You can change your life. Reach for the stars. Your dreams can come true.
Easy enough to say right? But the reality is, for most us, making life-changing decisions isn't quite so simple. Being unhappy in an environment you know and understand can seem easier than taking that great leap into the unknown. But if the â€˜what ifs' and the â€˜if onlys' keep adding up and won't go away, maybe going for it is the only cure for life ennui. If you're itching to take that leap, we want to help. Here are a few essential ingredients for making the unknown seem a lot less scary.
Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right. If you don't believe that you can do it, you won't. It's that simple. Erin, 35, says she wanted to lose the weight she'd put on since her wedding, but couldn't imagine ever reaching her goal weight. “Eventually I realized that by thinking about losing weight in a negative way, I was sabotaging myself before I even got going,” she says. Retrain yourself to be a glass-half-full type. Replace thoughts such as “I wouldn't know where to start,” or “I probably wouldn't be very good at it,” with “I need to find out how to do this” and “I'll never know until I try.” Believe in yourself -- you'll be surprised at how empowering a little self-confidence can be.
On a scale of one to 10, how important is your goal? Ask yourself how your goal fits into the hierarchy of essentials in your life -- is reaching it more or less important than the elements that make up your life right now (your relationships, family, career, studies)? If you want to make your dream of travelling in Europe a reality, you'll need to be ready to quit your job, put your schooling on hold and say au revoir to your friends and family. You can't put your Parisian fantasy ahead of basic necessities like food and shelter, but it could be more important than buying a new fall wardrobe.
The big life-shaking changes don't come without making some concessions. What are you willing to sacrifice to get to where you want to be? What can you realistically give up? Bethany, 24, says her dream of medical school was hurt by her lack of study-time and love of socializing. “I hated missing out on fun,” she says. “But I knew where I wanted to be at the end of university. Looking at the big picture made staying home on a Saturday night a little easier.” Think of it this way: giving up mid-afternoon trips to the office vending machine may seem hard at first, but it will be worth it when you slide on your skinny pants.
Figure out what's been holding you back. You need to suss out weak spots that are standing in the way of your personal finish line. Once you understand what you're up against, you can come up with strategies for blowing those roadblocks -- internal or external -- out of your path.
Ally, 30, put her advertising career on hold to have a baby -- and then another -- in quick succession. Ally says it was clear to her that climbing the corporate ladder was going to take a backseat to being a mother. “For me, motherhood wasn't something I wanted to do evenings and weekends,” she says. “I wanted to be with my kids all the time but I knew that meant not going back to work for a long time.” It's important to remember that reaching your goal is only the beginning. Making the life-change work means putting your whole self into it. If you put in major overtime hours in order to get a promotion, you can't start taking long lunches once you've gotten it.