The Five Words That Changed My Life

five words

“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.” – Vernor Vinge

I thought that it was never going to end.

Wake up. Brush my teeth. Drive to work. Sit at my desk for eight hours. Count the hours from the moment I sit down: Eight, seven, six… Drive home. Make dinner. Eat. … Sleep. Wake up.

The truth is, at that point in my life, nothing brought me joy any more. I hated waking up. I hated going to work. By the time I got home, I was so drained and frustrated that I got little joy from my family.

Having a small child left me with virtually no time for myself, and so no hope for recovery from the torture of my mind-numbing job. The only escape I found was the make-believe world of video games, into which I’d dive at every opportunity.

As days turned to months, and months into years, I was starting to give up hope. I thought that this must be my lot in life: I was destined to sacrifice myself in the service of others. Although I was dying inside, I held on as best I could in the name of duty.

There was only one little problem—my miserable state affected those around me. While I was sacrificing my life to my family, my wife wanted nothing more than for me to come out of my depression.

She tried to help me as best she could, encouraging me to switch jobs and return to school, neither of which had a lasting effect.

The Wake Up Call 

Then, one night, in a final, desperate attempt to help me, my wife looked me in the eyes with an intensity that I’ve never seen before, and said five simple words:

“You have to fix this.”

When I did not respond, she quietly walked away, leaving me to my thoughts.

“I’ve got to do something?” I thought to myself. “Really, me? But I’m already doing everything I can!!! I’ve given up my life for her and our son, and she wants me to do more?” That was my initial reaction.

Then, it suddenly hit me. I understood what she meant, and my life would never again be the same.

I’ve got to do something. It was up to me to change my life.

All this time, I was waiting for something outside of me to change, hoping that someone would see my pain help me out of it.

My wife, my boss, my friends – none of them could do it for me. Even with the best of intentions, other people simply aren’t as well positioned to help us.

How I Changed My Life

I wasn’t sure what to do, but I was determined to do something.

I knew all along that at the heart of my problem was my job. I could no longer ignore the signs that my job wasn’t right for me. So, I started with one small step: I went to a career center at a local university, and filled out a questionnaire to help me identify a career path that matched my personality.

Actually, this was a brand new concept for me: I’d always thought of a job as merely something you do to make a living. The idea that it should somehow be connected with my personality was a real eye-opener.

I came home very excited that evening. All of sudden, everything made sense. I wasn’t crazy or irresponsible. I was simply stuck at a job that didn’t match who I was!

The test results showed me that I am an extrovert. No wonder I was miserable when my main companion at work was a lifeless machine! Further, the test results spoke of my need for creativity, which was badly suppressed after so many years of what felt like mindless work.

This started a long search for my passion, eventually leading me to more than one way of making a living doing what I love.

With my own personality as my guide, I became trained in singing and acting. The arts allowed a level of self-expression unlike anything that I’ve experienced before, bringing me immense joy, and satisfying my natural need for socialization.

Working at jobs that fit my personality led to an incredible amount of self-growth. I was changing from the inside out. I got in touch with my emotions, learned to express how I feel, and even started connecting with others in a more authentic way.

What’s most important is that I became happy. The depression lifted life a veil, and I was once again fully alive and joyful. Life was once again worth living.

Today, I make a living as an actor and singer, and help others discover their passions and make a living doing what they love.

3 Tips To Start Changing Your Life

Let me leave you with three things to help you get started on your path to change, all of which I learned from those five simple words.

1. Realize That You Have the Power to Change Your Life 

You have the power to change your life. Whether you realize it yet or not, you can do it. Further, you are only one who can do it. Others can help, but the bulk of the work is up to you. Don’t look at that as a negative—realize that you are in control of your own life, and how important it is that you alone have that power!

Realizing that the responsibility to change your life is yours might seem intimidating at first, but it is actually very empowering. If your responsibilities to others leave you feeling powerless, then keep reading.

2. Quit Sacrificing Your Life for Others

First of all, it isn’t helping them either. Anyone who is worth your time, anyone who really cares about you, wants you to be happy.

When we are down, when our life feels beyond our control, then we cannot bring joy to others. It is when we’re happy that we can bring happiness to the lives of others.

3. Do Something, No Matter How Small

Don’t wait. You’ve already waited long enough. Take a step, no matter how small, in the direction that you want your life to go.

Don’t focus on the mountain, or you may be too intimidated. Instead, figure out the smallest step you can do right now, and one tiny step at a time, you will climb to the top of the tallest mountain that your imagination can conceive.

No matter what change you want to create in your life, others have been there before. My last piece of advice for you today is to seek out the help of others, be it by reading blogs (as you are already doing, I commend you on that!), going to a local resource center, or seeking out the help of a coach. Learning from the experiences of others who have been there is the shortest path to change.

Lastly, if no one else had told you this before, let me be the one say: You’ve got to do something!

I wish you an enjoyable journey in your quest for change.

Photo by Chiara Cremaschi

five words

Recommended Resources

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42 thoughts on “The Five Words That Changed My Life”

  1. When the pupil is ready the master will appear. The old adage is so true, sometimes we have to reach the end of our tether to realize there is something else out there for us, this happened for me too, the message had been knocking at my door for several years, I just refused to listen.
    Glad you found your way, it is so easy to continue to suffer in silence and I believe that eventually brings us illness. So well done you!

    1. Hi Joan,

      Thank you! I agree completely, it’s just too easy to suffer without saying anything. It takes great courage to speak up and open ourselves up to other people. It’s funny how we can look back after and realize that the opportunity for change was there for a long time, we just missed it.

  2. Very inspiring and motivating… I am kind of going through thé same crisis, just dont dont know Where to get a headway.. Any suggestions..

    1. Hi Mona,

      Thanks for sharing. It’s hard to give specific advice, but there is definitely some stuff you need to do.

      1 – you’re not alone, and in fact you’re in good company. Many, many people have gone through similar things in their life – it doesn’t make you weird, or a failure, or mean anything bad about you.

      2 – Start to try and realize that you are in control. It’s your life, and the only one who can really change it to what it needs to be is you. This means you have all the power. What you do with that power is, again, entirely up to you.

      3 – Look for help. I have a great toolkit that’s free on my site that can help you find out who you are. For many, that information is extremely empowering – I know it was to me.

      4 – Send me an email if you need more help. I love helping people get through stuff like this. I know how hard it can be to go it alone.

      I wish you all the best, whatever you decide to do!

  3. Thanks for this post. It is true that we are the only ones that can change our lives. So often we try to wait for outside circumstances to change on their own, but really it is up to us.

    I really liked that you dispell the notion of thinking we are suffering for others in order to make them happy. That isn’t true. When we aren’t happy it effects them and they become unhappy. If someone cares about us they just want us to do what we love and be happy. We don’t need to suffer. Be the light in your own life so you can be a light to others.

    Have an awesome day. I am glad you are living your passion. I am trying to do the same.

    1. Thanks Sebastian! I hope you also have an amazing day. So far so good for me, I had a driving test to switch my Canadian license for a California one and I passed! :)

      I so agree with what you pointed out. Our suffering to make others happy seems to just be in our minds. In the end, your misery, once apparent to the other people that care for you, will not make them happy at all.

      Happy pursuits to you then, as you try and pursue your passion. With your mindset, I’m sure you will succeed.

  4. David, what a powerful story. It’s funny how we wake up and the world begins to open for us. Your wife is clearly a loving and loyal person to be there for you until you were ready to take the path that was always in front of you.
    My story is similar but I didn’t “get it” till I was 45 years old. My life is in my control and more important, I’m enjoying every moment.
    Seeing others stuck just the way I was is the reason I do what I do. I love helping people figure it out for themselves.
    Your story will, no doubt, touch more people than you imagine – especially those who are ready to learn what you learned.
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks Wendy for the thoughtful comment. It’s so great to hear from everyone, and I love hearing about people who find their path in life. We all find it in our own time. I’m so happy for you, because I know how special it is to finally find your way.

      Keep helping others, the more people we can help the better the world will be.

      Have a great day, Wendy, and I wish you all the best!

  5. Wow, this is such an inspiring story. It’s so important to quit blaming everyone around us for our own situation and step up to take the responsibility for our situation.
    This goes to show how powerful it is to muster up the strength and take that first tiny step in the direction that your heart is telling you to go.
    Awesome stuff David, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Patrik! I appreciate your support. It’s tough sometimes opening up, but I’m always happy after the fact. It’s liberating.

      It definitely was about the one small step, for me. That realization was so huge, I can’t emphasize it enough.

      Thanks so much for the comment.

  6. Your story was so inspiring. It was so similar to mine that I could have written it myself. I did do something about it and ended up switching careers, but I always love reading about others who have done the same.

    Thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks Shantel! I saw that you’re also writing about passionate work! That’s terrific!

      The more of us out there helping people the better.

  7. Powerful word! So true that all great and amazing things have small beginnings but it is the consistent small steps that take you from nothing to something significant. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. David, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad your wife stood by you. I had a similar experience with my husband. Though it manifested in anxiety, I only made a transformation when I realized it was my responsibility to do so. I know a lot of people are saying “Quit your jobs” and getting slack for it, but sometimes, as was your situation, it truly does benefit you to find another way to make money. I had never learned that there was a different way than simply sticking it out or climbing the ladder. Until seven years ago, I was just hopping on the hamster wheel day after day until one day I became very sick. Fortunately, my husband was as great as your wife – patient and supportive. We made the changes together and have never looked back. Life is fun now!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Tammy! I’m so happy to hear your story. It’s really amazing how many of us out there had such similar circumstances befall us.

      Isn’t it so empowering to finally realize that you are the one in control of your life?

      For myself, I know that my time and health are far more important than making lots of money. The more people I think that take back their time and their lives, do work they love, the better off this world will be.

  9. Hi David, I think it is great so many people are questioning what they do as a job? For me this question is at the forefront of my mind. I have had the career along with the things we collect like cars, homes, electronic gadgets but was never happy. I set goals, achieved these and still felt like a failure. Why? I found out the success and things I was chasing were never going to bring me happiness. Stop trying was the message I got. Accept your position in life. Do not try and be someone you are not. Find your true Self and all else will manifest.

    This has not been an easy thing to do as so much of who we think we are is held subconsciously or assumed to be true. I have learnt to appreciate that everything happens for a reason. Life prepares us quite often for our awakening and without the life experience we just would not have the empathy to shine as our true Selves.

    Imagine if you David did not experience all you have in life – being an actor would be hard as you would not have developed the level of feelings and experiences you have to employ on stage. And, in assisting others to be true to Self you have experienced what it takes to find yourSelf. Everything happens for a reason and in its own good time. The timing of your wife’s words and your strong feelings of being trapped were no fluke. You were ready to hear the words and everything else was in alignment. The timing was right. Two years earlier it would not have been right. Do you get me?

    So stop trying to be someone and just work out who you really are first. Trust the universe to make the big things happen. It is easier than trying to make something happen and feeling depressed. Timing is everything and the universe knows the time for all things.
    When the flower is ready to bloom it will and there is not a thing you can do about it – except kill any chance it has to flower”
    Namaste

    1. Thank you, Zidaz, for the great comment. It was very thoughtful and touching. I really appreciate it.

      I believe also that the Universe has a way of working things out. I believe that if I set my mind to becoming/doing something, and put that thought into action, then the Universe will get out of my way and make it happen. Since my depression, I try and go with the flow, which is working out well for me; much better than before! :)

  10. mahavir nautiyal

    Sometimes frustration is good provided it makes me to introspect and seek ways to change the situation. Sometime others become the catalyst, as your loving wife did. Timing of her comment and your desire to change coincided or else it would have been just a wasted comment and more frustration. Happy to know that you have realized happiness and are helping others to realize the same . Thanks David.

    1. I appreciate the opportunity to share both experience and sights. It is so valuable to be able to have time to reflect on things.
      of course I am coming from a position where I have dreamed, believed and created. this was success. And yes, this works. But, for how long did you David have to wait for the right moment to become what I call your true Self? Like I said two years earlier and it would not have happened, right? Well we know that is true because it did not happen. And, yes frustration might have us asking what else can we try? But, maybe there is nothing to try or the trying is the lesson? maybe we just need to do some more work? You do not get a black belt in martial arts until you are mentally, physically and spiritually trained. It does not matter how much you dream of it coming true. You need to do the training and meditation and this takes time.
      So my point is that yes, dreaming is good – have an idea of where you are going or want to go. But, also appreciate where you are at.
      You might not be ready for what you want, but the universe knows exactly what you need to get there.
      How has your life David lead you to where you are? Did you always have a love for the stage and a voice that people enjoy? How much courage did it take to take the plunge into the unknown world of being true to Self.
      maybe you could write and tell us all about that. I am interested to learn because I have dreams too, I am just having to accept there is ground work to do.
      Thanks heaps

      1. I believe that everything happens in its time. So the time was right for the comment, and my attitude was aligned with what I needed to do. We are all the sum of our experiences and it can be the smallest thing that distinguishes us from each other-hence why twins can turn out to be vastly different.

        My life is a big story to tell in the comments, heh. I always wanted to be an actor from when I was a little boy and first saw Indiana Jones. My parents were avid movie watchers, and we owned around 1000 movies that I watched over time growing up. When I was young, I was just too shy to get on stage.

        Experiences took me away from being shy through high-school and my undergraduate education. If it wasn’t for my suffering, though, I would probably have never turned to acting. I would never have realized that my life was missing something if I hadn’t suffered.

        The same for music. I’ve always sang, but never trained. I dreamed of being a singer, but thought it was silly and was embarrassed to ask for lessons. Instead, I took music class for many years, and learned a few instruments. This education proved invaluable later on as I took up singing, since my rhythm and music knowledge was already there.

        Nevertheless, it took a lot of courage to start taking lessons and sing in front of people. But, once I did it, I felt such a rush. It was amazing, both for acting on stage, in front of the camera, and singing on stage.

        Definitely it took me a long time to be emotionally ready for all of this. To be able to walk into a room, and cry as if I had just lost my family, and open myself up like that in front of total strangers took courage that I don’t believe I had growing up.

        I believe that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, if you put in the work. I don’t believe in talent- that people are born to do one thing or another. I believe in passion. I believe that with passion comes the motivation to practice to the degree required to succeed. That’s what I believe, and that’s how I live my life.

  11. I’ve been through a similar journey. I went from a line cook to a radio deejay to a college instructor. I love teaching, but I’m changing again. I’m working toward becoming a writer as an early retirement career.

    1. That sounds awesome, Dan. What a great story. I’m also a huge fan of teaching, I’ve done a lot of it in the past. I intend to start again, at some point, lecturing maybe a course or two a year. Teaching people is such a great feeling – I feel like I’m helping them realize some of their potential.

      Cheers!

  12. Oluremi Bamidele

    David, well done. Yours is a success story. I feel inspired by the story and thus believe my story can change for the best too. Can you send me the great toolkit you talked about in your reply to Mona’s comment. Thanks greatly.

    1. Hi Oluremi! Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m happy that it inspired something within you.

      As for the toolkit, if you head to my site and fill in your email address I’ll send you the toolkit. There’s also a link in the author box at the bottom of the article, and I think my name in the comments links to the site as well.

  13. Great post David. I’m so happy you were able to rise out of the mess and create the life you love and deserve.

    I work with people helping them make transitions that align with their deepest selves.

    You are absolutely right that action, any action, is the only thing that will start to make things better. Movement is the beginning. As we proceed on the journey that movement become more directed and more powerful. At the beginning the smallest step makes the biggest difference.

    Thanks

  14. Sometimes we sink so far into the dark pit that we forget there is light beyond. Thank goodness for folks like your wife who are willing to cut through that permanent fog with love and truth. Thanks, too, for sharing your story.

    I am so thankful for my husband who always answered my constant complaints, tears, and rantings about the last dysfunctional place I worked with, “Quite your job and move into what you love!” He held his hand out, and helped me up, past the fear of risk and change, into such a more satisfying and joyful life!

  15. Fantastic story David!
    And your third advice is really powerful. It’s so easy to get caught up in planning and making sure the exact right action is taken. But often times what’s most important is just to get started.

  16. David, though I agree that it is important for an individual to be happy before he/she extend the happiness to others, it is equally important to ensure that self happiness doesn’t come at the cost of others’. It feels sad when individual’s quest for happiness supercede’s anything around. A terrorist’s happiness is bad news for the world, right?

    1. Well, Ruminating – that’s a slippery slope. To say that a terrorist’s happiness is bad news for us takes in a mountain of theological and philosophical arguments. One can say that no true happiness can come from destruction, no matter what the physical experience might tell us otherwise. Some might say that except for our perception of good and bad, there is actually no such thing – and so a terrorist’s happiness can, in effect, be neither good nor bad if they are relative. Some would say that everything is relative.

      Still some would say that if your happiness comes at the cost of others, then you are selfish. Some would postulate that if your happiness comes at the cost of other people’s happiness, then they are selfish. Some would say that if other people are made unhappy by your happiness, then their happiness was based on mere illusion in the first place and, therefore, an illusion and, therefore, unable to truly be lost. Others would say that no person can base their happiness on another person and their actions.

      And, still…..some would say that the mere search for “happiness” is an illusion because it can never be anything more than subjective. They would suggest that what we are looking for is more of a joy, one that is above and beyond the physical nature of the world, our bodies, other people. “Happiness” they would suggest, is what one would feel when they get a promotion, or a raise, or an A on a test. Joy is what one would feel even if they do not get the promotion, or the raise, or the A on the test.

      Very interesting….

  17. Thank you for this, I have been struggling with this for as long as I can remember. I tried to make a step towards finding my true calling before but I had too much fear to get off of the path I was already on because I dedicated so much time and effort on a path that I thought was the correct one and that I thought would make everyone around me happy and proud. I have now stalled in my path because I now realize that every step I could take from the path I have already started on are not in directions that I truly feel will make me happier in my life. Everyone around me seems more worried for me than proud anymore because they all realize as well that I’ve lost my way. I’m not sure if I even know what I truly want but I hope one day I can find what you have found.

  18. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I needed to read this. I really did. I’m at a point in my life that i realise i need to change some things but i needed a ‘push’ to get me started, to take action, to take lift in to my own hands. So thank you! I know i’ve got to do something. And what’s more: i will! I will do something. Starting right now. Right here.

  19. This post has definitely inspired me. I live near Los Angeles and have wanted to act my whole life, but I always fall into the trap of everyone telling me I’ll never make it and I’ll never be noticed. It’s my dream and I hope to have the courage one day to take a leap of faith like you have done.

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