How To Change Your Life, Even If You're Terrified To Do It

This post is part of a series by Shannon Kaiser called Live Your Life — a primer on finding your passion and living with purpose. Each day this week, we'll post one article offering the foundational elements you need to go deeper in the search for your life's true meaning. When you're ready to take the next step, check out Shannon's course: Get Unstuck: How To Find Your Calling & Live A Life With More Meaning.

I spent my twenties in a career that I thought I wanted, but eventually it suffocated my soul. I was climbing the corporate ladder in advertising, but my life lacked real passion and meaning. I was terrified to change my life. I thought, “What would I do for a living? Everything I worked for led me here; this is what I wanted. Now, I have to tough it out and go through the motions.”

I continued this path until I couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. It took a formal diagnosis of clinical depression for me to wake up and see that I needed a change.

Flash-forward to today: I am living my dream life as a writer, coach, and course leader. I am depression-free, and I live a life with passion and purpose.

It can be terrifying to move forward and make a change. I get it. I’ve been there. But the reality is that you don’t have to change all at once. All you have to do is be brave enough to make one small change, one day, one moment at a time. Courage is what will pull you into a happier life.

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There are certain small steps you can take today to help you change your life and make a better tomorrow, right now.

It’s important to identify the difference between change and transformation. As psychotherapist Teri Cole says, “We all say we want change, but with change you can always change back. What we really want is transformation.” When you transform, you'll never go back to your old way of living. So as we sail gracefully into the new year, let’s begin our transformations with these easy steps:

1. Clear out clutter.

Stuff can pile up and add unnecessary stress to your life. Physical stuff, emotional stuff, and even mental clutter can prevent you from moving forward. Remember, one small change one step at a time can make a profound difference for you, so as Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, suggests, ask yourself if your stuff brings you joy. If you don’t feel happy, it’s time to chuck it. This includes people, jobs, habits, and objects.

2. Nourish the nudge.

You may feel stuck, but focusing on the negative won't fix anything. If you want to truly change your life, start to pay attention to the inspiration and insights you get — nudges from our inner guide cluing us into what to do next. Even if you don’t know what you want, focus on nurturing and nourishing the nudges that come to you. This could be as simple as following through on the inspiration to go to a bookstore and get a new book, look at YouTube channels, or call a friend and ask for advice.

3. Follow your joy route.

My pivotal moment of transformation came when I decided to make joy my priority. I asked, “What brings me joy?” and made sure I did it every day. This led me to adopt a dog, who helped to pull me out of depression and inspired me to leave the corporate world and work from home. I pulled out my bucket list, updated it to include only things I really cared about, and decided to start checking things off. As I checked things off, I discovered more about my authentic self.

4. Visit your future self.

Visualizing yourself happy and healthy is a key component to manifesting. When I first left my corporate job, I would fall asleep picturing myself as a published author and a travel writer working and writing from all over the world. Today this is my reality. You have to picture it and believe it is possible in your mind before you can achieve it.

5. Find a mentor.

Finding a person you respect and admire to help light the path is key to long-term success. Look for people who have what you want — they can show you the way there. The world’s top life coaches, authors, and CEOs have mentors, coaches, and experts helping them. Mentors help us learn the way on the way, and propel us forward much faster.

If you feel stuck, paralyzed by fear, know that it will evaporate when you take action. Action brings clarity and confidence. The more action you take, the less fear you'll feel.

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