There’s no other way to describe this year than challenging. And though the outside world needs us to take a stand about what we believe in, everything really begins from within. What I know to be true, though, is in order to shift in any way, we have to do things differently. Because our thoughts drive us and create our reality, that means that we must feed our minds with new and better thoughts. That means in order to actively grow and evolve ourselves, we must choose to read somewhat differently.

Think about it: if you want to change your body, you need to change your diet. So what you feed your mind is critical. Because without new voices of wisdom, you’re going to continue to think the same thoughts.

If you get too closed to new ways of living as a possibility, then your life will shrink and you will become more and more brittle. That’s why, if you want your life to be different from what it is now, you must decide that you’re ready for the change. And then, in order to make that desired change a reality, you must be willing to do the work to shift that reality.

What does choosing to read differently mean in practical terms?

If we typically read only the most recent releases, maybe we need to turn to ancient texts that may open our minds and hearts. Instead of our usual diet of fiction, we should dabble in poetry or memoirs. Conversely, if the bulk of our regular reading is diet books and the hottest new self-help titles, a good dose of fiction might be in order.

Besides, if you read too much self-help, you can get lost in the thinking that you are broken. And that, my darling, is not true.

Don’t forget that the need to read differently applies to our digital worlds as well. Maybe you need to stop reading Facebook updates and seek thoughtful essays in personal blogs. Reading differently means shifting what we take into our minds because what we read affects how we think and how we feel about ourselves.

This also means that if you’re wanting to have a broader sense of what’s happening in the world, you need to read news from the “other side” of the fence. Yes, so that may mean reading The New York Times and The New York Post. Or watching the news on Fox in addition to CNN.

If you want to change your life, darling, seek new voices so that you can open yourself up to reading differently.

By the way, don’t rule out fiction. Research from Ohio State University has shown that when you fictional characters can influence you. In the study, readers adopted the beliefs, feelings and responses of the characters. This means well written fiction with courageous or compassionate characters can inspire you to be brave, transform your thinking, how you see yourself and the world.

Don’t just go through the motions of seeking new ways to feed your mind. Be open to learning new things and new ways.

Each day presents an opportunity to grow your brain, expand your horizons and change your perspective.

But seeking new voices of wisdom isn’t all. I hate to break it to you darling: you are also going to have to get out of your comfort zone.

This may seem counter to much of what I tout as a way to create a life you love, but stick with me for a bit.

I believe that routines are the most efficient way to manage your energy and ensure that tasks get done. I stand strong to the fact that solid routines lead to good habits that will help you more enjoy your life.

However, if you want to live your life in a different way, then your routines will have to change. Learning new routines and allowing them to mature into new habits doesn’t happen overnight.

And sugarplum, I am a firm believer that always living on the edge makes us cranky and edgy. That we need to settle into periods of comfort to get the blessings our life already offers us.

Yet, if you are seeking to change something, you’ll have to get uncomfortable.

There is a pendulum-like swing in the way the comfort plays out in our lives.

We need to step outside our comfort zone to learn a new skill, shift our way of thinking, or change something. But then? The pendulum has to swing back, allowing that new stuff to become our new normal. This allows us to create a comfort zone that is just as snuggly as the one we had before. Yet, different enough than our old one. Maybe it’s a little broader in scope, or with a slightly different kind of décor.

That also means we need to pay attention to the small things the bring us comfort: snuggling on the couch, coffee with a girlfriend, fresh flowers in the kitchen, or a favorite sweater to toss across our shoulders on chilly days.

And that brings up the other piece of this, my darling. If you want any area of your life to be different, you are going to have to do the work.

You are going to have to invest in yourself, be it your time, your money or your attention.

What I mean is, in addition to reading great blog posts, maybe you need to go ahead and invest in program that the coach you admire has been offering. Instead of just reading that mind provoking book, maybe you need to get your journal out and actually do the exercises.

A healthier body may require cooking more and breaking a sweat. A richer creative life may demand experimenting with your craft. Thinking about how we want our life to be different – yes, even our creative life – doesn’t make it happen. Talking about the changes we want to make isn’t enough.

To paraphrase Elvis, a little less talk and a lot more action!

No matter what it is, things cannot change if we do not take some action. Yes, action requires energy and sweat and sometimes tears, but you are worth it. Your life can be different than it is today if you so desire it to be.

Read differently. Seek new voices of wisdom. Shift your routines. Get out of your comfort zone. Pay attention to small comforts. Do the work.

Just as it’s true that ‘we are what we eat,’ it’s also true that we are what we read.

What are your voices of wisdom whispering to you?

And what are you going to read? Are you willing to step into the work you need to do for your own soul? And tell me, darling, what actions towards a different life can you take today?

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