How to Make a Positive Change in Your Life Today

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Energy Bus" by Jon Gordon. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to make a positive change in your life? How can positive thinking help you get what you want? 

The key to making a positive change in your life is to think positively. Positive thinking can help you take control of your life, turn your visions into reality, and overcome obstacles, giving you the best chance of changing your life for the better.

Find out how to make a positive change in your life below. 

How to Make a Positive Change in Your Life

Use the following five steps to find out how to make a positive change in your life:

Step 1: Realize You’re In Control 

Realizing you’re in the driver’s seat is the most important thing to remember, because if you don’t take responsibility for your life, you can’t go where you want to go. Someone else will set your course.

Instead of taking charge, many people feel they have no control over their lives. It’s been said that more people die at 9 a.m. on Monday than at any other time. The implication is that some people feel so powerless that they’d rather die than start another work week.

In reality, you have the choice to create your life—it’s your bus, you’re in the driver’s seat, and you determine what kind of ride it will be. The power of choice is your greatest gift. When you claim it, everything starts to change.

To understand if you’re in the driver’s seat, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel as though you’re in control of your life, that you’re “driving your bus”? Why or why not?
  • What is your typical mood on Sunday night when you think about your upcoming week? In describing it, did you use mostly positive or negative terms?
  • Next Sunday, how could you frame things differently, as if you’re in charge and you get to determine what kind of ride you’ll have?

Once you realize you’re in control of your life, you’re a step closer to finding out how to make a positive change in your life. 

Step 2: Choose Your Vision

Once you take control of your life, you need a vision for where you want to go. First, you must decide what you want in the three key areas of your life—then you can make it happen by focusing your thoughts on it. You have the power to create the world you want

To decide where you want to go, complete the following exercise:

  • Write down your vision for your life.
  • Next, write your vision for your work and team.
  • Finally, write down your vision for your relationships.

It’s good to know what you want to achieve, but if you want to know how to make a positive change in your life, you must turn your vision into a reality. 

Step 3: Visualize Success

Turning your vision into reality starts with focusing your thoughts on it.

There’s a law of energy (also known as the Law of Attraction), which says that by focusing on something, you attract it into your life. Your mental energy attracts a corresponding energy outside you. For instance, people often think of someone and then get a call from that person. Or after they buy a new car, they start seeing that model everywhere because that’s the type of car they’re thinking about.

Simply put, thoughts are magnetic. Focus on your visions for at least 10 minutes each day and visualize yourself creating the results you want—for instance, revitalizing your marriage or uniting your team at work. Athletes often use this technique to visualize winning performances.

However, because thoughts attract like energy, it’s important to focus your thoughts on what you want, rather than what you don’t want or are afraid will happen because you don’t want to attract the negative. And don’t be a complainer because complaining brings you more things to complain about. It also uses up mental energy that you could spend creating what you want.

Step 4: Fuel Yourself With Positive Energy 

Understanding the role of energy is important if you want to know how to make a positive change in your life. Energy is always at work in life and the world around you.

For instance some people increase your energy and some sap it; some foods increase your energy, while other foods make you sleepy; some projects energize you, and some burn you out.

Energy exists in crowds, music, and thoughts. Attendees at a sporting event can feel the energy of the players, teams, and crowd. Announcers often comment that a team is playing with a lot of energy or lacks energy. Coaches know when players are in sync (feeding off each others’ energy) or out of sync.

Thoughts also are a form of energy. People can sometimes sense what a friend or colleague is thinking or predict what that person will say by picking up on their energy. Conceiving a vision for where you want your bus to go (for the life you want to create) begins mobilizing your thought energy to get there.

Energy can be positive or negative; you choose your own energy and your energy influences others. For instance, choosing to smile can change your energy and someone else’s. When you choose to take the wheel of your bus, or take charge of your life, you’re choosing positive energy.

While vision and focus point your bus in the right direction, positive energy takes it where you want to go. It’s high-octane fuel, as opposed to the sludge created by negative energy.

You can often turn negative energy into positive energy by being grateful. For instance, instead of reacting negatively when work piles up, be thankful you have a job or that you’re healthy enough to work. Where there’s a negative, there’s almost always a positive side.

It’s important to drive your life with positive energy if you want to be successful. Negativity will fill any void, so create positive thoughts and feelings, and take positive actions so there’s no room for anything negative. Positive energy will also get your team on track too, but you have to have it yourself before you can share it.

Consider the following story about a man who felt pulled in two directions. It was as if there were two dogs inside him battling for dominance: a positive, kind, gentle dog and a negative, angry, mean dog. The man asked the village elder which dog would win. The elder replied, “the one you feed, so feed the positive dog.”

Step 5: Overcome Obstacles

Even if you have a vision for where you want to go, there will still be roadblocks standing in your way. Being positive isn’t easy when you have a lot working against you. 

Everyone has different challenges. But in each case, the answer is the same: To change your situation, you need to change your thoughts. If you keep thinking the way you’re thinking, you only get more of what you’ve been getting.

There’s a formula for change: E (events) + P (perception) = O (outcome). While we can’t always control events, we can control the way we perceive them. How we perceive them and respond dictates the outcome. The “P” in this formula can also stand for positive energy.

You’ll always have hurdles, which can include people who don’t share your vision, and you’ll get discouraged at times. Choosing positive energy helps you deal with negative people and situations. It’s the way to keep your bus moving forward and avoid being run off the road. Positive people and positive energy create positive results.

If you feel discouraged, remember that everyone faces tests and setbacks; the important thing is to keep getting up when you’ve been knocked down. You’re not a failure until you quit trying.

The above steps can help you find out how to make a positive change in your life. 

How to Make a Positive Change in Your Life Today

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  • How to turn things around when you feel unmotivated and discouraged
  • The 10 rules for reenergizing your life through positive thinking
  • How to build successful teams at work and improve your relationships

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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