A few years ago I left everything I knew behind — a corporate job, a large salary, a dead-end relationship — all in an effort to find true happiness. Since then, I have navigated a path of charting new territory. I created a job that doesn't really exist (that of an inspirational travel writer), and in my heart I know it is what I am meant to do.
Starting fresh can feel like a fast roller coaster, bursting with ups and downs. Life is an adventure with many challenges.
Before I started doing what I loved, I was depressed, addicted to drugs, consumed with eating disorders, isolated, and lonely.
At the time, I didn't know the root of my depression was due to not being true to me. I never gave myself permission to ask what I really wanted for my life. I just drifted along in a career that was safe. My relationships were superficial and loveless. It was as if I was on autopilot, going through the motions of life, numb and afraid to really live.
Avoiding my true self resulted in numerous breakdowns. It seemed as if I was constantly searching for an outward solution for an inside condition. The next raise, the next city, the next man, the next drug fix, the next “anything except what I had” would make me happy. Every time I got what I wanted, though, I felt even more empty and isolated. Everything changed once I asked myself, "What do you really want?”
Many of us unknowingly drift through life without asking what would make us happy, only to realize we are sad and unfulfilled. Until we get clear, we can't get to where we want to go.
I decided that for me to be happy I would need to chart my own path. As long as my heart was my compass, I knew I could not fail. The corporate environment didn't work for me; I needed to be free to work from anywhere in the world and to be my own boss.
Today my life is much different than it was when I was that sad, lonely girl. I've trained myself to see the world from a new perspective. Sometimes leaving our comfort zone can be the most rewarding aspect of living life to the fullest.
Your dreams matter and they will only come true when you take steps towards realizing them. With a little courage, a lot of persistence, and even more passion, you have the recipe to make your life extraordinary. Imagine waking up every morning and being so in love with your life that it doesn’t feel like you have to work at all.
It is a reality that is possible for you. After leaving the familiar behind, I am in love with my work and full of self-love and compassion. But that doesn't mean my current journey isn't filled with bumps and major lows. The difference between then and now is the tools I use to pull out of low moments.
I learned that life is a creative adventure that is always going to be full of ups and downs. As my friend Katrina Love Sean says, "The breakdowns can be breakthroughs," and if we are keen to growing we can experience each breakdown as an opportunity to grow and be our best self.
Here are three ways to make your breakdown a breakthrough:
1. Know that the universe will always remove what no longer serves you.
If it is in your life, it is in your life for a reason. A bad habit you can't break, a horrible boss, a troubled relationship; whatever the situation may be, let it be your teacher. I thought about every time I quit something — smoking, drugs, sugar, bad romance, bad jobs, or bad bosses — and it was always because I was ready and they no longer served me.
It was very easy to quit when it was truly time and I was ready. Areas of my life I still struggle with continue to be my teachers; because I am willing to learn, I can navigate through them with more grace.
If there is an area of your life you suffer in — an addiction, a horrible job, or even a strained relationship — ask yourself “What can I learn here?” Maybe you have tried to walk away, but get pulled back in, or the same patterns keep popping up. Instead of resisting, welcome and allow the situation to unfold and be your guide. There is a lesson waiting for you.
2. Remember that your behavior is more important than your beliefs.
What you say is not as important as what you do. You can say you are healthy, but then overeat, consume a lot of sugar and never exercise. Maybe you tell others that you are in a happy relationship, but behind closed doors you argue with your partner and never feel heard or supported. Or perhaps you say you "like" your job, but you aren’t challenged, are overdue for a raise, and you don't get along with any of your coworkers.
The things we do and say have an impact on our ability to change. If we are ignoring red flags or are hiding behind false illusions, we cannot move out of situations that don't serve us. Look at what you say versus what you do. Ask yourself who you want to be, and be that person; don't just talk about it. The more we believe in ourselves, the less we need other people's opinions.
3. Address your guilt.
Guilt is a manifestation of what we think we should do versus what we want to do. If you ate too much ice cream, or had longer "me time" and your kids were left without you longer than planned, let the guilt go and just be. Know that your higher self wanted you to experience that moment; guilt usually comes from family pressure, cultural demands, and societal norms. Just be yourself and focus on why you do what you do, but without guilt.
If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad. There is no need to regret eating that dessert, oversleeping, or failing to get everything on your list done. Life is too short to flog yourself for anything. Enjoy the moment. We never know how many moments we'll get.
If this article spoke to you, and you want more tips, join me for a FREE webinar on February 26, titled "Clear Your Fear in Your Career. " Details here.