So I’m over at Blurred Pictures today hanging out, talking, building, creating, you know - catching up. I look around and notice that of the 4 of us in the room, only one has a college degree. We were talking about our generation, our friends, our peers that are still going to college or even going back to college because they hit a wall of un-satisfaction in their life and want a change. All of us, especially the few real adults that are reading this, we hit this point of disappointment – this point where we start looking at our future … and we can’t stand where it’s going. There is this underlying feeling of failure, or un-importance, and for some of us, maybe even shame. We look around, then we look inside and we tell ourselves – “I gotta change my life”.
I have friends that confide in me all the time about this very feeling. We have coined it the quarter-life crisis. Each case is different - I understand and I could go into the usual jargon about improving your life by taking up a hobby, going for a jog, going to church, investing in a mentor program, etc – but I’m not going to do that. Because changing our lives can be complex. There are a million different stories with a million different underlying feelings and answers, but, in the midst of all of that, there is one absolute truth - the flow of your life is an outflow of your own beliefs, thoughts, decisions and actions. Brainstorming over the past afternoon, I have narrowed it down to 9 actions you can take to create dramatic change in your life.
#1 Change Your Outlook To improve your immediate situation it starts from inside yourself. Most of the time we are so worked up it’s because we have done it to ourselves. We only see the closed window of opportunity, and because of that we miss the open door. True change calls for courage, it’s not easy to begin to look at and make positive changes in our lives. But changing your mindset and literally (as cliché as it is) thinking positively has a huge impact on the way you view the world. Prepare for positive and new things to enter your life. A shift in consciousness is all that is needed to make the changes in your life real.
#2 Get over It! Straight Up - Stop making life more complicated than it is. Everything happens for a reason, and when one door shuts, another one opens. Learn to deal with change and go with the flow. The sooner we stop resisting life and just start living it, we will see dramatic changes take place. One famous and wealthy actress who once lived in a homeless shelter stated, “I learned that I could live through any situation. I grew into a person who knew that they could always make their own way.” Learn your lesson, get over it, and move on.
#3 Go for it! If you are dreaming of something bigger, it won’t come to you. That dream job, that dream girl, that dream car, that dream salary – it’s not going to come to you with you just sitting there. Sitting there makes you typical. I mean, I don't think anyone really aims to be typical. It just happens. Most people actually promise themselves some time in high school or college that they won’t be typical. But still, they just kind of loop back to it somehow. Like a merry-go-round at an amusement park, the scripts we know offer a brand of security, of predictability, of safety. But the problem is, they only take us where we've already been – that’s where we are comfortable. We loop back to places where everyone can easily go, not necessarily where we were made to go. Living a different kind of life takes some guts and grit and a new way of seeing things. Straight up – the decisions you make are just as important as the decisions you DON’T make. Nothing that’s worth having comes easy – if you’re cruising through life in autopilot don’t be surprised when you wake up and are surrounded by nothing but mediocrity.
#4 Don’t Give Up “Good things come to those who wait” – WRONG. It should say “Good things come to those who do not give up” Change requires action but those changes won’t usually happen over night. In ‘83, Dewey Bozella, then an amateur boxer, was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. It took over 20 years for his name to be cleared. Free to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a boxer, at 52, he stepped into the ring against a 30 year old fighter. At the end of the night he said, “Don’t ever give up.” Lesson learned. By the way – he won the fight. (20 years in prison should harden you up pretty good.)
“Failure is just part of the process, and it's not just okay; it's better than okay. God doesn't want failure to shut us down. God didn't make it a three-strikes-and-you're-out sort of thing. It's more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.” ― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
#5 Go on a Diet Many of us have tried various diets whether to loose weight or gain it. But those are not the types of diets we are referring to here. In order to make significant changes in your life you should try a “mental diet.” Get out all the clutter that’s been stuck in your brain for eons. That means releasing yourself from the negative thoughts that keep you from being the person you wish to be. That also means stop drowning out your hours with Black Ops and Halo and read a damn book. Begin to recognize what activities in your life build you up, and which ones distract you. Don’t know how to tell the difference? The activities that build you up are the ones that cost you something. The activities that waste your time are all the things that come easy. Have the discipline to go on the diet, rid your life of the activities that are time wasters, it’s one of the most beneficial things you could do to improve your quality of life.
#6 Be Thankful Instead of wandering through life ungrateful, unsatisfied, and always wanting more, more, more, maybe its time to appreciate what you already have. It may not seem like much, but making this type of change in your life will help you feel better about yourself, thereby, changing your outlook on life.
#7 Chill Out Today, it seems so difficult for people to simply relax, myself included. I get so wrapped up in work or a specific project that it becomes nearly impossible for me to chill out and just relax. I will check my phone nearly twice a minute waiting for an email I’m expecting. But then I begin to think about the big picture and how my response to a situation doesn’t have to be immediate - and honestly, in most cases it would be healthy for me to take a breath or pray about something before I respond. In an effort to work so much and be so prompt I ultimately end up making more mistakes and clustering my brain more that it was when I started. Chilling out is a lesson that I’m always trying to teach myself. But it’s important none the less.
#8 Have a Better Sense of Humor Nothing changes the heart and mind like a good laugh. Laughter creates an opening where tension and fear once closed the door. Surround yourself with people you can laugh with. Have you ever had a great night, like one of those really really great nights – think about the things from the night you remember, I guarantee you its something that made you laugh. Laughter is contagious – It’s healthy – It’s simple. Learn to laugh more.
#9 Love I’m learning this book “Love Does” by Bob Goff. And though I have some issues with the book, there are a few things that made me really think, especially surrounding what it actually looks like to really love someone. “The kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It's a love that operates more like sign language than being spoken outright.” Bottom line is learn to love better - your significant other, your co-workers, your friends, your job, your neighbors, your family. Nothing but good things come from the expression of love. Is it painful? Sure. Is it costly? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely. It’s easy to point the finger at others but love understands because we are not perfect ourselves. It changes you because you become more perceptive.
SO WHAT? I want what’s best for my friends. I want you guys to live unbelievable stories that you can be proud of. I want you to be the best friends, lovers, parents, athletes, musicians, artists, you can be. It breaks my heart when I see someone living a bad story. If you have someone in your life caught up in a bad story, I hope you take some of these things to heart and help them out with you as well. We are all in this together. I’m just as much of an idiot as you guys. But I’m trying my best. And maybe that’s the most important lesson of them all… try and find your own best… and just beat that daily.
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