How to Change Your Life For the Better

how to change your life for the better

There is no singular way to change your life for the better. And I do not get to decide what “better” looks like for you. Everyone is an individual living a unique life. Part of navigating our individual lives, and figuring out who we are, is deciding for ourselves what “better” is for us. There are people around us that will influence how we view many things. We are social creatures, so we naturally consider what others say and believe. 

However, when it comes to us as individual people, we ultimately know ourselves best. We can make the best decisions for ourselves, and we are the only person that will be walking this journey of our individual life. If we are a daughter in a family, we are part of a family unit but still an individual. If we are a significant other to someone, we are part of a relationship but still an individual. Seeing the world through the lens of being an individual may be a change in and of itself for you. Let’s continue.

Change is Good

Yes, change is good. Change is also inevitable. For a great number of people, change is also scary. It is freeing to truly believe that change is good. Fighting against change creates tension and stress. 

Pause for a second – What would happen to a caterpillar if it fought against its inevitable change?

Why is change good for us? Well, like the caterpillar, we can shed what is no longer working for us, and create space for new opportunities, circumstances, ways of living/thinking/being. 

When I think of change, I think of transformation. Oprah, Viola Davis, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Lopez all grew up poor. Because they embraced (and were motivated towards) change, they transformed their lives. What about extreme weight loss?  In My 600 lb. Life, some people find success in their weight loss journey and others do not. Which group do you think embraced change? 

What are Habits

Why is it important to take small steps

We cannot discuss change without speaking about habits. Big change comes about from smaller changes done with consistency. Small, consistent actions are habits. Your present life is a culmination of your habits. Changing daily habits changes lives. 

Daily habits look like this:

  • When you tend to wake up
  • When you tend to go to sleep
  • What kind of food you tend to eat
  • What kinds of choices you tend to make (the comfortable path of least resistance, or the harder yet more effective one?)
  • How you tend to talk to yourself (positively or negatively)
  • How you tend to care for your body
  • How you tend to care for your mind
  • How you tend to deal with stress

If you are on autopilot during something, you are behaving out of habit. Habits are created in our brain over time as we do or respond to something the same way again and again. A popular saying in psychology is “what fires together, wires together.” Habit creation is an incredibly helpful function of our brain. After a while we don’t have to think about the habit and this frees our brain up to think about other things. But because a habit can move farther and farther from our awareness, it can be hard to change it.

Awareness is always the first step for change.

Are Healthy Habits Important

Habits can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy habits are ones that improve or maintain our health. Unhealthy habits have the potential to damage our health. 

Change is constant in our world. This is important in that I will not be describing any habits as neutral because neutral implies that it doesn’t affect any change. Even if a change toward improvement or damage is microscopic or unobservable to the naked eye, change still exists. 

Examples of Healthy Habits:

  • Drinking enough water to stay hydrated
  • Sleeping in line with our circadian rhythm (approx. 8 hours when it’s dark outside)
  • Movement / exercise 
  • Eating food throughout the day
  • Avoiding substances that are toxic

Examples of Unhealthy habits:

  • Not taking time to rest
  • Not changing your socks or underwear
  • Being sedentary
  • Consuming fake / processed / toxic substances
  • Choices that remove happiness from a person’s life

Something to note when differentiating healthy habits from unhealthy ones is that it may not be the action itself, but the quantity of it. Eating throughout the day is a healthy habit, but too much or too little can shift that habit to being unhealthy.

In short, healthy habits are important because they put us or keep us on a path of good health, and good health is a fundamental part of having a happy and successful life. Unhealthy habits put us on a path of damaged health, and damaged health brings limitations to a person’s life.

So, to go full circle on this topic so far – Change comes from small consistent actions (aka habits) and small consistent actions are the stepping stones of our path towards health, happiness, and success OR damaged health and a limited life.

Lifestyle Changes

Let’s get into how to make changes, big and small. Remember, any big change is the culmination of smaller changes! I cannot emphasize that enough. “Lifestyle” is the big 30,000 foot view of how a person lives. A lifestyle is simply made up of smaller daily choices / habits / actions / beliefs. If a “better” lifestyle to you means exercising regularly, that change will be the culmination of singular instances in which you made the choice to exercise. Once you are consistently making the choice to exercise (meaning it becomes a habit for you), you will be a person that exercises regularly!

And wouldn’t it be nice if that was the end of the story? Just decide each day to exercise and you’ll be a person that exercises regularly.

But we all know it’s not that easy. 

So, why is change so hard? There are a variety of reasons for why change is hard, including:

Impatience

Goals are important for success/change because it gives a person a target to aim for. However, hitting a goal, in the context of lifestyle habits, takes time. The incremental changes or milestones that a person hits along the way may not feel satisfying or noticeable. Our culture of instant gratification has impacted our perception of the change process

Better eating habits, Lose weightExample: I can get liposuction and lose inches of fat [relatively] instantly, or I can exercise and eat well (healthy lifestyle habits) and still lose inches of fat, but it will take much longer. Liposuction is a >$4.7 billion industry. Quite a number of people have chosen liposuction – the quicker path to their goal. I’m not gonna deny the temptation!

How to ease impatience

After you set the goal, shift your focus to the first or next milestone – not the finish line. Acknowledge milestones you hit. No milestone is too small. Reflect on the ways the journey is creating change in your life in other ways, besides just the original goal.

Your Limiting Beliefs

I can have a goal of dunking a basketball on an NBA-size hoop. However, that is not

 something I actually believe I could ever do. This belief that “I could never do that” is what we call a limiting belief. I have this belief because (1) I’m 5’2”, and (2) I’ve never been good at jumping. Throughout my life, people have laughed at the height of my jumps. I laugh, too. It is not a skill I naturally possess. It has been ingrained in me that I am not good at jumping. Again, a limiting belief.

Limiting beliefs, Change my life

What things do you tell yourself? Do any of these sound familiar? “I can’t grow in this company; I’ve never led people before.” “Some people are rich and some are poor, and that’s just how life is.” “I can’t do that; I’m just a _____ (insert any label you give yourself).

How to challenge limiting beliefs

First, recognize that you have the belief. Say it out loud. Write it down. Then, follow it up with every reason you can think of that you can do the thing you’re trying to talk yourself out of. Here, we are tipping the scale towards believing you can do it; a pep talk! If you end this exercise believing “well, maybe I can do it,” that’s progress! The goal is getting to the point that you believe “there may be obstacles, but I CAN DO IT!”

Avoiding Discomfort

A comfort zone is where we feel at ease; it’s not challenging or stressful. We also generally feel more in control in our comfort zone; we know what to expect. Outside of our comfort zone lies the uncertainty, lack of predictability, lack of control, etc. Even “good” change requires us to leave our comfort zone, causing discomfort. There’s nothing wrong with a comfort zone. It’s a place to feel safe, rest, and relax. It’s important to our health to have some relaxation (check out the sympathetic nervous system vs. parasympathetic nervous system).

As we’ve talked about before, the mere presence of a comfort zone is not the problem; how much we stay there is what can cause problems. If you try to avoid all discomfort, by staying in your comfort zone, your world will become smaller and smaller. Your threshold for discomfort will lessen and lessen.

How to leave your comfort zone more easily

Remember your comfort zone isn’t disappearing; you know where to find it. The discomfort you MAY experience is only temporary. Your comfort zone will actually grow by pushing its limits!

Baby steps can help ease you out of your comfort zone. If you’re nervous to leave your comfort zone, reduce any expectations for yourself by half. Start there. An example of baby steps: If I want to stop vaping, I’m not going to throw out my vape immediately. Some people do “go cold turkey” and embrace the discomfort until it passes. Another option, though, is to gradually reduce dependence on the vape by separating myself from it for part of the day, and only having to endure the discomfort that arises for perhaps one hour of the day. Once I’ve shown myself that I can endure that discomfort, I’ll likely feel more ready to avoid the vape for longer tomorrow.

Fear of the Unknown

Not knowing what is going to happen means you’re not able to control it and not able to predict it. Surrendering control is very difficult for many people. However, think of your favorite movie. The first time you saw it, you didn’t know what was going to happen. But, you ended up loving something you once didn’t know anything about.

Get healthy, how to fight fear of the unknownAnother example – first dates. First dates are saturated with unknowns. That’s a big reason they are so stressful. But, if you’re married, you once went on a first date with your now partner. Training for a marathon, when you’ve never been a runner before, is going to present a lot of unknowns.

Fear comes from focusing on or anticipating the potential negatives or discomfort, and ignoring or minimizing the potential amazingness that the unknowns could bring.

How to no longer fear of the unknown

A frequent topic we’ve already covered is the idea of breaking it down. We don’t need to analyze or worry about ALL of the unknowns right now. That’s overwhelming. If you’re worried about going to a party, you can take it step by step. You can only focus on the drive until the drive is over. Next, focus on being welcomed into the party until that is over. Then, focus on finding a snack or a place to sit (whatever comes next). Also, try writing the fear down, and countering it with all of the potential positives. 

Lack of Awareness

We may have awareness over what it is that we want to change, but your awareness needs to incorporate all angles of the change process, such as “what beliefs do I have around this,” “what kinds of obstacles do I struggle with,” “what habits are interconnected with this habit I’m trying to change,” etc.

Habit nutrition, Healthy habits nutrition

If you are trying the keto diet, but live with a person that eats as a vegetarian, it’s totally possible for you to succeed, but being aware of the challenges in your environment will be helpful for you to navigate the experience.

How to increase your awareness

Reflect. Be mindful. Be honest with yourself. I recently watched a Youtube video of a friend who is on his journey to live life sober now. He recently relapsed on alcohol. He voiced in the video how now, looking back, he sees signs that he was heading towards a relapse, and wishes he had been more aware of these cues then. If you are steering off course of your goal, take time to evaluate all angles of the journey you’re on and shift/adjust your actions and habits accordingly. The sooner you are aware, the smaller/quicker/easier the shift will be.

Motivation / Values

What is your ‘why’? Have you heard that question before? The answer to this question speaks to your motivations, values, and priorities.

healthy lifestyle changes, healthy living habitsIf a new mother wants to homemake her baby’s food, I would ask her why. If she values a diet of whole foods, void of chemicals and preservatives, then this action is in line with her values. This inner motivation to nourish her baby with homemade food will help her succeed in this new lifestyle habit of homemaking baby food. However, looking at the same mother, if she doesn’t think chemicals in processed food are dangerous, but wants to homemake her baby’s food because mothers on Tik Tok make it look trendy, she is going to struggle with success. She doesn’t personally value this action, and is only externally motivated to make it a priority.

How to assess motivation and values

To assess your values, there are many versions of the “Values Activity” that you can find online. The critical part of these activities is to narrow down what is important to YOU as an individual, while filtering out any influence you’ve received from family and society regarding what is important. To assess motivation, ask yourself, “what am I getting out of this?” If your answer mentions anyone or thing other than yourself, you may be externally motivated. This is not a bad thing, but external motivation can be more fleeting or misaligned with what is truly important to you. Motivation that is in line with your values is the most powerful.

Lifestyle Health Plans

A universal “best daily routine for healthy living” does not exist, as we are all so unique. There are, however, general guidelines many professionals recommend to promote good health. Here is a list of habits commonly highlighted by professionals as healthy living habits. Your mission is to tailor the general recommendations specifically to you. Consider what makes you feel good and healthy, as an individual, and incorporate the guidelines to whatever degree you can.

Sleep

You need restful sleep that lets your body go through the sleep stages. Interrupted sleep interrupts the health benefits and recovery that sleep provides. Sleeping at the same time each day allows our body to get into a rhythm. Our body, like nature, loves rhythms. Examples of rhythms: circadian rhythm, lunar cycle, menstrual cycles, the change of seasons.

Nutrition

Eat nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods have nutrients, micronutrients, minerals, vitamins (and other things I don’t even know about) that feed our body. This is a great example of how change may be unobservable to the naked eye, but the nutrients or lack thereof are intricately generating change within our bodies.

Joy

Incorporate activities that make you feel happy. Smiling, laughing, physical touch, and enjoyment have all been shown to release hormones. All hormones are important. Joyful activities boost your “feel-good” hormones

Move / Exercise

A lot of stuff needs to flow through us. True? Think – Blood. Urine. Poop. Nerve sensations. All of these things move better when we move. Movement also keeps muscles toned. Think – “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Yes, exercise also helps us maintain a certain weight by burning calories, but there is so much more to it. Movement and exercise also help with energy and mindset.

Social Connection

If you’re an introvert, you likely just cringed. Social connection will look different for everyone, and you’ll decide what this looks like for you, but know that we are biologically wired to interact with others. Think – reproduction. We literally wouldn’t exist if people didn’t interact with each other. 

Avoid Toxic Substances

There are multiple reasons a person may avoid toxic substances, such as allergies or addictions. In general, everything we put in and on our bodies will cause some kind of event within us. How much it affects us will depend on the person. If a person is allergic to gluten, gluten will have a negative effect on them, and is thus toxic to that person. If a person is not allergic/sensitive to gluten, it is not a toxic substance for that person. There are even some health benefits from gluten

How to Make Your Life Better

In conclusion, changing the quality of your life will require some effort and a willingness to embrace (or at least accept) any discomfort that comes with it. If you are still wondering how to start a healthy lifestyle, just start with one healthy choice. The next time you come to a crossroads about a choice to make, make the healthy choice again, and again. If difficulties come up, review the obstacles we discussed earlier in the Lifestyle Changes section. 

how to change your life completely

If you would like more support and direct guidance on how to be better (by your standards), or how to change your life completely, schedule a discovery call with me. Motivating others to be the best version of themselves is my area of passion and expertise, and I’m so grateful that I get to do this for a living!

Know that your goals and your journey will be unique to you. My role is to pull answers to your questions out of you and cheerlead for you while you conquer your obstacles to success! You got this!

 

Written by Krystle Hearley

Confidence & Dating Coach, Licensed Therapist, Woman, Human Being, Dreamer, Wife, Dog Mom, Optimist, Lover of Many Things, and So Much More than Any Label I’m Given

Krystle Hearley, Confidence & Dating Coach, Life Coach