If you want to change your life, change it one thing at a time.

We all have things in our life we would like to improve, be it our weight, our eating habits, our organizational skills or our job.  I know I have had times when I’ve felt in need of an entire life makeover ~ nothing seemed to be going my way and I just wasn’t happy.  I wanted to change everything.  If I could, I probably would have thrown my life out the window and started over with a new one.

Looking back, I’m pretty glad I didn’t.

If you really think about it, how frightening would it be to wake up one morning with a completely different life?  Think of all the movies based on this very premise – none of the main characters were exactly psyched to wake up in someone else’s body (e.g. Lindsey Lohan in “Freaky Friday”).  Not good ~ mental breakdowns everywhere.

In other words, if you’re going to make some big changes, make them one at a time.  Don’t expect your life to change overnight.  Write down everything you want to improve upon ~ big or small ~ and list them from highest priority to lowest.  Seriously, go do it.  I’ll wait.

Did you do it?! I hope so.  It’ll help more than you think.  You can even roll your eyes while you’re writing, as long as you’re making that list.

Great.  Now get started on the first goal by breaking it into small, manageable pieces.  “Get a job that I love” is daunting, as is “lose 50 pounds and look like a total babe”.  These aren’t even one step processes, people!  There is no store in the world that sells “fantastic jobs that pay well” or “abs that make grown men cry”.  If there were, this post would be WAY shorter.

Example: Let’s pretend you want to purchase a new car because your current vehicle has been driven almost to the point of explosion. Setting a goal to “save up money for a car” is unreasonable because it doesn’t give you a jumping off point.  Be more specific.  Set a goal to save $5,000 for a car (I have no idea what your budget is, I just chose a number.  Maybe you want to save $2,000, or $10,000. )  Now, what are you going to do to reach that goal?

a.     Put all magazine/newspaper subscriptions on hold
b.     Cancel cable (watch TV online instead)
c.      Use coupons at the grocery store
d.     Buy generic – no brand names
e.     Shopping hold! 3 months
f.      Work overtime/pick up part-time job (Babysitting? Freelancing?)

Now, I don’t know your life. (Everybody yell: GIRL, YOU DON’T KNOW ME!!) Without having met you, I can’t tell you what to get rid of, how to make extra money, etc.  This is just an example of how specific your list should be.  This gives you actual tasks to perform until you reach your goal.  You can even check in on yourself and see if you are following your own rules.  So much easier to manage and stay on top of than something general like “stop doing bad stuff and start doing good stuff.” Ya know?!

The other thing to note is this:  don’t freak out about what step comes next, or how long each item on your list is going to take.  Don’t stay up all night plotting ways to make the process faster, or start thinking about item #5 before you’ve even gotten halfway through #1.  Stressing out and skipping ahead puts you right back at the beginning, which is where you are now.  Take it one step at a time. 

You will get to where you want to be, you’re just not going to get there rightthisverysecond. It’s going to take some time and effort.  Take a deep breath, go forth and conquer.

Still having trouble getting started? Check out http://zenhabits.net/begin/

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