Life does not always pan out as one intended. We make plans, have dreams and sometimes they fizzle out or go a bit pear shaped. We only know what has been and what is happening right at this moment. Imagine if we knew what was to come- what mayhem and terror that would cause! There would be nothing at all you could do to change “the script” – just sit back and wait.
A change in circumstances can turn our lives completely upside down in seconds; the passing away of a spouse, family member, failed exams, illness whether physically or mentally, breakdown of a relationship, abuse. There are many more examples I could give that would go on to alter the events of your life. As a result your goals and dreams are likely to be placed on hold for a period of time. Some may be fortunate enough to return to what they would like to do whilst others see no way back and close the door on it.
As a teenager I had everything planned (in my head). Naively I assumed I would go on to do A levels which was the natural course for those who wanted to gain a degree. As it stands my GCSE results did not fall in line with my expected results (mocks). At that time I was struggling emotionally and was not in the frame of mind to study and focus. The evidence was clear when my results were revealed. Devastated does not even come close. In the early 1990’s I had no Internet to carry out research on career paths and there was little in the way of careers advice.
Eventually I applied to retake my GCSEs at college (I could not bear the thought of attending my school’s sixth form). I then went on to study for a GNVQ Advanced in Business and Finance which in a way has led me to my career today. In the mid 1990’s GNVQs were a fairly new course alternative and I remember receiving a few comments that they would never be as recognised as A levels.
Fast forward two years and I applied for a journalism course at a university in North London. I cannot recall the name as this was back in 1996/1997. I was excited and liked the area the university was set in; leafy suburban surroundings. My results from my GNVQ course meant the university was unable to offer me an unconditional place. Devastated again! To cut a long story short, I applied for universities via the clearing system and gained a place at West London University studying for a Media Technology degree. I enjoyed my three years there but it was not the path I had expected to take.
We need a level of flexibility to cope with life. Of course there are some whose life does pan out exactly as they had expected, but there are many whose do not. There are often various pathways that lead to the same destination. It is our responsibility to find it.
Has your life panned out as you hoped?
How did you cope when dealing with changes of circumstances?
What advice would you give to others?
Regret can eat away at us and mean we are living in the past rather than moving forward. The actions we take and in some cases do not take, does have an impact on our lives. Living through the consequences leads us to self-blame and question our reasoning.
I believe there is not one person who does not look back on their life and wonder “if only I had”, “if only I went”, “if only I had said”. I know I have and it opens the door to wallowing, reminiscing and basically feeling bad about ourselves. In hindsight we would all have taken different actions if we knew then what we know now. Age and experience allows us to mature so it would be impossible for me to have had the same knowledge at 20 than I do in my 40’s. We are constantly learning, maturing, having to make decisions based on the knowledge and understanding we have right now.
With London prices at an all time high and many benefiting from rising equity , I have asked myself on a number of occasions “why oh why did I not buy after graduating 20 years ago?” Even buying with a friend or family member miles from my home town would have paid off. It has stung and somehow I have had to get over it.
On a lighter note I cringe when I recall statements I made in the past due to feeling awkward, embarrassed and defensive. I cannot go back and ‘unsay’ those statements so I have to move on and hope the person has too!
We cannot go back and change our past, however much we desire to. We have to first accept our past, who we were, what we did and find a way to leave it there. Only then can we focus on living today and making decisions based on what we know now.
Do you have any regrets?
Do you see your regrets as a part of who you are?
Do you believe your choices, good and bad have made you who you are today?
Change is inevitable, we can make changes or they can take place without our input. At times it feels as though very little change occurs in our lives and at other times we just cannot keep up!
Change can be challenging if you are a creature of comfort and familiarity. You grow used to living your life in a particular way however boring or strange it may appear to others. It becomes your norm. Years ago in my first full-time job after graduating, a colleague bought the same lunch daily and I mean daily. I wondered did he never grow tired of the same flavours as I would have done. In his case he did not feel the need to make his lunch more interesting by adding variety. I must admit there were far less coffee shops and trendy cafes plunked on every road in the early noughties but there were still a lot of options.
I have noticed that some people adapt to change with ease and others struggle greatly. Change can be as small as being relocated to a different floor at your place of work to adjusting from having one child to two. Each of these circumstances will matter to the person experiencing them.
Personally I would much prefer making decisions that lead to change rather than doing little and watching change happen to me. If we procrastinate too often we can miss the opportunity and the chance to contribute to our change.
I am working on being more flexible, giving room for life when it does not go as expected. The perfectionist in me has to be somewhat suppressed in the process! Being adaptable brings many benefits. It allows you to think rationally when situations arise rather than getting tied up with how you feel. Running on emotions is not helpful but often the first thing one does.
How can you embrace change:
1. Accept that change is a part and parcel of life – it is going to happen whether you are ready or not.
2. Identify what you would like to be changed in your life
3. Make changes before they make you – it is far easier to initiate changes and have an element of control
4. Look back at your life and the changes that have occurred over the years. I presume some were positive and others painful but you are still standing (or sitting) here today.
How do you react to change?
What impact does your reaction have?
Now we are in 2019, what are your plans for this year? Some will use the term New Year’s resolutions and others will call it planning. Whatever title we give it, action is required if we would like to see the results.
The quote “everyone wants the results but no-one wants to put in the work” springs to mind. There is no way of seeing results if you do not change your approach. We can observe and admire others who have put plans in place and achieved their desired outcome but do we know what sacrifices they made along the way?
I have often wondered how extremly successful people have achieved what they have, given we are all granted the same 24 hours. I realised it is what they have done with their 24 hours which has brought them to where they are today. They have put strategic plans in place, some of which have probably fallen through along the way. Failure is a part of life and it should serve to push us nearer to our goal as oppose to wallowing in self pity and wondering “why me?”.
In my opinion, extreme changes do not work long term. For example if you wish to become healthier/slimmer, cutting out a whole food type or booking five evenings a week at the gym is unlikely to work. If you wish to read books more regularly, starting with two books a week from none is too much of a jump. Introducing small gradual changes is often recommended as it takes at least 30 days for habits to stick.
In order to be consistent with your plans you need to know your “why”. Your why will keep you focused when you would rather be watching Netflix, socialising with friends, browsing the Internet. Your why will keep you focused on reaching your goal even when you face obstacles. Your why will remind you why you are making the sacrifices.
What are your plans for 2019?
What will you do differently?
What did you learn in 2018?