As promised in my post Thursday, “Are You Willing to Sleep From Your Car?” I’m following up to share with you the four things I learned during some of the most trying times in my life.

1) Failure does not define us. We define it.

Too frequently people will fail at something and then give up. Or even worse, they take ownership over the respective failure(s), and deem themselves unworthy to accomplish anything else they may set out after. Essentially, they stop dreaming and stop living. They become complacent in their lives and settle.

I, too, was guilty of this. I initially allowed my “failure” (as I’d seen it) to DEFINE me. I felt that because I was unable to support myself, that it lessened my value as a human being. When in all actuality, it was the one thing I needed to experience to add value to what I do as a speaker.

No matter what it is you face today, YOU have the capacity and power to choose how it will affect you. Failure is an inevitable part of life. But, it doesn’t have to be your life. You can choose to turn your negative into a positive. You can choose to benefit from failure, learn from failure, and grow from failure. The choice is yours.

2) Relationships Matter.

When I was sleeping in my car, I wanted to hide from the world. I was fearful that if I told anyone about my situation that my friends/family would think less of me. However, what I found is not only did they not think less of me, but they were willing to go above and beyond to help me reach my dreams. Which allowed me to learn a valuable and significant lesson, that: relationships matter.

It’s imperative that we strive to build relationships, not with a hidden agenda, but instead, with a sincere care and desire to be a friend. You never know how you may be able to positively impact somebody’s life, and you certainly never know how somebody may be able to positively impact your life.

3) Things are never as bad as they seem.

A dear friend and mentor of mine once told me, “things are never as bad as they seem, and never as great as they may seem either.”

When I was sleeping in my car it felt like a nightmare that I couldn’t get out of. I felt stuck and frustrated, and took on the belief that things in life would never be the same. However, as I reflect on that experience from over two years ago, I can’t help but think how very true my mentor’s wisdom and words of encouragement were and still are. That in fact, things are never as bad as they seem.

We experience things in life and because it may be uncomfortable and/or different than what we’re used to, we unfairly and inaccurately perceive the things in our mind as much worse. What we must learn to do is be grateful for what it is we have at this particular moment. For instance, although I didn’t have a place to call “home”, what I did have was a car – somewhere I could rest my head that was far more comfortable than the street. I was blessed with a good bill of health, and I had a loving family and a support system of friends. This alone is far more than what many people have throughout our world. Yet, for me, it was different than what I was used to and therefore at the time, the situation felt as though I could never recover.

When you’re facing something that appears to be too challenging for you to handle, I’d encourage you step back and truly assess the situation. Think about some things you’re grateful for, and you just might find, things aren’t as bad as they appear.

4) You can ALWAYS change.

One of the single most important lessons I learned when sleeping in my car is that we’re NEVER stuck. We can ALWAYS change the course of our life.

Will it be easy? NO. But will it be worth it? YES!

Typically, the reason people don’t change is because of fear. They fear not knowing how to take on a new role. They fear embarrassment, rejection, and failure. So, instead of taking a chance on changing, they blame their circumstances, their past, or inabilities and decide that they must settle – forever.

Rest assured, we never have to settle. It’s always within our power to make a decision to change. For me, I had to change my perception of what was going on in my life. I had to change how I looked at failure, I had to change how I approached prospective clients, and I had to change my thinking, my habits, and my routines. In essence, I had to change everything about me, to become what I wanted to become.

What change(s), could you make in your life today to help you get to where you’re trying to get? If you don’t like your job, devise a plan and make a change. If you don’t like where you live, move! If you don’t like the people you’re surrounded by each day, change who it is you associate with. Do what you have to do, but please, never settle and never allow yourself to become stuck in life. This world needs what you have to offer!

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