So you want to change your life?
Work, eat, sleep, repeat. Do you ever feel like there has to be more to life than this?
Maybe you’re not “unhappy,” but you feel like life is passing you by and you’re missing “it.”
Your 9-5 grind is slowly sucking the life out of you.
You live for the weekends and vacation days.
You did (or are doing) the things you are supposed to do, but you just feel empty and unfulfilled?
You accomplish one thing, and then you’re looking for something more.
You feel like a bystander in your life instead of the leading lady.
The things that happen to you are random and out of your control.
You want to change your direction, but you don’t know how.
The idea of change seems so overwhelming.
I know because I have been there. I was lost for a really long time.
Somewhere along the way, I woke up. As painful as it was and has been, I needed it. In a weird way, I am grateful for it.
The Story of Belle
Madame Gaston, can’t you just see it?
Madame Gaston, his little wife, ugh
No sir, not me, I guarantee it
I want much more than this provincial life
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand to have someone understand
I want so much more than they’ve got planned–Belle
Ok, first of all, doesn’t that give you chills? No? Just me…?
Second, did you ever notice what a badass Belle is?
I mean think about it.
The whole town is against her. They think it’s ridiculous for a woman to be reading. To have dreams.
Gaston, the hottest guy in town, wants to marry her. Well, hot DAMN!
But she doesn’t want to marry him.
Deep down she feels like there has to be more to her life. She feels called to a higher purpose.
She wants adventure.
She wants to experience all that life has to offer.
Is she against marriage and kids? No, but she wants her adventure first. She doesn’t want to settle for those things with jerkface Gaston.
She wants to write her own story instead of live someone else’s.
Even though everyone is telling her what she SHOULD do, she doesn’t listen.
What if she had listened to those towns people?
She would have spent her life barefoot and pregnant pumping out raw-egg-guzzling-mini-Gastons.
BUT because she is true to herself, she ends up saving her dad, and the Beast, and breaking the enchantment.
Belle did end up with her Prince Charming, but she wasn’t sitting around waiting for him. She wasn’t lying comatose in some weird coffin-type-thing waiting for him to come kiss her.
Plus she ends up with a kick-ass library. Just saying… I have always been jealous of that library.
If I Were A Disney Princess…
I would be Belle…if you couldn’t tell.
But I wasn’t always a Belle.
You know the stereotype about us 90s girls? The ones who grew up with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Little Mermaid, etc. How we all spend our lives waiting for Prince Charming to show up, save the day, and raise us up to the life where we belong?
That used to be me. I admit it.
Life just isn’t complete without a Prince Charming by your side, right? When things go wrong, he will gallop in at the last minute, plant a kiss on you, and save the day! Wake up, fall in love, live happily ever after.
I won’t blame Disney for everything.
Growing up, we are all conditioned to believe that life has to go a certain way. If it doesn’t go this way, then you are not successful. You will not be happy.
You gotta check off these boxes:
Graduate high school.
Go to a good college.
Get a high paying job.
Climb that corporate ladder.
Climb. Climb. Climb.
Find a spouse.
Buy a house.
Move to the suburbs.
Spend your life paying off student loans, car loans, and a mortgage.
How is that working out for us?
Are we truly happy?
Are we making decisions because we really want those things or are we doing it because we are supposed to?
I’m thinking about all of the marriages that end in divorce. I am thinking about the climbing suicide rates.
I am thinking that we are checking off those boxes because we are sold on this idea that it will bring us happiness.
The right job.
The right spouse.
But what if that’s not the right formula?
What if those things will enhance our happiness, but not create it? Or keep it.
Happiness has to come from within. It cannot come from another person or a thing.
My Rude Awakening
I did all of the things I was supposed to do.
…graduated high school Summa Cum Laude.
…got into and attended the University of Michigan (a life long dream).
…had the boyfriend who I thought was “the one.”
…graduated from U of M and started substitute teaching.
I was obsessed with getting a full-time teaching job. I subbed for two years in the same building in the same position. I worked my butt off. Definitely made a lot of mistakes, but worked really hard for that full-time position. Obtaining that job consumed my life.
I even went “back to school” and took classes to earn my Science Endorsement on my teaching certificate to make myself more marketable.
I finally got that full-time position.
Your first year of teaching (regardless of sub experience) is rough. At least it was for me. Every day, every night, every weekend was all about school.
In a way that was good. It kept me distracted. See earlier that year, the cruise ship breakup happened. So putting my heart and soul into work, having zero free time, it was good for me.
If you’re unfamiliar with the cruise ship breakup…oh boy. That’s a story for a whole other post. In a nutshell, we dated for six years. In hindsight, it was not a great relationship. Instead of walking away when I was treated like crap, I stuck it out because I loved him.
You teach others how to treat you by what actions and behaviors you accept. I had taught him that it was ok to disrespect me. Anyway, he broke up with me out of the blue on our cruise vacation. “I’m just not sure you’re the one.” “I still want to be friends.” “We’re like Ross and Rachel. We need to date other people and one day we’ll find our way back to each other.”
I was nursing a broken heart, and I was also trying to survive my first year of teaching.
After making it through that first year or two, I started feeling like, “Ok, what’s next?” I thought that getting my official status as teacher would be it. That’s what I had been working for. Time for happiness! Life complete. Only…I didn’t feel that way.
I started looking for something more. I was thinking about changing careers. As a teacher, you get beat up and abused constantly…by kids and by parents. At the same time, I was just starting to recognize my self-worth. I knew that I worked so hard for my kids, and I was doing this job because I wanted to help them. I didn’t deserve the low pay and the stress and abuse.
A different career would make me happy!
Like Belle, I love to read. My first instinct is to search for answers through reading.
I found a book through some friends on Facebook. A book about how to NOT waste your twenties. They were raving about it.
Well I certainly don’t want to waste my twenties! I want to find my happiness!
Naturally, I read it too.
Here’s what the author had to say:
You’re not special.
Your dreams have no chance of coming true.
Get a real job.
Find a partner.
Have a family.
Then you’ll be happy.
Man, that book was THE FREAKING WORST.
I tried to follow her advice. I took it to heart. I did the things everyone said I should do.
I started dating again…even when it felt wrong.
I saved for a house…even though I didn’t want to buy one.
I did not take any action in the direction of my dreams.
Writing? How are you going to make money off of that?
Blogging? What’s the point?
Dreams are for artsy poor people.
Time to grow up.
I wasn’t special enough to have dreams. I wasn’t special enough to succeed at making those dreams a reality.
Should. A dangerous word.
We’re all out here shoulding ourselves to death.
The absolute worst part was that, between the job, and the book, and the breakup, I stopped trusting myself.
Who was I to know what was right for me? Clearly, I did not.
I listened to other “more experienced” people because they knew what was better for me more than I knew for myself.
I certainly did not love myself yet.
And I went from a bad place to an even worse one.
Finding someone to date and marry will make me happy!
Against my better judgement, I went out with this guy who I had known since my freshman year of college. Back then, I got a creep vibe from him. I thought he was harmless, but creepy nonetheless. I mostly steered clear. He was always very nice. He went out of his way to show me he cared. He tried to stay in touch, and he checked up on me every once in a while.
After the cruise ship breakup, (a good while after) creep guy kept popping up. On Facebook, on SnapChat, friends bumped into him…he started talking to me again. I thought, “Maybe I was wrong about him. Maybe I was stuck up when I was 18, and maybe I had misjudged him.” He remembered all the little details, which was nice. He continued to go out of his way to do gentlemanly things. He planed really cute and thoughtful dates. So, I went against my gut, and decided to give him a chance.
Guess what? CREEP. Yep. My gut had been right. CREEP. I should have stayed far away.
I vowed that the next time I gave someone a chance, things would be different.
Then I met someone else. From a dating app. Something that I had been TOTALLY against. My gut said no to dating apps.
“But so-and-so’s friend’s cousin met her fiance on a dating app!”
Well, you need to be more open-minded about these things. This is the dating world now. You have to adjust and adapt.
This next guy turned out to be a stalker. Seemed like a great catch at first. Similar values. Actually wanted to talk to me and hold my hand (unlike cruise ship guy). He came on pretty strong though. My gut said, “Something is off here. Run.”
Again, I didn’t listen. EVERYONE said things like, “You never give anyone a chance.” “You find something wrong with every guy!” “He just really likes you.” “This is how it’s supposed to be!” “When I first met my husband, we spent all of our time together.”
It was NOT normal. It was NOT ok. I broke things off with him after about 2 months. For the next 4-5 months, he continued to text me even though I never responded. Call me even though I never answered. Left voicemails. Wrote a letter and mailed it to me. Showed up months after the “breakup” when I was on a date with someone else (still not sure if that was a coincidence or not…). Harassed me at my table on the date…TWICE. Waited for me in the parking lot and followed me to my car.
I went to the police.
During the stalker time, I also had mono. If you read my story about breast implant illness, then you know about that health struggle. I was so preoccupied with my health, that I let this “relationship” (if you can even call it that) go on for longer than it should have.
So all of this was going on at the same time. Mentally, physically, & emotionally I had finally hit rock bottom.
But all of those things were supposed to make me happy! The job! The dating! That’s what life is all about, right?
I felt like what happened to me in life was mostly out of my control. I was in the passengers seat…just along for the ride.
Something had to give. Something had to change. It had become so painfully obvious that doing the things everyone said I SHOULD be doing was NOT working for me. I was on the wrong path, and I had to find a way to fix it.
I Needed to Change My Life
There has to be more to life than eat, sleep, work, repeat. More to life than living for the weekends and the vacations. More to life than spending my free time dating. I had to start living life on my own terms.
My rude awakening made me realize that in real life you gotta be your own Prince Charming. Show up for yourself. Rescue yourself. And love yourself.
Happiness comes when you work on yourself. I would know. Firsthand.
I did many things.
Maybe all that crap about positivity and mindset and gratitude and self-love and goals (ugh…goal setting was something your teachers made you do in the 7th grade in your agenda book)…maybe just maybe that stuff wasn’t crap after all.
Kind of like when the Grinch went through his Christmas transformation. “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”‘
I had done all of the things that SHOULD make me happy. All of the things that should have pulled me up off the slippery slope after the breakup. But instead, doing those things accelerated my slide to the bottom.
Rock bottom. I had to try something new. Might as well give it a go.
I started praying every day. In those prayers, practiced gratitude. I would say thank you for different things in my life every day. When you start being grateful, it makes you realize how truly blessed you are in this life regardless of any other bad things going on.
I worked on a growth mindset. A positive mindset. Gratitude helped with that.
I started setting goals. Like actually writing them down with actionable steps. I made a binder you guys. A goal setting binder. Nerd alert. I know. But it worked.
I focused on getting in tune with and listening to my gut.
It has been a long process, but it doesn’t not have to be difficult to change the direction of your life.
Since rock bottom, I have launched my blog (a dream I have had for 10+ years), traveled the world (London, Scotland, Ireland, Greece, & Portugal just to name a few), and started my own business (I help other bloggers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses grow their online presence through optimizing Pinterest).
I feel happy everyday…even when things don’t go my way.
True and lasting happiness comes when you work on yourself.
You’re Gonna Need Some Support If You Want to Change Your Life
Especially if you’ve never done this before.
You won’t learn these things in school. You’ve got to take some time to educate yourself.
The best time to start was 10 years ago. The second best time to start is NOW.
If you are one of my kids and you’re following along, the best time for you to start is right now!
Have you ever heard that saying, “You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with?”
What about, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”? I used to find that one so personally insulting, but now I get it!
In life, you’re either growing or you’re dying. I am a teacher, so obviously I believe in public education, but I also realize that what a public education provides is not everything. It’s not enough. Even university. There is so much more to learn and know. Knowledge is power. If you want to change your life, you gotta get after that knowledge and apply it. Take your education into your own hands. The information is out there.
If you want to change your life, you gotta change your circle. Get in that other room with the smarter people.
But, how do I get into the same room as those powerful, successful, and influential people who got it figured out? How do I get into the same room as Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Dale Carnegie, etc?
Well, stop thinking about the room as an actual physical room. You CAN get into the same room as those people! You can spend time with the success and happiness experts EVERYDAY picking their brains and learning from them.
The admission price is only a couple of dollars…
The answer is simple my friends. BOOKS. You can do better than “get in the same room” as these people. You can actually get inside their heads by reading their books.
These are some of the books I have read so far on my journey that have helped me get on the path I am on now.
It’s time to invest in your most important asset…YOURSELF.
1. You Are A Badass
This one was on my list for a long time before I actually got the courage, said f*ck it, and bought it. Just do it. The timing was right for me. I was at a crossroads where I was feeling kind of lost and looking for answers. I was starting to get into this world of online/remote work. People were talking about manifesting and the law of attraction. The old me would have been like haha that stuff is BS, but the new me was following, reading, paying attention to the things that were happening in my life, and believing. Follow your dreams. Step into your own self-worth. We’re scared to die, but we’re also afraid to really live.
2. Year of Yes (If you love Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, & How to Get Away with Murder…you’re gonna love this one!)
Do you always say no? That used to be me. I know what you’re thinking…you cannot say YES to everything. That’s just not possible. There isn’t enough time. That philosophy can be downright dangerous. I thought that too at first, but you gotta give this one a try. This was the first book I read that started to change my life. I became a yes girl (still a work in progress though). By the way, saying YES, does NOT mean you say yes to everything 😉 Saying YES means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It means saying YES to the things and people that are right for you. It means saying YES to self-love. Good Ole Shonda Rhimes explains it far better than I can. It’s her book and her words after all. I would love to start up a book club for this one! Let me know if you are interested. Let’s all support each other in changing our lives and saying yes! I mean it’s like $4 on amazon right now. You can invest $4 in yourself 🙂
3. How To Win Friends & Influence People
Do you want friends? Do you want to keep friends while also getting your way? Do you want to handle your life and your business with finesse? How about those difficult parents and students that you deal with at school? (I’m looking at you teacher friends!) Get this one. This is another book that I put off reading for a long time, and I wish I had read it sooner. Get your own copy. Highlight. Underline. Take notes. Do the work. And refer back to it often.
4. You Are A Badass At Making Money
My girl Jen has done it again. Her writing is so funny and witty. You can’t put this one down either. Take it slow and do the work. I am still in the process of working through this one, but for $12 it is definitely worth it!
Books that are in my “Queue”
1. Girl Wash Your Face
The more I go through life (and the more I read), I realize that we all have these stories we tell ourselves. Stories about who we are, what we can and cannot do, why we do not deserve certain things. These stories you tell yourself (that your subconscious learned at an early age) are holding you back. You probably don’t even know that you have them, and they are blocking you from receiving what is meant for you. You’re gonna have to dig deep, do the work, and rewrite those old stories. Can’t wait to read this one next!
2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck
This one speaks for itself.
3. Big Magic
I am in a lot of Facebook groups for Digital Nomads, Boss Babes, Location Independent Tribes…basically people working on breaking free from the 9-5 by building their online empires. This book keeps popping up over and over again. It’s another one that I will probably regret not reading sooner.
Have you read any of these? What did you think?
What books have you read that inspire you? Did I miss any good ones?
Come check out my post on Goal Setting that Actually Works and grab the FREE goal setting sheets!
I also have a great post that goes hand in hand with this one about dating.
If you enjoyed this, please take a minute to pin it! 🙂
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small percentage of income on the sale at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used or currently use and ABSOLUTELY love. Income earned from affiliate sales helps to offset the cost of maintaining this blog. You do not have to purchase anything through my link, but if you do, I would be grateful.