Eight years ago, while I was living in Hong Kong, I was looking for inspiration and happened upon a TED Talk by Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise. It’s a remarkable organization, and it’s worth looking it up. The TED Talk was called The Five Phrases That Can Change Your Life – and it resonated with me! I have since given my version of these 5 phrases many times and it’s timeless.

Before we begin, think about this:

If you want to change the world, change the way you look at the world. If you want to change the way you feel about a situation, look at it from a different angle. If you’re in a blah mood sitting down, stand up. If everything around you sounds like noise, put some music on that lifts your spirit and makes you move your body. These are quick, easy ways to make a mind shift. All you need is a small shift to make a big difference.

Phrase 1: Get out of your comfort zone.

“Comfort” makes us think of a comfy couch or warm, cozy slippers or comfort food. Your comfort zone is a place in life where you feel you can handle whatever life throws at you – where nothing is unexpected. That doesn’t mean it’s comfy! A job you hate with little chance of losing but doesn’t inspire you is comfortable because it’s the known. Get away from everything you know that doesn’t scare you but doesn’t move you forward either. Getting away from everything that is familiar but isn’t wonderous – that’s getting out of your comfort zone.

Phrase 2: Learn to challenge your assumptions.

As human beings we make a lot of assumptions and once we decide something is, in fact, decided, once we accept something as reality, as a fact, as a given, our minds stop looking for new information. Once we fall into the land of assumptions, our assumptions become truth, then those truths become our truths. But these “truths” may not serve us well. A truth may not be based on current information. A truth, as we know it, is only our interpretation based on information we had at a given moment. To challenge our assumptions, we must continually look for new information, to make new determinations, new evaluations – and consequentially accept new truths.

Phrase 3: Speak the language of the person you wish to become.

If I asked what you admire most about the people you admire, you might respond like so many I’ve heard as I’ve traveled around the world. People want someone they can trust, someone who is humble, a team player, who has integrity, a good work ethic. They want someone who inspires and leads and who uplifts people. These are all character traits – and not one requires a PhD or formal education or even a lot of skill. And any one of these traits that you admire you can adopt as part of your habitual behavior tomorrow. This is what you do in language. If you want to be a thought leader, then think before you speak, listen intensely, then speak as you believe a thought leader would speak and behave as you believe a thought leader would behave. If you want to be a leader of people, start by leading yourself because all leaders can be led. Speak to yourself and others as those you admire speak to themselves and others. Speak in the language of the person you want to become – the person, in fact, that you are becoming. Speak in the language of the best version of yourself because that’s where it begins.

Phrase 4: Make little decisions with your head and big decisions with your heart.

Many of the things that we put emphasis on are not really huge decisions, they are just decisions that may have big impact. Where to buy a house, the kind of job you get, any decisions that requires logic, those are the little decisions. The big decisions are about who we want to become, who to love, how to love, who to spend time with. Who and what to pay attention to, your intentions, your relationships – these decisions you should make with your heart. By making small decisions with your head, you create habits – invisible infrastructure – for your life that frees you to make big decision with your heart.

Phrase 5: Is what I’m doing now with my life allowing me to have the greatest impact for the greatest good on the greatest amount of people?

Knowing what you know today and knowing with almost complete certainty that in 10 years almost everything will change, ask yourself that question. We are talking about a job here. There’s nothing wrong with having a job, even if it’s not the greatest love affair of your life, if you are utilizing it to take care of your family, to contribute, to make sure the daily needs are met. That’s wonderful. But you can do more if that’s not your dream calling. So, ask yourself the question again. Is what I’m doing now with my life allowing me to have the greatest impact for the greatest good on the greatest amount of people? If you answered “yes”, find more time to do that. And if the answer was “no”, find a way to free up some time from your “have to” to put toward your “want to” for yourself.