There comes a point, when we tell ourselves ‘it has to change!’. We recognise the life we have been leading is not giving us joy or meaning, maybe even causing pain.
This point doesn’t usually happen overnight. It builds over time, often many years.
At the start we can easily ignore it, but as the time between the happy moments gets wider and wider and the voice in our head a little louder, it is difficult to ignore. Just as it has been slow to build up, there is no quick fix solution. We can tinker, make a few changes that will buy us time, but we come back to the same point again and again.
For me, my answer was ‘I don’t know, but it isn’t this’.
It is easier to define what we don’t want than what we do.
So that is a good place to start. But, and it is a big BUT, be prepared that as you start to answer this question, the flood gates can open and you may find you are challenging every part of your current life. You will feel over whelmed. In shock! And this is now the time to do NOTHING! Just breathe.
If you have made the list, then leave it for a few days or even weeks, and just get on with living. Shut the door on it. That’s not what you were expecting to hear, is it?
Focus on what you are thankful for, a good coffee, a nice cup of tea, the daffodils blowing in the wind. Little things, keep finding the positive pops of joy.
The reason I say this is from my own experience, it is easy to go into full drama mode and start changing everything or trying too. I urge caution and slowness.
When I hit this point in my life, and it has happened several times, I let it all out into a journal and then put a date in the diary (for me it is usually 3 months ahead, but it could be a week or month) to revisit it. I take the pressure off myself feeling I must fix it all now.
During this period, I call it my ‘mind sabbatical’, thoughts and feelings will percolate, and I let them. I know I don’t have to do anything about them, yet. I have given myself permission to defer the conversation with myself.
When you are ready and have some space and time, re-look at your list and for each point (maybe just one at a time), write it on a page. What is it about this point that is causing you upset, anger, frustration?
I consider three things:
Time: Is there something that is immediately obvious that you can change or do, that would have a difference to that point? If not, when, one month, three months, a year, never!
Mine was having a gorgeous home with large mortgage that kept me in a corporate job that I hated. The answer was obvious - downsize, get rid of the mortgage.
It wasn’t that easy and took several years before I did. Why? It wasn’t clear what my alternative role would be, so I kept going until it nearly broke me.
Impact: If you change this thing, does it impact only you, others? What is the size of the likely impact – small, medium, large. At this point, it may feel just too big to do anything.
For me, it was hiding the truth of my unhappiness and frustration from those close to me. They could see it, but didn’t know how to deal with that. Getting off the treadmill took planning, mistakes and strength.
Resources: This isn’t just money, but support and help from others. If you have, like me, bottled things up for years, this may feel like a massive crisis or failure. This is the time to talk.
I flag up caution here, sometimes a good friend cannot give you the help, balance or advice that you actually need, and that conversation can end up feeling frustrated.
You may decide you need to talk to a neutral person, to help you articulate your thoughts and create a plan.
My learn here was my expectations of others close to me and that they would – listen, understand and support.
Truth was they had seen me as the one that had it together, and any crack in my façade would force them to look at their own lives. To them I had a great life, I travelled the world, had a full and happy life. That wasn’t fair on me to have those expectations of them.
I’m writing this blog, reflecting on the changes that I have made mainly over the last 7 years. I did downsize, I moved across the country to live back where I had many old friends, I started to create the life I want.
I tried new things, some worked out, some didn’t. I don’t consider them failures, they would have been if I had tried to keep going.
Every now and then I step back onto the corporate ladder to do projects. That might change now with the current economic situation.
With the current situation of the Coronavirus, I expect that this self analysis will actually be going through many peoples’ minds. It isn’t just you! Sometimes it might feel as if it is, but it isn’t.
You will know something must change, but maybe not what or where or how or when.
My three final points:
Thank you, Barbara for sharing your wisdom and experience. I know that I have had to make these decisions more than once.. And many people will be taking time now to really focus on themselves, their family and what REALLY matters!
With love, Lynda
If you are finding things difficult please reach out and talk to someone. It is tough, any change is difficult.
Barbara and I, and many other people around you, will do what we can to support you. Please reach out. Ask for help. Talk to others.
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