Feel like you made a wrong life turn? If so, you are not alone. Every day, women tell me that they aren’t living the life they want. And now they think it’s too late to turn back and take the other fork in the road.
Don’t listen to what the voice of convention tells you. It is rarely too late to become who you’ve always wanted to be. You possess a unique combination of gifts, some already realized and some as yet untapped. Rewriting your life simply means reassessing your strengths and preferences, and putting them to work for you in a new and fulfilling way.
Gwen, a brave and insightful patient, taught me a great deal about how to identify and embrace a dream — how to create the life you’ve always wanted. Gwen grew up in an environment where tradition was highly valued. Her father had been in the banking industry, and she felt compelled to follow suit. She went to all of the right schools, and became a very successful banker. She received accolades for her accomplishments.
Gwen came in to see me, anxious and depressed. She felt frustrated, sad and guilty about not being happy with what appeared to be the perfect life. It became readily apparent that Gwen had the perfect life for someone else, not for her. In subsequent meetings she worked hard to figure out who she really wanted to be.
With time and effort, a pattern manifested itself. Whenever we discussed the outdoors — the wilderness or the mountains — Gwen’s face lit up. Long story short, she now leads hiking expeditions all over the world. Gwen no longer makes a huge income or drives a fancy car, and her family still hasn’t accepted her new life. But she wakes up each morning energized and at peace with herself. Most important, she recognizes that her newfound life is a gift that money cannot buy.
How would you like to rewrite your life script? Here are some attitudinal shifts that will help you begin to explore a more fulfilling future:
- Permit yourself to be a beginner. Accept that as you explore new possibilities you will have many stops and starts. Rather than measuring your progress, adapt an attitude of curiosity about the process.
- Understand that it is normal to feel anxious about making a change. Some of what you will experience as fear, however, is probably excitement. Fear and anticipation create the same physiological responses in us, and it is often hard to distinguish one from the other.
- Recognize the benefits of already having some life experience. You are not a “has-been,” simply because you are starting over again. Your past will allow you to better appreciate your future, and will put your new life into a more realistic context.
Now take all the time you need to answer the following questions:
- What aspects of your current job or life circumstance do you enjoy?
- What would others say you do naturally and well?
- What do you love doing in your free time?
- What cause(s) do you feel strongly about?
- How would you like to be remembered?
- Which life accomplishments (starting with early childhood) have meant the most to you?
- What would you choose to do if you were not concerned about money and time?
As you answer these questions and adjust your attitude, new possibilities will begin to emerge. A career consultant or a life coach can help confirm that you are headed down the right path.
Deciding to make your new life as satisfying as possible may seem self-indulgent. The paradox is that by doing so, you will have much more to give to everyone around you.
Purcell, M. (2006). You Can Rewrite Your Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/you-can-rewrite-your-life/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.