Two Things I Learned About Changing Myself for the Better

By: Peter Nguyen
Last Updated: September 2, 2016

Raise your hand if September sucker punched you out of nowhere yesterday.

After realizing that we’re just months away from 2017, I had a bit of a panic attack.

Seriously. I had to leave my apartment and get some fresh air.

I walked around my neighborhood a bit and ended up going in for a haircut at my local spot. (Imperial Barbers in Park Slope. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it. Kyle does an amazing fade.)

Sitting in that chair, I thought about how much has changed over the past year alone.

So far:

  1. I’ve left a near decade long career designing menswear to start writing The Essential Man full-time.
  2. Grew it to thousands of dedicated readers everyday.
  3. Cut down nearly 20lbs and am getting stronger and leaner.
  4. Took my own advice, got rid of a ton of clothes.
  5. Got a new haircut.

Ok, maybe the last one isn’t a big deal, but my point is, change (even as small as a haircut) can have some profound effects on you.

Here are a couple things I learned about change in the last year:




Pop quiz: If you’re working on getting in the best shape of your life, who’s the last person you should listen to when it comes to a healthy lifestyle?

Probably your friend that eats like shit and never works out.

A while ago I was talking to a styling client who was mortified at an outfit I was showing him. He said if he wore that to work, he would be laughed at.

(I’m going to take a good guess that his co-workers aren’t the most fashionable people.)

Change is hard because there are so many outside factors that influence you. Especially people that usually mean well.

But they’re not the ones that are walking upstairs and feeling your exhaustion.

They’re not getting dressed in your clothes and hating how they look.

So why should they have any input on your fitness or your style choices?

This leads me to #2…



One of my girlfriend and I’s goals next year is to move to a new apartment.

We’ve been in our current one for 5 years now. It’s too big for us, is in an older building, and we’re ready for a change. A nice change.

Our goals is to move to a new building.

If you know anything about New York, it’s not the cheapest place to live, and to decide to move into a new building means even less space and higher prices.

What you get in exchange are better amenities:

  • A doorman
  • Lounge rooms with huge tvs to watch movies, games, etc
  • Proper Gym
  • Rooftop access with first come first serve grills
  • And the holy grail of any New York apartment: your own washer dryer

When we told a few friends of our plans, they were shocked, some even offended, that we would decide to spend more money and move to a nicer place.

(I’m not sure what they want us to do, live with 5 other college kids in a crowded apartment? We’re not 20 anymore.)

So what did we do?

We stopped talking about it with people, until we became friends with a guy at our gym who invited us over to watch a UFC fight.

He happens to live in a new building near us that was amazing. He was so excited about our plans to move to a new building he showed us around his. It got us excited about moving again, and I’ve double down on my work to make it happen.

The cliche that “you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with” is true.

It wasn’t about surrounding ourselves with someone who had a bit more money and a nicer apartment.

It was about surrounding ourselves with people who encourage you to be better, whether that’s losing weight, improving your style, or having a beautiful place to call home.

Now I know as an Essential Man reader, you’re here to improve your style. (And ultimately yourself) That’s why I always love hearing from you, because you think just like me. You’re not settling, you want to live the best version of your life. I not only want to encourage you, but help you accomplish your goals. 

So here’s what I want from you:

In the comments below, share with me what you hate about your current style. What do you want to change?

Next week, I’m going to be sharing some new writing on how to really find your personal style. Some of it will definitely surprise you.

– Peter

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