I can hear you reading this headline and exclaiming, “Geez, Jen, bit of a bold title, isn’t it?”. But hear me out. Figuring out how to turn your life around is as much about discovering what needs to change, as it is having the know-how to do it. And the “How” is what I’m going to touch on here.
How to turn your life around
Everybody has that moment when they hit their limit. When they throw their hands in the air and
wave them around like they just don’t care are going to punch someone or something. Because they just can’t anymore. No to this, no to you, no to that, and certainly no to them and all the things. Some call it rock bottom. I call it the beginning.
And once you’ve dared to look at the unacceptable situation that is your life, you suddenly realise that all of it has taken a bit of a tumble. And while it’s exciting to go back to the drawing board and fix things from the bottom up, it can be quite daunting when there are so many different areas to address.
The montage vs the hole
Family, friends, appearance, house, career, love life, health…these are just some of the areas you might need to improve on. But how? It can be really stressful looking at all of this and wondering where to start, and so often we’re tempted to turn our lives into a movie montage moment, when the main character cuts her hair, gets a new wardrobe, quits her job, ditches her man, and magically gets skinny all in the space of half an ABBA song.
But that’s not real. And I’m tempted to say it’s not possible. Sure, some superhuman maniacs might be able to pull this off, but that makes them the weirdos, not you.
The way to climb out of a hole is one foothold at a time. Sure, in the beginning it might not seem like you’re making much progress. You might still be able to see the ground below, smell its musty stale stench, even feel tempted to jump back down – it is after all, cosy, familiar, and comforting. But one step leads to five, and pretty soon you can look over your shoulder and hardly see the bottom of your pit. What did it even feel like down there? You might never know – it’s too far down to jump. All you can do is keep climbing.
One step at a time
The question then becomes: which step do I take first? This all depends on which areas you want to look at. The general rule of thumb here is to start with the area that has the biggest impact. For example, if you’re unhappy in your current job, you’ve gained weight, and you aren’t spending enough time with your friends, look at these items and decide on which ones will impact on your life in the most significant ways. Then work from biggest to smallest.
It might be that changing jobs will mean you’re feeling happy and fulfilled at work, and given that you spend a lot of time there, the impact will be high. Or, perhaps you’re really struggling to accept yourself at your current weight which in turn means that you’re stuck in a cycle of damaging self sabotage, changing your health habits will improve both your physical self and mental wellbeing.
Permission to ignore
They key to making this one step at a time transformation is to recognise that things will not change overnight. There will be no montage (but you have my full permission to play as much ABBA music as you like). Instead, you’ll see small changes that, over time, lead to big steps.
In order to stay in this positive zone, you’ll need to put your blinkers on. You will have to give yourself permission to let other areas remain unchanged while you fix more urgent ones. Perhaps this means letting your dishes go unwashed while you reconnect with a friend, or delaying your healthy eating regime while you pay attention to your marriage. Saying to yourself “It’s okay – this is all part of the plan” can do wonders when you’re in the middle of it all.
Whatever your troubles, the main thing is to start with one, make that impact, and then move on to the next with your new found momentum in mind. And be kind to yourself – anything you’re doing that is for positive change is a good thing.
And remember, the more steps you take, the higher you climb.