We can all understand the desire to create more meaningful change in our lives. All of us know too well the urge to do better, be better, live better.
But if we really want meaningful change in our lives, we’ll need to move beyond wishful thinking in pursuit of deeper work. We’ll need to recognize that writing a fresh chapter still involves the same old you and me, with all our quirks and flaws. We’ll need to make choices that lead towards lasting transformation.
Are you ready to make the change?
Here are seven steps you can take towards a more meaningful life.
1. Process Your Past
Your mother’s drinking problem. The love that got away. The friend that betrayed you. Your divorce. Time may have moved you on physically, but did you ever give yourself a chance to get past your past? Or have your experiences and relationships come to define who you’ve become?
Our hurts can form habits and hang ups that are difficult to break away from. Furthermore, past difficulties can leave an imprint on our sense of worth and value. And since we never rise above what we believe about ourselves, the past dictates our present and determines our future. As you set out to create meaningful change in your life, begin to process your past and give yourself a new future. Get help. Speak with a friend, or see a qualified therapist. It’s not too late.
2. Review Your Relationships
There’s an African Proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go far, go together.”
We’re designed for meaningful relationships and our lives are weaker without them. Review your relationships and consider how you can make time to invest in and enjoy the relationships that matter to you the most. Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you to go far. Take note of the toxic relationships too. The “friends”who put you down, the people who manipulate you and use you. It might be time to walk away.
3. Listen to Your Body
If your body could have a conversation with you, what would it say? Would it tell you how neglected it feels? That anxiety keeps it up at night, and leaves it exhausted in the morning? That it needs more water, nutritious meals, regular exercise? Listen to your body, and show it some love.
4. Invest in Learning
Learning is a catalyst for growth and opportunity – so make a plan to invest in a pattern of life-long learning.
Learn something new. There are multiple ways to invest in your learning. It might be returning to academic study, taking online classes, listening to a new podcast, or visiting the library. It could be a course that creates possibilities for career advancement.
Learn a new perspective. Instead of reacting to the latest “conversations” on society or on social media, try a different approach. Let your learning lead you to new voices. Books and podcasts can certainly help, but new people and places can inform you at a more personal level.Spend time in different parts of your town or city. Build genuine relationships with people from different cultures, ethnicities, economic backgrounds. Listen to the stories of people who do not live or look like you. Listen and learn. Our world needs that right now.
5. Handle Your Business
This section doesn’t feel s*xy or inspiring, but it’s necessary. Handle your business — the unglamorous everyday things that make your life work. Take a long hard look at your bank balance and your financial habits. Pay your bills. Make a plan for your debt. If you don’t have a will, make one. Handle the things you wish someone else would handle for you but are actually your responsibility.
6. Discover What Makes You Feel Alive
Life is challenging, but it’s also inspiring. Hard, but also wonderful. Mundane at times, yet achingly beautiful. And you get to live it. There are the inevitable days when you’re surviving — not thriving — or just existing. But take some time to discover what makes you feel alive too…and do something about it. Volunteer at a shelter or mentor a young person. Enjoy art in all its forms. Take up a sport. Enjoy nature. Create a magnificent meal for your loved ones. Allow curiosity to lead you to explore your purpose.
You have skills and abilities and passions that can help other people flourish. Make your contribution.
7. Break Up with Perfectionism
The dream of who we long to be often stays a dream because we expect perfection. We silence our goals because we feel if we can’t be perfect, it’s not worth trying.
Moving forward, it’s essential you know that perfectionism is not your friend: it’s the enemy of the life you were made for. So, as you begin the journey toward a more meaningful life, break up with perfectionism and take your life back.
Instead of trying to prove your worth and perform your value, practice your dreams and goals in small ways. As with any practice (like music scales or training for a 5K), you have good, bad, and ugly days; but if you keep at it, eventually you will get stronger.
Practice and celebrate your progress. Then keep going.
[written by Jo Saxton]