I set out two years ago to embark on the next chapter of my life. One of self-discovery, an alignment of values, healing from past wounds and embracing fearlessness. I no longer wanted to be just a dreamer. So I sought out to design my life.
I started by taking control of my health, got fit, crafted the company that surrounded me, and opened up my heart to meeting new people. I made it a goal to say “yes” more, became more curious of strangers and put myself in situations that I knew would help me grow –despite how uncomfortable I was. Today, I have a home in California and Vancouver. I’m slowly ticking items off my bucket list from joining a dance group, taking a solo trip across Europe, to writing a book. I inspire and help people on a daily basis, and am surrounded by abundance and love. My life is beautiful and every day I feel grateful. I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned on this ever-evolving journey of life.
1. Embrace the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.
We live in a culture that is so focused on pleasure and being happy. From “How to Be Happy” books to self-help gurus, we are constantly being told that a constant state of being happy is what should be strived for. Resultantly, when we feel pain, suffering, or discomfort, we feel ‘not normal’ and try to get out of that state immediately. We medicate, numb, avoid, and distract ourselves from the things that don’t feel good. But the other side of the happiness spectrum is not one of good or bad – it’s just a part of the human experience. After all, without the rain, how could the sun ever shine?
When I was given the opportunity to move to California for work, I was torn. My heart wanted to stay in the city I was born and raised in. I had a full life and an amazing community and not one friend in San Diego.
But as uncomfortable and scary as it was, I took the risk. I moved and started from scratch. I was (and still am) uncomfortable. There are moments that I feel extremely homesick and that I’m missing out on what all my Vancouver friends are doing. But there is something incredibly empowering about starting from scratch and knowing you can do it. From getting a new drivers license, setting up a new routine to striking up a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop – you realize, “Hey, I really can do this!” In the process of pushing your limits and starting fresh, you realize that you are stronger than you think, more resilient than you ever knew and can adapt easier than you thought. I’ve learned that some of the greatest growth comes from the times of most discomfort.
2. Realize that networking is a skill that is learned and comes with practice.
I was not born with a natural ability to meet new people easily. For most of my life, I was uncomfortable in large groups and often avoided situations where I’d have to make small talk. I looked at how some of my friends seemed to have this natural ability to build rapport and connect with mere strangers, and envied that charisma. But I learned that while some people are natural born networkers, connecting with new people is a skill that comes through practice.
To start building this skill, I made a mental shift and decided to be interested in strangers. I learned what questions to ask that helped people to open up, and how to build rapport. Now, when I meet someone I find intriguing, I make an effort to ask him/her out for coffee to get to know them better. I’ve met some incredible people this way and I must say, each one of those meetings have enriched my life with love, knowledge or camaraderie.
3. Create a life plan.
Nothing great in life ever came by accident. If you want to design your life, you need to make a plan for it. First, do some thinking of the person you are now and the person you strive to be. What do you stand for? What are your values? How do you want to be remembered when you die? Will you leave a legacy and what will that legacy be?
Your moral compass is one of the most important decisions you will make. This is an active choice. This is where you can choose who you want to be, starting right now. This compass will guide you through the decisions you make, the company you choose to keep and the person you become.
Next, what is your life vision? Do you want a family? Your own business? The ability to travel? You need to spend time thinking about the life you envision for yourself so that you can start making decisions that will help you along that path. Sure, things will change. Life happens. But you can create an overall idea of the kind of life you want. You’ll likely find that as you write down your life goals, the universe has a funny way of helping you along the way to achieve those goals.
4. If you want to make room for the new, you need to purge the old.
What holds us back from living the life we want is often the remnants from our past. The old stories we have on repeat that play like a movie reel in our head. The blame and resentment we have towards our parents, past lovers or friends.
Remember that our joy and experience of life is based on the stories we choose to believe. So if one story is no longer serving you, find another one to replace it.
There comes a point where you need to take responsibility of your life outcome – despite how wronged you may have been, and change the story to a new narrative that serves you.
In terms of relationships, with the proliferation of social media, we are bombarded by options, validation from “likes” and distractions. Be weary of fake attention and how your ego can get addicted to it. Also, understand that keeping doors open with multiple people isn’t as harmless as you think nor does such a strategy usually lead to a fulfilling, committed relationship. And let’s face it, as empowered and independent as we are, at the end of the day, an intimate pair bond with another is what most of us want and need. The limitless options and back up plans create a culture of test-driving, but never committing. And, nothing great is ever birthed from having one foot in, and one foot out. Take the risk. Jump in with you two feet. Try the best you can. And if it doesn’t work, chalk it up to experience. Each person that comes into your life is here to teach you a lesson. Learn it and move forward.
Sometimes you have to commit to closing one door to make space for another door to open.
5. Embrace the chapter you are in.
Our lives are merely chapters of a story. The adventures, the romances, the characters, – they are all a part of what makes that final story either a grand one, on a barren one.
So opt for adventure. Take chances. Focus on the opportunities that comes from risk rather than dwell on the “what if” of things that could go wrong. Have faith that discomfort is the precursor to new beginnings and necessary for growth.
In the end, our lives are a sum of our stories – the stories we live, the stories we believe and the stories we leave behind with others. Make yours worth reading.Amy C
Photo credit: Rhonda Dent Photography