Where’s My Aha Moment?

I now follow the blogs of many people who have shit all figured out. Or at the very least, they have their shit all figured out. They have found a system or mindset that works fore them, and now they write about how amazing that system or mindset is and how awesome their life is since they’ve embraced it.

And yes, I KNOW these people are selling a brand (sooooo many of them have books coming out next year, many of them already have books out), but I also know there is some truth behind the facade. They have figured out something that really has improved their lives. Yes, they are not telling the whole truth, but they are extrapolating on a truth that, for them, is very, very real.

Many of these people didn’t always have it together. Many of them struggled and floundered at one point too. But then they had an Aha Moment and Made A Change and Everything Fell Into Place and then They Lived Happily Ever After. Okay, maybe the last part is just branding, but it’s clear they are living much more happily than they did before.

And here I am, tackling the SAME FUCKING ISSUES over and over again, never making any real progress. Even having hit, what to me felt like all-time lows, I still haven’t been able to make real, measurable changes in some areas of my life. I’ve written about my problems in honest, vulnerable ways. I’ve created what felt like achievable goals. I’ve committed myself to those goals in public ways, so I could be held accountable. I’ve done all the things everyone tells you to do, and I’m still, YEARS LATER, making the same mistakes, unable to change.

It really does a number on my feelings of self-worth. It really makes me doubt myself in hard-to-reconcile ways.

Honestly, I can’t really understand it. I’ve been able to to achieve so much of what I’ve set out to do in my life, why are there some areas of personal growth that consistently elude me?

I just wish I could have that Aha moment that transforms my life. (A book deal wouldn’t be so shabby either.)

Instead I’ll just be here, writing about the same issues that I can’t seem to make progress on, always feeling like a failure at certain areas of my life.

It’s frustrating.

And with that, I’m done having my little tantrum.

Are there areas of your life you struggle to change?

Have you had any significant, Aha! moments?

18 Comments

  1. If it helps, I think the vast majority of us are looking for those “aha” moments in order to transform our lives. Hence the reason these bloggers you follow get book deals. But I also think real lasting change is a lot harder than many consider.

    I once met someone who completely uprooted themselves away from their family and all they knew in order to get a fresh start due to addiction. We’re talking career change, lifestyle change and even diet change. It was shocking. But the one thing this person told me that stuck was beating their bad habits meant cutting all ties to any fallbacks they had previously relied on that allowed for their addiction to continue. I’ve been thinking about this person a lot recently given my recent interviews. Applying for jobs is insanely depressing due to constant rejection and uncertainty. The desire to get to the end of the process as fast as possible results in me falling back into old comfortable habits and mindsets. The fact I have a very different potential option on the table is more than senerdipidious, but it also makes me realize that real lasting change that isn’t extraordinarily painful is a long process.

    Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself at the moment.

  2. Oh my goodness! You are in the swamp and focused on the mud on your nose not the bigger picture where you have stopped sinking.
    So, your home for an example: Remember ALL the stuff you have unloaded and ALL the messes you have cleared. Now RELOAD each room with everything including rings in the bathtubs and dust bunnies. Then get scubagear so you can still breath in that accumulated, overstuffed, overpacked space. Then look at your reality which may not be perfect but oh goodness it IS better than if everything you removed was returned!
    Next money. You probably are not feeling flush. But remember all the debt you HAVE cleared and all the money you have chosen to not spend for all those things you do not remember today being tempted by. Right. Not as terrible as it could have been with secret debt, hidden purchases, consumed and unremembered goods. Not perfect non-consumerism but human and improving.
    And repeat for each area where you have worked at implementing change. And may I remind me of your recent posting where you talked about enjoying time with your daugher…..and how hard you have worked to help her learn to deal with herself and her impulsive behaviors and emotional chaos. WOW, you have made a difference in her life and her ability to be effective in her world.
    DO NOT MEASURE YOUR INSIDES AGAINST SOMEONE ELSE’S CURATED AND MANICURED AND INCOMPLETE OUTSIDES!!!!!!
    Your outsides to me look like constant improvement efforts and successes…… unlike me ~ decades of imperfection still on daily view to my insides.
    You are legitimately tired and worn out. Be good to yourself today, and pat yourself on the back for all you do. Focus on your baby steps and see how far you have come not the distance to go. After all you have the rest of your life to finish that distance and no one alive is always perfect.
    Be good to you. I will try to be good to me too. And maybe our children will teach our grandchildren to be better to themselves than we were to ourselves at similar ages………. Hope so.

    1. Yes, it’s true I’ve unloaded stuff, and yes it’s true I don’t hide my purchases anymore. But my house is just as cluttered as it used to be (so much more stuff has come in than I ever let go of) and the only reason my spending isn’t a problem is because we earn more. And I know I shouldn’t compare my insides with everyone else’s outsides but it’s hard. Blerg.

      1. THANK YOU FOR WRITING during these last two weeks of the year. Helps me believe we will all get there.
        I always am reminding myself about other’s outsides too. A constant thing. But do praise yourself to your self. So important to self-praise and to let your children hear you do it. One of the saddest things was helping my then 94 year old step-mom with her banking, saying “Hurrah for us, we did this!” and hearing her say “oh, I never knew it was ok to celebrate doing what was needed, my family taught acknowledging accomplishments was boasting and not done.” But she LOVED it and we always celebrated ourselves thereafter. I would HATE for my children and grands to reach 94 and not celebrate themselves.
        You have decluttered, you have cleaned, you have paid bills, you have controlled spending, you have biked miles, you have worked on your Spanish, you have looked at other jobs, you have worked at communication and your marriage, you ARE raising children into good adults, you are contributing to a more inclusive community. You do help all of us who read your writing. YOU MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD. Thank you, Merry Christmas, here’s wishes for a better new year.

        1. This is a lovely message. I’m a very disorganized person and have learned from young age to celebrate myself whenever I get something done, even if it’s something pretty normal (like having appropriate winter shoes for both kids in time). I’m also prone to fearfulness/anxiety, and I’ve noticed that I get a lot of kicks from avoiding bad things such as not getting a cold, not being late from a meeting etc. In some ways, character flaws can be a blessing!

  3. I love purple & rose’s comment above and second it wholeheartedly!

    Something my boss has often spoken about is that when he bought the practice 10 years ago, he thought “the previous guy mismanaged this and that and I’ll fix this and that and the systems will be great and we won’t have these issues.” Now, 10 years later, he’s realizing that change is always occurring, problems always come up, and challenges just evolve – not disappear. That doesn’t mean he’s doing anything wrong, it’s just the reality of life.

    That’s maybe a depressing way to look at it, but I don’t mean it in a downer way – just a – hey, look, it used to be infertility and massive clutter & debt that got ya, and now it’s something different, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t grown and matured and changed at the same time. Hang in there!

    1. I do think you’re right that the goal posts change, just as the challenges do. But I also think there are some issues that I will just never make significant progress on, and for all the steps I move forward I will eventually take as many back, if not more. It’s like yo-yo dieting, but with personal habits.

  4. Oh boy. So as much as I like to think that I’ve improved in some ways over the course of my adulthood, I have also read blog posts from 12+ years ago and journal entries from my teen years where I was talking about the same struggles with my weight and with disorganization.

    I don’t think I’ve had any real Aha moments, and I certainly have areas in which I still struggle. It’s frustrating really.

    1. I feel you 1000%. Most of the things I want to change about myself have not changed much in my many years. Maybe some day… Or maybe I’ll just stop caring so much.

  5. I, too, would love an aha moment in relation to some things. I have gotten a lot out of Gretchen Rubin’s latest book – knowing my accountability style and all that means. I will say, though, when I look at others who have gotten to where I want on weight & housekeeping (my biggest issues) I tend to see people who just traded one addiction to another (food to healthy eating & exercising). Since my issue isn’t that I’m an addict but that I eat out too much, don’t exercise enough at this life stage, and have PCOS, what worked for them doesn’t work for me. Or my house tends to be a disaster, but I don’t have the money for a housekeeper, at least not at the expense of other important financial goals/monetary uses, so I tend to just lower my standards a bit.

    Look at all the things you’ve done well and see what motivated you to make those changes, then try to do that with the other issues. And please try to give yourself some grace. You work full time, have young 2 kids, involved in PTO, etc. What you can do now is less than what it will be in the future when your kids are older, etc. and that’s ok.

  6. I don’t know anyone in person whose blog shows they’ve “got it” but I would guess most of those are as described above—carefully curated to make it look like their lives are running smoothly. And/or those people have help (family, hired, etc.). Isn’t there a blogger named Laura something whose advice is literally “rely on family more”, spectacular advice for those of us who literally don’t have any parents left etc.?

    1. I have no doubt that these people are carefully curating what they present and how they present it. I also know that I couldn’t make my life read like that, even if I were very careful, and a skillful writer, which leads me to believe they aren’t floundering around like me, but writing that everything is great. There is at least a part of them that feels successful, and believes they’ve found an important tool in achieving that success.

      And yes, of course some of them do have way more resources than me, but many of them have about the same, or less. They just seem to have a different perspective about things, and different expectations.

  7. My issue is getting places in time. I’m incredibly ashamed about it, but I’ve always sucked at it and while I can temporarily improve, I easily decline to my old habits. I know it’s horribly disrespectful, and really try to learn to do better, but for some reason it’s really difficult for me.

    I honestly don’t think any new thought system or philosophy can change a person. I think very little can come from the “outside in”, and that’s also my personal experience.
    I think it’s possible that for some people being in a good place with oneself and with life coincided with adopting some new mindset (perhaps because they were in a good place they were able to do this) and happiness is then attributed to this new mindset.
    I believe innate temperament and early experiences determine a lot about our stability, happiness, and behavioral tendencies (thankfully, according to large longitudinal studies, we all become more emotionally stable, conscientious, agreeable, and less anxious-prone with age). Life conditions and resources also affect these things, but not nearly as much personality (again according to studies I have read).
    If we want long-term change coming from “outside in” I believe we need either very, very long, gradual conditioning (e.g. intensive, long therapy) or a drastic change in life (e.g. moving to a buddhist monastery and practicing buddhism. Unless you are already a buddhist nun/monk, then something else).

    1. I also struggle with getting places in time. Mismanaging time is a big system of ADHD, and many people who have ADHD underestimate how long it will take them to do things, so they often end up late. At one point I started doubling my estimation time for things and that helped, but I still am over zealous in what I can get accomplished on any given day.

      Sage advice on the change from “outside in.” I need to be patient. And probably get some professional help!

      1. Yeah, I’ve suspected for quite some time that I might have, perhaps not ADHD, but some subclinical form of it. I have tried to “audit” the process which leads to me being late but I simply can’t pinpoint the problem. It’s strange.

        I should note that my belief that people don’t change much with outer interventions is not scientifically justified. It’s not *not* justified either, there’s just no good evidence either way. But there is crude evidence suggesting that people don’t change very much (although psychologists probably haven’t managed to measure more complex characteristics and dispositions), and that stable person characteristics predict life outcomes much more strongly than vice versa. And my personal experience is that when I’m in a good place, and happy, my problems seem small and manageable, and everyday hassles don’t bother me at all. But when I’m in a bad place (e.g. PMS, sick, badly sleep deprived), everything feels unmanageable. So at least for me the causality seems to flow “inside out”. But of course these issues are different for everyone, and studies deal with regularities computed over a large sample of individuals, which leaves a lot of room for individual variation.

  8. Yes, OMG YES I was thinking this exact thing to myself the other day, and is a huge part of why I haven’t been writing much on my blog…I just don’t feel like sharing the same damn struggles year after year after year. Its like one step forward, 2 steps back with absolutely everything. I really really hope its true that the goalposts just keep moving ahead, because otherwise what is even the point? I’m still struggling with yelling at my children, wasting time at work, eating too much, anxiety, marriage issues (same ones!), etc…

  9. I sometimes worry that my blog makes my life look too good, when I’m struggling in lots of ways, but it’s always so easy for us to write about what is going well, or what we have figured out, rather than on our daily battles. Here are mine.
    I’m (or have been) self-employed, and I really don’t want to go back to full-time employment, but have no contracts or job opportunities, so the chance would be a fine thing.
    Weight is something I’ve struggled with since my 30s, and I don’t talk about it. It feels dishonest, but it’s easier to come out about other things (ie infertility and childlessness!) than something that so many people are so judgemental about.
    And I’m a very good procrastinator, and that’s a constant struggle.
    Also – I worry, though I’m learning to do that less.
    Is that enough for you?! lol

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