The path most of us take through life isn’t a straight line from Point A to Point B. It’s usually full of twists and turns, zigs and zags, peaks and valleys. Even so, there often comes a point when you know that the path you’re on isn’t the right one for you – at least not anymore. So how do you know when it’s REALLY time for a change?
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I read an interesting fact about fish recently. It stated that when fish jump out of a tank it’s because there is something in the water that isn’t good for them. Either the water is too dirty, the wrong temperature, or doesn’t have an adequate oxygen or pH level. By jumping out of the water they’re attempting to get away from an environment that isn’t healthy and doesn’t support (fish) life.
Funny that sometimes fish are more aware than people are when it comes to taking chances and making changes. After all, by jumping out of the water, the fish runs the risk that it won’t land in other water – and will therefore die.
I’ll admit that I know absolutely nothing about the thought processes (if any) of fish. But I do know a little about how people think. And we’re often hesitant to make changes because…well, change is hard.
But sometimes making a change is necessary for us to thrive.
Here are some signs that it’s time for you to make a change.
Change Indicator #1: You’re no longer content
You may have been moving through your life perfectly content until one day…you just weren’t content anymore. Sometimes this discontent is caused by some event that alters our view of the world or of ourselves. But once that moment arrives, life is no longer the same.
You’ve see those optical illusion drawings where you see one picture when you view the drawing one way but see a different one when you look at it another way. What is it about seeing that “other” picture that changes the way you view the whole thing? Once you know there are two possibilities doesn’t your whole perspective change?
Life is like that too. Once that fragment of discontent creeps in it alters your perspective on your own life. Now you may choose to ignore your discontent and tell yourself that things are fine. But you know that they aren’t. Not any more.
What you choose to do with that realization is up to you.
Change Indicator #2: You have a gnawing feeling that things aren’t right
It may not be that things are actively wrong – but they’re not really right either.
This one can be hard to put your finger on because it’s often very vague. That makes it not only hard to describe to anyone else, but it’s had to explain it to yourself too. Something is just “off” and you’re often not sure why. The thing is, that this gnawing feeling is going to be there in the background until you figure out what’s causing it.
Change Indicator #3: You long for something more (or different)
Perhaps you’ve made progress towards a goal or you’ve achieved something that was once important to you. But now that you have, it’s just not enough.
Frequently you’ve been moving along in your life and getting closer to your goal. Sometimes the goal is even in sight – or just achieved. But now that it’s sooooo close, it’s becoming clear that it’s not right for you any more.
Sometimes you can’t even put your finger on it exactly but you know that what you thought you wanted, isn’t. And now you’ve got to regroup and figure out what it is that you really want.
Instead of berating yourself because you’re “wishy-washy” or “indecisive” (which is what others are likely to tell you), remind yourself that people change all of the time. You’re constantly growing and evolving as a person, and as you do, your goal structure is bound to change. And that’s not a bad thing.
At least, it’s not a bad thing unless you refuse to recognize and act on it.
Change Indicator #4: You can see the handwriting on the wall
Sometimes the signs are clear that change is eminent whether we want it or not. Our boss starts behaving differently towards us. That friend no longer calls as often. Whether we choose to pay attention or not, clear – but subtle – signs begin popping up all around us.
The problem is that we often choose to ignore the signs. Most of us are very good at coming up with alternative explanations when we don’t want to admit what we’re seeing. We rationalize – our boss is under a lot of pressure. Our friend is just busy. It’s often only in retrospect that we finally admit to ourselves that there were signs that something had changed.
It’s sometimes very sad how blind we can be in the present when hindsight is so clear.
Change Indicator #5: Your gut tells you something is wrong
Sometimes we don’t want to admit it to ourselves, but deep inside we know that things are definitely wrong. We’re in the wrong job, the wrong location, or the wrong relationship. Often we’ve chosen to ignore the warnings but our gut seldom leads us astray.
It’s been proven that there is a connection between your gut and your brain. The gut is filled with millions of nerve cells that receive messages from your brain. Sometimes that queasy feeling in your stomach is a reliable indication that your brain is working through a situation. Whether you want to call it intuition or your second brain, your gut is frequently trying to tell you something if you’ll just listen to it.
Change Indicator #6: You’re no longer making progress
One day you look up and realize that you’ve stalled. You may not be going backwards, but you’re definitely not going forward either. You realize that others around you ARE making progress while you seem to be stuck in the same old place.
For a while, that same old place may feel comfortable. Maybe you tell yourself that you’re right where you want to be. And maybe you are right where you want to be. If so, then enjoy the moment.
But don’t be surprised if at some point that comfortable feeling quits being so comfortable and you begin to long to make progress again…towards something.
No one wants to spend their life treading water.
Change Indicator #7: You dread things you once enjoyed
This is a very clear sign that something is wrong and that a change is needed. Whether it’s that you no longer enjoy going to work, to social events, or being around certain people, the dread you feel is an obvious sign that something isn’t right.
It may eve be a sign that you need to seek other (more professional) help if your dread is serious enough or causing you to be unable to function. Do not sweep this sign under the rug an ignore it!
Change Indicator #8: You’re feeling resentful, angry, bitter, or depressed
You don’t want to live your life with these feelings – they’re not good for you.
Come to think of it, they’re not good for the people around you either.
Change Indicator #9: You’re self-medicating
If you’re doing this you know it. Oh, you may be telling yourself that you’re just “relaxing” or that you’re entitled to “unwind” but deep down, you know the truth. You’re dulling some emotion that you’d rather not deal with because it’s easier than admitting you need to make a change. Let’s face it, change is scary.
Change Indicator #10: You’re putting on a false front with people
You need to ask why you’re not feeling free enough to be your authentic self with these people. Do you feel judged? Are you being made to feel inferior? Do you feel threatened or intimidated?
Any time you’re not comfortable being your honest self, you need to examine the reasons why.
Change Indicator #11: You have to give yourself a pep talk to get yourself through things
Perhaps you’re in a job and every morning you have to remind yourself that, “It’s only for a few hours. I can tough it out.” Or you may be one of the millions who suffer from the “Sunday Night Blues“. Considering how much of our lives we spend at work, that’s too much time spent doing something that doesn’t make you happy. Am I saying you must be filled with bliss and joy every minute you’re at work? No! But when you have to give yourself a pep talk to get you in the door, something is definitely wrong.
So there you have it – 11 very clear signs that something in your life needs to change. Is that change going to be easy? That depends. Whether it’s easy or not, you don’t want to be like the little fish who waited too long and didn’t jump out of the water.
Some books that have helped me:
I’ve read each of the following books during some times when I was facing a lot of change. I found each of them to be very helpful. As you can see, I really enjoy the works of Barbara Sher. There were times I felt like she’d written the book just for me!