When I left my last full-time job a little over two years ago I made a promise to myself that I would never let my life get that out of control again. Stressed, chubby, and unhappy, I committed to making self-care, the people I love, and work that allowed me to collaborate with amazing people and contribute in a meaningful way my top priorities. I decided that I wanted to wake up everyday excited and energetic. I wanted to love who I was with and what I was doing.
I’d like to say that I made a few changes and voila my life was as I wanted it be. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and I have to be totally honest and say that the first year was really rough. I floundered time and time again as I tried to figure out how to make all of this work. I would recognize something that needed addressing, research possible solutions, and implement only to discover that the program I had come up with just didn’t work for me.
Great idea after great idea was tested and scrapped. There were many days were I fought like mad to take one step forward only to find myself tossed back into the abyss the very next day. It wasn’t fun. I kept plugging away. I mean, this is my life, after all. Giving up just wasn’t an option.
Luckily, I started to find people who were doing amazing things (more on this later) and resources that offered workable solutions and slowly, slowly, slowly, I was able to implement real, impactful and lasting changes in my life. I’ve learned a lot from these two years of trial and error. It was rarely easy and not always fun but I can honestly say I wouldn’t change one single, solitary thing. I love where I am right now and I’m excited about where I’m going.
So, today I’m sharing a few of my hard earned lesson of the past two years.
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- It all starts with gratitude. I began to acknowledge and thank and bless every single good and amazing thing in my life every single day. I regularly let people know how much I love and appreciate them. I began to acknowledge and bless every single icky thing in my life as well. That’s when the real shift happened.
- Make space: I had to acknowledge and let go of what didn’t work in my life before I could even begin to think about making any real changes. Just like plants, new ideas and habits need space and light to grow. I made space.
- Ask for help: this was a big one for me. It took a willingness to be allow myself to be completely humbled to the point that I had no choice but to reach out for the wisdom and love of others. It was a game changer.
- Control is an illusion: yet, another humbling moment. I realized that I’m not in charge even when I am. I thought I could control the wave, but I realized that life is just about riding it the best we can. I enjoy the ride.
- Don’t be afraid to tinker: I discovered that just because it sounds good on paper and works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will be good and work for me. I learned to use other people’s solutions and experiences as inspiration and as a starting point to custom taylor my own solutions and create my own experience.
- One stinky thought at a time: The only way I could make any changes that really mattered was to change how I thought about things. I had to literally change my mind. I ruthlessly questioned every negative, condescending, rude, thought that popped into my head and challenged it, no holds barred. This was rarely fun, often painful, and always, always effective.
- Personal boundaries are the key to a happy life: I learned that I had to build fences and tend them unapologetically.
- If at first you don’t succeed: I just keep trying. I’ve failed so many times in the past two years that I have lost count. Yes, there were times when defeated I crawled under the covers and gave into the despair, but then I put on my big girl pants and got back out there and tried something else.
- Say no: When I say no to what I don’t want, I give myself permission to chase what I most desire. I say no, a lot.
- Do what you are: lovers love, writers write, singers sing, painters paint, accountants count, runners run. You get the picture. Don’t talk about it, just do it. I keep my focus on what I want, and take the action needed to feed those things.