As a personal coach for women, I often have clients arrive in my office when they are ready for change. Usually the impetus for change comes from frustration with a relationship, job situation or health challenge.

As humans, we often look outside of ourselves for answers. We think if we can just get our partners to act or think a particular way, we will be happier. If we can only land the ideal job, then everything will come together, including our finances. Or if things weren’t so difficult in our lives, we would feel better.

If I have learned anything about positive change, it is that it comes from within.

In the words of Leo Tolstoy, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

When you are truly ready for your life experiences to be different, start by taking a look at yourself first.

However, for most of us, looking in the “mirror” leads to self-judgment rather than self-empowerment. And here is where it gets tricky! You will never (and I really believe this) make sustainable, positive changes in your life from a place of self-judgment.

Sure, you might go to the gym more often if every time you look in the mirror, you can’t stand what you see. But, this is a slippery slope. Tying your self-worth to being an ideal weight can lead to guilt and self-sabotage. If you want to be more fit and healthy, love yourself just as you are enough to give your body the exercise it needs.

And instead of struggling to get another person to be different, ask yourself : what can I change in myself first? Often the very thing we want from other people is the key to our own happiness when we do it ourselves.

If you are craving understanding from your partner, take some time to look inside and see how you can be more understanding of yourself. Likewise, how can you be more understanding of your partner?

I invite you to consider all the areas of your life that are challenging for you right now. Notice how you might be trying to forcibly change an outside person or situation. As an experiement, consider what you might shift within yourself first. I promise that you will have surprisingly positive results!