Everyone has problems, challenges they face, obstacles standing between them and their dreams of a better life.

Some problems are small. They can be fixed overnight, have ready solutions and ultimately aren’t even really problems at all.

Then there are real problems. Financial, social and health difficulties are particularly common and crippling, true challenges to overcome in one’s personal or professional life that require hard work, long hours and lifestyle changes to achieve.

So far, putting in that kind of blood, sweat and tears has paid for me as I’ve transformed drastically over the past decade. Comparing where I was in 2007 versus where I stand in 2017, I am not the same person in any way, shape or form.

But my path was less than ideal, wrought with trial and error and an enormous amount of luck and benevolence from others.

Going forward, I still have big changes to make, huge goals to achieve, dreams to live, and they tend to be of the “super difficult to attain” variety. And at this point, I’m too exhausted to pursue those dreams in the same chaotic, haphazard way as I’ve operated so far.

So I’ve been kicking around ways to get around some of the largest challenges facing me.

Once you cursorily “achieve” most things, it still needs to be maintained. Whether you want six pack abs, to learn a language or make new friends, change is rarely a one-and-done prospect. Ultimately, it comes down to transforming one’s lifestyle.

And what is lifestyle other than one’s habits? And what are habits other than how we’ve been programmed by our environments, biology and experiences?

So to make big life changes, it requires a reprogramming of oneself, and that usually can only be done iteratively. Like quitting a bad habit, developing a new habit takes work, repetition and time. It can seem daunting, but results are real and obtainable in many situations, depending upon what obstacles may stand in one’s way.

Most of the time, there won’t be a silver bullet solution to a problem. In absence of that, developing system of solutions to integrate into your daily life can help overcome any number of challenges and achieve goals once thought too distant to grasp.

Here are some examples of goals I’ve had for a while, and pursued to a degree before now, but have only started to develop into coherent systems of solutions this year:

Fitness: 300+ calorie burn training session and walk 10,000+ steps each day

Blogging: Five posts per month

Artwork: Three pieces per month

Reporting: 1 or more bylines per week

Travel: Go somewhere local, domestic or overseas each month

Finances: Save money into multiple different funds and investments each week

There are lots more too, but these are a good cross-section of my priorities in 2017.

Basically, I’ve set threshholds for each of these projects, requiring me to make progress on them on a certain degree either daily, weekly or monthly, depending on how big an iteration I can manage.

These might seem like small endeavours to some people, and that’s the point. Setting small, achievable goals builds up fast and spurs meaningful change over time. Seven months into this plan and I feel like as different a person between January and July as I did between 2007 and 2017.