When I hear the word derail, I picture a subway car: when it’s on the line, everything runs smoothly and everyone gets to their destination. If it derails, total chaos; A derailed train means missed appointments, postponed meetings and, in the worst case, many injuries.
Similarly, a derailed life can be a mess. There are a number of excuses or habits that we slip into that prepare our lives for the same consequence as that subway accident. And yet everything I list is so common. Why are we doing it? how do we stop First, some of the biggest excuses that derail your life are:
- follow culture. It’s easy and so tempting to get caught up in what others are doing and then forget to look after your own needs. My biggest example of following the culture was during my freshman year of college when I was trying to make new friends from scratch. The culture of my classmates was more or less party and beer, but that was never my scene. Sure, my renunciation meant it took me a little longer to make friends, but my reward was that I didn’t have to compromise my needs in the name of the zeitgeist. I’m in a wheelchair and the parties on campus were also very inaccessible, but I choose to blame my non-attendance on a decision I made. This is rewriting history.
- caring too much about what others do and think. If you feel trapped in the cycle of worrying about others, you will never be good enough. You will be exhausted and easily broken. It’s – and I don’t use that word often – impossible to try to please everyone around you and look perfect. Just as everyone is on their own journey, be on yours. The freedom you take by letting go of wanting to please is the exact opposite of the consequence: you are as “good enough” as you think you are. You can prioritize and devote your energy to what is important to you; and you will take away the power of people to break you. When you let go of other people’s burdens, your confidence grows along with your happiness.
- feel sorry for yourself. It’s okay to temporarily regret your situation – life can be challenging. But don’t park in this pain. This is a waste of precious time. Rather than wallow in the fact that I didn’t make any friends on campus my entire freshman year, I came back for the second year with a new resolution: I would join a club, I would get out of my comfort zone. There’s no denying that I’ve spent the countless weekday nights in my single dorm room feeling sorry for myself for the missed opportunity. I also had a learning curve. When I came back as a sophomore and forced myself to conform, I was happy.
Many things try to guide us these days: brands, influencers, celebrities and our peers to name a few. Stay alert and take stock regularly to make sure you’re being guided by positive things (your religion, health, passions, etc.) rather than empty ones (money, social standing, looks, etc.). How can you do that? Here are a few habits to keep you on track for who you want to be:
- respect yourself, other people and everything around you. I don’t believe in karma, but I do believe that people are given opportunities that bring good things into the world. Check yourself, treat others well, and care about the world around you. It’s going to be worth it.
- Treat yourself to rest every day. I don’t have any kids yet so this is an easy tick on my list. My husband gets up extra early to read his Bible, write in his journal and/or spend time thinking. I like to sleep in longer, spend my morning working, then sneak away in the afternoon to read, be alone, and get out of my uncomfortable wheelchair. No matter what time of day, this time is necessary for both our mental health and productivity. Even if you have to get up earlier for it, you should try this. But until I have children, let me sleep.
- Set small goals. Let yourself be won. For example: I wash a load of laundry, put them in the dryer and instead of putting them in my closet all at once, I hang 2-3 shirts a day until either the dryer is empty or my husband needs to do his laundry. It is ridiculous. Thank God I’ve married a man who doesn’t get upset because he does the same.
We are only on this planet for a short time. Don’t put yourself in a position where you look back on your life and regret the excuses you made or the things that messed you up. Try to incorporate some healthy practices into your routine to keep your life (your subway car) on track.
Kristin Beale is from Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt below https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.