I think we are all open to making changes in our lives that make us happier and more successful, but few of us follow-through because committing to something that’s going to change our lives is a daunting and massive undertaking, right?
Instead of focusing on huge, radical steps, start moving forward by incorporating these eight changes that are so small and simple that you can implement them immediately.
These eight steps can drastically change your life for the better.
1. Reprogram your mind to stay positive
Our thoughts and actions are influenced by our feelings. That’s why when you’re just feeling “blah” because the weather is crummy or you had a stressful week all you want to do is stay in bed.
Here’s the problem. Negativity is all around us. There’s nothing we can do about that, either, but what can do is learn how to reprogram our minds to stay positive. You can't trap every negative thought in the happy-clappy end zone of your mind, but can take charge of your thoughts by:
- Keeping a gratitude journal. Jot down what you’re thankful for every day instead of worrying what you don’t have. Gratitude will make you happier, increase your productivity and help you sleep better at night.
- Creating and repeating positive affirmations that acknowledge the progress you are making in the areas where you want to improve.
- Surrounding yourself with positive people who lift your spirits. Remember, emotions are contagious.
- Don't acknowledge negative thoughts.
- Staying active. Exercise releases endorphins but idleness leads to over-analyzing and overthinking.
2. Set your alarm half an hour earlier
One traits many successful individuals have in common is they get up early. While you don’t have to wake up at the ungodly hour of 3:45 a.m.. like Apple’s Tim Cook, you could start setting your early half an hour earlier. So, if you normally set your alarm for 7 a.m., set it for 6:30 a.m.
This will give you some extra time in the morning to exercise, meditate, read, check your emails, have breakfast with your family, plan your day or work on something that you’re passionate about. It saves you from rushing out the door each morning feeling forgetful, unaccomplished and discombobulated. Time tracking is key to self-improvement.
3. Clean up after yourself immediately
How long does it really take to make your bed or wash your morning dishes? Maybe five minutes? Here’s the thing. If you don’t stay on top of these minor chores, they quickly build-up. That cereal bowl and coffee mug becomes a sink full smelly dishes that take a lot of time to clean. If washed immediately, you wouldn’t have this headache.
What’s more, people who immediately clean-up after themselves, like making their beds every morning, tend to be happier, as well as more successful since it makes you feel accomplished, removes clutter, and gives them a sense of control.
4. Don't over-commit
A common theme I notice with self-help advice is how people make goal-setting sound easy. They’ll suggest that you get more exercise or sleep, but that’s easier said than done when you’re working 12 hour days and helping with a newborn.
I’m not making excuses. Far from it. It’s just easier to commit and follow through successfully if you keep your goals simple and clearly defined. Start small and work your way up. Don't jump into a marathon headfirst if you need more exercise. Start with 10 push-ups a day, a walk down your block after dinner or this seven-minute workout plan that you can do in your room.
If you want to start eating healthier but aren’t much of a cook, try a service like Blue Apron or Sun Basket. They send healthy ingredients to your home and give you step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the meals. If you want to start meditating, start with devoting five minutes a day.
This rings true in the business world as well. When we started my company we tried to be everything to everyone. Now, we focus on being the best invoicing company out there. Don't overpromise and under deliver.
5. Don’t be so predictable
Doing the same thing each and every day puts us in a rut. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to stop being so predictable. Break out of your comfort zone at least once a week and do something new that you’ve never done before. Try that Thai restaurant. Go snowboarding. Purchase a wardrobe from a different store.
You get the point.
Opening ourselves up to new experiences makes us happier, changes our perspectives, helps us recognize new opportunities, boosts energy and makes us more receptive to change. This cycle circles back. New experiences will make you happier.
6. Swap complaining for expressing gratitude
Even during my darkest times, I always tried to remain optimistic by reminding myself that despite the failure of my business, I still had the support of my family and friends. That helped me make the best of an otherwise dire situation.
One of the best ways to feel better when you need it most is by showing your gratitude. Be thankful for the best thing that happened to you today. I already mentioned keeping a daily gratitude journal, but I want to stress this can change your life. Researchers have found that:
- Those who keep a weekly gratitude journal tend to exercise more, have fewer physical symptoms and are more optimistic about their futures.
- Daily discussion of gratitude can increase alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy and sleep duration, as well lower reports of depression.
- Individuals who think about, talk about or write about gratitude daily are more likely to help someone with a personal problem or offer emotional support.
- Those who are grateful place less importance on material goods, are less envious of others and are more likely to share their possessions with others.
- Daily gratitude practices may help prevent coronary artery disease.
Show your gratitude to friends, family, clients and colleagues. Sincerely thanking people is one of the best ways to strengthen relationships. After all, doesn’t it feel awesome when someone thanks you for your hard work, doing a chore, or just listening when they need to vent?
7. Stop comparing yourself to others
Stop losing sleep over what others have and what you don’t. Here’s the truth: there is always going to be someone who has a better paying job, lives in a nicer house, drives a fancier car and goes on more exotic vacations. Your friends may start families before you. Some might get to retire early.
Comparing yourself just makes you miserable and unhappily preoccupied about what others consider success. Instead, worry about what you define as success. When I started freelancing, I had friends who mocked me because I wasn’t making as much money as they were. The way I saw it, I had a flexible schedule, got to work wherever I wanted and never complained about work since I enjoyed what I was doing. My friends that gave me a rough time complained constantly about their jobs, colleagues, waking-up so early, etc.
Who do you think was happier?
8. Tackle the one thing that you’ve been putting off
We all put off that one thing: the phone call to your insurance company, cleaning up your desk, changing the batteries in the smoke alarms. Just like those dirty dishes I discussed earlier, setting priorities includes making certain seemingly small tasks don't build-up until you have to spend an entire day catching up.
If you have unfinished tasks, you are carrying a heavy weight around with you all the time, no matter how small each task is. You have to remember it. If possible, when you think of it, do it right then.
After you’ve listed your priorities for the day, add a long-standing chore to your to-do-list. For example, at the end of the workday, you’ll make that phone call or organize your workplace since you’ve already gotten all of your most important, and energy-draining, tasks done for the day.
You’ll be surprised at how much better, and productive, you’ll feel once you've crossed these items off your list -- even if it's just a mental list.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.