Most relationships are founded on a curious fantasy: that you can be happy in a couple when you weren’t happy alone. It doesn’t add up, and it never works out. Instead of growing in happiness, we magnify each other’s insecurities.

The only solution is to become so secure in yourself that you don’t need another person to feel whole — then you can love unconditionally. Here’s how I did that while finding more success than I ever imagined possible.

Finding wholeness and success in a single year

I was the classic hopeless romantic for the first half of my adulthood. I was depressed without a girlfriend, ecstatic with one–for the first month–and then increasingly miserable until the inevitable split. I unconsciously used women for the fulfillment I hadn’t given myself, and I repeated the process until I was broke and borderline suicidal.

Sound like anybody you know?

I used to think relationships were the only way I could be happy. But after breaking up with my last live-in girlfriend, I hit rock bottom: depression, despair, and desolation. The pain was excruciating, so I made the radical decision to stay single until I was happy with me–no matter how long it took. I had to break the cycle before it killed me.

I began a daily journaling and affirmation practice, and I committed to making the most of each day. Then I discovered the career of my dreams, and I focused so intently on developing as an individual that I forgot about looking for another person. After only the first month of practicing this lifestyle, I no longer needed a woman to feel whole.

By focusing on my single self over the past few years, I’ve identified and satisfied the needs that had sent me scrambling for lover after lover. Now I find security in knowing myself, in constantly improving myself, and in helping others to succeed in life and love. Because I committed to being secure in myself, I’m a whole person, and I’ve achieved greater success than I thought possible.

I found my success, my happiness, and myself. And I want the same for you.

3 Steps for Massive Self-Improvement In Your Solo Year

A year is a big commitment. It’s a sacrifice too. But in the grand scheme, you’ll earn back dividends in happiness and wealth. Besides, if you can’t commit to knowing and loving yourself better for one year, what makes you think you have what it takes to commit to someone else for the rest of your life?

If you practice positive affirmations, planning your day, and journaling, your singleness will become so valuable (financially and happiness-wise) that you won’t trade it for anything short of unconditional love. But until you have that security in yourself, you’ll continue to fall for the wrong people, and you’ll keep settling for crappy jobs. Just like I did.

So, focus on being your best self.

If you’re ready, start today. And if you’re not ready, get ready. This is your happiness we’re talking about; this is your one and only life. So mark it on the calendar: one year of being single, starting today. One year of becoming the expert of you, of providing for your own needs, of fulfilling yourself, of overcoming your insecurities, of finding your calling, of avoiding the distractions that make you average. One year of maximum success. Today.

Think of all the people who die without ever having fully lived or loved. What will your life look like in 10 years if you don’t take this year to be whole?

Are you ready now? Good.

Here’s all you have to do:

1. Start your day with affirmations.

Your first thoughts of the day pave the way for the second, third, 34th, 87th, and so on. Make those waking thoughts empowering — focusing on things like how capable, confident, useful, valuable, worthy, kind, generous, dependable, independent, happy, joyful, adventurous, bold, secure, and loving you are. Because if you don’t, you’ll automatically fall back on negative thinking that makes you feel hopeless to change your situation–which is when you look for some magical boyfriend or girlfriend to make it all better!

Encouraging thoughts will make you feel worthy and inspired, regardless of whether or not you think they’re true. And you’ll need that uplifted attitude in order to put your 100% effort into extraordinary decision-making.

Pump yourself up with this affirmation routine before you step out of your bedroom in the morning:


People’s entire lives are disrupted because they lose control of their thoughts. So print out this affirmations template and repeat it aloud every single morning to yourself in the mirror before you do anything else!!! These are the successful and secure thoughts that will inspire your most successful actions.

If you don’t actively choose positive affirmations, your subconscious will take over with preprogrammed statements, which are usually negative, and which always prevent your best effort. So flood yourself with conscious encouragement from morning to night–you’ll learn how to plan for this in the next section.

Change your thoughts; change your actions; change your life.

2.Plan your day

Each morning–yes, every morning!!–write down what you need to do to be the best version of you. After your affirmations, reflect on what you can accomplish to excel in your profession, your hobbies, and your personal development. Make a list, then tackle those items throughout your day, checking them off as you accomplish, congratulating yourself on your effort, and encouraging yourself along the way.

The self encouragement part is so important for self-confidence (for controlling your inner dialogue, and for persisting) that it deserves its own goal. So, when you write out your daily planner each morning, include:

Encourage Yourself! ☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐ –somewhere toward the middle of the page. Below is a picture of how I organize my daily planner, which is the same template I teach my clients:

So be proactive and write out a balanced weekly planner at the beginning of every week. (Sunday afternoons tend to be the best time.) From there, all you have to do is review your weekly goals each morning as you’re drafting your daily planner, then select the top 5-8 goals you need to accomplish today. Super simple. This is the one habit that gives my coaching clients 95% of their results.

If you come up with the challenges that will bring out the best in you, you won’t look for someone else to do your job.

3. Reflect on your day with a journal.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”–Socrates

I’ll paraphrase that: An unexamined life is not worth sharing. So examine yours with a journal.

Spend 10-20 minutes every evening reflecting on your day: what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve excelled, where you’ve faltered, what you can do better tomorrow, what you’ve thought, what you’ve felt, why you thought and felt that way, how much effort you gave, and what stood in the way of your best effort. (If you want an in-depth journaling guide, read this article.)

Documenting your life in a journal will help you to accept yourself despite your mistakes; it will give you the awareness to change limiting thoughts and behaviors; and it will give you the deep sense that you are in your corner, loving yourself the best you can, and making the best decisions.

Journaling puts you back in charge of your own life for the price of a pen, a notepad, and a little self-discipline.


If you’re tired of settling for wimpy relationships —and if you’re hungry for personal success and fulfillment— it’s time to invest in your life. Take a year to become secure in yourself, to love your life, and to focus on sharing your talents for a better world.

Discover yourself in your journal. Reveal the best you with daily affirmations. And take charge of your life by planning your days.

You won’t regret it.

Already in a good relationship?

Commit to these habits for a year anyway! Not only will your personal success skyrocket, but your relationship will improve every bit as much as you improve yourself.

Originally published at


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist,, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!