from Chapter One
Climb Out of Your Box!
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
—Viktor E. Frankl
I felt hopeless. I was miserable.
Fear and the consequences of not making a decision were crippling my life. I had known for more than a year that I needed to move on. But every day, bored and reluctant, I would drag myself to the office. Somehow the familiar routine was easier to cope with than exploring the unknown. I rationalized the situation by telling myself that being an administrative assistant wasn't a bad job. That was true—it just wasn't the best job for me. What I wanted was to be challenged more, to use my creativity and my teaching skills. The daily routine of pushing paper and sitting at a computer most of the day was draining the life out of me. I felt boxed in and needed to climb out of the box. I stayed because I had convinced myself that I was indispensable. I justified how leaving was not an option because I would be letting my husband Les down. It was his company and the business was at a critical stage in its growth.
Unknown to him, however, I was falling apart. I was good at covering up my true feelings. Then one day I hit rock bottom—my Day of Desperation. I was so overwhelmed that all I could do was lock myself in our bedroom. Next to a window that overlooks our backyard sits a comfy, overstuffed chair. When our children were young I would read to them in this chair and cradle them in a soft blanket. I call it my 'quiet place'. This is where I retreat to think, read, pray, and on this day of depression, to cry. It seemed that I had everything—a wonderful husband, great kids, financial success, health—and yet, I had never been so frustrated and miserable. In desperation, I begged God to help me. The tears flowed freely. Isolated from the rest of the world and weary from months of anxiety, I sank into the depths of sorrow and fell asleep.
The words, "Call Marie!" woke me with a start. "What was that?" I thought.
"Call Marie!" The message was clear, front and center in my mind, but I still didn't understand.
Marie was a friend, a single mom who had been widowed a few years earlier. She had two young children as well as a thriving interior design business. The demands of work and home life were challenging for her to say the least. I had no idea why I was to call Marie, nor what I was to say to her. I only knew that I had to call her. Before I lost courage I picked up the phone.
"Marie, you need me and I can help. I want to offer my time free of charge for a month, in return for learning all I can about your business. If after a month you feel I can be of value to you, then we can talk."
Did I say that? Where did that voice come from? As I set the phone down I was shaking, aghast at my audacity. This was so out of character for me.
Happily, I did change careers. Amazingly, my husband's business didn't suffer when I left. The four years that I worked with Marie were the most challenging and rewarding years
I had ever experienced. I knew nothing about the business and Marie was a demanding employer. And because of that I learned new skills, discovered hidden talents and developed strength of character. I became more confident and outspoken. Looking back, my career change had nothing to do with interior design and everything to do with faith. You see, I had listened to my spirit in faith. I made the phone call even though I didn't know what was happening at the time. Now I believe it was all part of a much bigger master plan because it helped prepare me for the work I do today.
Change is something we all struggle with.
In this chapter we are going to uncover the major reasons why we don't like to change. We'll see clearly what holds us back, even when we know we need to step out in a different direction.
- What is it that holds us back?
- Why can some people adapt to change more easily?
- Why is it that we are able to make changes in one area of our life and not in other areas?
You'll learn all of this and more in the pages ahead.
Making changes provides an opportunity to dramatically better our lives. We can improve our health, relationships, career, income, level of happiness and our hopes for a more optimistic future. Making changes requires a conviction that we are making the right choices.
There are five major barriers that will stop you from moving forward. The first step is to become aware of the barriers that are holding you back. When you take the time to observe what is really going on, you will be in a better position
to make wise decisions.
You cannot change your destination overnight,
but you can change your direction.
The Five Barriers
1. Coasting In Your Comfort Zone
We all love comfort but unfortunately it is one of the culprits that keeps us stuck. Even when we know we need to make changes, we often choose what feels safe and familiar instead of what we really want. We're great at making excuses, living in denial and justifying why we choose to stay stuck.
For years I was using a very old version of database software. I could manipulate that program to do everything I wanted. My familiarity with it helped me to move and update files with speed and accuracy. Then as my business grew, I realized I needed to upgrade. That meant learning a whole new software program. I started making excuses to avoid making the change. Now isn't a good time, I would need to take classes in the evening. The thought of leaving my comfort zone was very threatening. I'm sure you can relate.
It's not only computer software we hang on to in our desire to stay close to the familiar. We do it in other areas too; we take the same route to work every day, we shop at the same stores, we order the same items from the menu instead of selecting something different. Too many routines stop you from challenging yourself. It's pretty much the same thing day in day out. Choosing to stay in a comfort zone eventually restricts your capacity for life. Is that what you really want?
- How about requiring more of yourself so you can create better options?
- How about no longer waiting for someone else, or your life circumstances to change, before making a move?
Everything truly rewarding lies outside your comfort zone.
The more you can stretch your capacity to experience a fuller life, the more rewarding life becomes. Constantly challenging your comfort levels will help you feel more alive, more passionate, and more confident about getting what you want. Understand, there are no reassurances, guarantees or parachutes to help you when you take the leap. But go ahead, leap anyway!
2. Beware Of Apathy and Indifference
Realizing your life is on hold because you are stuck in the comfort zone trap is quite different from another obstacle to change: apathy. Indifference and a lack of passion rob many women from taking calculated risks that will improve their circumstances. For some it's their life-load that's holding them back. They are burdened enough already.
Change for these women is just another thing to do. Many are shut down emotionally—life feels flat and joyless. They
go about the motions of living, but they are dead inside. I call them the living dead. It's sad—dead at forty but not buried until they're eighty.
Perhaps you are thinking, there's no way I can get excited about my job. I challenge you to change that. Feeling indiff-erent or bored is not a good return on the many precious hours you invest at work. Our jobs need to be more fulfilling than just picking up a paycheck. Even the most menial work can become stimulating with the right attitude. What could you do to build on your enthusiasm and boost your energy?
Reignite the life inside you.
Banish indifference to sulk in the shadows.
Don't dare settle for a life of survival.
When you are worth so much more.
It saddens me to see so many women living this way. Helping them to reconnect with their emotions is inspiring, and it's
a joy for me to witness their awakening in my workshops. They allow themselves to tap into their emotions and their whole demeanor changes. They sense there is new hope, that life can be different.
It's not only people who are overburdened that end up feeling apathetic and indifferent. Many working women would like to change their situation but they've stayed too long at the same job and eventually indifference sets in. This robs them of any remaining desire. They don't care anymore, they don't like their work, they become tired and numb. It's just a job. Be careful—when you are apathetic in one area of your life, it can soon spill into others.
I have noticed a huge shift in the business world away from human connectedness. Due to the amount of time spent in front of computers and using other technology, we no longer take the time to build relationships, especially at work. It's easy for many women to slip into apathy when no one cares or notices them anymore. In large organizations you can become a faceless entity. Many co-workers don't even know your name or what you do.
Why not care enough about yourself to make a change?
No matter how bad your situation is, know this—you can change it. Have faith and believe that things can be different. Then start taking the necessary action.
New Life Begins When
Your Welcome Change
¬2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Power of Focus for Women by Fran Hewitt and Les Hewitt. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.