You avoid it at all costs. It doesn’t feel good and it is isn’t safe.
Most of us spend the majority of our energy trying to skirt around it and enjoy the life we have today. Because today feels pretty great, it’s comfortable and predictable. But, any life is a life of change and the more you avoid it, the quicker it will catch up to you.
If you feel the change coming, I get it. In this past year, I made a huge change in my life, I went from being a corporate engineer walking into the 9–5 grind to becoming a freelance writer and artist. Not only that but, I walked away from relationships that no longer served me and broke free from the protective limiting beliefs that were hurting, not helping me.
On New Year’s Eve this year, I sat down before heading out to celebrate and thought about what major lessons the past 365 days taught me.
While I am still deep in the process of change, here is what I have learned thus far. I hope these lessons will help you on your journey to change.
1. Change is scary…but mandatory.
If you want to make your life better, change is non-negotiable. It is literally impossible to grow without changing.
When faced with making a change, prepare yourself that it will cause ruffles in your life with you and those around you.
As you take steps forward in your goals you will be required to do things you have never done before. Perhaps you want to grow a business online and need to start making videos, or perhaps you want to reconnect with your art and start taking classes. Whatever your goals are, you will be taking a step out of your typical box.
Be prepared to feel uncomfortable yourself, and be prepared that this change will make others uncomfortable too. They may respond in supportive ways, which is great, or they may react negatively. This negative reaction is typically a result of one of two reasons: they care about you and fear that change will put you in harm’s way, or, they are, honestly, jealous that you’re making changes they wish they had the courage to make. Work on not taking this personally, and view it as a way to inspire others and learn more about the relationships you may need to let go of.
2. Don’t worry about what other people think.
When you walk into a room it might feel like all eyes are on you. Everyone is noticing that wrinkle in your shirt, the few pounds you gained or the discomfort in your voice. But really, they aren’t. In actuality, those same thoughts are also circling their heads too!
There is a man who always walks at the beach by my home in nothing but a g-string thong. He walks up and down the coast practically naked. I watch this and yes, some people notice. But, the number of people completely unaware of him amazes me. If he can walk around basically naked and no one bats an eyelash…you can too.
Walk into situations, perhaps not fully nude, but with the idea that no one is paying attention to you. I started to do this and was able to more easily do what I wanted to do and say what I want to say.
When you do this, life becomes much more fun.
Here’s the thing, when you are having a great time, others will break free from their concerned through pattern and want to join in. When you are being yourself, you create an invitation for others to be themselves too.
3. You must make time to play.
My guess is you have some pretty lofty goals for yourself. You want to make major shifts in your life and that will require a great deal of commitment and persistence.
In order to make sure this is sustainable, you must make time to play and enjoy the process. When I first started to pursue the path of building my own life while working a fulltime job I was grinding all day and night. It was brutal, and as much as I enjoyed the process of building a dream, I wasn’t having any fun.
If you want to make dreams reality, you have to live inside your dreams a little. Do this by welcoming play into your life.
Webster definition: play (v): engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
So no, play isn’t sitting at home with a glass of wine venting to your friends about how tired you are. Play is getting out and doing something that sparks creativity, movement and enjoyment.
I found dance to be my form of play, I have always loved to dance and started to take hip-hop dance classes with myself, friends and family. Going to a cardio dance class with my mom is one of the most playful joys we share together. Simply put, watching my mom try to twerk is the definition of play.
Guess what, when you start incorporating more play into your life, other areas are going to excel. Play is a gateway to creativity, and a pathway to open yourself up to meeting new people and having different experiences that may lead you towards faster success. Play gives you the energy you need to keep going.
4. Don’t let others’ actions dictate what you think everyone else will do.
At this point in your life, it is likely that something has happened to make you second guess people, to make you proceed with caution in certain parts of your life or relationships. When you are on the path to create a dream or change your life, you must be willing to adjust these ideas and release what once was.
Heres the thing, there are billions of wonderful and kind people in this world, never let one person’s actions or words taint how you view everyone else.
In order to do this, it really comes down to trust. It isn’t really about trusting others, it’s about trusting yourself. You must learn to trust your ideas, your thoughts and those feelings that show up pushing you forward or pulling you back.
If you want to step out and build something in your life, you need to trust yourself.
5. You never know what someone is going through, so be kind.
This past year I learned that a man I once worked with lost his young wife after suffering from years of cancer. He never spoke about it, never showed that his home life was filled with sickness and pain. He came to work, and put on a smile, never showing it.
I too have done this, I hid how I really felt beneath a bright smile and persistent attitude. No one knew what was really going on beneath the surface. We are all giant icebergs, it is a matter of how much is sticking out versus hiding beneath the icy waters.
Knowing this, it is so important to approach people with kindness, empathy, and compassion regardless of what is happening. Maybe that person is zooming in and out of traffic to get to the hospital. Perhaps that person who snapped at the barista for messing up their order just lost their job. Possibly the distracted coworker you see every day is going through a divorce. You never know.
So be kind. It really is that simple.
6. All you can be is yourself, so start being you now.
This was by far the biggest lesson I learned this past year.
I thought I had to be this constantly put together, happy and accomplished person. It was exhausting. Yes, that is very much part of me, but there were other parts of me that I wasn’t allowing to shine through.
When I finally faced the truth of wanting to make major changes in my life, I also realized this meant it was time to shed the false facade of perfection I had been holding up for so long.
Let me tell you, it feels amazing.
Those parts of yourself that you might want to hide from others are very possibly the best parts of you. Start being all of you now!
This article first appeared on Medium.