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Can you change your life?

Climbers Move Carefully Across Steep Mountain Slopes

“I don’t want to gain immortality through my work. I want to gain immortality by not dying.”

Of course, writer/director Woody Allen knows better. But when, despite my earnest attempts to explain otherwise, my then six-year-old nephew insisted—red-faced at the top of his lungs—just because people get old doesn’t mean they have to die!!! I didn’t have the heart to keep arguing. Passionate protests aside, I suspect he knew better, too.

 

When it comes to moving mountains, we understand that while we may be able to survive an accident or illness and postpone our departure for a while, death is one challenge that will eventually best us all. But beyond the last gasp, what other mountains should we learn to accept as permanent parts of our landscape? And which should we fight to move? If you’re having trouble deciding which challenges to take on, try asking yourself these questions:

• Is it all about me? Is your mountain a bad habit, say, procrastinating, showing up late, having a chip on your shoulder, selling yourself short, or letting others bully or belittle you? Is it a weight or substance-abuse problem, or an inability to manage money? Or are you struggling to cope with a serious illness? In these cases, you’re the star of your own drama so you’re free to rewrite your ending. Though it will be difficult, you can move these mountains.

But if the mountain has a mind of its own, then it may be the proverbial immovable object. Sorry, but no matter how many secrets you learn about positive thinking or how driven you are to succeed or how many potions you buy from the local voodoo shop, you cannot make others do anything they don’t choose to do. You can’t make them stop drinking or using, get a job, adopt your beliefs, marry the person or choose the career of your dreams, take responsibility for their lives, leave an abusive relationship, take their meds, or drive safely.

And as Bonnie Raitt sang, you can’t make them love you if they don’t or make a heart feel something it won’t.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to help other people if the things you want are in their best interest—like getting them to take better care of themselves. You may be able to influence them so eventually they see things your way. But trying to make others do your bidding will frustrate you both, wreck your relationships, and deprive you of the energy you need to fight the battles you can win.

• Has it ever been done? A lot of people will tell you it’s almost impossible to accomplish such self-driven goals as overcoming poverty or a difficult childhood, recovering from alcoholism, or losing weight and keeping it off. The operative word is almost. Yeah, the odds are against you, but if anyone else has done it, you can, too.

When you’re staring at a formidable obstacle, getting ready to make your first push, take time to think about those you know who’ve successfully moved mountains. We all interact with people every day who have inspirational back stories we probably never think about. My parents grew up dirt poor but put two kids through college and saw one become an attorney. Several of my close friends have pulled themselves up from nightmarish childhoods to become stable, happy adults. Another person close to me is a recovering alcoholic who’s remained sober for 19 years despite dealing with unimaginable tragedies. A quick Google search will bring up pages of weight-loss success stories.

So tune out the defeatists. The only difference between you and those who inspire you is they’ve already moved their mountains and you’re just revving up to move yours.

• Do I have the will to do it? If you’re the only one involved in making the change and others have proved the change is achievable, then nothing can stop you from moving that mountain, right?

Wrong.

Time for a reality check. When it comes to making major changes in your life, the mountain isn’t the biggest obstacle you’ll face. The biggest obstacle is you.

Moving mountains isn’t easy. Trust me. I’ve been pushing at the weight mountain most of my life. Three times I’ve pounded at the towering peak called CANCER. I’ve shoved the hills of procrastination, poor time management, and negative thinking. Well, let’s just say I’ve head-butted more mountains than I care to name at the moment. It’s thrilling when they finally rumble and crumble out of the way. But the process can be long and tiring. It takes determination and grit to move mountains. Don’t embark on the journey unless you’re fully committed to seeing it through.

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I'm Deborah, survivor of everything from multiple cancer battles to major business setbacks. Join my search for ways to move the mountains, big & small, that block your path to success.
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