It’s first one small thing and then another and you don’t really pay attention because…well…life is like that – full of ups and downs. And then a worldwide pandemic throws everything into chaos, making life worse on so many levels, cutting us off from hugs and in-person visits with loved ones and being able to hold the hand of someone dear to us who is dying.
If there is a silver lining to this experience, it’s that it has shown us what is important, what is worth the risk, how we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives. And it is giving us the impetus to change.
Here are some clues that a change may be in order.
How to know when it’s time to change your life
- Dread going to work. We all have those days when the idea of going to work is as attractive as a root canal, without the Novocain. And now, when so many people are working from home, and trying to deal with multiple roles (teacher, employee, spouse, etc.), it’s enough to make your head explode. If the work you are doing now is stale and unsatisfying, consider a change.
- Living in the past. One of the saddest things is hearing someone say, “High school was the best time of my life.” If you are stuck in the past – an old relationship, a former job, your college years, whatever – and it takes away from your enjoyment of today, it’s time to reassess.
- Dreaming about the future. Dreaming about the future is great. It can be a great motivator to do new things. But dreams take action and if you’re stuck in the dream with no forward motion, you’re wasting time. And your present.
- Everyone tells you to chill out. Or they start to avoid you because all you do is complain. Both are hints that you’re stressed all the time and something needs to give.
- You’re jealous of other people’s success. We all feel a bit of envy when someone – especially someone you know personally – makes it big and you’re still struggling. I’m talking about the obsessive envy that blackens your mood and makes you resentful. Which you take out on others around you.
- You wake up tired. This happens to everyone on occasion. Are you taking good care of yourself? Eating properly, getting enough exercise, taking breaks, scheduling “me” time and so on? If you’re doing all those things and still and wake up tired, day after day after day, you need to make a change.
- Your sleep patterns are disrupted. You either wake up a lot during the night, can’t get to sleep, get up well before you are rested or go to bed early and sleep for 10 or 12 hours.
- You’ve got ants in your pants. You’re restless. You can’t stay focused. You’ve got lots of nervous energy and nowhere to blow it off. You need to be doing, doing, doing all the time but in many cases, you have no idea what it is you need to be doing. You just know that “it” – what you’re doing right now – isn’t really “it” at all.
- Everyone and everything annoys you. Traffic is too fast or too slow. The AC is too hot or too cold. The guy ahead of you in line at the grocery store is talking too much. Your work is too hard or too boring. Your kids, your spouse, your job, the grocery store, the gas pump — everything annoys you.
- You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. You feel anxious, because you just know something bad is about to happen. You just don’t know what it is.
- What. Ever. Nothing is important. Not brushing your hair or taking a shower or showing up at the parent-teacher conference or getting the report finished on time or checking your email. Many of us are slacking off in the appearance department because hey, we’re working from home. As long as the shirt is presentable, no one has to know about the beat-up sweat pants you’re wearing. And why bother with makeup? It’s all just too much hassle.
- You keep thinking: Is this all there is? Your whole life is crap, from the minute you wake up until you hit the sack. You think there’s got to be something more in life than what you’re doing.
If most of these sounds like I’ve been spying on you (I haven’t), these are pretty specific clues to start making changes in your life.
Check first with your doc to ensure you’re OK physically. If you’re physically healthy, consider a good therapist to help you scale those walls you just can’t climb by yourself. Ask your doctor for some names; ask friends to see if they know of anyone good. And if your first choice is not a good one, keep looking!
But if your doc says you’re in great shape and you don’t need a counselor to pull out deeply rooted issues, coaching can help you figure out you path forward, and provides support and accountability so you can make the changes you want in your life.
What are your signs it’s time to change your life, and how do you respond? Please share in the comments.