I had a 0.00 GPA in the first semester of my senior year of college. You read that right: I got Fs in every single one of my classes.
I didn't bother going to class at all. I drank seven nights a week. During the day, I would smoke weed and cigarettes in rotation until it was time to head out to the bar at night. I was lost, depressed, worthless and headed nowhere fast.
I ended up spending the summer living in a dorm room on campus because I couldn't afford anything else. I was 24, mind you. I worked at an electronics factory for 12 hours a day, until I couldn't take it anymore. I quit my job. I decided it was time for me to make a change.
I started searching for ways to become better and grow. I've learned a lot along the way. I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom. I also know what it feels like to dig my way back out.
In the span of a year, I've discovered my love for writing. I ended up writing and publishing a book. My life is headed in the right direction. I'm happy, motivated and productive. Maybe you're at a point in your life where you feel lost, but you don't know what to do or where to start.
It can and will get better if you make some changes. Today, I'm going to share the strategies I've used to create lasting change in my life, in the hopes that you can use them to do the same. Here are 15 ways you can change your life when you feel hopeless:
1. Be honest with yourself.
You'll never be able to fix your life until you admit it's broken. Don't pretend everything is OK when it's not. You need to take full responsibility for your life up to this point.
Admit that you've made poor decisions. Admit that you haven't been working as hard as you should be. You can't start over until you're honest with yourself about where you're at right now.
2. Get fed up.
Sometimes, the best way to point your life in a new direction is by becoming completely disgusted with your current one. After so many hungover, hopeless mornings, I finally said, "Enough is enough." Strong negative emotions can be just as powerful as positive ones.
When will "enough be enough" for you? When will you decide you can't live this way for even one more day? Once you make that decision, everything will change.
3. Ask smart questions.
Great questions lead to great answers. Ask questions about the way your life is now, and see what needs to be done to make it better. The answers you come up with will guide you to a better future. Ask other people what they think you're good at.
Ask people who are living the type of life you want to live how they got to where they are. A great life isn't just going to fall into your lap. You need to seek it out. Ask and you shall receive.
4. Read books.
One great book can change your entire life. Books can inspire you, expand your mind and open your eyes to everything that's possible for you. Great books often contain years or decades of knowledge from the author. If there's a certain path you're seeking, there's a book by someone who's done it already.
Read this person's stories, learn from his or her mistakes and steal his or her knowledge. If you're looking for guidance, I suggest these three books to start: "The One Thing," "The Magic Of Thinking Big," and "Rich Dad Poor Dad."
5. Find something you're good at (and become great at it).
A friend of mine suggested that I start writing articles for his website. So, I did.
I fell in love with it. I'd always wanted to write, but I didn't listen to my inner voice. I kept putting it off. Now, I write consistently. My goal each day is to become a better writer.
When you find something you're good at and work hard to become great at it, you'll feel passionate about it. Human beings are wired for growth and accomplishment. Find something you think you'd be good at and work at it.
6. Replace your vices with positive habits.
I smoked a lot of weed: like, a lot. I also smoked tobacco, and I drank quite a bit. All of these were unhealthy for me. My life changed when I found something positive to replace those vices with.
Exercise and learning became my new addictions. Your vices might be there to fill a hole in your life. Find something positive to fill that hole with instead.
7. Find heroes.
Positive role models can have a major impact on your life. Find somebody you want to be like, and learn everything about him or her. Find out that person's story, what he or she did to become successful, as well as the person's high and low points. Having someone to look up to keeps you inspired.
A role model's story will empower you because it will make you realize that he or she is a normal person, just like you. Seeing where someone started and what he or she did to accomplish great things will motivate you to do the same.
8. Know yourself.
Self-awareness is crucial to living a good life. Think about what you want to do with your life. Don't consider what your parents, friends or society wants you to do. Study yourself. Find out what you're good at, and continue to develop your strengths.
When life isn't going your way, you're the problem. You're also the solution. When you know who you are, what you want and where you're going, nobody can stop you.
You become the thing you think about the most. Never say "I can't." Saying "I can't" takes the responsibility away from you.
Instead of saying that, take some time to think about potential solutions to your problems. Don't say, "I'm broke, and I can't find a better job." Think about ways to find a better job.
Can you take an online course and learn a new skill? Can you reach out to people with the type of job you want and ask them how they got it? You can think your way out of almost any problem if you take the time to do it.
10. Take some form of action.
People will complain about their lives, and yet, do nothing about it. It's easy to blame your circumstances. It's easy to to blame other people.
It's harder to actually do something about it. Success is not a mystery.
We all know what to do, but most of us don't do it. If you want to become a writer, write something and post it. If you want to get in shape, do 10 pushups right now.
Do something. Anything is better than nothing.
11. Find some form of spirituality.
It doesn't have to be God, but try to find some form of higher meaning. Maybe it's a deep sense of gratitude. Maybe it's the mysterious power of nature and the universe.
It helps to be able to find meaning somewhere outside of yourself. I use meditation to become more connected spiritually. Find a way to create a sense of belonging to something bigger.
12. Realize that the universe doesn't care about you.
You live on a planet that's a speck of dust compared to the entire universe. What you do while you're here doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Realizing this can free you from the pressure life puts on you.
When compared to the size of the universe, how big are your problems? Your life is a blip on the radar of time. Why not spend it living out your dream? Why spend it worrying, when it really doesn't matter anyway?
13. Complain less.
Complaining drains your energy and leaves you feeling negative. Even complaining about small things like the weather has a subtle influence on your behavior.
It's hard to stop complaining completely, but the next time you find yourself complaining out loud or to yourself, stop and realize what you're doing. Simply being mindful of it goes a long way.
14. Reinvent yourself.
Your past doesn't have to dictate your future. You can reinvent yourself whenever you choose to.
You can reinvent yourself by learning new skills, changing your mindset and creating new goals and themes for your life. I wrote a free e-book with 100 tips for reinventing yourself, which you can download here.
One of Robert Greene's "48 Laws Of Power" is to constantly reinvent yourself. It's hard to change, but it's possible to continue to become a stronger version of yourself over and over again.
15. Take control of your life.
You have control over the decisions you make. You have control of your guiding philosophy going forward. You have control over your reactions to the things people say about you, and over the obstacles you encounter. You have the power to design your life. You have the power to move in the right direction.
You're going to have setbacks. Things aren't always going to go your way. But if you take control of the type of person you want to be, it won't matter.
You'll never control your circumstances, but if you're patient, persistent and live long enough, you can take control of your destiny.
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This article was originally published The Destiny Formula.