Earlier today I outlined the steps I took to get me to where I am today (which is not quite where I want to be).  Now I’ll talk a little about how I began to see hope for a better future.

As I mentioned, I ended up as a lawyer mostly because I didn’t know what else to do. I should have recognized that this wasn’t an ideal pursuit when I found it impossible to focus on law-related tasks and dreaded the thought of going to class or going to work.  Every day felt like an insurmountable chore. I slowly realized that I needed to change my life when I almost got in an accident on my way to work.  I would have actually preferred totaling my car rather than going in to my office.

That’s a sign that things need to change.  Apathy, misery, indifference, fear, anxiety and boredom are signs that you need to find new pursuits. These reactions are our “red flags” to let us know that we are in a situation that isn’t right for us.  Too often, we’re taught to ignore those signals and numb out those feelings.  Please pay attention to them!

I felt like I was stuck in this career because I’d paid an awful lot of money for my degree. I see now that this is irrational.  If something is not good for you, no matter how much it cost, you get it out of your life before it can do further damage. Making my future self miserable in law doesn’t put that law school money back in my pocket. It doesn’t get back those three years I spent in law school — it just wastes more of my precious time!

I had a heck of a time figuring out what it was that I wanted to do.  I knew I wanted to be more creative but I felt like I didn’t have enough talent to make a career out of anything related to art.  I can’t draw or paint, but I’ve always liked writing, dance and music.  I remember a high school English teacher telling my class that everything worth writing had already been written.  His disdain for creative writing really gave me a complex about writing anything except academic papers (and even those fill me with anxiety to this day).

I felt too insecure about my abilities to even attempt creative pursuits.  If I couldn’t try, I couldn’t succeed or fail.  I was stuck in a holding pattern.  I was too miserable to continue with the status quo but was too afraid to risk failure.

In my previous post, I mentioned Abraham Maslow and his concept of self-actualization.  Providentially, as I write this follow-up, an email from Brian Tracy sits in my email inbox.  Here’s a quote:

Abraham Maslow, the great psychologist said that the story of the human race is the story of people selling themselves short. He said people have a tendency to settle for far less from life than they are truly capable of. Many people are spinning their wheels in careers where they should be moving rapidly onward and upward.

I think what really propelled me out of my misery and fear was surrounding myself with mentors and coaches who live fulfilled, happy lives. This was a lucky accident on my part — I just happened to be attracted to their energy. For those of you who are going through a similar period, find people who truly believe that you can make your life anything you want it to be. Even if it’s just through reading their books or blogs or listening to their CDs.  This is the first step.  Until I heard the message that I had the power to design my life, I couldn’t even begin to dream of what I would do with it.  I made the decision to be a lawyer out of fear and desperation and I didn’t know any other way to make career decisions.

I eventually began to realize several truths: I have one life on this earth.  I wasn’t put here to be miserable.  I don’t get a do-over at the end if I waste my time and talents while I’m alive. And, in my early 30s, my life is effectively 1/3 over.  If the next 2/3s of my life are anything like the last 30 years, time is going to fly by. I intend to enjoy it. 

This is how I eventually began to hope for a better life for myself and it allowed me to take a tiny step forward.  If you need tips on who to turn to for inspiration and motivation, feel free to contact me.  Do you have mentors that encourage you to live your life to its fullest potential? Who are they? Have you ever thought that you could encourage others to do the same?