“Making a big life change is scary, but you know what’s even scarier? Regret.” ~Zig Ziglar
Fifteen years ago, I made one of the biggest changes in my life. It was something I had wanted to do for so long but had never found the right time, right plan, or courage to do.
You see, ever since I was in my teens, I had always felt I was meant to be somewhere else.
The town where I grew up was pretty perfect for raising young kids, but it just wasn’t for me as I entered adulthood. I always envisioned myself somewhere else doing something different than those that stayed and replaced the generations before them.
When I came back from school in my twenties, I was eager to get my career going and was not in a rush to settle down and have kids like most of my circle. I wasn’t even sure I really wanted to raise a family. I was more interested in exploring this world and not being tied to one way of life.
At twenty-five I thought, WOW, I finally feel like I’ve got it all figured out.
I had lived away from home, finished school, had relationships both good and bad, and had a strong work ethic that was instilled in me from a young age. So here I was, ready to take on the world. Build my career, travel, and maybe eventually settle down and start a family… then BANG! Just like that my world started to crumble.
Within a span of one year, I was dealt some devastating news. My mother and sister were both diagnosed with different devastating diseases.
My world was crushed. I can still remember the impact I felt on the day I received the news.
I was in my office when I got the call about my sister, who had lost her speech and ability to move one of her arms and possibly needed emergency brain surgery.
I was in shock. I had no idea how I felt, what I was supposed to do, or where I was supposed to be. I just sat there with a blank stare for what felt like an eternity but really was likely just five minutes.
After weeks of testing, it was discovered my sister had MS (Multiple Sclerosis). A life-long debilitating disease, or so I understood at the time.
Fast forward six-plus months later, my sister was on track with rehabilitation and signs of a full recovery in speech and limb mobility. Then WHAM! My mother received a stage 3 cancer diagnosis.
I was absolutely devastated and completely torn apart. My mother is everything to me, the woman who inspires me to stand tall and strong no matter what life throws my way. A woman of pure integrity and authenticity, loved by so many.
After emergency surgery and intense chemo, I am glad to say that both my mum and sister survived their devastating ordeals and have been living life to the fullest since that awful time. But during that time my world was upside down and I was an emotional wreck.
I had no idea how to unravel all the emotions I was feeling then. I kept myself busy, though, with work, too much partying, and hitting the gym hard. You see, I kept myself looking good on the outside, but I was a complete mess on the inside. I was no longer thriving; I was just surviving.
I began taking inventory of my life and realized I was not living the life I’d envisioned for myself. I was scared to make a change and also to not make a change.
Seeing what my family had endured made me realize how precious life is and that I didn’t want to waste mine living a life that didn’t fulfill me in fear I was next for a diagnosis. So, I decided to seek out professional help to gain control and clarity, to heal, and to push through the emotions I was suffering from. Only then would I be able to truly move forward with my life in a positive and productive way.
Once I had done the “work” on sorting out my emotions, I was able to start creating real change from a healthy, sound perspective.
I started creating the life that resonated with me one step at a time. You see, change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build. It is a process, and anyone who has made significant change in their lives will tell you that. Their change likely started way before anyone was really aware.
I wasn’t living the life I wanted, so I thought long and hard about what needed to change and finally took the leap.
I moved across the country on my own, away from my most significant support, with no job, to start building a life that resonates with me. It wasn’t without challenge or bumps in the road, and it certainly wasn’t perfect. But it’s been absolutely amazing, and I’ve never looked back.
Besides the emotional trauma, there were so many things holding me back at first—family, friends, familiarity, and fear. But what I’ve come to realize is when you start making positive change in your life, for you, things fall into place over time and you look back and realize the change was worth it.
People speak from their own feelings, experiences, and fears, don’t let that hold you back from what feels right to you.
I now live in a place that felt like home from the first time I landed here. I live by the ocean and mountains, which inspire me every day.
My sister now lives in the same city (in fact, we live the same complex). My brother and his family moved a one-hour flight away now as opposed to across the country. My mother still resides back in the town where I grew up so, I feel I get the best of both worlds. Living in a place that inspires me while having the chance to revisit a vibrant city and old friends to reminisce with whenever I choose to.
So, what are the top things people say they regret as they get older? I wish I’d….
- Saved more money or made better investments
- Worked in a job or career I was more passionate about
- Treated my body better and had better self-care
- Spent more time with loved ones
- Traveled more
And the list goes on…
Why do so many people rush through life without taking the time to recalibrate and ensure they are focused on the right things that mean something to them or will enrich their lives? It’s an intricate topic yet simple. Life. Life gets in the way, responsibilities get in the way, others’ opinions, and our own doubts and fears get in the way.
We’ve all been there, navigating life as it unravels each day, and as things happen, we go with the flow. But have you ever stopped to consider, what’s my “flow”?
How do I want this day, month, year to go? Why do I keep getting dragged in other directions or the same direction only to live each day with no change? Why does it seem like others are thriving while I am on repeat or treading without progressing?
You will never know for sure until you take the time to explore what is going on in your life and create awareness around what might be holding you back. With the right support and guidance, you can create change both big and small. In fact, making little changes frequently will add up to making a big change overall.
Not sure where to start? Here are five proven tips to begin creating change in your life today.
1. Break the routine.
Think about what you can give up or take out of your day to switch up your daily routine and do this for a two-week period. This could mean not scrolling mindlessly through social media on your lunch break or not watching TV at night, then seeing what else you could do instead. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Bring back doing something you love and make it a deal breaker in your week.
No excuses, make it happen, even you only have a fifteen-minute window for this activity. Same as above, do this for a two-week period, and this next one, as well.
3. Discover something new.
What have you always considered trying out or have an interest in that you’ve never explored? Give it a try now.
Keep notes on how you are feeling through the two weeks. Then do it all for another two weeks.
5. Build intention.
Each week set the intention that there is time, this is worth it, and you are worth it!
The purpose of this process is to help you see how even small shifts can change how you feel and add to your life and well-being. This sets the foundation for believing that change gives more than it takes, which helps you find the motivation to seek out new opportunities so you can make larger life changes. Move if you don’t feel thrilled with where you live, sign up for a course to help you change careers, or finally leave the job you hate to do something you love.
It takes focus, consistency, and perseverance to make change, but everyone has the ability to do it, especially if they start small and take it one day at a time.
Surround yourself with those that will respect you and the changes you are making. I bet you’ll be surprised to see how many people are inspired and/or motivated to begin making their own changes after watching you. So don’t wait—start today and open up to change so you can live the life you want to live!