How to Change Your Life and Realize Your Dreams in 5 Steps
Some people are miserable in their current situation (job, relationship, home, etc.) and know they need to make certain changes. For many of us, however, things aren’t THAT bad. It’s just that, well, things aren’t great either, but we can’t quite put our finger on what’s missing.
Do you have a nagging sense that your life is lacking something important? Do you feel restless, bored or dread the start of another day? Do you find yourself wanting to be happier, but not quite knowing what that means? Then it’s time for you to change your life and realize your dreams!
But what if you’re not even sure what those dreams are? Not to mention the fact that you’re terrified to make any major changes to your world. Take a deep breath and come along on a journey with me. I know. I’ve been there.
Life As A Lawyer
For years, I lived in a big U.S. city and practiced law in a well-respected law firm. Although I was not passionate about the actual work, I had found my groove, worked long hours at it, and just clicked along in the life I was living.
Then, I plunged onto a roller coaster of traumatic events in my personal life. I eventually regained my footing, but I began to approach life from a slightly different perspective. I wanted to-the-core happiness. I didn’t want to just keep going through the motions.
I was okay, and life was fine. But I felt a restlessness about me, a dissatisfaction, a haunting sense that I wasn’t happy enough – if you can quantify such a thing – for the rest of my life. I knew, or at least believed, there had to be more to life than what I had tapped into so far.
So, I began to think about making some changes. I started to take the usual next steps associated with career/geographic change: researching resume formats for career-changers, updating my resume, contacting references, researching other cities, researching job and housing opportunities in those areas, and talking to a local realtor about listing my home for sale.
But something was off. I kept hitting a wall. I couldn’t bring myself to take action steps much beyond thinking about it. I couldn’t even finish my resume. This lack of follow-through was foreign to my Type-A personality since I usually love to cross items off my ever-present lists of things to do.
Something was going on. I kept feeling pulled in a direction that didn’t make sense to my logical brain . . . take a year off.
“What?! Take a year off? And not have a job? Not have a specific plan? That is hardly a realistic option! I’ve ALWAYS worked. Besides, you don’t just leave one job without having the next one lined up, especially in this economy! Puhleez.” My oh-so-responsible brain scoffed at the very notion.
However, try as I might to redirect this impulse, it kept coming back to me. Eventually, having promised myself to never again ignore those quiet nudgings that guide us from within, I finally gave in. I gave notice to my law firm and quit my job. I’d budgeted savings to give myself an entire year off to design an exciting new life.
Well, it turns out that Life had even bigger plans for me. To make a very long story somewhat shorter, I now live on a tiny island in the Bahamas, work as a freelance writer, enjoy a loving relationship and thrive in my close-knit community. I have ended up in a happier, more peaceful, contented situation than I ever could have imagined.
STEPS TO ACHIEVE YOUR OWN DREAM LIFE
You can change your life and realize your dreams, too! And you don’t need to have a years’ worth of savings in order to do it. You don’t need to move to an island. You don’t even need to quit your job necessarily. You just have to take that first step . . .
Step #1 – Figure Out What’s Wrong
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you wake up and dread another day of the same grind?
- Do you feel like there should be more to Life than what you’re experiencing?
- Do you suffer from a vague sense that things aren’t as they should be?
- Do you have a restlessness about you?
- Do you ever think this is not how you thought your life would turn out?
- Do you feel mildly bored most of the time?
- Do you feel like something important is missing from your life?
- Do you find yourself wanting to be happier, but not quite knowing what that means?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you are ready for a new beginning. The feelings you are experiencing are not simply boredom or restlessness. They are clues, signals that you are not leading a life aligned with your true self, indicators that you are ready for a new phase.
Step#2 – Identify Your Dreams
Some people know what their dream is, but they have been sidetracked along the way . . . the accountant who always wanted to open her own bakery, or the waitress who never really pursued her singing career, for example. If you are in this category, consider yourself lucky because you already know what your dream is!
Others of us know we want to change things up, but we don’t know what that means exactly. I fell squarely into this camp. To start identifying your dreams, begin a search for your true self and conduct a personal inventory:
- What do you love to do? What are you passionate about? Or, as my mother asked me, “What makes your heart sing?”
- In what types of jobs or entrepreneurial endeavors can you incorporate these passions?
- What skills and experience do you have that will transfer to other areas?
- What type of living environment is best for you? City or small town? Beach or mountains? Near family or far? Cold or warm climate?
- What lifestyle suits you? Fast-paced urban chic or leisurely island style?
- Do you work best in solitude, or do you thrive around other people?
- If you could design your perfect life, what would it look like?
- What are you thankful for already?
You still may not identify a specific dream right away, and that’s okay. What’s important is giving yourself the time and space to think about all of this and feel your way through it. Try on different daydreams and see how you feel as you imagine each for a while.
Shift your perspective and begin living from a place of gratitude. As you appreciate and focus on the good that is already in your life, more of it will come your way. Be open to possibilities, and trust that the path will evolve in the best way for you.
Step#3 – Plan (as Best You Can)
As you feel led in a certain direction, sit on it. Contemplate it. Don’t make any hasty decisions. Research the heck out of it. Think carefully about finances. Budget appropriately. Plan and prepare as much as possible.
Embrace your fears. Pay attention to what scares you and address it. Take comfort in knowing that feeling fear just means you’re considering the “logical” aspects of your exciting new ideas. Think through worst-case scenarios and try to put things in place to prevent them or to have ready as emergency backup.
Step #4 – Recognize When You are Ready Enough
You will never feel 100% ready. You will still have fears and uncertainties. This is natural and probably unavoidable. You will never know all there is to know. You will never be certain that the steps you are about to take are the perfect ones for you. No plan is foolproof. There is no guarantee against “failure.”
Be confident in knowing that you are making the best decision with the information you have available to you now. You have done all the legwork and research and planning. You’ve thought about it with your head; now it’s time to trust your heart.
By this point, you are ready! At least, you are ready as you’ll ever be. You are ready enough.
Step#5 – Take the Leap!
Take a deep breath, smile and launch your new life!
Quiet the butterflies in your stomach and remember that you have taken all the right steps leading up to this. You’ve considered worst-case scenarios and laid out some safety nets. You can’t go wrong. So long as you’re following your instincts and doing your best, it IS the right step for you. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you hope, you can always retool, readjust, or change course. And, remember, changing course may even lead you to a better result than you had imagined!
Best wishes on your journey to your true self. Change your life, realize your dreams, take the leap!