Today’s world is often far too busy.  You wake up early, fuel yourself with coffee, and prepare to buzz through your day.  You work hard, smile through the stress, and juggle everything that comes your way. Completely spent, you return home—too tired to do anything but tend to the basics, eat, and zone out in front of a television or computer screen. Exhausted and stressed, you drop off into a restless night of sleep.  Before you know it, the alarm is blaring, and you wake up—exhausted and stressed—to do it all over again.  You make it through the week with this routine, praying that the weekend will give you a break, but weekend’s always too short and busy to give you the rest you need.   Does this sound familiar? Do you feel like you’re just treading water day after day?

Wouldn’t you love waking up to a kinder life—a life you wanted to live?  Wouldn’t you prefer having a life that’s filled with joy and pockets of serenity here and there? You might already be thinking that’s an impossible ideal—a fantasy that’s only for the uber well-to-do.  In truth, you can STOP living a stressed-filled life by making a few vital changes.  You can learn how to stop your stressed, fear-driven journey. You can learn how to replace fearful, negative attitudes and behaviors with positive attitudes and habits that will automatically bring you greater ease and joy.  By following the five steps outlined below, it’s not only possible—but highly probable—that you’ll start enjoying a balanced, joy-filled life within a week or two. 

Step 1:  Outline Your Priorities.  We often lose sight of what we want in life. We’re often so busy focusing on what we feel we should do—or what others want us to do—that we forget what we truly want out of life.  Now it’s your turn to outline your priorities. Without judgment or “I should” messages running the show, make a list of your priorities in life.  For example, you might want to pay off your credit card, work less, get a better job, go back to school, find a life partner, have better self-care, reduce your use of social media, or simply pay your rent. Once your list is complete, put a number next to each item to signify its level of importance. Next, make a final list starting with your number one priority and ending with the priority that is least important.   Now that your priorities are well-defined, you might notice that you feel a bit less stressed and a lot clearer on your needs and goals.

Step 2:  Make Goals and Micro-Goals.  Changes happens when we are focused, determined, and willing.  If you want your world to change, this step is vital.  Take a look at your list of priorities. On a separate sheet of paper, make goals and micro-goals for each item, taking care to be as specific as possible. For example, if your main goal is to work less and spend more time with your partner, your micro-goals might include items like these: a) be at work by 8:00 a.m.; b) leave work by 6:00 p.m.; c) leave my work and work-related stress at work; d) no more than 30 minutes of computer/cell phone use every evening; e)  create a stress-free weekend away once per month. Make certain that you have a start date for each item. Specificity is absolutely necessary.  Destructive fear is tricky and will try to keep you from committing to changes. 

Step 3:  Face Your Fears.  Notice if negative thoughts and feelings started creeping in as you created your goals and micro-goals. This is destructive fear at work; it’s trying to scare you into remaining in old habits that cause you stress and anxiety.  It might come up with a variety of messages that tell you the changes you want are impossible or will never happen.  Just notice the voice and tell it that you want to change and that you can change.  Now, you get to face your fears one day at a time. It’s your turn to create the life you want—a joyful, balanced life.  All you need to do is take charge; commit to taking action on your micro-goals.  Every tiny change that you make will slowly add up to create a huge shift in your reality. 

Step 4: Stay Aware, Learn, Practice, and Repeat.  To quote myself, “If change were easy, life wouldn’t be so hard.” That’s the truth of it.  Now, the ball is in your court. All you need to do is to continue with awareness. Simple do more of what makes your life feel more positive and do less of what feels stressful.   Sure, you’ll make some errors here and there. Learn from your mistakes and allow yourself to make adjustments when necessary. 

Step 5: Cultivate Positivity, Gratitude, and Patience.   As you make positive shifts in your life, it’s so important to thank yourself for your efforts.  It’s likely that you’re good at being hard on yourself; I’d like you to get really good at giving kudos to yourself for a job well done.  This attitude of positivity and gratitude will take you a lot further than a critical, negative outline.  Be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself.   You are, after all, a very cool and valuable person.

Congratulations. You’re on your way to creating a joy-filled, stress-free life.  You’re on your way to creating JOY from FEAR.   Enjoy solid insights and tips like the above in my new book, Joy from Fear.