20 Simple but Powerful Life Changes

Note: This is a guest post from Jake O’Callaghan of Slowchange
Small, simple life changes can be powerful. Implementing some of these changes can literally change your entire life.
How do you change? Take on one change at a time, and go slowly. Implement each change consistently so that it becomes a habit. Don’t do too much too fast.
What follows is a list of changes that are simple, yet incredibly powerful. Some are obvious and some aren’t. I hope they serve as reminders of useful changes.
1. Walk daily
We humans aren’t supposed to be sedentary human beings. We are born to run, but even more so to walk.
Walking every day is good for your physical health. But more importantly, it’s good for your mind. Walking is a joy. You are outside without distractions. You may even see people. And there’s few better ways to boast your mood.
2. Wake early
If you asked me what’s the best change you can make this instance, I would say “wake early.” The early morning is peaceful – there are no interruptions and no noise. You can wakeup and go for a walk. You can meditate. And you can create.
And waking early is the most productive thing I’ve ever done. I often get more work done in a couple hours in the morning than during the entire day.
3. Eat less
Many of us overeat. Let’s stop. Eat slowly, and eat until you’re full. Eat so that your belly doesn’t bulge.
4. Stop watching, start doing
Watching is easy. Anyone can watch someone. Spectating isn’t inherently bad, but I believe we do too much of it. Instead of watching, do something. Or better yet, create something great.
5. Go slowly
Our culture tells us to go fast, to sprint and win the race. Problem is, the race never ends. When you choose to go slowly, you are choosing peace and happiness.
6. Declutter
Clutter whether mental, physical, or virtual takes a toll. The only way to get rid of clutter is to get rid of stuff. Deal with bad thoughts and be done with them. Delete unneeded files. And get rid of unnecessary items.
Then when you feel like adding something, ask yourself if it’s necessary. For the most part, it will just contribute to clutter.
7. Become stronger
There are many ways you can become stronger. You can refuse to back down because of fear. You can stand up for what’s right. And you can become physically stronger.
All do one thing, increase your confidence. Gradually become stronger, and the world will open up.
8. Drink water
Often, I used to feel like crap just because I wasn’t hydrated. Drink water, and it will make you feel better. Soda and most other drinks often make you feel worse.
Drink water and only water (besides maybe some tea or coffee). Drink it with meals and drink it throughout the day.
9. Meditate
The incredible benefits of meditation are well-known. But most people don’t practice it because it seems complicated. The truth is, you don’t need to shave your head, or sit with crossed legs to meditate.
The simplest way to meditate is to just sit and breathe. Focus on your breathe. Or focus on the sounds around you.
10. Let go of expectations
Expectations are completely pointless. Try it for yourself: think of how something will be in advance. Most of the time your expectations aren’t met or are exceeded. Or your expectations create negative results.
Live without expectations, and you won’t be disappointed. You won’t have to worry about things you can’t control. You will just flow and accept things as they are.
11. Live in the moment
The past is yesterday and the future is later. The present is the only time we are truly living.
So instead of analyzing the past or worrying about the future, live in the moment.
12. Forget goals
Goals look nice on paper. They provide order to your life. They aren’t necessarily counter-productive – people have done great things using goals.
However, I think they’re useless. Instead of focusing on a goal, focus on the moment. Do things that you love, and do things well right now. This will get you farther than an arbitrary thing  that you can check off.
13. Focus on what’s important
Too often, I used to let the little things get in the way. Now I forget the trivial and focus on what’s important.
What is important? It’s up to you. Family, writing, reading, and playing soccer are all important to me. I clear away distractions and do the important things.
14. Change things up
A routine can make you a zombie. Instead, change things. Often you will find that a change makes things more exciting.
Don’t be afraid to change things up.
15. Wait before you buy
Often we think we need something, but it ends up in the basement – unused. Before you buy something, wait a month. If you still believe it to be useful, then you can but it.
Understand that every time you purchase something, the cost is more than just monetary. You are taking on this item. You must put it somewhere, you must protect it, and you must maintain it.
16. Stop judging
Judging is easy. It’s also stupid. It’s impossible to fully understand others. You don’t know what they’ve been through.
So why do we judge? It’s harmful to your own peace, and it’s harmful to others.
17. Stop interrupting
Let people finish their sentence. You aren’t in such a hurry that you need to interrupt.
Let people speak. You might learn something.
18. Create
Everyone has something they can add to the world – something they can create. Spend time everyday creating. You are capable of creating something life-changing – even if it only helps one person.
19. Single-task
Multi-tasking is a myth. We can’t multi-task – our brain can only switch between two tasks. So multi-tasking is actually less productive; not to mention stressful.
Instead, focus on a single task. Move on when it’s finished.
20. Play
We are too serious. Laugh and goof off sometimes. Forget being judged, and let loose.
We aren’t so different from children – only we try to hide our play. Forget maturity. Forget working for now. Play. Enjoy life.
Jake O’Callaghan is passionate about teaching and helping people change. Slowchange (slowchange.net) is his blog on making simple, lasting change. zenteen (zenteen.net) is a blog he created to help teens simplify and deal with the crazy teenage life.
Photo by Per Ola Wiberg


  1. True – I agree with everything here, except…you said sedimentary instead of sedentary (#1)

  2. Federico Alfonso
    Federico Alfonso

    Wow! Stop picking your brain. THIS is an awesome New Year pourpose list.

  3. Great, Points to be followed for better and smoth life…
    Thanks a lot Donald..

  4. Wonderful post.
    Happiness flows when we think of simplistic living.

  5. Beware anyone who has the answers. Rules of life. Walk: check. Drink water: check. Etc etc, then I came to have NO expectations. Well, what do I know, only been around for 3/4 century, but here’s the deal: that’s crazy. Among the typos of this blog and the word mixups, I really take issue with that one. I expected to be a pretty good ad guy and I was, am. I expected to be a sculptor. Was. Am. Expected to be a pretty good writer. Published in the lit journals. That happened. Hell, with no expectations what’s it worth? I expect good things and that helps make them happen. I also know about setbacks. But they’re fewer when you expect good things and put that in motion. My two cents. I’m expecting some acceptances or rejections today, gotta run.

    • Expecting good things don’t make them happen. Doing the actual work makes things happen. Yes expectations sometimes turn out true, but they often don’t.
      So what is the point? It’s impossible to determine an outcome. So instead of focusing or expecting a certain result, live in the present. When you let things flow rather than predicting them you don’t have disappointment. And you can cheer at your victories that actually happen, not that you expect to happen.

    • I agree. I also think it IS important to have goals. They are not worthless. But I also understand the thought behind the recommendation: to enjoy life and the moment. But this is not incomparable with having goals.

      • I understand that goals are ingrained in “self help” and our culture. I also understand that many people use goals to succeed in many areas.
        But I have found through years of using goals that they aren’t necessary. You can’t truly set a time limit to achieve something, and often we over or underachieve. A goal can be motivating, but actual results often turn out quite differently than we think. So why must we have goals? Why can’t we just try our best and see what happens?
        More importantly, goals prevent us from seeing other opportunities. When we are free from artificial restraints we can tackle what we like in the absolute best way possible.
        I’ve found that you can’t predict what you’ll achieve (and if you do you are limiting your potential), but if you follow your passion and put in effort great things happen. Goals just seem unnecessary.

    • I agree that expecations of ourselves are important. I think that letting go of expecatations of others (to a certain degree) can be productive.

  6. This is a great post, Doanld!
    So rich with tips for creating life changes (and so timely in the New Year!).
    It’s amazing how much I’ve been able to get done since I started waking early years and years ago.
    The other one that resonates most with me is #13: focusing on what important. Som much of life’s potential is left unmet because so much time spent on things that don’t matter very much.
    Thanks for the post and insight, here, Donald.
    And have an Amazing New Year!

  7. I think the only one I’d quibble with is the ‘stop watching.’ You can learn a lot by watching, although I’d agree with the ‘start doing’ after you’ve completed the watching. And thanks for the reminder about ‘interrupting’ – guilty.

    • I agree. In hindsight, I would add watching as a life lesson. Watching is great.
      The problem is we watch instead of doing. Watching is fine, but there should be more doing.

  8. While I agree that “multi-tasking” is a myth, anyone that has spent even five minutes working in a hospital, pharmacy, or doctor’s office knows that it’s unrealistic to “single-task” all day long. It may be the ideal, less stressful and more productive way, but I’m sure there are more patients that owe there lives to those doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other healthcare workers who are able to switch back-and-forth between tasks than patients whose medical team single-tasked the whole way. I feel I could write an entire essay on this point, but ultimately, in my 20 year pharmacy experience, the “single-taskers” I’ve either known about or worked with were considered less valuable as an employee, less respected as a professional, and least desirable to work with simply because that person could not keep up with the volume of work at hand and the demands of the job overall.
    At home, I’m a single tasker. At work…well, I’ve already told you.

    • Marc thanks for giving your point of view. It’s easy to sit here in my home and tell you to single-task, but in some environments (as you mentioned) “multitasking” is necessary. As with each lesson, there are always exceptions, and I appreciate you sharing your own personal experience of times when single-tasking isn’t good or possible.

  9. Great list! Thanks so much!! So many things I can benefit from here. In response to “Let go of expectations” and “forget goals,” these are things I really need in my life. They help me keep going in a productive direction for myself. They seem to be along the same lines for me. But one thing I would like to add to this list is, “Become more flexible.” It goes very well with “Become stronger,” and much in the same way that you can relate it to your body, mind, and habits. And if this is added to the list you can get ride of the problem with goals and expectations one and maybe add something like, “Know there is something great for you in life.” That way you don’t have a goal or expectation that may be less than optimally flexible but you still can have something to look forward to that is wonderful waiting for you all the time!! But something like meditation helps you find it. Thanks again!! Have fun finding your great parts of life!

    • I completely agree. Being flexible is something I have experienced and wrote about recently. And you’re also right in that being flexible will result in letting go of goals/expectations. I appreciate your input.

  10. logical and nice points….agree with it!

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