And real estate is typically the biggest asset on our balance sheets. About two thirds of households in Ireland own the home they live in. For them, their dwelling

What did you do to change your life?

BJ Fogg has been researching behavioral change for decades. He directs the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University. In the end he concluded that there only three ways that can change your behavior (thus your life) for good:

Option 1. Have an epiphany
Option 2. Change your environment (what surrounds you)
Option 3. Take baby steps

You may experience enlightenment. It happens from time to time here and there. And that’s a problem. It happens. You cannot engineer it. You can’t provoke it. You can only hope it will happen and turn your life around.

There are real, genuine stories of people who changed that way. The classic one: Saint Paul. He converted from murderer into an apostle in a single moment. He was literally enlightened.

But similar stories happen in a modern setup as well. Sam Carpenter, the author of “Work the System” experienced enlightenment. One day he was totally miserable, exhausted, struggling to keep his business afloat, stressed out of his mind and on the brink of depression. The next day he started to diligently turn around his life.

In the night he experienced an enlightenment. He realized that the world is functioning amazingly well. That it consists of zillions and zillions of interlocked processes and each of them perform almost absolutely perfectly. This way of looking at things allowed him to change his life into something most of us can only dream about. He is healthy, happy and his business is almost passive in its nature. He dedicate only a few hours a week (he mentioned 2 in his book) and live comfortably doing what he loves to do.

So, that’s option 1.

Change of environment is very easy to generate, but very hard to decide. When you live in a free country no one can stop you from quitting your job, leaving your home, moving to another city, state or country.

However, the longer we live, the harder such a change is. Our past choices and past obligations chain us to our current surroundings.

My previous job wasn’t a good place to be. I got it when I was laid off and desperately needed a source of income for my family. Job market wasn’t good, most companies were shook by the financial crisis and I had not a big choice.

So I stuck with it. I stuck with it for too long. I wasn’t growing there. When I started my life transformation I quickly realized it wasn’t a place for me.

But I had obligations. I chose to marry, to have kids, to buy apartment and I had obligations. I couldn’t just quit my job and happily engage with writing.

I quit that job last August, but I couldn’t support our family from my royalties, thus, in fact, I changed jobs. The new one is better in all regards, but still this is not something I want to do with my life. Unfortunately, I can’t immediately change my situation.

And this is the way with most of us.

For majority #1 and #2 are not real options

It leaves baby steps. Habits. BJ Fogg insists on small habits, because they are doable for everyone. He designed a Tiny Habits program in which he teaches how to develop three new habits within a single week. And once his students learn how to develop three habits, they can develop another three or ten.

If you want even faster results, a drastic change, you simply need more habits and bigger ones. But this is reserved for someone well educated or experienced in habits development.

There is no “drastic” change for all

In the end very few people can experienced enlightenment, radically change their environment in a matter of days or start massively transforming their habits.

So, you may pray and wait for enlightenment if you are a believer.

You may move to another country yesterday if you have no social, business or family obligations in hope that this will trigger a sudden and good change in your life.

Or you can start writing 3,000 words a day or lift weights 15 hours a week in order to utilize habits’ power to ignite a transformation.

Can you?

In the end it all comes to habits

An enlightenment or change of environment forces on you to change not only your behavior, but habits. Saint Paul stopped considering thousands of judaic rituals as crucial to human salvation. I bet he stopped paying attention to what he ate, with whom he spoke, whom did he touch and so on (all of which were big issues for Jews). His day to day behaviors changed, because his new perspective didn’t include his old ways and opened him up to new ones.

When you change your environment, you force the change of habits as well. You can no longer buy bread rolls at the corner shop every morning if you moved to another city. This can change your dietary habits, your health, your performance and start a snowball of change. If you move to another country you suddenly stop paying so much attention to news and put a whole lot more of effort into learning a foreign language. Your habits shift automatically.

The truth

The truth is that there is no drastic life change for human beings. Our lives are measured in decades. Only if we change our behaviors over long period of time we will change for good.

So what if someone experienced a religious enlightenment, converted and joined a religious order if their didn’t change their habits? If he/she still watches pornography, uses services of prostitutes, drinks alcohol excessively, cusses like a marine, and seeks for their own interest in the first place what kind of monk or nun they can be?

So what if an alcoholic moves to another city, but still drinks like a sponge?

If their transformation is to be real, they have to mend their ways. They need to change their habits. They need to start new and better habits and diligently continue doing them.

Why baby steps?

As I explained before: because everyone can do them. You can learn on them, study how a habit loop works. Experience how you react to a sustained effort/ activity. Observe how your body/ spirit/ mind change influenced by them even on such a small scale. Then you can scale up. Once you learn how to develop a single habit, you can learn to develop two and more. Once you do something for 30 seconds you can extend it to a minute or half an hour.

Your results and the life transformation will accelerate.

The fourth way

I think BJ Fogg missed one other way to permanently change human behavior: people.

In fact, people can act as each of the three above mentioned ways. They can enlighten you. They can be a catalyst of environmental change- for example, if you marry it’s often connected with changing your place of living. They can teach you habits or be a role models.

So, if you can drastically change the type of people you interact on a daily basis (another sign of the importance of habits) it’s almost sure your life will drastically change.

The most drastic stories of transformation comes from people who met someone new in their lives and helped them to free their potential. Bob Proctor was working as a manual worker in a fire station when he met his mentor. The next year he owned his own 6-figure business. Jim Rohn met his mentor, Earl Shoaff, when he was 26. Till that moment he struggled and he had no idea how to figure out the way to a better life. In the next six years he became a millionaire.

Interacting with new people is not easy as well

It’s hard to exchange your whole social background within a day. But it works even in small doses.

I joined a church community when I was 17. Up to that moment I hardly ever prayed. I couldn’t have spent in this community majority of my time. Some periods were more intensive, some less, but I spend with my new brothers and sisters only about 3 hours a week.

However, I stick with that spiritual formation for the next 16 years and it affected me immensely. I credit most of my relatively rapid life transformation to that formation in my church community. Being with people, if only for a few hours a week, who believed that there is a deeper purpose in this world and in their lives caused me to rebuild my personal philosophy. It took me 16 years, but I was ready for a change at last.

Focus on “daily”, not “drastic”

My life changed quite a bit in the last four years. I learned new skills, met new people, started a writing career, started a few blogs and two of them are still alive, overcame my shyness, lost weight, doubled my reading speed, got a couple of professional certificates, bought a house, changed a job, published 15 books, almost doubled my income, ran 1.5 miles first time in my life, gave the first webinar, hired freelancers, befriended a few people by starting a conversation with a stranger on my commute to work, I beat over 100 personal fitness records… and I still feel the transformation is too slow.

I’m almost as prone to the instant gratification message media spread as any other guy. I feel frustrated by the slow motion type of progress I’ve experienced. I want a drastic change. I want to already be wealthy and free. My frustration breeds bad choices. I indulge myself in pleasant activities instead of pushing harder. This slows down my progress, not accelerate it.

Embrace the thought that your life will last decades and focus on a daily action. Now. Today. The next hour.

If you drill yourself to take action on a daily basis your life will change in a truly drastic manner down the road.