Welcome to the first post of my “Inspired By” series: stories from people that made the choice to change without hitting rock bottom first, and have maintained their success ever since. My book, Make This Your Moment: A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Life… for Good, has been inspired by what motivates people to suddenly change, to make the choice once and for all to stop living a life of slightly miserable. These stories are of people that decided to stop settling, and to start making the life they knew they deserved.
Over the past year, I have met some amazingly inspiring people. I am so grateful that one of those people was Benny Hsu. If you read Givin’ Love: A Link-tastic Post to Pay It Back and Forward, you’ll know the story of how Benny and I met, and that he blew up almost right after we first talked.
I can’t tell you how exhilarating it was to watch success of this magnitude happen to someone. I thought, “Wow, this guy’s lucky.”
…but it turns out it wasn’t just luck (though he credits the fact that his super-successful app hit the featured apps section on itunes with much of its success). Benny worked for the change he achieved.
I didn’t know much about Benny’s journey until he posted “Three Things You Can Change Today (Even If You Feel Stuck)” on his blog, Get Busy Living. I was blown away.
This guy turned a 180 on his life… without anything pressing him to do so except himself. He took the initiative to change by simply willing himself to.
Before I give away the whole story, allow me to introduce my friend, Benny Hsu, as I interview him about the changes he chose to make in his life, and how he maintains them. Bolding and emphasis is my own.
What major changes have you made in your life?
I’ve made more changes in the last eighteen months that I have in the last five years.
•I’ve turned a life of feeling stuck and unsure of what I wanted to do to working on things I’m much more passionate about.
•I ran my first ever half marathon.
•I’ve started blogging and now get to reach people all over the world.
•I created an iPhone app that has earned over $56,000.
•My attitude on life has changed. I’m a more positive person. I have much more self confidence now as well.
•I laugh much more now. From blogging, I’ve met so many great people like you. It feels great to be surrounded by inspiring people.
•I’m more busy now, but I’m happier too.
Before you decided to change, how did you feel daily?
I still remember how I used to feel daily. Unhappy. Frustrated. Stressed. Bored. Stuck.
My life felt boring except for the occasional vacation. That would temporarily numb the pain, but after vacation, it would be back to reality.
My daily routine was the same. I lacked motivation to really do much.
It was frustrating because I knew I was meant to do more than what I was doing in life.
I just didn’t know what. Even when I had an idea of what I thought I wanted, I would often stop myself before I even began.
I didn’t have much energy. I wasn’t exercising.
I lack self confidence. I kept digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole.
From the outside, I looked like I had a great life. Many people didn’t know how I felt inside.
Was there a moment in particular that you remember in which you decided to change your life?
I did have my own “breaking point”. It’s funny because I’ve read many stories of people who went through drastic changes in their lives because of a traumatic moment. I wanted that jolt in life, but without the traumatic moment. I wanted someone to slap me in the face to wake me up.
The problem was I kept relying on others to get my life in order.
No matter how much I tried to change my life, I could never find the motivation to put in the work needed.
Finally one night in October 2010, I was driving home from work after another stressful night. I work in the family restaurant. Work had been killing me inside for the last five years. Much of my frustration in life came from working at a job I hated.
That night I drove home and felt angry with myself. I’ve made that same drive thousands of times and had the same emotions, but that night was different.
Something inside me changed at that moment.
That night I decided I had enough.
I decided to make a change and I wouldn’t stop until I did. I refused to feel like that anymore. I had to do something about my life. Whatever I did would definitely be better than what I was doing.
I came home, got on the computer, and typed a note to myself. It reminded me of how frustrated I’ve felt the last five years and that I needed to finally get serious about changing my life. I put one above my computer and on the bathroom mirror so I would be reminded every day.
What led up to it? What motivated you to change?
Just being unhappy and stuck for too long finally motivated me to change. It had built up for SO long. I don’t know why that night was different than the others, but it was a clear turning point.
I thought to myself “I have to change my life”. I couldn’t handle how my life was anymore.
What was the last straw that pushed you to your decision?
It wasn’t one thing in particular that pushed me. That night was work was a busy night and when it’s busy that’s when I get really stressed out and upset.
I guess the last straw was to stop complaining, feeling sorry for myself, and finally DO something about it.
What was the hardest part about making the decision to change?
The hardest part was making sure I would overcome that initial burst of excitement. We all have no problems starting something. Signing up for the gym, eating healthy for a week, but as time goes on many quit and go back to their old ways.
I just didn’t want to lose that feeling I had at the beginning and thankfully to this day I haven’t.
What was the easiest?
The easiest was just getting started.
I didn’t need to make huge drastic changes. I didn’t focus on all the things I needed to do to change. I just needed to start with that first step and I had no problem doing that. From there, I just took baby steps but always making sure I always kept moving towards what I wanted.
What did you struggle with most along the way?
I struggled with going back to my old habits. It would have been so easy to quit and just go back to what I was doing, which was really nothing.
How did you overcome that struggle?
Old habits are hard to break. So realize that you’re not going to change your habits in a day. The goal is to make these habits last a lifetime.
What I did was I tracked the good habits I wanted to implement. For example, if I wanted to read 10 pages of a good book every day, I’d make a checkmark when I did each day. At the end of the week, I could see how many times I did it.
You can do this for anything you want. You get to see if you’re really taking action.
Another thing you can do is to make a not-to-list. Write down things you know you should not be doing anymore. Mine were watch TV for no reason, read the local news, drink soda, and aimlessly surf the internet to name some. That really helped me be aware of the bad habits I wanted to get away from.
What did you think would be hard, but actually wasn’t?
I think it would be finally taking 100% responsibility for my life.
Realizing that we are the cause of the unhappiness in our life is hard to accept for some.
Making choices is a huge responsibility! That’s a lot of power in our hands. Some are afraid of it. It’s easier to pass off those choices to others or not make them at all.
I enjoyed the realization that I had all the power.
I finally realized that I created the mess I got into, so I could get myself out of it.
Did you fail along the way?
If I’m just going back through the first eighteen months, I can’t think of any huge failures. At least nothing major. I’m sure I had small setbacks, but nothing I can think of.
Do you ever regret changing? Are there things you miss about your old life?
Absolutely not. I regret not changing sooner.
There are some things I miss about my old life. I miss playing video games. LOL. I sold my Xbox 360 because I knew it was a huge time waster for me. Even if I played an hour, I know that’s an hour I could have done something more productive. So it was best to sell it so I wouldn’t be tempted by it.
I sometimes do miss just wasting a whole day and watching TV. That’s how I used to unwind. I did that all the time and that’s a huge reason why I never made any big changes in my life.
Yes I could do that now if I wanted to, but I’d rather be using doing other things.
One day in the future, I’ll go back to being a couch potato for a day.
Do you find that people judge you for the changes you’ve made?
Definitely not. I feel like if anything I’ve heard more positive things.
Also, I think it’s because on the outside I had always put up a perception that life was great. I didn’t want to burden people with my problems. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing them anyways.
On the inside, it was a completely different story.
Did you have supporters throughout your journey? Are they still supporting you now?
Spending a lot of time online can be tough if your significant other doesn’t support you. With the success of my iPhone app, she sees there is money to be made there. She also knows I’m passionate about blogging. So she knows my passions and business are all online so I need to spend time there.
Luckily she supports me, but I did promise I cut back using my iPhone during dinner.
Without her support, making the changes I have would have been a lot tougher. She definitely likes the new Benny better.
Did you find that you don’t relate well to those that you used to be friends with, or that you don’t spend time with the same people anymore?
I’ve always just had a close group of friends. The same friend since high school and I still spend time with them.
But I have deleted certain Facebook friends or blocked them. Reading constant complaining is not what I wanted to read every day. I didn’t want to join in on the complaining either.
What are you aiming to change in your life now?
I’ve come a long way since October 2010, but I am still improving each day.
I’m aiming to change from being employed to self employed. That’s my #1 goal.
I know I need to be more productive. I need to organize my time much better since I have much more going on. I need to be more decisive when making some decisions.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. I’m far from perfect so I keep trying to get as close as I can.
Do you think you’ll ever want to stop changing?
Oh no I don’t think so. Life would be boring if I stopped learning.
As I move through different phases in my life, priorities will change so I know I’ll change.
I just know those changes will be for good reasons.
If you want to learn more about Benny, I highly suggest following his blog, Get Busy Living. There are tons of tips for work and life to help you take steps in the direction of change. You can also like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter if you just can’t get enough Benny!
Thank you everyone!
Thank you for all your support and love on Monday, which was launch day for Make This Your Moment. I am so grateful for all of you and even after a few glitches (the discount code for subscribers is working again now!), I am happy to say that everything went pretty smoothly!
A very special thank you to Maria of Fitness Reloaded for writing an impromptu post about Make This Your Moment!
The subscriber-only discount codes will be good until June 17th, so don’t miss out! Go get it now by clicking on this link!
After all, what are you waiting for? Didn’t we go over this last time? ;)
Speaking of last time, thank you to those of you who commented on my Tiny Buddha post as well!
Congratulations, Christine! You won a free copy of Make This Your Moment!
Next week, make sure to tune in for these Inspired By Series:
Kay broke out of a seemingly-comfortable relationship that left her feeling unfulfilled and proceeded to change every area of her life to fit her newfound necessity: passion.
Andrea lost 55 pounds even though she wasn’t threatened with any health issues, found a love for health, and has made herself and her happiness her priority.
Until then, I hope you all are taking major steps in the direction of unrelenting, mind-blowing happiness!