One thing that keeps us motivated is knowing that we are making progress and we are heading towards what we want to create, experience, achieve or acquire in life.
As we are automatically programmed for growth, when we don’t see signs of progress, it plays out in different ways, which may include:
- Feeling unhappy, stagnant or stuck.
- Losing motivation to do new things.
- Becoming agitated or upset easily by little things.
- Declining productivity and effectiveness.
- Lower self-confidence and self-worth.
Lack of progress and growth may cause us to believe that our life is not how it should be and that we are headed in the wrong direction.
The key is being able to recognise those warning signs early that indicate things are off track and we must make adjustments quickly, otherwise things could get much worse.
One of the biggest wake-up calls I received in life was in the early 2000s. At that time, I had a corporate career, which was very stressful, plus I was working long hours consistently. As a result, my health suffered because I wasn’t taking good care of myself nor was I doing any regular exercise.
I clearly remember I went to the office on a Saturday to catch-up on my work that I had fallen behind on. I had planned to stay the whole day. Within a couple of hours, I started experiencing a severe back spasm. The pain was so excruciating that I could not even stand up. Thankfully, there were a few shop-floor employees also working that Saturday and one of them was able to take me to a Medical Centre.
After getting some medication, I drove home in extreme pain and had to stay in bed for a couple of days. That event was a trigger for me to start looking at what I was doing and how I was living my life. I knew that things could not continue the way they had been. My mental, emotional and physical state was not good at all and I had to make some major changes if I wanted things to start turning around.
It was after that event that I decided not to work on Saturdays again while in that role. For the few years I stayed with the company, I think the only time I went in on a Saturday was when there were new workstations and furniture being installed in the office. I also took steps to improve my mental, emotional and physical well-being as I started to learn more about my behaviours and improved my awareness of my triggers, preferences and desires.
Knowing that our life is headed in the wrong direction can be a scary thought, however, if we are not aware of the signs, then it could have some serious consequences both in the short and long term.
Here are five warning signs that our life is headed in the wrong direction, which will enable us to do something about them quickly and get ourselves back on track.
- Not having meaningful goals. Goals give us direction and purpose for doing the things we do. When we don’t have emotionally engaging goals, we have nothing to look forward to in life. That can result in us drifting and meandering through life, with no real reason for doing the things we are doing except to survive. We will have a much different experience when we are consciously designing our lives, and have meaning behind what we are doing.
- Making your life about doing things for others. It is a concern if we are only living for others. This is common for parents, especially mothers. If our identity becomes the roles we play in life, then when one of those roles comes to an end, it can cause some serious emotional challenges. This does not mean we should not have a service mindset. It means we should make ourselves just as important as other people in our lives. As one of my mentors teaches people to grasp, “I have roles, but I am not my roles.”
- Not being able to speak your truth. We often bottle up things or try to protect ourselves by not sharing what is really going on for us. That causes internal turmoil or conflict and can be extremely painful. We also don’t speak the truth for fear of how someone else will feel or react. Avoided the truth is a short-term strategy for comfort but is a definitely a long-term strategy for suffering. And suffering should only be optional in life – it should never be mandatory.
- Having too many unfinished projects or initiatives. Anything that is an incomplete in our lives is often a reflection of our mental state. If we start something with a lot of energy then it fizzles out after a period of time, we are only reinforcing to ourselves that we cannot be trusted to complete things in life. A better approach is to focus on less things and do them the best we can and complete them before moving onto something else.
- Having a pessimistic or scarcity mindset. It is very easy to focus on what is not going right because negativity is around us all the time. Negativity often leads to pessimism which can cause us to believe things are limited or scarce. For example, if we keep saying to ourselves, “I don’t have time,” that will only reinforce that reality for us. Instead, if we start changing our mindset around time and prioritise what we want to give our focus to, automatically we will start to have a more abundant relationship with time.
It is our responsibility to be aware whether our life is headed towards where we want to go or headed in the wrong direction. If we’re aware of the warning signs, we’ll be in a much better position to make the changes necessary. If we are not aware of the signs or we don’t make any adjustments, then we will continue heading in the wrong direction, which could have some devastating consequences.
Question: What could be another sign that our life is headed in the wrong direction?
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