How To Embrace Big Life Changes
Think About What You Want To Do, Not What Other People Think You Should Do
I knew I wanted to apply for psychology from the get-go, but was easily deterred – my mum had told me, “All the psychologists I know are depressed”. It was enough to change my mind. Instead, I followed the expectations of others and applied for medicine. I gained a place, but didn’t get the grades, so took a gap year to think it over. The second time round I applied for psychology, and I got in.
Don’t Settle For OK
While I loved psychology at university, after graduation my focus was on moving to London and making money, rather than what I wanted to do as a career. I ended up in IT recruitment, where I quickly discovered that I actually wasn’t someone who could be motivated by money. I had two options: continue with a comfortable job that paid the bills, or risk starting again in something that was a passion but might not necessarily make me more money. I gave the second one a shot.
Listen To Your Instincts
It’s easy to think about the all the rational reasons not to make a change - leaving recruitment meant giving up my job, moving out of my flat and going back to uni. Most people around me didn’t think it was a good move, and when I looked at the pros and cons of the change, there were definitely more cons. But instead of focusing on these negatives and paying attention to the opinions of others, I looked at the weight of each pro and con and how each made me feel.
Hindsight Is A Powerful Thing
Sometimes the easiest way to think about a big change is to ask yourself, “If I was at the end of my life looking back, what would I want to see?” Would I have done something differently, who would I want to spend my time with, what would my biggest regrets be? It’s a powerful tool for seeing the bigger picture, and gives you the opportunity to really think about what’s important to you. I would rather look back and know I tried, rather than wondering 'what if?'
Don’t Wait Until You’re Ready
Hugh Laurie once said: “There is no such thing as ready, there is only now.” It's all too easy to put things off and wait until you feel ready, but that’s a feeling you could be chasing your whole life. It's just about getting started and setting the wheels in motion – there are no guarantees that it’ll work out, but not even trying will leave you feeling static and stuck. Trying means you've at least got a chance of achieving what you're hoping for, and there are positives no matter what the outcome – it’ll always move you forward.
Make Sure Your Actions Fit In With Your Values
Your values are what ground you. They determine your priorities, and are a good measure of whether your life is headed in the direction you want it to. When your values and behaviour align it means you’re living authentically, and when they don’t it can be a source of complete unhappiness. When I was in recruitment these things just weren’t aligning for me, so I went back to basics. I thought about all the things I liked doing and I kept coming back to psychology.
See Change As A Positive Rather Than Something To Be Scared Of
A big change is often filled with such uncertainty, but instead of concentrating on what could go wrong, take it a step at a time. A change can seem huge, but by breaking it down into manageable chunks, it becomes a much more positive possibility. My motto is, “It’s the small steps that lead to the greatest changes” – take each day as it comes, and continually remind yourself of all the things that could go right, rather than wrong.
Change Is An Ongoing Process
Once I’d found psychology I thought it would all be straight forward, but the truth is, change is just that – it never stops growing and contorting and evolving. When I got my book deal I was over the moon, but I became so focused on getting the book done that I was miserable – I was putting my life on hold until I’d achieved all my goals. I have a saying: “Always reserve the right to change your mind.” It made me take a step back and re-evaluate – if something’s not working I take a closer look at it and make a change if I need to.
Enjoy The Journey, Not Just The Destination
An end goal might form the foundations of the adventure, the reason for setting one in the first place, but as strange as it sounds, it’s not reaching your goal that’s important. It’s crucial to enjoy the process, to explore and learn and make mistakes. It’s focusing on the process that brings meaning and greater happiness to the end goal. But if you're only focused on the destination, you won't appreciate the full benefits of your journey. It doesn’t matter if you stop along the way or go off course – it’s about the adventure it takes you on.
See more from Dr Jessamy in her TEDx Adventure of a Lifetime video below.
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