photo courtesy of kaylin pacheco via unsplash

Over the past year, I’ve been trying to cultivate more of an openness to change by recognizing the uncomfortable shift that signals your current comfort zone has grown too tight.

I paid close attention to that shift in 2020. Perhaps it was because after a year and a half of wedding prep and job hunting, I was ready to take back some of my brain space to reassess what I really wanted for myself. I hadn’t yet thought of the ways and direction in which I wanted to change, but there seemed to be a voice in the back of my mind that was softly murmuring, “Get ready.”

Last year was what it was. By the end of it, though, I felt prepared. I couldn’t say what for in particular (after all, 2020 did a lot to alter my expectations). But I felt that whenever I fully understood what that change would look like, I would be ready.

About a month and a half into 2021 the voice started saying ‘Act now.’ By then, what I’d been preparing for finally made sense, and I knew I was ready to act on and implement that change.

I believe that the reason I was ready and able to act accordingly as opposed to shrinking back into a cocoon of comfort was because I recognized the shift. I saw the signs that not only was it time to change, but that I was ready to as well. When you’re able to identify the ways in which you no longer want to operate, and when you notice signs of outgrowing places, habits and ways of thinking – that’s when it’s time to change. Here were my signs:

I realized that it was time to start seeing myself for real. The frustrated nights of telling myself I couldn’t or shouldn’t because I wasn’t enough became exhausting. I was tired of treating myself like I had less potential than everyone else around me said I had. It became evident that staying where I was would do more harm for me than moving on would, even if a transition might initially be messy, emotional or frightening.

Another sign that it was time to change was when I was finally honest with myself about what that change could look like. I stopped letting my anxiety answer questions for me. When I started consistently asking myself “what’s the worse that could happen?” and realized that after ignoring all the initial anxious thoughts, the real answer to that question was never as bad as I thought it was. I started asking a more balanced question. Instead of only, “what’s the worse that could happen?”, I would also ask myself, “what’s the best that could happen?”

Eventually, I realized that when thinking about changes, I stopped seeing them as only an outcome that I wanted, a sort of far-off fantasy. Instead, I started to see change as a set of behaviors I could commit to, however gradual, that would then lead me to the outcome I wanted. I started seeing all of the times I had tried and failed not as failures that reaffirmed ineptitude, but as tests and trial runs of the change I was ultimately working toward.

The final sign that pushed me was the feelings of discomfort and dissatisfaction, of being uninspired, unmotivated, and feeling trapped. I had to remind myself that I didn’t want to park here. I had ridden the Burnout Train over and over and realized that the ride wasn’t ending until I made the choice to get off of it for good. Every sign pointed to an exit, and the voice in my head wouldn’t let up.

“Act Now.”

If you’re the type who looks for signs in writing, here it is. You deserve to put yourself higher on your list. Choose to recognize the shift, and identify your signs. Here’s to committing to changes that give you joy, inspire creation, and make you feel healthier in every way that counts.

How did you know when you were ready to change? Can you think of any other tell-tale signs?