As the old cliche goes, there are those who talk-the-talk and those who walk-the-walk. While I’m sure that many of us would prefer to identify with the latter group, just as many people have taken a long and slow step backwards into the talk-the-talk camp.
The fact is, for a number of us, we’ve come to find that the things we used to be good at, the things we enjoyed excelling in, the things that made our everyday lives significant, have taken a backseat. Despite this, we try to keep on living life as if we were still that same interesting, creative, and fulfilled person despite not interacting with these forms of self-improvement and growth anymore. In essence, we’ve stopped walking-the-walk but are still talking-the-talk by lying to ourselves and sometimes others about who we are and what we do.
Reaching the milestone of self-awareness necessary to realise and admit to yourself that this is what’s going on in your life right now is a gift you should not ignore. It’s an invaluable opportunity, a door you could be prying open to something better, a moment you could realise that you’re own rebirth is on the horizon if you accept it with open arms.
How Do I Know if this is Me?
Often the biggest problem with the realisation that you’re just not living life the way you used to is that you simply don’t notice, and when you don’t notice, you don’t do anything about it.
It’s often a slow process of going from someone who was involved with so many different activities, had a range of productive hobbies, and enjoyed their social outings, to becoming someone who does not get involved with anything worthwhile, leaves personal projects and hobbies half-finished, and sees good times through a negative lens. You may have to hit bottom before it becomes apparent that something isn’t like it used to be. It can be a tough pill to swallow upon realisation, but ultimately this is a positive step towards recovering some of the old you back.
So what are the signs that you’re no longer walking-the-walk like you used to? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you happy?
- Do you feel fulfilled?
- Do you think you’re making progress in life?
- Do you feel free?
Next, write down some of your goals. These can be long, mid, and short-term goals, however, ensure three things: That they are realistic, accomplishable, and specific. There’s never a point of setting goals that are impossible to make a dent in.
After you’ve figured out what your goals are in this moment of your life, I want you to think back over the last week and consider the actions you’ve taken to further any of these goals. It doesn’t matter if these improvements are big leaps and milestone achievements or small and minute, as long as you’re going forward instead of nowhere.
What you might come to find is that you’re either not doing anything to move towards these goals of yours or that you could be doing so much more than you currently are to meet these expectations of yourself. Compare your current performance in this arena to a time when you think you were at your most fulfilled and active and what you will see is that you had the ability and drive to make things happen at one point.
Where did this energy go? Why does it feel so impossible to do the same thing now? The great news is that it hasn’t really gone anywhere. This drive is still within and just needs to be coaxed back out, one step at a time.
How Do I Get Back in the Saddle?
Positive and constructive change doesn’t occur overnight, it takes time and a focused effort to propel you forward. Improving yourself is an opportunity for hard work which you should be learning to enjoy because of the many benefits and advantages it brings with it.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
No one can tell you the best way for you to get back to what fulfils you and makes your life worth living, that’s personal to you. However, there are some practices, positive habits, and tenets you can consider incorporating into your life to help you become the best version of yourself possible.
Consistently View & Review Your Goals
That list of goals you wrote up previously? Keep it and make sure you glance at it every day. It’s a reminder that these are the things you should really be concentrating on in life. It’s all too easy to get caught up, become stressed, and catastrophise about everyday non-issues. Not only are these daily elements trying to sap away your energy you could be using to better yourself, most of them don’t actually matter that much, to you or to others. With that in mind, they’re barely worth thinking about, so don’t bother sweating the small stuff.
When you see your goals every day, you are reminded of what’s important and that you should be doing something today that actively contributes to one of these aims. Not doing this often means spinning your wheels and going nowhere.
Once every week or two, take some free leisure time to really have a think about the goals you’ve set. How much have you moved forwards towards any of them? Have some of them changed perhaps? Are there more goals you want to stay focused on? Have you made a well thought-out decision that you’re no longer interested in achieving one of your goals? Make it a habit of asking yourself these questions and you’ll become ever more aware of the direction you’re taking in life, one that leads to what you want and who you want to become, or one that is simply acting without really living.
Say Yes to Opportunity & Serendipity
Opportunity presents itself moment-to-moment every single day, bringing with it a yearning for a binary answer. You’re now going to answer “Yes“.
When we close ourselves off from new experiences and obstacles, we are essentially saying no to life and are closing a door which may have led to somewhere exhilarating. Even the most mundane and boring “opportunities” can ultimately lead to something life-changing, so why not see where these doors go? Chaos Theory posits that one small change early on in a process can have drastic effects later on in the timeline. Keep this in mind the next time you make a decision to do or not do something.
Serendipity means “fortunate happenstance”, this is essentially the seemingly unforeseen experiences and events which happen to grace you. Serendipity can occur anywhere at any time, it can be dramatic or low-key, significant or insignificant. Learn to identify and appreciate these happenings and avoid taking them for granted; this is how people begin to develop negative and unhelpful thinking patterns.
Negative thinking patterns stop us from seeing the positive and predisposition us to concentrate on the unfortunate occurrences, the unmet expectations, and our own mistakes. By trying to pay special attention to occurrences of serendipity, we reverse this process and begin to become someone who is always on the lookout for the positive, advantageous, and cheerful. An extremely powerful but underrated method of thought-programming.
“…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Hamlet (William Shakespeare)
Keep What is Useful, Discard the Rest
While you’re picking back up the good habits and aspects of life that once fulfilled you, you can also start to identify what isn’t helping you improve and what could be holding you back. This could be anything, from unhelpful thought patterns, eating habits, and toxic people, to common mistakes, guilty pleasures, and reckless behaviours.
Like we previously noted, you can’t change yourself overnight, for better or for worse. That means that not only can you not build up all of your positive life aspects back in one day, you also cannot rid yourself of unhelpful aspects all at once. These types of changes for personal growth are part of a long-term journey which travels slowly.
With time, you will begin to realise what may be causing you pain or holding you back, then you can think about what the consequences would be, if any, to ridding yourself of these hindrances. If you’ve come to the conclusion that something like a gambling hobby is only causing you to become frustrated and or it is damaging your finances, you can make it a goal to stop or reduce this behaviour.
By no means should you go cold-turkey and deprive yourself of something completely if you’re used to having or doing this thing every day. However, like our goals for growth, you can make some progress to discarding this negative life aspects every single day. Half the battle is simply staying aware of what it is you want in life and knowing if you’re going in the right direction to achieve it.
Take Your Life Back & Start Walking-the-Walk
It’s a noticably common pattern that so many people are unhappy with their lives but they can often look back into their past and remember a time that they were happy, productive, and proactive. At the end of the day, it is you who is in charge of how happy you are and how well you perform, and you alone.
There’s no magic formula or silver bullet which will someday strike your perception and make your dreams come true, you need to grab the bull by the horns and force it to go in the direction you want to go. the alternative is that you’re flailed around and taken way off into somewhere you might not want to be. That is not a fulfilling existence and not a life anyone should aim for.
Changing yourself, especially for the better, is no easy task. The good news is that it is definitely possible for anyone and all you require is time, effort, and a brain. All these aspects of life we think we derive happiness and fulfilment from may seem like the answer – people often say things like “If only I had X, Y, or Z, I would be happy” – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s your thinking and the way you perceive that makes you who you are and makes you act the way you do. Change this and you change yourself.
It’s your thinking and the way you perceive that makes you who you are and makes you act the way you do. Change this and you change yourself.
Are you trying to take back the direction in your life? What are you doing every day to move further forward with your own personal goals?