Sometimes it’s circumstance that sticks to our potential like molasses, weighing it down and making it hard to move forward. More often though, the biggest obstacle in our way is ourselves.
It’s not necessary to make grand, sweeping changes to make a difference. When one thing changes, other things have to change to reset the equilibrium. It’s human nature to always seek balance and ironically, the best way to find balance can be to unsettle things for a little while and force the change.
Here are some places to start. Try experimenting with one or a bunch of them.
Find your boundaries. Now sharpen them.
Imagine a bold heavy underline at the point where you end and the rest of the world begins. Be clear about who you want in and who you want out. You can’t always choose the people around you, but you can choose how much of their ‘stuff’ crosses into your zone. If there’s any chance of it draining you, ruining you or shrinking you – it’s out. And perhaps they are too.
Trust your own judgement.
No two people live from the same script so difference and disagreement is inevitable. Nobody knows what’s best for you, better than you. Listen to the wisdom and advice of others but when all is said and done, there’s something in you that already knows the answer.
Love hard. It’s a superpower.
Be emotionally generous to those who deserve you. Don’t stay with people who drain or damage and when someone is worthy of your love, respect and admiration, give it freely and abundantly. Appreciate them. Acknowledge them. Adore them. Few things will make a bigger difference.
Don’t take anything personally. (Because seriously – what if none of it’s about you.)
People will react the way they do for so many reasons and often none of them will have anything to do with you. There will always be people who judge, criticise and condemn – because of who they are, not because of who you are. We’ve all made stupid decisions before but we all have a right to be wrong sometimes. Look at situations, people and reactions objectively, rather than taking them personally.
Let mistakes be opportunities – not a shame incubator.
There are plenty of ways to learn. Mistakes are one of them. Approach failures and mistakes as an opportunity to to learn. Look for the lesson, learn it and move on. Mistakes are a fertile training ground to give you the resources, wisdom and experience to get you to where you’re going.
Get to know who you are (when the world isn’t telling you who to be).
We wear so many hats – mother, partner, daughter, sister, friend, colleague. Take time on your own, away from the noise, to stay in touch with who you are when you aren’t somebody’s someone. Of course who you are in relation to other people is important but being connected to yourself gives way to understanding what you want and who you are when you don’t have to be anything – or anyone – to anybody.
Problem? Nah. It’s a challenge and it has its own reward. You’ve got this.
What if you knew without a doubt that at the end of every problem you would be wiser, more capable, more resilient, bigger and bolder than the person you are now. Problems can be opportunities or the fuel for complaints, whining and excuses. They can expand you at the edges or keep you stuck as a victim of circumstance. Ultimately it’s up to you.
Accept others as they are. Or walk away.
Everyone has a story to tell and when you understand enough of a person’s story, that life starts to make sense. Don’t judge someone else because their chapters are different to yours. That said, not being judgemental doesn’t mean accepting everyone into your fold. Not everyone will be good for you. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good people – though sometimes they aren’t – but sometimes people don’t mix. If you can’t accept someone for who they are, or if who they are feels bad for you, walk away.
Try something that scares you (in a bold, ‘I can do this’, exciting kind of way).
Growth involves finding our edges and pushing a little further beyond to see what’s there. It’s the lifeblood of creativity, adventure and the sometimes breathtaking off-spin of courage. Staying too long in your comfort zone has the potential to entrench you in a rut. Likewise with your relationships. Don’t try things only to succeed. Try things to learn, discover and unfold – regardless of ‘success’.
Be deliberate about who you keep around.
Choose the right people to be around. It’s been said that we are an average of the five people we spend the most time with. People have the power to reduce or expand our flight, depending on who they are, and how much we’re prepared to compromise. Some compromise is important. Too much is crippling. Choose wisely. You deserve people who think you’re wonderful.
When there’s a hard decision to make, it’s easy to avoid making any decision at all for fear of getting it wrong. Remember though, making no decision is still making a decision but you’re not fully in control of the wheel. Have faith that any decision you make is made with as much vision as you had available to you. Just decide and have faith in your capacity to cope with whatever happens next. Only then can you start moving forward.
Let go of the need to be right.
There’s grace, strength and an abundance of wisdom in owning your mistakes. Be ready to admit when you’re wrong – with strength, not with defensiveness. Mistakes are how you learn but you won’t learn anything if you’re whipping yourself on the back for not knowing better.
Good things take time. Impatience often leads to giving up before the time has come. Know that you have what it takes to succeed, and that the path might be unpredictable. It might be longer, windier and with more dips than expected but that doesn’t change where it’s headed. Know the end goal is still there, however long it takes to reach it.
Make sure you’re understood. Then be comfortable with disagreement.
Do whatever is necessary to be understood. Messages don’t always land as they are intended. Make sure you’re able to tell the difference between a misunderstanding and a disagreement. If it’s a disagreement, don’t it personally. If it’s a misunderstanding, clear it up.
And above all else, be brave.