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Making changes can sometimes seem simple. But then you have to make those changes stick. And that’s when the real legwork begins.

You may be familiar with that friend who seems to have given up drinking booze, smoking, eating sugar, and pretty much everything else under the sun. And they don’t even look miserable — what’s with that?

But the most challenging, inspiring, confusing element of knowing these people is offering a cheeky chocolate or a light beer and getting the calm, confident “no, thanks” of someone who’s really owning their self-betterment.

The ability to make changes stick and the self-control to issue that all-powerful “no” must be so difficult, right?

It doesn’t have to be.

Put simply, it’s far too easy to waste our time, money, and energy by not committing wholeheartedly to an important life change.

We intend to start blogging (for real this time), but keep getting distracted. We spend way too much money on clothes when we try to cut down on online shopping. Twenty hats arrive that we didn’t even want. We want to quit smoking weed but live so close to the dispensary.

If none of the changes seem to work, it’s because we’re half-assing them. It’s that cycle of 99 percent effort and starting again that’s truly exhausting, not the change itself.

This consumes energy without producing results. It’s stressful. It makes us feel like failures when we’re not. The problem is nothing more than a simple lack of commitment.

Going at life changes 100 percent is the most efficient, rewarding, and simple way to develop a healthier lifestyle. Enter the 100 percent rule.

One of the most inspiring mantras we’ve heard for a while goes thus:

99 percent is hard. 100 percent is easy.

Or as Jack Canfield, the best-selling author of The Success Principles, puts it (in slightly more aggressive terms):

“99 percent is a bitch. 100 percent is a breeze.”

Take a moment to let that sink in. Then consider the following individuals:

  • That friend who transformed from a steak-lover into a strict vegan.
  • That neighbor who seems to pull creative and financial success out of their backside as a composer.
  • That YouTube vlogger you know who creates uploads every week without fail, fighting algorithm changes without exceptions, breaks, or excuses.

Is it hard? Maybe when they first got started. But now the vegan knows exactly which foods to buy, where, and how to cook them.

The composer manages to find revenue streams in the most unlikely places while enjoying their craft. (And doing what you love for a job can mean you never feel stressed at work again.)

And the YouTuber is constantly learning new skills, researching and developing new content, and learning the merry dance of video editing and SEO.

If an urge to start (or stop) doing something is tugging at you and has been for a while, you’ve probably been “99 percenting” it for too long.

Here’s how to finally give your ambitions your all. And there are several things you can (and should) do alone, without anyone else’s encouragement or validation.

Here’s how to make those changes you’ve been wanting to make without compromise.

1. Identify what needs 100 percent of your attention

Because guess what? Not everything needs it. And if you give everything 100 percent, you’re actually giving the important stuff less than that. And that’s where your frustrations and niggles are coming from.

Your writing? Your photography? A side-hustle idea that’s been marinating for a while without magically happening by itself? A habit you need to break?

You’ll always truly know what you want to give 100 percent to. And if you think you don’t, it’s likely you’ve been making excuses. It’s too hard. It’s too improbable. It requires too much sacrifice. You know it needs doing, but you put up too many barriers and tell yourself it’s not what you really want.

You don’t have to go crazy and commit to a million projects or banish everything fun from your life. But recognizing what you’re after, in your heart of hearts, is the first real step to progress.

The great news? The target of your 100 percent focus is probably just one thing. What do you really want or need?

There’s no point reaching your goals, however, if you’re unhappy. We compiled 25 ways to get happy — all supported by science.

2. Put in the effort

Commit to writing for 30 minutes or 1 hour per day, 7 days per week. Pinpoint exactly how to make your first sale for your side hustle (you can do it)!

Delete your weed dealer’s number, throw out the soda, or take the 20 seconds you need to summon the courage for that difficult, end-of-toxic-relationship conversation. And don’t look back.

Take going vegan, for example. 100-percenting it means that you’ll do the research, find the alternatives early on, and get to grips with recipes without hesitation.

(We’ve got you covered for that vegan grocery list if you’re struggling to get going.)

If you’re only approaching it at 99 percent, however, you won’t start exploring vegan flavors you love until it’s later on. Or you’ll start making excuses — “Oh, I’ll just use milk this one time,” or “the cake will suck without eggs, and I’m not good enough.

Or kicking off a new exercise regimen to reach a new health goal — getting the best research on how to start and getting through that initial burn means that you can level up more quickly and start working toward your goals more effectively.

It can be so much hard to 99-percent it — weighing on you daily and making it a weightier decision than it needed to be. Decision fatigue can kill ambitions:

  • “Should I hit the gym or the bar?”
  • “Should I work out or go grocery shopping?”
  • “Should I pick up the dumbbells or the phone to get in touch with a friend?”

If you really need reasons to work out, here are six off the top of our heads.

If you’re applying the 100 percent rule, you’ll deal with whatever needs doing first. Your friend can wait. The grocery store will still be there. But your motivation can erode in proportion with the number of excuses or barriers you create.

3. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat

True happiness is the joy we experience while moving toward our potential.

The beautiful part happens when you apply the 100 percent rule to a task at hand: It gets done. You wrap a project. You make a lofty goal into an instinctive habit. In short — you f*cking nail it.

And not only do you nail it, you enjoy doing so, because you’ve removed the feeling of your ambition taking up the time you’d be dedicating to something else.

It then frees up adequate mental space for the next priority to become clear, since we’re not plagued by guilt about other half-assed projects.

And when we give 100 percent, the less important stuff falls by the wayside, and your goals become even clearer: It’s an awesome perk to an already pretty-awesome rule.

There are very few things in life we can control — but our habits are among them. So by developing healthy habits, we really can take ownership of our development.

Give one thing 100 percent of your energy, and enjoy the other elements of your life.

Some people succeed where others don’t because they commit completely to a cause or goal. Self-made people don’t half-ass their investment strategy.

If someone writes best-selling book after best-selling book, you know they’re not sitting down to write every so often, or whenever they feel like it. When they’re thinking about their ambitions, they’re really putting aside the time and energy.

That’s the only difference between where you are now and where you could be: Commitment. And if you want something enough, it should come naturally. The trick is ridding yourself of the guilt aspects of self-improvement and simply becoming better, task by task.

We know that the world is crazy and scary right now. So we came up with a few ways to focus on yourself and stay positive, even when negativity is all around.

Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist. Order her new book Stop Checking Your Likes, here!