Practical Tactics for Changing Your Life, One Small Step At A Time
We all loved reading about my friend, Ritu’s story about her decision to sell her practice and take a break from clinical dentistry for a little while. It was great to hear from several of you who have also made your own changes and are inspiring others! I’ve asked Ritu to write one more post. In the first one, she shared her story to let you know why she chose to sell her practice. Since she just wrote the amazing book, The Energy Shift: Increase Your Energy and Do More of What You Want Every Day, I asked her to share how she used some of the philosophy from her new book to create her path and show how she did it. Here is what she had to say…
They say fortune favors the bold, yet few of us feel fortune is referring to us.
In fact, bold is seldom a go-to word or philosophy for living. Typically, it’s just ‘get through the day’. Put in your time, tackle the problems thrown at you, or live to try another day. Sure, there may be a few good moments along the way, and hey, there’s the weekend to look forward to. And vacation. Let’s not forget about vacation.
But what if that wasn’t enough? What if, under all that, there was a deeper desire to do more (or something else), something meaningful, fulfilling, and dare I say it, fun? What if there was more to this life than just surviving, like thriving?
These were the questions I was asking myself. I had been ignoring them for a while, but they kept rising to the surface.
The problem with ignoring such desires is that it lets you live in your comfort zone but they continue to simmer under the radar. Be they in your personal or professional life, it doesn’t matter. In response, we feed the illusion that this is the way things have to be, the only way they can be. This mindset gets us through the day but silently drains our enthusiasm, our need to expand, to thrive, to really live.
Till there comes a time when you take a step back.
Either it’s because you’re inspired, or more likely, when life has thrown you one too many curveballs, and you’re down on the floor, licking your wounds, feeling hopeless. You may not have all the answers, but you realize this is not a place you want to be.
When I was sick and tired of being tired all the time, I knew I needed to get in better physical shape.
When I wanted to run a marathon, I knew I’d have to put in the hours to train for it.
When I felt stuck in my business, I knew I had to find what wasn’t working, then do something about it.
When I wanted to write a book, I knew I’d have to make the time and put words on paper.
When you find yourself feeling stuck or unhappy, I suggest you take note; those moments can be your guide and your frustration can be your fuel.
But first, there’s this. Anytime we even consider making a big change, all the reasons not to do it threaten our intent: It’s too late. You’re too old. You can’t afford to. This is the way it’s always been, it’s what you know. They won’t let you (or like it). It’s too hard. These reasons sound smart, logical and oh so practical. Better not to rock the boat, and tell that other voice to pipe down.
However, we have to remind ourselves that if we want things to be different, we have to be the ones to do it. And we don’t have to have it all figured out right this second. Or even tomorrow, because that’s too overwhelming. First comes the decision; it’s a message to ourselves that we are willing to begin. Maybe not ready – because let’s face it, we’re rarely ever completely ready – but willing to begin.
With that decision, things start to stir. A certain kind of energy awakens.
Then, admittedly, comes the hard part, the WORK. But not all at once. You take little steps every day, as best you can. You learn. You experiment. If (when) you fall, you get up. And if you don’t know exactly where you want to go, you take the next few steps, and the next few after those till you figure it out. Whatever you do, you don’t fall for the fallacy of overnight success, nor do you try to go full speed ahead and then burn out.
I also realized you have to get to a new level of honesty with yourself. Real honesty is not for the faint of heart, but it’s necessary. It helps us let that toxic relationship go, or revisit a childhood passion, and stop trying to keep up our insides with other people’s outsides. We waste so much energy on things that don’t serve us that we forget how liberating honesty feels. The masks that we put on, the stories we believe, each of these takes an emotional and mental toll. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve believed in some of my own stories for years, not realizing till much later that I’ve either outgrown them or that they can evolve and change as I do.
These words I’m writing are not mere thoughts taken form, but a product of lessons learned, of putting them into practice. Growth takes work, and I like my work to count. So I aimed to build habits rather than relying on my willpower, which has proven fickle all too often. Over time, things began to change, both personally and professionally, and I made progress. I got in better shape, I ran my marathon, I improved my business (then sold it) and I wrote my book, and then another. All I had to do was keep taking small steps, put in the work, and keep moving forward.
Little steps add up over time, and things begin to happen.
If you consider the alternative – boredom, dissatisfaction and staying stuck – then making any progress is being bold (heads up, Fortune). Once you realize that, you’ll find your enthusiasm rise up, and you’ll find the energy to shift forward.
Ritu Rao is a dentist and writer. Whether running an ultramarathon or her own business, she condenses others’ wisdom and her own to spread her message: small steps are the key to personal change. She is also the author of The Light Shift: 21 Simple Ways to Make Your Days Interesting, Get Unstuck and Beat the Daily Grind. and just released The Energy Shift: Increase Your Energy and Do More of What You Want Every Day. Visit her website Riturao.com to find out more about her and how to shift your life. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and two children.