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Last Updated on September 25, 2019

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Ever heard the saying ‘Change is the only constant’?

Everyone without a doubt goes through changes in their lives whether it be a physical state of literal aging, or a mental state of emotional maturity, or regression in some cases. They all nonetheless signify change, yet some of us seem to embrace it better than others.

I have to admit that when it comes to change, I’m not the most accepting. Don’t get me wrong. I love a challenge and am not one to sit still and stay stagnant. Yet, the soothing feeling of being in my ‘comfort zone’ is also one that makes embracing change a lot harder, especially when the change I’m about to make is not easy, and perhaps even something that I dislike.

Fear of uncertainty kicks in and I start wondering if it’s too much sacrifice that I have to make. Perhaps I’m better off staying put where I’m at. Sound familiar?

Have you ever been in a situation where you know that things just aren’t working out? Whether it’s in your personal relationships or career development, you’re feeling somewhat stuck and unhappy with the way things are.

You need that change, yet you’re afraid to make the conscious decision to move because perhaps you’re not even sure of what it is that you need to change! Or you’re afraid it’s too late to have a fresh start, to begin again.

You might have been with the same company for the last 5 years, in the same position, doing the same thing and it’s not that you dislike your work. But, the thought of doing the same thing for the next 5 or 10 years scares you. You want to do more or perhaps even something completely different altogether.

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Or you could already be late into adulthood, where you’ve established a good career path and you’ve got a lot going on, such as a family to care for. You’re financially stable and could potentially be working towards your next promotion. But, somehow you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve achieved.

There’s just something missing. And yet it feels like it’s too late to leave all that stability behind to embark on a completely new journey of discovery.

Why is that so many of us find ourselves limiting our windows of opportunity and potential because we think it’s too late to start afresh–or that we’re too old to start something? How to start over life?

Meet Jack

I have a friend by the name of Jack. At age 37, he’s a Senior Manager at one of the Big Four and has been working in Audit for over 15 years. He’s got a great salary, owns his own apartment and enjoys the finer things in life, but not without the heavy demands that his job brings.

On the surface it would look like he’s got life figured out. His next steps would be a promotion to becoming Director, or settling down with someone.

Yet, when I asked him a simple question a few months back, I was not at all surprised to hear his response. I asked if he was happy with his work, as he had been complaining earlier about some work related issues. He hesitated before answering that he sometimes wished he could quit his job to do something less stressful. But he’s become accustomed to this lifestyle and feels that it would be too late to give it up to pursue a new career or ambition. The stakes are too high. So he might as well just suck it up.

The external struggles that Jack faces are financial stability, social influences from his peers, the lavish lifestyle he leads and status or recognition that he gets from continuing with this job.

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Internally, Jack faces the risk of losing what he’s built over the years. Being an auditor also makes him a lot more cautious when making important decisions and it just doesn’t seem logical to give up this job for the pursuit of an alternative that would give more ‘meaning’ to his life.

How do you even quantify meaning? It just doesn’t seem like a smart move to make.

And this may be due to having a low internal locus of control, whereby you feel that external forces have greater control over your life than your own actions. You might feel that there are other much younger, more qualified individuals out there who will do better than you, so better not take the risk of starting something new. Or, maybe you don’t feel like you have the energy or time to start anything new at this stage in life.

You might have come across a similar scenario as Jack’s, or you might be a Jack. You’re now facing a wall. Whether it’s the stresses and demands of your job, the lack of satisfaction you get from your work, or the stagnant feeling of not being able to climb up the ladder of success, you have to decide if you want to tear down that wall or continue to let it enclose you.

It’s Not Too Late!

Well the good news is, that as our society continues to develop at such a rapid pace, it also means we have more opportunities to do things that were previously thought impossible if you were of a certain age, or past a certain phase in life. These days, more individuals are pushing the boundaries and breaking stereotypes.

I’m not just talking about age. Sure, age is only a state of mind–a social construct that should not determine or limit your capabilities and ambitions. But there’s more. It goes beyond external factors like time and age. It’s about you, and your ability to accept challenges and having the determination to break free from your existing situation.

To break free from our limitations, we’ve got to take a step back and gain a fresh perspective on just what limitations really are. On the surface, limitations are things that prevent you from doing something, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that limitations are the things that keep you constrained inside a loop.

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They keep you stuck facing the same problems, having the same choices, and taking the same actions over and over, and over again. Limitations define the quality of your life. So if you want to improve your life, then you must break free from the limitations that keep you in the same loop everyday, month, and year.

It may seem that the limitations that you’re facing are out of your control–or something that just happens to you. But, your reality is derived from your perception.

It’s not reality that’s important, but rather, how you perceive your reality. Being able to control how you look at things is the key to breaking free, and starting over again. Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything–from your motivation, outlook, self esteem to your limitations!

So all limitations really start from your mind.

You can learn to take control of your limitations and take control of your dreams.

Going back to Jack’s case, I offered him a solution to his dilemma. It wasn’t a dramatic solution, yet it was something that allowed him to go through total transformation in his life without having to risk time, effort or pain. It wasn’t asking him to quit his job or take a plunge. I simply introduced the Breakthrough Framework that would allow him to work his way out of his current circumstances, to be in control again.

The Solution: The Breakthrough Framework

The Breakthrough Framework provides an overall paradigm shift for Jack to turn any limitation he may be having, into an opportunity that is achievable.

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By going through each of this 4 step journey, he’s able to transform his mind and actions towards the change that is needed to achieve his ultimate goals, and truly break free from his limitations.

Jack used the 7 Cornerstone Skills, which enhanced the actions he took following the framework.

These 7 Cornerstone Skills weren’t exactly new to him. He just didn’t know how to make the right connections between each skill, or he hadn’t dived deep enough into them to discover his full potential. After going through the 4 step Breakthrough Framework journey, Jack was able to see things in a totally new perspective, and put new actions in place.

Jack realized there were many new dimensions to seeing and doing things! Jack also never saw himself as being a creative person; especially in the industry that he’s working in, you would think creativity is of least importance. However he soon discovered that there’s so much more to creativity than simply being a ‘natural’ talent. He was now able to harness his creativity to break down the wall that he was facing.

With this framework in place, Jack is now able to apply it to different limitations or obstacles and find hidden opportunities within them, which he could never have done before. It allowed him to no longer feel trapped.

Over 30% of adults experience a crisis like this. Don’t fall in this category and become a person who lets life pass them by only to regret it when you’re retired or way into old age. Don’t let your life plateau and waste away in the daily grind for the next twenty years. Don’t give up on the potential you still have hidden and locked away by your current state.

Become ten times more effective at 40+ than you could ever be at 20. Start pursuing the things you wanted to do your whole life, without giving up on your current roles and responsibilities. Rewind your outlook and bring your energy and motivation back to when life was still full of dreams and possibilities. But, this time, actually start to achieve them.

Tired of being held back by your limitations? It’s time to break free from them, and start living out your best days. We’ve got the solution at Lifehack — Find out More About Our Solution Here!

Featured photo credit: Pat Kwon via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

I was 10 and it was a white Lisa Frank journal with a red bubble gum dispenser on the front. It also came with a heart-shaped lock and key which was a must considering I had an older brother living under the same roof who was always looking for new and inventive ways to humiliate me.

That one little journal (okay…I called it a diary back then) unlocked a world of potential to me which quite literally became my saving grace, my happy place, for the rest of my life.

Over the years, the aesthetics of my journal evolved, as did my writing subjects and style thankfully. But the one thing that’s been constant is that, no matter how sad I am or how bad things have seemed before I started writing, somehow the world and my place in it always becomes clearer and less noisy after just 5 minutes of “writing it out.”

In this article, we will take a look at how investing a few minutes a day in the 5 minute journal can lead you to happiness.

The Benefits of the 5 Minute Journal

For most of my life, I never really knew or cared why writing for even 5 minutes made me happier, I just knew it worked.

If I was feeling lost or unhappy, I’d eventually realize I hadn’t written in a while (duh!). So I’d meet myself back at the blank page and word by word, start feeling more like me again.

To be completely honest, I did (and still do) this forgetting-to-journal dance way more often than I’d like to admit. For the life of me, I don’t know why I don’t keep doing the thing I know makes me happy every day instead of waiting until I’m unhappy to do the thing. Can you relate?

I’m pretty certain it’s not just a me thing: it’s a human thing. We know we’ll be happier if we eat better, exercise, disconnect from technology, get more sleep, etc. but often times, it takes us feeling unhappy in order to put in the effort to be more happy.

A couple of months ago, I found myself in that place:

I’d hit a wall of resistance around my business and a downturn in my health that caused me to doubt what I was capable of accomplishing. I was completely confused and indecisive about the direction of my business and where I should be focusing my limited energy, so I hired a coach to help me sort through my noisy brain.

As I laid out all of my decisions and endless to-do lists in front of her, she asked me an important question:

What’s one thing you can start doing everyday that will have a positive impact on all of these things?

In other words: What if instead of having to worry about ALL THE THINGS to be happier, you could just do ONE thing and everything else would get better too?

I could start every day with a few minutes in my journal.

It’s both hilarious and embarrassing that as a coach and a writer (and a coach who works with writers), that I hadn’t thought of this myself. Alas, as the saying goes, doctors are the worst patients.

Of course, the answer was writing in my journal! Isn’t the answer almost always the most obvious thing?

But sometimes, the answer is so obvious, so simple, so free and convenient that we convince ourselves that it can’t possibly do that much to improve our situation. Somehow in the busy-ness of life, I’d convinced myself I just couldn’t spare that time to do something so…(cringe) arbitrary.

Yet, as I thought about my coach’s question and the ONE THING that could positively affect all the things, I realized that journaling for me has always been so much more than a random outlet for exploring my feelings.

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Sure, nothing actually happened but me sitting on my bed in my pajamas writing. Over the years, from breakups to big moves, my most life-changing moments–like my decision to pursue writing as a career, to uproot my entire life and move cross country, and my finally feeling ready to become a mother–happened in the quiet moments between me and the pages of my journals.

How to Be Happy with the 5 Minute Journal

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about writing this article. I asked her how often she journals and if she thought it made her happier.

In general, she said, yes, journaling does seem to help her get things off her chest but she doesn’t always feel better afterward. And, in fact, sometimes if she’s already in a negative place, she can spiral even worse while journaling and go to an even darker place.

She told me that usually with time and perspective, she can see that just the act of writing and getting out of her head is therapeutic but, suggested that for people like her, prompts to help her not spiral into the negative abyss would be super helpful.

And so, in order to make sure you get the most out of your 5 minute journal, I’ve broken up each writing prompt based on how you’re feeling so you can let your emotions guide the best prompt for you that day to increase your happiness meter.

1. When you’re burnt out, talk to your inner hero (a.k.a the “real” you).

What’s the one thing everyone tells you about maintaining happy, healthy relationships?

You’ve gotta have great communication!

But what about your relationship with yourself? How do you connect with you? How do you continue being the hero in your story?

The same way that you have to make the time to connect with the people in your life who mean the most to you, you also have to make the time for you to hear your voice:

To remember what YOU sound like amidst all of the noise in the world. To listen to your inner hero.

For me, the only way I know how to do this, the only way I’ve ever known how to do this, is through journaling.

Our brains can go down negative spirals, especially when we’re tired and stressed.

In my last Lifehack article about finding motivation, I walk you through some questions you can ask yourself about whether you’re playing the role of victim or hero of your story. Definitely check it out if you’re really on the brink, or in the midst, of some serious burn out.

Essentially, if you’re burnt out, you’ve somehow let your circumstances take control of your life. In other words, you’ve started to act like the victim instead of the hero.

Luckily, just 5 minutes in your journal can help you find your inner hero (your true voice) and reclaim your right to live your happiest life.

Write down these questions in your journal and answer them one at a time–permission to be 100% honest granted:

  • What do I believe is the #1 reason I’m feeling burnt out?
  • Who or what did I blame in my last answer?
  • Taking 100% responsibility for my own life and decisions, and casting blame on no one (including myself), how can I improve this situation?
  • What decisions am I currently making to stay in these circumstances (how am I choosing them)?
  • What new decisions can I start making to get closer to where I want to be?
  • What do I need to let go of in order to get my energy back? What do I need to say “no” to?

When you start to own your role of hero, you start to realize how your current choices and limiting beliefs may be holding you back from living the happiest version of your life.

The great news is once you realize your past choices have brought you to your current circumstances, you also realize that you can make different choices to bring you to a happier place.

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2. When you’re doubting yourself, write off the gremlins.

Whenever I’m feeling down on myself, it usually has less to do with what’s happening on the outside, and more to do of what’s happening between my ears. In other words, how “I’m” talking to myself.

We all have little shame gremlins (I call mine “Mean Girls”) who live inside of our heads and tell us we’re dumb and ugly and worthless. The only way to combat those noisy buggers is to expose them for the liars they are.

Writing down these lies makes them powerless. Once they’re out of your head and on paper, you realize how ridiculous they truly are (even though they were completely owning you just moments before).

I like to write out all the nasties and put them in their place (which is on the page and out of my head, pronto). Then I can go back to living my happy truth.

Here are some powerful questions to ask your inner gremlins (perhaps better known as you being a real jerk to yourself). Write down each question and answer them in your journal.

Ask your gremlins:

  • What are you saying about me? (Don’t hold back. Really write down all of the terrible thoughts you’re having about yourself)

Then ask:

  • Is anything true about each of the things I just wrote?
  • Repeat this same exercise for each of the nasty things your gremlins are saying about you and expose them in their lies once and for all.

When you’re done, answer these powerful questions:

  • Knowing what I know now, what’s one thing I can do to improve each of these areas of my life?
  • Knowing that the voices of the gremlins are strong, what are 3 new beliefs or positive affirmations I can say daily about myself to drown out their negativity?

For example, let’s use a fictional character of a guy named Sam. Sam’s gremlins are telling him “you’re a lousy parent, a terrible spouse, and mediocre at work.”

If Sam asks himself, “Am I really a lousy parent?” Maybe his answer is “No, I love my kids and I’m doing the best I can. I just wish I could be more attentive when I’m with them instead of so distracted by work.”

So maybe Sam decides to not bring his work computer home with him anymore and really unplug once he leaves the office so he can give his kids his full attention.

Sam decides that his new daily affirmation is: “I’m a loving father and am fully present for my kids. I save the best of me for my family.”

Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you start to take back control over your self talk and program in the messages that empower you and get you closer to the person you strive to be.

3. When you’re indecisive or afraid, talk to your fear.

Those same shame gremlins or mean girls inside of our heads feed off of fear. It’s like a good piece of gossip they can’t help but spread and exaggerate.

Luckily, when we write out how we’re feeling and what negative thoughts are spiraling, we can generally recognize when it’s actually just our fears talking.

You’re probably wondering how to tell if it’s fear talking or your intuition, right? This is where exploring your feelings comes into play.

Are you feeling powerless? Are you feeling anxious or sad? Everyone’s response to fear is different but it’s never a positive feeling.

If you’re at peace and calm but feel nudged that something isn’t right, that’s most-likely your intuition talking. But if you’re in a glass cage of negative emotions, you can bet fear is the culprit.

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Don’t hate on fear too much though. Our fears are just trying to protect us from something–the rub is they also usually keep us from something even better in the process.

I like to use journaling as a way to have a little talk with my fear, understand where it’s coming from and then decide if it’s worth listening to.

Here’s your journaling prompt for hashing it out with your fear:

Again, write down these questions in your journal one at a time and answer each one:

Ask your fear:

  • What are you trying to protect me from?

Once you answer that, ask:

  • What are you preventing me from having if I listen to you?

If the thing you really want is on the other side of your fear, then you know what you have to do next (luckily journals are a great place to make to-do lists as well)!

My last and favorite questions to ask fear is:

  • What’s the absolute worst-case scenario?

For example, let’s say you’re terrified of breaking ties with a client who is making your professional life miserable. You may answer this question with something like “My client blacklists me and smears ugly rumors about me all around town and not only do I lose one client but my entire business goes down.”

Eeesh. That does sound scary. Now ask yourself:

  • What are some steps I can take to ensure the worst case scenario doesn’t happen?

And then:

  • How likely is it that the worst-case scenario will actually happen (especially if I use the plan above)?

Maybe, when you think about it, the client is actually preventing you from bringing in new business because they’re taking up so much of your time.

And maybe that client doesn’t even have the best reputation so the chances of them being able to bring you down are pretty small.

What if you spent one hour a week for the next 3 weeks working on bringing in new business to replace the the income you make from that client, and figure out a way to end the contract in a very respectful, classy way to hopefully make the odds of them making a stink minimal?

Now you have a plan! But there’s one more question to ask yourself:

  • If the worst case scenario happened, what would you do?

Maybe you realize that if you really needed to, you could always go back to your previous job; they loved you and beg you to all the time. Or you could get by for a couple of months until you were able to bring in some more clients, especially if you cut back on expenses.

Once you stare your fear in the face, it magically loses its power. Left inside of your head, it can destroy you; but taking a few minutes to look at it and use it as a friend who’s showing you where you may need to implement a plan in order to protect yourself, you can take back the reins of your happiness and realize that fear really isn’t all that scary at all.

At this point, it needs to be said that journaling isn’t only good for getting out the nasty feelings, it’s also super useful for recording the good stuff of life which leads me to the fourth writing prompt.

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4. When you’re in a funk, focus on gratitude.

Just about any happiness book or article you read will tell you that being in a state of gratitude dramatically increases your happiness. For me, having a place to get down to the truth of my life and what’s actually going really well and what I’m grateful for helps put everything into perspective, especially when I’ve got a case of the blues.

Here are some of my favorite gratitude prompts to help get me out of a funk and focusing on the sunnier side of life.

Write down these questions in your journal one at a time and answer each one:

  • What is something good that happened today?
  • What made me laugh or smile today?
  • Who am I grateful for today?
  • What am I grateful for today?
  • With my “gratitude glasses” on, how do my problems or the funk I’m in look in relation to all of the good things I have in my life?

Take a look at this article too to learn more about keeping a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

Shifting out of a funk and into gratitude shifts your energy out of “woe is me” and into “yay for me” which means, based on the Law of Attraction, you’ll begin to attract more of the things you want and less of what you don’t. Seriously, yay for you!

5. When you’re uninspired or bored with the status quo, let it flow.

One of the best and easiest ways to tap into your inspiration and feel a little bit of creative magic in your life is through stream of consciousness writing.

I dare you to put your pen on a blank page for 5 minutes and do nothing but make sure the pen doesn’t stop moving.

No thinking. No judgements. The only thing you’re not allowed to do is overthink or judge your writing. It’s all good. Everything that comes out is good (even if it’s total crap).

When I was in grad school, I took this awesome class on creativity and in it read a book called From Where you Dream by Robert Olen Butler. The book is mostly about fiction writing but essentially, he says that the best time to tap into your subconscious (where your “flow” lives) is when you first wake up in the morning. Since you’re fresh from dreaming, your brain is still tuned to that frequency, so to speak, and not clouded by “reality” from your day-to-day life.

So my last and final 5-minute journal prompt for you, uninspired one, is to wake up and let yourself keep dreaming on paper.

Here are your instructions:

  1. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  2. Open your journal.
  3. Pick up your pen.
  4. Keep your pen moving until your timer stops.

What I love about this is it requires releasing all expectations and giving yourself creative freedom to let whatever needs to come out come out.

Become Happier in 5 Minutes (or Even Less)

Giving yourself a safe space to not expect anything other than to just show up and be honest is incredibly liberating.

In a world where there are endless things we are supposed to be doing, and ways in which we’re supposed to be doing them, I love showing up to a blank page with no requirements other than to just let my hand move.

It’s free and requires nothing from me other than just showing up wherever I am–talk about an endless source of grace!

Plus it gets my myriad thoughts out of my head and allows me to release them from my body, which research at top universities has shown can dramatically reduce stress.[1]

You don’t need to change EVERYTHING in your life all at once (it doesn’t work anyway, trust me, I’ve tried).

Start with giving yourself the gift of reflection in your journal every day and see how your life starts to change. I guarantee you’ll feel more connected with yourself in the process and over time everything in your life will start to be a better reflection of you and what you value.

And that, my friends, is the key to lasting happiness.

More Journaling Ideas

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: Writing about emotions may ease stress and trauma

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