How to Change When You Feel Like the Only One Who Hasn’t

how to change

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh

It seems like a lot of people who write about how to change are the ones who successfully made it happen for themselves. Logically, it makes sense. Who else better to write about how to accomplish something than people who have actually done it?

I love reading articles about how to successfully improve your life and truly appreciate the writers behind them for generously sharing their wisdom. However, it can be discouraging. Before reading an article, I sometimes skip down to the writer’s bio in hopes that they are perhaps in a similar position as myself: just starting out and very green as to how to go about accomplishing their dreams. A wave of defeat washes over me when I read that they are an owner of their own successful business or a well-published author. I shy away from even reading what they have to say because, frankly, I do not even feel like I am in the same arena as them. How can I take advice from such high achievers when I feel I barely have a foot in the door?

What I have come to conclude, however, is that everyone who has aspired to be different, to make a life change, become better, or achieve something great, has experienced these feelings of confusion, fear, self-doubt and well, smallness at one time or another. When you view everything around you as big and grand, it is pretty easy to feel small and meek. It is difficult to work towards what you aspire to be when you lack the confidence and clarity to do so. So many of us often shoot ourselves in the foot before ever taking the first step. I have to believe, though, that the ones who persevered through their discouragement in the beginning stages, are the very ones who have achieved those successful bios.

So as an aspiring writer still in the beginning stages of self-doubt and uncertainty, here are a few things I have learned through the struggle of changing:

1. Stop Self-Defeating Thoughts Before They Start

Most of us are our own worst enemies. We tell ourselves that we cannot do something much more often than other people tell us. Think about it. When was that last time someone told you, “There is no way you could do that.” Unless you surround yourself with some pretty mean-spirited people, you probably don’t hear that too often.

Now think of the last time you heard that remark coming from the little voice inside your head. More than likely, that voice pipes up pretty frequently. The second that self-doubt begins to creep up, distract yourself. Focus your attention on a task that will bring you closer to achieving your goal, go for a walk, buy a cup of coffee, anything that will pull you out of that negative mind-set. One single negative thought can jump start a chain reaction of them so have a defense plan in place for the next time those thoughts sneak up.

2. Find a Support System of People With Similar Goals

Having a group of people that you can reach out to for support and to ask questions is a great way to build confidence in what you are doing and to gain motivation to continue doing it. The internet is a great source to search for others with similar goals and dreams that you can communicate with.

When I decided to get serious about writing on personal development, the number of people I encountered online who were trying to accomplish something similar overwhelmed me. I wasn’t shy about reaching out to them to ask advice and receive a little encouragement. Developing relationships with others will not only help you promote whatever it is you are hoping to accomplish but the support it provides will help you to keep trucking.

3. Keep At It

The phrase “never give up” is cliché, I understand, but it’s true that the harder you work, the closer you are to success. I truly believe that success is about 10% talent and 90% persistence. If you are committed to making a change in your life for the better, you can’t throw in the towel when the going gets tough.

We are all capable of doing so much more than what we think and this can be proven through diligence and determination. It is so much easier to not do something and fail than to actually try and not achieve. But what do you gain from not trying? We have all failed at something in our lives and most of us would not take it back if we could. You learn from it, become better because of it, and keep at it.

* * *

So for those who still feel like they are at the bottom of the food chain, don’t beat yourself up. We have all felt like the underdog at one time or another. Don’t allow the success and hard work of others discourage you from your own. The hardest part of achieving a goal is actually believing that you can do it; everything else is secondary. Become your own biggest advocate for personal change and you will be writing your own successful bio before you know it.

Photo by karriiiiii

40 thoughts on “How to Change When You Feel Like the Only One Who Hasn’t”

  1. Great article. I’m not sure there’s ever a time when you “make it”. I earn my living as a writer, and I don’t feel like I’m there yet. We’re all floundering in the dark, and that’s a beautiful thing. I think the Zen-ly inclined call it “beginner’s mind”.

    1. Hey David,

      I think you’re right. I like to think that I will reach a point where I realize, “This is it. I have reached the top. I HAVE MADE IT!” But in reality, I know better. I will always be striving for something. Regardless of whether or not I achieve success, the need to constantly do better will always be there. As frustrating as it can be at times, I agree it is a thing of beauty. To have a career in something where you are constantly striving to be better can be consistently rewarding and fulfilling.

  2. I really understand what you are saying about being a ‘newbie’ – I am too. I have found being lonely is the hardest part. However, there is always a plus side. I am writing about, am qualified in changing people’s thinking patterns, so if I cannot do this for myself and understand why it is happening – I can be of no use to others.
    Keep learning is my motto. If you believe in something, really believe then you can move mountains. I find I fit this world better than I ever did before and that feels amazing. Thanks for reminding me!

    1. Hi Joan!
      I’m glad my article could serve as a reminder for you. I love your motto of “keep learning.” In my moments of greatest frustration and self-doubt, I find that discovering something new and educating myself on new ideas is the greatest defeater of this negative mode of thinking. In the process, I often discover ways to better myself and in turn, ideas to help others better themselves.

      It’s ironic that the process of self-discovery can feel so lonely but yet when shared with others, can feel incredibly unifying. There is such a feeling of connection when you relate to others in terms of personal growth and change. I’m glad that we could connect!:)

  3. Hi Emily,

    I understand how discouraging it can feel to be reading all the success stories while at the same time, feeling like you should be much further. A lot of my friends are like that and it’s sad because I rarely can talk about my own adventures because I fear that they compare themselves to me.

    However, back when I also stagnated and had nothing going on, what really got me going was surrounding myself with people who had grand ambitions. Maybe their ideas didn’t completely grow and flourish yet, but when I saw how large they dreamed then I also got into that same mindset.

    I’m not sure if it’s about finding people with similar goals or if it’s by finding people who are currently further ahead than you are, but the latter is what worked for me. Thanks for sharing, Emily.

    1. Hi Vincent,
      I definitely see the advantages in finding support from people who are a few steps ahead of you. It is certainly encouraging to seek out advice and support from people who are at the level you one day aspire to be at yourself. Personally, I have benefited from everyone I have spoken to, some just starting out like myself, and others that have achieved GREAT success. For me, it is has been helpful to assemble a pool of people at all stages of the game, as they all have different viewpoints and perspectives. Like you said, I think it really is about finding what works best for YOU. Thanks for the comment! :)

  4. I grew up being told I would never make it in anything. Then, in my marriage, he always shot down my ideas, even when I founded and ran a non-profit for 7 years. What has kept me going is the sense that I have known all along that my ideas and creations are worth something.

    There have been times when I start to doubt myself, but then I’m reminded that these are my dreams and just because they were too scared of failing to even try, doesn’t mean I have to be like them.

    I used to get intimidated by people who were more successful than me, I hated having a conversation with them. I was afraid they would view me as a failure because my business was just starting out or the fact that I had struggled longer than what I thought most new business owners did. I finally swallowed my pride and realized, they were at the same place as me at one time. So I used that as a stepping stone to ask them for help through a mentor-type relationship.

    Life is all about learning and growing constantly.

    1. Hi Emm,
      I think a lot of people grew up similarly, being discouraged from doing the things they hoped to one day accomplish. Even if one grew up in the most encouraging of environments, society as a whole tells us to be a certain way, live a certain lifestyle, and take the smart, easy route. Many can’t understand why we would risk a safe 9-5 job with benefits, for a chance to make our dreams a reality.

      What I’ve discovered is that there are a million reasons not to chase after your dreams and a million people telling you why you shouldn’t. But that all pales in comparison to your own personal drive and commitment to make it happen. I’m reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It doesn’t matter if the entire world is looking down on you, if you keep focused on the goal at hand, their stares become meaningless.

      I hope you stay encouraged to keep at it. You’re already a lot braver than most who don’t waste any energy on making their deepest desires a reality!

      1. mahavir nautiyal

        Beautiful response. What great words of courage when you say” It doesn’t matter if the entire world is looking down on you, if you keep focused on the goal at hand, their stares become meaningless “. Dreamers can be many but it is only the intrepid souls who dare to walk to realize their dream ,can reach their goal. Even if they do not make it to the goal, the satisfaction of having tried hard, gives a glow of self-satisfaction and pride.

  5. I have to share this most amazing quote by Theodore Roosevelt that pertains to this post:
    The Man in the Arena:

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of
    deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is
    marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because
    there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great
    enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of
    high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never
    be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

    1. Nancy, I love that! I need to write that down so I can be constantly reminded to keep going. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Hi Emily! I like the way you wrote the article from the perspective of the one who hasn’t “made it” yet and worked to incorporate strategies to overcome feelings of doubt and inferiority.

    The more I read the more I have come to realize that we are all beginners at something!

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Hi Tammy! I can’t tell you how many times I have struggled to think of something “clever” or “ground-breaking” to write, when I realize my best work is done in my most honest of moments. I think by experiencing the hardships of just starting out, I am able to relate to a lot of people who have (or are currently) gone through it themselves. I often remind myself, as you said, that even the MOST successful of people started out where I am. They became successful because they kept at it, regardless of failures. Glad my article resonated with you! :)

  7. Like, Tammy I deeply appreciate the position you took when creating this article. As we are all on a journey to a destination we don’t arrive at in a single lifetime, our beginnings are never ending. Every step leads to taking another and taking the next step is almost always a struggle. Your three strategies for keeping the momentum are right on and I thank you for sharing them.

    1. Thanks, timethief! No matter how small, even one step is getting you closer to where you want to be. It’s good to be reminded of that now and then. :)

  8. I’m not sure who said this but its very true: You might try something and fail some of the time even most of the time but if you don’t try then you are sure to fail 100% of the time!

    I have accomplished many things in my life that some people would consider pretty impressive and the biggest thing for me was the persistence, just keeping at it until you managed to get it done. Its like another common term… like a dog with a bone; never give up.

    1. Wayne Gretzky quote I saw recently, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I grew up with no encouragement, teased or ignored by family members. First and second serious relationships were abusive. I used alcohol to help me feel better or numb my feelings. Today I am sober 26 years. I still sometimes feel like I am a “newbie” but I keep striving, hoping and dreaming. Reading posts like yours helps me to realize I am not alone.

      1. Hi Suzie! Wow, congratulations on 26 years of sobriety. That’s so amazing and something you should be extremely proud of. So many grow up in dysfunctional families, leading to dysfunctional relationships, etc. It is hard to pull yourself out of that negative cycle but I sincerely commend you for being able to. Keep up the amazing work. Just as my article reminded you that you’re not alone, your comment reminded me as well! :)

  9. Hey Emily

    Sadly, some people will spend much of their lives wasting their time, talent and opportunities while simultaneously looking for the shortcut, the quick-fix, the miracle cure; anything that will allow them to stay comfortable.

    Here are 3 questions I ask people to consider when thinking about change:

    1. What do you want?
    2. What’s the cost?
    3. Are you willing to pay the price?

    Answer those honestly and courageously and then do what’s required.


    1. Hi Craig,
      Those are 3 great questions. I’m definitely going to sit down and answer them honestly because I’m curious as to my responses. I like to think I have a solid idea of what I want in life but to see it in writing would give me a clearer vision and help me to create a path to accomplish my goals.

  10. I can understand completely how you feel about being at the beginning of your journey and seeing so many others who seem to have already “made it” and then feeling a bit inferior perhaps. I’ve always been into personal development but over the years I let life get in the way and did so much for others that I neglected myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically as well. Now I’m finally beginning to pick up the pieces and put myself back together. I feel that most of us know what we should be doing as far as personal growth goes but sometimes we lack the motivation to get from point A to point B. It’s refreshing to find kindred spirits who are on the same path. I think the 3 strategies you’ve listed are perfect for anyone on the journey of self discovery and honestly, we all are on that journey… it’s never ending!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Personal development is so important but yet so many people do neglect it. Work, family, and all the daily stressors we experience seem to get in the way of what’s truly important and that’s are we taking ourselves and doing what makes us happy? It seems so backwards because we put SO many other things ahead of personal happiness. It can be hard to remind ourselves of that and I think that’s why it’s so important that there are resources like The Change Blog that serves as a reminder. Like you said, connecting with people who are also trying to remind themselves of the same thing, is great motivation and encouragement to do it yourself!

  11. Hi Emily,

    I used to have general anxiety disorder, so I know first-hand the power of negative self talk. I always point out to anyone who will listen that if the mind can make the body essentially freak-out – i.e. stop digestion, cause the hands to sweat, the heart to race and pound, sometimes even causing palpitations and hyperventilation, and send hormones and other chemicals coursing through the blood stream and cause a person to go into a blind panic in which they think they are dying … that’s some strong negative self-talk!

    Imagine, using the same power of the mind to empower ourselves with positive self-talk. What we could do, and what we could accomplish! The possibilities are endless. And when you boil it all down, as you said, it’s all about taking action, and keeping at it.

    1. Hi Michael,
      I completely agree with you and I often remind myself of the power thoughts have on the body and mind. I, too, have suffered with anxiety and even experienced a panic attack a few years ago (luckily, it was my one and only)! The physical symptoms were unbelievable. I couldn’t believe how my negative thinking could manifest itself physically and in such a strong manner. Like you said, I often think that if my negative mode of thinking could have such an impact, so could positive thinking. If I allowed positive thoughts to guide my actions instead of the negative ones, the possibilities truly would be limitless!

  12. Thank you for sharing, Emily. It makes me feel less alone to know that other people have similar mental struggles as I do. Often I feel discouraged when I think I “shoud have” done something, or that I will face more obstacles tackling certain things now as opposed to tackling them a few years ago. I love reading Change Blog because you guys remind me that it is never too late to start! Besides, the alternative is to sit around and sulk, and that’s definitely not worth anything! Thank you for sharing with this community :)

  13. Hi Sadiya!
    I too occasionally beat myself up for not having started this all a few years back. Or I will see someone around my age who has accomplished so much and think, “Why were they able to start so much sooner?” But everyone is on a different journey and develops at their own rate. We could beat ourselves up but would that turn back time? There are people who have accomplished amazing things in their 20s, 30s, 70, 80s, and 90s! There is no universal timeline that we all must follow. Glad we could remind each other of that! :)

  14. I appreciate some of the insights; however, as is often the case, I’m left without concrete info. HOW does one find “like-minded people?”
    Casual conversations might lead to a sudden connection, but that’s not likely for everyone. If you live in a small area lacking in culture, night classes, etc., such as I do, how do I find others with my mindset? I have intelligent friends, but few are in the frame of mind that I am as far as wanting to start a business, start writing more, etc. Any actual solid ideas would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Alexeles! I find the same thing – although I have a few great friends, not many of them are starting businesses or making time in their life for the things I hold dear (exercise, learning, and fun!). With that comes a bit of angst, but what I have found is a supportive group of online friends/bloggers who want similar things, and we cheer each other on a bit. Don’t give up and keep singing your song to everyone. I think you would be surprised, as I was, to find out just how many people want to move forward – they are just afraid to start. You can be the catalyst!

    2. Hi Alexeles!
      I agree with what Tammy said. I have a great circle of family and friends but they do not hold similar interests to myself as far as creating change, finding purpose, going after their dreams and desires, etc. I haven’t had much luck in finding similarities through casual conversations either. I found the greatest support system online. I was AMAZED at how many people I came across on the internet that shared similar values and ideas. I was even lucky enough to find one who lived in my area and we are meeting up in person soon. I live in Chicago which is a pretty good sized city and have had better luck using the internet as a tool than searching the city itself. So I can see the frustration of living in a smaller community but thats what makes the internet so great is that you can live in the middle of nowhere and still find ways to feel connected. Also, I wasn’t shy about reaching out to people and sending them an email asking to learn more about their journey. As awkward as it can feel at first, it quickly begins to feel much more comfortable because people’s responses, more often than not, are so genuine and eager to relay information. I can only speak to what I have found to work for me personally but it may work for you as well. I would narrow down exactly what it is you want to do and then search online for people who are in the process of doing the very same thing. For example, when I decided to become serious about writing on personal development, I just researched blogs and websites that I really admired and wrote an email to the creator behind it. I kept it simple, explaining I wanted to do something similar to themselves and was curious as to how they got it all started for themselves. Learning of other peoples journeys was motivation and encouragement to keep at it. And regardless of what level they are at, starting out at the bottom or already found great success, I have found it is beneficial to talk to people at ALL levels as they can each benefit you in some way. I hope this helps!

  15. Hi Emily. Your 3 tips are fantastic. Totally get what its like to be in the early stages, its definitely a challenge. Toughest part of the journey for sure. I admire your perseverance though, its really inspirational! Its reading stories like yours that keep me in the game when I have those down moments.

    I just did a post for this blog, its the very next one called “how to escape despair and bring meaning to your life.” I think you may like that post as well Emily. Hope it helps! Keep pushing onward on your journey. It helps others like myself do the same!

    1. Thanks Akshay! I appreciate your encouragement as well as your article! It was very insightful and inspiring :)

  16. Hi Emily,

    Great post. That is so true. I’ve read so many articles and listened to so many podcasts about how people that are successful surround themselves with other people working towards a similar goal. However, when starting out it’s tough to know where to find such a group, especially if like you’ve mentioned your circle of friends or family might not be that group of folks.

    I’ve found the more people that you can branch out to and the more people at different levels you can surround yourself with, the better. Even if people are at a more beginner step than you, it’s great to be able to help pull them up as well.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you, Jessica! I completely agree with you. Thanks for your support and encouragement! Every little bit helps and its amazing how encouraging words even from people you don’t know can be so motivating :)

  17. hi, Emily, thanks for the writing, i really need to read this one at the moment, to keep me going in the direction where i’m heading at the moment :)

    Most of us are our own worst enemies. We tell ourselves that we cannot do something much more often than other people tell us.

    so true.. so true :D

    1. Hi Indah! I’m glad you came across my article when you were in need of encouragement. I’m glad it helped and hope you keep going! :)

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