48 Variables That Make the Biggest Difference in Your Life

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48 Variables That Make the Biggest Difference in Life

The Power of a Single Variable

Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO, is the practice of finding ways to increase the effectiveness of a specific goal. It is usually applied in marketing and it is something I used to exponentially grow my blog. Going from 30 new members each month to 150 all the way to 260 per month didn’t happen by accident. By the end of next month, I should be breaking 1,000 members total. That’s something that not very many websites see.

I recently realized the principles of CRO apply in self-improvement. First, you’re going to need to know what it is. Don’t worry I’ll try to avoid using jargon and I won’t dive into the complicated areas.

Here’s a quick example of the basics.

If I were to write an article for The Huffington Post, they may allow me to link to Self Stairway in the author byline. For the link, I wouldn’t want them to be sent to the homepage. If I did that then a small percentage of them would scroll a bit, maybe read a few articles, then leave. The majority would leave almost immediately. That’s just how it works.

My main goal would be to convert these casual visitors into long-term subscribers that will come back. Ideally, I’d do this by getting them to join my email list through what is called a “landing page.”

On this page, I would have an area for them to subscribe. That alone isn’t enough. I’d draw in knowledge from what has worked in the past in similar niches, figure out what can be improved, and make sure the amount of people who subscribe increases. So my goal is to get that number up.

To reach that goal, I’d apply what I know about human psychology—something that plays a large role in how you optimize—by minimizing distractions, make it clear what I want them to do, and play with tons of different variables.

That’s where it gets interesting. The variables. There could be one small change or 100. You change a single item and it could be the difference between 1% of visitors signing up and 50%. You can change things like the position of a picture or even just a single word and you can be dramatically improving the results you see or seeing a plummet. It’s rarely as simple as that, but they’re basic examples and are easier to visualize.

It’s not that easy in reality though. You’re lucky if something as simple as moving a picture gives you a large positive change.

It gets more complicated when you remember that behavior is almost never consistent. Something that works for one site doesn’t mean another site copying the same formula would benefit. In fact, mimicking could make numbers go down just because there are several factors that differentiate the two.

This is why testing is so important in CRO.

“Cool, but what does CRO have to do with self-improvement?”

Here come the connections. First, just like CRO, no advice or change in a variable is universal. Something that may work for one person may not help you. There are an infinite amount of complexities that affect how things unfold for you.

Second, one small change may end up being the defining factor, but you’ll never know until you implement and track the results, so always be testing.

Third, life is rarely as simple as changing just one small thing. It is possible, but you shouldn’t count on one golden formula. It may end up being a large combination of different things.

Today I will make it easy for you. I’m going to give you 48 variables, ranging from confidence to becoming more physically attractive, so you can see what works. None of these can really hurt you, so you have nothing to lose.

12 Variables for Building Confidence

  1. Improve your posture.
  2. Test out different vocal inflection.
  3. Talk to at least three strangers a day.
  4. Fake it until you make it.
  5. Realize people don’t think about you as often as you think.
  6. Turn off your inner dialogue.
  7. Walk like you’re wearing a cape.
  8. Give everyone you walk by a high five or hug.
  9. Practice a warm-up “I’m confident” dance before you head out the door.
  10. Slap yourself every time you doubt yourself.
  11. Tell a random person you want their number.
  12. Slap yourself in front of a stranger for no reason.

Some of these variables are obvious, others are conventional, and the last few will make you squirm. Try them all out for a while and see if any will leave a lasting effect. The majority of them force you out of your comfort zone. Maybe that’s the variable you need.

12 Variables for Building Happiness

The 12 points above were inspired by “The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want,” by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

12 Variables for Improving Your Socializing Skills and Making Friends

12 Variables for Improving Your Physical Appearance

  1. Wear clothes that fit you (guides for guys and girls.)
  2. Go to a professional hairstylist (you can take a picture and show it to cheaper stylists for future cuts.)
  3. Improve your posture.
  4. Experiment with colors you wouldn’t normally wear.
  5. Learn the basics of how to match colors (not every single rule needs to be followed.)
  6. Try an accessory that you wouldn’t normally wear (like a watch.)
  7. Part your hair the opposite direction.
  8. Hit the gym (males and females.)
  9. Track your diet (based on your goals.)
  10. Have fun with everything you do.
  11. Practice a genuine smile.
  12. Smile more often.

There are 48 different things you can try, minus a few repeats that crossed over to the other categories. There’s no excuse as to why you can’t test at least ONE of these variables.

Please don’t read every single item up there and call it a day. You have to implement what you read, otherwise, you won’t see any results.

Did you find value or feel inspired by the variables above? Join my community and get weekly quick tips every Tuesday. Each week is different and they’re more detailed.

Added bonus: You get my soon-to-come eBook on charisma and confidence available only to members. Sign up and get everything for free below!

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers, he dropped out of college and began living a location independent lifestyle (still always drawn to coffee shops though.) Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

Latest posts by Vincent Nguyen (see all)

28 responses to 48 Variables That Make the Biggest Difference in Your Life

  1. You have done well growing your blog. I struggle in blog growth, but it’s partially my own choice. I’ve still not chosen to create an email list. I do this for two reasons. First, my time to do things such as spend it with my daughter, write books, play music, travel etc. is more important than one more writing responsibility on the blog. Second, I rarely join other’s lists because I don’t want an overfull inbox, and I don’t want to be one who is overfilling others’ boxes. All that said, I do consider getting an email list started in the future. Do you use Mail Chimp?

  2. Interesting relation man. In both life and business – testing is key.

    If we don’t test things, we will never know how they play out. Whether that be the copy on your opt-in form or the way you communicate with others, experimentation is the only way. I’d ever know if coaching was interesting to me if I didn’t play around with it. But I’m glad I did. :)

    Another value-packed post dude.

  3. My favorite is definitely “walk like you’re wearing a cape.” Definitely doing this on a daily basis… maybe I should just buy a damn cape!

    Sadly I’ve been slacking hard on the social life part lately, need to get involved again. Being some sort of jaded outsider observing community as a whole gets old pretty fast! Having a mini-relapse into bad habits of old at the moment, so definitely gonna follow everything for building happiness.

    Kind of needed this today, thanks man.

    • No problem, Ragnar. What got me through my slacking was when I started treating everyone as if I knew them for years. Makes you and them much more comfortable.

      • Hi Ragnar! I just wanted to say that if I see a 2 for 1 sale on capes I’m getting myself one and will send the other to Ragnar. Halloween is coming up, so I’m sure the big warehouse stores will start popping up in our strip malls soon!

        Vincent, I just can’t stop laughing at the “slap yourself in the face” one, and I think I might have to try it this weekend! Thank you for the suggestions!

  4. Thanks Vincent! You’re right, though I’ve never thought about it this way before. . . we do experiment a lot to see what works (for both expected goals and unexpected side effects), and then adjust accordingly.

    I have to say, I like “slap yourself in front of a stranger for no reason.” I can feel the edge of my comfort zone with this one!

    • The comfort zone challenges are awesome because when you do it, you’ll see that people react positively to almost anything. You’ll get a laugh out of it when you explain why you did it and it’ll help you take yourself less seriously. :)

  5. Walk like you’re wearing a cape: what a great idea! Really! :-)

  6. Vincent–this is a really helpful list of ideas! Thanks for the food for thought.
    A couple of points in response: First, I have been thinking about the importance of active listening and was recently at a meeting about how to create community. One comment at the meeting stood out: that a meaningful, open comment will always touch people’s hearts and opens the door to an authentic conversation.
    And second: on the point of “fake it till you make it,” I have used this technique a lot–whether in my teaching, public speaking or even in new social situations, and it works! I think one reason that it works is because it makes you realize that you are truly capable of doing whatever you set out to do.

    • Yup! When your words (or theirs) have depth, it creates an entirely new conversation that you’ll remember much more than the usual small talk. Conversation is an art and knowing how to transition small talk into something more is tough!

  7. Vincent!

    Great links/resources – I really enjoyed a couple in the Socializing set – Treating strangers like you’ve known them for years + Become a good storyteller.

  8. There are some great websites and blogs here that I didn’t know about, so I will be checking them out. I love posts like this because it always introduces me to new stuff that I probably wouldn’t find otherwise.

  9. Great post, Vincent. I jumped over from the comment you left on Productive Flourishing.

    Of all of these, hitting the gym is currently the biggest challenge for me. I’ll get on that … Monday. ;)

    Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks for visiting! I recently discovered your site. :)

      As for the gym, I find it’s much more enjoyable with a consistent partner that goes and pushes you. After I moved to Arizona I lost my gym buddy.

  10. Vincent,

    Love it – a solid post with lots of practical advice!

    I really like how you compared CRO with self-improvement. Even though they seem to be two completely different things, the testing aspect that ties them together makes perfect sense.

    It just so happens I have recently been testing how my walking posture affects my confidence level. And there it is as the first item on your list.

    I would also add “make friendly eye contact” to your list. I think this is one of those rare variables that will instantly transform your life once you’ve mastered its use. :)

    • Hey Ivan!

      That’s a good point to add too. It’s a bit difficult to judge whether or not your eye contact is friendly or not though. I should have made that a side-note next to the practice genuine smiling. :)

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