How I completely changed my life in 1 year

January 01, 2013

Every new year we look to the future and decide this is the year for change. Change how we eat, start working out, learn something new, change careers, be healthier and happier. But where do we start? Most of us have come to accept that new years resolutions typically do not work, I've never been a fan of them. So I wanted to share with you how I changed nearly every aspect of my life for the positive in a single year and how you can too, whether it's a resolution or not. When you're ready to accept change as a positive part of an ever evolving, dynamic, fulfilling life; read on...

I was laid off.

After 7.5 years with the same company my time was up. I knew it was coming eventually, but it's still shocking when it finally does happen. Fear did not overcome me though, I instead felt a wave of relief. This was my opportunity to create the life I wanted.

My advice; don't wait for something so dramatic to happen in your life, start taking the steps to change your life today.

I followed my passion and started my own business.

5 years ago I found photography and it changed me forever. Before this I didn't have a burning passion for anything, I didn't know what it was that I was meant to do in this life. As soon as I picked up a camera I knew there was something inside me waiting to be released. If you dread going to your job everyday and think that there must be something else your meant to do, I suggest you start looking for your passion. Start by reading The Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion. Once you figure out what it is that you're passionate about read The Simple, Ridiculously Useful Guide to Earning a Living from Your Passion.

Watch the video below over and over and over until you get this message clear: Once you stop following the money and start following your passion, everything falls together and great things happen.

This likely won't make sense to you until you actually do it.

I paid off my debt.

I achieved this in 2011 while I still had a job, but I feel it's extremely important to mention here. If I had not paid off my debt prior to being laid off I would not have had the option to pursue my dream. I would be stuck taking another un-fulfilling job. To reach the elusive debt free status I followed Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball Plan. Do not put this off! This is the single most important step you must take.

I lost 50 lbs of fat.

Those that know me in person would likely be surprised that I had 50 lbs to lose. I've always been skinny-fat, by wearing the right clothes I covered it up the beer belly and love handles well. But when I was at my heaviest around 220 it was becoming obvious, the double chin was starting to show and I felt like garbage 24/7.

I knew I needed to change but I didn't know how. I tried several diets over the years only to gain all the weight back and more, you've heard the same story hundreds of times before. While driving home from a snowshoeing trip with my friend Jim Casteel he mentioned a friend of his that had been living a 'Paleo' lifestyle and was in phenomenal shape. At the time I had never heard of Paleo, the next day I googled it and found Robb Wolf's site and an explanation of What is the Paleo Diet?

It all made so much logical sense to me; return to the way we evolved to eat over millions of years instead of eating what we have created in only the past 100 years. I knew I had come across something revolutionary. The Paleo movement is gaining momentum faster than anyone could imagine, there's one simple reason for that: It works. This is not a fad diet, it's a return to a simpler time when we didn't think we were smarter than our bodies. Science/progress has made many areas of our life great, but it has ruined our food.

I've not only lost weight, I have renewed energy and every symptom of sickness that I previously had is gone. I used to take antacid, pepto, ibuprofen on a regular basis. Since I started Paleo I haven't taken any of these. I truly feel I've found an exceptionally healthy way of life that will prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

Here are some great books to get you started: It Starts With Food , The Paleo Solution, The Primal Blueprint, Practical Paleo, Well Fed, Perfect Health Diet

Some great blogs: Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Mark's Daily Apple, PaleOMG, Civilized Caveman

Amazing podcasts: Fat Burning Man, Latest in Paleo, Everyday Paleo, Lifestyle and Fitness, Revolution Health Radio, The Paleo Solution

I got in shape.

Part of the Primal/Paleo lifestyle is to lift heavy things. I've been skinny and weak my entire life, never participated in sports, and never imagined this would change. I thought this is just the way I am and I must accept that. I had tried to workout in the past, only to injure myself and become further discouraged. I had no desire to join a gym and be part of 'that' crowd. Something that kept coming up over and over again in the Paleo community was CrossFit. When I first read about it I brushed it off thinking I could never do that, it's for elite level athletes only. The more I looked into it though, I realized that it's scalable to any fitness level. It doesn't matter if you're 200 lbs overweight, 70 years old, or a skinny little puke like me! The first month was brutal, I would workout once or twice and be down for a week barely able to climb up the stairs. The workouts are intense to say the least. Now I'm going 4-5 days a week and love every moment of it, I feel great after every workout and have a level of confidence that I've never experienced in my life.

If you want to get really inspired to join, watch this series Killing the Fat Man. His transformation is incredible and is nearly the exact experience I've had.

Go find a box (a gym) near you. My box of choice is CrossFit North Fort Collins.

I quit drinking.

Alcoholism runs rampant in my family, I've been affected by it deeply and have seen first hand the damage it causes. I knew if I was not careful, I was destined to go down the same path. One day I came across the blog Alison Travels, I was interested in her life of traveling the country as a photographer. Then I came across the post 150 Days, I was inspired by the line "All of the unproductive hours I waited to feel better are now spent doing things I’ve always wanted to do. I started to paint, I am taking more pictures, I am journaling, and I am living the life I wanted to live." This is what I wanted, to be free from the grips of alcohol and live the life I wanted.

Then I found One Year of Living Without Alcohol, and finally Three Years of Living Life Without Alcohol. I was inspired. I quit that day and haven't had a drink since (about 10 months ago).

It hasn't been without it's challenges, the social aspect is certainly the hardest part. Especially for an introvert that is not comfortable with large groups of people. The need for a drink in those situations was very hard to overcome, but it has forced me to grow as a person, and make new friends that I wouldn't have met otherwise. I have no regrets and have no reason to go back.

If you're struggling with alcohol or drug addiction please join SMART Recovery. This is an incredible community that will support you while you overcome your addiction. If you've tried AA or other programs in the past and failed, try this program. I'm willing to bet it will change your life, I know it did for someone near and dear to me.

I got organized.

5 years ago I read Getting Things Done and it changed my work life. I was able to get to a zero inbox and felt more organized, it is a must read. But I've always felt like there was something missing from the process that would tie it all together, when I filed things away I never revisited them because they were not easily accessible. This year I found The Secret Weapon. As cheesy as the name sounds, it really works. It is completely free and uses Evernote as your central hub for all your tasks, notes, ideas, recipes, braindumps, anything you can imagine. I've been using Evernote for a very long time, but it was just an unorganized mess of information. Now I have a GTD solution on steroids.

I became a minimalist.

Minimalism for me is about changing the emotional association with our 'stuff'. Our possessions tie us down and take away our freedom. Once I realized this I sold, donated, or threw away nearly everything I owned that wasn't completely necessary. Incredibly liberating.

Interested in learning more? Absorb yourself in these sites and change your life. The Minimalists, becoming minimalist, mnmlist zen habits

What are you going to change this year?

A very powerful way to create change is to make it public. Write a blog post, write on your facebook wall, tell your friends in person what you want to change in your life, if they are good friends they will hold you accountable. Start by sharing here in the comments, what have I inspired you to change in your life?