Opportunity for Change – Life’s Lesson

We all sit down at the start of a New Year to ponder the last twelve months and propose changes to our lives for the next twelve.

For many a New Year’s Resolution is the starting point of something big in our lives. It marks a turning point or the beginning of a change for the better in their life.

For others, a resolution at the start of the year is just a gesture of things that they would like to change. It is a token gesture that they know there is something that they need or want to change, but don’t have the correct mental attitude to see that desire come to a realisation of fulfilment.

Nothing in life comes without a little hard work or dedication. If you’re reading this and you’ve made some sort of mental decision to do something positive in your life this year, then really read this in encouragement to take issue with yourself this time around and really see your desire through.

People are funny things, and often we draw inspiration from the strangest of places. It may be reading a blog that prompts us, or it may be talking to someone who has been through what you are going through. It could be a television program, or a book. Your doctor or a friend, or even you just being honest with yourself. Where ever you may have drawn your idea from, it is important to realise that to achieve anything good in this life, we must strive to achieve those goals.

Each individual is different. When I quit smoking, it was simply a matter of waking up one day and deciding I no longer wanted to smoke, and simply stopped there and then. It was never a problem for me. However, my weight has always been a terrific challenge to me, and altering my lifestyle and making proactive changes to my eating patterns and cutting out rubbish food has been a very tough road to walk.

Decisions I make every day impact on the goals that I hope to achieve. We go through life avoiding difficult decisions and shying away from confronting the things that make us uncomfortable. This is not the way to tackle our resolutions. Very often we are our own worst enemy.

If I can offer you one piece of advice, it’s this. Don’t do it alone. The power of encouragement, sharing and support is exponential. It will pick you up when you are down, it will motivate you when you’re struggling and most importantly it will help you celebrate those milestones along the way.

We are not designed as human beings to be able to survive on our own. We are social creatures, we thrive on attention, we excel when we feel good, and we grow when we are enriched by those around us.

The biggest problem with many of the issues we face when we come to a resolution is our self esteem. We don’t rate ourselves very highly. We look at other people and wish we could be like them. We imagine that our friends and peers don’t have issues or problems because we always see them smiling or being bubbly and happy. In my experience people like this are very often hiding their issues better, but they do have them.

Like us they have doubts, worries and face the scary prospect of isolation. No one wants to be abandoned because they have issues. We are most afraid of being seen as weak, incapable of achievement or worst of all hurt by the person we confide in when they betray us to the world.

It happens all too often, and it only needs to happen to you once to create in you a very real fear of it happening again. Again in my experience, people that would do that to us are not really worth being around, but that statement does not help the fact that we need someone to help us to achieve our goals.

Often we are so desperate to find someone to depend on that we rush it. We find someone we like and believe we can trust, and pour out our soul in a tidal wave of emotion. It is natural. It is part of our humanity and need to be part of a clan, circle or family of people who love and care for us.

These instincts have become a part of our DNA. Since time began, mankind survived as a collective. Part of a community, a family of people that looked out for each other, knew one another, and knew they could depend on each other. We cannot unwire that desire inside us to be in that place of safety.

It is when we find ourselves outside of this comfort zone that things very often start to go wrong for us. We get involved with the wrong crowd out of desperation. We comfort eat to shut out the hurt. We isolate ourselves into depression. We close down and forget how to communicate. Any of this sound familiar?

If what I’m talking about strikes a note in your mind, then please realise that I am writing this because I have walked this same path. I have been through many of these feelings myself. If I am very honest I still struggle with many of them today, but it is from being able to face them head on that I draw the on the courage to face tomorrow.

My suggestion to you is simple. Learn to never close the door on an opportunity. Many of the doors that you look through will not be for you. People that you meet will come and go through the passage of time. Some will be with you forever, others for a moment. But each gives you something you can use in your life.

When you are at your lowest, search for a door that opens to bring positive opportunity into your life. Look to associate yourself with things that you can apply yourself too, that help you to pass this passage of time where you are vulnerable and weak. It could be volunteering at your local youth centre. It could be reaching out to a charity that needs some fundraising support.

It could be visiting a long lost friend. Maybe its going back to school to study, or if you are committed to a full time job, then its joining a Friday night dance class, or a chess team. What ever it is, don’t isolate yourself in your misery. Don’t shut yourself off from opportunity.

Through this new interaction, we gain the ability to build new relationships. We also have the asset of keeping ourselves positively engaged. By associating with positive action we learn to look forward with excitement towards an eventual goal, and you’ll be surprised how much this positive action positively rubs off on us.

I spent a lot of time pondering my own life, and going through the ups and the downs. It surprised me when I was thinking about it, but when I look at it now I am not surprised to find that at any time that I have enjoyed a positive impact in my life, it has always been associated with choices that I made at the time that brought me into contact with people that had direction, focus and a sense of positivity that rubbed off on me.

I have learnt to use a number of ways to keep myself positive. In today’s world it is so easy to be disillusioned by the news, by things that happen to us, by friends that hurt us. We can turn to any number of excuses not to find something positive to concentrate on, but that is exactly what we are doing. Looking for excuses not to make a difference in our lives, and we do nothing but hurt ourselves by doing this. Make no mistake I am as guilty as you are of making this mistake.

Ultimately, if there is one thing that you take from reading this post it is this. Realise that you are not alone. Sometimes, sending an email to a perfect stranger can be all it takes to bring a positive difference to your life. Don’t be afraid to try. It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all said Theodore Roosevelt, and he is so right, for it might take us two or three or even more times of trying before we get it right, or it may well be that with the experience of having tried we know that something is not for us, or doing it in such a way is just not right. Without that experience how would we ever know?

Failure does not make you a failure; it better prepares you for the next challenge. Learning is a life long lesson that never ends. Even at the end we are learning, probably about the hardest thing of all to face as a human being, the facts of death. That is a somewhat morbid thought, but the truth lies in the lesson that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. A brave man is not he who is afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

In as much as we fear death, I believe we fear change. We fear making a difference to our lives, taking a step into the unknown, making our New Years Resolution a reality instead of a pipe dream. Humphrey Davy once said, “I learned more from my mistakes than I ever learnt from my successes.” Let these words be ones to take courage from. Let them be encouragement to you and me to reach out, form new relationships, build new networks, take new opportunities, and make this year one to remember. Let today be the day we stop hiding and start living.


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