Crafting the life you want doesn’t happen overnight. That should come as no surprise. But that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
When I was 23, I almost bought an old, run down condo. The A/C was ancient, the kitchen sink had mold growing underneath, and I couldn’t step in front of the front door without sinking into a puddle of standing water.
When the deal fell through, I was heartbroken. Not because the condo was amazing—it was 30 years old, only had one small bathroom, and felt dark and stuffy—but because I wanted it to be amazing, and was willing to look past all these flaws to just own something. Anything. I wanted to stop throwing my money down the drain with every 4-digit rent payment.
By the end of the month, I was relieved to have canceled the deal before closing day. It would have been a sinkhole for all my money (of which I had none), and a disappointment in just a few short years.
That’s what it’s like when you decide you want to change something about your life. You want it now. Yesterday, really, but if not, then now.
You’re not about to wait six months or a year for it to get better, or shape up. You want to lose the weight, or learn to run ten miles, or wake up at 5 a.m. every day. You want to make a change now that will stick forever.
But that’s terribly hard, and just not fair.
Instead of that condo, I’m working my way toward a townhouse, one that might be almost twice the size as that condo. It might also be newer, much newer, and in a better area. J and I will buy it together. We won’t settle for rattling furnaces (oh yeah, did I mention that racket?!) or neighborhoods with high crime ratings. We’ll find something in our budget, meeting our criteria, because it’s a big decision, and we have to live with it for years.
Whatever it is you want to change, you have to start with yourself in mind: what’s realistic for you, what can you honestly do, without straining yourself, to chip away toward that better life?
Gretchen Rubin had a great interview with Jess C. Lively of The Lively Show, and in it she talks about how you can’t commit to getting up before work and running if you’re not a morning person—don’t try to fix your inner self; you won’t win.
And I love that, because for it to truly be a successful endeavor, you have to meet your current self at your current self’s level. Not your idealized self—your true self.
And above all else, you have to be compassionate with that self. That’s the only way change is going to happen.
If you’re trying to buy a house, don’t cancel your cable service if you know that’s only going to infuriate you every week when your favorite show comes on TV. Cut out something that doesn’t feel so hard to live without.