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I ruined a post roast with my crying… That was the moment I realized it was time for a change in my life.
As a little girl I had this idea that I would get married to the prince of my dreams and then live a fairytale story forever. As if all I had to do was turn 18, meet a cute guy, get married and POOF, life would be good.
Obviously, I’m completely aware now how unrealistic this is but my seven-year-old imagination didn’t know any better. Sadly, I carried some of those perceptions with me and when I found myself newly married (he actually did look like a Disney prince on our wedding day though) I knew it wouldn’t all be smooth sailing, but gosh… I didn’t know…
We both graduated from our universities and got married the same week (fyi – I don’t advise this unless you hate sleep). Then we moved to his new duty station a month later as Josh, my husband, had commissioned into the Navy. So, I found myself newly married, jobless, near zero friends or family, and Josh was almost never home.
Let’s just say, I was not prepared for the reality that was newly married military wife life.
So, I found myself crying over a pot roast one night… and not like crying because of it, I mean like I was literally standing over the stove, trying to prep dinner and bawling my eyes out. (There may or may not have been tears mixed into the gravy that night.)
You may be wondering what I was crying about…
So was I, my friend. So was I.
Josh had just gotten home from work. We had been married for less than a year, so I was still in the “be a perfectly capable wife” mode. You know, manage the house, laundry, meals, and still bring in a full-time salary while staying sane kind of mode – none of which I was actually managing, btw. Which just added to my stress.
Anyways, here I was trying to make the perfect pot roast for a delish and fun dinner on a night he was actually home. We were having a fairly normal conversation… and then suddenly, I started crying.
Actually, I think it was more like bawling. Josh had the “she’s crying, and I don’t know what to do” look on his face that I’m sure most young and newly married husbands wear at least once.
He asked me why I was crying (it’s a fair question), to which I started crying even harder as I pathetically threw my hands up in the air and declared “I don’t even know”. Honestly though, I was just as mystified as he was.
At the time, it was not funny at all. I look back at my sweet young naïve self and can’t help but chuckle a little. If only I knew then what I do now…
I did eventually manage to calm down and finish dinner but something within me changed that night. In fact, the memory of that night and the lessons I learned that led me to that breaking point have stayed with me for years.
Which leads me to our first sign that it’s time for a change in your life…
1) LIFE FEELS CHAOTIC OR OVERWHELMING
I still remember that one of the biggest things I was feeling that day in the kitchen was overwhelm and loss of direction. Life had thrown a lot at me all in a short period of time and the reality is that I just wasn’t equipped to handle it well.
It all left me feeling like I was barely hanging onto each day. Every morning I would drag myself out of bed, go through the motions of the day, and climb back into bed that night just satisfied with making it through another day. I was drowning in the day to day and stuck in a cycle that left me exhausted and feeling lost.
The overwhelm of feeling those things every day for months built up. I understand now that something triggered me that day to cause my breakdown, but I honestly have no idea what.
Recently, I heard someone else explain having this same kind of reaction to something. Except, she explained it as a having an anxiety attack. I had never heard someone describe it that way before and while I knew at the time that I was in a rough spot, it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood what was going on.
2) THINGS FEEL "OUT OF CONTROL" WITH NO END IN SIGHT
Here’s the thing, life is crazy and busy and full – however, it shouldn’t be so overwhelming and out of control that the chaos of it leaves us on the edge of an unexpected breakdown on a regular basis simply for the sake of “doing it all”.
If you’re in a season where you regularly feel this way, it’s time to make some changes. You may be trying to do all the things because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing, but I promise you, taking a step back to make some adjustments so you can start enjoying your life again, will be so worth it.
Life is meant to be lived to the fullest – not it’s busiest. Often, we unintentionally interchange the two words, but they are completely different things. You can live a full and wonderful life without it being so busy that it feels chaotic and overwhelming.
Sometimes the moments that bring us the greatest joy come in the calmest and most beautiful ways. We fear missing out on all the hype and social stuff, but what we’re really missing out on is our lives.
Can you remember the last time you didn’t dread at least one thing during the day? Or felt like you could slow down for a minute without worrying everything would fall apart?
When was the last time you sat in total silence and felt peace? Or did something you absolutely love just because you could? Can you remember the last sunset you watched or wildflower field you strolled through?
If life is feeling out of control, consistently overwhelming, and/or chaotic in general, it’s time to make some changes.
THE THINGS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE:
1. I took a mental step back to analyze all the parts of my life.
You can do this too – Set aside an hour of time, grab a journal and pen, maybe put some calming music on and set the phone aside. Don’t worry, your world will not end just because you ignore your phone for an hour. Once you’ve found a calm, begin to think about the different parts of your life and day. Ask yourself these questions:
- what’s working and what’s not working?
- what adds impact and joy to your life?
- what brings overwhelm?
2. I re-prioritized things according to what was working
I looked at my list of what wasn’t working and decided if it needed to be removed or adjusted. It meant saying “no” to some things or people I never had before. In doing so I also said “yes” more of what worked for me.
3) THE PATH YOU'RE HEADED DOWN SCARES YOU
From the day I graduated college up to the day I had the breakdown in the kitchen, I was living every day on auto pilot. I went through the motions of a day, I did a lot of things that now I realize were coping mechanisms, and I spent a lot of time hoping life would start to be a little different.
I used to have this mindset that whatever happened in life was mostly by chance. Like if I was meant to be successful, it would just kind of happen one day. It was like I thought one day I’d wake up and meet the right person or come across the right moment or win the lottery and then everything would just be different.
But every day I woke up and every day I went to bed and still… nothing really changed, and it scared me. I spent so much time thinking life happened to me and my job was just to take whatever it threw at me in stride as best I could. My fear was deeply rooted in the thought that I would grow old and never really get anywhere or do much of anything.
Day after day, I waited. Everyday leading up to that day in the kitchen, I just continued to wait for something life-changing to happen. It wasn’t until after my breakdown that I realized I needed a change… and I needed it immediately. I was so desperate for a change that I started searching on the internet for help. I don’t even remember exactly what I searched for, but it led me to personal development stuff.
4) YOU DON’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE LIFE YOU ARE CREATING
At first my goal was just to find something that would help me get out of whatever rut I was so stuck in. I found blog posts, journal prompts, some YouTube videos, and books. Consuming personal development content became my full-time job. It was my saving grace at the time – the voices of the people who were teaching these things were the only thing that gave hope.
As I learned and grew more, I eventually came across the idea that life doesn’t just happen to us; we have the power to build our life the way we want if we are willing to do the work. We create our lives by taking small steps and actions every day to make our dreams come true. No one else will do it for you and while there are a lucky few who have success dropped in their laps, it’s very rare.
If I wanted my lifestyle to be something I loved living, it was up to me to do the things that would make that happen. It was such a foreign concept to me when I first heard it and maybe it is to you too.
It took me a long time to discover this truth and I would like to present it to you today:
If you don’t feel good about the life you are creating, it’s time to make a change.
THE THINGS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE:
1. Shifting to a growth mindset
Now, I know a lot of people argue with this idea as there are some things we can’t control. Yes, that’s true, but you can decide how you will react to the things that happen.
You also might be realizing that up until now, you’ve always thought the way I used to – that life just happened and if we were lucky something good would happen one day to change our lives forever.
Which makes one wonder – if that’s the case, and you’ve taken no initiative, how can you say that you’re “creating” a life you love or don’t? The reality is that by not taking action to create a life you feel good about, you’re inadvertently allowing your life to be formed in a way you don’t feel good about. That’s what I was doing.
The good news is that you can change this.
2. I Began to think about what a life I felt good about looks like
I didn’t even know anymore exactly what I wanted. Letting myself dream about that, journal about it, and talk about it brought back hope.
3. I fond other people who had already done what I wanted to do
Seeing people who were already living the lifestyle I wanted, were authentic, and shared how they had gotten to where they were made a big difference for me.
5) YOU HAVE STOPPED WORKING ON YOUR DREAMS
There was a point between high school and college that I remember feeling a little lost. My friends had all gone off to college and initially I didn’t think that was in the books for me. About a semester of time passed and my friends were home for winter break. We all went ice skating and I remember thinking in that moment too that I needed a change.
I went to my mom and told her I wanted to enroll in the community college that Spring semester. I had started to live in the day to day cycle and needed to break it somehow. The next four and a half years were filled with an end goal. It became my goal to graduate from college with a four-year degree.
During that time, I also met Josh, we dated, got engaged, and planned our wedding. I had several dreams that were goals I was working on.
Until they all came to a close in the same week. I graduated, we had our wedding, and that was kind of it. Because of our move and Josh’s work stuff, I didn’t find a job right away, so I went from every second being filled with working towards a goal, to having nothing to get up for in the morning. Well, except to make sure Josh’s uniforms were clean and he had food to eat.
Since I wasn’t working and he worked insane hours, we agreed that my job would be to help support him and take care of all the household errands for the time being. The problem was that I hadn’t created any new goals for myself.
6) YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE LOST YOUR WAY
When that week of our graduation and marriage came and went, I just kind of took a break. Which is great, but then I forgot (or really just didn’t consider) to keep dreaming for the next level.
So, I had nothing to get up for. Nothing to work towards. Nothing to give me direction or hope. I had lost my way a bit.
Let me ask you, when was the last time you spent time working on a goal that got you closer to fulfilling your dreams?
Have you let a spark of hope in by envisioning and reminding yourself what you’re working towards this week?
Do you even remember what your dreams in life are? Or have you lost hope and settled into the day to day?
It’s time to dream again. Reconnect with the childlike hope that is still inside of you somewhere. This may feel weird or difficult at first – that’s completely normal. Reopening and keeping your dreams alive take a little practice.
THE THINGS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE:
1. Discovering what was possible
In the early days, I spent a lot of time on the internet looking at other people’s lives. There are so many things in this world that I didn’t even know existed. Amazing and wonderful things that I would never have discovered if I stayed isolated.
I would like to note that this was not for comparison. Don’t go and look at other people’s lives to compare them to your own. Search for the possibilities. If someone else has done it, you can too. You may just stumble onto a dream you didn’t even know you had.
2. I began to turn my dreams into goals
I love the quote from Rachel Hollis that says, “a goal is a dream with its work boots on.” Which essentially means that one you have a dream you want to achieve; you get practical about how to make it happen. Figure out what capabilities you need to make your dream a reality and do the work – grow – create a life you feel good about.
When I was in the depths of my dark place, getting out of it seemed like a dream itself. I didn’t really know what it would take or where to begin. One day I came across an article that talked about change.
Someone had down the numbers and found that a 1% change a day in something created a 37 times difference in a year.
I started to think about how that applied to myself… what if I just changed 1% a day? My life would look 37 times different in one year from what it does currently. I would be 37 times different. The whole idea of growing and changing my life seemed far less daunting. Maybe even more possible than I initially felt it would.
Would you believe me if I told you the crying girl in the kitchen would barely recognize the current me? I’m still the same person in my core. Except now I think a little different, take action in a different way, make different decisions than I once would have. I carry myself differently, dream differently… I live differently.
I completely changed my life in a year. It hasn’t always been easy, but I needed a change… and it’s been so worth it.
I hope sharing my story and the things that have made a difference in my life help you to see the things that are holding you back and what first steps you can take to change them. I pray this has all sparked some hope in you where there may not have been any in a long time. Most of all, I hope it’s enabled to you take the first step towards changing your life – towards creating one you feel good about.
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ABOUT ALLISON SUE
I’m a personal growth blogger, a nerd when it comes to books, and a lover of all things journals. When I’m not with you online, you’ll find me with my family, traveling somewhere, or watching Chinese shows on Netflix with my husband. Empowering you with tools to navigate to a life you feel confident about is always on my mind. I’d love to be on your confidence hype squad!
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