Do you ever have those moments in life where you feel the universe is trying to tell you something? Maybe it’s signs that you keep noticing or a constant gut feeling that won’t go away. The beginning of 2014 has definitely been one of those moments for myself and I feel like the universe is telling me that this year is the year of “change”. Just in the beginning of this year the density and frequency of people in my close network making very large life changes has been… exhausting. 7 of my friends have moved out of the state, 5 just got out of long term relationships with their significant others, 8 have gotten married or engaged and 20 have changed careers. These are just people I can recall but I am sure there are many more that have occurred just in the first couple months of the year. All of these major events were also happening at the exact time where I have been faced with a big life decision with my new career and potential move. I found myself asking “what the hell is going on? Why are all the people surrounding me making these huge life changes at the same time?” Then I came across this quote
“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes” – Hugh Prather
In my personal life I had hit somewhat of a plateau. I wasn’t happy with my day to day at work, I had become complacent with life and wasn’t pushing myself like I had before. The ironic timing of all of this makes me believe this is my own wake up call and for those who have felt a similar way here are some things I believe we all should think about or maybe just need a little refocus on in this year of change.
1. Your core values of happiness
A great exercise I do for this is think back on my top 5-10 happiest moments in life. I write them down and look back to see what are any common themes across those moments. For myself there is always a thread of loyalty, genuineness, connectedness and helping others. Whatever your themes are, increase those types of moments in your life to ensure you are living to what your values of happiness are.
2. Think holistically about what’s important to you and your life
It is easy to get swept up in the “satisfaction” of life rather that the “fulfillment” of life. In my previous studies on happiness I came across the different levels of happiness and there is a trap we often fall into here.
If you look at this grid on one axis you have amount of happiness vs. length of that feeling. Too often we tend to fill our life with immediate “pleasure” because it is the quickest way to feel an emotional boost but just like a drug those feelings are shortest lived and we tend to need another party to go to or another trip to go on or another girl to date. We definitely need moments of pleasure in our life to have a balance but don’t get lost chasing the next small moment of pleasure. Don’t live completely in the moment where you aren’t building towards your life of meaning. Don’t be afraid to struggle and put in work to help achieve long term goals you wish to obtain.
3. Dive deeper into the relationships that mean the most to you
A big part of happiness is the ability to be connected in the world. But when I say connected I don’t mean more Facebook friends or Instagram followers, I mean having genuine relationships with people built upon trust, loyalty and values. Think of the amount of energy you have to dedicate towards relationships as a bucket of water. It is limited in its amount and you have to choose how you allocate that resource. The problem is in our world of social networks is we tend to allocate a drip of water across 2000+ Facebook friends, 600 Instragram followers, 1200 Twitter followers and we believe we are happier because of the reach of connectedness we have. But how many of those thousands of people can you actually turn to when you are really in need of something? How do you build trust, loyalty and confidence in others where they would drop whatever they are doing to help you out? It takes a lot more than just a drip of water.
Another problem is sometimes we throw bigger resources of “water” into people we probably shouldn’t. Whether it is we think we can fix things by ourself or we desire a relationship more than the other actually wants, true connectedness is a two way street that needs the same amount of “water” thrown back into your bucket as you give to another. Find out who those people are in your life that are willing to replenish your water bucket and start diving deeper into those relationships.
4. Push away social expectations and give yourself a fresh start
The biggest thing that holds us back from growing is ourselves. When I chat with all my friends who have moved out of state the common thread about why they are excited is because they get a “fresh start”. They don’t have a social norm or status quo they have to live within but they can literally pave their own path again and not worry about the pressure from the people that know them. But why can’t anyone do that? Do you have to physically move to only get that opportunity? I have noticed this in my life when I want to try new things, I question myself and think about what others would think about me if they knew I was taking dance classes or going back to school to learn a new skill or taking a job in an industry completely different than what I have been doing because it may align better with my passions. In this dedication to the year of change, challenge yourself to a few things you really want to do and push aside all social expectations. Whatever feelings others may have of you, know that they will only last for a small instance but whatever you may gain for trying new things could last a lifetime.
As I continue to investigate this year in change I think the best way to summarize this was a quote from Steve Jobs when he was giving his commencement speech to Stanford in 2005. There tends to be waves when people feel the pressure of life to make big decisions (exiting high school, picking their first career, entering your late 20s, etc.) and I believe this video is something that summarizes the refocus we all should think about when facing these internal struggles of what direction we should take in life. Today I start my new career in Business Development for Amazon and I am excited to dedicate my energy going forward to the positive change I need to be happy.