A client had been struggling lately and reached out for some guidance. She felt stuck. Bored. Unhappy.
Her job is unfulfilling and her dream of becoming a writer has seemed unrealistic in the shadow of her uninspiring day-to-day. She was even questioning the life choices that have brought her to where she is now, telling me, “I’ve wasted so much time…”
Mostly she just felt powerless.
Does this sound familiar to you? It sure resonates for me, so I told my client the following story about how I turned my own life around…
15 years ago I was living in New York and was lost, stagnant and completely stymied about what my next move should be in life. I knew I needed something different; a new career, a new relationship, a change of scenery, all of it; but I couldn’t for the life of me find the courage to make a move. I had no degree, no money in savings and no idea what to do with my life. I was miserable but mystified about what to do about it.
I kept thinking that a move to Colorado would be a great solution. I could end my shitty relationship, live near my soul-sister cousin and closest confidante, surround myself with beauty and nature and a young, hip city, and try something new, finally; how AWESOME would that be?
Then my inner committee chimed in:
“But what if I don’t like it there? What if I can’t find a job? Moving is so expensive… I might not find a place to live that would take dogs. I’m not very outgoing; maybe I won’t make any friends? Man, moving to Colorado might actually make things WORSE. THAT would really suck. I might as well just stay here...”
I was stalled in my life in New York, and desperately wanted a change, but I was paralyzed by and feeling powerless to fear of the unknown.
One day, as I sat in my bedroom in my mother’s house (where I was begrudgingly staying due to my lackluster lifestyle), I pondered my sorry state of affairs, and it hit me. Being the organized project manager, moderate-type-A that I am, here’s exactly how my thought process unfolded:
- OK, I’m miserable. That’s a FACT.
- I really want to try something, someplace, someone new, but I’m not going anywhere. That’s also a FACT.
- Why am I still sitting here? Because I’m afraid of what moving on might hold for me, which includes lots of scary possibilities, like loneliness, financial worries, CHANGE in general. Any one of those would make me feel even worse than I do right now, not to mention the prospect of experiencing ALL of them. It would be like hitting ROCK BOTTOM.
- OK, so I’m afraid of hitting rock bottom and feeling worse than I do now.
- But there are other options that I might experience if I moved on that would be infinitely BETTER than hitting rock bottom, like happiness, love, abundance, success, adventure, good health, amazing relationships, career options, FUN. It would be like achieving the life of my DREAMS.
- OK, so I could achieve the life of my dreams if I moved on too…
- So basically I’m holding myself back from the possibility of having all of these outstanding experiences, from the potential to live the life of my dreams, and would rather stay stagnant and miserable than risk that it *might*, *maybe*, *possibly*, at some point down the road get worse?
- Wait a minute. How could it POSSIBLY ever get any worse than this? If I’m not allowing myself the opportunity to be any happier than I am now, it could NEVER be any worse than this. I’ve already hit ROCK BOTTOM. The UPSIDE is all that’s left.
About an hour later I was on the phone with my soul-sister cousin working out the details of my eventual move to Colorado; I’ve been here and loving life ever since.
The point of this story, and what I helped my “powerless” client to identify, is that while she felt powerless because of her circumstances, in fact she is all powerful to change, she just chooses not to out of fear. Sound harsh? Maybe at first it stings a little to hear that, but in reality we sometimes need to come to terms with the REAL shit that’s limiting our growth in order to have the ability to move past it.
We ALL are powerful to make change in our lives. We ALL have the ability, really the RESPONSIBIITY, to choose the upside once we’ve identified that we’ve hit bottom. It’s why we’re all here, right?
So! Are you ready to harness your power and make some change happen in your life? Below are some tactics and a tool to help you ensure that the UPSIDE is always your default choice.
3 Steps to Change-Making:
- Know the signs of fear interfering with your life. Do you feel powerless? Frustrated? Unhappy in general? Most often, whether you’d like to admit it or not, there’s fear beneath those other feelings, and our feelings are the best indicator of what our beliefs actually are about ourselves and the world as we experience it. Once you identify that fear is getting in your way, the hard work is done! Now it's up to you to make a choice; you can either succumb to it and remain stagnant, disenchanted and unhappy, or you can believe in yourself and your ability to make magic happen in your own life and then take a step forward. (Personally, I prefer option two...)
- Weigh your options. Is it a move you’re considering? Are you thinking about ending an unfulfilling relationship? Do you have new career aspirations in mind? Compare your UPSIDE opportunities to your oh-so-scary ROCK BOTTOM possibilities. THEN compare those rock bottom fears to your feelings about your CURRENT REALITY. My prediction is that they look pretty similar, and if not, at least your UPSIDE options will most certainly outshine the rock bottom fear, not to mention your current reality. Try out my Upside Potential Worksheet as a means to make these comparisons for yourself. Documenting your potential opportunities on paper and seeing it right in front of you is the fastest way to jump start your change-making. (See the photo below for my own NY to CO Upside Potential Worksheet example...)
- Make a decision and MOVE FORWARD, dammit! If you’re limiting your happiness due to fear of the unknown, there is absolutely no way things could ever get any worse. (Simply because you won’t allow yourself to get any BETTER either!) I promise, settling for mediocrity or “just OK” because you’re afraid of the “what ifs” of your other options is definitely not a worthwhile way to live your life. Your life will ALWAYS be better when you give yourself the OPPORTUNITY to experience the upside.
So GO FOR IT! Even if you find that a fear or two is realized once you’ve made your move, at least you’ve challenged your old paradigms and will have taken a chance on something AMAZING. (And really, how often are our fears ever as bad as we imagine them to be anyway?)
When was the last time you conquered a fear and chose the upside? Use the comments section below to share your tales of success or to pose questions about how to find the upside in your current reality. Did you try the Upside Potential Worksheet? Tell us how that worked out. The community and I are here for you! And if you like what you’ve read here, please share with your friends by clicking on the "share" botton below.
With love and inspiration (and only upside from here),