I hear many of these messages from readers. Basically, you’ve made a series of decisions that have left you in a place you don’t like and it sucks. Now what?
In a nutshell, make a series of new decisions, preferably ones that challenge and scare you and see where that leads you. I urge you to make choices that challenge and scare you because if you’re doing things that are comfortable for you, you’re not growing. And if you’re not growing, you’re being the same person making the same choices that got you into the mess you’re in.
It’s time to become someone new in order to create a new life for yourself.
Keep doing what you’ve always done
From personal experience, I know how my environment (people, situations) seems to magically change when I change myself. It’s weird but true.
Take a Self-Assessment
What beliefs about yourself, other people and the world do you have that reinforce the patterns that you so desperately want to escape?
Do you even realize that you keep repeating the same patterns?
Make a list of all the things you believe about yourself. Write down all the good, bad and indifferent things you can think of.
When you’re done, read each item and ask yourself if it’s true. If you think it is, what evidence do you have? If someone else looked at the evidence, would they interpret it the same way?
Now think about how patterns in your life seem to repeat themselves. This can be with regard to relationships, your weight/body, jobs, challenges you’ve taken on – anything. What seems to be the usual course of events?
How can you relate your patterns to the beliefs you hold about yourself? It’s a cause and effect relationship. If you hold a certain belief, you’ll make choices to reinforce that belief, even if they’re damaging to you. Your ego’s job is to prove you right, regardless of the consequences.
The Power of Your Beliefs
What if you could change your beliefs?
What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” ~Tony Robbins
You can. By doing things outside of your comfort zone, things the old you wouldn’t normally do. Things that seem a little scary.
You can change your beliefs by taking action that proves that your old beliefs aren’t completely true.
Be warned! When you start to test your beliefs, your monkey mind/ego will go berserk. It’s your monkey mind’s job to maintain the status quo in order to keep you “safe.” Anything outside of your old norm will cause alarms to go off in your monkey mind telling you to stop, turn around, flee the “new.”
Your monkey mind (and probably friends and family) will say things like:
Have you gone crazy?
What are you thinking?
Why on earth would you want to do something like that?
Who do you think you are?!?!
That’s because you’re threatening their status quo by questioning your own. It’s the old analogy of a bucket of crabs. Whenever one tries to crawl out of the bucket to escape, the others pull the escapee back in.
Know that when all this happens, you’re on the right track. Yes, it will be difficult. But if you want your life to be different, you have to be different. And that might mean surrounding yourself with a new group of people who support your new beliefs (because they share those same beliefs).
Spending time with people who already live the life you want will eventually change your beliefs about what’s possible for you. Before you know it, your old “impossible” will be part of your average day.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
Nothing has meaning until you give it meaning.
Thinking that your job sucks is one way of interpreting a situation. Not that long ago I had a job where I was painfully underemployed and my boss didn’t respect me. I could have bemoaned the situation and said that my job and my life sucked. But I chose not to.
Instead, I saw the many opportunities in the situation. Since I was overqualified, I could complete the work in a quarter of the time that my predecessor had so I had a lot of time on my hands. Thankfully, I had a private office so no one was looking over my shoulder.
I used my extra time to clean up the systems at the company so that I (and my successor) could be even more efficient. Then I took a daily walk (as many employers encourage their employees to do) and, as a result, lost about ten pounds easily. I started this blog which required me to start from ground zero, learning how to put together and run a web site (I was clueless when I started and didn’t have a budget to hire anyone or take classes). I also did a little contracting on the side to make some extra money.
I learned how to work with my boss instead of against him and found ways to make his life at work easier. I developed relationships with some of the people I worked with and found ways to bring more joy into their lives.
I turned the obstacles into opportunities. I created a happy place for myself where I could have chosen misery.
How you decide to see, interpret and feel about your situation is your choice.
If a part of your life isn’t going the way you would like, think about how you’re interpreting the situation. What beliefs is your ego trying to reinforce?
I’m not talking about putting on a happy face and just dealing with a bad situation. I’m talking about changing how you see, think and feel about the situation.
What kind of opportunities do you now have that you wouldn’t have if everything was going just dandy? Take steps to take advantage of those opportunities now.
Here are some ideas:
I’m in a bad relationship. I can take this opportunity to examine why I seem to keep picking the same/wrong kinds of partners (a pattern). From now forward, I’m taking conscious steps to change myself and my thoughts so the next time I choose an awesome partner.
I can’t find a partner. Now is the perfect time to get to know and love myself better than I ever have. If I can’t know and love myself, how can I expect someone else to?
My job sucks. Instead of focusing on what I hate, I’ll focus on getting to know the people I work with better. Then I’ll find little ways of bringing a touch of happiness to their day like making eye contact and smiling at someone I never look at or bringing someone a cup of coffee made just the way they like or offering a unique idea or viewpoint on an issue that someone is facing that may help them with a breakthrough.
I can’t find a job. Now I have time to spend on my passion that I never had while I was working. Maybe, now that I have the time to focus on it, I can turn it into a real business and I won’t have to find a job. I can also take this opportunity to examine my expenses and lifestyle to see if they really match my core values, my heart. Maybe I don’t need to make as much money as I thought.
My boss doesn’t care about me. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’ll take some time to better understand and care about my boss. Maybe he/she is distant because they’re dealing with a big life issue that I could support them with. Or maybe I can demonstrate my value by doing things outside of my job description and in line with my passion.
My family/friends don’t support me emotionally. Rather than trying to make them support me (an impossibility), I’ll take this opportunity to join that new group that I couldn’t get anyone to attend with me. I’ll make a new friend and see what new worlds open up for me.
I don’t know what to do with my life. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I start experimenting? If I choose something that I end up not liking, I can always make a new choice and head in a different direction. Nothing has to be forever unless I decide it to be. I’ll make a list of everything I’ve ever wanted to do and do the first thing and see where that takes me.
My life sucks. – See any of the above ideas.
There’s always a way out. You always have a choice, even if that choice is only how you think about something.
As Viktor Frankl, prisoner in three different Nazi concentration camps, said:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”