Source: Photo by Christopher Catbagan on Unsplash
If you’re reading this post, chances are you feel dissatisfied with life. You may feel unhappy with your relationships, stuck in your career, or sick and tired of battling anxiety or depression.
Yet, despite many efforts to improve your life, every day still feels uninspired. What do you do then?
Common triggers for a lifestyle change
Most often, three stressful external events trigger lifestyle changes:
- Trauma: a health crisis, an accident, a brush with death.
- Loss: death of a loved one or the tragic end of a relationship.
- Hardship: a layoff, unemployment, mounting debt.
These events send shockwaves throughout your life, make you question your choices and consider new options. They most commonly provoke an existential crisis that forces you to examine and evaluate all aspects of your life.
Signs a lifestyle change is needed.
Frequently, the signs of the need for a lifestyle change are right in front of you.
1. Life lacks joy or wonder. Days are depressingly predictable. You feel stuck in the same dull patterns; there is a “Groundhog Day” element; each moment feels the same, and you have nothing to look forward to.
2. Chronic stress. Even simple chores are burdens. Tasks like cleaning your house, shopping, or visiting relatives can feel like a slow march to the gallows.
3. Habitual disappointment. Everything, and everyone, eventually let you down. Even when you do your best to be outgoing and upbeat, you feel disappointed.
The power of choice
You read the criteria above and thought: “Yep, that’s me.” It’s time to analyze what changes need to occur. And here’s the good news: You don’t have to wait for a stressful event to trigger a lifestyle change: you always have the power to make new choices.
But before you run out and quit your job, keep this in mind: Reckless change without mindful planning is always a gamble. Once you’ve identified that change is needed, don’t take action right away—schedule time with a therapist, coach, or counselor to explore new choices and bounce ideas around. Talk to your close friends. Start journaling about your options.
Investing time into exploring possibilities will never let you down. The more mindful you are in this process, the more apparent the need for change. Setting personal goals like honoring your authentic voice, following your passions, traveling, attending classes or lectures will also clarify the new lifestyle you want.
Remember, a new job or zip code change doesn’t guarantee happiness. As Buddhists say, “You can’t outrun your karma.” Without working on yourself, you could change your environment only to discover you suffer from the same problems.
A simple question to start your journey
Before you decide to make a lifestyle change, here’s one final suggestion: Imagine yourself far into the future and finish this sentence:
“Thank goodness 20 years ago I decided to _________.”
Answering this question could awaken a hidden wish for a whole new way of living.