Are you looking for ways to improve your life?
I recently turned 44. I’m in the best shape and the happiest I’ve ever been.
Every area of my life has improved in the last 12 months. I’ve gone from being shy, limited, and held back, to being bold, confident and outgoing.
I’m making more money than I ever have and I’m doing what I love. You know you’ve found your purpose in life when you wake up at 5.am on a freezing Sunday morning eager to help people improve their lives.
And my relationships, including interactions with people I’ve just met, are energizing, fun, interesting, exciting, meaningful.
I’m keen to share my journey with you, so let’s get into it.
1. I gave myself permission to know on a deep level that I’m never too old to improve my life
“That’s it…I’m in my forties. This is the way things are meant to be. Too late to do anything about it now.”
This is the way I used to think.
I believed the bullshit people told me that once you hit forty there was no turning back, that life is an up-hill struggle from here on in. Then I remembered hearing the saying ‘life begins at forty,’ which gave me some solace and hope for the future.
But the real turning point came when I read somewhere that Colonel Saunders started KFC in his 60s and the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice, opened McDonald’s in their 40s and 50s respectively. I started seeing middle aged men who were in ‘knock your socks off’ relationships with beautiful, young women, and kept hearing about people in their 40s and 50s changing careers, or getting into peak physical condition.
There was enough evidence to suggest I could improve my life as well, so I put together an action plan to make it happen.
2. I started by giving myself permission to know on a deep level that I am a big deal
I have achieved many things in my life such as raising a well-rounded, intelligent daughter, completing a university degree, working my way up from sales trainee to sales manager, having poetry published in leading journals and best of anthologies, and convincing two guard dogs why they shouldn’t kill me (long story).
But I’d always write my achievements and accomplishments off as being ‘not that big of a deal.’ I would dismiss compliments and praise from co-workers, strangers, and even the women I was dating.
It’s not that I didn’t want to believe I was a big deal. It’s just I had been conditioned to believe that I wasn’t. This conditioning kept me held back in life and I spent many years shy and socially awkward. As a result, I settled for women I convinced myself I was attracted to, missed out on having meaningful friendships, and took crap from people because I was too timid to fight back.
I knew that if I was to make things better, I had to destroy my old way of thinking and reprogram my thoughts. I took the first step outside of my comfort zone and enrolled in several self-improvement courses. Some were better than others, but through persistence and perseverance, I eventually found what I was looking for.
It’s been said many times before, but I’ll say it again – never give up.
3. Time to challenge my comfort zone
One of those courses was Till Gross’s “Make Yourself Do Anything.” This six week course had one major focus – intentionally embarrass yourself in public.
The idea behind this is to have you stop caring what people think of you. It’s also to help you understand that fear of social situations is just an illusion, and that you can handle being looked at, laughed at, and rejected.
Some of the challenges included howling like a wolf, lying down on the ground for 30 seconds, asking a stranger for a sip of their drink, and asking a person you find attractive for their number.
I committed myself to these challenges and by the end of the course I was able to move towards the things that scared me, stand up for myself, and face conflicts rather than run away from them like I used to.
I can now go out by myself and meet new, like-minded people, easily and effortlessly. I can approach women I’m attracted to and ask them out, network like a boss, and just show up to parties, gatherings and so forth, relaxed and in control.
I welcome rejection now and understand it’s only feedback, an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t get me wrong. Getting rejected still hurts. But that feeling only lasts for a few minutes, not hours or even days, like it used to.
4. I teamed up with a life coach/mentor
I rocked in my sales career and brought in more than a few major deals for my employers. I was handsomely compensated with a company car, phone, laptop, salary and a big, fat monthly bonus. But for want of a better phrase, I wasn’t entirely fulfilled, satisfied or happy. I always felt like I could be doing more.
This is where teaming up with a life coach/mentor helped. Together we worked out the what, where, and why, and I was able to determine that my true calling is working with people to help them become their best version and live meaningful lives.
I quit my job and started pursing my purpose straight away. I had many setbacks and failures in the beginning, but I stuck it out because I knew deep down this was meant to be. My struggles paid off because I am now making more money than I ever have. More importantly, I’m ‘leaving work’ satisfied, fulfilled, happy, and eager for the next working day.
5. I joined Toastmasters
Like many of us, I’d had the ‘public speaking – I’d rather die’ way of thinking. Of course, this kept me held back in my career and social life because I would always turn down the opportunity to give a presentation at work or talk at a networking event.
I remember being asked to give a speech at a birthday party once, and even though I (reluctantly) accepted, I was tight and tense and sweated profusely the whole time. The sweating was so bad I had to change my shirt afterwards. I left the party feeling worthless and swore I would never make a fool of myself like that again.
How times have changed.
Since I’ve been a member of Toastmasters, I now can’t wait to give a talk in front of an audience or presentation to a group. And I’m the first to put my hand up to give a speech at birthday parties or weddings. As a bonus, I have built on my leadership, communication, and inter-personal skills, and made genuine connections.
Other things I have done and continue to do to improve my life and become my best version.
• I removed toxic people from my life
• I drink green juice every day and eat a mostly 80/20 alkaline diet
• I practice correct breathing exercises every day
• I meditate
• I stay active
• I read every day
• I don’t watch or read the news until the end of the day
• I have cold showers
• I volunteer whenever I can
Nearly everyone I’ve come across in my time has wanted to improve their lives in some way.
Like it once was for me, many of them talk about it, but never do anything. Some will do something for a little while, but then give up.
It took me 12 months to get to where I am now and I’m still learning and growing, and taking things to the next level. Improving your life is a marathon, not a sprint. I know it’s a cliché, but it speaks volumes.
If you commit to making the changes, take massive action, invest in a life coach/mentor, and – while I’m in the mood for using clichés – stick to your guns, you can improve your life, or make those changes you’ve always wanted to.