Sometimes, you reach a point where you’re just done.
It happens to us all at times. When it happens to men, it tends to be referred to as a “mid-life crisis” – but all that is is a way of saying someone has become fed up with their life as it is now. Male or female, we all occasionally have moments when the life we have carefully pieced together feels mundane, stifling, in need of a drastic change.
This is especially true as you get older; time begins to speed by at a terrifying page. Here’s something shocking to consider: 2009 was eight years ago. There are kids who can walk, talk, go to school, all born after 2010. But yet when you think about it, 2010 doesn’t seem that long ago, does it?
When moments of realization like this hit us, there’s a tendency to suddenly want to break free and do something different. It’s a natural inclination, a desire to stop repeating a pattern. The life goals that mattered to us so much before we had this moment of realization suddenly don’t seem so important anymore. In fact, they feel more like tethers – pulling us along a particular path that we no longer find interesting.
Can You Change Your Life?
Of course you can – but it’s not as easy as fiction would have you believe. In reality, we’re stuck with things like mortgages, bills, jobs, responsibilities – we can’t just drop everything and go and explore the world, or tick off whatever other dream we have got running through our minds.
So What Can We Do?
That sounds rather restrictive, doesn’t it? The idea that one day you might wake up, worrying about the future, wondering how the past went by so quickly, and everything you’ve worked for feels like it’s been for nothing.
In this situation, the most important thing to remember is that it’s temporary. It’s a reactive response, based more on panic than reality. You’ve not wasted your life; life isn’t there to waste, it’s all to be experienced. We are the sum of our decisions. If our new decisions are wanting us to spread our wings then that doesn’t necessarily have to invalidate the thoughts that went before.
That leads to practical solutions for the desire to try something new, to take the snow globe of our life and give it a vigorous shake. Is it even possible to do that without displacing everything we care about? Should we? And even if we have the desire to do so – what sort of things should we be aiming for?
The below are ideas, based on the experiences of others who have been through this and seen the other side. They may appeal in and of themselves, or they may provide inspiration for ideas of your own to manifest. Either way, it’s better than sitting deep in the feelings of regret and listlessness – channel that energy into something useful, something productive, something beautiful.
- Challenge Yourself By Getting Lost
How often do you do something you don’t know how to do?
It’s probably not that often. As we mature and develop skills, we have a natural tendency to want to stay within the realms of things we already understand. Our problem-solving skills don’t over get the chance for a workout.
So… give them one. Take a drive to somewhere you don’t know. Then, turn off the GPS – and your challenge is now to get home. This exercise is all about taking your time and focusing on the journey rather than getting to the finish point; the latter is how we tend to live our lives on a day-to-day basis. So for once, reveling in the journey is a worthwhile experience.
You can do this with walking, running, cycling – anything that involves taking you out of the known and forcing you to problem solve to recover yourself. Not only will it give you time out in the open air (something few of us have much time to do), it will remind your brain that you have worthwhile skills and can think for yourself.
What’s more, it works to help to slow down life. When we make memories that are more unique – such as this experience would be, compared to the usual job and social life experiences – then they make a bigger impression in our memories. This, in turn, makes life appear to be slowing down.
- Return To Nature
It’s almost a cliché, but that’s only because there is something to be said for it. You don’t hear of many people who spend time outdoors somewhere rural and say they didn’t enjoy it. There’s something about the unpaved ground beneath our feet and the breeze on our cheeks that makes us feel alive.
A beach is a good place to begin, but not for the purpose of sprawling on a towel and soaking up the sun. Explore; wander through rock pools, swim out. The salt water is beneficial in and of itself, and you might come across some cute marine life to observe. Again: it’s about making unique experiences.
If you don’t want to stray far from home, then consider either developing your garden or getting involved in community gardens. The microbes in soil have antidepressive properties, so you’ll get a mood boost from the mere act of handling the soil. It’s then all the more satisfying to nurture something from seed to finished flower or vegetable, connecting you, earthing you in a very literal way.
In your own garden, you could tackle a project you have been putting off or never found the time for, such as erecting a shed, calling in pest control services to remove any hazardous beasties, or just switch from a low-maintenance garden in preference of growing flowers and food. Anything that involves being outdoors, feeling useful, will help settle your mind back to its normal state.
- Resolve The Past
Few of us get to adulthood without feeling like there is someone we owe an apology to. It might be a teacher you were rude to at school, the college friend you lost touch with, or the first boyfriend you broke up with by text – these people layer onto our minds. We live as we are in the moment, but they are always there waiting.
To make the future more bearable, it might feel strange to delve into your past. But one of the major issues that people have in later life is feelings of regret, much of it stemming around our past mistakes. If you have always wanted to make an apology – even if you suspect it won’t be well-received – then jolting yourself out of your comfort zone to do it is an excellent idea.
If it helps, write it down rather than trying to see someone in person. If you parted on bad terms, be ready for the fact it might not be well-received. But you will know it’s been done, smoothed over the blip, and maybe even helped the other person get over something from their past too.
- Change One Thing
Finally, if you feel the need to change your life, then don’t try and change your life. That encompasses too many things; all the threads that wind together to create your existence. It’s your job, your hobbies, your friends, your family, your children (if you have them), your politics, your passions – it’s too much to try and change it all.
Even just the smallest switch in your routine is able to bear fruit. Before you do anything drastic, focus on small differences – the little things that you can improve. It might be as simple as changing how you commute to work or finding time for half an hour to spend with a good book every day. If those little switches don’t work, then you can look to progress to more definitive, large-scale alterations – but always keep in mind the “one at a time” theory.
Instead of trying to make huge, sweeping changes, try and focus on just changing one area of your life. Focus on whatever it is that makes you the most unhappy and try and resolve that, rather than looking for huge differences that will ultimately cause more stress than acceptance. Often, if you fix the worst aspect that is making you feel regretful or itch for change, everything else will eventually fall into place.
Why is this so important? Because, in a fit of momentary feelings of unrest, you could end up damaging your life in a way that you truly come to regret in the future. By being cautious, you’re taking the instinctive need for something different, for change, and then applying your sound reasoning and logic to it. Anything else is a recipe for further upset, so take it slow. You don’t want to offend the people in your current life by changing anything drastic without consideration that a small change might have worked. Be careful, be cautious, and then you can be sure the road forward is safe for you to travel.