My 20’s were a confusing decade for me — a roller-coaster of an experience whose highlights included anxiety, marriage, throwing away my high-paying engineering job, divorce, starting entrepreneurship, and (finally) getting my shit together.
I felt lost the first 8 years, like a tornado ripping through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania where it doesn’t belong. But eventually, the dust settled and I figured out what I wanted and who I wanted to be.
After that, I made significant strides during the latter years of my 20’s.
Now in my 30’s, I’m off to the races.
Though it took a few years to pull off my transformation, if I had focused on a handful of key actions I’m convinced I could’ve easily made a dramatic transformation in one.
Here’s how to change your life in one year’s time…
1. Start with health
You can’t succeed in life without a healthy mind and body, just like you can’t win a NASCAR race with a bogged-down engine.
Your health is the foundation upon which everything else rests.
In addition to being happier, a healthy person will have FAR more energy to maintain high levels of output.
Over the next year, here’s what you’ll want to work up to:
Spend at least 15–20 minutes each day out in nature, preferably with some sunlight.
- Sleep the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night. You’ll have much more success by ruthlessly prioritizing sleep and optimizing your time while awake instead of sacrificing sleep to get a few more hours of work in.
- Hard exercise (more than just walking) for 30–60 minutes at least 4 times a week. Sounds brutal at first, but easy once you get rolling. Pro tip — do something you enjoy (e.g. lift, sports, boxing, MMA, run, bike, etc.)
- Eat more whole foods (and learn how to cook them). Many people are nutrient deficient. Whole foods are packed with essential nutrients and vitamins that your body is lacking. Stick to the advice of shopping around the outside of the grocery store.
- Meditate to improve your daily focus and mental resilience. A healthy, non-cluttered mind is every bit as important as a strong body.
Choose just one of these bullet points — start slow — get it on lock, and then move onto another one.
2. Create a vision
For all of your early life, you have a clear road map to follow.
- Learn to talk. Learn to walk. Do whatever your parents tell you.
- Grade School
- Middle School
- High School
- Graduate College
After college, you run into a serious dilemma. You always knew what to do next. But then your road map stops and you suddenly arrive at a fork in the road.
And not just any fork, a big ass one with about 5 million options.
The main reason I struggled through my twenties was because I had no idea where to go. I tried following the next most logical steps laid out by society: secure a boring-ass desk job and get married. Neither worked out great for me.
So I wandered around like a chicken with his head cut off with a few more years until I developed a vision for my future.
To be a writer and entrepreneur. To always focus on my health and treat my body and mind with the care and respect it deserves. To be true to who I am and do things I enjoy. To love fully. And to help others learn from my mistakes and life lessons.
Now, I no longer feel lost. I know who I am and who I want to be. My vision is like my North Star.
Take about an hour of your time to write down everything that’s important to you. If a vision arises from that, awesome. You’re good to go.
If not, it just means you have to experiment with things you might enjoy. Start with one and see where it goes. Hate it? Move onto the next.
Don’t stop until you have a vision that gets you through at least the next 5 years, because it’s hard to predict where life will take you after that.
3. Work on it daily (no matter how small)
Once you have your vision, the fog lifts and your road map starts to become clear again.
But, nobody is going to drive the car for you — you’ve got to put in the work to achieve your goals and change your own life.
Consistent, daily practice is how you make that happen.
Any time I’ve tried to make progress on something with short, sporadic bursts (like my writing, for example) I’d fail miserably. However, disciplined practice always got me the results I desired (more views, more traffic, more claps, etc).
It didn’t matter what I was working on, whether it was my fitness, writing, relationships — you name it.
If I watered the plants just a little each day, over time my garden always grew.
So, here’s where you commit to taking just one small step — one action — towards your vision each day. Write it down, do it before everything else.
It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it has to be something.
Over time, your work — the sum of all those singular actions — compounds into some really cool shit, and you realize what a difference one action a day can make.
You’ll look back in the rear-view mirror and amaze yourself at who you used to be and who you’re becoming.
4. Design your environment for success
If you want to change your life, YOU aren’t the only thing that has to change — your environment has to change too.
Human beings are tribal by nature, and we are strongly influenced by exterior inputs, including:
- Areas (think messy vs clean)
- Colors (red vs blue, intense vs calming, etc.)
- Content (self-help books and podcasts vs celebrity gossip)
All of the above matters when you think about how you want to act and feel each day.
For example, if you always hang out with negative-thinking friends who frequent bars and shut down your stupid hopes and dreams, you’ll tend to believe the limitations they’re setting for you.
However, if you hang out with other “do’ers” and people who want to see you succeed, there’s a much higher chance that you will.
Though it might seem that our ability to be so easily influenced by our environment is a disadvantage, it’s actually quite beneficial. It means we can quickly change our surroundings to steer us down the path we want to follow.
And while we may not get to choose our starting environment, we CAN choose what environment we live in moving forward.
Stop hanging out with negative people
You want to surround yourself with friends who lift you up, not ones that drag you down. Trust me, it’s OK to let these types of people go.
Start hanging out with friends who inspire you and are already doing the things you’d like to be doing
Like-minded people are everywhere if you open your eyes.
Consume LOTS of positive content
Your subconscious mind is influenced by every piece of information that you consume. Every book. Every quote. Every podcast. Every Netflix show. It all affects your thinking in some way. A one-year period is a lot of time to consume new information and change your thoughts. And though most of your time you'll want to spend doing things, the time that you do spend consuming content should be spent wisely.
If most of what you’re consuming is positive, you’ll become a more positive-minded person.
Experiment with colors and cleanliness
There’s a reason Tiger Woods always wears red on Sundays — it evokes strong emotions and intensity. Multiple studies have proven the effect of colors on mood and productivity. It’s worth experimenting with for the extra edge.
Also, I’ve noticed that I struggle to work in a messy office. A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind. I have much more focus when my workspace is devoid of the chaos of random stuff everywhere.
5. Learn new skills and improve upon your existing ones
Nothing will change your life faster than building new skills.
When you’re skilled at interviewing, you land your dream job, no matter how much better your competition looks on paper.
When you’re a skilled writer, people pay you top dollar for your work (and the internet needs A LOT of skilled writers).
People are always looking for skilled individuals to help them. And you never know where one opportunity could lead.
Or, you could use your skills to build something awesome for yourself.
Whatever the case, imagine a year where you start out having a limited skill-set. But each day you spend 30–60 minutes building a skill of your choice.
- Companies will want to hire you
- People will want to learn from you
- Men or women will want to date you
By the end of the year, you could be an expert at a handful of new skills, and the world will be your oyster.
How cool would that be?
Dedicate time during your day to build your skills. Learn them via books, videos, and podcasts, but don’t forget to physically practice your skills too.
Lastly, have fun and don’t be afraid to pivot
The whole point of this exercise is to CHANGE. That means your thoughts and behaviors, in addition to your surroundings, will change throughout the year.
As this happens, your interests, values, vision, etc. might change as well. You may realize that what you initially sought isn’t what you want anymore.
You’re never “stuck” doing one thing forever. You can do whatever the hell you want. So if your vision no longer aligns with your values, who you’ve become, or what you enjoy, then pivot.
Don’t get so focused on the process that you lose sight of what YOU want and most important…having fun.
Looking forward to seeing what your transformation looks like a year from now.