The thing about being a woman, or even human, is that life brings both good and bad, and with the bad—the things however little or small that create pain—comes the desire for change. One of our patients’ stories speaks to this point, and how to deal with these goals effectively in order to build the life she wanted to live.

At the age of 30, this woman had encountered a difficult point in her life, and felt trapped, as though she would be stuck this way perpetually. She was in an unhappy marriage, and had personal concerns as well. While emotional topics to tackle, she made a list of everything in her life that she didn’t like or did not fit into the well-rounded life she envisioned for herself, remembering the nondenominational Serenity Prayer for inspiration:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

With those wise words in mind, her list of dislikes began: 1. The man she was married to, 2. Her hair cut and color, 3. The size of her breasts, 4. The time she didn’t take to take care of herself (spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally), etc. etc.

After creating her list, which was sizable, she truly believed that if she did all these things, to help her create a life emphasizing things she truly cared about (e.g., meaningful relationships, self-respect) that she would be happy. While her list was too overwhelming to address all at once, she took on each item on her list in a methodical manner—small things one at a time, and bigger things (e.g., surgical procedures) one per year. Despite the adversity and pain she faced when she began her journey, after she had slowly and thoroughly completed her list, she had built the life she had envisioned, bringing her amazing happiness and peace. Of course, she still had life’s obstacles to address—rough days, difficult life events, and the pain that comes with that—but overall, she was very happy.

Now, how do you have the life you envision become your reality? Follow this intelligent woman’s steps:

  1. Recognize you’re stuck: Observe and describe your current situation to increase your awareness of your present state. This will help you formulate your list later.
  2. Visualization: Picture your life the way you want it to be. Notice what is really important to you, or what you value (e.g., family, health, beauty, relationships, etc.), and what that those look like for you.
  3. Plan of action: Based on steps 1 and 2, make a list of all your goals and things you want to change, and committing to working toward acceptance of those things you can’t. Prioritize based on your values, be specific and clarify the specific small steps you need to take to reach each goal.
  4. Systematically follow-through to build the best life you can for you: Slowly, methodically go through your list. Take goals in stride, keeping in mind what is reasonable for you to take on at any given time. Note the level of resources (e.g., energy, time, money, etc.) required for each, take on what you can for your current resources available, and follow-through with each small piece you take on. You can do it!