Why it’s OK for a life change, even when you’re happy

Cait Flanders
By Cait Flanders,
updated on Oct 29, 2020

Do you want a change, but feel like you shouldn't jinx things going so well? Author, podcaster and adventurer, Cait Flanders, shares three reasons why it's OK to make a life change - even when life is good

Many of the adventure memoirs I’ve read have started with the writer being deeply unhappy with some part of their life and making a huge change to shake things up. They do go on adventures, and those adventures teach them lessons and, ultimately, change their lives. But their decisions to go on them are made rather impulsively, and often involve walking away from their lives altogether, then eventually starting over completely fresh.

Those memoirs may be the ones that become bestsellers or even get turned into films because they contain so many ups and downs. It’s much easier to tell (and to portray) more climactic stories than it is to show just how long it can take us to make changes in real life.

It would be boring to watch an actor complain about the same thing every day for weeks, months, or even years before finally deciding to do something about it. It’s also difficult to try to portray how it might be to have 90% of your life feel pretty good, but still know you want something different.

Of course, this is why the majority of our “big life changes” don’t get turned into theatrical productions. There aren’t enough scenes to keep most people interested in the plot.

Fortunately, there is no pressure for our lives to be so interesting that people would want to play us in a film. And I really, truly mean that. It takes a lot of energy to live a dramatic life. Jumping ship and constantly having to try to stay afloat so you don’t get lost at sea or ultimately sink sounds like a life of anxiety, instability, exhaustion, and loneliness that I’m just not willing to sign up for. So, I’m personally glad and grateful that I can say there is another way.

In my experience, I have learned that it’s perfectly fine to take your time when deciding to change paths in life - something I refer to as “opting out.”

Your decision doesn’t need to be impulsive. It doesn’t have to stem from deep pain. Pain doesn’t need to be part of the plot at all. Sometimes you will opt out when everything is fine - even good. Even great! And there are a few reasons why I believe being happy, or at least content, with your life is actually the perfect time to make a change.

The same way someone might suggest you start working with a counsellor before you’re in crisis, it feels healthier to create change in your life before you hit a rock bottom that forces you

1. It’s intentional

We live in a world of convenience. At times, this can feel helpful or supportive. But overall, the accessibility of having everything at our fingertips has resulted in us being more impulsive - and those impulses don’t always lead us to make the right choices for us.

The opposite of impulsive decision-making is intentional decision-making. It’s a slower option and requires a little more consideration, and that’s a good thing. If you take the time to think about what change you want to make next, you can better prepare for it. And if you are more prepared, you’re more likely to begin the change feeling confident that you can work through any challenges that might come up along the way - which you can, and you will.

2. It’s healthy

The same way someone (including myself) might suggest you start working with a counsellor before you’re in crisis, it feels healthier to create change in your life before you hit a rock bottom that forces you to. In fact, I have started to wonder if choosing to continually make changes in your life might actually be a sign of trusting and loving yourself enough that you want to take good care of yourself - and are willing to make any change that feels supportive of that.

If so, it means that happy people are those who end up actively seeking new opportunities to change, grow, and become more of the person they know they can be in the world. What an empowering thought.

3. It’s natural

It’s true that everything has a beginning and an ending, and that the only constant is change - and when you can embrace those two truths, you can release your attachment to any expectations you had about how things would unfold along the way. It’s unnatural to force yourself to live one way for the rest of your life if it doesn’t feel right for you. It’s natural to crave change, new experiences, and growth.

They say people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. What if that’s true for lifestyle choices, too? The same way the sun sets at the end of a beautiful day, a chapter of your life might just need to end - even if it’s been good - and that’s OK.

If you’re still uncertain about this point, take yourself out for a walk in nature and remember that everything you see today will look different tomorrow - and drastically different in another season. A little perspective can help you go a long way.

They say people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. What if that’s true for lifestyle choices, too?

With all of this in mind, how do you know what change you want to make? Well, the answer to that is personal - so only you can decide. All I know is that you don’t have to run away from your life in order to change it.

Instead of jumping ship, you can simply turn a few degrees in another direction and take a single step. Then take another step, and another step, and another - and then look up and around to see if you like where you’re heading. I hope you do. And if you don’t, remember you can change directions again. There will always be more paths you can take.

Cait Flanders is the author of Adventures in Opting Out: A Field Guide to Leading an Intentional Life (available now, Trigger Publishing, £12.99).

Read her article, ‘Four steps to living an intentional life’ on Therapy Directory.

Change can be difficult and sometimes you need someone to have your back, giving you a gentle and supportive push to take the risk. Change is often for the better, even if it feels uncomfortable or unsafe at the beginning.

A coach can give you the support you need. By working with a coach, you can begin to understand yourself better, uncovering your strengths and dreams, and how best to achieve them.

Learn more about coaching on Life Coach Directory.

Cait Flanders

By Cait Flanders

Cait Flanders is an author, podcaster and traveller. Her new book, Adventures of Opting Out is a guide to opting out of expectations and leading a more intentional life.

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