“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
– Dan Millman, “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”
Sometimes the plans, the goals, the dreams we have, do not take flight. No matter how hard we try, things sometimes just do not work. It can feel like we’re in an uphill battle, never getting closer to our goal. Or we may have built what we had dreamed about, only to have the rug pulled out from under our feet. Often these challenges are a test of our commitment, challenging us to dig deeper into the depths of our capabilities, to strive and to achieve. Sometimes, however, the goal, the dream, just changes.
How do we best navigate these turning points? Firstly, be sure that it isn’t just a case of “giving up”. Remember the tried-and-true saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. Bring out your determination, your resilience and give it all you’ve got! If it’s still not working, it may be a beneficial time to have a good chat with a wise friend, counsellor or coach, as well as taking time for personal reflection.
For some, we may have invested so much time, energy and ourselves into our unrealised dreams that we may go through stages of grief and loss. These emotional states may include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Here it helps if we recognise that this is a natural human process and that by feeling into these states as they occur, giving ourselves the time and support we need, we more easily move through the process.
To support yourself through these stages, don’t take on any new challenges. Let go of commitments or tasks that are unnecessary. Declutter and toss out what doesn’t serve you. Come back to the basics and prioritise. Nurture yourself. What would you do if a friend of yours was going through this? Let go of any self-criticism and be your own best friend. Find an avenue of expression to help you through this. Writing is great, or grab some colours and do some art therapy or shout your troubles to the ocean. Emotions sit in the body and the best way to move them out is not to numb them through distraction or addiction, but to work them out of your body through safe expression. You’ll feel so much better in releasing them this way.
For some, others in their circle or network will also be affected by the changing focus. Responsibility and guilt can weigh heavily indeed. Giving an apology with a brief reason helps give understanding to those around you and assists you to unburden the load you’ve been carrying, helping clear the slate. Your communication may be as simple as “My circumstances/plans regarding XYZ have changed. I’m sorry if this affects you in any way. I hope these new changes fit better for my life and for those around me. Thank you for understanding.”
Once you’re through these heavier times, you will have a space that’s now cleared to envision the new. Perhaps your original dream just needs a few changes? Perhaps there is an entirely new dream taking place? It can be beneficial to get a new perspective. Change the scenery! Have a few days away at a different location – by the beach or in the mountains, somewhere you can connect back into nature and into yourself. It is in this calm, connected space where you will begin to find your answers.
Once we’ve let go we can begin to create the new. Have some paper and pens at the ready. Brainstorm, do a mind map. Ask yourself some deep and meaningful questions, “What would I be doing if there were no limitations?”, “In years to come, at the end of my life, what would I most regret not doing in my life?” , “What do I love to do?”, “What have I always wanted to do?”, “What am I great at?” Close your eyes and really feel into these questions, then just write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t think about them, don’t critique or edit them, just write!
From here you begin to create a bigger picture of how you would like your life to be.
Forgive yourself and let go of what isn’t working. Create space for the new and begin to bring that into focus. No experience is ever wasted, it’s all brought you to the point of where you are at, right now. Have a look at what you’ve brainstormed. What are the priorities? How can you adjust your schedule to support these goals? What activities do you currently do in your life that hinder these goals? Re-imagine, re-jig, re-prioritise. Life is a continual process of learning, growing and changing. Allow yourself the flexibility to move with that and to create the life you were born to live!
Have a go at these exercises and if you need some further help, please send me an email. I love helping clients with re-visioning their futures.