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8 Steps That Will Radically Change Your Life in 30 Days or Less, Guaranteed.

MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
Staff member
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#1: Accept Reality: There Are No Shortcuts. Real Change Requires a Real Process.

Let’s first get the uncomfortable shit out of the way.

Anything worthwhile in life will require a worthwhile effort. There are no shortcuts. There are NO silver bullets, NO magic pills, and NO secret sauces. If you’re still trolling the internet looking for this stuff, move along. You’ve got the wrong forum, the wrong article, and the wrong author.

So lets start with the old guru mantra “take action!

We say it a lot around here: Take action! Take action!

While action is important, action isn’t what creates change.

Taking action, by itself, is just an event that produces little, if any results. In fact, “taking action” is right behind “do what you love” as one of the biggest guru hoaxes ever perpetrated on the self-improvement industry.


Here’s why.

“Taking action” is merely a micro-task to a process, and a process is what precedes real change.

What’s a process? A process is a systematized series of focused actions. A process is repeated. A process is “taking action X 1000" and making adjustments along the way.

Once a process is established it then becomes a habit, which then integrates the process into your mind as automatic, instinctual, and almost subconscious. It actually becomes woven into your existence. The result is a lifestyle which ultimately creates the change you want. The change isn’t fleeting or short-lived, but permanent. Short-cuts are short for a reason— they don’t last.

Unfortunately, most people leverage “taking action” into some sort of mental masturbation trick designed to give us a fleeting "feel good" moment. It’s a temporary exercise orchestrated to fool yourself into thinking that you are doing something, when in actuality, you’re just painting lipstick on the pig. You’re committed to the idea of change, but not committed to the process of change.

Hit the gym the first week of January. See all those people? They’re committed to the idea of change (which are just fleeting thoughts) but not committed to the process (which is the focused action). By February, 95% of them will be gone.


You see, going to the gym constitutes “taking action”. However, if you never return, will anything really change? Not a damn thing except for that moment of “feel good” which is now, long gone.

Want to eat better and shed a few pounds? Great— for lunch you have steamed halibut and broccoli. Awesome choice. Healthy and nutritious, a perfect decision for your goals. Unfortunately, for dinner you’re back at the old double-bacon cheeseburger with fries. Again, absolutely nothing has changed despite “taking action.”

Ever hear someone say “I’m on a diet?” What they’re really saying is this:

I am NOT committed to permanent change.
I am NOT committed to the process.
I am NOT committed to a transformation from action, to habit.

The word diet implicitly means FAIL. Diets are event-driven based on “taking action” — but the word implies temporary, which implies failure of process.

Diets die and only succeed when they become lifestyles, making the diet, no diet at all— but a simple way of living.

You see, your lifestyle is what produces the real change you seek. That’s how you make a difference in your life. No pill, no diet, and no book can give you the “secret” — the secret lies within yourself, your process, and your expectations of that process.

Focused action > Committed and Repeated > Habit > Lifestyle.

#2: Identify What You Want

What exactly do you want?

Envision yourself time-shifting 1 year into the future at a New Years Eve party. Envision yourself celebrating the year that was, the year that changed EVERYTHING. Take a moment and reflect on the accomplishments you are celebrating in this moment.

Do you want to lose 60 pounds and did it? Did you eat better and got your cholesterol down to 180? Did you enter a fitness competition and placed in the top three? Did you start a new business and doubled your income? Quit your job? Met your soulmate? Complete a full length novel?

Identify EXACTLY what you want to feel in this moment and envision yourself there.

If you don't know where you want to go, you don't know the road that will get you there.

#3: Apply Mathematics To That End Goal, If Possible

Now that you’ve envisioned how awesome your new year will be, attach a numerical figure to your goal.

If “lose weight” is the goal, this would translate into “Lose 25 pounds” or “Get to 15% bodyfat”. Likewise, if your goal is to “start a business” you would need to identify a numerical number, say sales, profits, or # of customers.

The mathematics of the change is crucially important as subjective milestones cannot be measured, and often are action-fakes for real progress.

For example, if “start a business” is the goal, what measure identifies meeting the goal? The moment you get business cards? Or a fancy logo? The moment you launch the website?

While these milestones are apart of the process, they are merely circle-jerking action-fakes designed to make us think that we’ve accomplished a goal, when the real goal should be a sustainable mathematical momentum that keeps us moving toward habitual and addictive producing results.

If it cannot be sustained, it isn’t real — it isn’t habit and it isn’t lifestyle.

#4: Segment The End Goal Into It’s Daily “Take-Action” Step

After you isolate what you want to achieve and quantified it, break down that achievement into its core “take action” component, or what I call “the daily target”. What daily routine will get you there?

For example, if your objective is to write a novel, your daily target could be to write 500 words everyday, or a minimum of 2 hours. If your objective is 12% body fat and six-pack abs, your daily target would be to either workout and/or eat no more than 2,000 calories. The important thing here is to isolate the micro-task that builds the process.

If your goal cannot be measured, use a daily accounting instead. For example, on my attached spreadsheet I have an end goal as “education” — I want to expand my knowledge. In order create change in this area, I will strive to learn something new everyday. Doing so completes the task.

#5: Identify What Threatens The Daily Target.

In other words, you need to identify what IS NOT working. What can and will threaten your daily target? There’s that old adage: The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results. In other words, the choices you made this YEAR resulted in the CONSEQUENCES you have NOW.

In order to hit the daily targets you’ve set, you’ve got to identify exactly WHAT will stop you from achieving them. Why have you failed for the last 10 years? What things do you need to stop doing to make this happen THIS YEAR? Success is more about what you need to STOP doing versus START doing.
  • Are you spending 5 hours a day on Facebook playing the latest and greatest game?
  • Are you jumping from one idea to the next with no focused action or plan?
  • Does your ego require an expensive BMW? Which then requires you to maintain your 60 hour a week soul-sucking corporate job?
  • Are you giving into false narratives (I have no money! I have no skills! I'm not a morning person!) that preclude you from making a change?
In order to tackle the hardest part of process, which is “committed and repeated”, you have to dig down into your life and expose everything that is thwarting process.

It all boils down to one thing: Your choices.

"Greatness is a lot of small things done daily."

What are you choosing instead? What bad habits are stealing your time and derailing your progress?

The bottomline is, if you don’t have what you want, its because of one reason only: You’re simply not making the required sacrifice. You are choosing actions not correlated to your goal.

#6: Target Threats By Identifying Where the Battles Are Won and Lost.

Most people fight their wars on the wrong battlefield, resulting in loss after loss. If you only knew WHERE and HOW to fight, you would have a fighting chance to create the change you want.

For example, if you want to lose fifty pounds, you have to first identify where the battle is won and lost.

Most people think the battle is won at the refrigerator. As you open up the door, the battle begins:
  • “OMG, don’t eat that ice cream! Pick something else!
  • “Oooh, look at the cheesecake! Should I eat a few bites? No don’t!
  • “Mmmm, I would love an ice cold Pepsi right about now… but I shouldn’t.
  • “Don’t eat that block of cheese! OMG I can’t stand it!
  • “No, don’t grab that gallon of ice cream! Oh, just a little dish won’t hurt…
Sorry champ, but you’ve already lost.

The war you’re fighting isn’t fought at the refrigerator, its fought at the grocery store. The moment you put this crap in your shopping cart, is the moment you’ve lost the war. You’re fighting a war with sticks and stones while your enemy has an AR-15.

Been spending hours watching mindless reality television? The battle you need to fight isn’t on the couch with the remote control, it’s on the telephone. Pick up the phone and cancel the freaking cable TV.

#7) Attack bad habits with inconvenience and/or pain.

Once you identify the battlegrounds, your bad habits are now ripe for attack.

How do you attack them?

By leveraging your natural human instinct which is to seek the path of least resistance. In other words, make your bad habits a royal pain in the a$$ to continue. Make them invasive. Inconvenient.

In our refrigerator example, if you’ve won the war at the grocery store, you now have attached inconvenience to the bad habit. If you want ice cream, you’ve got to hop in your car, drive to the store, troll the grocery aisle, buy it, and drive home. Not super complicated, but certainly not super convenient.

If you’re trying to stop playing video games, pack up your XBOX console and sell it. Or throw it in the attic. Now if you want to play, you’ve got to climb a ceiling ladder and crawl through a dusty attic to unpack it, wire it up, and play.

Again, not very convenient.

#8) Reward Daily “Action-Taking” Accomplishments with a Physical Cue.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve learned that crossing-off line-items on my to-do list is addictive.

It feels good.

I love seeing that “X” being marked off as it gives me a sense of reward. If you can do the same with your daily “action taking” we can encourage process and habit changing behavior to take place.

I’ve attached a spreadsheet that can help us accomplish this. It also outlines this entire exercise in procedural change.

Going back to our “lose weight” example, your daily ritual should include a visit to the gym and a better diet. Each day this is done successfully, mark down its accomplishment in a journal or a spreadsheet. On my spreadsheet, it’s achievement is marked by an X.

The objective of the spreadsheet is to create a mental map of your “action taking” so it eventually forms a process.

The goal is to get vertical with the X’s as much as possible for each goal target. If you target ONE X MINIMUM for each day for each row, you will experience KAIZEN, or constant improvement.

Over the course of thirty days, you will see noticeable results.

In a year, you won’t recognize yourself!!!

Optimally, you want to create columns of Xs on consecutive days for each objective. The minimum goal should be at least one X on each day— this means you are improving yourself every single day. To get started, I suggest a simply 30-day challenge, or baby steps, a 10-day challenge.

Pick a goal, line up some “X”s and see how to goes for you.

On my spreadsheet, I have several categories. Each are designed to improve my life in a different facet. This challenge also exposed an interesting "false narrative" in my life ... The last 2 weeks, I've been getting up at 4:15AM and hitting the gym. While the early days were a struggle, I'm to the point now where I discovered that "I'm not a morning person" was simply a narrative I told myself so I didn't have to exert the discipline to get up.

So, who wants to change their life in the next 30 days?


KAIZEN: Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the best", refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes. ATTACHED is a user provided Kaizen System (not mine!).
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
Staff member
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007


Feb 6, 2014
This is great! Since i got out of depression and started to change my life, i belive that developing habits is the most important thing in self development. Thanks to that belief i lost nearly 40 pounds in last few months and quit smoking. Now i'm developing habit of educating myself at least two hours a day and constantly getting out of comfort zone.

BTW. MJ your book changed my point of view on so many things. I belive it's the best book there is on the subject.
Sorry for my english, it's not my native language.


Read Fastlane!
Apr 11, 2011
I've been reading the book "The Slight Edge" and it covers this exact topic in depth. Well worth the read in my view. Has a lot of fast lane principles embedded in it. You definitely pointed out one of my biggest problems, which is jumping from one project to the next with no commitment (project, job, girlfriends...ha!). While I knew it was the case that anything worth doing in life wasn't going to come easy, for some reason that never really sunk in--those synapses just didn't form. I always had the excuse that "I'm not a patient person." Seriously, that was my excuse. But slow and steady wins the race. Thanks for the post.


Silver Contributor
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Sep 23, 2013
Attaching real numbers to goals is extremely important, anything else is mental masturbation.

One thing I am in the process of doing is losing weight. I don't need to lose much, my goal is 15 pounds and have already dropped five. I weigh myself everyday. My scale also ways in 1/10th pound increments. By seeing that number everyday staring me in the face, I can't BS myself. If I cheat a little the day before, I may gain a half a pound. If I do, I need to see it, staring me in the face. As the age old saying goes, "what gets measured, gets improved".

My biggest problem is taking on too many things at once. I'm currently working on narrowing my focus. It's very difficult for me. I have so much I want to accomplish in life that I can get sidetracked easily.

Great post!
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Platinum Contributor
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Jan 10, 2012
San Diego, CA
“Taking action” is merely a micro-task to a process, and a process is what precedes real change.

In one of my favorite books of all time, Ayn Rand in her Atlus Shrugged said that life is nothing but a striving of values towards the future with continuos and sustainable(emphasis) action. All values are pursued through action. All the organs and systems in your body are taking continuos and sustainable action to pursue the value of you being alive.

Every second of the day your liver, heart and kidneys etc. are taking continuos and sustainable action. What happens if they took action only once or twice? You would die.

You have to want success the way your heart wants to pump blood through your body. The striving towards success has to be continuos and sustainable.

The human body is always the best metaphor because all change starts with the individual.

Great article BTW. :)


Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 18, 2013
Cleveland, Oh USA
Wow!!! The headline promised awesome content delivery, You definitely brought it on this one.

Identify What Threatens The Daily Target.

Everything in your post is SCIENCE. But that one struck close to home. Too many self-help "gurus" tell you to focus on nothing but the positive outcomes. but not only should you imagine the success, you should also envision what can go wrong (What can stop you?). The Navy Seals call this mental practice. When obstacles present themselves (Whatever the case: Laziness, Distraction, or even more serious issues), you already have a network of neurons established to deal with them.


New Contributor
Jul 21, 2013
Have to thank you for this post. Really touched close to home. Prior to reading this post, I decided to remove the word "about" from my vocabulary in most instances. No more "about to's" with me. Thanks for the post and chart!
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Business Building Warrior
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Feb 6, 2014
Thanks MJ for the post.
Needed that one today and for the following weeks as I journey from a corporate life to "my own life".
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Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 28, 2013
Here is what I heard
"don't be ingenuine about what you say you want"
"A quick fix is not a fix, its a patch... don't ask for it, its ingenuine"
"Change starts, with, conviction"
"To succeed is a measure of nuts and bolts + conviction"
"Realistically conviction and process, is a good standard for success, so long as you get rid of fakes that might be stopping you from follow through on what needs to be done each day (and do CENTS)"
"Address the source of change, continue with great process"
"Integrate, process as part of habit and lifestle, and persona"
"Proceed to address things in life with enhanced vision and capacity"

Be confident about it. Don't become insecure because you don't have "an answer", because it is not what is most relevant. What is relevant is this different person we become, these different habits we embody, and this different lifestyle we lead because of the effect of what we do daily. Progress past the need for a crucial answer, because the answer is in you, doing things differently than you were years before and no longer treating the "answer" as crucial.

I suppose you just gotta focus on what you can be doing better with what you know right now.
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Artificial Psycho
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Feb 18, 2014
I wasn't sure where to start... Make my first post in the newcomers area or in the "I've read the Fastlane" topic..

But I'm glad I'm keeping my first post to this topic... I immediately regret waiting so long with: 1) finding & reading TMF 2) registering on this forum 3) taking action.

This post, like your book, is pure gold... I like this no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point motivation!
I'm printing this and I'll place it on my desk & my fridge!
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Gold Contributor
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Jul 11, 2013
Dallas, TX
My biggest problem is taking on too many things at once. I'm currently working on narrowing my focus. It's very difficult for me. I have so much I want to accomplish in life that I can get sidetracked easily.

Same here. I've been learning to scale back and pick no more than 1, at most 2, tasks at a time.


Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Aug 12, 2007
south florida
In other words, the choices you made this YEAR resulted in the CONSEQUENCES you have NOW.

I think this is the first time in my life I've looked at that sentence I've seen many times before, and said "Hell yeah." :rockon:

Some good stuff in there, I've identified the point where I've been losing to daily procrastination. I've said I'll write when I get up, but when i open the laptop the struggle is to open up the writing program, and not the browser. I pretty much lose this 9/10 times

i've realized the battle was lost already - I think the way to win it is to have the internet turned off for the first 3-4 hours of the day instead.


Dog Dad
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Aug 28, 2011
Process? Everyone here keeps talking about process. Tell me how I can get rich like the WhatsApp developers! I want overnight success and I want it tonight!

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Nov 11, 2013
Thank you for this post MJ.

I downloaded the Kaizen Spreadsheet and changed the categories around. Now I have no excuses not to follow through on the daily steps required to turn my process into my lifestyle. It's all there in front of me, keeping me in check.


Platinum Contributor
Speedway Pass
Sep 22, 2012
Another timeless nugget of wisdom from MJ. Seriously baffles me sometimes when I ponder how you derived these massive vaults of wisdom :rolleyes:


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