Finding the Courage to Make a Life Shift

One of the hardest parts about change is making the decision to move forward with it. Depending on the decision at hand, it can take days, weeks, months, and sometimes years of contemplating. There are the endless lists of pros and cons, tossing and turning, daydreaming and discussions at nauseam until one day, you’ve made up your mind. Then, of course, there are other big decisions that you make quickly—feeling boldly decisive, you trust your gut and go with it.

The difference between the harder decisions and the easier decisions? Often times it boils down to fear. Fear of making the wrong choice, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of letting someone else down, etc. And what is it that you need to stand up to those fears?

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.

Doing something that frightens you is much easier said than done but I have four suggestions for what may help, things that work for me:

1. Trust your gut

Most of the time, you already know your answer. Trust your gut, your instincts are usually right.

2. ‘Look yourself in the mirror’ exercise

You have to be the one to wake up every day and look at yourself in the mirror. And yes, sure, we look at ourselves every day while brushing our teeth, applying our makeup, and checking out our look but that’s all passive mirror time. I’m talking about an intentional pause to stop, get close to a mirror, and look yourself in the eyes. Look deep into the person you once were, see the person that you are in that moment and challenge yourself to connect with the person who you want to become. Ask yourself, what is it that YOU want? Are you happy? Ask yourself about the decision at hand and ask yourself if you’ll be disappointed in yourself if you don’t move forward with the change. You can learn a lot about how you feel through this.

I discovered this exercise when I was unhappy in a relationship but didn’t have the courage to get out of it. I felt like I was on an escalator that was going up to the end of an aisle, as in the one you walk down for a wedding, and didn’t know how to get off of it. Even though I knew deep down it wasn’t right, I tried to convince myself otherwise, constantly. Then one day, when that escalator felt like it was moving more quickly than usual, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and spontaneously started to cry. I got close up to the mirror, looked myself in the eyes and all that I saw was disappointment. I was disappointed in myself for staying, for allowing myself to be unhappy because I was afraid of the change, afraid of the what ifs, afraid of leaving the comfort, afraid of disappointing others. But you know what I was more afraid of? Being disappointed in myself forever. It was at that moment that I made up my mind and ended it.

3. Mantras/quotes

Remind yourself of all those Pinterest worthy quotes that may seem cheesy but are true. Print them out, make them your phone backdrop, read them when you wake up! Use them as little reassurance snacks. Some that I love:
-Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
-Nothing is permanent.
-Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
-You are the artist of your life. Don’t give the paintbrush to anyone else.
-If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
-You always have permission to change your mind, again.
-Do you want to look back and wonder, “what if?”
-The only way to find out is to do it.
-You’re allowed to try again and again.
-Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.
-Without risk, there is no reward.
-Be the best version of YOU.

4. Visualize yourself in the future of that decision

Similar to the art of manifesting, I like to visualize myself on either side of the decision. For example, if you’re contemplating a big life move…take a few minutes to daydream about what that would be like from the start of your day to the end. What would your routine be like? What would it feel like? Does it feel good (even beyond the scariness of it)? What does it feel like after the newness of the decision wears off? Does it feel forced and wrong? Are you longing for life before your decision?

I hope this was helpful for anyone facing a big decision. Whether that’s a change of career, letting go of a relationship (friendships included!), starting a family, moving somewhere new or simply, chopping off your hair, change is hard but it’s usually worth it! And worst-case scenario, if it doesn’t work out, you can try and try again and will grow from each experience.

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