When we think about creating sweeping change in our lives, it often seems like a distant dream. When life gets in the way, it's easy to think it's "too late," or that we won't be able to restart because we are so set in our ways, whether it's our career, finances, or exercise plan.
Instead of sticking to the same old routine, realize you can change your life in meaningful ways that will make you happier and more successful, starting today. If you want to, you can reinvent your life -- that it's possible has been scientifically proven, and plenty of entrepreneurs have done it before.
Here are a few habits that will create that change, and a few success stories to show you that anything really is possible:
Practice being your future self.
Quite simply, to become that ideal, future version of yourself, you need to practice being it.
According to Peter Bregman, CEO and leadership expert, in Harvard Business Review, "You need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediate apparent return to your efforts."
His brilliant advice applies to almost any change you want to make in your life. Whether you want to get in better shape or start a business, it's not going to happen overnight. Instead of waiting for this change, start prioritizing and scheduling bite-size improvements today, no matter how busy you are.
Design your life around happiness.
Happiness can seem like such an abstract concept. After all, a Hallmark card or Dove chocolate wrapper doesn't exactly give you a concrete way to create a happier life.
But according to Stanford's famous "Designing Your Life" class, you can actually home in on what happiness means to you, and restructure your life around it. Instead of just abstractly chasing happiness, they suggest you journal it daily.
Start by writing down the specifics -- when you were happy, what you were doing, why did it make you happy, etc.). If you notice reoccurring themes or patterns, start changing your goals or routines to incorporate them.
Don't beat a dead horse.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein
If you have been trying to succeed at something for a while now and it hasn't been working, or, even more important, it isn't making you happy, it is time to try something else. It does not mean that you are a failure. It means that you are smart enough to realize when something isn't working out and that you have enough dignity to do something to make yourself happy.
Take a vacation, or at least a 10-minute break from your screen.
If you can, take a vacation: Recharge, let loose, and revitalize your mind. Science says it's the equivalent of hitting the reset button on your brain: It destroys stress and gives you a much-needed fresh perspective to create sweeping change.
If you can't head to Costa Rica today, don't worry -- just take a break. A Cornell University study from 2009 shows that workers who followed automated reminders to take a break from their computer screens were 13 percent more accurate in their work after returning.
Researchers also suggest meditating in a quiet space or even taking a walk -- preferably in the fresh air. Not only will your eyeballs appreciate it; your mind too will have a chance to recharge.
You're only as good as the people around you.
You may recall, when you were in high school, your parents telling you not to hang out with wrong crowd, and it probably drove you crazy. I am sorry to tell you, though, that they were right.
A Harvard Medical School study done by Dr. Nicholas Christakis found that individuals who surround themselves with people who smile and have a positive attitude themselves have a better attitude compared with those who are surrounded by negative and grumpy people.
It might not seem like a big deal, but start avoiding negative friends or colleagues whenever possible. If you can't avoid this, now's the time to start looking for a new job or social circle. The results will amaze you.
Say 'no' to everything else.
Warren Buffet reportedly said to his pilot of 25 years, "The fact that you're still working here tells me I'm not doing my job."
He then told his pilot to write down 25 goals he was working on, and to narrow down the top five. Buffett's sage advice was to only follow those top five goals, and to say no to everything else.
You can do the same thing: Rather than overextending yourself, start tuning up your turn-down skills. For instance, if you want to start a business, learn to say no to frivolous activities that waste your time. When you start prioritizing yourself, positive change will arise in the blink of any eye.
Scare yourself every single day.
"Do one thing every day that scares you," said Eleanor Roosevelt.
She was right on the money. Although it might be intimidating, stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way to create change.
Is there something that you've been putting off because it brings butterflies to your stomach? Is there a slight fear you have, but you know you'll be more productive by moving toward it?
Whether it's going to that job interview or just saying hello to someone you want to meet, make an effort to do it daily, knowing that it will be a step toward conquering your fears and success goals.
The bottom line.
It's never too late (or too early) to create that massive change in life you've always wanted. Your new success might not happen overnight, but it will happen eventually.
Do you have any tips or success stories about massive life improvement? Share them with me on Twitter!