person's hands holding a map

The definition of a verb is ‘the part of the speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence.’ Life is a verb meant to be lived. Are you living? Too often, we preserve rather than pursue. Our aversion to change is epidemic, but despite our resistance, life continues to evolve. Nothing stays the same, and the result of a change is represented by progress or regress but never is sameness. The resistance is what we should fear because resistance is what gets us knotted up inside. Resisting change is equivalent to attempting to stop an avalanche. We see it coming and resist only to be overwhelmed and suffocated. The older we get, the more resistant to change we become. The good old days are a recollection of only the good or a reflection of our struggles with nostalgia.

Life is struggle and strife. The differentiation for each of us is our attitude or mindset about our challenges. Some people are so desperate to get back to their comfort zone that they will sacrifice anything to get there. Others become determined or resolute in working through the challenge and conquer their fears. There is no “easy road.” Those among us that appear to have it easy have difficulties too! We all struggle, but our mindset is what we must focus on to overcome and thrive.

Here are some steps you can take when your life becomes a hot mess.

Stop

If every day is groundhog day, break the cycle. Too often, we go until exhaustion thinking that we will work our way out. The only way out is to think your way out, and the only way to truly think is to take time to think. Not once, not twice, but every day. Taking time to consider your situation is the most realistic way of getting yourself out of your mess. Working your way out only creates more difficulty in identifying a means to a better situation. What is the best strategy for taking time? Identify the time of day in which you are at your mental peak. Most people have their best mental power in the morning, but some are night owls. Take time to understand your rhythm so that your stoppage period has maximum results. What do I do when I stop? Ask yourself a series of questions and write the answers as though you have already achieved then the result you desire. What is the ideal outcome? Who can help me with guidance, feedback, and work? What is my next best action to move me closer to my desired outcome?

These questions and the intentional contemplation required to answer them will help give you confidence, hope, and direction in moving toward a more desirable situation.

I must also mention that before you do anything, it will require that you accept responsibility for your current situation. It is impossible to take control of your future if you are living the role of the victim. Victims lack all agency and are forever confined to the prison they are in. Own your life.

Plan

The next step is to set aside time for planning your next action. You will decide on your next best action, and then you need to plan when and how you will take it. We ‘stop’ to assess, and we ‘plan’ to act. During the planning process, ask yourself the following questions: When will this action plan be completed? Do I have to do every part of this action plan, or is there someone else that can help? How will I proceed in putting this action plan into motion? I realize this sounds redundant, but the fact is many people think, but few people do. If you want to live life your way, taking action is the only way.

Do

This step is where the rubber meets the road. Do the work! Show up every day. Honor the struggle. Life is a verb meant to be lived. Do the work necessary to move you toward your desired outcome.

Accountability

Who can help you stay on track? Do you need a coach, or do you have a trusting friend that will be willing to call BS when you start with your excuses? Failure is often the result of a lack of commitment and follow-through. Find someone to help your mindset. How do you implement accountability? Regular check-ins are the best way I have found. Ideally, these check-ins are face to face, but any method will work as long as it is consistent and meaningful. Allow yourself to be held accountable for making life happen.

Invest

Consider two investments: time and money, sometimes both. If you are miserable and want to quit your job, but are worried about the money, quit. Being miserable is never worth it. I am not saying leave today. I am saying plan to make a change. You may need to invest late nights getting trained in a new career. You may need to spend your time in networking events to meet others in your industry that can help you exit your current company for a new company. You are never trapped. Leave money on the table? So what, leave. Let somebody down? That sucks, but find a way out by having the difficult conversation about the situation. If the person cares about you, they will help you find a way. Your misery is on you, especially if you are unwilling to invest in the change you desire. Jim Rhon said, “There are two pains in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” 

Are you living your full potential?

Regular assessment is the only way to measure progress. Revisit your original vision. Has it changed? Is it still relevant? Rinse and repeat. Ask yourself, “Is my plan working? Am I taking the necessary action to implement my plan? Who can help me? Who can hold me accountable? Why am I doing this?” Clarity is the only path to personal freedom and is only possible when we are living our full potential. You are in the driver’s seat. Take the wheel, watch the road, regulate your speed, and navigate the hazards. Above all, make a map, so you know where the heck you are going. It’s your life, your map, and your responsibility. Life is a verb, live it!

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