There are many reasons why taking a new direction in life is something you are currently considering. This could be through necessity, like me when I developed a chronic illness or equally it could be through choice, particularly if you feel like you are stuck in a rut or are unhappy with the path you’re currently following.
Having to take a new direction through necessity can be tough as it’s easy to feel resistance to a path that you might not have envisioned as being part of your future and you may feel a sense of loss for the path you’re leaving behind, I know this was certainly the case for me. You could even be struggling with how to manoeuvre your new path with its numerous restrictions and obstacles.
Choosing a new direction through choice also comes with its own issues as although you may be able to identify your current path is making you unhappy you might not have a particularly clear idea of where you should be headed or how to get there.
Before you do anything else you need to consider and implement a few important things;
Don’t fight it!
Accept that this new path is what is right for you and where you are now in your life. You may think that sticking to your old path will be easier because it is more familiar but actually the reality is that trying to follow a path that isn’t suitable for you is much, much harder in the long run.
Don’t let fear stop you from doing what must be done
I imagine that right now your new path is looking more like a rocky climb rather than a gentle stroll but hold in your mind the sense of accomplishment you will feel when you reach your destination.
I recommend getting your fears out in the open, write them down or discuss them with a close friend; consider what is holding you back and what you think the worst case scenario would be for each fear, now come up with a brief plan for what you would do if the worst case scenario actually happened. Just having this plan in place can really help because although your fears materialising wouldn’t be a pleasant experience, you would be strong and you would survive it; your plan shows you how you could.
Also, remind yourself that you’re going to do everything you can to avoid these worst case scenarios from happening in the first place!
Don’t expect to reach your destination quickly
Imagine your path is one you’re walking one step at a time; progress is slow and steady and you have to keep your momentum going before you get to where you want to be. Expecting instant results will leave you frustrated, demotivated and feeling negative about your decision, making you more likely to give up.
Also expect there to be some bumps along the way and be open to adapting or changing your course slightly when you need to rather than sticking rigidly to an initial plan that’s no longer suitable.
Make small changes
One of the main strategies for surviving life’s hurdles is to make small changes to succeed and the same applies for carving out a new path in life. Consider which small changes or actions you could introduce today to help to get you on the right path and make a start.
Write down the small changes you are going to make in the short term and then plan out the specifics of what you are going to do to make sure they happen. Give yourself a deadline for a few at a time and do your best to stick to it. If it happens that you don’t quite meet your deadline don’t give up! Instead you just need to make sure you understand why you didn’t achieve it this time and decide if there are any alterations you need to make to achieve a better outcome. Once you have accomplished these small changes move on to the next.
It’s also a good idea to keep a record of all the things you have successfully implemented to help keep you motivated. If you’re like me, it’s easy to put yourself down when you think about how much more you could have done or still need to do when instead you should consider how much more you’ve achieved than if you had done nothing!
Do your research
If you start to get a bit stuck on your new path and you aren’t sure where to go next it’s probably because you haven’t done enough research. Finding out all you can about your new path is essential to making it work regardless of whether you’re carving out a lifestyle, career or financial path for yourself.
Start by find out about a few different people who are further along a similar path to the one you want to travel. Research what they did to get there, what mistakes they made along the way, any advice they would give, their current experiences and where they want to go next. View their thoughts as useful guidelines that can be adapted to suit your own individual circumstances, needs and desires.
Prioritise what’s important to you
You are never going to get where you need to be if you don’t put what’s most important to you ahead of everything else. You need to spend time identifying exactly what you want the most and decide on up to three priority goals that you are going to meet by following your new path (any more than this and it will become harder to stay focused).
Every time you take a few steps in your new direction ask yourself how what you’re doing is helping you to achieve the goals you have set. If in reality your actions aren’t really helping you to achieve your priority goals then they probably aren’t worth your time and will actually make carving out your new path more difficult for you. If this happens, re-assess what you are doing and re-focus on achieving the goals you’ve prioritised.
Quiet any distractions or negativity
It is so easy to lose sight of where you want to be if you are constantly letting yourself get distracted by the constant demands of daily life and negative thoughts from yourself or others. If you don’t make time in your day for focusing on carving out your new path then, sadly, it isn’t going to work out. Take a look at what time you could spare and plan this in to every day the best that you can.
If you are really struggling to find the extra time required, keep a diary over a few days and write down the specifics of how you spend your time each day. Then identify any activities where you could introduce shortcuts to reduce the amount of time you spend on them (a bit of delegation or accepting help if it’s available could really come in useful here). This should hopefully provide you with a clearer picture of how you can fit your new path into your life to make some all-important progress.
You will also need to banish any negative voices if you wish to accomplish your goals. If you find yourself doubting your abilities more after being in the company of another person, then they are not good to be around right now. You need to be surrounded by people who are looking for ways to support or guide you along your new path. Being around people who have confidence in you will really help to quiet some of the negativity in your own head and make you believe in yourself more when you need to the most.