It’s time to reclaim your life and take charge of the direction in which you’re headed. Maybe you feel like you’re drowning or your life has taken on a path of it’s own. Perhaps you’ve begun to realize that you’re no longer in the drivers seat but just going through the motions each day. If this is you, you’re not alone. It wasn’t that long ago that I myself felt like I was being pulled by unseen currents in a direction I wasn’t certain of. Having 5 kids, 2 dogs, 2 businesses and a never ending to-do list kept me so busy that it felt impossible to even breath let alone make a plan. I thought it would be impossible to reclaim my life when there were so many demands that I felt like I was barely getting by. But it turns out it’s much easier than I thought. These 5 steps will put you back in the drivers seat (even if you aren’t quite sure where you’re heading… yet).
1. Stop Shoulding Yourself
How much of what you’re currently doing is aligned with what you want out of life? Most of us have very full and busy lives. But if we take a step back and seriously analyze what we’re doing we find that around half of it really doesn’t matter. Either it doesn’t move the needle in the direction we’d like to be going or it just isn’t aligned with our values. Then why are we doing it, you may wonder. Well, it’s because we think we should! There is so much familial, cultural, and social pressure to do or accomplish certain things that we can easily get swept up in all the shoulds. It’s time to stop doing things or judging yourself by the should list. That means getting serious about checking in with yourself. Before taking on a new project, task, or role, be sure to ask yourself if it’s really something you need or want to do or if you’re doing it just because “you should”.
2. Reclaim Your Resources
If you want to reclaim your life you’re first going to have to reclaim your resources. Having the time, money, and energy to do the things that matter most to you isn’t going to just happen. Make space for yourself in your life by committing resources to yourself. I know this may seem selfish, especially for all the parents out there, but remember that you’re modeling to those around you how to be an adult. If you want them to build well crafted lives where they thrive you’re going to have to show them how. Once you free up some of your resources by putting an end to shoulding yourself recommit them to yourself and reclaim your life.
3. Create Boundaries
No one else gets to tell you how to run your reclaimed life or where it needs to go. This is not a democracy and others don’t get a vote. That likely means creating boundaries about what kind of feedback (if any) is welcome. It’s ok to talk things out with people and not accept advice. It’s also ok to request support and encouragement without allowing input (I know… shocking). Create boundaries that feel healthy for you and create the space and support you need to reclaim your life.
4. Be Present
Reclaiming your life is about this moment, it’s not about what’s happened or what will happen. So, it’s essential that you stay present. It’s normal to experience some grief or even shame about all the years you may have lost. I know when I set out to reclaim my life I was very frustrated and saddened by the number of years I felt I wasted on the hamster wheel. I kept thinking about how much further I’d be if I hadn’t done this. That thinking does nothing to help you reclaim your life and can even sabotage your efforts. Let yourself feel how you feel but stay present in this moment. If you’re struggling with invasive thoughts about the past or find yourself feeling anxious about the future there are many techniques you can try to help you ground yourself back in the present.
5. Take Small Steps
Reclaiming your life isn’t something you’re going to do all at once. It will take time and effort. Sometimes it may feel like you’re not making any progress at all and others it will feel like everything is falling into place easily. Rather than focusing on the big picture, be mindful of the small wins. Taking small steps will help you feel more capable and confident and will also help you build momentum and the skills you need to maintain your new role of captain of your own ship.