This time last year, we were embarking on what seemed to be a temporary new lifestyle in response to the unexpected global crisis and a lockdown that extended itself month after month. Goals and plans were established before major changes in our lives could be made. Fast forward to the point where you came across this blog post, where feelings of stagnation may have arisen as a result of what appears to be little to no progress in your life.
Right now, you could be 23 years old and living somewhere that feels far from where you once wanted to call "home." Or you could be 29 and still employed in the same job that you envisioned yourself leaving by now. Or 33 with a business venture that has yet to take off. Or 45 with a book that is taking longer than you anticipated to get published.
Wherever you are in your life at this moment, I ask that you claim a sacred space that allows room for compassion and acceptance as you read these next few reminders.
Social media can be a monster
While social media serves a useful purpose in keeping us informed about current events and helping us to stay in touch with friends and family, it can also be the very place where hopes are crushed, and confidence is diminished.
With its unbalanced and false portrayal of other people's lives, it can add continued stress to our daily functioning, convincing us that the life we live should have progressed far beyond where it is now. Our news feeds can be inundated with photos of people showing their new house, or the excitement about a job promotion, or the blessing of an upcoming addition to their family.
But ask yourself this:
"Are their lives perfect?"
"Has their shared success followed the exact timeline they had set for themselves? Or were there mishaps along the way?"
"Does someone else's milestone being crossed mean that I can't achieve success?"
More often than not, we refrain from asking these questions because of the negative automatic thoughts that fester inside of us amidst moments of self-let-downs. While it is completely natural to fall into the social media trap of comparing your life to what everyone else is posting, it is unrealistic to assume that what you see is the whole story.
More often than not, people are not posting their failures, nor are they disclosing the number of failed attempts it took before reaching their shared successes. Comparing your journey to someone else's will leave you feeling unfulfilled, with a skewed sense of your accomplishments and lacking a sense of belonging.
You don't have to stay committed to the timeline you created for yourself
People are inclined towards what feels certain. If they can't see their entire path laid out in front of them, they succumb to their fears. Although setting goals and expectations for yourself can influence a positive change and give you a clear idea of what you are working towards, it's also OK to change gears and take a different path.
Life is all about happenstance. Every day, we make countless decisions that shape our lives. Every action we take is a decision to refrain from taking a different action. The idea behind this isn't to add to the pressure but to remind you that anything can happen to change the script that you originally wrote for the future you want.
By no means do these decisions have to be drastic. It can be as simple as choosing to drive to work rather than take public transportation or attend one event instead of the other. Every decision we made prior to this point has affected our lives, and the decisions we choose to make following this will change life's course once again.
Learn to make peace with the way the course of your life changes. Your journey is one-of-a-kind, and your timeline is unlikely to be predictable. Find solace in making the necessary changes to rewrite your timeline.
Ask yourself, "Is this meant for me?"
It is easier to lament missed opportunities than accept the idea that something was meant for you and it would always be written for you.
You can have your goal written out. Even though you have a master plan to achieve this goal, things can still go wrong despite doing everything you can to make it work. Not everything you deeply desire will be useful to you in the long run, and you won't always understand why in that exact moment.
It may seem as though you were not dealt the best cards when the stars are aligning in your favor. Allowing yourself the courage to let go of a dream you once desired more than anything else can sometimes open the door for something much bigger to come your way.
Shift your perspective by expressing gratitude
At this point in your life, what are you grateful for? Close your eyes and take a minute to answer this question.
It is far too easy to get caught up in the discouraging trap of thinking about what you don't have and what you haven't achieved. Now shift your focus and consider all that you have achieved and all that you have.
Here are some examples of how to do that:
"I may not have my dream car, but I have a car to get me to and from my destination safely. I worked hard to earn it."
"I have not secured the position I wanted yet, but I have a job to provide me with financial comfort for the time being."
"I am not married like my other friends, but I am in a healthy and loving relationship with myself, and that is enough for me right now. The right person will come along."
"I have not recovered from my injury by now as I hoped, but my body is operating as best as it could and I am healthy."
Make a hobby out of celebrating your smallest victories. The power of words is bigger than any of us. Release them. Allow for them to manifest.
Remember: Time is not running out
Time is not your worst enemy. But living with the guilt of having the time to make the necessary changes to improve your quality of life and failing to do so is.
It is up to us to put ourselves in situations that will allow us to achieve our goals as we gain a better understanding of what we want. This does not mean to overwork yourself past your mental capacity. Start now, but start slow. If you fail, continue to persevere. Avoid comparing your journey with someone else's.
- Practice positive self-talk.
- Practice self-compassion.
- Practice gratitude.
- Be kind to your process, even if your progress is slow.
It's okay if you're not where you thought you'd be in life at this point. You are exactly where you are meant to be.