Sunday, April 14, 2024

How to Change Your Life: When You Know Things Have to Change but Have No Idea How to Do It

Yeah ok, that’s a bold title.

Losing control of your life is terrifying. 

It’s something that happens to all of us at least one point or another during our time on earth, with the only certain things being death, taxes and the complete inability to control fate.

But just because it’s inevitable, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

Over a bottle of a low to mid-range rosé my girlfriends and I nabbed on special ($12.99 is our new happy place) I realised that it had happened to all of us. 

I, as you and the rest of the nation will know thanks to me inadvertently becoming the poster child for redundancy, lost my job. 

Hannah too lost her job, but also lost her pre-approval to buy a house. 

Stacey’s wedding was cancelled. 

Jess couldn’t come back home in time to say goodbye to her nana. 

All of this big life shit that you’re supposed to do and deal with in your late 20s and early 30s – stuff that’s hard to do at the best of times – has completely derailed by Covid-19. 

But it’s not just the one thing that happens. It’s the flow-on effects – nearly everything else gets shunted back and delayed as you try and deal with the disaster right in front of you. But, you’re also supposed to feel while grateful for the fact you’re not sick. 

Health first. Then roof over head. Bills paid. Pantry stocked. 

And then, the big question. 

What the f*** am I doing with my life?  

For a lot of us this year has been a reckoning – a ragnarok, if you will (I shall because it reminds me of Chris Hemsworth and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you can never have too much Hemsworth). 

It’s been a time of forced contemplation, forced thinking, forced rationalisation and forced yielding – of goals, of dreams, of lifestyles and of livelihoods. 

But what do you do when you know you need to change your life – like, some big changes, but you have no idea what they need to be, or how to do them? 

“I feel lost,” admits Hannah. “When I lost my job it made me realise that I wanted to make some big changes. I wasn’t loving my career, I don’t want to stay in the same living situation, and I just feel that life had a little more in store for me. And now, I have absolutely no control over anything, and it’s freaking me out.  I know all of this, but I don’t know how to figure out what those changes need to be.” 

Since we entered lockdown in late March, most of us have had a lot more time on our hands – and for many people who have been dealing with some of this stuff, it presented a good opportunity for a bit of re-evaluating. But just because you have the time to think, it doesn’t mean that lightning bolt of inspiration is going to hit you. (I apologise for so many Thor references, I’m not doing it on purpose.) It’s frustrating, it’s scary and it’s another unwelcome reminder that you cannot control every little thing that happens to you. 

It’s easier to know that you need a change – when your energy is low, you just seem to be ‘getting through’ each day instead of living it, you’re nostalgic and constantly thinking about the past, you’re stressed and all that’s going through your head is – ‘there’s gotta be more to life’ (of course in the tune of the JoJo song). 

Yeah, ok, cool – so, how do you figure out how to change your life? 

According to a plethora of experts and people who have done this exact thing, there are some common methods to help you answer that rather large question:

1. Just because you can’t figure out what you want, it doesn’t mean you can’t figure out who you are.

First things first, you need to get to know you, boo. So much of what you do in life is centred around your values. What is the most important thing to you? Career advancement? Lifestyle enhancement? Family time? (You’re always supposed to answer family time, but we all know life isn’t that simple. Don’t feel guilty about feeling something else!) 

Define the values that are at your core, and what’s important, and then when you get to the second stage of figuring out WTF to do, use these are your guide. Does this new career/flat/relationship fit with those values? Then ask yourself the big questions: What drives you? What inspires you? What scares the bejesus out of you? And, crucially, how do other people perceive you?

2. Make a choice to choose

Before you embark on this big-ass life adjustment, commit to giving it everything you have. Change requires a lot of hard yakka – a lot of stepping outside of your comfort zone,  a lot of digging deep, and a lot of discomfort. In his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life, author Robert Maurer says, “Radical change is like charging up a steep hill – you may run out of wind before you reach the crest, or the thought of all the work ahead makes you give up sooner than you’ve begun.” 

But even the active decision to commit to a change means you stand in good stead to keep going – channel the spirit of Alexis Rose doing A Little Bit Alexis for all the inspiration you need. 

3. Visualise all you can

Just because you can’t figure out what you need to change, it doesn’t mean you don’t know where you want to end up. Is it a home owner? A successful businesswoman with a corner office? A happy parent? Happily single and independent? In a loving relationship with a white picket fence? Scour the internet for images of what you want your life to look like – pictures, quotes, stories, anything, and print them out. Grab a board and paste them on, and place it somewhere where you can see it every day – on the fridge, on the back of the wardrobe door, even in the bathroom. 

4. Remember nothing is forever and everything is a progression

The world is still a bit f***ed, so go easy on yourself girl. Even if you know what that dream job or dream home or whatever is, it doesn’t mean you have to get there in one go. Consider opportunities that get you closer as well as the ones that’ll get you straight there. Nobody ever complains about the scenic view – and think of all the beautiful people and places you see in the meantime. Baby steps are good. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you most certainly will. But you will most definitely learn from them. And of course the age old slice of wisdom, ‘Nobody gives a shit!’. 

5. Find your life lobster

Remember in Friends when Phoebe rather eloquently describes Ross and Rachel as lobsters – people who mate for life? Ok I’m not suggesting you shack up with a business mentor, but what I mean is find someone you admire who has been there, done that – a career advisor, a senior colleague, a life coach, a relationship counsellor etc – or just a really really wise friend who always seems to have all the answers (we all have one of those). Ask for help and guidance wherever you can and lap up any knowledge you can. 

6. Being as healthy as you can be probably can’t hurt either…

Yeah, look this is an annoying one, but if you’re trying to figure shit out, having a clear head and a healthy body really is a good foundation. Up the veges, get juicing, get outside in the fresh air and get your body moving. Who knows, inspiration could strike during a powerwalk. 

7. Expose yourself to new

If you want a big change but you’re not sure what it is, approach it like buying a wedding dress. Just like you know you want to end up in a fancy, white-ash thing on your big day, you know you want your life to be different. But no one ever buys the wedding dress they set out to, the one that they had in their head all along. You have to get out there and try them all, you research different designers, different fabrics, different cuts. 

My point is, you have to expose yourself to new stuff, stuff you’d never considered before, so you can make an informed decision. Try listening to new podcasts, reading new media, watching new television shows and talk to different people. 

8. Remember that change is courage

If you’re trying to figure this stuff out, you have balls. I really liked this quote from motivational author Brendon Burchard: 

“We have forgotten that courage is a choice, and that permission to move forward with boldness is never given by the fearful masses. Most have forgotten that seeking change requires a touch of insanity. If taking action before the perfect conditions arise, or before we receive permission, is unreasonable or reckless, then we must be unreasonable and reckless.” 

Get it, girl. Good luck!


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