If you know something's got to change, your first priority is to embrace it with a positive attitude and see it as an opportunity to experience a life you've always imagined -- one filled with more joy, excitement and possibilities.
Here are 10 things you can do to change your life. The first step is really up to you.
1. Admit your mistakes.
Here are four magic words to put into practice this week: "That was my fault." The bigger action behind those little words is even more courageous: Putting your ego aside. You see, admitting to being human and making mistakes actually increases trust. Dr. Paul Zak, author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies says, "People who are imperfect are more attractive to us. We like them more than people who seem too perfect."
Simplifying your life is not necessarily about getting rid of everything you've worked so hard for. It's about making wise choices among the things you now have to choose from. It's about recognizing that trying to "have it all' has gotten in the way of enjoying the things which do add to your happiness. It's deciding what's important to you, and gracefully letting go of the things that aren't.
3. Express more gratitude in life.
Here's the failproof method to doing it: Write down three acts of gratitude. What three new things are you grateful for? For long-term effect, do it for 21 straight days. Positive psychologist and bestselling author Shawn Achor says the reason this is so powerful is that you're training your mind to scan for positives instead of negatives. This activity is the fastest way to teach optimism and will significantly improve your outlook even six months later.
4. Avoid people who stress you out.
If someone is a constant source of stress and you can't turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship entirely. This is especially the case if the air you breathe is permeated by heated topics that trigger you and cause your blood pressure to rise (for me it's politics and religion). Learn to avoid these people and choose to live in a peaceful state of mind.
5. Spend money on sharing experiences with others.
Forget buying material possessions. Several studies found that happiness comes from experiential purchases that involve other people, like taking in a play, a 9-hole round of golf, or going out to dinner or coffee with someone else. When you do, it improves your well-being more than spending on high-tech toys. "It may be less the doing that creates happiness than it is sharing the doing," the authors of one study explain.
6. Stop expecting people to live by your rules.
Dealing with unmet expectations is a huge source of stress. Make sure you set proper expectations for yourself. And when you set expectations for others, make sure you communicate clearly so that they understand them. Expecting others to fulfill your unspoken expectations is a quick way to a toxic relationship, and you're the culprit.
7. Run away from gossip.
Author Peter Vajda defines gossip as a type of workplace violence, noting that it is "essentially a form of attack." Your best course of action is to walk away, as it will save you unnecessary stress and your good reputation. If you're caught in it often, put limits on those who gossip. Turn down lunch invitations and walk away from parking lot and water cooler conversations that go south. Then seek work relationships with positive people that respect others, focus on themselves, and don't get sucked into groupthink mentality (which happens when a group makes bad decisions because of group pressures).
8. Listen more. No, I mean, really listen.
Are you a good or bad listener? Let me test you with these two questions. Now, lets be honest: How often do you find yourself trying hard to avoid the bad habit of interrupting others while they are speaking? And this: Do you find yourself tempted to jump in and finish someone else's sentence? You see, effective listening is being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond. That's when both parties know real listening is taking place.
9. Don't "fake it till you make it."
Sometimes we make the unfortunate choice of not being our true selves to gain a desired outcome. We put on a mask, and work a room trying to impress others. This is the "fake it till you make it" approach and it doesn't work. It's the road to short-term gain, with consequences that could hurt -- or destroy -- your reputation and relationships. By being real with yourself, dropping the mask, and walking in the path of authenticity, you'll soon notice a drastic difference in whom you attract, and how others treat you.
10. Set smaller goals.
If you've set a BHAG that now feels like climbing Mt. Everest, take one small step at a time to help build your confidence, keep you moving forward, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with visions of your final goal. In other words, don't focus on the top of the mountain! Just focus on the first mole hill. So what's your first step? That's it. Take it.