7 Small Changes That Will Make a Big Difference in Your Life


Our happiness and success rely on thinking constructive thoughts, acting with intent and creating strong relationships with others. The good news is we have control over all of these areas. We can choose to change.

These are the most common changes that can make the biggest impact in your life:

Related: 5 Things That Affect You and Your Life

1. Mind your mind.

Your thoughts drive how you feel. How you feel drives your actions.

It is impossible to be confident and self-assured if your thoughts are filled with self-doubt and judgment. If you would never speak to others the way you internally speak to yourself, you can change.

It takes time to reprogram your thinking, but self-awareness is step one. Be more aware of your thoughts. Ask yourself: What is on my mind right now and why? Are my thoughts helping me?

A pause to reboot your internal thoughts can help you become more intentional and positive.

2. Separate how you feel from what you do.

Take time to acknowledge how you really feel. Minding your mind doesn’t mean hiding or ignoring your feelings. But separate your feelings from your actions—your actions are a separate decision.

For example, if I am frustrated that a peer is difficult to work with on a project, I can acknowledge my frustration and then separately decide how to handle it. Or, a friend constantly misses commitments and you feel angry. Rather than ignore it or end the friendship, choose to be open and direct about the impact his or her actions are having on the friendship.

Your actions are a separate decision that you alone make based on your feelings.

3. Stop comparing.

There will always be someone more successful, more accomplished, with more medals, more money and a better promotion. This constant comparison game means you’ll likely never measure up. The bar is always moving and usually it’s up. So have your own internal bar of success based upon what matters most to you, your starting point and the progress you’ve made.

As a career mom, I learned over time that my value wasn’t measured by how much I volunteered at my sons’ schools compared to other mothers. My focus was on how our boys were doing and if they were thriving, rather than comparing myself to moms with more available volunteer time.

Find the real meaning in your efforts. Meaning is a powerful way to overcome comparison to others as you focus on impact and contribution.

Related: How 5 Successful People Define Success

4. Claim time for yourself at the start of each day.

Time is our greatest asset. If we are intentional in how we use it, we have a better chance of living the life we want. How you start each day plays a big role in being intentional.

Find a few minutes to think about how you want to spend your day, both in terms of time and the thoughts you want to have. Prayer, meditation, exercise and a little quiet time to think can have a monumental impact on your day, week and year.

I always ask my clients when they can create this thinking and planning time, and where this can best occur. My most important decisions and changes began after I had the time to really think about what I wanted.

Find a quiet corner to pause rather than a busy kitchen—make the time in your busy life.

5. Do something new every week.

Predictable days and habits keep us in a rut. Every week, pick one new small change you want to make.

A friend of mine declared a “year of living differently.” She took cooking lessons, made changes to her house, planned several small weekend trips and learned to fly fish.

Intentionally shake up the routine and try something you’ve never done before. Even a small change, such as watching an interesting TED Talk while getting ready in the morning or experimenting with a new menu item on the grill can trigger new energy.

6. Listen even when you want to talk.

Listening is the most powerful learning tool and relationship builder you have at your disposal, but in our fast-paced, technology-driven world, it is wildly underutilized.

Ask questions and really listen, rather than thinking about what you are going to say next. Your full attention is one of the greatest compliments you can give to someone.

7. Battle the addiction to being right.

The desire to always be right can overshadow even the strongest relationship. Being right at all costs might fulfill an inner need you have, but often at the expense of someone or something else.

Consider this situation: Is there only one answer? Do we need to agree? Is there new information here that I haven’t considered?

Of course, keep your point of view and speak up for values and causes that matter. But if your desire to be right overtakes you in any situation regardless of importance or relationship, a change might do some good. There is no joy in “winning the battle but losing the war.”

Small changes made consistently over time can have a big impact on your life. And they are all actions you can take starting today.

Related: If You Change Yourself, You Can Change Your Life

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Patti Johnson is a career and workplace expert and the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human resources consulting firm she founded in 2004. Previously, she was a senior executive at Accenture and has been recently featured as an expert in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, Money Magazine and Working Mother. Patti is also an instructor for SMU Executive Education and a keynote speaker on “Leading Change.” Her first book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work & in Life, hit shelves in May 2014. Visit her website at PattiBJohnson.com.

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  1. Luke Anderson on June 22, 2019 at 4:57 am

    Really inspiring stuff Patti. Helped me notice many areas in myself where I’d been going wrong, especially the part about being right!

    • Sam on November 22, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      This is very encouraging..lots of great stuff.
      God bless you..
      South Africa

      • TommyUK on November 23, 2019 at 1:25 am

        Fabulous small changes! My favourite is number 3!

        • Okechukwu c. Chris on November 23, 2019 at 2:55 am

          Full of inspiration

  2. nikki on November 22, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Wonderful article. some seems like common sense, but we all need a push now and then to actually commit to it.

  3. Tom Dalton on November 22, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Patti nice job on distilling very impactful/important changes, “small changes making a big difference” is well put- I’m amazed at how one or two new habits can dramatically change ones life…

    • E. B. on November 23, 2019 at 7:28 am

      Great and encouraging .

  4. Tesa Casillan on November 22, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I really love the article you’ve created Patti! Thank you… Truly an eye opener and inspirational.

    I was hoping you can create articles too on how to correct repeated errors in the work place.

  5. Ezat M. Eldkak on November 22, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Awesome article.

  6. Harry @ GoalsOnTrack on November 22, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Like No 3. We all need it!

  7. Gurtej Aulakh on November 22, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Very very rational and quite inspirational..Regards…

  8. Anand on November 22, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Desire to be always right is not wrong. The wrong comes when the desire is, to be seen as always right, despite being wrong.

  9. Hemant Sonar on November 22, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Really very helpful

  10. Husam on November 22, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    Thank you,

  11. V Krishnan on November 22, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Good article and simple to follow. Great and expecting a lot from you Patti

  12. jaya sisodiya on November 23, 2019 at 12:06 am

    nice and encouraging article

  13. Ashok Nath Jha on November 23, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Certainly a good article.But I have a point here. How to keep your feeling and action separate.In my opinion action comes after feeling. If I am angry, my actions will also be according to my feeling. To keep the action separate from feeling, then probably I will have to change my feeling first and then bring it into action.Hope I could made my point clear.

  14. Ahsan on November 23, 2019 at 2:11 am

    It’s really greatful and inspiring stuff. I really like it.

  15. Charles on November 23, 2019 at 5:30 am

    Great inspiration

    • Carole on November 25, 2019 at 10:42 am

      I am at a point where I feel a bit discouraged.
      This came at the right time.


  16. Susannah on November 23, 2019 at 7:02 am

    I used to think feelings came first, but living feeling based can be a hard life. It’s hard sometimes to make the decision to put action first, but things always turn out better when I do. It’s a decision!

  17. Rajesh on November 23, 2019 at 7:07 am

    Thank you Patti!

    I absolutely enjoyed reading your article and I know deep down that every point in there counts. I feel so revved up now.

    Thank you!

  18. Martha on November 23, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Great article! This is something I would like to read, again and again. Very clear and easy to follow exercises.

  19. Dr Henry Sinopoli on November 23, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    It’s always so enlightening to see another “expert” lead each individual on a path of success and happiness…I’m still wondering how my immigrant grandmother & grandfather managed to raise five well-prepared citizens, keep them off welfare, contribute and serve our country, without reading another, “I’m the success” expert book…

  20. Mohammad on November 23, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Awesome piece. Thanks and best wishes.

  21. Mariak Martin on November 25, 2019 at 3:15 am

    great article patti!

  22. Irene on November 25, 2019 at 8:37 am

    I almost deleted the email, due to our busy life styles, and then open the email because I noticed this article. Thank you – came at the exact right time.

    With much appreciate Patti, Thank you.

  23. mike sloan on November 25, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Mentor of mine told me…”the higher you go up in a organization the dumber you need to be”.
    No one likes a know it all….spot on with #7.

    Well done, Patti

  24. Chris Joy on November 25, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Great article love number 7. Hit the nail on the head although we often deny this!! Well done and thank you.

  25. Wale Adebayo on November 26, 2019 at 2:59 am

    I really appreciate this. Keep touching lives and make them better.

  26. Sam on November 28, 2019 at 6:27 am

    It is great advices. Thank you

  27. Nsubuga Henry on December 2, 2019 at 2:52 am

    Wonderful. Thank you for the great advice , may God bless you

  28. AGNES INGABIRE on December 3, 2019 at 2:10 am

    Wonderful inspiration

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