The internet is full of advice. Too much advice. Some of it good, most of it bad. If you took every bit of advice you read on the internet in the past thirty minutes your typical day would probably look like this:

  • Wake up at 4 a.m.
  • Swim 10 miles in sub-arctic water
  • Consume 40 grams of plant-based (or is it high fat?) protein
  • Read one book before work (two more before bed time)
  • Quit your job
  • Fast from all food
  • Fast from all media
  • Fast from the internet
  • Juice Fast
  • Meditate for two hours
  • Journal
  • Throw out everything you own
  • Learn to code
  • Publish five stories on Medium

I know this sounds like a marvelously productive day, but it’s not realistic. It’s not only unrealistic because you can’t juice fast and eat tons of protein and fast from all food all in the same day. Or because you can’t swim ten miles without drowning (probably).

It’s unrealistic because we only have so much willpower.

I’ve tried to revamp my finances, my health and my productivity all at once. I paid down some debt, strung together a few days of running and wrote thousands of words and prospected dozens of leads for my business. It was great! For a week. Then it wasn’t…

I wasn’t able to sustain any of those changes and ultimately reverted to going out drinking and binge watching crappy television shows. I got burned out. It was a two steps forward, two steps back situation.

I repeating this cycle (or roller coaster, or whatever you want to call it) probably a dozen times before I realized it wasn’t working. I was making the same mistakes over and over again.

But I did eventually learn from it.

I learned that taking on too much at once is never a good thing. We can’t make too many big changes all at once. But we can make small changes all the time. We can get slightly better every day.

Getting slightly better every day is the only way I’ve been able to maintain improvement in my life. When I started my journey forward I didn’t think I had any time to focus on myself, but by slowly chipping away at things that wasted my time I discovered I have an abundance of time. Looking back, I don’t even know how I wasted so much time.

I’m writing more. Saving more. Making more. Exercising more. All because I took small steps instead of giant leaps.

I’ve documented some of the ways I’ve been able to make short-term improvements that eventually lead to long-term changes. Many of them have to do with creating more time. But not all of them. Some have to do with health. Some wealth. Others, relationships. It might seem like a random list, but it isn’t. Every thing on this list is grounded in reality — unlike a lot of the advice I read on the internet these days.

These are REAL things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your health, wealth and life in general:

  • Drink a glass water
  • Take a walk outside
  • Do 10 pushups
  • Edit your resume
  • Take 10 deep breaths
  • Write down five things you are thankful for
  • Call your mom
  • Stretch
  • Email an old connection
  • Transfer money to savings
  • Spend 10 minutes reading
  • Pet your dog (cats welcome too)
  • Browse a job board
  • Empty your online shopping carts
  • Put down your phone
  • Journal
  • Drink more water
  • Do a 30 second plank
  • Do a 1 minute wall sit
  • Organize the clutter on your desk
  • Throw away something you don’t like
  • Take out the trash
  • Check on your plants and water them
  • Tell someone you love them
  • Plan your next three meals
  • Unsubscribe from all shopping newsletters
  • Actually, unsubscribe from all newsletters
  • Turn off all social media notifications
  • Check your budget
  • If you don’t have one, make a budget
  • Cancel your cable TV subscription
  • Cancel one pointless meeting
  • Delete a “toxic” contact from your phone
  • Unfollow all negativity on social media
  • Or delete your social media accounts all together
  • Pick a new book to read
  • Listen to your favorite song
  • Stop reading articles like this online

Start with one of two items on this list and build from there. Rome wasn’t build in a day. But maybe after a few days of mindful living you’ll be ready to quit your job and jump into that freezing water for a quick Iron Man.

Originally published at