We all have times in our life when we wish we could change things. Sometimes this is only a vague, fanciful wish but, at other times, it may be a serious desire to improve. Almost every time we look to change something, our efforts come to nothing. This is because we usually fail to clearly define what it is we want to change and what we want to change it to. Often, too, our wishes, such as New Year resolutions, involve only minor changes that have little impact on the ‘bigger picture’.
Making changes to improve your life really is a major undertaking. It is not something that should be done without a plan or direction. To really improve your life, you need to have a clear idea of your final outcome. The realisation that such a change is a major project is often enough to put off many people. It is best to break down your planned changes into smaller steps and work on just one aspect of change at a time. What I am suggesting in this article is that there are seven things you could look to change in order to improve your life.
The 7 things:
1) Your Look – Let’s start with the way you look. Your clothes, your style of dress, your hairstyle and, maybe, your make-up. Each of these things you can change fairly easily. You do not need to change your whole wardrobe if you do not want to; try purchasing just one new jacket, suit, shirt or coat but make it a style that you might not usually go for. You can have your hair done but choose a different style or cut than usual. Ladies can change their make-up, there are several department stores in large towns that offer facial makeovers (sometimes free) give it a try and men, simply change your cologne.
This, of course, is only a superficial change and yet you may be surprised. Changing your look, even in a small way, can often make you feel good about yourself. You may also notice that other people respond to you differently.
2) Your Outlook – It is becoming clear that our outlook on life has a big impact on the way we live life, the way we approach challenges and even on the length of our life. Many of us, though we may not always recognise it, have developed a negative attitude on life; we expect things to go wrong, we anticipate failure, we predict disaster and we always look on the dark side of things. Our humor can get cynical or self-deprecating, we can feel gloomy or depressed and often we will not attempt new things because we fear or expect to fail.
By becoming more positive and adopting a positive attitude to life, we are more willing and more able to improve things. Instead of expecting to fail or spotting mistakes, we can look at the potentials and see opportunities for success. By being positive, we can enjoy things more and find pleasures in even small things of life. This is not a ‘Polly anna’ approach to life in which we see good things and refuse to recognise other things going on around us. A positive outlook helps give you strength, motivation and opportunities to improve yourself and your life, while also enjoying it!
3) Your Routine – Many of us, too many of us, live a life that is routine. The routine dictates the nature and pace of our life. New things and new opportunities are barred to us if they cannot be fitted into or around our routine. Changing our routine could be as simple as getting up earlier or going to bed earlier, going to a different bar or watching a different TV show, having different food at lunch or evening meal. One of the problems with following a routine is that we find ourself thinking about what happens next; we spend our journey to work worrying about getting to work or what we’ll do when we get there, we spend our lunch thinking about what we have to do in the afternoon, we spend time now worrying about our next meeting or our next task. In doing this, we miss what is happening now. When you make a change to your routine, you are making yourself experience the moment, by having, say, a different sandwich at lunch you make yourself experience the flavor and taste of that sandwich or, by getting up earlier, you make yourself wonder what you can do with the extra time (even if you do the same usual thing but you do it slower.)
Changing your routine or simply being prepared to change your routine, also makes you open to new opportunities. You are no longer running your life ‘on rails’ so that you cannot change direction and try new things. Now you can take time to look for and notice new things in your life that you may want to explore further. Also, if someone comes up to you and makes you ‘an offer’, you no longer automatically say ‘no … I have to ….’, you can now consider the offer or, if you so wish, jump at the opportunity!
4) Your Work – Your work, whatever it is, forms a major part of your life. Yet are you fully happy in your work? Do you know why you do the work you do? Is your work well paid? Do you feel your work is important? Is your work what you really want to do in your life? Would you like to change your work or the way you work? Changing your work is a big decision to make. Many people find themselves stuck in an unfulfilling ‘dead end’ job but do so just to bring in the money to pay the bills. The longer you stay in a job, the harder it can become to move forward or move out. Changing a job can bring about a change in income, sometimes up and sometimes down, it is this uncertainty that makes it hard for many people to change jobs. Sometimes, however, we may be forced to change jobs either because of a change in our circumstances or a change in the company’s circumstances.
Changing work is rarely easy and almost always important. Changing your work can bring about new opportunities and new possibilities. It can also bring about changes in life and lifestyle, maybe also changes in your location and environment. The important thing is to take charge of such changes and ensure they are changes that you want. It is probably best not to wait until changes are forced upon you. If you consider changing your work, it is a good idea to have support, from your family, from trusted colleagues and from a professional advisor or life coach.
5) Your Health – Your health is important. It does not matter how good your life is, how good your job is, how good your relationship is … if you do not you’re your health, you cannot fully enjoy them. Despite doctors, hospitals, clinics etc., your health is primarily your responsibility. Your firm may pay you sickness or injury benefit but do you really want to be sick or injured? Visit your doctor, your dentist, and any other health official regularly to help maintain your health but there are also steps you can take to improve your health and, thereby, improve your life.
If you know you are eating unhealthily then you can change your diet. You do not have to make a dramatic change overnight but you can change one thing at a time, such as eating more fruit and veg, cutting down on red meat or processed food. You can always increase your exercise, join a gym if you wish or simply start by walking more or playing a sport. Take steps to quit smoking or cut down on alcohol consumption.
6) Your Relationship – Being in a relationship is better than not being in a relationship, even if that relationship is not always a good one. Many of us, though, stay in a bad relationship without considering the alternatives. With the help of a relationship coach or marriage counselor, it is possible to improve a relationship but that does mean that both of you need to recognise the need (and the benefits) to improve it. Alternatively, if a relationship is not providing the support you need or not meeting your needs or in some way holding you back, then you may consider ending that relationship. Always keep in mind, though, that even if the relationship appears to be good for you, it may not always appear good for your partner.
If you are not in a relationship then you can make steps to find one or create one. Many of us sit back and wait for a relationship opportunity to come to us, it rarely does. A more positive approach would be to go out and seek a new relationship. That is not always easy but you can always seek the support and help of a relationship coach or one of many singles, dating, introduction or social clubs that abound in our society. Being in a relationship is better than not; so you can justify spending your time, energy and money searching for and building a relationship.
7) Your Lifestyle – If you make changes in any one of the six areas already outlined, then this seventh area will be easy. You may already find that a change has already occurred in your lifestyle as a result of making changes in your work, your relationship or your health. Some of us, though, may wish to make further or more significant changes in our lifestyle. For some this may involve ‘down-shifting’ or leading a simpler life, perhaps more in tune with nature or the spiritual world. For other it may involve climbing the ladder and leading a more prosperous or rich life. In either case, financial planning is important and it would make sense to enlist the help of a financial professional.
For others a lifestyle change may be less dramatic. It may simply involve making new friends or new social contacts. Possibly a change of house or location may be involved. Maybe a change of lifestyle can be effected by changing the décor of your home so that you live in plusher, more ecologically friendly or simply different furnishings. Having brought about a change in your home, you may then want to invite current friends, old friends or people you have not yet met, into your home and thereby expand your social life.
No one can tell you that making change is easy and be wholly convincing. There is always some small voice in the back of your head telling you that it cannot be done. Making change can be done but it is not always easy, which is why throughout your change I would suggest seeking professional support and guidance. When you do make change, be firm in your belief that it can be done and call upon the support whenever you need it.