As the old saying goes, two steps forward, one step backward. Even when you are completely moving forward in your life, it can look like you are taking steps backward, and feel like it too. It can certainly be frustrating and even scary. But sometimes the best things take time, and can mean a lot of big changes.
A Fresh Start
When I asked my ex for a divorce, we lived in a gorgeous condo in a high-rise building. However, he wouldn’t leave the condo (while we had it on the market), which forced me to move out. It was a stretch for my budget, but I got a cute little apartment in a lovely area. It was a major step down if you compared it to my gorgeous condo, that’s for sure.
But the funny part is, I loved that apartment so much. I saw it as a step in the right direction. I know many friends thought it was ‘unfair’ that I was there and my ex was in our nice condo, and in some ways they were probably right But that apartment was everything to me. It was a fresh start. Someplace he didn’t have the keys to – it was mine. It signified freedom for me. And I loved it more than the condo because of that!
While not all changes are comfortable, or even feel as good as that apartment felt – they are always stepping stones to a better place. For example, when I was laid off years ago, I was completely freaked out by it. I knew I hated my job and needed a fresh start, but when it was forced on me abruptly, it was shocking. It was upsetting. And it was downright scary. How would I pay the bills? While I spent a whole summer hunting for a job and paying the bills with both unemployment money and my 401K savings, in the end I got a wonderful job that I wanted and that I really enjoyed.
In hindsight I would say that getting laid off was the best thing that happened to me at that time, though at the time I wouldn’t have said that. Despite the fact I knew I needed to make a change, I certainly didn’t want to have to figure it all out that quickly. Looking back though, it was the best summer of my life really. I took the time to not just figure out what I wanted – but also to enjoy myself and dream a little.
The Discomfort is Worth it
Changes can be challenging, and mean short term ‘discomfort’ or even emotional upheaval sometimes, but when you know where you are going it will be worth it. This also goes for those times that you didn’t initiate the change. Sometimes something feels ‘forced’ on you. A divorce, a layoff, a breakup – it can mean immediate and radical change for you. Remember to stop and figure out why it’s happening, and where you need to go from here. Even when it’s hard and emotional, you need to find what it’s teaching you and what your new vision is for your life.
How to Work Through Changes and Challenges in Life:
- Always keep the vision of what’s ahead. You absolutely need to dream. And to believe that there are better things ahead for you. You need to keep that alive and well in your heart and in your head. If you know where you are going, you will get there.
- Follow your instincts always. If you feel like you need to do one thing even when everyone tells you otherwise, go the way your gut tells you to go. Not your head – your head will mess you up sometimes. Overthinking is dangerous. Follow your gut. What you KNOW is the right decision and best for YOU.
- Look at things as positively as you can. You may be in a small apartment now after asking for a divorce – having lost money and your beautiful home – but you are free of that unhappiness. You are on your way to a happier, healthier life of freedom.
- Find support to push through the hard stuff.Find not just what supports you in taking the best care of yourself, but also people who get what you are going through who you can talk to. So in other words, lots of good self-care, and also time with people who will listen and understand.
- Distance yourself from the naysayers. In other words, anyone who doesn’t support you in what you are doing, or who tells you all the reasons you shouldn’t do it – find distance from them. And by all means don’t listen. If you are following your gut and doing what is right for you – absolutely don’t listen. Find your tribe of supporters, and find distance from the others.
- Don’t get lost in the details. If you start to get overwhelmed in a financial battle with your ex, or in the overwhelm of starting a new business – step back once in a while. Remember where you are going and that this too shall pass. It’s temporary. You WILL get to the good stuff. Keep pushing through the weeds of course, but have moments of stepping out of it mentally and taking an ‘aerial view’. You will see that it’s all very small and temporary and probably not worth the stress.
You are Still Moving Forward
Remember that sometimes changes that will be incredibly positive for you in the long run might mean short term sacrifices, lifestyle changes, financial struggles and more. Always keep your eyes to the future though, while also finding appreciation in what you have in the present. I know the process of divorce, layoffs and job searches, finding a new career path, moving and so much more can be really intimidating. But look at the big picture. Remember that you are going to have a better life. Keep on moving forward even if it looks like you are taking steps backwards. You WILL get there!
A book you may enjoy – The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelho