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Taking Action Toward a New Life and Moving Through Resistance

Take Action

“Your actions are your only true belongings.” ~Allan Lokos

This is not a piece about a person who has already finished her journey. I am not here to tell you that I’ve emerged from a dark place into a place of ease, or that I’ve discovered a profound new way of being that shields me from daily stresses.

I wish I could tell you those things. I love to read about successes like that.

Instead, I am in a messy stage of my journey, holding on to the glimmers of joy that I feel throughout each day, dreaming and journaling and not getting enough sleep.

I am transitioning to a different life path as we speak.

I take each day as its own adventure, knowing that I will feel any combination of boredom, happiness, depression, anxiety, and curiosity. Knowing that it’s okay for change to be complicated, that it’s okay to be confused one minute and excited the next as long as I keep asking questions and keep looking for answers.

There’s no avoiding this part of the journey, the part where you peel back the layers of who you were and make room for who you will be. Where you shake free from the comforts and limiting beliefs you’ve been living under, where you consider if the life you’ve been living truly reflects who you are.

This is the scary part. The part where you feel guilty or ashamed or sad that it took you this long to acknowledge your dreams. It’s hard to know when this part will end. All you can do is keep moving and know that those answers will come.

For the past five years my life has not reflected who I truly am, as I’ve worked a job that bored me so deeply that my soul quietly settled down to sleep.

On one hand, I am grateful for this job, grateful for the boredom-induced depression that shook me gently but steadily until I finally dusted myself off to search for something more.

I am grateful for the months of utter paralysis, as I knew I was somehow meant to stretch my creative spirit but did not understand what that looked like or how it sustained me.

I aim to forgive the part of myself that argued it was “too late,” and that I should just accept the steady job with no questions asked.

And so I remained as patient as I could. I asked friends to describe my strengths, I vented to my journal. I cried and read inspirational blogs until my eyes reddened. I closed my eyes and meditated, waiting for the light bulb moment to provide me my core beliefs and purpose.

I am grateful I did not give up. That I have not given up, still.

My breakthrough came a year and a half into my journey. One and a half years of reading and thinking and hoping for more. And suddenly, with little warning:

I think I’m supposed to do visual art, written quickly into my journal.

Isn’t it funny how life surprises you? I did not see this coming, had not pursued art in my twenties or dreamed of someday being a full-time artist. I let the thought sit for months actually, afraid of it, thinking I must have misheard my yearnings.

And so I waited until the thought reemerged four months later. Stronger now, more insistent.

I am grateful I listened.

My journey has changed shape, as journeys often do if you let them, softly tugging me into a makeshift studio after work each evening where I paint and write and remind myself to take big, soothing breaths.

I am still not a full-time artist yet, but every day is an adventure still, asking of me only that if I haven’t yet found my confidence to please get up each day and try anyway. And so I get up each day and I try, even when I’m overwhelmed and tired, even when my next steps are unclear.

One of my favorite mentors, Marie Forleo, has often said clarity comes from engagement, which is a hard concept for those of us who plan endlessly and write everything down multiple times so that we can avoid actually taking that first step.

That first step, which supports the next and the next, is the most important of all.

Without action, my journey would be back at square one, huddled under the weight of my doubts and fears.

Without action, my soul would still be asleep, unable to consider a different future.

Without action, I would not cherish these moments of actual joy, my paint brush in hand. I would not know they existed.

And so the question becomes: have you been listening?

Do you feel the tugs, however quiet, that will lead you in a new direction? I know many of us are so good at ignoring these whispers, resisting the changes that feel so big and scary and new that we can’t imagine where the journey will lead.

Today, I want you to act, acknowledging your resistance with empathy as you move forward anyway. I want you to get messy and uncomfortable, even if that simply means facing your fears in the pages of your journal.

If you are just at the beginning, or perhaps even in the middle of your journey as I am, remember: you are capable of joy. Now how will you create it?

Jumping in the sun image via Shutterstock

About Elizabeth McDonnell

Elizabeth McDonnell is an artist and inspiration-seeker. Her mission is to create whimsical artwork that inspires, and to always create just for you, who are looking to introduce more peace, motivation, and creative delight into your home and daily life. Check out her art and sign up for her newsletter at http://elizabethmcd.com. Also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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  • Hi Elizabeth
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is not easy always to share the ‘messier’ parts of our journey. Much more fun to focus on the successes, but it is all par for the course. I don’t think we are ever truly ‘done’ anyway.

    That sentiment has helped me a lot in my own little journey, as it has helped me release on the idea that one day some ‘perfect’ version of myself and my life will emerge after all the ‘work.’

    I have manifested so many awesome things in my life, and made so many positive changes, but the challenges still crop up. As I reach for bolder things, limiting beliefs rise to the surface that must be dealt with.

    Your advice about moving forward with the resistance and acknowledging it with empathy is spot on. Resistance can be worked through to a great degree, but most of us will contend with it in some form unless we become some sort of totally enlightened being! Being more accepting of it can really take us far. We still may not like it is there, but we won’t suffer as much.

    Thank you for sharing your insights..I am sure this will help a lot of people who also feel like they are in the thick of a challenging portion of their own journey.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Kelli, thanks so much for your comment! I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, and it sounds like you’ve worked through many of the same issues.

    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve made it so far in your own journey, regardless of resistance, regardless of the challenges. I wish you the best of luck as you continue!

  • Stacey

    Hi Elizabeth,

    First off, I really love your writing. You have a very nice style, and it’s very enjoyable to read. I also admire your bravery in sharing your journey – often, being right in the middle of a change is the hardest place to be. There’s still time to go back, to convince your mind to listen to your fears and sink into the easy, safe way of living. It can be difficult to keep moving forward, because change takes work and there are many unknowns. It’s easy to fall back into the safety of knowing what to expect, of what your days will be like. I appreciate and admire that you share being in the midst of your journey, and your openness with the struggles and doubts.

    I particularly love the paragraph where you say that you take every day as an adventure and accept the feelings that come with it, good and bad. Knowing that it’s okay to be confused one minute and excited the next. I relate with those feelings because I’m in the middle of a journey too. That’s the perfect way to describe it. Often, when we start towards what our heart wants, we’re disappointed to find that there’s still confusion and fear and doubt. We think that it all falls away, but it doesn’t. It’s about taking the feelings, accepting them, and moving forward anyway. More joy comes, more fulfillment comes, but you do have to work through the moments of doubt and uneasiness.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I am so happy that you are pursuing what makes you feel content and fulfilled – too many people are staying stuck, because it’s scary to move forward, and the way is often blurry. You may be in the midst of your journey, but you’re already a success because you’re trying and working for what you want, despite the challenges, and that’s what counts.

    Best wishes to you and thank you again for sharing your insights.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Stacey: thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate hearing your thoughts, and think you’re so right – the middle of the journey is one of those pivotal moments where we must make choices – to keep moving forward in the face of fear, or to fall back.

    Congratulations on your own journey, which sounds like it’s leading you down the right path. It makes me so happy to hear of others who are also working towards what they want, challenges and all.

    I’ll be thinking happy thoughts for you! Take care.

  • laurelkhall

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for taking the time to write an eloquent post that can help
    others like me who want to pick up that paint brush, but still not there
    yet.

    I saw your Etsy site and LOVE your artwork. It’s hard to believe you are in the middle of a messy part of your journey as your art says (at least to me) “I’m already there” and going full speed ahead.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    You’re so welcome. 🙂 If this post has helped give you a little inspiration and courage, than that makes me happy.

    And I so appreciate your comment about my art. Thank you. I’m completely committed to creating a career around my art, though unfortunately that commitment doesn’t stop me from doubting my ability or sometimes doing a poor job of balancing the business with the rest of my life – it’s such a learning curve! Every day is different.

    Best of luck to you in your journey – have a great day!

  • Get It Productions

    Great article, as an artist (photographer) this really hit home. I’m not sure if you’ve had to deal with this or not, but one of my biggest issues is that people tend to think of being an artist as more of a hobby than a “real job”. It’s frustrating having to constantly explain what it is you actually do for a living. It’s scary all this resistance makes quitting seem like the easy way. But keep going anyway. As my mom likes to remind me, the graveyard is full of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Yes, always keep going. 🙂 I’m happy to see another artist here! and your mom’s comment is certainly motivating.. haha. What I’ve tried to do is just keep creating and letting my passion for my art come through – people have started to get on board once they saw how serious I was about it.

  • Linda

    Thanks Elizabeth – I am exactly in the same place. Have been for over two years. I know I am supposed to teach health, I just need the opportunity. This has been terribly hard – so many parts of my prior life have fallen apart, or disappeared. I can relate totally to the fatigue; crying daily. Trying not to fall in to depression. It’s a journey, and they all have an end at some point. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Linda – thanks for sharing. I completely understand where you are, and am sending you virtual hugs! Keep searching for the answers, and make time for yourself to breathe and recharge. I haven’t done this nearly enough, and it’s so vital.

  • Phil

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • dancesexmusichiphop

    Wow I so needed this today.
    I too have been having thoughts about how I want to tap into my creative side but I have been ignoring that tug to head into a new direction. Partly because I don’t have a background in the arts and I doubt myself because I fear that I am going to fail. I am also scared to let everyone else know my plans and even though I think about it everyday I can’t even write it down in my journal. I know I want to take action but I am still doubting myself but how can I be free from my past if I won’t take action towards something that I truly enjoy? I hope that soon I can take a step towards my dream but for today I am at least going to write it down in my journal to make it official. I am also at a messy stage in my journey but tinybuddha helps me so much!
    Thank you so much for this, I really appreciate it.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Phil, you’re so welcome! Thank you for reading.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Definitely write it down – it took me 4 months from the first time I wrote it down in my journal to actually admit that I wanted to be an artist. Be gentle on yourself, but take some little actions and see how you feel. It’s so freeing to finally admit what you want, even if you don’t yet know the steps to get there. Best of luck in your journey. 🙂

  • Hi Elizabeth, I couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for sharing your journey – it’s amazing how often we see the signs of change before we’re ready to listen and take action on them – journaling is an amazing way to look back and see those signposts along the way that we’ve seen but not understood, or weren’t ready to take steps toward at the time .

    Life really starts at the moment we choose to take action toward those dreams – well
    done – and keep listening everyday as there is always more to come when
    you start moving!

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Cat, thanks for your comment! And I totally agree with you that we need to always be listening. I’m really starting to see how this is a lifelong process. Best wishes to you on your own path!

  • Eric O. Nelson, III

    Elizabeth,

    This was meaningful to read. Ispeculate many of us have similar journeys and do not know or understand the path to get there.

    I resonated with the entire “what’s holding you back?” Query.

    This is a profound space of introspection and learning. Is it habit, routine or laziness? Fear? Fear of failure or even success?

    I have had to reinvent myself many times, after becoming a dad, after my divorce, after my business closed and all the financial hardships that follow.

    In each case, my core belief that I am capable of so much more took over. I can do this, can’t I?

    I trusted that I had to move forward, sometimes with no plan or clue about what to do next.

    Thank you for the great share!

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Eric, thanks so much for reading and for commenting. I definitely agree that many of us are on the same path – I felt it was important to acknowledge that fact since this type of journey can feel isolating.

    It sounds like you’re such a resilient, thoughtful person – best of luck as you continue to move forward. You can do this!

  • Care

    I can’t tell you how perfect it is to find this today and resonate with 100% of it. Blessing to you and your journey .. I am grateful .. very grateful for you sharing with (me)! <3

  • Etta

    Elizabeth- your words resonate so deeply with me. What a great piece, thank you.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Etta – thank you so much for commenting. I’m so glad the article resonated with you. Take care!

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    I’m SO glad that the article resonated with you on this level. That makes me so happy! Best of luck with your own journey – and take care!

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “I take each day as its own adventure, knowing that I will feel any combination of boredom, happiness, depression, anxiety,
    and curiosity. Knowing that it’s okay for change to be complicated,
    that it’s okay to be confused one minute and excited the next as long as
    I keep asking questions and keep looking for answers.” Thank you for that REMINDER & wish you the best in your journey of self-discovery.

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “The graveyard is full of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential.” I love that quote, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Judi

    Thanks for the great words. I am getting the ‘stop tidying your desk ‘ message from so many avenues, I might have to listen. Xx stay well.

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Thanks so much for your comment! and best of luck to you as well – I have the same hope for all of us, that we never stop searching for what makes us happy

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Judi – I love when the universe sends you little signals that add up until you have no choice but to pay attention! 🙂 Take care

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Thank you, had a chance to look at your art gallery in your blogging site; they are pretty amazing & looks quite professional…Will be sharing the link to your site in my blogging site as well…:)

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Thank you! I so appreciate your support – it’s been quite the journey into vulnerability sharing my art, and I’ve been so warmed by the response. Feel free to share your site and I’ll check it out!

  • Chi

    Hello Elizabeth,
    I appreciate your wonderful posts as it resonated with my current situation. “Marie Forleo, has often said clarity comes from engagement.” I like this quote because I always plan but rarely take action. I’m in transition to a different career path but unsure and scared if I’ll make the right decision. Sometimes all I need at the end of the day is to read a wonderful post like yours to help clarify my intuition.
    Thank you very much!

  • Elizabeth McDonnell

    Chi – you’re so welcome! I’m glad the article was helpful to you. I totally understand what you’re feeling. It’s so hard not to have a defined path in front of you, so we just have to trust that we will figure it out. Best of luck in your transition, and have a beautiful day!

  • dancesexmusichiphop

    I will do that. Thanks again.

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  • Hoos

    Fantastic article. Thanks for writing. Like you, I was doing things with my life for many years that put me in a state of boredom-induced depression. I made a choice 4 years ago to change things. There have been massive sacrifices, and I am not there yet, but there is no looking back for me at this point. My hope is that when I finally achieve it, that I will posses the knowledge of having made the right choice.