There’s an old joke where a man says, “I really want to go to medical school, but it takes at least seven years–and I’ll be 50 in seven years!” A wise friend replies, “And how old will you be in seven years if you don’t go?”
If you’re not where you want to be in your career–or, for that matter, in your life–never let yourself believe change is impossible. Don’t allow your future to be limited by your age or your situation; stop being afraid of what might go wrong and start getting excited about what could go right.
Here are 10 ways you can begin right now to steer yourself toward a more fulfilled and happy life:
1. Address the choices you’ve made in the past and change the choices you’ll make in the future.
Life is made up of choices–some we regret, some we’re proud of, some that will hurt us. Everything in your career and your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want different results, start making different choices.
2. Speak up with honesty and stop holding back what you think.
People may believe that honesty won’t win you many friends–but even if that were true, the friends you make with honesty will be the right ones. Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and the ability to perform cannot exist.
3. Forgo being a perfectionist. Perfect doesn’t exist.
Once you realize perfect doesn’t exist, you can ease up on yourself. There’s no harm in being wrong or making mistakes, as long as you’re willing to make corrections. Just be yourself, flaws and all, and let people see the real you. Each of us is an imperfect human being, aware that we can’t push away our failures and our flaws.
4. Acknowledge your losses and move on to your success.
Remember, winners aren’t people who never fail but people who never quit. It’s important to never let success get to your head or failure to your heart. The secret to getting ahead is to acknowledge your failures and have the wisdom to apply them to new opportunities.
5. Remember that it’s not how many mistakes you’ve made but what you learn from them that defines you.
Accept that you won’t always make the right decisions. You’ll screw up, sometimes badly. But your mistakes doesn’t mean you’ve failed, only that you’re trying and learning in life. If you are not making mistakes it means you are not trying hard enough. When you learn from them, mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.
6. Forgive those who have hurt you but change who you surround yourself with.
You can improve your life just by changing the people you surround yourself with. If there are some who have brought negativity or hurt into your life, accept that those actions cannot be changed or undone or forgotten–only forgiven. Take it as a lesson learned and surround yourself with people who support you, guide you and make you better than you already are.
7. Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go higher than you think.
What you think is what you become. And the sad truth is that that most of us are our own worst enemy, allowing our negative thoughts to hold us back. If you load up on positivity and great thoughts, you can create positive and great things for yourself. If you want to change and change fast, start by changing how you think.
8. Find success at the edge of your comfort zone.
Regardless of our hesitation or fear, humans need change to be happy. Try to do something you’ve never done every single day. Don’t be afraid to try new things and stand in your discomfort zone. If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
9. Don’t compare your own life with anyone else’s.
A big source of unhappiness is the idea that other people’s lives are better or easier than yours. But when you compare your situation to that of others, you’re comparing your complete reality to their surface. No matter how fantastic, how happy, how brilliant everything may seem on the outside, you never know what’s going on the inside If you find yourself being jealous of someone, remember that person has struggled with hardships and insecurities just as you have
10. Eliminate the unnecessary and cultivate the essentials.
Think of all the things in your life that are important to you–the essentials–then eliminate everything else. This system helps you simplify your life and see what you should focus on. It can work for anything you have in your life, professional or personal. And just the act of letting things go will help you to simplify, to focus on what’s important, and to build the life you want.
Originally published at www.inc.com