Have you ever felt like you were destined to do something bigger, more meaningful in your life but didn’t know how to achieve it? You feel like you’re capable of achieving your dreams, but at the same time you worry that you don’t have what it takes or you weren’t born with the drive of those that are successful? In this post I will guide you through 5 life changing strategies you can apply starting today to make meaningful change and to transform your life. They’re more straight-forward than you think.
Don’t be afraid to try something new
After University I felt so lost with what to do with my life. In my second year I had began to realise I didn’t want to go into the animation industry, not yet anyway, so I went to work for an energy supplier. The only role that was available was a Customer Service role, my worst nightmare. I hated talking to people on the phone; I knew I didn’t have the skillset to manage an angry customer so was terrified of that situation occurring. I was terrified of failure.
However, I knew I wanted to try something new and I had to approach this challenge with a positive mindset. The idea of working for a start up company seemed appealing – lots of opportunity to move around, however it was my third shift in and my worst nightmare hit. I picked up the last call of the day and it was a complaint and unfortunately my inexperience made the situation worse. A review was left online, which was monitored by the company and I felt certain I was going to lose my job. But then life just carried on. My worst-case scenario had happened and come midday the next day I was over it. All that fear and anxiety was about nothing.
This experience encouraged me to continue to putting myself out there, into new roles. I made it my mission to approach with an open mind and to have the courage to try something new, something uncomfortable. If ever I didn’t want to do something, I would ask myself why? Was it because I wasn’t too fussed about doing it, or because I was scared of doing it? Scared of failing? If the answer was the latter, I made certain I put myself forward to do it. As a result, over the next few years I learnt Business Analysis skills, I learnt how to train people properly and I learnt SQL (a language I’d wanted to learn for years).
Often our worst-case scenarios are never as bad as we visualise them. Discomfort is only temporary, and failure is all part of personal growth. If I never tried anything new, never pushed myself I have no doubt I would still be the shy and unconfident individual I used to be.
The enemy of development is pain pobia – the unwillingness to do a tiny bit of suffering.Bruce Lee
There is always a lesson to be learnt in failure
Throughout our lives we have been conditioned to believe that failure is a bad thing, that if we fail at a task somehow our sense of self-worth is also impacted.
“I have failed at going out for a run this morning, therefore I am a failure who will never be a runner or have the mental toughness to persevere with any goal, even if I really want it.”
Really? We got all that from one missed run? Suddenly our whole perception of who we are, who we want to be has been torn down by one missed run. Then, of course, all the other missed runs come to mind, and you start to believe you will never be able to stick to your goal. After all, you have so much evidence to show you otherwise.
In every failure, there is a lesson to be learnt, even if that lesson is as small as “Once I finish work, do not turn on the TV as I’ll then start to feel tired and won’t exercise”. However, that lesson is lost if you never reflect on what went wrong. There is nothing to be ashamed of with failure – the important thing is that you had the courage to try, many don’t. Don’t lie to yourself about why you failed, or lie to others to protect your pride, your ego. Instead own your failures, own your mistakes, and most importantly learn from them. No experience is ever wasted or a step backwards if you take the time to reflect on it. Keep reflecting and keep learning from your experiences and you will gradually take enough wrong turns that you find the right path to be on.
“It is not what happens that is success or failure, but what it does to the heart of a man.”Bruce Lee
Dream big, every successful person has persevered with their goal
The thing that distinguishes successful people from those who dream of a better life is taking action. Phil Knight, co-Founder of Nike, was a young man when he decided to up and leave his job and travel the world. One of his stops on his trip was Japan, which he had planned to pitch his seemingly crazy idea to bring Japanese footwear into the American market. Without little to no experience, he pitched to some executives at Tiger shoe company and managed to gather enough interest from them to send him a few samples of their shoes, which is where his crazy idea took one step toward becoming a reality. If Phil Knight hadn’t taken informed risks or believed in himself when everyone else thought he was crazy, today we might not have Nike, one is the biggest global shoe brands.
You can spend life waiting for an opportunity to arise for you so you can finally be everything and achieve everything you want to, or you can take the reins and make it happen. So often I see people waiting for the perfect moment to make a change in their lives who never take any meaningful action.
Want to lose some weight? Put your shoes on and start going out for long daily walks. Not only is walking great for burning fat, it’s also good for self-reflection.
Want to keep your house tidy? Start putting rubbish in the bin as soon as you’re done with it. Do some washing up each time the kettle boils. Want some ideas how to declutter your home? Look up the work of Marie Kondo – buy her book and read it.
Want to start up a blog and make a living from it? Start writing blog posts and reading about how others have done it. That’s what I’m doing.
Take action and be consistent with that action. There will be days where you question why you’re doing it, or if your dream is too ambitious; do not let these days be the reason you quit. Believe in your dreams and yourself and persevere no matter what. You will get there. You just have to keep trying. That really is the secret to success, resilience in the face of adversity.
“Let everyone else call your idea crazy… just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”Phil Knight
Cut away the toxic people in your life
When you set yourself a goal, whether that be to get in shape or to be more productive with your time, there will always be those who want to bring you down. They might not be obvious about it; they may gossip about you; they might make you feel inadequate in your ambitions or they might straight up laugh in your face when you tell them about your goals. The bottom line is they don’t want you to succeed. Why? Because if you succeed, it forces them to realise their own inadequacies, their own issues with where they want to be in life.
Having said that, it’s important to recognise the difference between a loved one’s concern for your plans versus someone who doesn’t want you to succeed. If you trust the person who is shooting down your idea, then it’s probably coming from place of love and concerns.
My dad had concerns about me going to University in London by myself as I was so shy and unconfident. However, I was at a point in my life where I knew I needed to force myself in that situation, to move out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, and I gained a lot of independence from it.
Loved one or not, it’s important to have belief in yourself and your dreams. Let your loved one’s concerns guide you and help you consider if they have any merit. Push away those who don’t want you to succeed. They will only fill your head with doubt and concern.
“People who are suffering in hell don’t want to be all alone”Don Miguel Ruiz
Open your mind to new ideas and suggestions
I used to think yoga was pointless, that all the philosophy behind it as well as the physical side of it was a load of rubbish. From my past experiences, I’d met women who praised yoga, being kind to yourself and others, being kind to your body and finding balance yet who proceeded to do the exact opposite. To say you did yoga seemed like a way to show off, a way to say “Hey look how great my life is because of how enlightened I am compared with you and your closed mind”.
Whilst it’s true I am still sceptical of some self-proclaimed Yogis, I opened up my mind to the practise and what it could bring me. I learnt the importance of your breath (and am still learning!) and of being kind to yourself. At the start of 2020, Yoga is the exercise that began my goal to lose weight after I managed to do yoga for 30 days straight (a small achievement on paper, a big personal achievement).
In 2020 I opened my mind up to the world of philosophy, to the views of my friends and family (although I was careful to disregard the opinion of those who I didn’t feel had my best interests at heart) and I began to learn about Stoicism, Taoism and Jeet Kune Do. The ideas I learnt about through philosophy and the ones I put into practise helped me grow massively as a person.
If you close your mind and decide on an outcome before it happens, you will make that outcome happen. If you approach an idea with no prior judgement and a willingness to learn the worst that can happen is you decide the idea isn’t for you. But now you know, and you learn a little more about yourself in the process. You learn more about what you like and what works for you. There is nothing to be lost through having an open mind.
“Don’t start from a conclusion”Bruce Lee
Start to introduce these strategies as daily practises and you will transform your life. So many of us spend our lives in our comfort zones, too scared to step out as we don’t want to risk temporary discomfort or be seen as someone who fails.
However trying something new will get you used to feeling uncomfortable, take it slow and gradually begin to build up your confidence in knowing how to deal with challenges or risks.
Reflect on those failures that taking risks will ultimately bring. The more you fail, the more you learn about how to do things the right way. So many people are too scared to fail as they think that means they are a failure when in actual fact, it’s the opposite. They have taken one step closer to succeeding.
Dream big; your dreams aren’t unrealistic or unachievable, have belief in yourself. Having said that, it’s okay to doubt yourself to begin with, if you follow the above two strategies you will begin to form belief in yourself.
Cut away the people in your life who want to see you fail and those who don’t have a nice thing to say about you. Their opinion is not reflective of who you are or what you are capable of doing. However, remember to reflect upon what was said and consider if it has come from a place of love rather than a place of jealousy or frustration.
Open your mind to new ideas; you have nothing to lose by doing this and everything to gain. Challenge yourself to re-try things you’d previously written off. Approach them without judgement and take from them what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Even if you find nothing to take away (which I doubt), you will still have learnt a little more about yourself and who you are.
Above all be consistent with these strategies, these habits. Practise makes progress. I promise you, they will work.