A new year is upon us. If you’re anything like me, right about now you’ve probably begun to think about what you can do (or stop doing) to secure for yourself a greater sense of success (however you define it!) in the year ahead.
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Of course online blogs and media outlets are brimming with columns on making new years resolutions. I’ve written some myself over the years. However what’s more important than any resolution is the mindset with which you approach it.
If you’re head and heart aren’t in the right place, you’ll be hard pressed to counter those forces of resistance that drive you to settle for the status quo, and stick with your default ways of engaging in the world.
Making changes in your life, and going after new goals is often uncomfortable and often demands a leap of faith in ourselves, and in our future. Which is why achieving what you want over the year to come will require you to do a five key things you may not have done before.
- Embrace uncertainty, however uncomfortable.
- Be flexible in how you approach your challenges. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting the results you’ve always got!
- Take chances, foregoing the security of the known for the unknown.
- Trust yourself that whatever happens, you can handle it. Time to stop underestimating yourself!
- Refuse to succumb to negativity, no matter what (and no matter how pessimistic others may be!)
Of course, when it comes to taking a big leap in your career, or making a change of any sort in your life, a certain degree of trepidation and fear about what they change may bring is inevitable. We all enjoy familiarity, and love the security of being able to make plans based on a future we can predict. We start to feel uncomfortable when that future becomes less predictable, less certain, and less familiar. But while our fear drives us to seek more security (at least in the short term), if we let them run our life, they can do just the opposite. Left unchecked, fear can leave us drowning in a pool of self-doubt and settling with a status quo that leaves us feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled – if not outright miserable. It’s why people stay in jobs they loathe, in relationships that leave them lonely and – to quote Theroux – ‘living lives of quiet desperation’.
Having had to navigate many changes over the last 20 years – from changing career, to moving home and country multiple (thirteen at last count) times, with newborn babies in tow on several occasions – I have learnt that while change can be uncomfortable and sometimes really hard going in the beginning, it’s our attitude toward it that determines how well we handle it. Whether they are changes I’ve proactively sought to create, changes I’ve nervously embraced, or changes that have been thrust upon me, all have taught me that I’m capable of far more than I thought I was and had no reason to get so anxious! The same applies to you.
When you trust yourself that no matter what happens in the future, you have the resources within you to handle it, it opens up a whole new world of possibility. That’s not to say you might not have moments of anxiety about how you would handle a particular challenge, but it liberates you to make different choices and take different actions, despite the uncertainty that accompanies them.
It may sound counterintuitive but resisting change and playing it safe doesn’t make you more secure, it makes you less so. Avoiding taking a chance or making a change toward a more inspiring future because it makes you emotionally uncomfortable and invites uncertainty into your life is never a good reason not to make it. In fact, it’s a pretty lousy reason.
Every worthwhile endeavour (without exception!) involves taking a plunge into an unknown and uncertain future with no guarantee that it will produce the result or outcome that you want. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either delusional or lying. But one thing is guaranteed: not making changes, not taking chances and sticking with the status quo is not going to make you feel more secure or happier in the long term. Rather it will only eat away at your sense of self, fuel any nagging insecurities and leave you less satisfied (more anxious) than you are right now.
We live in a world of accelerated change. The world we inhabited ten years ago is gone. Of course day-by-day it’s hard to see the changes but rest assured, the world you will inhabit ten years from now will be very different than the one you woke up to today. The question to ask yourself is: What changes do I need to make today that will enable me to thrive in the world ten years from now…five years from now… one year from now?! I can assure you, they exist.
As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, ‘While I don’t know what the future holds I do know that ten years from now, those who have taken courageous action, and continually traded the security of the known for the uncertainty of the unknown, will be those who will be seizing the opportunities that change inherently holds’.
Make sure you are among them! Don’t stick with the status quo in 2014 for fear of uncertainty or discomfort. Embrace it. While making changes always involves some level of risk – of failing or falling short of the mark. But failing to make them puts you at far greater risk still. Life is short. Don’t risk losing another year because you’re afraid of change. Embracing it lines your path to the sense of sense of security, confidence and fulfilment you seek.
So tell me, where will you dare to embrace uncertainty in the year ahead?
To quote Helen Keller, “Life is a daring adventure, or nothing.”
Margie Warrell is the bestselling author of Stop Playing Safe (Wiley) and Find Your Courage (McGraw-Hill), a keynote speaker and mother of four untidy children (two teenagers, and two wannabe-teens). Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
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