Philosopher, Rudolf Steiner conceived what is now known as the “stages of life theory” which suggests that our cells and mind change every 7 years. While scientists are conflicted as to the validity of the 7-year claim, there is no denying that cells die off constantly, experiences change our view, and if we are living a life that is in any way interesting and productive, we will be growing and occasionally have the urge to move forward.
I found myself in such a moment a few weeks ago as I was sitting at my desk in my home office, staring at a blank computer with tense shoulders positioned so high up they almost touched my earlobes. It had been ages since I had enjoyed what I considered a proper workout and I felt as though I had not experienced a truly creative moment in months. When ran through the reel of my social life, I saw the same places over and over again and though I had a book in my mind, I was so uninspired by what felt like a groundhog day routine that I couldn’t even write the first line. Now, to be fair, there is and remains a significant amount of good in my life, but the joy, creativity, and curiosity was fading and this moment served as a wake-up call to bring things back into technicolor.
I booked a few days off from work right around a long weekend which allowed me a full week off to hit reset. I decided not to judge myself or push myself to do any one thing but to let myself just to be. The first day, I enjoyed a killer workout and then sanded and painted our dining room table. The second, I bought flowers for the living room, did some more painting (with wine and Edith Piaf nearby) and then surprised my boyfriend with lamb kebobs in a mint sauce for dinner. By the morning of the third day, I was writing with ease and excited for another reminder that I had not lost myself or fallen into a rut. It was merely another time in life to hit reset and move forward.
If you’re ready to take a few steps forward, here are a few tips.
Get In The Right Mindset
Whether you’re stuck in a job you hate, having difficulties maintaining healthy boundaries or find yourself bored with your life, the answer to the question above usually stems in our self-assessment. Perhaps you feel as though you don’t have the power/resources/support/skills/time to change certain areas of your life or that there is something about you that will inevitably lead to less-than-opportune outcomes. Maybe you have let yourself “slip” so long that you feel like this new situation is your new “forever” normal. Here’s the good news: this is all crap. We live in a world of access and community. If you want inspiration, it’s accessible. Looking for a group to support you or to learn a new skillset? Check out MeetUp, ToGetHerFurther, Adas List, EventBrite or any of the other hundreds of sites available online. The point is that there is always an answer outside of your immediate assessment and making a mental switch to see yourself as a go-getter with an abundance of resources will set a new tone that will be life-changing (literally).
Plan Your Transition
The whole point of my taking some time off was not just to hit pause, but to make a transition into my new chapter. This required more than a wish and a few days out of the office. I needed to take a 360-degree look at my life and make a solid transition plan. This included identifying which habits I needed to break, what projects and goals deserved my attention (and which didn’t) and what strategies and support I had in place to succeed and where I needed to reinforce myself. I first set daily goals based on the woman I wanted to be and watched what I did when I allowed autopilot to take over. When I saw myself going for my phone every 20 minutes, getting wound-up and replying when I was sent a third unnecessary message from a colleague when I was clear I was on holiday, I realized a lot of my stress was self-imposed. Observing my actions (and reactions) gave me enough information to make a solid 90-day plan.
Reset Your Relationships
One of the hardest parts of making a transition into a new chapter is the response those around you have to your decision to move forward. I am not only talking about those who get intimidated or the “haters” who are threatened by your growth. This also includes the well-meaning loved ones, friends, and colleagues who rely on you to be the person you have always been for them to feel safe, in control, or whatever emotive response they have to your current habits, boundaries or circumstance. While I am someone who usually shares my thoughts and feelings readily, I decided to take a much quieter approach to change this time around and just started engaging in the habits, beliefs, conversations, and friendships that felt healthy and productive and gently disengaging from those it was time to move on from. There was no hard line drawn anywhere, but more of a good vibe boundary set. I no longer engaged unnecessarily negative conversations, invited people to do new and exciting things and stopped expecting those who continuously let me down to be any different than they had always been. This (in partnership with setting clear boundaries and taking better care of myself) changed the energy in nearly every relationship I had.
Don’t Expect It To Be Perfect
In those cheesy 80’s movies, a drastic change took only a fall down the stairs, off a boat or a visit to a fountain during a thunderstorm. In real life, change takes time, and it’s OK to feel a little lost at times or fall back into old habits now and again. It’s important to remember that neither means you have failed. Instead of pushing yourself to be your new best from “this moment on,” reframe your goal to be the best you can be in as many moments as you can each day. Being the competitive person I am, I started to write down points for each joy I had, each time I felt I handled something better and also the times when I felt it the hardest to live up to my new standard. All worked in allowing me space to recognize my growth and see my “wins” even when I was not operating at 100%, 100% of the time.
One Final Thought
If I could leave you with one final takeaway from this piece it is this: it’s OK to want to make changes, and tweaking your life and any part of yourself, is something that should be celebrated, not used as an indication that you’re not happy, are currently “failing” or that you think you’re better than anyone else. Take your life day-by-day, moment-by-moment and simply do the best you can. The more moments you collect, the easier it will be to find and collect them.