We’ve all done it. Been enamored by the success of others and wonder how they got where they are. You aren’t sure how you stumbled upon their website or LinkedIn profile but ever since then, you’ve been searching for more information on just how they did it. You’ve been doing this for some time now. No progress has been made, you’ve just done some browsing, and thinking, and internet stalking successful people. Something inside your gut is churning, your skin is itching, you’re legs are twitching, and you’ve just been searching blindly.
What exactly is it you’ve been looking for? If you knew what it was you wouldn’t be searching for so long without any progress. So, let me tell you what it is.
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You want to make a change in your life and how you spend your days, day in and day out. Every day you go to your 9 – 5 job that is no longer fulfilling. The one you thought you wanted. The one you went to school for and are paying student loans for. You can’t believe that you’re not happy so you pretend it’s not true and you just continue blindly searching for answers. Maybe you know and have come to terms with your unhappiness and just can’t decide how to start to make the shift and change.
That’s the thing about life. We are told at a young age that success comes after planning, make goals, and following through. Then, once we achieve them, we’re stuck because no one told us what to do when we realize we were misguided, knew nothing about what we truly wanted, and are now miserable and unhappy.
If this sounds like you, it’s about to get real and deep. Let me tell you that life is a journey. There are no perfect answers and nothing lasts forever. Even if you are making massive progress at this moment and finding some success, it will not last and you’re going to change course in the future because just like the planet we live on, we change with the seasons and evolve. Tides come in and what we once knew, all those foot prints, marks, and paths have been washed away leaving us with smooth un-touched sand.
If your tides come in and you’re facing change now, I’d like to help you understand how to focus on yourself and get started making your creative life.
#1 Pick something you want to start building confidence (anything at all. Vague or specific).
Don’t let unhappiness with where you are right at this moment or the want to change build up into a heaping pile of things left undone. In order to make any progress, you’ve got to stop wallowing in self-pity and start something, anything, right now.
This isn’t hypothetical. I really mean it. Stop what you’re doing and start now. Get out a piece of paper, or phone, or your calendar, and something to write with and write down the one thing you want most.
Do you want to be happy? Do you want to quit your job? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to move across country? Look at this piece of paper every day and commit in your mind that you are going making it happen by all means necessary. No matter how vague it is. Once you start this process, you’ll begin to narrow it down to specifics, but for now, start with this one thing.
#2 Make a long list of baby steps to build confidence
You’re probably saying. “But, Kayla, I was lost just a second ago, and now you think I can create the thing I want and then list how to get there?”
Well, yes. You can make some big wild and crazy guesses for now and they might not be the right things to do and the list of baby steps probably won’t be in the right order, but yes, make a list of things you think you can do to get to the thing you want.
#3 Make a list of people and resources that you think might be able to help and keep it handy.
Utilize all that blind searching you have been doing by making a list of people, websites, online courses, Pinterest boards, Instagramers, Tweeters, Authors, and etc who might be able to help you get what you want. Do whatever you can but just start.
For instance, check out this awesome list of mentors on LEVO.COM
Okay okay. Let’s not get too far ahead of yourself because, up until now, you’ve just been endlessly searching for something and all this action (however small the above 3 items may seem) could feel overwhelming. Change is overwhelming and thinking about change can cause many people a great deal of anxiety.
So, you should take a brief moment to remember why you have been searching for a change.
#4 Remember that life is beautiful as it is and it can get even better with a little action on your part.
People who feel lost in life can become even more depressed because they feel like nothing is happening for them. They let the lack of forward motion make them unhappy. Remember that your life is beautiful right now, you are lovely the way you are, and nothing will ever change that. Take this moment and be still. Think about your accomplishments up until this point. Someone, somewhere, wants what you have. You’ve got something going for yourself and this change you want and this dream of yours is just the natural next step on your personal journey.
So, be happy with who you are. It is okay to set goals and make more of your dreams come true but do not let the thought of what hasn’t come yet, destroy what you’ve got now, or destroy your daily happiness. Getting better at something and making changes doesn’t mean you’re moving on from who you currently are. It just means you’re becoming a better you. So, go for it, get better, be better.
In the words of Les Brown : “Do more with where you are and what you have.”
When making a big change, some people worry about the how, what, and why at the very beginning and let that stop them. I guess what I’m saying is..
#5 Don’t worry so much. Conquer your fears and take risks.
I remember when my husband told me he wanted to quit his job of 13 years to be a stay at home dad to our 3rd child. I was making good money but we had never done that before and I began to think the worst. Will we go broke? How will we pay our mortgage and bills? Can I handle the pressure of being responsible for my family of 5?
It was definitely not an easy change to make but I knew it needed to happen so that he could get to the next step on his life’s journey. I’m his wife and biggest fan and supporter. It has been my pleasure to take on these responsibilities and be strong for him while he figures out his path. We made that change to a single income basically over night, and now he’s been here with our youngest from day one. Our other two older kids didn’t get to be with mom or dad every day. They were in day care from 6 weeks old. Now they are also getting more time with their dad during the day because he drops them off and picks them up from school, is there during their long holiday breaks and it’s something I wouldn’t change, no matter how challenging it has been.
So tell me, is your lack of change up until now because you are afraid of something? Are you afraid of failure, ridicule, loneliness, or something else? If everyone stopped in their tracks because of fear, we some pretty boring people. Incredibly inspiring things happen when you take risks. Your fears begin to melt away when you take risks and begin to realize nothing you have feared is worse than never knowing what good could have happened. It’s like teaching my kids to ride a bike. They’re scared at first and don’t want to do it for fear of getting hurt but once they learn to ride they gain confidence in themselves and the fear no longer lives within them – they are free and you can be too.
#6 Be reminded that other people, who aren’t as good as you, are already doing the things you want to do.
How incredibly miserable it must be to watch other people take the things in life you’re dreaming of all while you just sit there, procrastinating, and making excuses. Don’t let this happen anymore! Take some responsibility for the skills and the talent you have. Don’t let your special powers go to waste. Yes, you have special powers! You may not have fully explored them but I know you have them. We are all good at something. In fact, we are all great at something. You have this one beautiful life and I desperately want you to enjoy every moment of it. Seize the day, use your powers and make it happen.
#7 So, find exactly how far and how high you can go, so you can build confidence
There’s a chance that this thing you wrote down in the first step above isn’t so big of a change at all. Because you were letting fear limit your choices. In fact, maybe it’s just another small goal like the rest you’ve already accomplished. If that’s the case, I don’t think you are dreaming BIG enough. You think it’s a big dream? DREAM BIGGER. You should realize that you can go higher, get so much better, and reach unimaginable places if you just start and don’t limit your abilities.
#8 Because this isn’t all there is and that thing you want isn’t it either.
If you are the noble few who read to this point so far and just don’t feel there is anything you’re dreaming of, that you already have it all, I say B.S.! If you’ve gotten this far and stuck with me this long you probably do have some pretty lofty dreams and you’re probably the type that likes to make excuses for why you don’t really want it or why it’s just too hard.
You may have even taken some baby steps to starting something before and have failed. Oh, yeah, I do mean that blog that you started last year that has seen little to no success. That’s no reason to assume that’s all there is. Seriously though, come to terms that you’ve been failing at making change because of laziness or lack of good direction because we all fail sometimes and recognizing it is the first step to moving beyond it.
For instance, maybe you’ve desperately wanted to shed some weight and you’ve tried before, over and over again, with no success, so you make excuses or plain flat out lie to yourself that “I’m perfectly fine with my weight”.
Stop it – stop it now.
You may have tried it 10-15 times with no success, but remember that it’s bound to happen if you just keep getting up, let the bruises heal, and start again. A loser fails at all the attempts they didn’t take.. never give up!
So, what are you going to do? Will you stop now because you haven’t seen the change yet? Don’t stop just before success happens. With each try, you get better and better at something. Keep trying and after a while, you’re going to see some progress.
#9 Stop doing the things that aren’t making you happy.
If you have started something like a blog and you’re realizing that it’s been a failure, and you’re actually not feeling great about it anymore, then stop doing it. Stop running yourself ragged doing things that aren’t making any progress and are actually making you miserable. I don’t mean completely stop all attempts at blogging all together. No, stick with me for a moment and you’ll see what I mean.
Doing things that feel like failure can make us depressed and make us talk ourselves out of making any change at all. How many times have you joined a gym, went 3 days a week for a while, saw no change, and talked yourself out of going to the gym anymore?
This is NOT what I mean by stop doing the things that aren’t making you happy. What I actually mean is stop the way you’re doing it. Do it a different way. Begin again from another point. If something isn’t making you happy, pivot, try something else. Instead of going to the gym to shed some weight, ride your bike, go for a walk, ask a friend to join you, and so on.
If it’s your blog that stinks, then stop doing it the way that you’re doing it now and explore what others have done to make it better. Pausing on progress in order to learn something new is actually how people make progress happen in the future. So, take the time to pause and stop when you need it, in order to make the necessary changes.
#10 Love, accept, and forgive yourself.
When you start with getting rid of the stuff that’s making you unhappy, loving yourself will become easier and in this space is where change can happen. I’m sure you’ll have the best intentions of getting something done that you wanted to accomplish, but somehow something got in the way. Instead of beating yourself up over it, accept it, and forgive yourself. Tomorrow is another day.
#11 Get enough sleep and rest.
It’s so important to get sleep and take breaks for yourself during times of massive growth and change. Sometimes, I find myself hitting it too hard and I end up feeling like a worn and limp rag. I know when I’m over doing it when I hit the pillow at the end of the day just freaking exhausted too many nights in a row. Being as busy as we are at my house we can get caught up in getting major amounts of shiz done and forget to even sleep! Sometimes my dear husband and I just want to put the kids to bed and watch one 30 minute show together, even if it means staying up past our own bedtime.
However, if I do that too often, I start to feel worn out and am dragging some serious butt at work all week. Getting just one nights rest of 9 hours if possible could and will seriously change your life! Do not forget to sleep and rest during a growth and change period. It’s just as important as everything else. Trust me.
#12 Listen to music or a motivational speaker for inspiration and an extra kick in the butt.
When I’m feeling a little down and unmotivated, I really enjoy listening to music or searching YouTube for a motivational speaker. In fact, on stressful days, I’ll pump up the tunes in my car on the way to work in the morning and on the way home. I end up sing my ever beating heart out until my vocal cords hurt! I love it!
Find something like this that inspires you. Maybe you already have a band or an artist that you love, so blast it as often as you can. Sing until you can’t sing anymore. Your heart and soul will love you for it!
#13 Reduce screen time and get some sun 15 minutes a day.
If you’re like me, you’re creative goals include working in front of a computer, A LOT! I work in front of a computer most days, but if it’s a really personal “off” day that’s got me feeling funky, I’ll limit my screen time as much as possible. There are so many negative things out there and if you can avoid just one thing on an off day, I highly recommend staying off your Facebook too.
While not on your computer and not checking Facebook, get outside and get some sun for 15 minutes. Vitamin D creates happy hormones! Just 10-15 minutes a day should balance out your Vitamin D levels and balance out your mood. During the winter, I find I get a little more moody because I’m not getting as much sun. We tend to stay inside at work or at home. I can tell when I need to get a bit of sun. Sometimes, I feel instantly better after doing it too!
#14 Help someone else.
You are pretty friggin amazing, did you know that? Working on yourself and your dreams can be hard work. I get exhausted and, dare I say, sick of myself sometimes. When I feel this way, I go and focus on someone else for a while.
I know you have done some really kind things for people in your past. Can you remember how that made you feel? I know, it feels pretty incredible to make someone else’s day.
When I turned 30, I completed 30 random acts of kindness. It was a great day, but I recommend that you don’t just limit your giving to just one day a year. You might be surprised how spreading joy with a simple unexpected gift will make your day feel like a win and energize you!
So, when you’re feeling less than motivated, start thinking of someone else who may need a boost too. Get your mind off of your lack of motivation and think of others. Get a little creative or keep it simple. Holding a door open for someone else every chance you get for one day might be the only thing you have to do to feel better.
#15 Spend quality time with family and friends.
Like I said, when you’re in the middle of making massive changes, we can get super involved in ourselves that we often overlook how important spending time with loved ones is. Quality face time or even a phone call might be all it takes to put a smile on your face!
#16 But don’t let your pessimist friends get the best of you.
You know those people. The glass is always half empty and there always seems to be a cloud over their head. Pessimists are like leaches and can suck the life from our dreams and goals. I once read that pessimists are always right when guessing at what they can or cannot accomplish. huh?
Think about it, it’s true. They are self-limiting and that’s why they are usually right. If they limit the things they try, they will fail less. Have you ever heard the term “you get 100% of the shots you don’t take”?
Optimists however, they may over shoot their own abilities and over believe in themselves, but they also try, try, and try again. We don’t give in easily to a pessimistic view because we feel we have it in us to make it happen no matter what circumstances. So, when a pessimist tries to bring me down to their “reality”, I shut that crap down and avoid those people all together.
It’s important to recognize what your dream killers are and who they might be too. Shut them down before they take you down with them. Maybe you can’t just stop being their friend. That’s probably not the nicest thing to do either. But you can stop talking about your dreams them. Pessimists can be mean without realizing it. They’re crapping all over your dreams when they think they are just “bringing you down to reality”. In all honesty, they are just pulling you down to the average level they are on. Be better than that, stop talking about your dreams and goals with people until you’re making real progress. Your actions and results will speak for themselves. You’ll show all of them!
#17 Be happy for others, network, and make connections.
Along your creative life journey, you are going to find people just like you. These people are going to be eternal optimists who dream and dream big. They may even share your interests and be searching for exactly the same thing you are. Don’t be jealous if they have successes before you – I want you to celebrate with them. Lift them up and be happy for them. Find people in your network like this and share dreams. These people won’t squash your happiness or your goals. No, they may even be willing to help you get there because eternal optimists help their brethren out.
#18 Decide what it is you are truly passionate about and pursue that.
#19 Start being dogged, persistent, and consistent.
Change and creative dreams take work. HARD WORK. When the time comes to take action – don’t stop. Be persistent in your actions and consistent in the steps you are taking towards making your dreams comes true. This kind of action will get you places you have not been and closer to your goals. If things are getting difficult, then find ways to get things done a little easier or slow your pace a bit, but do not stop.