Nr. 1 – Fear and doubts are not only normal, they are pivotal
You will only let go of everything that is familiar and safe to you when you just can’t live like you have been anymore. Getting to that point in your life doesn’t mean you can see what is ahead of you yet. It takes a brave heart and a leap of faith to let go of what is. It’s perfectly normal for you to spend nights awake feeling your stomach cringe with fear and uncertainty. Your mind is probably going to produce variable horrible endings to the movie that is your life. It’s OK. Feel the fears in your body, give your doubts space to occupy your mind and while giving it space, sort out what is folly from what is fundamental and let the follies go. Listen to your heart and trust yourself. In my case, I quickly stopped worrying about a blank year in my resume, but concerns about our daughter’s education were sticking around. When I made education a priority in our new, yet undefined life, I not only cleared space in my mind, it also made the new life less undefined and the new life started to take shape, at least in my mind.
Nr. 2 – Peel the onion and find your thing
So you have decided there is no way back to what was. Now find the thing that has always been inside you. That what makes you you, that what makes you happy, but that got buried under all the expectations and normalness required by society, family, your own drive for perfection, etc. Find what you really want in your new life. What would you do or be if you were totally free? What is your thing? When you take time to peel your false fears and doubts away and cry the hell out of yourself with your stinky onion layers, the light of your thing inside will start to shine. It will happen slowly, give it time, there are many layers to be peeled. One day that thing’s light will be bright enough to surprise you with joy and excitement, with rushing energy and thrilling emotion. That is your thing, follow its light, harness it and let it bubble up inside you until you feel like exploding if you don’t do or are the thing that makes you happy. Where the darkness allowed you to realize you couldn’t stay there anymore, that thing is the light that will guide you to your new life, it will set your spirit free.
Nr. 3 – There is no road, the road is made by walking
Have you ever been in a deep, impenetrable jungle? A jungle is dark, muddy and dense. There are no roads, you have to decide on a direction, take a step, use a machete and start chopping bamboo, spiky bushes and overgrown vegetation. As you chop, creepy bugs fall on you or worse, in your clothes and get stuck in your hair. You can be chopping your way, sweating like a pig, full of bugs on you for half an hour, just to move forward a meter or two. Well, that’s exactly how it’s going to be when you start to pave your new life. The easiest thing you can do is nothing, just stare at the jungle and wilt away where you are standing or go back to your old life. If you want a road to the unknown, put in the effort. Start walking, chopping and sweating. Move forward meter, by meter.
Nr. 4 – You will encounter a troll
When you are on your road to the unknown, you will meet a lot of new people. Most people will resonate with what you are doing. Most people will find your story inspiring, daunting, exciting, maybe a bit crazy, but you’ll receive positive feedback and good vibes on 9 out of 10 experiences. However, there’s that 1 out of 10 kind of person. That person that reacts out of proportion or in total discordance to your story. Bless their cotton socks, who knows why or how they have become that way. When this happens, think of tip one, let that folly go and move on. There will always be someone who will make you doubt, who will tell you that you don’t belong and should go back to your old life.
Nr. 5 – Beginner’s luck, life’s way of giving you a gentle push
Whenever you try something new, life will give you that rewarding experience we call beginner’s luck. Life wants you to try new things and step out of your comfort zone. It will tell you: “You can do this”. When you let your light, your thing guide your decisions of change, you will be carried by life towards the right people and the right places. Enjoy this stage fully, its life giving you a push in the back. Enjoy the ride, but be prepared. It’s just a push, the rest will be on you.
Nr. 6 – Don’t quit until you have suffered enough
The push is gone, you find obstacles on your road and things aren’t working out for you anymore. You start finding ways to convince yourself that your old life wasn’t that bad after all, you start missing what you never knew you would miss. Normal, boring, every day stuff. Welcome to the mature stage of your life changing story. This is the part in the movie when the deeper problems come into scene. When you don’t know how the hero is going to make it out of the mess he/she is in. Don’t quit, this is a test. When you are feeling like this, first know that this too is normal. Only when you suffer enough to take the decision to give up. Only when you feel that down and convinced you made a big mistake. Only then will you find something deep inside of yourself that will say: “No! There is no plan B! I can do this, come what may!” This is when your old self, the one that still had one foot in the old life, dies and your new you, the hero of your movie, arises.
Nr. 7 – There will be days to swear and stay in bed
Just like babies need to learn everything, so too the hero will not be born perfectly heroic right away. Allow yourself to have a shitty day and make it as comfortable as you can for yourself. Binge watch TV, eat crap, swear, shout, release your inner grumpy, just don’t impose your negativity onto others, nor hurt anyone off course. Allow yourself to be a baby hero, this too shall pass.
Nr. 8 – Forgive yourself, forgive others
So you have just binge-watched 30 hours on Netflix, ate and drank everything you could find while feeling miserable for yourself and hating everyone on the planet for the last days? So what? Brush it off, forgive yourself. Don’t make more of it than it is and by doing so, start forgiving everybody else for being just what you are, an imperfect human. It’s ok not to be perfect. It’s not ok to not do anything about it though. Next time you fall, get back up quicker: eat less crap, binge-watch less, find positive outlets for your misery. Whatever you do, try to be a better you than you were yesterday. Forgive your follies and let go. Forgive others their follies and let go. It’s easier to travel light.
Nr. 9 – Cling to your thing like the tiger to the life raft
Have you ever seen the movie ‘The life of Pi’? If you haven’t, put it on your to watch list on your most crappy days. Look at how the main character and the tiger cling to the life raft. Well that’s how you have to cling to your thing while you are on your way to your new life. Storms will come, sh*t will happen, you will feel lost, just cling to your thing, because your life does depend on it. It’s what makes you you remember? Bit by bit, the road you are making will take you to a place where your thing can fully be. Don’t let go of your thing and it will take you to shore.
Nr. 10 – You are there before you know it
So you have left your old life and taken the plunge into a new one? You have enjoyed the beginners luck phase, suffered so much you almost gave up just to push on through? Are you still clinging to your thing? Have you weathered heavy storms? Congratulations, you have made it to the shore of your new life. This is it. Take time to let it sink in, you are already there.
The life ahead is just as unknown as your old life once was. The difference is that before you created a life out of expectations and safe decisions. Now you are creating a life with a brave heart. It’s a life in process, a life fit for the hero you realized you are. You are stronger than you thought you were and you are OK with not being a perfect hero. Your thing and you will make a great movie together. Now find characters you want to have in your movie and live your movie to the fullest. All movies will end, but your movie now has the potential to become a classic, for you to enjoy and for others to be inspired by.