You know that clichéd phrase “live like you were dying”?  Over time it has lost some of its impact.  When you hear it, does it make you stop and contemplate?  Or does your mind move past it as easily as if someone had said “nice weather today”? 

Dreamer thinking about lifeI work in a doctor’s office as my day job.  We see a lot of sick people.  I mean really sick.  Their situations are often tenuous, and they live their lives on this tight-rope of chronic disease. 

Recently, one of our patients, who I might add is just one year older than me, found out he has cancer – and it’s pretty bad.  They are looking a treatment options, and he is hopeful, but has told my doctor that if they cannot help him, he is happy with the life he has had and would accept whichever outcome that is his destiny.

I was struck by his statement.  Really? 

clock - metaphor for time flying by Could you say that?   I certainly couldn’t say the same thing if I were faced with such news.   I would rail at the unfairness of it because, damn it, I haven’t achieved what I want to in my life.  I have never lived in another country.  I have never had a good, loving relationship.  I have never achieved the personal and professional “success” that I believe is inside of me.  In fact, the reality is that I often feel like the days of my life blur from one to the next, until an entire year has gone by and nothing in particular stands out.  That scares me. 

I am humbled when someone receives devastating news about their future, and they accept it because they are happy with how they have lived their lives.  What an incredible gift. 

So what is the difference between those people and people like me, in my 40’s and still feeling like my life is unlived.  Perhaps, it’s perspective.   Perhaps they have taken those chances, pushed their own boundaries, and feel like they are all they can be.  Perhaps they love the simplicity of their lives, never moving from the town that they’ve grown up in, and find immense comfort in that job they know like the back of their own hand. 

In many ways, I envy those people. 

Because I am always wanting more.  Striving for more.  And when I get it, a new goal, a new want, emerges.  So what does that make me?  Weird?  Greedy?

Hell, I think it simply makes me … human. 

It is an intrinsic part of the human condition to want more, to push boundaries, test limits, and not accept the status quo.   People find their own challenges in their own ways.  Just because someone doesn’t crave to climb the corporate ladder, or to have more money, instead they conquer challenges and embrace victory in different ways – on the hockey rink, through volunteer work, raising their children, or simply loving their partner with every corner of their hearts. 

backpacker seeking adventureSo what if you are one of those people who feel set adrift in life, desperately searching for meaning, satisfaction, and your place in this lifetime?  When you feel that stirring in your soul, that blurring of one day into the next, what can you do?

CHANGE

In the movies, change just happens.  The heroine in the film needs a change, her life is dull, stale, and she desperately wants more.  What happens next?  Some hammer-toting handsome superhero with long, flowing blonde locks, and an impressive six-pack shows up to shake up her life, create adventure, and typically also allow her to fall in love. 

The hero?  Well, perhaps he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and suddenly, he’s awesome, has brand-new muscles, charm, and of course, gets the girl.

In other words, lovely, alluring, and beguiling …  

but complete BULLSHIT.

If only, right?

In real life, change is hard and doesn’t just show up because you need it, no matter how desperately. 

It’s difficult to change patterns of thinking, patterns of behaviour, and to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, but that is exactly what you must do.  You must be the catalyst that creates that one small little change within yourself that can spark a new direction in your life.  Even when that pressure in your chest is holding your spirit so low, it’s hard to breath.  Even when that dullness behind your eyes makes it hard to focus.  Even when your soul feels so completely depleted, the tears simply won’t come. 

That is when it is so important to PUSH, REALLY PUSH yourself past the fog that tries to keep you enslaved to the negativity.

 

Don’t give a shit that you don’t feel like it.  Don’t listen when you’re brain says you’re too tired.  Don’t allow that anger you’re feeling at yourself for being stuck, to lash out at the people you love.  Instead, look inward.  You look deep inside for that spark – it’s still there, has always been there, but has burned so low for so long, you’ve forgotten it.  But it hasn’t forgotten you.

 

And always remember, this is never about being worthy.  We are all worthy.  Just being here, breathing and feeling, makes each and every one of us uniquely worthy.  What happens to us in our lives doesn’t happen to us because we are or are not worthy.  Our self-worth is in no way tied to things that happen in our lives – the bad things, and the good things. 


Feel the freedom of knowing that whatever occurs in your life, no matter who you meet, who you love, who doesn’t love you, when you succeed, when you fail — you are always worthy – worthy of love, respect, affection, comfort, peace, and happiness no matter what else occurs in your life.  Release that old behaviour and recognize that it has never served you, and never will.   Close that door, lock it, and face your new challenge.

And once you rediscover that spark, you must fan it into flame, or it can so easily be snuffed out by self-doubt or fear.  Fear of failure.  So, you have to try.  Because not even trying is its own kind of failure.    

 

So start small.  Spread your wings and see how it feels.  You don’t have to turn you and your life inside out and upside down in one week.  Change takes time, and often, planning.  Another important factor is persistence.  Attempting change without persistence and tenacity is futile.  bird spreading its wings

But self-doubt is a sneaky bastard,

and also a strong one.

So you also need to know when to reach out for support if you feel yourself, and your confidence, faltering.  Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be afraid.  Your real friends will simply be your strength until you can hold your own again.

So, I’d like to ask you to challenge yourself to do one thing every week to push your safe boundaries and stimulate your thinking.  Push yourself into areas you feel uncomfortable, perhaps a little scared, and then stop to assess how you feel when you’ve conquered it.   Like what?  you ask….   

There are countless things you can do, but just to get you started…

1.          Go to the movies by yourself. 

2.       Start a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop or at the grocery store.  Ciao Italia conversation class, Rome

3.   Sign up for a course – maybe painting, language, self defence, or salsa dancing – whatever strikes your fancy (and maybe makes you feel a little uncomfortable).

4.          Ride a rollercoaster.

5.        Learn a new skill – whether it be computer related , installing your own bathroom taps, or learning to play the guitar, acquiring a new skill keeps your brain sharp, and builds your confidence.

6.         Get some therapy if you really need a confidence boost.  Therapy is awesome and can really create an effective change in perspective and focus.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, should try counselling at least once, because in the end I think we’re all a little broken inside.  But nothing that a little knowledgeable repair can’t nuture back to a kick-ass state of being!

7.        Go bungee jumping.  Or learn to rock climb.  Rock climbing

8.        Go to the park to read.  If you’re not currently reading a book, get a recommendation and buy one!

9.       Volunteer for the local film festival or community theatre. 

10.   Offer to walk your elderly neighbour’s dog. 

11.   Make a donation to a charity, even a small one. 

12.   Sign a petition that you believe in.

13.   Try out for a local play.

14.    If you get asked out for a coffee or a drink, go!  Even if you’re not super stoked, you may find that you make a great connection for business, make a new friend, or simply hear a different perspective on issues.  At worst, you’ve sacrificed 3 hours of your day. 

15.   Go out for dinner or lunch by yourself.  Pretend you’re a tourist visiting town and bring along your iPad or a book to keep you occupied.  

16.   Take a solo vacation.  Traveling by yourself is one of the more amazing character building and confidence building tools out there, trust me!Handsome Italian in Florence, Italy

17.   Catch the eye of a local while on holiday and take a moonlight ride by Vespa through the city (particularly lovely in Rome)

18.   Connect with new people that have made changes in their lives, and gain momentum and motivation from them.  If you don’t know people personally, follow blogs of interesting people, or connect with new people on Twitter.  You can meet new people from anywhere on the planet now, thanks to social media.

What you were expecting?  A nice even number like 20?  Nah, I’m not that kind of girl.  <winks saucily, swigs wine>  Glass of wine in Rome

I am, however, working on change myself, pursuing a personal dream – to live in Europe, and it isn’t happening quickly.  Yes, I’m frustrated, and sometimes I get discouraged.  But I am persistent, and realize that change is scary.  Everyone finds it scary.  Sometimes you just have to push past scary, and take the chance to make your dreams a reality. 

My dream is to move to Italy, but if some amazing opportunity presented in Paris, London, or Vienna, I’d leap!  And I’m damned determined to make it happen.  Will I be successful?  I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how that story plays out. 

How about you?  What’s your dream?