With the new year quickly approaching, I have started a process that has become a tradition for me as I’ve grown older. Every year, I spend the last few days of the year looking back over the past year and reflecting upon everything that has happened. Usually, this process brings back memories of specific events that have taken place. This year, however, is different. I am recalling many significant events that have taken place in my life this past year, but I will save those for another time and another post. What is sticking with me more than anything as I sit here writing this is how much has changed in my life and how much I’ve learned.
2018 has very possibly been the most important year of my life to this point. I thought for sure 2015 would be difficult to top for me, as far as importance, because that was the year I packed up my whole life and moved 1,500 miles away from my hometown completely by myself. It was an enormous step for me and was a decision I still know to this day that I would have only made once. If I had to relive the process of making that decision, I know I would have talked myself out of it, because it was too risky.
As I look back to the situation I was in a year ago, 2018 has been nothing short of a miracle. A year ago right now, I had lost the location where I had been teaching my weekly junior golf classes, I was broke, I was weeks away from not having a place to live, and I seemingly had no options whatsoever to continue down the path I moved away from home to follow. Most people, my family and close friends included, never knew this, but I had given up, not just on this journey, but I had completely given up on myself, in general. I had started packing to move back to my hometown, and had begun searching for jobs and apartments back home. I had decided my decision to move away from home was a complete failure, and I considered myself to be a failure.
As 2018 began, I made the decision to just be happy, no matter what happened in my life. Worrying and getting stressed out over things you can’t control is completely pointless. I decided to focus on the things I could control, and would let everything just work out the way it was going to work out. Regardless, I was going to be happy with whatever life threw at me.
Shortly after I made this decision, I suddenly started to find the answers to the things that I had been needing so desperately. For reasons that are still beyond my comprehension, I suddenly found myself transitioning from having no options to miraculously falling into situations I never thought would be possible for me. The things that started to fall into place were nearly all results of things I had done long before I found myself in what had become a desperate situation.
By late January and early February, I suddenly had a new job and was moving into my new home. If I hadn’t made the decision to just be happy with my life no matter what would end up happening, I would have thrown in the towel on chasing my dreams and would have gone crawling back to my hometown to settle for a life that I have no desire to live. Life is funny that way. It works out when it’s supposed to work out, not when you want it to work out. Just when you feel like you’ve hit a dead end and you start to lose hope, that’s when things start to happen. Life isn’t perfect. It never has been, and it never will be. For some reason, it feels the need to drag us all down once in a while, and then kick us repeatedly while we’re down. That is when you have a decision to make. You can either get back up and fight your way forward, or you can stay down and just let life keep kicking your ass over and over again.
As I started to get more settled in the changes I made to start the year, I began noticing more opportunities were available to me. I had a chance to finally start moving forward again. It felt like I had gone from taking shelter during a powerful storm to slowly emerging from the shelter to assess my surroundings before continuing on my way. I learned that, with the right attitude and faith in the path I have chosen through life, I am able to overcome challenges I will face in my life that seem to have no solution, and I can make it through those times with positive results.
Several weeks passed by and I was beginning to feel more comfortable with my life finally. I was settled into my new home, I felt like I was deserving of my new job and felt like I fit in, and I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. I took this opportunity to finally go out by myself and put myself into a situation that would allow me to socialize. I hadn’t really had a social life since before I moved away from home, for many reasons that I won’t go into right now. I decided that I had earned some time to have fun, and that I needed to become more involved in the community that I had called home for nearly 3 years. The decision to go out for a night of fun by myself ended up changing my life. That night, I met a few people who have become the center of a really amazing circle of friends of which I am thrilled and honored to be a part. I still find it hard to believe that a night I randomly decided to go out by myself to play trivia and drink a few beers led me to discover a whole new circle of friends, including one of the most amazing friends I’ve ever had the incredible pleasure of meeting in my entire life. That night, just by chance, I ended up sitting next to a small group of people, and my life is forever changed because of it. That night taught me to not be afraid of diving right into the middle of a situation in which I have no clue what to expect.
Over the next several months, I found myself at the very edge of my comfort zone on a daily basis. Everything that I had spent my life avoiding whenever possible and everything that had scared the shit out of me for 33 years was now staring me in the face every morning when I woke up. I had 2 options: hide and end up right back in the middle of the dead end I had faced at the end of 2017, or take a giant leap head first out of the boundaries of my comfort zone and just see what would happen next. I knew that I couldn’t continue to live life inside my comfort zone forever, so I took that leap and never looked back. Once again, my life changed forever. Now, every day of my life is focused on everything that I never would have considered doing in the past. Every day when I wake up, I am stepping out of what was once the limit of my comfort zone, and I push a little farther away from those former boundaries. This experience has taught me that the only limits you have in life are the ones you place upon yourself. Don’t hold yourself back. You’re better than you think you are, and you need to keep improving every single day that you are given in this life.
When you start to push yourself to new heights, people will start to notice. They will comment on your progress and your success. You will start to have more of an impact on the people and the things around you. Don’t be afraid to embrace that impact you are having. Many people in this world seem to be afraid of achieving success without realizing it. They could do truly incredible things, but they hold themselves back because they start to see the new heights they are reaching, and it scares them. I’ve learned that you need to realize there is no limit to your potential. You can always do more and get better… ALWAYS!!
As you start to realize the limitless potential within you, people will take notice of your newfound confidence. Confidence, happiness, and positivity are contagious. People around you will not only notice these things about you, but they will start to feed off of the energy you are giving off. Use this opportunity to inspire the people around you. When you are confident in yourself and find genuine happiness within yourself, then you are able to share those gifts with others. You really don’t need to try to change the people around you. Lead by example and be genuine in your wish to share your own happiness and confidence with others. Encourage them. Build them up. Let them know when they impress you. Share your positivity with them in any way you are able. Not only will it make them feel amazing, but you will feel it, as well, just knowing you were able to have a positive impact on them. Knowing that you are able to have a truly positive impact on another person is an extraordinary feeling. It will energize you, as well as the other person.
As independent as you may feel in your life, no one does everything in their life completely by themselves. We all need someone to lean on from time to time in our lives. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like we’re stuck in a rut. Even the most positive people need help getting out of that rut sometimes. Don’t be afraid to let someone know you’re having a shitty day (or week… or month). Tell them how you feel. We’ve all been there before and we can all help each other. When someone you love and care about is going through this type of situation, you want to help them get out of it as quickly as possible. Sometimes, you may not realize at the same time that you need to lean on them as much as they lean on you for support and encouragement. Remember, you can have a major, permanent positive impact on someone else without even realizing what they’re going through, so always pay attention to what is going on around you, and encourage and support the people who mean the most to you unconditionally.
As I look back, I have learned more things this past year than I could write here without all of you completely losing interest. Thank you to anyone who has actually read this whole thing!! I know it’s long, but it easily could have been much, MUCH longer. The many lessons I have learned from this past year all seem to have fairly simple and common themes. Always be responsible for making yourself happy. Take ownership of your happiness. Yet, don’t be afraid to admit when you need a boost. Reach out to someone you love and tell them you need a bit of a nudge to get you back on track. Face your fears and don’t let yourself limit your potential. You are greater and more gifted than you likely give yourself credit for, and there is a good chance that you are the only person who doesn’t see your full potential. Try to see yourself from the perspective of the person(s) who care about you most. If you are able to see yourself in the same way they see you, I can almost guarantee you will quickly see the positive impact it will have on your life. Put yourself in situations that allow you to succeed. Take risks. If something seems completely crazy, it is very likely exactly what you should do. Don’t give up hope in a situation, and NEVER give up on yourself. If something isn’t working out for you, you don’t need to abandon the journey, all you need is a different approach. Keep trying. What has gotten me into a lot of messes in my life is a combination of over-thinking and just trying too hard to make things happen. Learn to trust your gut feeling. Don’t obsess over what could go wrong, and start realizing how many things could go right if only you keep trying. Trying will eventually lead you to the results you’ve been hoping to find, but don’t try to force it if the time isn’t right. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back and remove yourself from a situation long enough to clear your mind before trying again. The greatest things in life seem to happen just as you’re about to give up. When you feel yourself reaching that point, that is when you need to start paying closer attention to everything that is taking place around you. It is in these situations that you will find the answers you’ve searched so long to find. These are just a few of the things I’m learning.