In 2009 I experienced some major changes in my life. After several years of working full time and going to school at night, I finally received my bachelor’s degree. I also got divorced, got my own place and put in my notice at a job that I had been unhappy with for way too long.
I took a serious look at my life during this time and decided to blow it up and then rebuild it to my liking.
Looking back I’m still surprised at how fast everything seemed to change, even if the changes were all very deliberate and intentional on my part. But from the outside, things aren’t always as they appear. While big changes often seem to happen very quickly, they can be years in the making.
My graduation didn’t suddenly happen in May 2009 but was the culmination and accumulation of credits, exams, lectures, and experiences, some expected and some not. It was the result of hundreds of hours of effort spread over several years. In a sense, my graduation happened the day I decided to go back to school.
When I finally decided to leave the employer I had been with for over 15 years and pursue other opportunities, the decision wasn’t made the day I put in my notice. The frustration, lack of opportunity, and the stagnant pay eventually motivated me enough to shift from constantly bitching and moaning and instead put into action things that I knew would provide me with positive results.
In other words, I stopped focusing on the external as an excuse and instead started focusing on the internal and what I could do to initiate change.
One of those things was the decision to go back to school but even more powerful was the growing shift in my mindset. Admittedly this shift was very subtle at the time and probably unrecognizable to those around me. But its impact on where I was going was undeniable.
Just as major changes can take years to bring to fruition, so to do the benefits of those changes years into the future. Quitting my job at the time was one of the best things I ever did for both my career and mental health. I’m in a position now that I never dreamed I would be in because I took a blind step over 10 years ago.
When I got divorced, I gave myself the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people and have new experiences. Those experiences changed me more than I could have ever imagined. Who I am today is largely a result of that specific time in my life. Eventually those changes led me to my current wife and the amazing life we have together now.
There are so many other examples, some big and some small, that took time to achieve. These examples are significant because they empower you and as a result give you incredible momentum and confidence as you set off in new directions.
Major change doesn’t come easy, whether it’s forced upon us or of our own intentions. It’s often filled with frustration, detours, and some second guessing along the way.
And that’s probably the best lesson in all of this: Successful change starts with a blueprint and the realization that going from a blueprint to something structurally sound takes time. And in the end, the changes we see in ourselves will almost always make it all worth it.