Standing on the edge of bigger dreams for our lives, we may not always know that true change is possible for us. Sure we read great blogs about living a bold and fearless life. We collect ideas for change like priceless trading cards.
We even study those who’ve walked the path before us and found success in their own lives. It all seems so easy for them, those lucky ones who have found their way through to the other side.
But what about the rest of us? How do we of moderately comfortable existences and busy days find the sort of lasting change that we long for so desperately? How do we find the motivation to keep pushing forward despite no guarantee of finding success?
Facing the Reality of Adulthood
Just over two years ago, I weighed 411 pounds. I was stuck in a job that paid well, but was killing my soul. I had growing debt and a desperate longing to simply run away from my own life, creating a new identity somewhere far removed from the mistakes of my past.
I believed that I had “failed” at adulthood. I wasn’t financially independent, married with 2.3 kids, in a successful career with a bright future, or driving a fancy sedan to my 2500+ square foot suburban home every night.
Instead I was obese, single, and miserable working for someone else, while driving an affordable car and living paycheck to paycheck in 1100 square feet.
I wasn’t living the ideal “dream” so much as the actual reality most of us face in adulthood—unhappy, burdened and stuck.
Becoming One of the “Lucky” Few
The truth for those reading these encouraging words is that we weren’t properly equipped to deal with life. In school, we are taught how to solve for ‘x’ and meet structured expectations. But once college is over, we are given a slip of paper, shoved out the door, and wished a hearty good luck.
Life skills are not measurable in the standardized educational structure, so nobody bothers to teach them. It should be no surprise that we are all flailing about, chasing an idealized life that doesn’t fit the person we are at our core.
Some people have what it takes to excel in this environment of comparative success and happiness. They are always content asking themselves “am I doing as well as or better than. . .” as long as the answer is and remains yes.
And there are others who have figured out that comparison is the worst possible gauge of life. They have learned to exist in the moment, to enjoy all that they have right now instead of worrying over their past and future.
But what about the average masses? We long for escape from what we were taught to want, and are ready to embrace what our hearts are actually longing for—those dreams and desires bursting up from within. We just can’t figure out how it is actually possible to get from here to there.
For me, I wanted to escape my obese body . . . to no longer be the “big girl” in the room. I wanted to spend every single day utilizing my creativity to contribute something of value to the world, while earning a good living in the process. And most importantly, I wanted to be free from the burdens I had carried with me for far too long—debt, regret, pain, and exhaustion.
My goal was to create the life I’d always dreamed of, and the mere thought of it paralyzed me in fear for many years. But then my turning point came, and I knew in my heart I was ready to change my life. Here are 10 ways to know if you’re ready to begin too:
1. You’re tired.
This isn’t just a sleepy feeling when you lay down for bed at night, but an ongoing sense of tiredness throughout the day. It’s as if no matter how much sleep you actually get, your reserve energy to face the day is always low or missing.
2. You’re frustrated.
You want the feeling of unsettledness to go away so you can just “show up” and do what needs to be done. When other people don’t do their part, or prevent you from doing yours, you grow even more frustrated by the situation. You may even fail to understand why it bothers you so much.
3. You’re stressed.
Not just stressed, but over-stressed. You can be fine, doing your thing at home or work, and then something goes slightly wrong. And you find yourself going from fine to extremely stressed in an instant. This is over-stressed, when you teeter on the edge between fine and not fine.
4. You’re desperate.
You just want it to work without anything having to change. You think to yourself, “if only such and such would do this then everything would be fine.” All of your focus is placed on altering the external circumstances around you instead of the actions you could take to make things different.
5. You’re full of regret.
You have a negative internal dialogue that reminds you far too often of all the past mistakes, failures, and moments where you didn’t quite accomplish what you set out to do.
6. You’re ashamed.
You don’t want the world to really see you. You don’t challenge yourself to step out from the crowd because then they can see the failure within.
7. You’re resentful.
You just want it to be different. If only everybody else would cooperate with the plan, then the standing still plan would work. Why won’t they just do their part?
8. You’re doubtful.
Deep inside, you know that standing still isn’t the answer. You know that you have to do something, to begin listening to the whispers that well up within your heart. But you don’t think you have what it takes to change. You don’t know what the answer is for what actually needs to change.
9. You’re fearful.
You’re scared. You may fail, you may end up worse off than you are. After all, life isn’t all that bad. You’ve got good things and good people—there are happy parts. Why then are the bad parts still so overwhelming?
10. You’re looking for an escape plan.
Perhaps if you just packed up and moved to a new city. Then things would be different for you. You could start over, no one would know your past history here.
The Secret to Creating Change
It’s not a matter of luck, location or circumstance. You’ve probably already heard it many times before. The secret to actually creating change in your life is by taking action—doing one small thing today that is different than it was yesterday. But knowing this secret only gets you so far on the path to change.
The other key to finding success in this process is about support. We are born and die alone, but we are not meant to experience life alone. The greatest gift of our human existence is that it is a journey destined to be shared with others.
We are taught from a young age to compete, to be untrusting, to be wary of the person standing next to us because we may not measure up. We are raised in a society based in perfection—never show your weaknesses, never be vulnerable.
But we are weak, vulnerable and frail—we are human. We need the ongoing support of others to lift us up when we are weak, to strengthen us when we feel frail.
In just over two years, I’ve lost 205 pounds, left full-time employment behind, and shared my darkest secret with the entire world. I’ve become one of the “lucky” few, but I didn’t do it alone.
I finally asked for some help. And today, you can too.
Originally published here