Wait – This is Not the Life I Had Planned!!

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So let’s say you wake up one morning and realize that life is no where near what you had planned. Maybe it is a “significant” birthday and (gasp!) you are 40, or 50, or 60…  Your marriage may be less than the bliss you imagined when you said “I do.” Tragedy may have struck in some horrible way. You look at your children, as you are all sitting in the Principal’s office after their latest escapade and wonder where you went wrong.

You find yourself aimlessly trolling Facebook in your cubicle at work just hoping for the day to end – thinking how am I going to do this for 30 more years?   Single and dating is so not what you envisioned at this stage of your life.  Any of these sound familiar???

And when someone asks you about your dreams, goals or aspirations, you just can’t go there.  Why dream when nothing has turned out as planned so far?

It is so easy to feel like dreams are a waste of time; that creating a bucket list, goals, dream board or any other newfangled “visioning” thing is pointless.  Life hasn’t gone as planned so why bother.

Each of us has had disappointments and no one’s life goes “according to plan” but it’s how we handle those challenges that will determine how the rest of our life goes.

Are you consciously (or unconsciously) floating along letting life just happen?

Let me challenge each of us, to kick ourselves out of any rut we may be in and start to open our eyes (and hearts) to new dreams.  Here’s a couple of ways you can start:

    1. Start a gratitude journal, jar, whatever – and practice gratitude.  It may sound corny but it really does work. Taking time each day to list at least one thing for which you are grateful begins to open your eyes to all the good things you DO have in your life.  Having trouble getting started? Just look around wherever you are sitting.  A few from my journal are – electricity (especially in this heat here in SC!), clean water to drink, and my dog Diva. Aim for at least three a day!
    2. Look for the silver lining. I know (as much as I hate to admit it) that I usually learn something from the things that didn’t go as planned.  I didn’t planned to be divorced and dating in my early 40’s – but I also wouldn’t trade the life experiences and lessons I learned for anything.  I am who I am today because of all of that – emotional wounds, scars and all.  And some day my online dating fiascoes experiences, may make a great book!
    3. Begin opening your eyes to possibilities. The ability to envision hopes, dreams and a future is what gives you the passion to take the first step.  So read Facebook posts that tell fun stuff friends are doing, pin things on Pinterest boards, watch shows that make you want to go and do, think of the people that really inspire you – (and this is the hard part) do all of that with a perspective of hope, not envy.  And start thinking “why not me?  I can do this!”
    4. Surround yourself with positive people! If you are around negative, bitter, fearful people, that is what you will become.  If you surround yourself with positive, courageous people that is what you will become.  So is there someone you may need to step away from for a bit?  Or at least create boundaries with the the conversations you have? Try to find at least ONE positive person you can talk to each week day.
    5. Try one new thing this week Try something different, something that will “shake things up,” something that will make you smile!  Watch a funny video, turn off the TV and spend quality time with your spouse or kids, go for a walk, try a new restaurant.  It may even be you becoming that positive person that encourages others.  It doesn’t have to be big – it just has to help you start to remember there is a great big world of opportunity out there.

If people can’t envision a future, they have no hopes or dreams to change anything.

Man – I don’t want to live like that.  I think God put each of us here for a reason and to live a full life. So this week, just take one step toward envisioning a different future.  And know I’m here on the sidelines cheering for you.