If you own a car you know only too well about the importance of regular maintenance. You don’t wait to discover on a cold winter’s morning that it won’t start. Eventually, there may come a point when you decide to upgrade your vehicle and accept that ‘sticking plaster’ and occasional adjustments are not enough anymore.
Our homes and home repairs also require ongoing input and investment. Every so often we need to upgrade our boiler, commit to repairs and redecoration, thus ensuring that problems don’t escalate and become major jobs.
At certain times, we may also be prompted to think seriously about a significant upgrade in various other areas of our lives, that it’s time to take ourselves in hand and assess how we next progress. After a redundancy, relationship breakup, health crisis or stressful time we may feel dull and not especially positive about ourselves. Our motivation and appreciation of external things may have faded. Daily life may have become uninspiring and, as such, we’re ready for an overhaul or upgrade.
But this can also happen when things on paper appear to be good; when life has become easy, uneventful, perhaps automatic. Other people may look on in envy at our comfortable lifestyle, and not appreciate that sometimes being challenged, having to sort out problems and difficulties can ‘freshen us up’ and ensure that we remain mentally engaged. New activities and people can bring a welcome frisson and stimulus into life.
Might now be the time to look at our career, perhaps even consider becoming self-employed? How many people smile as they remember their divorce, or being made redundant and say it was the best thing that ever happened to them? It forced them to review their life and make changes they would not have otherwise entertained. They were essentially pushed into launching a new career, starting their own business, going in a completely new direction.
Qualifications can come under scrutiny when we’re thinking about work. Do you remember how committed you were to academic success? So often we focus our energy on education, on gaining qualifications at college and university, but often it’s the qualifications gained after leaving formal education that shape the direction of our lives. Becoming an apprentice to learn a trade, joining an employee development scheme, enrolling on a business skills course, becoming a management trainee can all foster interesting career progression and give your life’s direction a significant ugrade.
What about your image and look? How many of us have seen unposed photographs of ourselves and immediately made a commitment to get slimmer, improve our posture, become more toned, modernise our wardrobe! That candid image can provide the catalyst for change and kick start a desire to invest some time and effort into freshening up our appearance, into joining a gym, visiting a new hairdresser, booking an image consultant or taking advice from stylish friends.
Similarly, it’s valid to check on our relationships. Are those nearest and dearest to us a positive influence in our lives, or do they drag us down with criticism and lack of support? Relationships can gradually change and deteriorate, sometimes resulting in us having to accept that it’s time to move on and spring clean our ‘people’. It’s time to upgrade and find a more supportive circle.
We may have friends who prefer that we stay as we are; it’s less disruptive. Acceptance and support are good, but remaining in familiar territory is not always helpful. Encouragement and an occasional nudge is important when we’re feeling ready for a change of direction.
Social activities can present a challenge, especially if we’ve become a little detached and out of touch. If we’ve recently changed our personal circumstances, enjoying a new social life can require extra effort to say ‘yes’ to invitations, especially if we’re unsure that we’ll enjoy them. Maybe listen to other people’s conversations and gain the confidence to feel okay about joining in. Doing this ultimately improves our social skills and allows us to upgrade and meet a wider circle of people, so gravitating towards our new tribe.
This mindset should equally apply to caring for ourselves. Maintaining a good attitude towards our sleeping routine, diet, commitment to exercise, all keeps us fit and healthy. Is it time to review our personal habits, upgrade our mattress, think about areas that we’ve perhaps neglected or ignored for too long?
Having intermittent challenges in life, at work or at home, exercises us mentally and introduces enough stress to stretch us and ensure we remain receptive to new opportunities. Indeed, some stress is good for us, as it pushes us out of our comfort zone and keeps us alert. It’s not good to quietly tick along indefinitely. Far better to be in touch with other people’s views and opinions, so allowing us to remain up-to-date with the latest ideas and innovations, determined to stay challenged, fresh and interested in the world.
Deciding to upgrade encourages us to become more positive, engaged and brings new inspiration into the way we approach each stage of life. Being receptive to opportunities that come our way enables us to enjoy the journey as we make the most of ways to evolve, improve and grow.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist www.lifestyletherapy.net