Life is Messy
A big whiteboard sits behind my desk. I have plastered it with post-it notes. Each one contains one word – an emotion I felt while moving back to Ireland.
Yesterday, I decided to review the journey, all eight phases and recall all the feelings, challenges and triumphs along the way. I jotted challenging emotions in amber and positive ones in green.
The resulting picture was chaotic.
My need for order meant I attempted to put some structure to it. Even after tidying, it is – like life – messy.
While we seek a linear progression, the reality is often very different.
It will be the same for you. You will make a plan, and then you will start. Almost immediately, it will get messy. But slowly and inexorably, through the web of emotions, emerge your new life and a new character.
Know your Fundamentals
This book is not really about emigrating. It is about change. More specifically, creating change in your life and the inevitable challenge that follows, after which a new you emerges.
It is your hero’s journey.
Throughout, I want to remind you of your core character strengths – your fundamentals. Negative emotions will merely guide you to return to those principles you rely upon through any challenge.
As I captured my feelings along the way, I asked myself what principles I relied upon. I jotted down these.
- Resilience – the ability to keep moving forward, take action and trust that things will be OK.
- Habits – doing stuff that raises my energy.
- Staying connected – talking – with anyone who is a supporter.
- Internal over external – focus on my inner circle of control and not compare with external things.
Surprisingly (or maybe not), the pursuit of happiness is not one of them. A more useful skill to master is resilience – the ability to adapt to change – our bounce-back ability.
I found resilience (within my control) more useful to me than seeking happiness (outside my control).
Life is nature – and nature is unpredictable. So it is better to build resilience muscle, to adapt to the challenges that are an inevitable part of life. That is more useful than trying to control the uncontrollable for happiness.
We will all meet formidable challenges in our life, by choice or otherwise. Most of us already have. Knowing we are 100% resilient and how to tap into our inner strength and our external support is the key.
As I recorded the challenging feelings, I also scribbled on green post-it notes the positive emotions that emerged. The picture illustrates green shoots are always present. We need patience with ourselves and a sense of gratitude to bring attention to the majority of our life that is good.
So when the amber light flashes and we feel challenged, we can take comfort that something positive will emerge.
Take solace that you are in the right place. The idea or challenge will not come to you unless you have the ability and character to rise to it.
Return to your fundamentals, and no journey is impossible.
This book is not just about switching countries. It is about redefining and designing a new life.
Once we align our heads with our hearts, we are capable of, and born to, be creative, make a change and have fun doing it.
All we have to do is start – and then keep going.
James Parnell is the founder of A New Dawn in Ireland community and provides online coaching for anyone inspired to change their life.
This article is an excerpt from the book A New Dawn in Ireland. If you would like to be notified when the book is published simply register here.