The First Step to Changing Your Life
You know you want to change, right?
But you don’t know where to start.
You may find yourself thinking…
- “There are so many paths I could take and I don’t know how to choose.”
- “I hardly have enough time to stay sane, let alone…insert your dream here…where can I possibly start?”
- “I know I’m not happy here, but I don’t know what will make me happy”
If so, I know how you feel. I’ve been there.
Obese, full of illness, working in a corporate job that left me cold, half of a failing marriage…I’ve been faced with the desire to change, yet the sheer terror of feeling out of control and not knowing where to place my feet first.
I knew I could be and do so much more but I just didn’t know where to start.
Yet now my life is unrecognisable from what it was back then. I’ve lost half my body weight and kept it off, transformed my health, quit the corporate world and set up my own business, lived abroad in the country I used to dream of and found a partner who supports me to be real me.
I’ve learned, through my previous procrastination, frustration and pain that the first step to changing your life is acknowledging and accepting where you are right now.
Putting your head in the sand just doesn’t cut it when it comes to change. When you begin to face and accept where you are in life, you are gifting yourself the cool, clear power to do something about it.
I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact acknowledging and accepting where you are right now is a really scary thing to do – because you have to look at your pain; you have to admit what you don’t like. And that’s going to hurt.
Throughout my teenage years I was hugely overweight. I didn’t want to be that way. Taunted daily, I hated looking in the mirror, but all manner of diets didn’t help. The kilos didn’t shift until I looked at where I was – a 20 year old girl who weighed in at 280 pounds – without distractions, without the ‘yes, but…’s, without the ‘poor me’. I needed to consciously acknowledge what a state I was in. That make me realise just how much I ached to change and that I was the only one who could do it. I started to take small steps; small steps that led to me losing over 140 pounds.
Acknowledging that I was unhappy in my job with Microsoft caused more of an internal fight because there were real benefits to staying where I was; I had prestigious role I could excel at with ease and a great salary. But every morning, when I beeped myself into the air-conditioned campus building, I felt dead inside. Yet I stuck at it for 4 years, unable to do anything until I did an honest stock-take of where I was and came to terms with the fact that if I didn’t do something, I’d be on this career path, hating myself for it, for the rest of my working days.
Leaving my marriage, to a loyal, honest, stable man was a long time in the making too. Distractions stopped me seeing quite how unhappy I was: Maybe if I watch tv/go out a lot/drink copious amounts of wine/buy myself nice things I won’t have to face it. Recognise that? It was cutting back on the nights out and emotion-numbing substances that helped me get to a point where I could look clearly at the situation and accept that, despite the beautiful white wedding, despite the fact that we had a joint life, house and friends I no longer wanted to be where I was.
You won’t be able to take sustainable steps towards change until you look plainly at where you are and breath it deeply in – knowing that your choices got you to this point and that if you are unhappy then you are the one who needs to make the change.
So, how can you do this?
Step for a moment out of your every day life and give yourself some reflection time. Cut the distractions – turn the tv off, close the fridge door. Allow yourself to just ‘be’ where you are, with your life right now– however it looks.
It helps to divide where you are into distinct areas. I find the categories health, work, money, relationships, lifestyle, state of mind, environment and passions helpful.
Think about how you feel about each of these facets of your life. If you were going to score them out of 10, what would they be? What adjective would you use to describe them? How does that make you feel?
Be wary of being drawn into the stories behind your situation. Leave the martyr attitude that we can all play outside the room, with no ‘yes, but..’s or blame.
What we want here is honest, clear, conscious acknowledgement and acceptance.
You’ll find that acknowledging and accepting where you are right now is the way to start a conscious process of sustainable change. Because when we look at something we don’t like and really understand it, change is naturally the next step. Then it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and, like me, before you know it, you’ll have transformed your world.
Photo by Juli__a