13 Ways I Completely Changed My Life in a Year and So Can You

Tim Denning

#2 — Take a sh*t job.

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My life fell into a million tiny pieces. There were cries for help that nobody answered. It was a dark time.

I had left a business behind that I loved like a child. My family relationships were a mess. My financial situation was a disaster. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror I was so ashamed.

Anybody who was good in my life had departed. The loneliness was crippling. Worst of all, I had found out earlier that there was a mental illness invading my brain; it was warping my thoughts and making the world look like a horror movie with real-life zombies in the streets.

Then everything changed. What caused it? I finally had enough. “No more. That’s it. I’m done.”

The pain was simply too great. Ignoring the problems and living in ignorant bliss was something I wasn’t prepared to do anymore. I began searching for answers that led me down a strange path to something far more beautiful than I could imagine.

Below are the thirteen ways you can turn your life around.

Let it all fall apart.

Denial is the enemy of reinvention.

My whole life was a lie. The solution was to stop pretending and start admitting. And then to ask myself one question: “What are you going to do about it?”

Playing spot the negative is easy. Critics do that all day for free.

So I admitted to myself what was going on and how I felt. It wasn’t in one triumphant moment like a Disney movie would portray. It happened over several months.

When the truth was obvious, I let everything fall apart. My romantic relationships, business ventures, lifelong friends, hobbies — all fell apart over a short period of time.

When things fell apart, only then did it become possible to rebuild my life from scratch again using a blank canvas.

Take a sh*t job.

I took a sh*t job in a call center. It was the worst job you could find.

But it got me out of the house. I stopped looking at my dwindling bank balance and all the stuff I had to sell to stay afloat, and started thinking about my colleagues and the needs of customers. It sounds cheesy, I know — but that tiny shift in focus got me out of my head.

Showing up at 11 AM on the dot each day to work the night shift was difficult. I’d walk 45 minutes from one side of the city to the other so that I didn’t have to pay for parking. The walk was brutal. The only footpath that took me to work was right next to the Yarra River. The winds were strong and the temperature was freezing.

The first week I broke my umbrella. So I went and bought another umbrella that was wind-tested for cyclones. Shortly after, that umbrella snapped in the strong wind and the manufacturer couldn’t believe it.

It was as if the weather was trying to demonstrate to me how much of a storm I’d have to overcome if I really wanted to turn my life around. Every walk to work was like walking through a blizzard. Arriving at work was a small win.

Work was tough. I knew nobody and my extrovert self was hiding and afraid to come out and play. It was me and one other who worked the night shift from 11 AM to 9 PM. Everybody else worked normal business hours because they were lucky enough to be normal, not broken like us night owls.

At lunchtime, I’d sit in the kitchen by myself and stare at the brick wall that was the view out the window. My lunch each day was minestrone soup that I bought from the supermarket when it was on sale once a month. People looked at me like I was homeless. The cheap suit I wore didn’t fit, and I looked like it had been several years since I’d had a good nights’ sleep.

Taking an entry-level job is not all bad though. One day a new boss rolled up to manage our team. He saw something in me and told me that every 1–1 we were going to watch a TED Talk. I had no idea what a TED talk was.

Each week he’d bring his iPad in and we’d watch a TED Talk. He was my first real friend at work and he pushed me. He expected me to take what I learned in the TED Talks and challenge my work colleagues. When they said we couldn’t sell more he would say “Tim, what do you think about that?”

On the spot I’d have to come up with an inspiring reason why they were wrong. The hard part came straight after, when I was forced to implement what I said, and show the team what could be done. By bucking the trend, people in other departments started to notice. I became the example of what doing things differently meant. That idea allowed me to get promotions and leadership roles that I wasn’t qualified for.

What they didn’t know was that thinking was learned from my startup days where being different was how you survived and paid the rent on the office. If you were undifferentiated in our business of selling physical products online, you were dead.

Scare yourself with social media.

People think social media is a dream. When I joined for the first time I was scared out of my mind. Posting my thoughts online seemed like career suicide, and the fear of being judged was enormous.

Setting up a LinkedIn account was crucial for me to change my life. It taught me, again, to go outside of myself. The thoughts I shared had to have value beyond my own life.

I had to get good at finding a few things each day to write about. This meant taking the negative and turning it into the positive.

The job interview I did, where I almost vomited over the hiring manager out of fear, had to become a story that had a lesson for other people. Turning my back on the startup world had to become the seed for a career in corporate rather than a giant failure.

Learning to hit publish and walk away from the computer straight after became a powerful little habit.

As I found my voice on social media, it started to show up at work. I gave presentations to my colleagues about business. I did LinkedIn training sessions for other departments.

Voicing your opinion is a step towards freedom.

The harshest part was when I shared my battle with mental illness. It was an embarrassing moment. I thought everybody would run in the other direction, but they didn’t.

People started moving closer towards my vulnerability.

The marketing team at work heard about my story and asked me if I would share it. So against all of my good mentor’s advice, I did. I answered a few interview questions via email, hit the send button, and thought nothing of it.

Weeks later that interview appeared on the front of our company’s internal homepage. 35,000 employees saw my story and left hundreds of comments underneath it. Then the marketing team made the story into a desktop background and put it on to everybody’s computer screens.

There was nowhere to hide.

Random strangers would come up to me at work and want to talk. Senior leaders would ask me to come to their team meetings and talk about what it was like to endure entrepreneurship driven by mental illness. The desktop background also appeared in all of my former employer’s retail stores.

The madness was supposed to last a week. Due to a glitch in desktop background software, my face and story was on people’s computers for several months. It was a risky move to share a story so personal on social media, and then allow my employer to do the same.

It taught me that when you step out from the dark and into the light, everything changes.

Humans can relate to other humans through stories. And those relationships change the direction of your life.

Say yes when you’re not ready.

Work became complicated when a colleague asked me to look after a client. They were a billion-dollar tech company and I was a call center worker that dealt with small business clients who were likely to be out of business in the first few years.

Even though I wasn’t ready, I said yes. It was a critical turning point.

I invested every waking moment in trying to help this customer with whatever they needed. Stupidly, during winter, I got a really bad dose of the flu which left me bed-ridden. My passion for the customer was so ridiculous that I left home at 4 AM in the morning and arrived at work just before 5 AM.

I sat at my desk until 7:30 AM and completed all the manual application work the customer required. As I walked to the lift to leave before anybody saw me, I bumped into a group of my colleagues. They saw that I was deathly sick and asked me where I was going. “On my way home. I’m not feeling well.”

The customer ended up seeing what time I had actioned their requests, knowing I was away sick. The story became famous amongst my co-workers and led me down a career path towards technology.

While working yourself into the ground is a stupid idea, showing that you care is definitely not.

Take hurt and turn it into unconventional motivation.

I was hurting from so many self-inflicted wounds caused by selfishness.

My drive to make millions of dollars and buy flashy junk caused everybody to run in the opposite direction. That rejection hurt immensely.

I ended up listening to an audiotape called “Get The Edge” and reading “Think And Grow Rich.” These resources taught me to take all the pain and turn it into unconventional motivation that might reshape my life. The goal was to create an empowering meaning from the devastation of the past.

“If I had to find one good thing about this, what would it be?” became the question that drove me. Those highlights became the motivation. The motivation caused me to do the following:

  • Rejoin the gym and get in shape.
  • Ask a woman out on a date.
  • Attend job interviews to further my career.
  • Start writing on a random blog.

Do the unthinkable.

What is the unthinkable?

Give when you have nothing, so that you will give when you have something.

My mindset changed slightly. Instead of hoarding my ideas and contacts, I started sharing them. I stopped trying to guard what I had and instead opened the door for people to come in and help themselves, thus helping me.

People would email me and ask for a phone number or a contact that I had. I would give it to them and not think twice. My aim, although I didn’t realize it, was to be helpful.

Helpfulness disguised my former selfishness that was holding me back.

Give it all away for free.

I’d spent most of my life wanting to be paid for every little thing I did. What changed was that I started giving everything away for free. I gave away my advice in the form of blog posts. I answered questions about topics I knew about without asking for any money.

The barrier that holds us back is trying to attach money to everything. When you attach money, you turn away most people because they don’t know or trust you enough to pay.

If you’re a content creator like me, try free. Hoarding your ideas and expecting huge amounts of money for them is actually limiting.

There are endless ways to make money online when you’re prepared to give yourself away for free.

Additional tiny changes you can make to transform your life.

  • 8. Eat for energy and vitality, not for taste. Healthy food is fuel; junk food destroys your energy.
  • 9. Write your thoughts down. That’s how you know what you’re telling yourself.
  • 10. Get a small trampoline. It’s fun to bounce while on the phone or watching TV and simultaneously activating your lymphatic system to rid your body of toxins.
  • 11. Treat work contacts like friends.
  • 12. Watch videos of kindness. If you treat people well, you’re going to move so fast towards success that nobody can stop you.

The Result

My entire life changed because of these crucial moments.

I have since been able to defeat mental illness, reach millions of people online, become a writer, publish several eBooks, compete in the state championships of public speaking, meet a woman who I fell in love with, make enough passive income to live with less stress and not be ruined by a recession, and to become a glimmer of hope for people who have none.

Changing your life is not an exclusive club made for special people who have a VIP Pass. You can change your life too.

Final Thought —

Chase moments that send chills down your spine.

To end, I want to share with you one final thought.

Moments that send chills down your spine are glimpses into where you can take your life. Those moments are usually when you witness passion or love. These moments are what remind you of your human roots.

Moments of passion show you what you have the capacity to do. Moments of love show you what matters and what doesn’t. Use Youtube to find these moments and be inspired. Take these moments and replicate them in your habits and daily work.

Getting chills down your spine is a compass for life. Follow it.

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Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship www.timdenning.com

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