Want to Change Your Life? Pick One Thing and Do It

Are you ready to take action, in a way that will change your life, right now? That’s a powerful feeling. Let’s leverage that motivation and potential you’ve got right now, and make it really happen for you.

First of all, though you may have several areas of your life that you’d like to see change, you need to just pick one to start. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Let’s get right to it:

1)    Pick your “Thing”

Choose something that:

  • you really want to change
  • you know that you’d really benefit from, if you changed it
  • you can realistically change, starting now

For example, I’ve decided to focus on exercising more. To really get serious about it. I’m a relatively active person (walk the dog every day, get to the gym 2-3 times a week), but the amount I’ve been exercising isn’t enough to be as fit and full of energy and strength as I want to be. I know, from reading study after study, that working out 4-5 times a week (and pushing myself more with both cardio and weights) will dramatically improve my mood, appearance, health and overall resilience.

I really want these results, so I’m motivated. I know that making this change would be life-changing. I can make the time in my schedule, and I already go to a nearby gym.

So, what “thing” are you going to do?

2)    Decide how, when and where you’re going to do it

Research shows that if you are intentional about how, when and where you are going to do a new behavior, you are more than twice as likely to actually do it.

I’m going to go to the gym on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings, because those are the best days for me. I’m going to do a combination of cardio, weights, core work and stretching each time. This is a realistic commitment.

How, when and where are you going to implement your new habit? Be realistic.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to start small and build up over time. That may give you the best chance at making something stick, versus starting out overly ambitious and then flaming out.

I’m going to start with doing 30 minutes of cardio, but will plan to build it up to 45 minutes over time.

3)    Imagine your life in 10 years, with and without the habit

If you implement this new habit or change and it sticks, what will be the result, 10 years from now? How will it change your life?

If you don’t take your commitment seriously enough, and give up after a few weeks, what will that mean for your life, 10 years from now?

As an example, if I exercise this often and this intensely, I will likely look and feel great in 10 years. I’ll age much more slowly and have much more energy to do all the different things I want to keep doing as I get older. If I give into laziness and don’t make the effort… well, let’s just say that it won’t be pretty (I have personally written out a much more detailed, depressing description).

I encourage you, too, to write out a description of both of these options: Describe in great detail how it will change or impact your life in 10 years if you do this thing, and what your life would be like if you don’t.

Writing the two scenarios out will go a long way toward keeping you on track when you’re inevitably tempted to quit.

4)    Keep your goal in your mind every day

When you pick just one thing to change, you can laser focus on it. It will stay top of mind. You won’t get distracted by trying to do a bunch of things at once. Your excuses will be forced to disappear, because you said you’d do this. This one simple thing.

When you get up in the morning, think of your “thing.” When are you going to do it today? How? Where? Do this every day. Keep it on the top of your mind.

Try to get it done early in the day, if you can. I used to plan to work out at the end of my workday, but fitness would constantly get shoved aside by things that came up. I’d end up running out of time. That won’t happen if I do it first thing in the morning. Doing it first means that when I say that exercising a top priority, it really is.

5)    Once it’s locked in, move on to the next thing 

You might resist picking just one thing because you feel like you need to change multiple things in your life. Won’t it take too long for your life and results to change, if you just do one thing?

Not at all. Studies show that implementing one new habit at a time is the smarter way to go. It takes a couple of months for most people to lock in a habit to the point that it becomes automatic.

Once your “thing” has become woven into the fabric of your life, to the point that you don’t need to make yourself do it (or remind yourself to do it) anymore, pick a new thing.

One new habit at a time, you can change your life. You can live your way into lasting, powerful, positive change.

Can you feel how good this feels?

You make a promise to yourself, and keep it. Since it’s just one promise, it’s so much simpler.

This dramatically increases the odds that you’ll succeed.

Now go out there and do it!

(P.S. One of the most impactful “things” I’ve implemented in the last year is a better sleep routine. It has been life-changing. I sleep better and longer, and have so much more energy. To read about the simple strategy I used that dramatically improved my sleep, check out this article: Suffering From Insomnia? Try This Simple Tool )

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4 Comments

  1. Janice Saia says:

    Thanks

  2. Scott says:

    Great article Susan and I guess in most circumstances a lot of people don’t want to change their lives through fear and rejection. Good habits are grown as you say by visualizing what life would be like in the future without them. I know I put on a lot of weight at one stage and it was only after my wife left me I made a habit of exercising and now I love it. Like you say changing one thing at a time is the best way as it builds confidence in order for you to change other things in life too. Being realistic about everything is totally right too. Love your advice on this one and hope people listen and implement what you say. Have a good one best wishes Scott

    • Dr. Susan Biali says:

      Hi Scott! Sorry for the delay as I just saw your comment now. I really appreciate what you wrote here, thank you. I’m sorry to hear about the breakdown of your marriage, that is so difficult to go through but it’s admirable that you chose to do something constructive for your health afterward. I appreciate the feedback and hearing about your experience!

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