How I Changed My Life for the Better

changed life better

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

A few years ago, I decided to change my life for the better. I thought I would write about the changes I decided to make in case others could benefit from it. There were numerous reasons why I wanted to make these life alterations, but the main ones were:

1. I knew I was capable of so much more. I wanted to make an effort to exploit my full potential and accomplish more and I was not doing that.

2. I was not in the best of health. I was too sedentary, out of shape, had visceral body fat around my waist, I kept late hours, and I drank too much alcohol.

3. My overall lifestyle habits were not conducive towards a healthy and productive life.

4. I wanted to be more mindful and happy and worry less.

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. That was my motivation. I conducted a lot of research online and read many books on happiness, health, success, productivity and overall wellness. After devouring a wealth of information from famous self-help experts and some not so famous ones, I recognized a commonality between all of them as they pretty much were all advocating similar strategies.

I carefully and discriminately decided on the changes I would make in my life. I purposely chose changes that were practical, effective, and achievable for me. I wanted lasting changes and not temporary ones that were based on euphoria. For certain aspects, I made complete 180-degree changes while for others I made small behavioral changes. I did this because certain changes were harder for me to make than others.

I came up with a list of 31 specific habits that I wanted to change. Here is what I did:

1. I decided to have a daily routine which I followed diligently. I did not have to wake up in the morning and figure out what I needed to do because I had a routine that I adhered to. It eradicated the guesswork.

2. I set clear goals that I wanted to achieve. I wrote these down so that there was no ambiguity. These goals were specific and clearly stated so that it was obvious when I achieved them (or didn’t). Because there was no vagueness, I knew when I fell short.

3. Based on the advice of others, I made sure the goals I set were quantifiable and measurable. For example, rather than saying I would exercise often (what does often mean?), I said that I would exercise 4 times per week for 1 hour each time. Because my goals were so specific, I was able to review my progress (or lack of) easily. And I did a review every week.

4. Not only did I develop a daily routine, I also decided to plan my days and week in advance. Rather than leave things to chance or to what I felt like doing at the moment, I planned each day and week by listing specific things that I wanted to accomplish. For example, I decided to do my grocery shopping on a Monday afternoon when the store was less crowded and numerous items went on sale.

5. I learned to meditate and incorporated that into my daily routine. This one change has made a huge impact on my life. I now meditate every morning after I wake up. It has taught me so much about myself, helped me concentrate more, and become more mindful. It also has made me realize that my thoughts can be extremely rambunctious and that I do not always have to attach myself to them.

6. I decided to join my local gym and exercise 5 days a week. I do this in the mornings before I start work. I lift weights and then do a 20-minute cardio workout. My gym also offers classes (free with the gym membership) such as yoga which I sometimes join.

7. Another change I decided to make was to get rid of or distance myself from friends whom I considered to be toxic or bad examples. I knew that I wanted friends who had a positive influence on me.

8. Related to number 7, I started making new friends with people I considered to be positive influences. I also spent more time with existing friends who shared my goals to be a better person.

9. I made a commitment to pay closer attention to my nutrition and eat healthier food. I cut out junk food, sodas, excessive fat, and processed foods. I actually started paying attention to nutritional labels.

10. I also decided to cook more food at home rather than eating out. I love to cook so this change was not as difficult for me as for some. I now control what I cook and how much fat is added to my food. And I have been saving a ton of money by eating out less. And when I do eat out, I try to order healthier items on the menu.

11. Another change I chose to make pertains to reading. I decided to read more books. I used to read a lot when I was younger but, somehow, fell out of the habit. I now download great books on my Kindle app and read them before bed at night on my iPad or phone.

12. I have curtailed my TV viewing and now watch much less television compared to before. I have used this time to read more.

13. When I do watch TV now, I refrain from watching negative and frivolous programming. I used to watch reality shows and loved watching crime shows like Unusual Suspects but found them to have no real merit or educational value. Some of the programs that I used to watch would actually have a negative impact on me and subliminally get me depressed. My remote control is now used a lot more discriminately to find shows that are uplifting and educational. I love channels like National Geographic, Discovery, and PBS.

14. I cannot believe how much time I wasted in the past surfing the internet and visiting web sites that posted junk. Today, I am more aware of the choices I make with my mouse and I avoid web sites that predominantly post violent, discriminatory, sexual and useless information.

15. After reading about the virtues of being grateful, I now list 5 things every night that I am grateful for before I fall asleep. It could be simple things like enjoying a nice meal or spending quality time with a loved one. This has made me appreciate my blessings so much more and made me more thankful.

16. A major change I have made in my life is to drastically cut back on the amount of alcohol I consume. I still drink wine in moderation but I do not indulge in vodka and binge drinking like I did before.

17. In the past, I managed to convince myself that I was a night owl and definitely not a morning person. During the week, I now climb into bed by 10PM and wake up much earlier than before. It took a while for me to adjust my sleep habits and I now realize that it is possible to follow the adage early to bed, early to rise. I feel so much more rested these days.

18. Another major change I have made in my life is being more careful with my money. I now am a lot more discriminate when it comes to buying stuff and I have learned to source out great bargains. I save a lot more than I did before.

19. In addition to saving more money, I also invest my money now. I have become a silent partner in a business and have also invested in my own business.

20. Rather than spend money buying frivolous stuff that I do not need, I now spend money on memorable experiences that I know I will cherish. Whether it is going to visit my mother who lives overseas or going kayaking, I now spend my money on great experiences that teach me a lot and afford me a lot of fun.

21. I have decided to stay in closer contact with family and friends whom I care about deeply. I used to be more self-centered and neglected to stay in touch with my loved ones. I now take the time to call my Mom more often, write more personal e-mails and letters, and simply be a better friend and family member. This has brought me so much closer to those I cherish.

22. One thing that I have changed and do much better now is managing my time. I did not realize how much I was wasting in a typical day on frivolous things, be it daydreaming, spending time in a bar, watching boring TV commercials, trolling the internet for useless gossip, etc. I now am more aware of how I spend the most precious commodity all of us have been given, time.

23. Forgiveness is a big one for me. I can honestly say that I used be bad at forgiving others and myself. I was equally hard on others whom I perceived had wronged me, as well as on myself for all my past mistakes. I spent a lot of time learning to forgive myself and others and this has freed me from so much anger and resentment.

24. In addition to meditation, I have learned to incorporate visualization/guided imagery into my daily routine. Every morning before I meditate, I visualize and picture outcomes and goals that I desire. I do not just visualize it; I actually try to feel the feeling of actually accomplishing the outcome. I have found this to be extremely powerful.

25. I have to admit that I used to be a coward when it came to visiting the doctor or dentist. For years, I avoided them like the plague. However, I now have chosen to view going to the doctor and dentist frequently in a more positive light. I schedule visits regularly and my fear has been greatly reduced. I focus on the fact that prevention is better than cure.

26. In the past, I have been guilty of spending too much time at bars and clubs. I now have cut back on those activities significantly and substituted them with more wholesome activities. I am now more likely to go hiking, visiting a state park, taking up photography, bird watching, going to the beach, joining a yoga class, etc.

27. I learned to not to try and seek the approval of others as I often did before. This was a big change for me because I definitely tried too hard to please others, even if it meant sacrificing my authenticity. I would get upset if I incurred the disapproval of others. Instead, I now use my conscience as my guide and, while I try to be sensitive to how others feel, I do not allow it to run my life. I know that I cannot please everyone.

28. Another major change I have made in my life is making time to learn new skills and increasing my knowledge. I am more likely to enroll in a photography class now, or watch a TED talk, or choose a great documentary on Netflix to watch as compared to before. I read books on meditation, exercise, nutrition, etc.

29. If there was an award for procrastination, I think I would have been in the running in the past. I would procrastinate a lot, especially if the task at hand scared me or seemed daunting. I have greatly improved this tendency and now jump into things without letting fear get the better of me. I have learned that the small act of starting a task makes all the difference because it builds momentum and confidence and motivates me to continue.

30. One thing that I do much more now as compared to before is challenging myself to do things that I consider difficult. In the past, I would shy away from difficult endeavors because I was scared and did not believe in myself sufficiently. I realize now that many of these fears were unwarranted. I also know now that challenging yourself is the only way to grow and improve. I now view the discomfort in a different light. If I am uncomfortable doing something, there is a good chance it’s because I am taking myself out of my comfort zone and learning something new.

31. Last and not least, I do my best to love myself now. I do not take myself as seriously and try to practice unconditional self-love. I make a conscious effort to practice simple but positive affirmations throughout the day that emphasize self-love and worth.

I have incorporated these changes gradually over time and have found that each of them supports the other. I’d like to make it clear that in no way am I successful 100% of the time. I am far from perfect and still have many faults. In fact, I fail often. However, two things have happened:

1. I fail less often than I did before, probably because, like anything else, things get easier the more you practice. And

2. When I do fail, I do not let it discourage me like it would have before. I simply learn from my mistakes, make changes and move on.

I can sincerely say that these changes have made me a happier, more successful and more equanimous person. I could not have even imagined the life I have right now, and I am still learning every day.  If I can do it, I know you can, too. I blog about these and other experiences regularly because I want to share my experiences and help others.

I believe in you. What changes are you going to make in your life?

45 thoughts on “How I Changed My Life for the Better”

  1. David, you are certainly very inspirational and motivational. I have incorporated a lot of the same practices and habits that you spoke of including meditation, exercise, wholesome activities, and cooking. My life has changed a lot in the last couple of years, and it sounds like it has for you also!

  2. Thank you very much, Norman. I appreciate your kind words. I am very glad that you are on this journey with me!

    1. Hello David I am 21 and I’ve read this so many times. It motivates me to start changing my life starting today. I’ve been searching a lot because I decided to change a lot of things about my life. Thank you a lot. Have a good day.

    2. Hi nice to meet you. My name is Danny. I am in a very low place at the moment in my life, at 26 years. I work for snows Toyota as a sales executive, but this is not what I want to do. I do not know what I want to do, but I know I feel I can achieve so much more, I am fed up of worrying all the time especially about money problems. I feel lost and need some guidance. I have a partner, of 8 months we love together, and it’s going well, I am also worried that changing my direction in life will also alter our relationship too which I don’t want to happen. Can you help me?

  3. David, thanks for sharing such a valuable points about life, how to live life. I appreciate your work and thinking about life counseling.
    Thanks!

  4. I could relate to so many of the ways in which I need to change my life. I don’t feel I have the discipline, though. How did you find the motivation and discipline to make so many changes? Did you have a system? Did you work on one thing at a time? Thanks for your input.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Vicki. I guess I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and that was my primary motivation. I realized that nobody could make these changes for me so I had to do it myself. I worked on many things at a time and slowly introduced other changes. Discipline is nothing other than the ability to forgo instant gratification, and that is something I always try to remember. If you are interested, you can read more on my blog, http://www.skilledatlife.com. Thanks, again, for your input!

      1. Thank you, David. I am very interested in your blog. I’ve been on a journey of simplifying my life, and I’m also wanting to better my life in many of the ways that you mentioned in this post. I actually printed out your post to read again; I plan to make notes on it and mark things to do and ideas I have for implementing some of these things in my own life as I read. Thanks again for the inspiration.

      2. Hi David. What a pleasure to read your
        journey towards changing your life. You were brave to commit to 31 goals! I am definitely impressed and inspired. Thank you.

  5. Beatrice Langariti

    Oh you just inspired someone from a very far country – Uganda. I have promised my self to reread this post this week. Thank you so much David.

  6. Lukecritchley1@gmail.com

    Hi
    Interesting reading.
    Please could you tell me which books you have read that have had the biggest impact on you with regards your overall improvement?

    1. Thank you, Luke. I have read so many, including The Road Less Traveled, The Power of Now, Quantum Wellness, as well as books by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Mariannae Williamson, etc. Each of them taught me something different and valuable. And I still am discovering new authors and books.

  7. Congratulations David. You have cracked the code! For anyone not happy with how they are being in their life, this is the post to read.It really is this basic. So often we read or hear that we should just start with 1 small change. I’m not so sure that is the way. If one really wants to be happy and successful being who they are, I think a wholesale shift like you made may just be the best path to take. Thanks for sharing David

    1. Thank you very much, Eve! I agree that it is possible to make multiple changes at the same time, especially if they reinforce one another. It seems to have worked for me.

    1. Shelby, I am sorry to hear that you are in a low place. Please know that you deserve to be happy and that you have it in you to make whatever changes you desire. I believe in you.

  8. I truly surprised after reading this article. Especially point 27, which I was searching for a solution. Thanks for sharing your thoughts David. Excellent understanding about life.

  9. David

    Such a wonderful article. You articulated extremely well on the various points I have started implementing in my life. It is so true that if we desire, we can bring monumental changes to our lives.

    Do you have any thoughts on how one can help others in one’s dysfunctional, toxic families to incorporate these practices? For me it is a constant struggle when my own near and dear ones try to drag me and themselves down. I truly feel sorry for them and wish I could do something but the great thing about bringing this shift in my life has been it does not shake my core anymore. As you said, things will never be perfect, but every step leads the way. You have got to start somewhere.

    By the way, Wayne Dyer is awesome and his teachings and insights are very inspiring and can transform a person. Kudos for an inspiring article.

  10. Thank you, Patty, for the kind words. I think you are handling the dysfunctional family issue wisely. I have had some experience with this, too. I simply am not affected much by it anymore because I have learned the concept of equanimity and know what makes me happy. The best thing you can do is to lead by example and, hopefully, others will be inspired and follow suit. You are far more powerful and influential when you are calm and wise, I feel. Try to patiently teach them the truths that you have learned. If they are not ready, know that you have done your best. I commend you for your wisdom!

  11. Hi David. I wanted to tell you how I will try and use your blog for my motivation to change. It’s 2am and I am surfing the internet, I type in “change my life”. As wonderful as google is, it can waste my whole night by sending me off on tan-guns. As I am scrolling the list, I see “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” My heart skips! I have said these very words thousands of times! I read your story and your list. Again, I choke up. So many similarities! One huge differenc; you followed thru and succeeded.

    I too, have read many self help books, many spiritual guides and I too have seen the commons in them. I still feel over whelmed and I still feel the emptiness and despair the fear brings. Thank you for posting your journey. Thank you for remembering the feelings of wanting to just be you and grateful for that.

    I just turned 48 a few days ago and although, I have few regrets, I am filled with anger and resentment. I long to be softer,more loving, gentler and loved not feared. Most of all, I do not want to pass on these feelings of inadequacy and the constant fear of not measuring up, to my children. I see it, like a cancer, growing in them and I love them so much, I want them happy. I hope this time I will succeed. I will print your list and return to your blog for guidance. We are each others angels you know and god speaks to us thru each other.
    Thank you.

  12. Hi David
    Its so nice to read your blog. I feet its the best inspiration that I need right now. I want to change my life for my love one. Thank you.

  13. Hi David and commenters,
    So much in common, and typed in ‘I want to change my life’ also, after years of always trying to please others, whether its family, friends or work colleagues, always the same result, just used and abused, and always feeling guilty for others paths in life. Apparently its allowable if you say ‘you always hurt the one you love the most’ yeah right!
    Everything you have said is what I want to do, it all makes sense because its not sales or what I want to hear, you have to have actually been through it all – well I hope so please, I have such low trust issues with people who continually lie and manage their own personal agendas at the expense of every one else. I can’t even trust what I have in common with anyone left in this world of hate.
    Anyway thanks for not feeling so alone, and finally having something I can believe in and people I can understand.
    Kind regards
    Donna

  14. David

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. I need to make changes now as i want to live a better and happier life.
    I shall be putting your advise to work immediately

    thanking you

    Maria

  15. Hi, David. I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only one who want more sustainable life, for the better. For loved one, for family and a few good friends. Reading your blog is seem like looking at the mirror. I was also dealing with alcohol consumption few years ago. Smoker & addicted to drugs too… I have a kids, a daughter and son. I imagine how life would be if I don’t stop from such a negative habits. And it’s,for sure, really frightening me.
    The point where you said ‘people with bad influence’ is the bottom line. Just like me. I have to keep stay away from negative people around me, but I accepted what they are. We can’t deny that positive and negative is part of our lives. Acceptance is key.
    Warm regards,
    Mirantie

  16. Thank you for sharing. Through the past couple of years I’ve made some great changes in my life. To leave my past behind in order to grow, to not make the same mistakes. Although, I’ve learned that my mistakes will never go away. They will always be by my side; as a constant reminder of how selfish I was. To be lonely, self defeating, desperate and depressed was no way I wanted to continue through life. So I climbed my way out, met the woman of my dreams. Watched my diet, drastically lessened my alcohol and pot use. Did everything I set out to do. Unfortunately a bit of my past came back to haunt me, and not only me but my partner also. I realized because I was not admitting and forgiving of myself but only burying the truth; I was avoiding the truth of a person I was, someone that i could be, someone I couldn’t respect. I see it in my partner’s eyes now. A look of discontent. So I’ve learned a great lesson in honesty and the past. You can never change the past, if you bury it, it will always haunt you, be a part of you. I would now rather admit my faults, shed my skin and be ashamed than to bury them and never change. Thank you again for your words of encouragement, the journey continues

  17. This speaks to me on a deep level! I relate to almost every single point. Thank you for sharing this, it really inspires me.

  18. I am at the very beginning stage but can relate to all you aspects prior to change. I am going to start by making a list that is achievable and build upon it. I am beginning today. Thank you so much for sharing. It has definitely inspired me.
    Best,
    Barbara

  19. I felt positive in my head after reading this. Will incorporate a few changes right away and gradually get the focus back. Have felt wasted for quite some time now.

  20. Hello David
    I thank you! Your article came at a very important time in my life where I am going through some major difficulties where i have even cried asking for change in my life. A sequence of evens have
    brought me to the conclusion that its time and I cant ignore it or go on like this. Want to change old habbits and see and feel the light of happiness. I know it will be hard but i cant go on ignoring the beauty’ s of life.
    Ed

  21. David when I read your blog I almost burst out in tears because 90% of what you say about yourself applies to me as well. It’s as though you have lived my life. That’s mind blowing. Thank you for being brave enough to write about your journey. You have inspired me to never give up. I woke up crying this morning because I feel suffocated by how my life has turned out because I know I’m worth a lot more than the woman I turned out to be. I want to give my family a better life without wallowing in self-pity. I know I can do it thanks to you. Keep motivating those who are on the journey of self discovery. Knowing one self can be a major challenge but I now know it’s possible.

  22. Thank you for writing about how you changed your life. I am in desperate need of change in my life right now. I have been feeling so sad, frustrated and just stuck in general. You’ve given me some ideas to start changing my life into something that I love rather than hate.

  23. David. I am so excited to begin this journey. This last four years have been the most difficult and completely challenging for me. I have experienced so much heart ache and failures. You have saod everything i needed and wanted to hear. Thank you.

  24. Thank you so much for this inspirational article! I now and then try to step on the way of changes, but the effect is usually not lasting. I knew in theory what was good and what was bad, but couldn’t always stay on the good side, i had some ups but there were too many downs on my way. As I understand it now it was because i had a chaos in my head. After reading your insights i gained a complete understanding, now I have a clear action plan, i know exactly what i shall do. I have never been so sure that this time i will not give up. Thank u! :)

  25. Ricky williamson

    Thank you so much David,in an often chaotic world,these words of wisdom truly resonate with me…. Peace and love my brother as we share the journey

  26. Hey!
    This was really inspiring. I loved reading all of this. I am getting to that point when I am feeling that it the moment to change.
    Thank you so much for writing this and sharing your experience with us.

  27. I really have been in a mess. Diabetic over weight and confused as to where I stood in terms of who I really wanted to be. Today I woke for the first time in a long time knowing if there is no change, I will not grow as a person. So glad I came across this forum to discuss the next step to a healthier much more happy future.

  28. I found this article when at a crossroads in life and not knowing what to do next.
    You have inspired me. Thank you, Jane

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top