A while ago, I wrote a post about dreaming your life away. It was written from experience because I did that for many years. I had a life, but it was not the life I wanted.

I worked in a job I hated, drank too much, and was so full of anxiety it led to panic attacks. I was depressed and didn’t realize how bad my depression had become because I was so used to it. I was used to living with being miserable.

Depression and anxiety were normal and comfortable. It was a part of me.

I was tolerating my life instead of living it. I remained in that situation because of my choices and my lack of action towards improving my life.

Then one day I sat down and thought about everything. And I asked myself, “Is this it? Is this what life is about?” Is life about tolerating the job I hated and living with depression and anxiety? About being comfortable with my misery? Is it about following everyone else’s path and not my own?

The answer was obvious, but I had to figure out a way to stop tolerating the life I had and make the life I wanted.

The Difference

Instead of living with my misery, I decided I would make the life I wanted.

But the one thing I had to overcome to get the life I wanted instead of remaining in the life I had was this:


I had to overcome myself. I had to overcome the self-doubt, the lack of confidence, and the thought I wasn’t good enough. Getting to the place I wanted was all up to me and nobody else.

The same goes for you.

YOU are the difference between the life you have and the life you want. Realize there is nothing stopping you from having the life you want except YOU!

We tell ourselves all kinds of things all the time. And for a lot of us, it is mostly negative. We convince ourselves we can’t do whatever it is we want, and the constant negativity becomes a common theme in our minds.

We get so used to beating ourselves up, we believe it. And if you are anything like me, you become the source of your own misery.

When we do this all the time, it leads to creating a habit. But this is not the type of habit we want to create. This habit leads to self-doubt.

You doubt yourself so much you don’t even try.

I did this for years. I beat myself up constantly. And I worried. I worried about what others would think. I worried about failure and about not being good enough. I even worried about my worrying.

All of us are affected by self-doubt and worry. I still am. I still doubt myself every day.

But what helps get me out of this cycle of doubt and worry is building good habits.

Building Habits

How did I change my habits?

Day by day.

It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t happened overnight.

I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m slowly closing that gap between the two lives; the life I had and the life I want. They are no longer parallel to each other. They are merging.

And it will be the same for you.

Build the habit of improving your life. Of doing something every day to get closer to the life you want.

Instead of going home and sitting on the couch, you go for a walk. In place of wasting time on social media, you work on finding a new job. Instead of reading all these articles on Medium, you write your own.

The more you do this, the easier it gets. You change the detrimental, automatic behavior to a new behavior.

From a bad habit to a good habit.

And it all begins with Choice.

You have to CHOOSE to make your life better. Your choices determine everything. Most of your choices have led you to today and your choices can decide where you are going. They can decide your future.

The second step is Action.

You have to ACT to improve your life. Taking action leads to confidence instead of doubt. I know you doubt yourself because we all do.

It’s hard to change what we are used to. But taking action after you have made the choice is the only way to get out of whatever situation you are in. It is the only way to build habits.

The last step is Persistence.

Improving your life does not happen overnight. Building habits do not happen overnight. It will take time to get what you want.

You will deal with setbacks, failure and some days will suck. But if you PERSIST, it will get easier.

Commit to the process and keep moving forward, no matter how small the progress seems.

It All Comes Back to You

Just about everything in your life can be changed. You can choose to do anything at any time. But those choices should be leading to something better. And you have to remember that not choosing is still a choice.

You have to invest the time you have wisely, and you have to invest in yourself.

You have the power to change your life through your choices and actions and create a new life. But conquering YOURSELF is the first step.

YOU are the difference between the life you have and the life you want.

Which life are you living?

Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.


Image courtesy of Elina Sazonova.