Are you expecting better results in your life? Do you want to achieve more in your career and relationships? I think most people do (and I’m no exception, of course). Most people want to be more successful in whatever they do.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get the results we want. We may work hard without ever getting them. That happened in my life and, in reflection, I realize why it happened. There is a quote by Albert Einstein that helps me understand:

Change how you do things

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

That’s exactly what’s wrong with me:

I did things the same way

I might work hard, but I did things the same way. How could I expect different results then?

The solution is obvious:

I must change the way I do things

Changing the way we do things is one of the most difficult things to do. When we do something for the first time, we try to find a rhythm and adapt ourselves to it. But once we adapt to it, we become comfortable and there is inertia that hinders us from change.

Here I’d like to share ten essential things you should change in your life to get what you want. For each point below, I also give you practical tips in the form of action lists. Here they are:

1. Change your priorities

This is important if you want to live a balanced, fulfilling life. Many people are successful in their career but don’t have good relationships with their spouse or family because of wrong priorities. They put things like money and reputation above their relationships. Don’t let it happen to you. You should put relationships as your top priority.

Another important point is to put your passion above money. When you encounter a situation in your life where you must choose between money and passion, choose passion. Having a fulfilling life is more important than having a lot of money.

Action list:

  • Make (not find) time for your loved ones. Allocate certain blocks of time for your loved ones and defend them ruthlessly.
  • Find the intersection between what matter to you and your personal strengths. You may want to make one list for each and find similar items in both lists. These are your passions you should focus on. Then make time for them. Aim to develop your competences so that you can provide value to others.

2. Change your self-talk

Your self-talk has significant influence in your life. When you say that something is bad, you will – either consciously or not – develop a negative attitude toward it. Look at these statements:

  • I hate doing this.
  • I’m not creative.
  • The situation is too difficult to solve.

Can you feel how such statements influence your attitude? You won’t have positive, winning attitude with this kind of self-talk. The opposite is also true. When you say that something is good, you will develop a positive attitude toward it. Compare the previous statements with these:

  • I love it!
  • I’m creative and talented.
  • The situation is challenging and fun to solve.

Can you feel the difference?

Action list

  • Watch your mind closely. What does it say about something or someone?
  • Is it negative? If the answer is yes, find a different angle and craft a positive statement in your mind.
  • Speak out the positive statement in your mind,
  • Next time when you encounter the negative self-talk again, quickly replace it with the positive one.

3. Change your motivation

Motivation is the reason why we do things. It gives us the power to move and work. You can significantly change the way you do things simply by changing your motivation.

I like to see motivation through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are eight levels of needs there (from the lowest to the highest): physical, security, belonging, esteem, learning, aesthetic, self-actualization, and transcendence. Our motivation is always to meet one or more of these needs. The way to change your motivation is to upgrade your motivation to higher levels in the hierarchy. For example, if your motivation to work is money (which resides in either physical or esteem level), you can upgrade it to helping others (transcendence level).

Action list

  • Read Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Find at what level your motivation currently is.
  • Look at higher levels and for each of them imagine how it will be like to work with that motivation.
  • Take one or two that resonate with you and set them as your new motivation.
  • Replace your self-talk. If previously you say to yourself “I do this because I want to (low-level motivation)”, change it to “I do this because I want to (higher-level motivation)”. For example, replace “I do this because I want to earn money” with “I do this because I want to help people.”
  • Act as if you already internalize your new motivation. Continuing the example in previous point, act as if you genuinely want to help others.

4. Change your habits

Is there any bad habit that holds you back? If the answer is yes, then you should break the bad habit and replace it with a good one. For instance, perhaps you have the habit of rising late. But – since many people testify that early morning the most productive time – that means that you lose the most productive time of the day. You can get better results simply by replacing the old habit with a new habit of rising early.

Action list

  • Take one new habit you want to build and do it every day for at least 30 days without fail.
  • Find people to share your progress with. Accountability will make it much easier for you to adopt the new habit.
  • Reward yourself along the way. It will motivate you to move forward.

5. Change your friends

Changing your friends doesn’t mean discarding your current friends. No, what I mean here is you should change the friends who influence you or, in other words, your close friends. Find close friends who can encourage, equip, and challenge you to move to the next level. If your friends currently do not meet this criterion, find new friends who do. Interact with them and you are more likely to come out as champions in life. Remember, winners breed winners.

Action list

  • Join a professional organization in your field.
  • Join a good social organization (for example, a church) to meet positive people in your area.
  • Join an online forum in your field or a field you are interested in.

6. Change your commitments

You may have commitments in your life that don’t add value to your life. Perhaps you take too many roles or responsibilities. Most likely, some of them just take your resources away from doing the most rewarding ones. You should change your commitments in such a way that you get the most out of your time.

Action list

  • List your roles and sort them from the most rewarding one to the least.
  • Look at the least rewarding roles and ask yourself: Can I eliminate this? If the answer is no, ask the second question: How can I delegate this?
  • For the remaining roles, list your responsibilities for each role, and again, sort them from the most rewarding one to the least.
  • For each responsibility, ask the two questions again.

7. Change your inputs

Your inputs determine your outputs. There is no way you can get high-quality outputs if you feed your mind with low-quality inputs. So watch your inputs carefully. What programs do you watch on TV? What books, magazines, or blogs do you read? Discard the low-quality inputs and replace them with high-quality ones.

Action list

  • Turn off your TV (except for a few special programs).
  • Assess the value you get from each input stream (like blogs, books, and magazines) regularly. Does it give you enough value? If the answer is no, then discard it.
  • Visit Recommended for You page at Amazon. The page gives book recommendations that are tailored to your preferences. You will get better recommendations if you actively rate books you have read.
  • Read classic books. These books have passed the test of time.

8. Change your methods

You may have done something for years that you forget there are new, more efficient methods to do it. For example, can you imagine writing a document with a typing machine while everyone has used computer?

It’s essential to monitor your field continuously and adopt new methods that are available. Of course, you should be careful not to try every method. Take only the proven ones.

Action list

9. Change your intensity

Perhaps you do not work intense enough these days. If you want to produce more in a given period of time, you need to increase your work intensity. You should increase your focus and energy in doing your tasks. Learn to work intensely for certain period of time and then take true rest before starting another session of intense work.

Action list

  • When you are about to work, turn off your cell phone (or at least put it to silent mode).
  • Close all unnecessary windows in your computer.
  • Set a target duration to work and don’t stop before time is up.

10. Change your way of spending

Money is an important resource and the way you spend it will significantly affect the results you get in life. Instead of falling into the trap of consumerism, spend your money to buy asset. Use your money to invest in your future.

Action list

Depending on your circumstances, you may want to:

  • Buy books. Point 8 above has tips on how to find good books.
  • Attend seminars.
  • Take a degree.
  • Hire an assistant so that you can focus on your core competences.

* * *

It will be much better if you have the habit of changing. By having the habit of changing, you will change constantly and not just occasionally. To build the habit of changing you should:

  1. Be aware of how you do things
    Don’t work and live on autopilot. Take a moment to stop and observe how you do things.
  2. Continually find something you can change
    From your observation, try to find what you can change. They may be some of the ten things above.
  3. Write your findings in a journal
    Don’t waste your time by finding the same thing twice. Record whatever you find. I prefer electronic journal because it’s searchable, but you can use paper-based journal if you want to.
  4. Take the first step to change
    The first step is the most difficult to take since you need to overcome initial inertia. The action lists above gives you some possible first steps you can take.

Do you have any thoughts?

If you liked this article, please share it on StumbleUpon. I’d appreciate it.

Photo by lomokev


Categories: Attitude, Purpose, Working

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  • http://www.reason4smile.com Robert A. Henru

    Great article Donald! While change is good, but I don’t like the word a constant habit of changing. Maybe constant habit of growing/learning is better. Because sometimes we need to learn to be patient, and wait. I think it’s also equally important.
    Just a different opinion, appreciate your input =)
    Robert

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Robert,

    Thanks for the input! What I mean with “habit of changing” here is actually the same as “habit of growing” as you suggested. I use the word “changing” because it matches the theme of the post (which is change).

    The kind of changes I have in mind for “habit of changing” are minor changes. I’m sure there are small things we can improve everyday.

    I think we mean the same thing, just we use different words :)

  • http://www.avani-mehta.com Avani Mehta

    Loved your article. I read a book – Do One Thing Different by Bill O’Hanlon some time back. It focusses on how can we do things differently to get the results we want. Have written some learnings from the book here : http://www.avani-mehta.com/2008/06/09/20-learnings-from-do-one-thing-different/ Do visit.

  • http://shanelyang.com/blogs/articles/ Shanel Yang

    Man, oh, man, Donald! This is great stuff! Changing motivation is my favorite point of the ones you listed (though I love them all!) because I rarely think of that one. When I was practicing law for over 10 years, I did it mostly for money and that was just killing my soul. It just wasn’t satisfying a high enough level of need, to put it in your and Maslow’s terms. What I really craved (and why I entered law in the first place) was to make a real difference in poor people’s lives — not move money from one big corporation’s pocket to another’s. But, with student loans to repay, I got sidetracked and stuck and the only way out was a clean break out of the field for good.

    Now I blog and I love it! I’m highly motivated to work very long hours to help those who make my labors 100% worthwhile. I also want to add that I have an article on the serious dangers of 10 common negative self talk statements (“cognitive distortions”) and how the experts advise us to overcome them at http://shanelyang.com/2008/06/18/10-harmful-thoughts/

    Thanks for a fantastic post!

  • http://www.transformyourmoney.com Melanie

    Hi there
    I love what you said about money! How you spend it is what gets you results in your life! and also important is how you plan to spend it – without a plan nothing changes!
    Great article!

  • http://www.aimforawesome.com Vern at AimforAwesome

    Nice post! As a counterpoint to this… I have ADD/ADHD. Attention Deficit Disorder. I also read this Einstein quote years back. I thought, aha! This justifies my constantly changing things that aren’t working. I keep trying other options until something starts to work. The problem with ADD though is that there is no real sustained effort in any one area. At least in my case. I flit around doing 75 things to see if something works – but I never give ONE of them the chance to work! So, my problem has been trying too many different things.

    Recently I decided… focus on one blog. Make it work. Forget the other blogs for now. Forever? Focus just on the one blog and make it the best you possibly can for 6 months. See what happens. If nothing happens – then that was a serious effort that was applied long-term and I can move on to one of my other blogs and do the same.

    Sometimes the definition of insanity is…

    doing different things over and over again and expecting something to take off.

    I’m rediscovering your site and going through stacks of your posts. Awesome reads. – Vern

  • Alexis

    *excellent* article, I love the action pointers. I don’t necessarily look at them as habit change, so much as tweaking and reevaluating. Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to write such a useful post, Im looking forward to giving some of these a go!

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Thanks for your kind words everyone!

    Avani,
    It’s an interesting book. It precisely talks about the topic of doing things differently.

    Shanel,
    Your story is a good example of upgrading motivation. It’s amazing to see how you had such a change. I just learned about the term “cognitive distortions” from your article.

    Melanie,
    That’s right, we need a plan. This is something I should learn to do better myself :)

    Vern,
    I love your definition of insanity! It’s so true, I experienced it myself. I tried to do many different things and nothing worked. Only after I learned to focus did I get better results.

    Alexis,
    Yes, we can see them as tweaking and reevaluating. It reminds me of the computer world. Just like we can tweak a computer to optimize it, we can also tweak our life to optimize it.

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  • http://www.thefitshack.com JoLynn Braley from The Fit Shack

    Hi Donald, excellent post, I’m so on the same page with you, in fact I just wrote a post last Monday about the fact that if you don’t like the results you’re getting in your life (re: health & fitness) then you’ve gotta change your actions! ;)

    Many of us get into a cycle of doing the same thing over and over again and unwittingly expecting to see different results, it’s an easy trap to fall into. You’ve just got to get out of your comfort zone and make some adjustments – you can always reevaluate after you’ve been taking those new actions for awhile, and if they don’t give you the results you want, then do something else!

  • Erin Marie

    I really enjoyed this post. I have been reading quite regularly on and off for the past six months, and this post resonated.

    My life has been in major, positive upheavals in the last three/four months, and I think a lot of the realizations, understandings I have come to are along similar veins of your ten points. But its super nice to see it confirmed by others as well, in such a concise manner!

    Foreal, keep it up!

  • http://sisterwisdom.com/blog/2008/06/20/paniniing/ Annie

    OUCH! I was just cruising through, nodding my head in self-satisfaction, oh yes, I’m doing that, I’ve changed there, I’ve adjusted that and then WHAM! #9 blew my head off.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about focus lately, as in focus on one item/task/project versus multitasking, but the word “intensity” really clarifies the purpose of having focus. On the surface, I feel more productive when I multi-task, and I feel restricted when I make myself concentrate on one item. If I push myself to last past those first superficial moments, though, I find that the focus — which produces that intensity I need so much – results in a much greater, deeper productivity.
    Time to change another (bad) habit…
    :)

  • http://www.etavitom.com etavitom

    this is a truly wise and inspirational post. that’s for offering such good advice…. all the best, brad

  • http://www.thegeekstuff.com Ramesh | The Geek Stuff

    Every single item you’ve mentioned here are excellent. I just didn’t like the title for point #5 “Change your friends”. I understand that you didn’t mean to dump the current friends, but the title just suggest that.

    You should be careful in who you choose as your friend. Once they are your friend, changing them because they are not “winner” doesn’t make sense.

    Ramesh
    The Geek Stuff

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  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    JoLynn,
    What a coincidence we wrote about the same topic :)
    You’re right, we need to get out of our comfort zone. That’s perhaps the most difficult part of change.

    Erin,
    I’m glad that – more than just reading – you have experienced the points here.

    Annie,
    The way you wrote it makes me laugh :) Anyway, you are not alone. I also need to change my bad habits.

    Brad,
    I’m glad you find it useful.

    Ramesh,
    Yes, we can’t dump our current friends. I use the title because I tried to write each title as short as possible while keeping all of them in the same form (“Change your …”). I personally don’t feel that the title suggests me to dump my current friends, but that’s perhaps just me, which is why I explained it further in the first sentence of the point.

  • http://www.coloryourlifehappy.com Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.

    There are instances when we need to change friends. As we mature and evolve we sometimes realize that some old friends are manipulative, deceptive and only interested in dysfunctional relationships. We will begin to attract healthier relationships and the unhealthy ones need to be shed.

  • http://www.expressyourselftosuccess.com Laurie

    This is a great post! I especially like that you’ve given action items and not just leaving the reader hanging, wondering what to do with the information.

    Re: habits – good advice. A few years ago, I read The Inner Game of Tennis where Tim Gallwey wrote instead of putting the energy into breaking a habit, put all your energy into making a new one. Big light bulb went on for me that day.

    I’m looking forward to more of your posts on happiness!

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Laurie,

    instead of putting the energy into breaking a habit, put all your energy into making a new one.

    That’s a good idea. Often the more attention we give to a bad habit the more difficult it is to break. Directing our attention to building a good habit instead may give us better result.

  • http://enlightenyourday.com/ Jonathan

    Great post! I truly enjoyed it….I would like to do a link exchange with you and have our blogs linked. My blog would make a great addition to your positive blog links, and I would like to share yours with my readers. Here is my link: http://enlightenyourday.com/

    Let me know what you think
    Kindest Regards,
    Jonathan
    If your interested leave me a message on my site….

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Jonathan,
    I don’t participate in link exchange. Thanks for stopping by.

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  • http://donthave Rhoda Bharucha

    Thank you your suggestions are really useful & practical

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  • Angelo Coelho

    Very good read, I’ll be checking back on this often, that’s for sure.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Rhoda and Angelo,
    Thanks and good luck for you :)

  • http://isthatsitedown.com femto

    really i learned from this article , thank you

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Femto,
    Glad you find it useful.

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  • Abhijit

    Hi

    This seems a like very interesting article. Will try the suggestions .

    Thank You

  • nishita

    hey ya thanx a million 4 writng diz article. i m sure diz wud have brought change in many pplz lyf n mine 2

  • Anandhi

    Hi Donald,

    Very nice article. Appreciate you !!
    Let me too follow it.

  • Leonia Nanteza

    Oh my God!!! Change, Change, change!!!!! I have just discovered that most of us are insane and we don’t know. Doing the same thing and expect the difference!! I must change. Thank you very much Donald

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    I wish all the best for you, Leonia :)

  • http://izzyinozzie.blogspot.com/ Izzy

    Thanks a ton for sharing! I find a lot of the suggestions for actions to take very helpful! Definitely going to incorporate it in my daily life!

  • Ishan Goel

    Hi,
    Its a great article. I had been looking up for such articles so that I could improve my life and change my attitude towards life.
    Thanks to you Donald.
    I’ll now follow these tips!! :)
    Cheers.

  • preet

    great ,article man….its changed my thinking

  • Fazil Jahangir

    Dude your the best man i love you for this awesome artical bro. LOVE YOU SO MUCH not in that way but yeah your awesome.

  • Aghahowa Edison

    Thanks man 4 ur advise, i wil change frm Now on, thanks 4 changing d live of people especially mine. One love brother.

  • engr. Tammy

    well,this is a nice article,the points are alright,i do like it,thanks

  • joshua

    i like dis article.i have tried so hard to change and i just cant figure how to do it.My life now is taking away my good friends and my love one. i really want your help.plzz

  • Mario ray estrella

    Thank you! I will try this nd give u feedback later!

  • Mario ray estrella

    I like it

  • Mehjabin

    Hi,

    This is one of the best post i have read recently.
    So many things that we never actually thought about has suddenly come into picture.
    Loved the concept of giving a positive statement for all the negative thoughts.
    Yes yes…. I loved it….
    Expecting to see some more mind awakening posts…
    Goodwork Donald :)

  • AW

    I really appreciate this list of pointers; something to think and take action on.

  • Jillian

    I like the intention behind this article, however there were certain things about it that I didn’t care for. I particularly didn’t like how you emphasized buying books and reading, particularly classic books. Some people just don’t find joy in reading classical books, or reading at all, and that’s okay. You also tell people to change their priorities, but you tell them exactly where their priorities should lie. One’s priorities are something that should be determined through introspection, not just because some blog post said this was the correct order.

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