We hear it all the time: “ If you want to change your life, focus on your habits.” Or how “writing down your goals makes you actually complete them.” Or “Partner up with a buddy; they’ll help keep you accountable and get you where you want to go.”
Sure, these pieces of advice are definitely not all talk—setting goals and making action plans to achieve them are effective ways to change your life. But what we don’t talk about? How we figure out what we want to change.
It may seem like a pretty easy question: “I want a job I love”, “I want to find a partner who understands me” or “I just want to get out of this rut I feel like I’ve been living in the past 25 years.” But figuring out what that job, partner or lifestyle actually is? Not so easy.
If you want to create change, you’ve got to start by changing yourself. And no, we don’t mean a complete transformation of personality. It could just mean looking at things a bit differently this year. So, how can you change your perspective to get yourself where you want to be?
Focus on others
Like they say, it’s always better to put yourself in another’s shoes. Turns out it isn’t always easy to get them to fit. And why should it be? You’ve lived with your mind, thoughts and experiences your entire life. You can’t just imagine how every other person in the world views it to necessarily understand them. Sarah Beckman, author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in Their Time of Trial says, “One of the best ways I know to get a fresh perspective in life is to reach out and help people facing hardship. No matter how frustrated or discouraged I am, when I put my focus on others, everything becomes clearer.” Maybe you’re looking for more gratitude and appreciation in your life. How about volunteering at a homeless or animal shelter? Or doing small acts towards others, like buying a friend coffee or sending your mom a card saying how much you love her? Spend some energy focusing on changing others lives, and you may just change your own.
Figure out what your obstacles are
What are the obstacles that are preventing you from making the change you want to see? That’s not always so easy to find out. Hugh Byrne, PhD, says to ask yourself “What, if anything, gets in the way of you fully living and embodying this intention for yourself and your life? Are there habitual behaviors or patterns of thinking that cause you stress, anxiety, suffering—and that prevent you fully embodying your wish for yourself?”
But if you typically ask these questions while brooding over your problems while feeling frustrated and helpless, you may need a different path to figuring it out. Journaling, meditating, even having a conversation with a friend who knows you best—just getting outside of yourself for a second to see what’s buried inside can help you overcome these barriers to change.
Cleanse yourself of toxic relationships
You are who you spend time with, so if you’re not feeling entirely happy with where you are, you may want to spend some time looking at the relationships in your life. Leaha Mattinson, life coach and author of the new book, Silver Linings: The Essential Guide to Building Courage, Self-Respect, and Wellness, says, “Toxic friends, coworkers and relatives can wreak havoc on your nerves and create unnecessary drama in your life. Keep in mind that what is toxic for you may be tolerable to others, so you’ll have to figure out who you want in your life, and who you don’t. Even though it’s tough to remove someone from your life, remember that it’s essential to your self-respect and wellness to create your world the way you want it.”
Good things happen to us every day, but we don’t always recognize them. Acknowledging what you grateful is helpful for anyone that wants to feel happier in their life, but it’s especially important when changing your perspective. Writing a gratitude list every night, keeping a journal or even simply saying “thank you” every time you feel it are all ways to help you practice gratitude in your daily life. “One way to shift perspective is to write down everything you do appreciate about a person or situation that is driving you crazy,” Angela Howell, author, speaker, and transformation coach, advises. “Write down what you would miss if they were out of your life forever or the struggle was over. Write down why someone might possibly be making the choices they are making that are causing you difficulty.” Over time, you’ll start to change your perspective on how you view the struggles you’re having in life.
Travel somewhere new
If you want to change your perspective so badly, how about you literally change it and go somewhere new? The ability to travel is the world saying, “I want you to get to know all of me.” Because chances are, right now, you’re only spending time with one piece. Spending time in a new place introduces you to new cultures, people and experiences you don’t see and do in your everyday routine. And it doesn’t have to be all Eat Pray Love; it can be as simple as visiting a new state for a weekend or getting out of the city and spending some time in nature.