50 Tips From My Year of Change

This has been a major year of change in my life – I became a father for the first time in February, I began blogging in April, I relocated from Australia to Canada in July, and I started a new job in November. Along the way I have picked up a variety of tips that I have incorporated into my daily routine to make life happier, healthier, and more productive. Here are 50 of my favorites:

1. Start with the fundamentals: if you want to live a great life, start by getting the fundamentals right. Examples of what I consider the “fundamentals” include an open mind and a willingness to change. If you would like to read more, check out my article 30 Fundamentals of a Wonderful Life (it was one of my most popular in 2007).

2. Fail regularly: this year I achieved a lot, but I still don’t believe I failed enough. “What? Are you crazy?” you may be thinking. Let me explain. Put simply, I believe that failure is the price of ambition. If you are not failing regularly, there is a good chance that you are not growing.

3. Drink less alcohol: this year I have definitely cut down on the booze, and I feel all the better for it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the occasional glass of red wine and a beer. But the days are gone when I’m willing to give up a whole day suffering from a hangover. A Weekend Without Alcohol was a personal test I did this year when I found my drinking was starting to increase again.

4. Write a personal mission statement: according to Stephen R. Covey, “the key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.” Writing a personal mission statement is a fantastic way to clarify these things. If you would like to read an example of such a statement, you are welcome to read my personal mission statement.

5. Stop lurking: this year I went from online lurker to an active and engaged member of the various blogs and forums. If you’re a lurker, consider reading my 3 Lessons From A Reformed Lurker.

6. Start blogging: there are many great reasons to blog. In fact I wrote an article called Why You Should Blog. A word of caution though: blogging can become very addictive.

7. Give your morning a makeover: does a typical workday seem to consist of waking up, going to work, working, coming home, and going to sleep? Get more from your day by giving your morning a makeover. Find out how in 10 Ways to Give Your Morning A Makeover.

8. Give your evening a makeover: same idea as above, except this time the focus is on getting more from your evening. Check out 10 Ways to Give Your Evening a Makeover.

9. Sell yourself: this year I learned to “sell” (or if you prefer it “share”) myself. It started with the promotion of this blog, and flowed into my career as I successfully took the next step forwards in my career, despite relocating overseas and taking a 4 month mini-retirement. Consider reading How to Sell Yourself – your career may depend on it!

10. Don’t be afraid to become a parent: I didn’t want to become a Dad until sometime in my 30s. Life, however, had other plans for me. This year at the age of 25 I became a Dad for the first time. It’s the best thing that has happened to me and I wouldn’t have things any other way. You can read a bit more about my change in perspective in my recent post, Well… I Have Definitely Changed.

11. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks: this is one of my favourite tips! If you would like some ideas for which podcasts or audiobooks to download, read my article 5 Essential Self Improvement Podcasts or browse through the massive collection at Audible.com.

12. Always carry a notepad to capture ideas: my best ideas for blog articles don’t come when I sit down at the computer. They come when I am on the bus or when I have just finished a work out. That’s why I always carry around a small notepad and pen to capture ideas as soon as they come. And you don’t need to be a blogger to benefit from this tip…

13. Take Omega-3: much has been written about the health benefits Omega-3 fatty acids. I started taking a supplement this year and, personally, I have found it has helped boost my mood throughout the day.

14. Read David Allen’s Getting Things Done: this really is a must own book for anyone interested in personal development. I haven’t fully implemented David’s system, but some of his tips are invaluable. If you would like to know more, you can read my review of Getting Things Done.

15. If it will take less than 2 minutes, do it now: this tip (taken from the above book) is such a simple, yet extremely powerful, way to avoid mental clutter and get things done.

16. Experiment with Gingko Biloba: for those who are interested in trying something different to improve their productivity, I suggest trying Gingko Biloba. I have found that it helps increase my mental alertness, particularly in the afternoon or when I am tackling a Sudoku puzzle. Thanks to Todd from We The Change for this tip.

17. Eat local: this year I read a great book this year called The 100-Mile Diet: No, it wasn’t environmentally preachy in any way. Instead it opened my eyes to just how interesting food can be when you know where it comes from.

18. Work on yourself at work: don’t think of self improvement as something that must be done in your free time. The work place is a fantastic place to develop yourself, whether it is focusing on improving your networking skills or sharpening your memory. Here are 5 Ways to Work On Yourself at Work.

19. Make someone’s day: why not make it a goal for today (or any day for that matter!) to brighten someone else’s day. Here are 21 Ways to Make Someone’s Day.

20. Wear a sleeping mask: this year I cut my sleeping from 8 hours to 6.5 hours per night. This doesn’t mean, though, that I wake up tired or have less energy during the day. Quite the opposite in fact! Wearing a sleeping mask has helped improve my quality of sleep by ensuring I sleep in complete darkness.

21. Cut the sugar: this year I have cut down on my sugar intake. I rarely drink pop (soft drink) anymore, and after 4pm I avoid any sugary foods like the plague. There have been many benefits to this, but the biggest relates my significantly better quality of sleep.

22. Wake early: this year I have gone from someone who dreads the alarm clock to someone who happily wakes up at 5am each morning. Read how in my article How I Won The Battle Of The Bed.

23. Unplug: there are many benefits to unplugging yourself from the electronic gadgets in your life, even if it is just for a day.

24. Learn from others’ mistakes: yes, this is easier said than done. But it is a very effective way to avoid unnecessary pain. See: The #1 Way to Avoid Unnecessary Pain in Life.

25. Keep a one sentence journal: this is a simple and easy way to both review your day and keep a record of what you did.

26. Stretch yourself by trying something new: life is about trying new things, stretching ourselves, and having adventures. There endless things to try, but if you would like some suggestions head over to my article 50 Ways to Improve Your Life.

27. Turn off the autopilot and live consciously: are you on autopilot? My article 5 Signs You Are On Autopilot may help you discover if you are or not. I certainly was for a number of years, but now I feel I am consciously steering my life in the direction I want. This was one of my most popular articles this year, featuring on both Lifehack.org and Lifehacker.com.

28. Write a eulogy: this may sound morbid, but it is actually a fantastic self improvement exercise. After just recently writing mine, I have a clearer vision for what I want to do with my life. You can read my eulogy in my post How to Live Forever.

29. Try yoga: this past month I tried yoga for the first time. The physical and mental relaxation it promotes are unbelievable. I plan to go at least each week in 2008.

30. Don’t settle: life is too short to settle for boring or second best. If you are unsure if you have settled, read my article 5 Signs That You Have Settled.

31. If you want to meet someone, contact them: ever contacted someone who you don’t know, but would like to meet, and organized to catch up? I hadn’t until a few months ago when I contacted, and subsequently met, John Chow. At the time I was starting to monetize this site, so it was a great opportunity for me to “pick the brain” of someone who earns $30,000 a month from blogging.

32. Read the Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week: this was an instant classic for me. Not since Rich Dad, Poor Dad has a book completely shifted the way I think about money. Read it with a notepad and pen handy – you will generate countless ideas!

33. Take a “mini-retirement”: this year I was lucky enough to have a 4 month “mini-retirement” (as Tim Ferriss calls it) after the move from Australia to Canada. And what can I say? I loved it and look forward to more in the future.

34. Spend time reviewing your week: I like to do a short review of my day each night, but once a week I like to take extra time to drawback and get a bigger picture of how things are traveling. Here are 7 questions that will help you review your week.

35. Create: for a number of years after finishing school I lacked a good creative outlet. This blog now serves as that outlet, and I am far happier now that I feel I am creating something. If blogging isn’t for you, consider photography or cooking classes (the world needs more good food).

36. Own Your Problems: I have learned it is natural to want to blame others and shift our problems elsewhere. Recognize this natural instinct and fight it. By owning your problems – that is taking responsibility for your situation – you will open the door to a better life. I wrote about this in my article Own Your Problems, Own Your Life.

37. Think daily: I’m not a big fan of indefinitely delaying happiness and fun. Yes, it’s important to plan for the future. But if you are not enjoying life today, in this very moment, it could be a good time to think about how you are living your life. One change you can make is to develop an “every day mindset”. You can read more about this approach to life in my article How to Enjoy Life Every Day.

38. Do daily: this year I discovered the power of making habits daily. If you want some ideas for habits to incorporate into your daily routine, check out my article 24 Daily Habits (easily my most popular article this year).

39. Be honest with yourself: it may hurt, but being honest with yourself will open the door to change in your life. Just remember, though, to be gentle with yourself. To read about one of my experiences with self-honesty, check out my article If You Want to Change, Tell The Truth.

40. Develop multiple streams of income: I didn’t monetize this blog for 6 months, but since I did it has grown to be a good source of income each month. It certainly isn’t passive income (I’ll leave that dream to the multi-level marketers), but it does significantly help our finances and I imagine it will only keep growing.

41. Make the most of the commute: I wrote a lot of this article on the bus to work. Other things I do to make the most of the commute are read, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, and develop my plan for world domination.

42. Write: what I have learned from blogging is that writing is a great way to clarify and develop my ideas. So start a blog. Or, if you don’t yet feel like sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with the world, write in a traditional journal.

43. Make routine tasks interesting: routine tasks are a fact of life. There is no reason, though, why you can’t make them a bit more interesting. Try making a game of the task, or perhaps using your non-preferred hand. For more ideas, check out my article 8 Ways To Make Routine Tasks Interesting.

44. Cut down on the caffeine: I’m not going to tell you to give up caffeine because I still love a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. But this year I have discovered the benefits of cutting down on the caffeine. Generally I just have the one cup of coffee in the morning, and from then on it is herbal tea (caffeine free) or green tea (with caffeine, but a lot less than coffee).

45. Define what “success” means to you: don’t waste your life chasing someone else’s version of success. See: What is Success?

46. Be disciplined: one of my favourite quotes I came across this past year is: “the price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”. Memorize this quote, and tell it to yourself then you feel yourself being tempted to act in a way that is not in alignment with your dreams and goals.

47. Move away: it’s a huge step to move away from your home city, but the potential benefits are endless. Love, unique opportunities, and the freedom to find yourself are just a few reasons to pack your bags and jump on a plane. Check out my article Why You Should Move Away (written while I was still in Australia).

48. Mix things up: if life if getting boring, mix things up a little.

49. Think different: a few month back I challenged a number of other bloggers to “think different” about something in their life. The challenge had a great response with more than 30 people writing on the topic. If you haven’t already, take the Think Different Challenge.

50. Never leave the site of a good idea without taking some type of positive action: if you like the sound of one or more of these tips, take some form of positive action now.

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.

39 Comments

  1. Great list Peter.

    You’re right, blogging is addictive.

    I’ve been around for only a month and a half and am getting over 1000 unique visitors a day. The more success, the more addicting it becomes. I’m going to have to analyze my time spent and force myself to start doing some other activities to compensate so I don’t spend too much time on it.

    Hope you had a great time over the holidays.

    Reply
  2. Love your entire list especially the second one about failing! Too many people do everything they can not to fail and in turn create a mediocre life experience.

    Reply
    • Whenever I’m in a high learning curve, I say to myself, “If I haven’t made ten mistakes a day I haven’t made my quota.”

      Reply
  3. Peter,

    Whew, a lot of points to digest.

    With point #6, you need to take the addiction test. C’mon, just for fun, some of us want to know! :-)

    Reply
  4. GREAT work Peter– you really remineded me of some things that I was forgetting to do. Thanks for this great synopsis!
    Todd
    ps, I especially love “the price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”.

    Reply
  5. I think that the most important thing to change your life is inspiration to do something and this is very personal for everyone. So many things you are trying to start doing fail. The ones you are having a strong belief in are becoming great success. So we should be always in search of inspiration. This could be done also by reading blogs of or getting in contact with this great people like you Peter.

    Reply
  6. Great Collection of to dos. I am a big procrastinator, I am hoping for 2008 to stop the procrastinating and get everything done. Did I mention there was only so many hours in a day.

    Great job enjoyed the read

    Megan
    http://www.passportmentors.com

    Reply
  7. Hi, my sister sent me this list as I was talking to her about my plans for ’08. I do most of this, and I’m ready to go ‘one step further’. It’s very nice to see it all laid out so plain and simple. This is a great list, more people should see this, but more importantly, act on it.

    Keep up the good work.

    ~mt

    Reply
  8. My list for 2008:
    1) Make less lists.
    2) Read less lists.

    Reply
  9. Excellent suggestions, Peter. Thank you.
    …much good fortune to you this new year…..
    CG

    Reply
  10. Happy new Year to you too, Peter!!!

    I’ve been around for a while but mostly just scanning through… I never seem to find the time to write back ( I think I did it only once or twice). BUt this will change next year! Because we can always find time for the things that make us happy and even more it they can make someone else happier as well.
    And you have lifted me more than once, so I am decided to spend more time this coming year to share my experience and my thoughts and maybe help somebody else on my turn :)

    Be happy and good luck with everyhting!!!
    Sev

    P.S. I am really glad that your blog is the last thing I am reading a couple of hours (yeah, I’m back in Europe for the holidays) before New Years! Now I am off to party… ;)))

    Reply
  11. Hi Peter, This is a great list and I will point to it in my newsletter so others will read it as well. I am in the middle of Tim Ferris’s book and am loving it. 2007 was a year of total change for me as that is when I healed myself of chronic illness and pain. I now blog on healing pain naturally. I LOVE your list, use some of the things already and have picked up a few more for me to try in 2008! All the best for 2008!
    Gratefully, Jenny

    Reply
  12. Perfect post for the upcomming New Year turnover. This is some good advice. Thanks!

    Reply
  13. You’re 25 years old and you are acting like you’re Muhatma Ghandi. You don’t know shit. Here’s one one principle that you can add:

    “Don’t think you know everything..until you know everything”

    You’re a douchbag…

    Reply
  14. Fantastic, candid and useful insights. Thanks so much for taking the time to share you personal learning with us! Much appreciated.

    Reply
  15. Thank you for the wonderful post and for sharing your insights all year round. I especially like #27. Living consciously in a state of awareness and directed thought can lead to amazing accomplishment quicker than most people think is possible.

    Wonderful tips, wonderful blog ~ Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  16. Thank you Peter for this list.
    I have the feeling i’ve learnt quiet a lot reading it
    Keep up the good work
    Happy New Year Everyone

    Reply
  17. This post is a wonderful resource. Thanks Peter!

    Reply
  18. Your tips are inspiring and even better, make sense and are do-able. Thanks for an excellent resource.

    Reply
  19. Peter, I know it’s been a little over a week since you first posted this, but I found myself coming back to it again today. Today, #2. Fail regularly stood out for me.

    At the end of 2007 I felt on such a roll, excited for the year to come. Then, it seems I hit a down patch, and now I’m unsure of everything. So, that’s my first failure for 2008 – failure to keep the excitement of something new. Or, perhaps it’s failure at my new year’s resolutions.

    But each day is a new day and each hour a new hour. I’m coming out of my funk a little bit at a time. So, thanks once again for this great list!

    Reply
  20. Wow, great stuff. Keep writing.

    Reply
  21. I have several notebooks that I keep on hand so that when an idea comes my way I can write them down. I always take one in the car with me. One of the best things that my husband and I did for our marriage of 2 years was to move 900 miles away from our families. We stayed in North Carolina for 3 years. In that 3 years, we grew together and learned to depend upon each other without interference from either of our families. We are still married and in our 35th year of marriage. You have shared some really great ideas.

    Reply
  22. This is a great list. I always find it interesting reading about other peoples personal milestones and achievements.

    Reply
  23. Wow, I think I am actually side by side with where i am supposed to be. Usually, i find writing like this to be either to early to care or too late to rescue myself. I am putting this to work and testing it all at every step. Great stuff.

    Reply
  24. Peter,

    My quitting lurking was a huge step in the right direction for me. It got me actively involved in the internet world and in other places like the classroom. It is amazing where one change in your life can affect others.

    Tad

    Reply
  25. Intriguing list. You can learn a lot about your mindset and underlying emotions from your specific word choices, from the positive or negative slant of each item, and the order in which you have chosen to organize them. What kinds of thoughts are negging at the back of your mind? You may say, “I’m like that,” or, “I’m not like that.” Yet, the view will surface from inside your soul to tell you signs point to things you have yet to recognize and accept.

    Reply
  26. Hi Peter,

    Great List!Very useful tips to make anyone to be a better individual.
    Except your sarcastic comment about MLM.When you experience some bad experience,it changes your entire perspective.There are legitimate companies which really help people to get multiple streams of income.
    AGEL is one of them(www.AGEL.com).
    Yes,Blogging is addictive.Even though i don’t have many visitors and comments,i still continue to write regularly about self improvement which is my passion.
    Change is really hard but only change is only changeless.
    (Who moved my cheese,Our iceberg is melting – two great books about change).
    Keep up the great work.
    Best wishes,
    Kannan Viswagandhi
    http://www.growing-self.blogspot.com

    Reply
  27. Hi Peter,
    Thank you for this list. It has giving me inspiration to change my life too. From watching TV in the autopilot mode and buying things I don’t actually need to a more conscious and rewarding life.
    John

    Reply
  28. Thanks for this post. I decided that 2009 will be my year of change.

    Keep it up!

    Reply
  29. This is one of the first blogs I’ve ever paid attention to. So much info. I will bookmark and check it out each week. I love it. It is time for a change. I think I will develop my own blog in the near future.

    Reply
  30. Thanks for the great advice. I especially appreciate “Fail Regularly” because if the answer is “No” often, youre asking the wrong questioon.

    Reply
  31. Peter,
    Great road map and suggestions on achieving a balanced and productive life.
    Book marking for future reference.
    Keep up the great work.
    Will be back often.
    Dennis
    Lead, Follow and Share !

    Reply
  32. Wow – what a great list! So far I have had a quick skim read, but I am going to be saving this post to Evernote and slowly working my way through it. What a great amount of information and I am sure there is a lot I can use and share. Thanks Peter!

    Reply
  33. I must say – I love this – I need this – I am so excited, I want to share it before I even finish. Thank you.

    Reply
  34. Peter,
    I just came across your blog, great job! I loved your last comment on take away something positive and apply it. I utilize fail regularly, I feel this is a great way to learn to succeed. I will be spending more time reading your blog – thank you for all of your effort.

    Yours in success!

    Reply
  35. Yup… it’s a long list. A good one to bookmark :)

    Oh, and I’m 65% addicted…..

    Reply
  36. Good thing I snuck this one in while it is still 2007!

    Reply
  37. I don’t have all the answers, but what I know is this….

    I have taken myself from an unhappy place where I once would have written a comment similar to yours (if not worse). Now I feel a sense of internal peace such that I wouldn’t label someone a “douchbag” who is trying to do a little good in the world.

    ps Gandhi is a hero of mine so thanks for the comparison.

    Reply

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