5 Steps to Change Your Life

5 Steps to Change Your Life
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Choosing change isn’t a casual decision or something to do on a whim. Most of the time when we talk about important changes, we’re talking about an act of necessity, conviction, and, above all, courage.

Sometimes we have no other choice but to do it — shed our skin, pull up our roots, and look for new horizons. We have to restart ourselves and find the balance between needs and achievements, between desires and behavior. As we will see in this article, all of this is important when you make the courageous decision to change your life.

Winston Churchill said, very astutely, that to improve is to change, and that to be “perfect” is to have the courage to change often. 

We could add another equally important thought to that idea: changes are positive as long as we don’t lose our own values. That’s why any change we make over the course of our life should be with the intention of getting closer to the person we really want to be.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

-Nelson Mandela-

Now, making these changes happen is not usually a quick nor easy process. It is definitely not pleasant, at least not at first. Something interesting that happens is that most of us assume we should make a change when something big happens in our lives. 

Losing a job, ending a relationship, or suffering from failure or disappointment is an almost direct invitation to do like the saying: “change or die“.

Nevertheless, and it’s important to make this clear, it’s not a bad idea to develop strategies related to personal change. That way, we will be prepared to face times like those. We won’t be caught unaware when we get to the edge of the cliff.

If “change” means progress and improvement, let’s put it into practice every day. Let’s continuously make holistic and intelligent changes in our lives.

This way we will react much better to anything life throws at us. We will feel more capable of moving forward. Let’s see some of the strategies we can use to achieve this goal.

Change your life in 5 steps

You’ve surely felt the need to change your life. Maybe it prompted you to read a self-help book to see what kind of advice it offers. You may have discovered that most of those books give general ideas that are all very similar. They tend to be very optimistic and well-intentioned.

However, the reality of the situation is different. Our brain is resistant to change. It doesn’t like change and it perceives it as negative. For the brain, change implies imbalance and a direct threat to our survival. This reinforces the idea that all change is traumatic and we must try to mitigate the effects.

But something we CAN do is apply five rules in our daily life. These are five ways we can focus our thoughts to aid in our personal growth.

1. Clarity comes from simplicity

Mark started teaching karate classes. He constantly says to his 8 to 12-year-old students, “no pain, no gain.” He says it while also giving them exhausting, complex instructions, encouraging them to work hard. A week later, out of his 20 original students, he only has 3 left.

What is this instructor doing wrong? Thinking that he could produce quick changes and commitment in his students was a mistake. True change and big achievements come by working on clear, simple, and motivational goals every day.

If you want to change your life, the best thing you can do is simplify the process. Set a goal that is easy to achieve but forms part of a larger and more difficult objective. When you reach it, set a new, slightly harder one that moves you a bit closer. If you do this you’ll be halfway up the mountain before you know it.

2. Protect your new behavior

All change, big or small, requires putting new behavior into practice. Nevertheless, there is a common problem that we often don’t talk about. “How do our surroundings react to these changes? How do those around us react to our need to change?”

  • A lot of time we’re the recipients of discouraging comments. In fact, negative criticism may push us backwards.
  • To keep that from happening, keep in mind that new behavior should be “protected.” For example, if you choose to stop seeing certain friends, make more time for yourself, or practice other hobbies, don’t let what others might say affect you.

3. Being is easier than becoming

When you want to change your life, you might make the mistake of wanting to become another person. Visualizing ourselves as a different person. We picture ourselves doing exciting things, meeting new and interesting people.

We have to keep our feet on the ground and understand two key points.

  • It is easier to be than to become. That is to say, making changes in our life doesn’t mean we should become something we aren’t. This isn’t a logical or healthy idea.
  • Ideal change makes us into the best version of ourselves. It allows us to find balance yet also challenges our fears and limitations. It pushes us to take a step further and adjust our aspirations to our achievements, our dreams to our triumphs, and our well-being to our satisfaction.

“Don’t try to change the world. Try to make sure the world doesn’t change you.”

-Carlos Ruiz Zafon-

4. Fear of the unknown is justified

Many self-help books say “don’t be afraid, you can do it, trust yourself.” This trite, overused expression encompasses some things we should think about.

  • Being afraid is normal. Don’t deny it or hide it, just try to understand it.
  • Fear of change is fear of uncertainty. It is fear of what will happen, if we will be capable of dealing with it, if everything will go wrong. We have to understand that these types of thoughts are responding to our brain’s survival instinct, which tells us to stay quiet and not take risks.

That’s why the series of phrases below can help you on a day-to-day basis.

  • I’m afraid and my fear is justified. This is a normal process, I just have to manage it and understand it. The goal is for the fear to challenge me instead of paralyzing me. It should push me to see how far I can go.
  • To reduce my fear I will set realistic, simple, and progressive goals. I will move forward little by little, without stopping.
  • If there is one thing I know for sure it’s that all change will take me to a better place. All change should be positive. I have to focus my mind on the good things that will come from this process of reaching my goal.

5. Celebrate each achievement

If you want to change your life, remember that it’s not good to rush. Going slowly allows us to have a better perspective. If we take our time we will be more aware of every step we take, the mistakes we make, and the corrections we should make going forward.

Making changes is not easy or simple. In fact, sometimes the shortest distance between two points isn’t a straight line. It is a zig-zagging journey in which we must fall and get back up again and again… Along the way we’ll lose ourselves and find ourselves again, we’ll take two steps forward and one step back.

And there’s one thing we must never forget: to be grateful for every achievement. Our success belongs to us and no one else. The only person we have to please in this process is ourselves. 

Listen to this advice if you want to change your life. It will be worth it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arias L, Portilla L, Villa C. El desarrollo personal en el proceso de crecimiento individual
    Scientia Et Technica. 2008; 14(40): 117-119.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.