Have you ever gotten past the holidays and looked at the new year ahead and realized, “Oh crap, I’m in the same place I was in last year”?
It’s frustrating. Probably because you realize that you have the same old conversations with yourself every year:
- “This year I’ll save some money”
- “This year I’ll get that debt paid off”
- “This year I’ll shed the extra weight”
- “This year I’ll get more organized”
- “This year I’ll find a different job”
- “This year I’ll spend more time with the people I love”
On and on you go, picking apart each area of your life – and as you do you get more and more depressed. You feel like you’ll never measure up. You’ll never get your act together. You’ll never be good enough. Your life will never be what you want it to be.
But you’re wrong.
Don’t Play the Comparison Game
Often when our lives feel inadequate and out of control it’s because we’re comparing ourselves to others. We subconsciously buy into the myth that if things are difficult or not working the way we want them to it’s because we’ve done something wrong.
That thought makes us feel helpless.
And, of course, when we compare our lives to other’s we don’t see the whole picture. It’s just like looking at someone’s Facebook page: you see the vacation pictures, announcements about achievements and material acquisitions, and exclamations of excitement over every little wonderful thing that is so much better than what’s going on in your life (or so you think).
What you see is a sanitized, and often enhanced, picture of what their life is like. What you’re not privy to is the everyday struggles, the rough times, the obstacles, and the hard work.
The comparison trap is a no-win game so stop playing!
Sometimes a Change Is Needed
However, even when we quit playing the comparison game there ARE times when we realize that things are out of whack and that we need to get back on track. This is when we need to be able to recognize the signs that it’s time for a change.
Then we need to do a life assessment and take a hard look at our life – in every area.
Because until you know where you ARE it’s hard to figure out how to get somewhere ELSE.
So how do you do it?
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Conduct a Life Assessment
Basically, a life assessment is a series of questions:
- Where am I?
- Where do I want to be?
- How do I get there?
Now I’m not making light of this process and I don’t want anyone to assume that it’s easy. It’s not. It requires, first and foremost, a willingness to ask yourself some very tough questions. More importantly, it requires you to be willing to examine the honest answers.
- Jump In – Take A Chance And Change Your Life!
- Invest In Yourself – You’re Worth It
- When It’s Time To Let Go Of A Dream
Question 1: Where am I?
So where are you…really?
This question requires a brutal examination of the different areas of your life.
- Your health
- Your job
- Your relationships
- Your home
- Your personal development
- Your finances
If you truly want to know where you are then nothing should escape examination. And I’m not going to lie to you – this process can be very uncomfortable. Taking a hard look at where we are and admitting that we don’t like what we see is difficult to do. But here’s the thing….our realities can’t be changed until they are confronted.
Most of us would prefer to gloss over things rather than confront them. The sad fact is that sometimes where we are just flat out sucks. Even if we’re fine with some areas of our life, there may be other areas that are really miserable or unsatisfying. No one’s life is evenly balanced.
People assume this is an easy question. It’s not.
Because you must be willing to dream.
Somewhere during adulthood, many of us forgot how to dream. Or were told that our dreams were silly, childish, unattainable.
So we quit dreaming. We accepted the status quo and went on about our (not so) merry way.
And sank further and further into an unhappy acceptance that “this is all there is.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Once you figure out where you ARE, it’s time to think about where you really want to be.
Go on. Let yourself dream big. Don’t hold back out of fear. What do you really want from your life?
- I want to be a millionaire
- I want a great job
- I want lots of friends
- I want to be happy
Awesome! Whatever is on your list is a great start. But it’s only the start. Because this list, in its present form, only represent a list of dreams. And while dreams are wonderful, dreams alone will get you nowhere.
You already know the truth and that is that none of these things is going to magically happen.
They take work.
Lots of it.
But in order to turn any of these dreams into goals you’ve first got to define them.
- How do you plan to make that money? How much would it take to really change your life?
- What specific job would you love to be doing? What training or experience do you need to pursue it?
- How do you plan to nurture relationships so that you make – and keep – friends?
- What does ‘happiness’ mean to you?
Do you see the difference? While a list of dreams is the place to start, it is only the beginning if you really want to change your life.
So that leads to the final question….
Question 3: How do I get there?
After you’ve defined exactly what it is that you want, you’ve got to develop a plan that will enable you to get there. Without that plan you’ll flounder around and wonder why you’re still stuck in the same place. You wouldn’t start out on a vacation without a destination in mind. Even if you happen to love spontaneity and surprise when it comes to vacations, those characteristics rarely help you achieve your big life goals.
Here are some hard truths about changing your life:
- You can’t keep doing the same old things and expect to get different results (isn’t that the definition of insanity?) Reality is that if you keep doing the same things over and over you’ll get….the same things.
- You must be willing to turn loose of certainty. And this is hard because even when things are crummy, we often cling to what we know because it’s easier than doing something new. Remember that old saying “better the devil you know than the one you don’t”? Well, that old saying keeps you stuck!
- You must be willing to see yourself differently – even if no one else around you sees you that way. Keep this new vision of yourself in your mind and couple it with different actions. It’s the new actions that will cause others to view you differently in time.
- You must be willing to feel uncomfortable. And more importantly, you must be willing to make others uncomfortable too. The fact is that as you change, there will be people in your life who want to impede that change. They’re comfortable with the way things are right now. In addition to the internal resistance you may feel, you’ll get external resistance as well from the people around you. Decide how badly you want this change and proceed accordingly.
- And then there is one final big issue to confront if you want to change your life…
You must be willing to fail!
Unfortunately, life holds no guarantees for any of us. You may step out and make changes and still not get where you want to be. You may fall flat on your face. You may not make the progress you want. But one thing is certain…you’ll definitely fail if you don’t make the effort.
So how comfortable are you with the idea of failure? The answer to this question may determine whether or not you’re really ready to change your life.
I’ll close with this lesson that I’ve learned. Failure is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Failure simply means that you took a chance that didn’t work out…this time. It’s not a predictor of the future. Failure is only temporary and can be overcome.
But don’t let temporary failure paralyze you into inaction – because that turns into regret. Regret, unfortunately, IS permanent.
Here are some specific books I’ve selected that deal with the topic of changing your life.