Feeling trapped or stuck or having to start over in life can overwhelm you with fear, worry, and anxiety.

Whether chosen or forced, having to make a change can make you panic. It’s easier to do nothing…to stay in a familiar situation because it feels safer than the unknown.

That’s one way to look at it. 

But let me submit this perspective for your consideration: Perhaps you should lean into this change because it means things are shifting in your life. It can be a time of growth, opportunity, and even greater love and happiness.

But knowing what to do or where to begin can be scary and overwhelming. If you or someone you know is in this situation, this post is for you. 

Here are five steps to help you decide what to do next.

Step Back & Evaluate

Step back and give yourself a little space between yourself and the emotions of the situation to see the big picture. 

Where are you now?

How would you like things to be?

What do you think you should do?

What do you want to do?

Where do you want to go with your life from here, and what will it look like when you get there?

We often struggle because we don’t fully know where ‘there’ actually is. 

When you’re at a crossroads, evaluate what’s working and what isn’t and what it might take to be happier and more satisfied with your life.

Step back to see the quality of your life and the emotional landscape of your life. You’ll have a clearer picture of where your heart is pulling you and the steps you need to take to get there.

What Brings You Joy?

Dig deep and do some soul-searching to understand what motivates you and brings you joy. Ask:

  • What drives me and makes me excited?
  • What are my values, standards, and beliefs?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What do I stand against?
  • What will I not tolerate or put up with anymore?
  • What contributions do I want to make to my community?
  • What’s most important to me?
  • What skills, talents, and interests do I bring to the table?
  • What difference do I want to make with my life?

Explore Your Passions

What are you passionate about? Make a list. Have you put them on the back burner, or are they part of your life?

Explore and analyze your passions emotionally and intellectually. Try this: imagine how each passion impacts your thoughts and emotions.

Savor this step; enjoy it; take your time. Don’t worry about whys, could’ves, would’ves, should’ves, or regrets like shouldn’t haves; in other words, don’t be overly analytical. 

Connect more with your subconscious – with your inner self – to discover what resonates with you and your core values.

For example, consider positions at industry-leading businesses if you value innovation and technology. On the other hand, if you value family culture more, consider a job at a small family-owned organization.

Improve: Learn New Skills

No matter how many excellent skills you already have, learning something new is always nice and a great plan.

What are some of your interests? What do you think you might enjoy learning? Then, look for places in your community or online to take classes.

For example, consider applying to an art program if you want to learn more about graphic design.

Or, if interested in gardening, apply for a job at a garden center, park, or arboretum.

Whichever you pursue, set short-term goals following the SMART framework. This framework ensures that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Please Let Go of “But What If It Turns Out Worse” Thinking… 

Change is scary because we don’t know what to expect from our decisions. 

The idea that “I’m not happy now, but it could be worse” is disempowering thinking that keeps you stuck, low, and minimized. 

Fear-filled thinking paralyzes you in a state of inaction and apprehension.

Instead, trust yourself…have confidence in yourself and let go of that kind of thinking, at least for a few seconds, and ask: “Sure, it could be worse, BUT isn’t it possible it could be better, too, maybe a LOT better? In fact, what would it look like, and how would it feel if things were better?”

Things getting worse is an option. But things getting better is an option too! In fact, there’s a chance that things might get worse before they get better because you’re learning and growing into a new way of life. 

You can live in fear and worry about things getting worse if you make a change, or you can live in hope and imagine things getting better. 

The fact of the matter is that you pay the price for doing nothing and staying where you are, and you pay the price for deciding to make a change and moving forward; both decisions will cost you, but one is more expensive; it’s up to you to decide which one costs more. 

The easiest thing to do is to do nothing… but, in the end, how easy will it really be?

Give yourself a positive outlook and the possibility of a bright, optimistic future. Let go of fear and worry for a few minutes to imagine what your life could be like. Now, live in that moment for a few minutes.

Final Thoughts

Most of all, have faith in yourself and know, come what may, you can handle it. And with that mindset, maybe change isn’t somethinging to be dreaded or feared. 

Life is too short to be unhappy, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied. 

So, be open to whatever life brings your way; you might be surprised, in a good way, because the outcome might be happier and brighter than you ever thought possible or imagined. 

Yes, life can be scary and tough, but it can also be extremely rewarding. 

All you have to do is take that first step to discover your true purpose, live it, and be passionate about life every day because anything else isn’t living; it’s just existing.

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