2020 has arrived in full force and this is a time of reflection for most of us. The new year gives us the opportunity to take an honest look at ourselves and how our lives are working. The brave ones are those that stay out of the victim state of mind and own their destinies with no regrets. The trick in achieving this is to use a combination of in-your-face honesty, a willingness to take responsibility for our decisions and life and to then to make the changes, no matter how difficult, needed to get us where we want to go. I am not speaking of taking advantage of others or acting in a narcissistic manner, but rather taking an ethical yet honest approach to facing our fears and overcoming the obstacles that are holding us back.
We all have “baggage” that holds us back from being our true and authentic selves. This baggage comes in the form of negative thoughts, which then lead to negative emotions and then negative behaviors that do not serve us. This is where taking responsibility for our thoughts, emotions and behaviors comes in – and the difficult process of doing an autopsy of our lives. Being willing to “unpack your baggage” takes a great deal of courage and fortitude, but I promise it is well worth it.
What can happen when we do not do the work necessary to clean up our lives is that we continue to repeat the same experiences while expecting different outcomes (Einstein’s definition of insanity) and therefore continue to live out our negative experiences over and over again. This experience can leave us feeling confused, frustrated and just plain stuck in a cycle of discontentment. This is where having a coach in your life comes in who can assist constructively unpacking the baggage and clean up the mess those negatives have created in our personal lives and careers.
As an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist who has worked with clients throughout the world, I can tell you the human experience is the same no matter where we are on the globe. As humans we all experience challenges that are similar, but the difference between those who successfully navigate through those challenges is their outlook on their circumstances and their willingness to embrace change where needed. Negative emotions and feelings in themselves are not bad, and are actually a signal to us that something needs to change. Embracing the good, bad and ugly in our lives is the catalyst to positive change and avoiding Einstein’s insanity trap.
So, the question is what is in your bag? What things do you need to address that are holding you back, keeping you from becoming your best self and having your best life? Is it fears, past failures, addictions, past trauma, cultural stresses or a lack of motivation to change? Are you willing to address those things head on or are you comfortable in your denial of your circumstances because staying stuck seems safer than heading into the great unknown?
The good news is that embracing change is just like any skill – the more you do it the better you get at it. As is the case for all humans, when we walk through our fears, which are usually irrational or overblown in our minds, it creates a level of growth and self-confidence that cultivates even more growth and self-confidence. Just like learning to walk, once we take the first step and experience the rewards that come from it, we want to keep going and eventually end up running. This is the simple secret of those who succeed in their life goals – they are not afraid to face their fears, they realize that making mistakes is part of the process and are ready to run at the right time.
Now, I am not talking about irresponsible behaviors, but rather well responsible, calculated strategic planning that allows us to try, evaluate, revamp and do it again until we get it right. When we do this process we not only can learn from our mistakes, but also experience the joy that comes from living our truth and passion in an effective and responsible way. THIS IS WHERE THE JOY COMES IN! The reason is because when we are living as our authentic selves, making honest thought out changes when needed and reinventing ourselves regularly - we have some control over our destiny rather than being tossed around like a ship in a storm or carrying around the weight of unpacked baggage.
Are you ready to live your joy? Are you ready to become strategic in the choices you make and find your purpose? Then it is time to take a careful inventory of what you have packed in your bag that needs addressing. If you feel you need some assistance in that, this is where an executive coach and trainer can help, or in the case of serious unresolved emotional issues, a licensed therapist. They can help you recognize the things that are weighing down your baggage and help to replace that unsightly laundry with a new fresh wardrobe.
Life is much too short for living in denial and missing the boat as it passes you by. 2020 is a time to reinvent yourself and become your true authentic self. I promise that if you do this you will experience rewards you never dreamed possible as opportunities begin to present themselves and you respond positively to them. The freedom that comes from this will also foster a more positive view of the world around you and your responses to your circumstances, which naturally fosters positive mental and emotional health. The world is at your fingertips – are you ready to grab it?
Dr. Robin is an Industrial Organizational Psychologists and Dean of Curriculum and Program Administration at Western Education Institute. She also is an Executive Coach and Trainer at Dr.G Consulting.