’t do everything at once — you can only do one thing at a time.

So pick one thing to change — something easy. Don’t pick the most difficult thing — just the easiest. Something you can focus on for the next couple of weeks.

Be sure you’re going to be successful at it — again, it should be super easy.

Then clear everything else off your plate and focus on just that. Really put all your energy into making that change. You might try something simple, like smile more, or to be more grateful (say a prayer of thanks in the morning, and show gratitude to people throughout the day), or focus on slowing down as you do your work or chores.

Start small, and be sure to make this a success. Once you’ve had that success, use that feeling of success to leverage a second success — something small that you can win at, again. Keep repeating this, small successes, one after the other.

Small steps. That’s how you’re going to change your life. You’ll probably get impatient and want to do more, but trust me: this will work.

Read more about simple productivity, focus and getting great things done in Leo’s book, The Power of Less.



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