Finding the courage to change your life. For some, it’s an easy decision. For others it’s difficult. And for a few others, there is no choice…
A little over three years ago, I quit my corporate job due to stress. A few months later I pursued my dream of writing and publishing. I also changed a few habits, slowed down, and learned to appreciate more of God’s blessings.
Finding the courage to change your life.
The path to deciding to quit was scary. There were many factors that led up to my near-stress-breakdown. The good thing was that I finally recognized the sources of my stresses and started on the path to make the changes.
Today, I would like to first share with you a little fable. Let me take you into the mind of a cucumber named Julie.
The Calm and Kind Cucumber
Julie was perfectly happy with her spot in the garden. The sun was warm and the water was plentiful – just what a cucumber needed to develop into the very best they could be! She reveled in her perfect environment.
Hank, one of the younger cucumbers, was so eager to develop fully that he started using his vine to swing in front of Katie to catch all the sun.
His actions really irritated Julie. He was getting all the sun and growing rapidly. Julie, on the other hand, started to experience stunted growth.
“I’m so angry I could really yank Hank for what he’s doing,” said Julie to her friend Lynne.
“If I were you, I’d find a way to tie him up in his vines,” replied Lynne. She felt that Hank wasn’t showing Julie enough respect.
But instead of reacting angrily, Julie took a moment to calm down. She decided that she’d talk to Hank gently. She felt that approach would help him understand that he was being unfair.
“Hank,” she said later that evening, “when you swing in front of me, you’re taking away the sunlight that’s rightfully mine.” She continued, “And when you do that, I lose the chance to grow.”
Hank was surprised. He didn’t realize that his actions would’ve made Julie so sad.
“I’m so sorry, Julie. I didn’t think about how my actions would affect you.” He continued, “The last thing I want is to be unfair to you. I promise I’ll stop swinging in front of you and wait my turn for development.”
Julie and Hank became good friends, and Julie was able to grow up right on schedule.
Julie had a few choices.
She could have shrugged her shoulders and thought to herself, “I guess that’s the way the vine swings. Oh, well, I’ll accept I’ll be a little cucumber.” Or, she could have lashed out in anger and risk being disrespected by Hank and the other cucumbers on the vine. Her other choice was to take action and approach him in a calm and kind manner.
Taking the latter path worked out in her favor. She got the outcome she wanted and now will get the sun she needed to grow.
What’s the lesson in this story? It’s easy to lose grip of situations when you allow the negative emotions to control your actions.
The effective approach is to remain positive and expect the best from situations.
If I were to take you on a “Ghost of Christmases Past” excursion into my life over five to eight years ago you would see a different Kim. There were areas of my life I handled completely wrong. They say experience is the best teacher, right? Well, I have many things to teach you about making choices and changes — and doing them BEFORE you have a breakdown.
So, why do we put off changing? Why did I put of changing?
What gets in the way of finding the courage to make changes?
None of these hurdles are so high you can’t get over them. But they can cause you to put off making major changes in your life. They all start with Fear:
Fear of the new
Afraid of success
Apprehensive about criticism
Discouraged of the effort, pain and discomfort needed to make it happen
Fear of failure
Finding the courage to make change happen action steps
1. Decide on your purpose for the change. You may already know what it is. What will your life be like if you make the change? If you don’t have an answer to the question, then go for a walk or sit in a quiet place. It’s worth spending a lot of time on this question. It’s also worth having a clear picture in your head of what this change will do for you.
Remember Julie the cucumber? She knew she wanted to be a long, beautiful emerald green cucumber. She knew if she didn’t get the sun she would be scrawny and yellow.
2. Love your desire. If you don’t love the proposed outcome, then why are you even wanting the change? Love the outcome with a passion and desire. Use that love as your fuel to take action.
3. Create the space you need for your change. Don’t just wait for the change to magically happen. You’ll have to take some actions. It may be 30 minutes a day reading and researching about a new career. It may mean outlining and visualizing some conversations you need to have with toxic people in your life.
You know what you get if you delegate 1 hour a day, for 365 days of the year to ONE task? It’s the equal of NINE 40-hour work weeks. NINE! That’s three months!! Small actions add up!
4. Partner up. When it’s time to make a change, there’s power in community. Surround yourself with others making a similar change. You don’t have to do it in person. Online communities can provide just as much support. Find some people you connect with and support each other as you work through your changes.
5. Start now. One small step. Do an internet search about “starting a virtual assistant business.” Or maybe you need to “research support groups for weight loss on Facebook.” Do something today.
When she’s not sweeping dog hair, experimenting in the kitchen, or doodling on paper, Kim C. Steadman is writing. She is a self-proclaimed cubicle-nation escapee and now lives her childhood dreams. Kim is a freelance writer, speaker and ministers alongside her family in Grand Prairie, TX. The acreage she and her husband care-take includes woods, fields and critters — all of which weave themselves into her writings.