Have you ever felt like something was just off with your life?
You can’t put your finger on it, but there’s this nagging voice inside which says, ‘Is there more to life than this?’
Well that was me, a few years ago.
I had a steady job, a family who loved me, great friends – yet something was missing. One day, it just hit me, I was living my life wrong.
Here’s how I stuck myself in a rut, without even realizing it.
MISTAKE 1: BEING TOO COMFORTABLE
‘If you want to be happy, get out of your comfort zone.’
How many times have we heard this quote being said? Now the term ‘Comfort Zone’ actually has two meanings.
I never made an effort to do something that would make me feel even slightly uncomfortable, and so I’d stick to things I liked: Watching TV on weekends, coming home straight after work, trying the same food on the menu.
The list goes on.
Little did I know, it was these little things which made me bored with life. I realised that I was stuck in a routine: Wake Up. Go to work. Come Home. Watch TV. Sleep. Rinse and Repeat.
There was literally nothing new to be excited about. And why should it? I didn’t allow anything new to enter my life at all.
If you feel like you are living in a routine, then at least once a week do something which makes you uncomfortable. Never turn something away without giving it a shot, even if it’s just trying something new on the menu.
MISTAKE 2: LIVING IN FEAR
You know, if there ever was an award for overthinking, I’d win it.
Living in fear to me meant being scared of what people thought of me. Part of the reason why I made Mistake No 1 was because I was so afraid of failure, and of looking stupid. I absolutely hated being told ‘I told you so’. So why try something new when you know there is a chance of it not going your way?
But what if it does go your way?
Facing my fear of being ridiculed is not an easy step, but it was worth the shot. For the longest time, I wanted to try out a job in writing. But I was always scared that I didn’t write well enough, and nobody would be interested in what I had to say.
Sometimes you just have to say a big ‘HECK IT’ and follow your interest. Lo and behold, here I am taking a chance at writing. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to do, and I sometimes doubt if I’m any good at it, but as the saying goes ‘If you never try, you’ll never know.’
MISTAKE 3: RUSHING THROUGH LIFE
Ah yes, a mistake I’m still making to this day.
We always rush through life, without actually LIVING it. Since young, I’ve always felt like I had something to prove. Because of this, I was constantly trying to climb the corporate ladder, and taking on too many assignments and roles, until I felt burnt out.
I never realized I was rushing until my boyfriend told me this. He said that I’m always in a hurry to chase something, without stopping and just ‘chilling’. We could literally be having dinner in a restaurant, and I’d be asking him ‘So what do we have for dinner next week?’ That seemed like an innocent question to me at the time, but now I realise – what’s the rush?
I believe the only way we can really stop and enjoy the moment is by being grateful. There’s really a lot of things which you can be thankful for. I’m thankful for my job, my family and friends, my safety, the food on the table. It may seem small, but sometimes, it’s the little things which we always take for granted.
MISTAKE 4: WASTING TIME ON INSIGNIFICANT THINGS AND PEOPLE
Time is a luxury, and we really should be spending it sparingly. During my early working days, I used to always want to impress my bosses and my colleagues by staying late in the office and working on weekends. However, I soon realised that the extra time I spent in the office, often goes unnoticed. In fact, to them it’s something you should be doing.
So I stopped and asked myself this question: Is there any meaning to this? Is what I’m doing at work actually going to matter when I’m on my deathbed? Not really.
In fact, I realised that no matter what, it was my family who was always there for me, without asking for anything in return. In my aim to pursue all the insignificant things, I was taking some serious time away from the people who actually matter.
Now I’m not saying that people shouldn’t work late. There are some jobs which requires us to put in the extra hours. But we do have to find meaning in it, or at least feel like our time is well spent in doing something that matters to us.
MISTAKE 5: THINKING THAT I HAD EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT
Being a perfectionist, (and a typical girl from a Chinese family) I hated making mistakes. It was either I get it right at attempt Number 1, or I’m a failure. I also had my life planned out: I was going to earn a 6-figure salary by the age of 25, I was going to get a boyfriend by the age of 16 and married by 28. I was going to prove that I am successful and excellent in everything I do.
Obviously, none of that happened.
Nobody has it all figured out, and such thinking is not only egotistical, it doesn’t give us much room to learn new things. It’s definitely good to plan, but my mistake was that I was too stressed in trying to chase my goals.
We don’t always have to be right, and its okay if we’re wrong. In my case, things didn’t really go my way, but something better happened. I learned how to find a job which made me happy, and I only did it through learning from my failures, not my successes.
So to sum it up, am I sad that I made all these mistakes? A little, but I’m also happy that I realised my mistakes before it was too late. It gave me an opportunity to learn, and taught me one important lesson – it’s never too late to change.
For more articles like this, read 4 Practical Tips for Getting Yourself out of a Rut, and also Why Positive Thinking Can Be Bad for You.