Thursday, April 7, 2011

The first steps to finding your peace

So you've finally reached the end of your rope. One moment. One decision. No regrets. You're ready to just walk out the door. Who hasn’t been there? You start to hate your job - become unhappy in a relationship, but then (for some reason) you stay. Or you leave - but the cycle just keeps on repeating.

It's never our intent to choose misery but we're convinced that we don't have a choice. “This job pays my bills.” “I can't be alone.” “I'm exhausted and it's all just too much.” So the question is what can you do?

1. Start with the woman in the mirror

What excites you? What annoys you? What matters the most in your life? What places make you feel most alive? Think about your talents, your wishes and dreams. What kind of connections are you making with others? What can you do to get back in your zone? Begin to reconnect with yourself. Think openly and without restriction. How does your life fit the person you are?

2. Think about where you are going

We’re always running here and there - doing this and that, but when do we stop to ask why? “Who am I doing this for?” “How committed am I to my choices?” “If I stay at this job or in that relationship, and nothing were to change, what damage am I ultimately causing?” It’s all about choices. So if you're not happy, what are YOU going to do about it? What direction do you choose for yourself? (If you get stuck, see my post on "Creative and Expressive Brainstorming")

3. Making sure the decision is yours

Deciding what you want can be tricky. You know you want something to change, but the details start getting all blurry. You start looking in other directions. “I like that thing they have.” ”I want that feeling they feel.” “Maybe I should go where they’re going.” Depending on how driven you are, you may just get there. But without first looking at who YOU are and where YOU want to go, the results can be quite disappointing. You end up finding what you think that you want, but somehow loose yourself in the process. Maybe that's why you took that job in the first place – maybe that’s why you’re still in that relationship. You thought you were chasing success. You thought you were doing the “right thing”. But somehow you feel empty and confused. Maybe, because it was someone else’s dream, you became disenchanted. You stopped showing up as yourself. Everything slowed down. Your performance dropped. You ultimately felt disconnected. It wasn’t that the job stunk or that person was an absolute monster, it was that you showed up as somebody else. When faced with “how do I get there?” you never questioned if you wanted to go.

This is often the point of frustration. “I tried everything.” “I did my best.” “I gave them everything and still I'm not happy.” “I feel like a failure…like I’m going to be miserable forever.” Suddenly, all hope seems elusive. The consideration that maybe there’s something deeper is a doubted possibility. And with that, “how do I get there?” goes right out the door. But that’s when you need to go back: “Who are you?” “Where are you going?” “How will you know when you get there?” “What energy will you bring to the table?” With this clarity, the flow can start to happen. This is the moment of empowerment, because suddenly it's all about choice. You suddenly start feeling accountable, because the actions that you take are your own.

4. Don't be afraid to dig deeper

Changing ourselves it not simple. We all come with our own host of demons - "I'm not good enough," "This can't happen," and the popular "Who am I kidding". Often, the way we see things is the way we’ve seen things for quite a long time. And that can be hard to let go of. You may resist or insist that you just want to solve the problem in front of you.

You just want to leave your job or that relationship. You just want to tell your boss off or let the air out of somebody’s tires … without, of course, getting caught That’s it. That’s all. So now what?

Do you start drafting the 'Dear John' or resignation letter? Do you jump in the box and play victim? Or do you take an honest and deep look at yourself? What is it that's holding me back? Who do I need to become to move forward? How can I let go and define my new future? How can get help so I won't be alone?

5. Consider your needs

In asking yourself all these questions it may be good to consider your needs. What would it take to make you feel safe? Is it money? Is it access to certain resources? Is it knowing that you're not going to fail? How is this fueling the decisions you make? How are your fears in the way of your progress? Give yourself the right to be honest. The feelings that you have are important. But the question then is: Is what you’re doing now the only way to accomplish your goals? What is this approach costing you? That's one choice. What are some other possibilities? How can you feel secure and also find your happiness? What can you do right now to enjoy where you are today?

Maybe you stay; maybe you'll go. Maybe what you need is a plan. No matter what approaches you take, perhaps the most important thing is to try and see the opportunities in front of you. How can you raise our optimism? You may hate your job right now, but how can you make the most of it? What’s one thing you can do every day to move you closer to reaching your goals? How can you use your time to develop your skills? How can you engage the people around you to be the change that you want in your life? If you feel unappreciated, who can you appreciate? If you feel you lack respect, how can you give that respect to others? How can you make your energy contagious? How can you, while being true to who you are, not only enjoy but transform the world around you?

6. Embrace the idea of change in your life

When we go back and rewind for a moment – the frustrations with the job or in that relationship, what we’re really asking ourselves is: How do I want to feel and how can I make that happen? Now that I know who I am and where I'm going, how am I going to get there? How can I grasp the opportunities in front of me – not only down the road, but in this very moment? Whether I take the actions to stay or decide that it’s better to go, how can I create my own happiness? How can I, using every gift I’ve been given, embrace my own moments of joy? Remember, only you can create your experience!

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