There are times in everyone’s life when you feel that your current circumstances are less than desired. You have a job that is not fulfilling. You have an unreasonable boss. Your marriage is struggling. You need financial assistance. You have family problems. You have legal problems. The list could go on and on. Sometimes, we just feel that things are not right and a change is needed, but we don’t know how to go about making the change.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” We don’t have to live a desperate life.
Today, I would like to offer some practical assistance for those than need a life change, but are not sure of what to do next.
The first step in make a change is to recognize and take action on things that might be causing our current unsatisfactory circumstances.
Things to stop doing
- Stop feeling hopeless and helpless – Negative situations, especially if they seem to go on for too long, can make us feel that our situation is hopeless… that there is no way things will ever get better. This can deteriorate further to the point that we feel helpless to do anything about it. This attitude, unless stopped, can prevent us from ever escaping our difficult situation. The first step in make a life change is to believe that things can change and that they will get better.
- Stop blaming someone else or being the victim – When in a difficult situation, a natural tendency is to blame someone else for our problems. Or worse, we begin assuming that everything bad that happens to us is intentional and targeted. We must take charge of our lives and reverse the belief that anyone else can do what is needed to improve our situation.
- Stop feeling like it is too late to make a change – Regardless of our age or the length of time we have been staggered by our situation, it is never too late to reverse it. There are many stories of individuals in their 70’s or 80’s that have made significant life changes to made a difference in their happiness and well-being.
- Stop waiting for someone else or something else to happen – We must stop thinking that someone else will solve our problems. Taking charge of our own situation… our own happiness… our own career… must be personal and something we cannot delegate to anyone else.
- Stop continuing to make the same bad decisions – We typically cannot expect things to change as long as we continue making the same bad decisions or same poor choices. Recognizing this is essential to making a life change.
Now, let’s turn to some practical steps that we can take that can help us change our path or direction. Perhaps, you cannot try all of these, but possibly, you’ll find one thing that can make a difference and get you out of the rut you find yourself in today.
Things to start doing
- Serve someone else – I have found several times in my life when I face a difficult or challenging situation that serving someone else takes the focus off my own negative situation. When you can shift your focus, you often see things in a new light or gain new perspective. By serving someone else, you often find that making a difference for someone else is ultimately more gratifying that anything you are striving so diligently to attain.
- Chase your passion, not a title or position – Individuals typically spend around 40 years of their lives striving to climb the corporate ladder. This may be important for a number of reasons (e.g., financial stability, the corner office, etc.). However, when you change a title or position of status, you often miss out on things that can provide more satisfaction, enjoyment, and contentment. When you find that thing that drives you… your passion… your work responsibilities cease being “work” and become more something that you embrace and enjoy. If you are not satisfied in your work, it may very well be that your work is not aligned with your passions. In that case, it might be time to consider a change in career or direction.
- Be bold, courageous, and confident – Individuals often stay in difficult or unsatisfying situations because they fear doing anything else. When nurtured, this fear can become paralyzing and prevent us from being effective even in positions that we are fully capable of doing well. There comes a time when you need to be bold. There comes a time when you need to muster that courage that you’ve buried. Be confident that things will change for the better.
- Find a mentor or someone you trust – When you find yourself in a desperate or challenging situation, don’t think that you have to do it alone. Having someone that can offer unbiased advice or provide a different perspective is often an important step in extracting yourself from a deep rut. A mentor can often help, but we need to have one first. If you don’t have one, find one. Or, just find an individual that you trust who will NOT just agree with you, but offer clear thinking and options.
- Focus on the facts, not your emotions – The reason we find ourselves hopeless and helpless sometimes is because we become emotionally connected to the situation. When/If we are able to focus more on facts than emotion, our vision improves and we may be better able to see the next step we should take. Emotions are good, but can often make good decision-making more difficult.
- Practice active patience – “Patience is a virtue.” However, patience without action can result in malaise. Often, we need to connect action to our patience in the form of active patience. Active patience means that we are willing to wait, but, in the meantime, we are exploring options, researching the pros and cons, evaluating possibilities, and preparing for our next chapter. Just sitting back and waiting for things to happen if one way to ensure that you fall deeper and deeper into a rut that may be impossible to escape.
- Do something different (or learn something new) – Sometimes, doing something… anything within reason… can help lead us to our next chapter. Learning a new skill can help our career. Learning to play a musical instrument can create a new passion or new escape that can motivate us in a new way. Making a change can often stimulate a new direction in our life. So, just do something! Do something different!
- Adopt an attitude of gratitude – Our lives often become stale because we have forgotten how much we have or how much we have been blessed. If you need a change of attitude in your life, become a more grateful person. Be more thankful for what you have, for the opportunities you have that others don’t have, for the people in your life, and for your health and wealth. When we become more aware of our blessings, it becomes more difficult to feel sorry for what we don’t have or the situation we find so troublesome.
- Reinforce your marriage, your relationships, and your friendships – Great things often happen when we take the time to nourish the relationships we already have. When is the last time you did something special to enhance your marriage? Finding time to spend time with a family member, friend, or colleague can provide a new, fresh perspective to the problems plaguing you today. It might also inspire you to make the change you need to make.
- Expect something good – Being optimistic may be the most important element of changing your current situation. When you expect something good to happen, it usually does. When you expect something bad to happen, your worry drags you down, even if nothing bad does happen. Looking at the glass as half full can help inspire you to make the change needed, especially if you couple it with courage and boldness.
Many of you may find today that your life has no meaning or that what you do doesn’t matter. Finding hope can completely change your life. You might find help in this previous post (What is your hope?).
So, if you are in a situation today that needs to change or if you need to be motivated to take a step you know is needed, consider this your push… Stop doing things that keep you stuck in the rut and find something that can make change happen. Hopefully, something you’ve read here might help.
Have a great day!