The road to success is rarely straight. Anyone who has achieved success in any area of their life will likely tell you that their journey was not an easy one. Roadblocks, dead ends, disappointments, bad decisions, and failures (collectively referred to as “experience”) are often the stepping-stones that forge the path to success.
Most people who have achieved success have also hit rock bottom somewhere along the way. But it was the experience of hitting rock bottom that gave these individuals the motivation they needed to make dramatic changes in their life and propel them towards success. As the attitude and achievement expert Dr. Willie Jolley once said: “a setback is a setup for a comeback.”
If you wake up one day and realize that the life you’re living is not the life you want, don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept where you are, and more importantly, accept the responsibility for changing where you’re going to be.
You cannot change your life overnight, but you can most certainly change the direction of your life overnight.
Here are 12 things you can start doing immediately to turn your life around and get back on track to achieving success:
1. Read daily
If you want your life to get better, you need to start making better decisions. To make better decisions, you need to equip yourself with new ideas and better information. Get into the habit of reading at least 10 pages of great information every single day. At this rate, you’ll be able to finish at least 1 new book per month, for a total of 12 new books per year.
Don’t read fiction. In most cases, fiction is meant to entertain you, but not empower you. You should alternate between non-fiction categories that have a direct correlation to the areas of your life you want to improve. Examples of good categories include: health, personal finance, wealth creation, relationships, business, self-help, spirituality, productivity, success, and inspirational biographies. The wisdom and ideas you will get from these types of book will undoubtedly help you to succeed.
2. Put your goals in writing
Without question, the most successful people in the world all have goals. Their goals are the benchmark against which they measure their results. People without goals often have no direction. Like a hamster on a wheel, they move but go nowhere.
Turning your life around begins with identifying exactly what you want to achieve and then creating a strategy for achieving it. Give your goals deadlines, and identify the resources you will need and the actions you must take in order to accomplish them. Read your goals every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep to ensure your mind stays focused on your objectives.
3. Dissolve relationships with people who hold you back
There may be some people in your life that you are better off not spending time with. Not everyone has habits or attitudes that are conducive to success, and unfortunately those habits and attitudes are contagious. Like crabs in a bucket, these people are the first to pull you down the moment they see you trying to climb to a higher level. You may have friends, coworkers, or even family members who fit this description.
It is not always a good idea to abruptly cut people out of your life (doing so typically arouses resentment). Some relationships should be dissolved gently. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend with the people who you don’t want around you as you move forward. Use the time you would otherwise be spending with them to build new relationships with positive people who support and encourage your success.
4. Stay hydrated and exercise regularly
Success doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of hard work. In order to put in the work necessary to get to the next level without burning out, you need to build up large reserves of physical and mental energy.
The first thing you can do to immediately increase your energy levels is to drink more water. Water helps replenish your system, improve digestion and eliminate waste from your body. Many people make the mistake of thinking they are tired or hungry when in reality they are just dehydrated. Drink a large glass of water as soon as you wake up, drink a few glasses throughout the day and before each meal, and drink another glass in the evening before you go to sleep.
The second thing you should do is exercise for at least 30 minutes (go for a run or go to the gym) no less than 3 times per week. Regular exercise helps strengthen your heart and lungs, improves your flexibility and strength, helps manage your weight, prevents illness, decreases stress, and it even helps you to get better sleep – all of which have positive effects on your energy levels, overall health, focus and productivity.
5. Start a savings plan
There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” When it comes to saving money, this philosophy is just as valid. If you haven’t been saving a portion of your income for investment and future use, the best time to start doing so is now. Most financial planners would agree that you should be saving a minimum of 10% of your monthly income on a consistent basis. Unfortunately most people spend the majority of what they earn (sometimes more) and invest very little for the future.
Don’t make the mistake of working hard for money, and then using that money to pay everyone else except you. Pay yourself first. If you don’t think you have the discipline to do this, go to your bank and arrange for a percentage of the income you deposit to be immediately transferred to a savings or investment account. Learn to live off of at least 90% of your income. Your future self will thank you for it.
6. Turn your car into a classroom
If you work full-time, you probably spend somewhere between 5 and 10 hours per week commuting to and from work. Instead of listening to music or the radio during this time, start listening to inspiring and educational content. Most books have an audio version, and there are plenty of great podcasts that you can listen to for free on iTunes. With an abundance of great content on virtually every subject at your disposal, you don’t have to go back to school to get more education.
7. Stop watching TV
If you pay for a monthly cable subscription then do yourself a favor and cancel it. Seriously. Watching television is arguably one of the most toxic, unproductive, time-wasting activities of modern society. Stop wasting precious hours of your day on negative news, sports, advertisements, and reality shows that add no real value to your life. Start using the hours you waste channel surfing on activities that are more productive.
If for whatever reason you just can’t live without watching a specific game or episode, then add it to your schedule, watch it online (on Apple TV or Netflix, for example), and make it a social event by inviting friends or family to join you.
8. Practice public speaking
The ability to speak confidently and communicate articulately is one of the most valued and rewarded skills in the marketplace today. People who are good communicators are able to navigate their way through life with ease and enjoy more success than those who are not. They earn promotions, they build key relationships, they present their ideas clearly, they resolve disputes, and they typically earn the respect and admiration of the people around them. They are leaders in their organizations, their families, and their communities.
Most people are terrified of speaking in public, and they will do almost anything to avoid it. This presents a tremendous opportunity for those who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and develop this rare skill. One of the places you can go to practice your communication skills in a non-threatening, positive environment is your local Toastmasters club. Most of these clubs host weekly meetings where anyone is welcome to attend and participate. As you become a stronger communicator, people will begin to perceive you as a leader, and more opportunities will come to you as a result.
9. Stop complaining
One of the worst habits a person can have is the habit of complaining. People who complain are usually negative and pessimistic by nature. Don’t be one of them. If you encounter problems or challenges, don’t complain about them. If you catch yourself complaining about something, bite your tongue and reframe the situation. Complaining about a situation doesn’t change it. Get proactive and focus on finding a solution. A Napoleon Hill once said: “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” Look for the benefit in each situation.
10. Learn a new skill
A great way to bring some more excitement into your life is to learn something new. Consider learning to play an instrument, learning to speak a new language, joining a club, taking a class, or playing a sport you’ve never played before. The purpose of doing this is to ignite your sense of wonder and creativity, while simultaneously getting you out of your comfort zone and into new experiences.
11. Start a business
If you don’t already own your own business, there is no better time to start one than right now. Advances in technology have removed virtually all barriers to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs. Anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can start a business, and there is no shortage of training and resources available to help you get started.
For about as much as it costs to stay in a hotel for a weekend, you can buy a web domain, create a website, print some business cards, place a few ads online, and start promoting yourself to the marketplace. You could sell a service (graphic design or consulting, for example), sell your own products, or promote someone else’s products in exchange for a commission.
12. Look for opportunities to help others
Most people think only in terms of what they can receive from others instead of what they can give to others. But the law of reciprocity teaches us that if we want to receive, we should give. Giving ignites the receiving process.
If you want to feel good, one of the simplest yet most effective ways to feel good is to do something to make someone else feel good. If you want people to treat you with more respect, start treating other people with more respect. If you want your life to get better, help someone else’s life get better. The more you do for others, the more others will want to do things for you.
Give and you shall receive.