It’s Never Too Late to Start Over
Make your shift happen.
Posted November 17, 2016 | Reviewed by Kaja Perina
Something isn’t right. It could be the job, the place you live, the relationship you are in, or the hobbies that consume your time. Day in and day out, you just don’t feel happy.
A research report found that as many as 1 out of every 3 Americans is unhappy most of the time. Unfortunately many people just live with their unhappiness. It’s often the easiest route of least resistance to blame others, or your life conditions, or the weather, or the politicians, or the tax code, or your public school teacher who didn’t encourage or engage you enough. The problems you may have or could have are probably endless. Your unhappiness is real.
But what if there were a way to shift to a new experience? What if, instead of believing that the next paycheck and the new car you will buy with it might release you from the prison of unhappiness, you took some steps to make a permanent change in your life? What if you could start over, right now, and make a meaningful shift in your life?
Life is about change. The seasons change, human bodies change over time, conditions and situations change–nothing in nature stays in stasis. You are meant to evolve and change. In fact, young people just starting their careers even expect to change. Gone are the days of sitting in school to learn how to work on the assembly line for 40 years waiting for retirement. Now people experiment with careers and change their minds about what’s best for them.
You can do the same with something that is important to you. The problem is that many people don’t know what they need to do to change. Their unhappiness has become so embedded that they don’t recognize what might shift them to a happier place. If you are in need of a shakeup and want to shift something important in your life, there is no time like the present to do so!
First, identify the source of your unhappiness–and you can’t say, “My whole life.” Pick one thing to start with and focus on it: “I’m tired of being overweight,” “I hate my boss,” “I just can’t take another cold winter,” etc. Find something that makes you upset and unhappy and identify what it is.
Figure out the contrast–what would make you happy? If you say “I want to be thinner,” that’s not enough. How thin? How much do you want to weigh? What size clothes do you want to wear? Be sure to define your success outcome clearly and specifically. The more qualitative and quantitative you can be, the clearer your happiness target becomes.
Identify what’s in your way. If you really want to lose the weight, why haven’t you done so? Something prevents you from getting there. It could be lack of time, engaging in activities for weight loss you don’t enjoy, being “addicted” to sugar or sweets, having a spouse who loves to eat and wants to go out a lot, etc. Identify everything that gets in the way of starting on a new journey right now. There are things there, or you would have done something already.
Isolate the things you can control and can influence. There are always things you can do, but you may waste a lot of time on the things out of your control. Focus only on those things that you can change, and can create a plan around.
Be clear about your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you have a hard time saying “no” when someone asks you to go out to dinner, for example? Could you ask that friend to go for a long walk with you instead? Maybe your people-pleasing ways have kept you stuck without time to exercise. Identify and choose to do something to overcome your own personal difficulties.
Find a buddy or stakeholder in your life who could work with you on achieving the goal. Sometimes having another person to share plans with can be not only encouraging but practical in nature. Could a friend, relative or spouse be a support system for you to keep you on track in your quest for change?
Choose criteria for making a shift. Let’s say you want to move to a warmer climate–you can’t take the New England winters one more year. How will you decide which warmer climate? What kinds of things do you care about? Make a list so you have something to refer to when making decisions between several alternatives.
Once you choose your path from among the alternatives, create a clear plan of action. Share this with your buddy/partner. Establish step-by-step things you can do, with milestones. Break down the action steps as much as possible so they are easy to accomplish. The smaller and clearer the steps, the more likely you are to take them.
Put one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get your shift made this week, this month or even this year. Working toward something and seeing incremental progress can be just as fulfilling as reaching the end goal.