This has been one hell of a year. Looking back, there have been amazing times and huge challenges and I’m incredibly grateful for every moment.
I can fully attest to the truth behind the following sayings:
If you’re not growing, you’re dying. There’s no middle ground.
To grow, do something every day to get out of your comfort zone.
To get past your fears, face them head on. [Note: To accomplish this, see the previous statement.]
When we think of doing something scary, our monkey mind tends to stop us in our tracks. Its job is to protect us and anything outside of our comfort zone is grounds for causing major alarm.
This causes us to get mired in the muck of anxiety where we dwell in fear of taking action. Our monkey mind is holding us back, preventing us from thinking past the “OMG it’s scary!” thought to what could actually happen next.
What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
There’s an exercise that can help us get out of the quicksand. It’s the simple act of asking ourselves, “What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” and playing out the answers in our minds to the fullest extent possible.
My experience with this exercise is: If it doesn’t end in eminent death, it’s not that bad.
Whenever I ask myself this question with decisions I’m making or experiences I’m having, I usually come to the conclusion that I’ve already lived the worst-case scenario and it wasn’t that bad.
The worst case for most people is losing all their money, their home and their family or partner and having to live “in a van down by the river.” [Reference to the Chris Farley skit on Saturday Night Live]
Been there, done that.
Living the Worst Case Scenario
What happened? It was the most amazing couple years of my life. I put my stuff in storage and lived out of my Jeep Grand Cherokee after spending all of my savings paying off my debts and venturing cross-country with no plans (I was escaping major burn-out from corporate life).
I found jobs that offered unique experiences that allowed me to discover my passions and purpose through some trial and error. They usually paid enough to cover my gas and some food. At one point I remember paying for a burger at Burger King by dumping out my jar of change on the counter. Embarrassing? Maybe. I thought it was pretty funny at the time.
At the end of the two years, I had learned an immense amount about myself and where I wanted to go with the rest of my life. Did I feel like I had it all figured out? Heavens no! But I had a direction.
During this time I found my husband, realized a whole new level of self-sufficiency (living in the woods for a couple months will do that for you) and had a direction in which my heart wanted to go.
A New Beginning
With this new direction I made some new decisions. Within a few months, I got a corporate job that I loved that allowed me to make a real contribution. I bought my first home – the ranch where we’ve lived for the past thirteen years. The following year we bought our own horses and created the life of our dreams.
And none of this would have happened if I hadn’t left a great job with great benefits and an OK marriage (that ended during those two years) to set out on a cross-country adventure where I effectively lived my own version of living in a van down by the river.
Without making the conscious decision to do so, I lived out my worst fear.
Having done this, I know I can handle anything that comes my way. Nothing is really all that bad.
Would I want to give up my home, my awesome husband, my amazing kids and my great job today? Hell no! That would royally suck (and it almost happened a few years ago)!
But I know that my life wouldn’t end. I would simply put together a plan to turn things around by controlling whatever I could control and accepting the rest.
I know how to start over. We all have the ability to start over.
Is your life going the way you would like?
If your answer is yes, stay on your path and set the intention to make each day totally amazing.
If your answer is no, decide on the path you want to follow and set the intention to make each day totally amazing.
It’s All In How You Look At It
During those two years of living in my Jeep, I never felt like some destitute loser or anything like that. I chose to see each day as an opportunity to learn more about myself and the world around me.
Each experience (jobs or otherwise) was a learning experience that brought me closer to discovering my purpose. Some were more helpful than others but I learned something from them all.
As you reflect on the past year and consider what you want in your future, focus on what you learned from all of your experiences – good or bad. I believe that everything happens for a reason and all of those reasons come from the Universe’s love for us.
Welcoming the New Year
This weekend my husband and I are sitting down together to create the vision we want to live over the coming year.
Instead of setting goals, we’ll set intentions for how we want to live each day in the areas of health, spirituality, self-expression, finances and relationships.
By living each day in accordance with our highest values and our visions, the path we choose will take us to success and the lifestyle we want.
By living intentionally, making conscious choices about what to include and exclude from our lives, we can be happy each day as we walk along out path. We don’t have to wait for “some day” when we achieve our goals to be happy.
We can decide to be happy today, no matter what our circumstances are.
Help Me to Serve You
With this post being my last one for this year, I want to make sure that everything I offer to you in the coming year serves you.
To help me with this intention, please leave your thoughts in the comments below about the greatest challenges you’re facing this new year. Where do you need guidance and support? What are your visions for your life over the next twelve months? Where do you feel stuck? What are you finally going to change that will allow you to be happy?
I love all of you and am so grateful that you’ve chosen to be a part of the Simple Mindfulness community. This past year has been an amazing learning experience for me. My hope is that the more I learn and grow, the more effectively I can support you on your journey.
You’re the BEST!!!
Check out my recent guest post at Make It Happen (How to Be Like the Buddha and Make It Happen Mindfully) for more on the destructive nature of setting goals and New Year’s resolutions and what to do instead to astronomically increase your chances of making next year better than the past.
In my guest post at Going A-Musing (How to Feel Great Every Day Through Mindfulness) I cover how living each day more mindfully can bring you dramatically better results in your health and overall happiness.