Saying you want to change your life is one thing – everyone says it at some point. Really meaning it and, even more, taking the steps to truly change, those are harder. Changing is easier in theory than it is in practice because it's scary. It means taking a step into the unknown, and that's sometimes terrifying. You have various worries, there's always a reason you can't take a step, and it's easier to dream than it is to act. You can do it, though. I mean, you can really do it. You have to be realistic, you can't wait for an epiphany, and you may just have to take the plunge, but you really can legitimately change your life so you can experience happiness and fulfillment.
1. Identify What Really Makes You Unhappy
If something makes you unhappy, it's toxic. That goes for people, jobs, even the place where you live. You cannot live surrounded by unhappiness. It drags you down, leaving you with no energy, no motivation, and no strength. You have to identify the things that bring you down, even if it's hard to admit. This might require self-reflection, discussions with your closest confidants, or maybe even a little therapy – sometimes revealing things to a stranger is easier and an unbiased opinion is always helpful.
2. Get Rid of It
This is one of the hardest parts. You have to get rid of the toxicity. Ditch anything that's bringing you down – or at least address it. For instance, your relationship might be giving you trouble. If your partner is willing to work on the issues and you, of course, are able to be honest about them, then you don't have to get rid of your partner. Similarly, if you're happy with your career choice but unhappy with your current position, you can look for ways to make changes without changing what you do. However, you may indeed need to quit your current job or change your path in school – or go back, perhaps.
3. Think about What Makes You Really Happy
If you could do anything, what would you do? Really, anything. If I could do anything, I'd go back to medical school in a heartbeat. Now, sadly, some goals aren't within the realm of possibility – at least, not right now. If you want to be a bestselling author, for example, you can't just dream about the day you'll actually write it. You have to write, try to get a job that showcases your talents, try to make contacts, keep writing – the point is, if your goal is worth it, you may have to take it step by step.
4. But Be Willing to Tweak Them if You Need to
And, yes, sometimes you need to … not settle, exactly, but tweak your dreams. Take medical school for me. It's not possible. I'm married, Heather and I are starting a family, and it's not logical for me to take that much time to do a job I love. So, I tweaked it. I'm going to mortuary science school. It's a roundabout logic, yeah, but it relates to the fact that I initially wanted to be a pathologist. Anyway, you get what I mean, yes? Don't be ashamed of tweaking.
5. Take the First Steps
Call a college admissions office. Book a plane ticket. Schedule a talk with your boss. Have a heart to heart with your partner. Whatever your first step is, make it. Even if you just make the first step, it's a start. It's true that the biggest journeys begin with the first step. Taking it is monumental because there are millions of excuses for putting it off.
6. Find Someone to Motivate You
If you're motivated by making an inspiration board or keeping a list of your goals on your bathroom mirror, good on you – keep it up! I propose that everyone making a big change needs a cheerleader, though, someone who can motivate you in a way that works for you. Being held accountable is important, especially when you're nervous or fearful of change. I need tough love and Heather's the best at it. Know what motivates you and share your goals with someone who can provide it.
7. Keep Pushing
No matter what. If you hit a wall or reach an obstacle, don't get anxious, depressed, or defeated. Look for ways around it – make it a detailed search. There's bound to be something and, if there's not, you can always tweak. For instance, if you want to be a doctor but can't pursue your dream right now, you could look into becoming a nurse, an EMT, or a PA first.
8. Fulfill Your OBLIGATIONS
Maybe you've always wanted to learn a language, maybe you've always meant to take a trip, whatever it is, if you can't do without it, then you need to do it. And, if you can do without it, then you need to remove it from your list so it's no longer a burden.
9. Leave Your Comfort Zone
You'll never succeed and you'll never change if you're too afraid to try. Step away from the comfortable and into the adventurous. Face your fears and you'll see how amazing it is to do the new. You will grow and develop from these situations in ways you never thought possible and that will be an accomplishment in itself.
10. Accept Yourself
No one can create change in your life except for you. Accepting who you are, that not everyone will like you, and that sometimes you will fail in life, helps you push forward and achieve the things you wish to achieve. You'll bounce back quicker from the rejections and failures and find something new to put your mind to. Self negativity will only lead to a lifetime of unhappiness.
Change is scary. It's big. It's unpredictable. Really, though, so is everything else. You owe it to yourself to be happy, whatever that entails. So, again, let me ask you – if you could be anything, what would you be?