“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
― Winston S. Churchill
I know how you feel. I’ve been there myself. I have been a single mom of one since my daughter was five months old, but somewhere along the way, I strongly felt it was time for a change. My emotional wounds had healed, and I now wanted to do more and create space for more in my life. Up until this point, I had unknowingly lost myself trying to fill the void left by an unexpected loss. Motherhood became my sole focus since my individual needs no longer mattered. I did not know how else to be a mother to my daughter nor how to deal with the circumstances that had left me a single mother. I was stuck, confused, and disconnected from myself. I had no sense of purpose, but something in me kept pushing me forward. I was so ready for change, for a shift toward something new and positive.
You see, shortly after my marriage, my husband passed away. I was eight months pregnant when doctors informed us that he had only six months to live. He died when our daughter was just five months old.
The man seemed to exude joy and happiness at all times. He helped me look at life from a different perspective, a lesson I will forever cherish. When we found out we were pregnant, the feeling I experienced was something out of this world. I was going to have a baby with a man I shared such a deep connection with, so when he died, best believe I lost a part of me. People tried consoling me by telling me to be grateful I had a beautiful baby girl, but gratitude was nowhere close to what I was feeling.
But now, after years of being stuck and feeling unhappy, I was ready for the next chapter of my life. There had always been this voice in my head that kept asking, “Is this it?” And now and again, it would also say, “Surely, there must be a way to live a happier life and feel altogether better.” In those days, I was merely surviving. One could say I was a mother living on autopilot and that someone else was in the control room. Life, in general, stopped being fulfilling, and nothing I did seemed to bring me joy, not even the things that used to.
I am sure if you look back in time, you will recall various moments and activities that brought you a lot of joy. Challenges or trauma, such as I suffered when I lost my husband, tend to leave us feeling numb and stuck. And every happy moment and activity you once experienced is forgotten just like that.
What did you used to love doing? Was it going for walks and taking road trips? Or did you use to enjoy getting pampered at the spa every so often? But sadly today, you find going for a walk or booking a massage session futile. For me, I stopped reading novels, an activity I very much enjoyed. The challenges I was experiencing left me feeling spent 24/7, such that reading became a task. Reclaim your joy bit by bit by making time for the activities you once loved.
Something else that made me realize it was time for a change was that I had begun to believe my self-doubting thoughts. I was almost convinced that life was supposed to be difficult, and that “happy ever after” was not meant for my story. I needed to stop believing what I thought, and fast, if I was going to have another shot at creating a happy life. A person has about 80,000 thoughts a day, of which most are negative. It is these thoughts that create the beliefs that sometimes weigh us down emotionally and even prevent us from seeing life-changing opportunities. Watch your thoughts!
Now, at one point, I started to dream about the future again. I accepted that I could not change the past and entertained the possibility of a fulfilling future. However, I did not know where to begin in creating this ideal future, which envisioning myself in made me feel quite energized. Regardless, I still had doubts about what I wanted and how to bring about a positive change in my life. But when I realized I had choices, I began to feel less stuck and anxious. Acknowledging I could choose my thoughts, decisions, words, and actions helped me regain control of my life. I was no longer on autopilot! My happiness and success solely depended on me, not anyone else.
“When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”
― Benjamin Franklin
You can create positive change in the following ways:
Do an activity that brings you joy
- Think of an activity you used to enjoy doing, be it playing a sport, playing an instrument, reading, cooking, art & crafts, or volunteering.
- Schedule time, maybe several times in a month, for the activity. Mark it on your calendar as an event so as not to forget.
- Document your feelings and experiences surrounding your chosen activity in a journal for 30 days. Do you look forward to it? How do you feel while and after doing it?
- Set aside 3 minutes at the start of your daily routine to think about the things that make you feel grateful. Waking up is always top of my gratitude list each day. Consider sitting in a quiet space with your eyes closed and repeating, “What am I grateful for today?” This exercise helps you start your day with gratitude, which in turn makes you happy.
- Spend another five minutes writing down the things that came to mind in a journal. You can start the entries on your gratitude journal with, “Today, I am grateful for….”
Define a clear vision for your future
- Have clear goals and objectives for the next 90 days. Write them down somewhere you can easily access and or add more. Set aside 30 minutes to work on the list and be creative. In time, you can create a one-year vision.
- Pay attention to the apparent and hidden obstacles standing between you and the future you want.
- Create processes that will help you achieve your goals and overcome the identified obstacles. Focus on the process, not the outcome, as it brings you more joy and is more empowering.
Ask for help
- Identify the areas of your life that you may need help achieving desired changes. You can tell for sure you need help in a given area depending on how you feel about it, for instance, unhappy or unsatisfied.
- Contact someone with the ability to help you achieve your life goals. You can reach out to a life coach online. I know that asking for help is difficult, but don’t let it deter you from getting the support you need to change your life.
- If faced with moments of self-doubt, do this quick affirmation exercise to help change your thought patterns from negative to positive. Sit in a quiet place and close your eyes. Take three deep breaths and repeat the following (out loud or in your mind) five times,
“I have control over my thoughts. I have choices. I release all fear.”