We have all had it; that great idea, the game changer, the decision that is going to change our lives. We research, we plan, and we try to cover all of our bases before we execute. We make sure we are ready.
In the last year, I embarked on one of the most intense life-changing decisions I could have ever imagined. I researched, I planned, and I covered all of my bases.
I was ready.
Fast-forward to today where I have made it to the other side of my life-changing decision, the side where celebration and reflection occur simultaneously. I now know there are five things, that had I understood, had the world told me before I started, would have given me the upper hand; they would have changed the way I approached my life changing decision.
1. You can’t, won’t, and don’t do it without being afraid.
The single most consistent factor standing in the way of most life changing decisions is the fears we have surrounding them. Fearful we don’t have the financial means, the knowledge, or the time to commit ourselves to our dreams and our decision. We sell ourselves on the ideas that once we have opened our schedule and we have more money and knowledge, the fears will subside and then we can be free to move forward.
The only problem with this trail of logic is that it doesn’t work.
I called one of the most effective life changers I knew and asked him “how do I do this without being scared” he said simply “you don’t.”
The reality is the only way to make a life change is to accept that fear is going to be a part of it because there will always, always, always be something to be afraid of. It’s not about overpowering the fear but about accepting it as part of the reality. Acknowledging and embracing the fear gives you power.
2. The people who love you most may understand the least.
This one is going to hurt. Just as you are afraid, the people in your life that you love are also afraid. It is a different kind of afraid. They fear the changes; they fear no longer belonging, and above all they fear being left behind. These people don’t have the right to hold you back, make you more afraid, or change your course, but they do have the right to feel the way that they do.
The remedy for fear is knowledge. They fear your decision because at the very core of who they are they don’t understand it. You have to make them understand it because while it seems easiest to push them away, this is the time to pull them in closer.
3. It’s not about saying yes, it’s about saying yes everyday.
The only thing easier than making a life-changing decision is giving up on it. I cannot count the number of great ideas in my life that never came to fruition because I talked myself out of it, gave up, or allowed the world to convince me I was wrong. It’s easy to commit one day of your life to a decision, but a life-changing decision requires a re-commitment, every day, and sometimes more than once a day. You must be willing to make the decision over and over again.
4. Just because you’ve told yourself yes, doesn’t mean other people won’t tell you no.
The highest high that comes from telling yourself ‘yes’ is quickly brought back down by the people who don’t understand your plan, your timeline, and your decision—the people who will tell you “no.”
I was about a month into my life-changing decision when I got my first “no,” and it about broke me. The most important way to respond to a “no” is with a “why.” No amount of heartbreak, tears, or frustration will get you to a yes faster than answering the “why.” Find out the “why” and go get yourself a “yes.” It’s that simple.
5. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
This is the hardest lesson of all because this is what happens after you have successfully executed your life-changing decision. It is easy to assume that once you have made it to the other side, you are safe.
In my own naivety, I assumed that nothing could derail me at this point. The truth is that even if you make the decision to change your life, it will never take away the hard days or the struggles…it will simply change them. There will be new challenges, new frustrations, new opportunities for growth and learning, and new paths paved for even more life-changing decisions.