How to Fly when YOU feel like you’re drowning. [9 tips for moving forward]

Who needs United Airlines when I can walk on clouds?
Who needs United Airlines when you can walk on the clouds?
“No matter where you are on your journey, that’s  exactly where you need to be. The next road is always ahead.” Oprah

The fancy home overlooking the glistening turquoise sea.

A fulfilling work-life and entrepreneurial career. Planning glamor weddings or writing best-selling books. Managing that talked-about restaurant that caters to celebrities.

Boating cruises on the Riviera with that tall, dark-skinned French doctor of your dreams.  Weekend getaways to Cannes, where the film festival makes the bottom of your weekend itinerary.

All right, all right.

Maybe not quite so glamorous but you know what  you’ve always wanted; love, career, children, a lovely home, season-tickets to the Teatro alla Scala, tango dancing in Buenos Aires.

Just the basics.

You NEVER imagined you’d be here.

You thought all the pieces of the puzzle were to fall together and your life would unfold as you had desired. Life would be a comforting journey on the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride at Disneyland where you floated around on teacups visiting exotic countries around the world.

Instead, you’ve found it to be like a scary life-or-death, hair-frazzling roller coaster ride leaving you breathless, disjointed and baffled.

What happened to that fairy-tale life you were promised as a kid?

What happened to the life-dreams you had so meticulously imagined in your day-dreams?  

Is your dream job more elusive than ever?

Is your career at a dead-end?

The hunk of a guy you’re dating: more punk than hunk?

Your life didn’t quite turn out the way you imagined. Instead of flying, you feel like you’re scuba diving. Scuba diving without an oxygen tank. Ok, feels like you’re drowning.

Did your life turn out the way you wanted?

Why did you get left behind?

Why is everyone else moving ahead?

Why is everyone else’s life falling into place like a 10-piece jigsaw puzzle when your 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is scattered across three rooms, missing 150 pieces and is hardly recognizable?

The life I wanted seems so distant.

When I completed my law degree, I spent several years of my life as a courtroom lawyer but was never a fan of the practice. Instead of sticking with law, moving up the partnership track and getting paid!! ($$) I’ve jumped out of law practice all together. It didn’t fit my soul, personality or interest so I bid it farewell. But it set me back a few years professionally.

I married at the age of 25. Like most who walk down the alter to wedded bliss, I wanted this marriage to last a lifetime. Forever. Happily ever after, as fairytales end. A long life together, happiness and children. But it didn’t work out that way. In fact, we married too young, learned we weren’t right for each other and and divorced much later than we should have.

Yup, life wasn’t what I had wanted it to be and the life I desired seemed obscure.

What next? What do you do after the sense of failure has pinned you against the wall?  After the frustrations have set in and the tears have dried up? 

Your journey back to your life starts with:

1)    Resist your desire to compare yourself with others. You don’t know the 99 problems Jay-Z’s got. You don’t even know 99 problems your wealthy girlfriends, attractive exes or bff’s have. Life may appear grand on Facebook postings and idealistic on Christmas cards but you have no idea what deranged and lunatic people your friends and family are.

The more ideal their lives appears, the more likely you’re going to be reading about them in the tabloid papers or TMZ.

2)    Let your life work out on its own pace. No two journeys are the same (except in prison where your daily routine, clothing, bedding and food options are the same.) We each have different lessons to learn and different experiences to have.

You need the setbacks, experiences and lessons learned to shine in the future.

3)    Be grateful for who you are. You’re a divine being. You just forgot about that as you grew up and people around you told you otherwise. As a baby, you were coddled, petted and treated like a precious gem. As an adult, you’re now treated like Amanda Bynes or Justin Bieber on a bad day in court.

You’re not a disgraced pop star or reality tv wannabe. Be grateful for you. Be grateful for your talents, abilities, mind and consciousness. Be grateful for the gift you are to the world.

4)    Be grateful for everything you’ve got. Yes, your flat screen tv. Your diplomas, master’s degrees, student loan payments and photo frames. Your Gucci sunglasses. Startucks coffee-cards, Nina Fern pumps, weekend spa retreats… Your 18 silk scarfs. Your 10-year-old Volkswagen Jetta which drives without protest or resistance. You’ve got food and friends to eat it with. You’ve got a job, however dead-end it might be.

Whatever you have, small or grand, be thankful for it. There are no downsides to a gratefulness practice.

5)    Keep hope alive. “We must accept finite disappointment. But never lose infinite hope,” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even if your life feels like it’s out of sync and far from the day-dreams you had growing up, never give up hope. The life you dreamed of may not be exactly as you had wanted but it will manifest in its own way. Huh?

What you want will manifest itself in a different form than you had expected.

You might have wanted children of your own,but for now you have nieces and nephews who you enjoy spending time with.  They love your company, but they go home after, saving you your sanity and sleep.

You dreamt of being a financial advisor at a large New York stock brokerage. The good news is that when the market tanked, you didn’t have dozens of angry clients trying to break down your door. Instead of doing it professionally, you’re able to make smart investments for your family members who ask.

You didn’t make it into Hollywood but you’re teaching children how to act and making a difference in the lives of dozens of future actors.

Stay positive and hopeful that the universe will manifest your desires.

Any day.

It may not be exactly as you had wanted but what the Universe felt you needed.

6)    Improve your mindset and raise your vibrations. You’re not going to read a personal development blog without hearing this advice, but it has to be said. Or you have to be reminded.

If you’re a highly negative person, this advice goes double for you.

If you believe positive thinking is a bunch of poppycock and wondering why there’s so much negativity in your life, you might have a problem.

Thinking positive thoughts is not going to mean a house in Beverly Hills and a fat movie contract. It WILL allow for more positive affairs (no, not that kind) to manifest in your life.

Also, hand in hand with positive thoughts are positive vibrations. How in the Universe do you raise your vibrations? My friend Evelyn has some thoughts.

7)    Practice patience. Yeah. Wait.

Some people I know are doing this as a spiritual practice or using it for their word of the year in 2013. Life isn’t a fast food drive-thru or quick-delivery pizza: 30 minutes or it’s free.

Didn’t someone say the best things in life are worth waiting for? So wait a little longer and your many wants and desires might manifest in front of your eyes. And much more than you initially wanted or expected.

8)    Clean your house. I’ve always found that prior to my external world improving, I’ve had to improve my internal world.

“Vishnu,” you’re asking, “did you just get back from a taping of Oprah?”

No, friends, I’ve experienced this.

When you’re a mess, your world is a mess. So, how do you improve your inside world?

Yoga, sure. Meditation, fine. Serious therapy and medication, ok. Standing upside down and chanting to the spirit Gods – whatever works, mate.

What do you need to deal with serious or even small emotional and psychological issues you’re facing? IF you’re thinking reading this blog is going to get you there, God help us all.

Get help.

9)    Be open to the tidal waves of change and gifts coming your way. Yeah, sometimes life’s like Christmas except you won’t know what day Santa is going to break into your pad and shower you with every gift you’ve ever wanted.

In fact, your life may already be like Christmas morning and you’ve failed to take notice.

If you’re living the dream and still feel unfulfilled, go back up to the “gratefulness” parts of this post.

If your dreams and wants in life seem far and distant, then be ready to accept your desires unfolding. Don’t shut the door on the extremely attractive delivery man who delivers you a bouquet of flowers. (Oh, do make sure that flower delivery guy is delivering flowers as his part-time job and that he’s studying to be a dentist during the day)

Be open and observant of what’s happening in your life. Allow your life to manifest what you want in it.

Don’t take another step or leave this post without heading over to the comments section below. Give it to me straight – are you waiting for your life to start or pressing ahead and living it?

28 Comments

  1. Hi Vishnu,

    This was a wonderful post and a great read for a Monday morning. The humour in it was great!

    Two points for me really struck out for me from your post. One was what you wrote about not comparing ourselves to others, and especially famous people. As you quite rightly said, there’s no knowing how many problems that rich or celebrity person in that magazine or on the TV is experiencing and it’s a big mistake to believe that such people are truly happy.

    The other point I loved was what you said about slowing down. This was a good reminder to me and recently I’ve been making conscious effort to slow down. Things will happen in their own time and as long as we give a little nudge in the right direction every so often, everything will work out just as the Universe wants it to.

    Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Hiten and glad you got a laugh out of it:)

      Yes, less comparisons, more gratitude for everything we have in our lives. And patience will save our sanity and allow life to take its course.

  2. Practice patience and persistence.

    I’ve heard it said – well I imagined something, I vizualised, I affirmed and I still can’t see any changes.

    I think of babies, who practice walking. We don’t hear them say (not that they can probably speak of course) but I did it once and I fell over. Or I’m never going to get the hang of this walking thing.

    They simply persist and before you know it there they are running around getting sticky fingers into everything!

    Same with us, each time we fall, we get up and get going again. There’s no other way, there’s no other path. This is the path.

    Love Elle

    1. Hi Elle – welcome! I like the trio of words you used – yes, that nicely sums it up.

      And perfect analogy with babies – determination and persistence is what helps them walk. We were all once there too (as babies) and our walking abilities is proof that we have that kind of persistence in us:)

  3. Hey Vishnu,

    A timely post and a refreshing viewpoint as always. Too many similarities in our stories! More of that once I get the blog back on track, though 🙂

    Gratitude, hope, being patient (a tough one for me), cleaning the house – good to see that one here :): all things I am learning now. Another I would add is just taking one day at a time and doing one thing each day that moves you forward – those little steps are like compound interest 🙂

    1. Keith – I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you back here. And I’m hoping for your return to the blogosphere:) And looking forward to reading more and catching up once you’re back blogging.

      Yup, one day at a time is what it’s all about. I just read a post by my friend Jody this morning which pretty much sums it up: http://www.jodylamb.com/2013/06/one-day-at-a-time/

  4. I’m pressing ahead and living my life, Vishnu! Love your advice here, especially the parts about having an attitude of gratitude and learning to wait – two amazing lessons God has taught me in my struggles to simply live life and love who I am as I live.
    Wonderful post, my friend!
    Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you Martha. Gratitude and patience are two wonderful ways to live life. If I had to categorize by list of importance, I’d say gratitude, patience and forgiveness would all be on the top of ‘living your best life’ list.

  5. I resonate with most of them esp. the niece and nephew part. I got a little stuck with ‘forever.’ I didn’t want to hear the word for a year. But the one I’m truly working on is number 9 on being open. Being open to receive graces. The answer might probably even here and I’m just unaware of it.

    Thanks for sharing these tips Vishnu.

    1. Thanks MT – Glad the post resonated! Yes, nephews and nieces are the best. Being open is important to allow what’s coming into our life to enter it. Sometimes we resist what we really want in life. And if we already have it in our lives, we should acknowledge or become aware of the positive developments:) And if it’s on the way in, we should be prepared for it:)

  6. V ! I can really see a change in your writing – loving it!

    The comparison thing is easy to do – especially with peers. Everything you wrote rocks. I’d add that sometimes changing a lot of things, or a big desire to attain something (money, new job, etc) can be overwhelming. It’s worth picking one, small thing we can do to move towards the goal. And perfect this before moving on.

    ‘Whatever works, mate’ made me laugh. Are you an englishman in training perchance?!!

    – Razwana

    1. Razwana – as you know, I’m trying to improve my writing:) so thanks for the compliment. And I know there’s a handful of English people in my audience so trying to talk you language. lol

      And yes, one goal or achievement is more effective than changing everything in your life or trying to accomplish everything in your life at once.

  7. I am pressing ahead and living my life — and an actual house-cleaning did help me jumpstart it. 🙂 When Bjorn and I moved to start our international journey, we got rid of 80-90% of our belongings. Though the frugal, child-of-an-immigrant within me wailed with blood-curdling shrieks that I was being wasteful, I took comfort in the fact that we donated most of our stuff to thrift stores. And it did free me, psychologically and physically, from thinking that I had to stick with my status quo.

    Your tips are spot-on and have worked for me. I’m slowly learning to deal with #1. Having to deal with this at all surprised me, as I am living my dream life — which I guess goes to show that living your dream doesn’t mean that it’s problem-free (this point will probably show up in my guest post—it’s coming, really! :))

    Another thing that worked for me was just making the change. Even if I was scared. You don’t have to be without fear to make a change. And even if mistakes are made, changes can still be made at any point. I’ve realized that the journey toward the life I want is not a straight line but a series of readjustments. (Doh! Another point that will probably show up in the guest post… actually, I just read over my comment and realized probably all of this will show up in one form or another. :D)

    1. Jammie – lot of wisdom in your post…errr comment haha future post!

      YOu literally cleaned your house. And gave away alot of your stuff, freeing up your life. And you probably realized in the process how little things you actually need to survive.

      You provide a couple additional tips here – dreams aren’t problem free and you can act even when facing fear. And your journey isn’t a straight line but a series of readjustments. Wow – thanks for adding these thoughts to the post – you make me think I should do a part 2 to this post:) with everyone’s thoughts, suggestions, and ideas.

      I have a feeling your guest post is going to be epic:)

  8. lol! That was funny, “more of a punk than a hunk.” I think what you said about not comparing yourself to others is so, so important and really hard not to do with social media. Nothing good comes of comparing. The other thing that really stuck with me is patience. So many things seem like an overnight success that are many, many years in the making, like a very long marathon. Thanks for a great read, Vishnu!

    1. Glad you liked that line Wendy and thanks for your feedback! Replacing gratitude with comparisons and patience with the wait are a couple ways to start living today.

  9. I’m slowly pressing forward toward the life I really want to live. Which is to be a full time writer, coach, and speaker. I think slow or any progress is better than standing still or none. I really enjoyed point #4 because we can often take forgathered the good fortune of living in the USA. Being grateful and thankful with what we have is so important.

    Great post my friend.

    1. You got it Dan – you’re not quite making slow progress – it may seem slow but you’re making big leaps:) And you’ll write a post about how it took you a few years to become an overnight success:)

      Gratitude is probably my new #1 life rule. Ok, I have about 5 or 6 of them now. I’ll have to list them all together lol maybe in a post. Glad you liked the post:)

  10. Hi Vishnu,

    I love this post, and as you know I can relate to to all of it! It is as you read my mind and also saw inside my house:) I especially appreciate points #2, #7 and#9. I have the opportunity right now to work on my patience and letting things come to me when they are supposed to happen. It is a work in progress for me, and an opportunity for spiritual growth. I also like your comments on being open to the tidal wave of change and gifts coming into your life. I think that when we get so overwhelmed with what is missing from our lives, we fail to see the blessings that we currently have, and the new blessings that come into our lives. Sometimes we need a reminder of all of the good in our lives:)

    Lisa

    1. I think you writing this comment made this entire post worthwhile by itself! lol

      I think you’ve mentioned before you’ve had enough spiritual growth lol but what’s wrong with a little more? You’re going to have enough spiritual growth for a lifetime:) How many more times will you get this opportunity to wait, to grow, and to make all the many changes you’re making in your life:) ?

      Yes, gratitude is probably key to most things in life. Once we accept gratitude in the small things, we start seeing more positive developments in all areas of our lives.

      Big things are coming your way Lisa!!

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. It is great that you have managed to overcome your challenges and become the inspiring person that you are now 🙂

    Life sure didn’t turn out the way I initially expected it to. I did not expect to quit my job and start a business. I also did not expect to be in the life coaching/energy healing field. I did not expect to get to so many inspiring people (such as yourself) with a desire to make a difference to the lives of others.

    Although the change has not been easy either, I can safely say that I live life with a greater sense of adventure. There is absolute freedom in expression. Yes, life has been a series of unfolding its wonders for me.

    Thank you too for linking to my article 🙂

    1. Hi Evelyn – yes, you may not have expected life to turn out the way it did but how much more exciting and adventurous! Accepting change and being open to it is also part of the journey.

      I really enjoyed your post on raising our vibrations – I think it is key to living a more abundant, happier and more positive life.

  12. Holy peppermint ice cream. This is the best Vishnu post ever. I laughed five times. This post should scroll on the screens at the gas station pumps. You could change the day, no, the lives of millions!

    You’re right. Life never unfolds as we expect it. Little-kid me had grand plans for life as a grownup. With the ultimate ticket to freedom in hand, I thought I could easily start a successful business, start a non-profit organization that helps people and host Saturday Night Live. Then I grew up, got a corporate-y job and anything beyond that seemed nearly impossible. That’s why most people give up. It seems too hard. Well, like you, somewhere around 26, I realized I had to make a change or spend the rest of my life disappointing little-kid me. I changed and it’s a way, way harder journey but infinitely more meaningful.

    Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for what we have; that gets lost daily for many people.

    I’m so glad that you didn’t keep going in a career that you didn’t enjoy. It’s so inspiring how you took a big leap out of a career you spent so much time preparing for!

    Awesome post.

    P.S. As Wendy noted, “more punk than hunk” is just about the best line ever. 🙂

    Today, I channeled my inner Ferris Bueller and took the day off, despite meetings and a lonely cubicle expecting my arrival.

    1. Thanks so much Jody – comments like this are much appreciated and encouraging. Although I think there would be a protest at gas stations if they started running blog posts on the pump lol

      It is hard to change the journey but you’re proof that it’s possible. And as hard as it seems, you’re able to make the changes necessary to live more of the life you want. Glad to hear it and glad to be watching your journey to authorship and inspiration.

      haha on the punk/hunk line (not sure what inspired that) and thank you again for the encouragement.

  13. I can resonate with this post, Vishnu. We have to many times take the slow road, plod along, but like the tortoise and the hare, often we do reach the finish with more longevity. The journey for me is part of the fun. I love what I’m doing, have my goals set and yes it all takes time, but that is ok. It’s a process. I’ve had a career in education, so for me now, this is the dessert. You make me laugh as always! Take care.

    1. Thanks, Cathy! If you can enjoy the process, then life’s going to be grand. Like the tortoise, we will all get there slowly but surely:) and likely win the race (cause we enjoyed the journey)

      Glad you liked this piece and the humor:) !

  14. Wow! You nailed it with this one my friend.

    I’d been waiting up until my birthday a few months ago. Then I realized that I’m really waiting on just a few aspects of my life to fall into place, and they may or may not ever get there. So, I stopped waiting.

    I’ve been paddling like a beast every chance I get! My writing schedule has taken on a new form, and I’m pretty stoked about it.

    Now on to Suggestion #8.

    Thanks for this one Vishnu.

  15. Thanks Vishnu! Awesome post of the fundamentals we need to return to when life spins us around like the teacups at Disney! It’s a great reminder to keep us all very grounded!

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