We all need inspiration. Some find it in religion, others in being a volunteer. Some are participating in politics, or join a single-issue movement. Either choice is great, as long as you leave other people the freedom of choice as well.
Unfortunately, I also see people my age coming to a standstill. No inspiration left. Tired of the efforts of their past work. No hobbies and no idea what to do with the rest of their lives.
“In the absence of any special circumstances, the mortality rates for voluntarily retired workers during the first year or two of retirement are considerably higher than the general level that otherwise might be expected…” (ssa.gov)
Giving your life meaning is essential. And if you don’t have inspiration, it sure helps if you actively seek it. What are steps to change your life?
How to build on your dreams
As I have stated in How about Starting a Business after 60? Dream or Delusion? we are never too old to change our lives. This can be a complete change, as we did by emigrating, or making small adjustments until you are satisfied.
11 Steps to change your life
1. Know your why
One of our neighbors was hospitalized last year for a heart condition. Recovery took him quite some time and when we bumped into each other during our daily walk he sighed: “Oh, I am so happy I recovered. Now I can have my pints again”.
When the desire to change comes from an outside source, such as a doctor telling you to change your lifestyle to a healthy one, but you can’t quit alcohol, it won’t work well.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve and why? Intrinsic motivation, like a desire to still be able to play with your grand kids when you’re over 80, will make that change so much easier.
(Mind you, personally I wouldn’t mind that my neighbor wants to resume his drinking habit. We’re all responsible for our own health, not for somebody else’s. On the other hand, irresponsible behavior puts a disproportionate burden on the healthcare system. Is that reasonable?).
2. Be willing to change
Maybe you have no desire to change. After all, there is also a chance of losing something else you value.
Some people are in a relationship that is not bringing them any growth anymore. Still, it’s a very familiar situation. Where a separation is unexplored territory. It might mean a big step back financially. It can also bring loneliness.
Are we willing to take that risk? Having a drive to change is the initial step. From there we can build on our determination and resilience.
3. Visualize the result
Our brain can’t see the difference between reality and what we envision. By visualizing our goal we train ourselves to get used to that new situation even when we are not there yet.
Visualizing can be done in our head. Tiger Woods had played a shot a thousand times in his head before he actually performed it on the golf course. Lebron James ditto with a basketball.
Visualization can be made tangible by a dream board or vision board. As a graphic designer and artist I love making collages and making a dream board fits right into that alternative. Be aware of the “rule” that you glue a picture of yourself on the board as well.
I would love to have a camper and go traveling with Tom. So I searched for pictures of countries I want to visit, landscapes I would love to see and things I will do during our trips. And I asked Tom to make a couple of pictures of me in a camper to include in the board.
4. Move on
A sticker on my computer says: The past is not the future. It is so obvious to limit ourselves by the idea that we have already done something a hundred times and that it has always failed. Why would it work now? I have often held myself back by that attitude. Hence, the sticker.
Don’t blame yourself or others for past failures. Every time you move on, it’s a fresh start with every possibility to succeed.
In the past I have tried to be an affiliate marketer and failed. Instead of convincing myself that I would fail again, I told myself: “If I didn’t succeed then, there must have been something I didn’t know yet”. Have a look at my solution and recommendation here.
5. Right expectations
The right expectation is not what we easily can obtain. Neither is it something so far out of reach that we lose track of it on the way. Our goals should be difficult enough to scare us, yet so close by they get us excited.
When I had a company together with my son we kept telling each other: if we aim for the hill, we’ll reach the top and think we’re done. If we aim for the mountain we might not make it to the summit, but we sure will go further than the hilltop. It was a great comparison to keep each other on our toes.
6. Trust yourself
You can do it! Keep telling yourself that. We are stars in belittling ourselves and usually have more confidence in the abilities of others. Why? We can do anything we want. (Use tip 7 for extra guidance as well).
When we have defined our goals, it is best to divide the road to the outcome in smaller steps. Prepare in advance what you will do to avoid temptation.
A good tool is to say affirmations on a daily basis. This can be the simple sentence “I can do it”, but also a more elaborate story in which is laid out what you would like to achieve.
Just as it is important that you paste a picture of yourself into your dream board, it is essential that affirmations are:
- In first-person singular;
- In the present tense.
Not: I am going to quit smoking because it is dirty. It is better to say: I live healthy, I am safe.
Read The Miracle Morning or The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod for inspiration.
7. Build in obstacles
Hide temptations in hard to reach places. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, put it in the cellar. Or better yet, don’t buy it at all. If your friends don’t want to visit you because they won’t be offered a glass of wine, so be it.
A befriended entrepreneur wants his staff and himself to work standing up, so all desks are set up at standing height and all chairs are banned to the top floor.
8. Stay positive
Every change comes with resistance. We humans don’t fancy change very much, because we don’t like uncertainty. Uncertain situations could mean death for our cave ancestors and the fear is still built in our genes.
At times, it will be hard, especially if you have set your goals high. Staying positive really helps to get through the hardship.
9. Pair your behaviors
Let’s say reciting affirmations is new to you, but you already meditate. Pairing the affirmations to the meditation practice will make it easier to ingrain this new habit.
10. Use your friends
The last decade that I lived in the Netherlands, I drank about 2 glasses of wine every evening. Sometimes the 2 glasses became 3 or 4. When I got fed up with that habit, I discovered what social pressure is.
“Ah, don’t be so unpleasant, you won’t let us drink alone, will you?”
“Pff, don’t overdo it, what does one glass matter?”
Ask your friends to believe in you and to support you. And if they don’t they are not the right friends. Not for that moment and for that required change. Surround yourself with the right people.
11. Reward yourself
Rewarding is an important part of ingraining any new behavior. Reward not just the big achievements – also the little steps. You don’t have to buy a present every time you reach a goal. Doing a happy dance can be a gratification too.
In the Netherlands – and perhaps also in other countries, I am not that much into football – players are no longer allowed to take off their shirts. They had all kinds of festive behavior, which is important to celebrate their goal. It’s their way of celebrating.
*High five* 🙂
What does it take?
In order to change you need to have self-discipline. This is a skill you can develop by using these simple steps. Even though the word self is in self-discipline, it doesn’t mean you have to build this skill on your own.
Ask for help. Look for an accountability partner. Join our Facebook group.
What helps you to change? Tell us in the comment box.
15 thoughts on “11 Simple Steps to Change your Life no Matter what Age you are”
Firstly, I have to say I love Lena, the 65-year old skateboarder, her zest for life is amazing.
On another note, my next-door neighbour, Paula, is a Finnish woman of about the same age, so listening to Lena’s voice and accent immediately reminded me of her.
One of the main steps that you’ve alluded to here that really resonates with me is your first one funnily enough.
To be honest, it is only in the last 3-4 years that I have undergone a big change in life, in terms of my own personal development and striving for self imporvement.
It became obvious to me that I always viewed happiness as something that I was aiming for, or that I could only actually receive happiness from an outside source.
The more-and-more I read about this particular subject, the more I understand a saying such as, “Happiness is the journey, not the destination”.
If I’m always looking to an outside source to make me happy, or if I believe that I’ll only ever be happy once I have achieved something, then I’m missing out on all the wonderful things that happen in every day life.
I’m still a work-in-progress, but my understanding of this concept gets better by the day.
Funnily enough, just reading your story about your last decade in the Netherlands and the “drinking habits” we tend to get into, I’ve experienced the exact same thing.
I wouldn’t ever have called myself a heavy drinker, as I typically only ever drank 2 or 3 times a week throughout my life, but I could definitely put a lot of alcohol away in those 2-3 days.
However, I guess I grew up during the binge drinking culture and followed suit – in fact, I can’t tell you much about most Friday and Saturday’s for most of 20s and 30s, as I simply can’t remember them.
However, at much the same time I started my “self-help journey” I decided to cut back on the booze too. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy a drink, I still even get very drunk sometimes, but nowehere near the regularity of my younger years.
In fact, over the past 3 years I have had a number of occasions where I have gone 3-4 months without touching a drop, and I’ve definitely had enough nowadays after about 2-3 drinks.
I actually found that certain “friends” took exception to this, and I faced a lot of peer-group pressure, but as you quite rightly point out – this shows you who you’re actual friends are (as opposed to lifelong drinking acquaintances).
Well, I am glad you see yourself as a work in progress, Partha. 🙂 I do the same. It’s my conviction that as soon as we think we are perfect, we can just as well die. Over and finished. The journey definitely is way better than the destination.
And there is so much to learn about. It goes on and on. That’s the beauty of life. And yes, I envy Lena. Not because she is daring enough to go skating, because I am also willing to step outside my comfort zone whenever I can. But because she physically can. My body is a bit more troublesome.
Drinking! Whenever we watch an English crimi on TV it’s amazing how much everyone drinks. I am not sure whether it’s true but my impression certainly is that drinking is much more accepted, even obliged, in England than in the Netherlands or Spain. Sometimes there is talk about that ‘lazy, drunk Spaniard’. Well, I hardly know them. We are living in an area where lots of our neighbors are English, and wow, do they drink a lot. The neighbor I was mentioning is also English.
So I guess you will even have (had) a more difficult time not drinking, than I had when I skipped the alcohol. 🙂
This is exactly what I need to repent on and get consistent at it. I kind of seem to “know it all” but I don’t always follow it through when it comes to the crunch because I am not consistent at these steps to change life regularly. I have learned through your post that I need to be keep at it – get mad at these steps (LOL), as this is the only way to move forward to a better life.
I have taken a picture of your image for these steps too. You could also upload this on Pinterest if you like. So a lot more of could benefit from it.
Thanks, Habib, if you want I can send you a PDF of the infographic? I was still a bit hesitating whether to offer that or not. And yes, I posted it on Pinterest as well. It’s preciesly an image for over there, isn’t it. 🙂
I am glad to be of inspiration, just don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself some leniency. Working on your personal development is a good thing, as soon as you feel it as an obligation it will become too hard. You can look at it as the seasons – each year fall comes, the leaves color and crumble and in the winter everything rests. To burst out full of life in spring. Every fall back in our striving for a better life is the wintertime of the process. 😀
Really inspirative post. I am 35 and sometimes I feel like I need a bit of inspiration. It’s always good to remamber that whatever we do in life doesn’t happen over night. I think patience and consistency is the key. Thank you so much for lot of positivity and encouragement.
This hit home. As of late, I’ve been feeling unmotivated to pursue my goals. I lived for a long time not knowing what I wanted in life. When someone asked me about my goals or dreams, I always answered there were none.
Now that I do, it’s very frustrating that the more I chase them, the farther they run away from me. I feel trapped inside a maze. I feel as if I’ve just been walking in circles.
I think what I need to work on most is my expectations. Maybe I expect too much, and that’s why I’m disappointed with the outcome? I don’t know.
As we grow older, finding a purpose in life is of the essence. But it’s certainly not an easy task.
Thanks for the motivation. I will bookmark this for future reference.
Hi Enrique, I am really sorry that you are feeling unmotivated at this point. Think of it as hibernation, as I wrote in my reply to Habib. It’s a time when you load yourself up for the next stage.
I have been quite depressed a few times in my younger years. As soon as I could see those periods as necessary moments for further development, I was less bothered by them.
My 2 cents: I don’t think you expect too much. All you might lack is a path to reach that destination. Why not write down what you expect, and then try to divide that in necessary steps. Make the steps as little as possible and promise yourself you do one step at the time. And most of all, don’t let others take you off that path. You will get there, really. <3
If you just want to have a chat, book a call with me. I am not a coach, I won’t sell you anything, a friendly chat can do wonders, that is enough. 🙂
Thank you, Hannie. I guess you’re right. I need to change my approach. It’s just that I can’t help feeling frustrated when I don’t see the results that I expected.
Thank you for getting back to me.
I totally understand, Enrique. We are all at that place at times. Unfortunately or fortunately (again a way of perspective) there is only one person who can pull you out of frustration and that is you. But it sure helps if other people care enough for you to lift you up. So: don’t worry, you can do it, I am sure. 🙂
Thanks for another fantastic article Hannie. I absolutely love your practical advice. I must admit I do use both meditation and affirmations although I haven’t tried putting them together. This might be a worthwhile time-saver. I haven’t tried a dream-board yet but am thinking creating one might be a great weekend project. I will have to take some time and give that some serious thought. Perhaps I will recruit Rick (my husband) as a photographer.
Making a dreamboard also is a great activity to do together with your grandchildren, Deb! And you can use all kind of pictures and of course drawings as well. Asking Rick to take pictures is a nice way to involve him, and you can also take pictures yourself for the atmosphere. They don’t have to be perfect. 🙂
Change is hard for many people and most people seem to resist it. It never occured to me that this could have been based on cavemen behavior, since in their lives any sudden change could mean a high risk or death. That makes sense now.
I actually welcome change. Routine is a killer for me, so I wonder how I would have fared in those cavemen days 😉
I certainly understand about the few glasses of wine. I sometimes tend to do the same thing, and then when I want to take a break I stop buying wine for a few weeks. I know about those friends though. “oh, have another glass” “come on”. A real friend would not push you to drinking more if you don’t want to. He or she would respect your decision.
There is so much in our behavior you can track back to our prehistoric times, Christine, it’s unbelievable, isn’t it? You and me both welcome change, but maybe you also have discovered that at times it is something we really have to put an effort in. Routine can also be a machine that puts you softly to sleep without even noticing. 🙂
I have always considered these friends who can’t stand it when somebody else is not drinking as people who can’t face a mirror. You not drinking confronts them with their own weaknesses. And it takes courage to be able to do that.
Thanks for another fantastic (and very hopeful) article. I love Lena, but more than that I love the way the skating community has accepted and embraced her.
I loved your list as well, though there were a few items on the list that really stood out to me:
2. Be willing to change
In my opinion, you can’t take on anything big without this. If you aren’t willing to change, then there can be no real success. We need to grow in order to move forward.
4. Move on
This needs to be expanded to current failures in my opinion. When we’re trying to do something huge in our lives, there are likely to be a few missteps along the way. You need to be able to move past these if you want to succeed. Set them aside and come back to them later if you have to, but you can’t dwell on failures.
11. Reward yourself
In my experience, this is one of the most important items on your list and one that people tend to forget. I have small rewards tied to goals. When I reach X, I get A. It helps me see the progress that will come down the road, and it helps keep me motivated for the hard work ahead.
Thanks again for keeping me motivated!
I am glad you point that out: Lena is accepted by the skating community. I didn’t realize that myself, but you are so right; it is extraordinary.
Promising yourself a reward is a good strategy. Rewarding myself and celebrating are often my weak spots. I am so used to finish something and then immediately move on to the next step. Even now that I know it’s not the best attitude, it’s hard to change it. But I am following my own list in this regard, LOL, I’ll get there.
Great that I was able to motivate you. It’s always a reciprocal inspiration to get that back from a reader. So thank you, Sean! <3