How To Join The Top 1% At Making Positive Changes In Your Life

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When it comes to making positive life changes, there are those who succeed and those who do not.

The latter often try to make changes and may have temporary success, but inevitably end up backsliding into old habits, and then have to try again from scratch.

There are some surefire ways to make long-lasting, positive changes in your life, and we’re going to tell you how with the 11 tips listed below.

1. Be clear about your changes, including your motivations for them.

What would you change about yourself if you knew that you wouldn’t fail?

And why would you want to make these changes?

Be as specific as possible about your goals, and you’ll have a solid foundation on which to achieve them.

Many people idealize what they want to change, but those dreams aren’t always based in reality.

Furthermore, they may not have clear ideas about why they want to make these changes. When asked about their motivations, they may offer vague responses or not even know the reasons for their daydreams.

Additionally, they may not know how they would go about achieving these changes if they had to take real action to do so.

Before you even think about the steps you’ll need to take to make your changes a reality, be honest about why you want to make them.

Do you want to get fit and healthy as payback toward those who made fun of you in the past? Or because you want to improve your health, strengthen your body, and feel confident in your own skin?

Do you want to go back to school and earn another degree in order to feel validated by other people’s admiration? Or because you’re passionate about this subject and want to devote the rest of your life to it?

Once you’ve figured out the “why,” you can determine the “how” to get it done effectively.

2. Ensure that these positive changes are realistic.

Unattainable goals will discourage someone from making a long-term positive change in their life.

In fact, aiming for a goal that requires an extraordinary amount of effort is one of the best ways of ensuring defeat or failure.

Instead, aim for changes that you know you can attain, and then move the goalposts forward when you achieve them.

For example, let’s say you want to run a marathon. Instead of trying to run 26+ miles on your first attempt, run a mile or two. Then, once you can do that quite comfortably, increase it to 5 miles, then 8, then 10, then 15, and so on. By doing this incrementally, you won’t have “running a marathon” weighing on your subconscious, so there’s less risk of self-sabotage.

It’s easier to attain smaller goals within a shorter time period, which will encourage you to keep moving forward.

3. Change both your mindset and your approach.

Having the right mindset is vital if you want to change your life for the better.

Many people who announce that they’re “going on a diet” give up on it shortly after. This is because they treat it as both temporary and punitive. They’ll “commit” to a month or two of restrictions and create punishments for themselves if they don’t adhere to those.

The thing about restrictions is that people naturally rebel against them. As a result, they end up self-sabotaging almost immediately. This will inevitably be followed by self-loathing, disappointment, and defeat.

A better approach and mindset is to see this as an investment in your future. Rather than being restrictive and punitive, it’s expansive and rewarding.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m going on a diet to lose 20 pounds,” you’d say, “I’m going to be eating nutrient-dense, nourishing food and moving my body more so that I can be as strong and capable for as long as possible.”

This investment is encouraging and positive. In terms of the rewards, that can be tailored to the individual, such as:

“I’m going to walk every day so I can hike the Appalachian trail with my grandchildren when they’re old enough.”


“By doing regular weight training, I’ll be able to live independently for as long as I like.”

Focus on long-term benefits and happiness, and positive changes will fall into place organically.

4. Consistency is KEY.

Once you’ve decided to put positive changes into action, you’ll need to be consistent with them.

Real change only happens with dedication—it’s not going to magically unfold by taking action randomly here and there.

Think about the methods that motivate you the most, and put those into action.

Some people do well with digital planning and reminders, such as apps and alarms that keep them on track with their various tasks. Others prefer more analog approaches, like a wall calendar full of reminders and a notebook to track progress.

Try to see consistency as a dedication to yourself. Your goal is important to you, and when something is important to us, we make a point of taking consistent effort toward it.

Think about how you behave toward someone you’re interested in dating. If your interest is sincere, you make a point of speaking to them regularly, being encouraging about their pursuits, being supportive of them, and working with them toward something meaningful.

Treat yourself with the same diligent care, and you can’t help but succeed.

Remember that you didn’t always know how to walk or run like you can now. Babies learn to walk because they’re consistent in their approach—they move their little bodies every single day and are committed to gaining more mobility. Take a cue from them and put the same diligence and enthusiasm into your own practice.

5. Habit stacking.

We all have habits born of repetition and consistency. If you observe your daily routines, you’ll notice that you do many of them unconsciously, such as turning on the coffee maker before you get into the shower.

As such, adding another step into your daily routine will work best if you “stack” those habits by associating a new one with an already established one.

For example, if you want to get into the habit of taking vitamins every day, you can fill a weekly pill container with the supplements you want to take. Keep that pill container in your coffee cup, so when you finish your shower and go to pour your morning cuppa, you have to take the pill container out of the cup first.

Since it’s in your hand, you’ll remember to take those morning vitamins. Then put it into a clean mug next to the machine for the following morning.

Although this approach adds to the likelihood of you adopting positive changes, it doesn’t guarantee it. Most people are very firmly wired into their routines, and even if they put effort into changing their behaviors, they often revert to previous habits because they’re comfortable with the repetition they’re accustomed to.

In one of the house shares I lived in, the bathroom faucet didn’t work for a couple of years, so we washed our hands in the kitchen sink. Even after the landlord got around to fixing that faucet, one of my housemates continued to wash his hands in the kitchen because that’s the routine he’d been doing for over two years.

For habit stacking to work effectively, you need to be diligent and conscious about it. Furthermore, if resolve has been weakened by lack of sleep, stress, trauma, and so on, most people will turn to familiar comfort rather than sticking to their positive change.

As such, exercise may be skipped or the salad will be ignored in favor of pizza. Be diligent. If you can’t do your training that day, do some stretching, and have some salad instead of a third pizza slice.

6. Measure your progress.

Have you ever seen those signs where they post that there’s been X number of days since they had an incident on the job? That’s a point of pride and shows that everyone has been diligent and conscientious so that nobody ended up stuck in the conveyor belt.

Every endeavor that’s worth investing time or effort into measures progress in some way, from the colored belt system in martial arts to steps achieved in addiction recovery.

Keep track of your progress as you move forward with the positive changes in your life, in whatever way works best for you.

My partner and I like analog approaches with notebooks and written graphs, but others may prefer digital spreadsheets or apps.

When you’re having an off day or feeling down on yourself for what you feel is a plateau or slowed progress, look to see how far you’ve come. You may be unimpressed with yourself because you only did 45 pushups today (just one more than you did yesterday), but a month ago you could only do seven.

Recognizing how far you’ve come already can be just the encouragement you need that day to get you back on track.

7. Only compare yourself to yourself.

When you’re measuring your progress, ensure that you’re only comparing your achievements with your own efforts—not those of your friends, colleagues, or enemies.

If someone else is pursuing a similar goal and is making progress more quickly than you are, that’s fine. That’s their path, and as such can’t be compared to your own. They may have a different set of challenges and setbacks that you aren’t aware of.

Every person is an individual, and no two people will ever have identical achievements. Even if you and your best friend attain the same fitness goals, they’ll have a different body shape than you do because of underlying bone structure and musculature. Similarly, two people who earn the same educational degree will have different grades and class placements.

The key is to only compare yourself to yourself and appreciate who you are as you proceed on this journey instead of trying to win someone else’s trophy.

You may never be able to run a 10k like your friend does, but they may never be able to bench press 400lbs or write a novel. Each of us has our own skills and capabilities, so we can’t compare apples to antelopes.

8. Avoid negative self-talk.

Many people are cruel toward themselves, especially regarding perceived shortcomings or failures.

In case you haven’t noticed, few people respond well to negative reinforcement. In fact, constantly telling someone how much they suck will rarely give them the incentive to excel in whatever is challenging them.

Envision yourself as a child who’s striving toward a goal that means a lot to them. If you were to encourage that child, what do you feel is the best method of doing so? Yelling at them about how stupid or fat or useless they are? Or telling them that they’re doing a great job, that consistency is more important than massive leaps of progress, and that you’re proud of them?

Right. So, any time you catch yourself being insulting or cruel to the person in the mirror, choose kindness and encouragement instead.

9. Consider graded exposure if needed.

Depending on the type of positive change you have in mind, you may benefit from a technique known as “graded exposure.”

Graded exposure is used in dialectical behavioral therapy and involves repeated exposure to a particular stimulus to reduce anxiety and increase one’s comfort levels with it.

If the positive changes you’re seeking involve getting over a trauma, or doing something you’ve always been afraid of or have been avoiding because of the anxiety (or other emotion) it evokes in you, then this type of gradual conditioning exposure may be of benefit.

When we are exposed to challenging stimuli bit by bit, under controlled conditions, there’s less of a shock to the system. Since we know that there isn’t real danger, the fight or flight response is lessened.

Think of this like easing into a cold pool on a hot day, rather than flinging oneself into the deep end. You dip a toe in first, and once you’ve gotten used to the temperature and sensation, you ease your foot into the water up to the ankle, and so on until you’re fully immersed.

10. Get help with accountability.

One of the best ways to ensure consistency and commitment to your life changes is to establish some kind of accountability—especially to another person.

In general, we’re far more likely to let ourselves down than someone we care about. As a result, we’re far more likely to succeed in making positive changes if there are others to whom we can be held accountable.

In an ideal situation, you’d have someone who’s on a similar journey to you so that you can be accountability partners while also cheering one another on.

If you don’t have access to someone like that, you have a couple of different options: use an app that’ll keep you on track or create a contract with someone you trust.

We tend to take vows more seriously when they’re on paper and witnessed by another. Decide upon a reward that you’ll receive when you attain your goal, and determine how often to check in with progress reports as well.

Making accountability official will encourage diligence, even on a subconscious level.

11. Celebrate your achievements.

Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Knowing that there are rewards for achieving every milestone encourages huge forward momentum. As such, make sure that those rewards are significant enough to motivate you.

You can do this cumulatively, such as incremental rewards as part of a huge goal. For example, the pieces you’ll need to ultimately go on a dream vacation once you’ve reached your goal. Or you can choose a variety of items that you really like—it’s your call. Just make them appealing on numerous levels.


By putting these tangible steps into action, you’ll have a much higher chance of both attaining the positive changes you want to make in your life and maintaining them in the long term.

Once you know what you want and how you intend to get there, you simply need to step on the path and stay on it.

About The Author

Finn Robinson has spent the past few decades travelling the globe and honing his skills in bodywork, holistic health, and environmental stewardship. In his role as a personal trainer and fitness coach, he’s acted as an informal counselor to clients and friends alike, drawing upon his own life experience as well as his studies in both Eastern and Western philosophies. For him, every day is an opportunity to be of service to others in the hope of sowing seeds for a better world.