4 GAME-CHANGING LESSONS I LEARNED FROM TAKING CHARGE OF MY HEALTH (AND LIFE)
Uncovering why someone is successful or not has always intrigued me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some people seem to run themselves in circles, dancing around changes that they know they should make but never do. When I was trying to decide whether or not to leave my first career, I was terrified. When I think back, there were signs everywhere directing me away from this career, but I ignored them in fear of what emotions may come up.
There eventually came a time where I made the decision to take control of my life. This time only came when I had hit rock bottom...several times. It didn't happen overnight and it didn't happen with me as an all-in willing participant. I had lots of help and guidance from dear friends and family along the way, for whom I am eternally grateful. It wouldn't have happened without them because it was way too scary for me to do alone.
That brings me to the first lesson I learned about change and taking control:
CHANGE IS SCARY, BUT STAYING WHERE YOU ARE IS EVEN SCARIER.
So there I was, thinking of myself as a complete failure because my career wasn't going as planned. In the midst of wallowing in my own misery, I was forced to look at it a bit more objectively. Perhaps this job wasn’t for me as much as I wasn’t for it? Nonetheless, I spent lots of time trying to rationalize how I could stay and make it work. The more I rationalized, the more scared I became. My health had already taken a nose dive in a few short years. If I couldn’t find a way to stay well now, what would become of me in 25 or 30 years? Visualizing what could be if I didn’t make changes was worse than the risk of taking a chance at other options.
2. THE MINUTE YOU THROW AWAY THE EXCUSES, YOU UNLOCK THE AMAZING POWER OF UNLIMITED POTENTIAL.
This alone can provoke some feelings of fear, but it’s the good type of fear. The fear you get when you’re about to make a breakthrough. We all have excuses. Many of them. I usually get all fired up when I hear someone going through their laundry list of reasons why they aren’t reaching their goal. I’m not smart enough. I’m not pretty or fit enough. I didn’t come from money so therefore I won’t ever make enough money....and on and on. Like I said before, I love trying to figure out why someone is being held back and support them in breaking through that barrier. In doing so I must hear all the things that have stood in their way. The next step after the laundry list is to dig deep into what they want and how bad they want it. What I’ve found is that there is an overwhelming percentage of people who want something, but know damn well they're not willing to do what it takes to get there. I truly appreciate when someone is honest with me and admits they just aren't ready to give up their extra large coffee with six creamers and ten sugar packets. Okay, fair enough. They're free to choose. The thing they lose access to when making this choice, however, is the possibility for change. They can’t imagine their life without this staple and think they just might cease to exist if they give it up. But think of what could happen if they said, “I really love my coffee every day, but I want my health back even more, so I’m willing to look the consequences in the face and curb the habit.” The good news is that the worst case scenario is you'll be tired, grumpy, and a bit foggy for a week or so, but life will continue on. The point is, if you allow fear to paralyze you, there will never be room to grow and you'll become complacent. Complacency never produces happiness, freedom, or fulfillment. It’s much safer, but much less rewarding.
3. CONTROL IS NECESSARY, BUT THE ABILITY TO LET GO MAY BE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT.
While there is huge benefit to taking control over your destiny, there is a dark side to it as well. Most, in part, due to the fact that we absolutely cannot control every aspect of our daily lives. Great example: helicopter parents. We all love our children, but if you attempt to control and micromanage every interaction your children have with the outside world, you'll create a person who can't function in society (at least without their parent). Knowing when to let go is the hard part that takes time, experience, and failure. I always thought letting go meant giving up. Man was I wrong with this one and I’m glad I was. I spent a lot of time trying to fit a square through a circular hole thinking if I couldn’t find a way to make it fit, life would most certainly end. What I learned was that I didn’t have to give up right away if things weren’t going my way, but I could listen to the signs the universe was giving me and follow my gut if I felt it was time to move on. I believe we all know what we need to do. It’s listening to that instinct and ignoring what are minds are telling us that is the hard part. You can learn to listen to your body better by trying some simple meditation (still or moving). Practice letting small things go like a battle you’re having with your child. Pick the ones worth hanging on to and let the others pass on by. It feels so freeing and energizing when you release some of the burdens weighing you down!
4. And lastly, YOUR ROAD TO SUCCESS IS ALWAYS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
I often tell friends, family, and clients that I always thought I would “arrive” at a place where everything in my life would be just the way I dreamed it would be. Effortless, struggle-free, easy. I'm a bit disappointed this is not true, but it’s also liberating at the same time. It means that we'll always be on a journey to the next desired outcome, but it also means we can change things at any time. If you don’t like where you’re at (and this happens to everyone at some point in their lives), you have the power to change your situation. Maybe not everything about it, but at most you can change how you care for yourself. This is something we as Americans really must do a better job at. Our lifestyles are destroying our health at a fast pace. True wellness is pretty simple, but we must make that choice to prioritize it and make the necessary changes to achieve it. With the way our healthcare system runs today, if you want to find your way to health, you must take charge of your own health. That doesn't mean you won’t ever need the assistance of medications or doctors, but it does mean you must be your own advocate. You know yourself better than anyone who sees you for ten minutes once a year. It’s ultimately your body and your life and you are absolutely and positively worth the risk!
Shawn Clavelle holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor. She believes that yoga is the perfect addition to any fitness routine and ideal for athletes who have sustained injuries that preclude them from participating in other forms of exercise. Shawn customizes her yoga classes to be fun, engaging, and designed to help you lose weight, tone, strengthen, and experience a deeper sense of confidence and esteem. She provides modifications for her students so that each class can be rich and enjoyable.