There are always times in life when it feels like everything is working against you and everything is going wrong, or you feel stuck in a situation you don’t want to be in. It can be work related, or a relationship or a friendship. Sometimes things that are completely outside of our control happen. We lose people we love, we go through break ups, illness, we have a hard time with a friend... I know I have gone through all of the above and it sucks at the time.
Fairly recently I had 6 years when before I could get over something the next bad thing was happening. It was relentless and I felt so powerless. I’ve always considered myself a positive and optimistic person and I was almost embarrassed to be this person always suffering and going through something traumatic. When the dust settled I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted lots of good stuff in my life: good experiences, good people,... It kind of became my mission to make them happen and to my surprise, they actually started happening!
I don’t think there is a recipe that will work for everyone, but after thinking about it a lot there are definitely a few tips that I think work universally:
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
- Values, what matters to you
- Your truths of life, what you believe to be true (i.e. you never know what people are going through, or life is short, or the world is full of great people)
- Your life force, what you would tell yourself if you were on your dying bed.
Another great way to look at this is to think about your values and then develop value based intentions. This is the foundation of Jess Lively's work that you can find on her podcast, The Lively Show, or her website, which has some very useful tools to identify what your values are and develop your intentions from there.
Sometimes it takes a bit of time and an exercise or a tool like the ones I mentioned to see for yourself what is inside you. When I was reading The Chimp Paradox a few months ago I sat down to do this exercise and I was so surprised at how easily and effortlessly it came out. My driving force is to never stop learning, from people, places and experiences. I had never articulated it before, I had never even thought about it that way, but when I asked myself what I would say to myself if it was my last day on earth it was clear: Travel, experience new things, never stop learning! And then I looked back at situations that had made me unhappy and frustrated and the common theme was that I was not learning. Equally, the moments where I had been at my happiest in recent years where those when I was exploring somewhere different, or trying something new, or learning something. Sometimes all of them at the same time!
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR LIFE?
Write all these intentions or wishes down.
There is a great post on The Chalkboard Mag called Setting Intentions: How to manifest your vision step by step, that will give you some guidelines to do it.
WANT IT WITH ALL YOUR HEART
MAKE A PLAN
I usually break it down into small bites. I write down all the things that I can do to get closer to what you want. Sometimes they are very small things like dropping someone an email asking about dates for a course, or spending an hour looking at different jobs, researching a holiday or a coffee with someone who works in a field you might be interested in.
Make time for them and stay focused. A mentor once told me to spend 5 minutes each day thinking about one thing I was going to do that day to get closer to achieving a goal I had set myself, and then doing it, no matter how small it seemed. It is super important to keep the momentum and keep making progress. When you feel like you’re flagging, go back to your list from step 2. For me that always reminds me that I am working towards something I really want, something lovely that is going to make me feel amazing, and that keeps me going!
Personally I don’t track any progress or reward myself when I hit milestones because for me the prize is seeing it happen and the happiness it will bring me, but if just that thought fails to motivate you, it might be a good idea to set milestones and rewards.
BE CURIOUS AND EXPLORE WITH ABANDON
BE PREPARED TO BE VULNERABLE
Things don’t always work out the way we want them to even when we give it our all, so be ready to lick your wounds every now and then and don’t feel discouraged by it. The more you put yourself out there the better chances you have. Yes, you will have a couple of things that won’t work out straight away, but so many good things will happen that these will be just a drop in the ocean.