So, it’s time to make a change; a change that really counts.
We all make small choices and small changes to our lives every day without noticing how they accumulate and define the path our lives take.
While constantly taking small turns and never walking in an entirely straight line, we sometimes reach a crossroads that we just can’t ignore.
At different points in our lives, we can make a conscious decision to continue along the path we’ve been walking up until now, or take a turn, make a meaningful and significant decision, and start doing things differently.
There are, essentially, two ways to change your life for the better; two ways of leaving the path you’re currently walking on.
The first is to make a sudden, dramatic exit; to diverge at a right angle and jump off a cliff edge. This is a drastic and instant change from which there’s no going back. Things will never look quite the same again.
The second is to take a path that only diverges marginally from the original, slowly but surely bending away until you eventually end up going in a different direction altogether.
These changes can come in any shape or form. You might be contemplating a change of career or a total change of scene or even ending a relationship (whether romantic or platonic).
We’re not talking everyday, humdrum decisions, but things that will mean your day-to-day life will look significantly different to the way it did before.
But which is the right course of action for you, and is one always better than the other? Let’s take a closer look at both methods of changing your life.
Option 1: Take A Leap
This is the radical option, and can’t be done in half measures.
You might try climbing down the cliff face rather than jumping right off it, but chances are you’ll end up losing your grip and falling anyway.
This is the ripping-off-the-plaster approach.
It’s about cutting ties and making such a large scale change to your life that you’ll have no choice but to adapt quickly in order to survive. You’ll have to find a way to create your own parachute if you don’t want to hit the rocks.
This kind of change can take many forms. It might be quitting your job without a back up plan. It might be buying a plane ticket for a month’s time, selling up, and heading off for pastures new with nothing but a backpack and a dream.
The important thing to realize about taking this option is that when you first jump, you’ll probably hit a few rocks on the way down. That parachute won’t open straight away. When you see the beach looming, however, you’ll be forced to find a way to fly, and you will.
Those who thrive off this kind of change tend to do well under pressure. They can achieve things when the chips are down that they’d never find the motivation for if they took the slow and steady route, as their attention would wander and they’d lose focus on their end goal.
Option 2: Slow And Steady
When seeking to turn your life completely around and take a different direction, slow and steady really does win the race for some people.
This approach tends to work well for those who have passion and commitment and can visualize their long term goals, slowly taking steps toward them safe in the knowledge that, sooner or later, they’ll get there.
This is a more gradual change that’s based around the things that you already habitually do every day. Rather than completely revolutionizing your life and starting over, you slowly introduce new habits that, in the end, mean your day-to-day life looks very different to how it does now.
If the meaningful change you’re looking to make to your life is something like a change of diet, then it’s usually best to take this course of action.
Completely overhauling your diet from one day to the next isn’t a good idea for anyone, as you need to take the time to do the proper research, discover your new favorite meals, and restock your cupboards.
In some cases, the same change can be achieved either way.
Just as you could hand in your notice and make it work, you might decide that the way forward for you is to start a side hustle in the evenings and at weekends, with the long term goal of eventually handing in your notice the following year once you know you can support yourself.
For some, this planned and controlled approach will be the only way of making a success of it, whilst others will quickly run out of steam if they’re not feeling the pressure.
It’s important to remember that neither of the above paths is better than the other. They’re the opposites of each other, but neither one is superior. It’s also not true that one individual will always take the same course of action regardless of the situation they’re faced with.
The path you choose has a lot to do with your attitude toward risk, so some of us might be more naturally disposed to taking the ‘safer’ route.
If you’re naturally risk averse, taking the ‘jump off a cliff’ option might never seem like a good idea, no matter what you want to achieve.
On the other hand, our decisions are also dictated by the circumstances and what the change we actually want to make is. For example, if taking a certain course of action is only going to affect you personally, you have more freedom to take the radical route.
If, however, the change you want to make for yourself will also mean change for those around you, the radical road simply might not be an option, as much as you might like it to be and as much as your character might lean toward the impulsive.
Saying that, though, it is sometimes kinder to other people involved if it’s done radically. If the change you want to make is ending a romantic relationship, for example, that’s never something that should be drawn out. It should be done quickly, kindly, and clearly.
On top of that, you have to consider that some big changes in your life have to, by their very nature, be done in a certain way.
For example, if you want to move somewhere far away, it’s often just not be feasible to start with a short visit and then gradually spend more and more time there before eventually moving lock, stock and barrel. You have to just pack your bags, get on a plane, and then figure life out at the other end.
Sometimes the situation itself will force your hand, and sometimes you’ll have the luxury of choice.
There’s No Right Answer
As you’ve probably realized by now, this is anything but black and white. If you came here for a concrete answer, you won’t find one. There are some things that Google can’t decide for you. Not yet, anyway.
You’ve got to take a holistic look at your personal situation and figure out what’s right for you. Although you should always take other people into consideration, sometimes you do have to be a little bit selfish if you want to make a change for the better in the long run.
Whether you take a leap or just take a step in a slightly different direction, never stop moving forward.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.