Changed My Life

When I look at my life today compared to one year ago, I can’t believe how much that has changed. At this time a year back, I had recently found out about a friend’s suicide and I was struggling with getting back into my ‘normal’ routine. I was living in Paris at the time and everyday, instead of finding my way back, I became more and more uncomfortable with my situation. Finally I had reached a point where I knew my current situation was unsustainable. I had to change, and I had to change big.

So I left my well-paid job and moved from Paris. I began to challenge myself daily in all areas of life, with the aim of building myself up again. I made changes step by step and as I did, I began to smile again.

Making a 180 wasn’t easy, but I knew it was necessary in order for me to get somewhere new. I have this one life and I want to make the very best out of it. My drastic life change lead to people questioning if I was having a life crises or a depression. My dad even asked me if I was on drugs… lol.

Today I’m in the Caribbean, working on setting up my own business with my sister – I haven’t regretted my decision once. There are however, a few things I wish I had known before I acted. These are what I want to share with you.

Changed My Life


1. People will question you – A LOT

This is probably the most difficult thing to deal with when making a big change. Many people will be happy for you and say that you are brave for having the guts to follow your heart, while others will react in a more negative way. I wasn’t prepared for some of the condescending comments I got such as:

“You don’t seem to have a proper plan in place.”

“You’ll have to work day and night in order to make anything happen and you won’t have ANY free time what so ever for a LONG time.”

“Let me give you a reality check, because you seem to need one.”

Yeah, not really inspiring stuff. It took me a while to discover that what people were saying actually had nothing to do with me. Their words were just reflecting their own fears and limiting beliefs. If they had to work every day for a paycheck and stay in a job they didn’t enjoy – so should I. That’s the way things work and who was I to break out of it?

Keep in mind that what you will hear when talking about your desire to change will be other people’s perceptions of how life is ‘supposed to be lived’. It will for sure be a mixed bag of reactions. Remember to keep your focus on what you feel is true for you.


2. Stay grounded

Aim to always stay grounded in life, but especially when you are going through a transition. For me, staying grounded is to maintain a strong connection to your inner self. You know what’s best for you better than anyone else (including your mom). To develop your inner connection, find an activity that helps you to focus on your inner being. It can be yoga, meditation, sports, writing, painting, dancing… whatever floats your boat.

Personally, I keep a morning routine consisting of 20 minutes meditation and 20 minutes yoga. I can’t stress enough the difference I noticed in my well being since I started this routine. It helps me find my inner focus, balance and connect to my inner self. Make this type of routine a priority in your life. Something that you stick to even those days when you feel a resistance to it. It will help immensely, I promise.


3. Stay flexible

Before I left my job I had a rough idea about what I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t have all the details in place, but I sort of knew where I was going. If I had known how much things would change along the way, I would have stayed more flexible to it from the very beginning.

When things didn’t go as I planned I tried to force them in the direction I wanted. This is not a great idea I tell you, it will only give you a lot of strain and unnecessary headaches. Instead, trust that you always are being guided in the right direction. Don’t try to push, rush or control the outcome of things. When resistance shows up, know that it is there for a reason: to tell you that this isn’t the right way to go.

For example, just a few days ago my sister and I shut down a website we’ve been working on for 2 months. Just like that. We always had some resistance towards setting one up for the project that we are working on, but because we thought it was ‘the right way to go’ we did it anyway. We let our minds interfere with our intuition and we spent hours and hours on something that we later didn’t end up using.

From my experience, our intuition is always right. Always. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow your inner voice because we listen too much to others or what is considered to be the ‘smart way’ of doing things. Something we have discovered is that we keep coming back to the initial ideas we have. The ones that get us excited, the ideas we have before we start to over think things.

If you at some point discover that you’ve gone off in the wrong direction, remember that it’s not a bad thing. Never be hard on yourself. Instead be thankful that you now know where you don’t want to go. This way you have a much clearer sense of where you DO want to end up. The bottom line is that in order move smoothly through periods of change, we to remain flexible.


4. Base your decisions on love, not fear

When making a big life change, it’s easy to get confused about what decisions to make. One game-changing insight for me was that I should base all my decisions on love, never on fear. When faced with a choice, feel if the option makes you feel light, uplifted and happy – that’s a clear sign that it’s a decision based on love.

From my experience, without any exception, all the decisions I’ve made wrong have been based on fear. Fear of what other people will think of me, of not making enough money and of showing my true colors. The choice based on fear might be considered the ‘smart way’ to go, but it’s never the right way. Your intuition knows what way to go – trust that it will guide you.


5. Know that everything happens for a reason

This might sound very cliché, but everything actually does happen for a reason. Someone once told me that you can’t see the point of something when you’re sitting on it. My life experience has shown me the truth of this statement time and time again. My friend dying, my long-term relationship ending, my panic attacks at work – all of those things, despite how horrible they were when they happened, have brought me closer to who I really am and where I am supposed to be.

I used to wanting to control everything that happened to me. I thought that by doing so I was being smart and getting the best possible turnout of every situation. That’s really going upstream – you won’t gain momentum by doing this. Instead it will be a constant battle of trying to make things fit into your plan instead of allowing yourself to follow the grand design life has set up for you. It’s when we release our resistance that we open our minds to the things we never even could have imagined in the first place.

My experience has taught me that when I stop trying to control everything, life connects the dots for me. So let life have its ways with you. Trust that it knows your desires and that which happens in life will bring you closer to it.


Wrapping up

Stepping out of your comfort zone and going through change isn’t easy, but you will grow immensely from it. Until everything falls into place, be patient, live in the moment, cherish the positive and laugh at the confusion. You will be fine. In fact, you will be more than fine if you dare to follow what is true to you. Who knows? You might actually create the life you’ve always longed to live.

About the author 

Maria Stenvinkel

A while back, my sister and I embarked on a journey to follow what we believe to be true, in regards to who we are and how life is to be lived. We write for the sake of sharing life lessons, inspiration and other thought provoking, fun things we find along our way. You will find us here:

Brendan Baker is Australia's leading personal development blogger and and helps people build and grow online businesses based on their passions. He has created the Launch Your Life Academy and Your First 1000 Subscribers. Connect with Brendan: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

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  1. Great points. Right now #1 resonates a lot. It kind of comes and goes… it’s like the universe testing my strength to see how much I believe in yourself… I thought I’d be immuned to being bothered but once in awhile (especially when it comes from a friend or a loved one) it does still tilt me a bit and I have to remind myself of my purpose, and my why.

    1. Hi Theresa,

      Thanks a lot for commenting!

      I can so relate to what you’re going through. It sounds like you keep coming back to what’s important and your purpose, that’s awesome!

      Based on my experience, I think it’s good to stumble and fall a bit. It helps us discover what we truly want. Making choices or feeling bad because of someone else never feels good, and when things doesn’t feel good we’re not aligned with our inner-self. Sometimes we need to experience the contrast to know more what we truly desire.

      I believe it you and I wish you all the best!

  2. This is wisdom for the ages, very well put! The power of our intuition is such an incredible tool it’s kind of crazy how we have lost that gift along the way. As Chaplin said “We think too much, feel too little.” That inner voice will always be by our sides through thick and thin, but it can definitely be drowned out by so many of the outer voices that we are surrounded with.

    As for love, no doubt, those fear choice seem so safe and comfortable but as you said any choice made out of fear usually leads to more of the same. No one wants to live in a state of fear, but so many of us do because we let it lead our decision making. I am so happy that you are leading your life with love, whether we have one or infinite doesn’t matter cause the one we are living now is the only one we can control and the only way to live it is on the side of love!

    I know you will succeed, good luck!

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you so much for your comment! It put a BIG smile on my face 🙂

      You are so right about our intuition. As we grow up we learn to listen more to others, than ourselves. Finding our own voice in the middle of everyone else’s can be difficult, but oh so important.

      Leading with love is, as you say, not always easy but it’s definitely the right thing. When we broaden our perspective, it’s usually easier to see what the right way to go is.

      Thank you again for your very nice comment!

      I wish you all the best,

  3. Hi Maria,

    I think that being flexible (#3) is in harmony with acknowledging that everything happens for a reason (#5). By applying these two points, we accept and appreciate the fact. This doesn’t mean entirely surrendering to situations, but this signifies making effort to do the best to achieve what we want, while also accepting whatever results that turn out to happen since not everything will go according to our plans and desires. That’s why, we have to be willing and courageous to adjust our action along the way when treating this life.

    There is an example of practicing those two points from someone I know. I have a friend who first persisted in a culinary business, until she joined with a new business partner who had an idea to mix her competence in cooking and his skills in photography. They then executed it, and bought a building where the first floor functioned as a café and the upstairs was for camera rental. After some months, it turned out that the rental business thrived but the café stagnated. Hence, they decided to stop the culinary side and focus solely on renting cameras.

    She told me that her partner diligently taught her about technical aspects of cameras during the transition period, which made her mind puzzled. But at the present, in its second year, their business is growing fast and about to expand. My friend has chosen a field tremendously unrelated with her first career yet succeeds.

    Life truly can connect the dots for us. Openly speaking, I am also like you in terms of believing that there is a grand design for every human who lives in this world, although in my own view that grand design is not 100% rigid. In other words, it is the combination of our own effort and divine intervention that determines our destiny. Thank you for sharing your own experience of massive change. It must have been difficult, but you successfully did it. Hope that I can be even more determined along the path I have chosen because of this inspiration. Glad to know you!

    1. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      I totally agree with what you’re saying – it’s much easier to stay flexible (#3) if we know that everything happens for a reason (#5). For me that was what enabled me to trust in this big change.

      Thank you for sharing your story about your friend. Sometimes life indeed wants to take us in a different direction and that’s when we need to “go with the flow” (even when it sometimes seems unlogical to us).

      Like you say, life truly can connect the dots for us. I also like what you said that “it is the combination of our own effort and divine intervention that determines our destiny”.

      Have an amazing day!


      1. Thank you for your reply, Maria.

        Wish us all luck and confidence in going with the flow if life requires that, especially when the direction it shows seems not logical to us.

        Keep up your hearty sharing, and have an amazing day too!

        1. I do wish you ALL the best in the world!

          I’m actually working on a project now to help people make more conscious choices in their career. Like you mention, we need luck and confidence to dare going with the flow of life and I’ve discovered a lot during my journey that I want to share with others. Too often we settle for a life that is less than the one we are capable of living.

          We haven’t launched yet, but you can sign up if you’re interested: 🙂


  4. Hi Maria! It’s really a great article! Number #1 really hits me, because I know how it feels being judged by people around you. Even from those who are close to you. I really like your point #5 because it is true that everything happens for a reason, and I always believe that God will lead you to the best place you can be as long as you believe in Him and keep working hard. I’ve just started a humble website about happiness and positive related article. Feel free to check it out! 🙂

    1. Thank you Maggy!

      I checked out your site and I LOVE IT. It’s beautiful and full of content I love to read.
      Here is my site: 🙂

      I don’t know why, but I get a feeling that maybe we should keep in contact… (sometimes I get that feeling, lol). Feel free to add me on facebook if you want: Maria Stenvinkel


  5. Thanks for a very insightful post. I also made the transition from thee USA to the Caribbean and have questioned my decision time and time again. After reading your post I realize and accept no matter what the reason I am here and here for a reason and want to learn the lesson life is teaching me. Thanks

    1. Thank you Rose for your kind words!

      I’m so happy to know that you came to this insight. Sometimes the reason takes some time to reveal itself, but we are always where we are supposed to be. Always.

      My sister and I have created a read called “7 Life Changing Insights”, which includes key insights we have gained that altogether changed the way we look at life. If you are interested you can find here:

      Best of luck to you!


    1. Thank you so much!! I really needed to hear that today 🙂

      Here is my blog if you are interested:


  6. Really great post. Now i learn new things in the social media opportunity to growing business. Thanks for this article.

    1. Thank you so much! Have an amazing day 🙂

      Here is my blog if you are interested:


    1. Thank you so much – that warmed my heart!

      Here is my blog if you are interested: 🙂


  7. I refer to the people you describe in #1 as the dream-stealers. They are the ones who can not see beyond their own limitations and therefore can not see your vision.

    I also love your #5… I am always looking for the lesson to be learned in every situation 🙂

    1. Thank you Michelle for your comment!

      You are so right – we should never be limited by other people’s limitations. We set our own limitations and preferably there are none.

      Your comment was so sweet and it made me smile. When we trust that everything, every single thing, happens for a reason life just gets so much easier.

      Here’s my blog: if you are interested 🙂


  8. Knowing that every thing happens for a reason has been one of the biggest truths I have ever realized.

    Six months ago I failed to clear my A-levels exams and at the time I couldn’t understand how this failure could be a good thing but now when I look back and see how much that failure has taught me and helped me become who I am today,

    I understand now how everything happens for a reason and how everything happens to push us towards our destiny.

    Loved the post Maria, keep up the good work.

    -Saad Asad

    1. Thank you so much Saad for your comment!

      Yes, I love when we see the blessing in disguise from what we thought was just a struggle. We just have to laugh at the confusion, live in the moment and know that everything happens for the best.


      Here’s my blog: if you want to come and say hi 🙂

  9. Life is all about making changes. By changing something in our life, we can enjoy it in better ways. Try to live it in your way.

    Great blog indeed, thanks for share.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment!

      I couldn’t agree more. Change is the only thing that will always be consistent in this world.

      Have an amazing day!

  10. I could totally relate to these points Maria. Even my significant others doubted my big ideas, but that is part of the test. I learned how to use those questions and negative comments to fuel my plans. Looking back, I’m grateful I worked hard for it. I have my financial freedom now. Take for my experiences “If you’re experiencing difficulties, hardships or any kind of problems, it just means you’re doing things that will impact your future.”

    1. Hi Ian,

      Thanks a lot for your comment!

      You’re so right in what you said about taking all that doubt and negative comments from others and use that into fuel. That was key for me to get over (read: survive) that phase. I’m so happy that you’re in a good place now – that really inspires me! Some days I can wake up and ask myself “How did I end up here?” because my life is SO different today (now I’m in the Caribbean doing dog sitting, lol). I love hearing about others that have dared to make big changes and that are now happy with their decision. I believe it all comes down to our our thoughts and emotions about it.

      You can follow me and my sister’s journey here if you’re interested: 🙂

      Have an amazing day!

  11. Brendan,

    This was a wonderful article and thanks for sharing! I have found myself at a point in life where I have just burnt out due to endless tasks and daily responsibilities. I decided today to take a step back because I have been severely out of balance. I have decided to learn how to prioritize and find more ways to make my life more meaningful each and every day. Sometimes its easy to focus on quantity and not quality. What you shared was just confirmation that I am taking a step in the right direction. Reading your article today was one of the things I decided to do today that would be meaningful to me, and I’m sure glad I did!

    1. Hello,

      I believe I gave credit to Brendan instead of Maria on this article. Maria, great article and thanks for sharing!

      1. Hi Nichole,

        No worries! 🙂

        I’m so happy to read your super nice comment and that you’ve made the decision to take a step back and make life more meaningful. It really made my day to hear that! Balance is so key in our lives and without it, it’s difficult to navigate.

        My sister and I actually put together a read called “7 Life Changing Insights” where we share our personal story of making changes in order to live life more true to yourself.

        You can find it here:

        You seem to be an amazing person and I wish you all the best 🙂


  12. Number 1 resonates with me right now – I am already receiving push back on a big personal decision I made this week. Wonderful article, thank you!

    1. Thank you Jeanette!

      I so understand what you are going through. Be strong and listen to that little voice inside that knows the way. Go your own path and leave a trail 😉

  13. Love point #4 – it’s so crucial to make decisions based on love and not fear. Not that fear is always a bad thing as long as you notice it and then trust your intuition. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Great post! I particularly like point number 4. I must admit I fall prey to the scarcity mentality more often than I wish. That’s not the love route! Oh and I concur, even mum doesn’t always know best. She, like other naysayers mean well but don’t see clearly the talents we have within. They’re just scared for us.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, the world looks completely different to us if we perceive it from a place of abundance instead of scarcity. And that all comes down to making a CHOICE in how we want to view things. I’ve been in both worlds and I SO prefer the one of abundance 🙂

      Love the wording: taking the love route! Regarding the parents, I just keep telling myself that they mean well… despite their way of saying things. Lol.

      Have an amazing day!

      1. I completely agree. There is so much we have to be grateful for, coming from a perspective of abundance rather than scarcity has made a big difference in my life. Where others saw problems, I saw opportunity. Where they saw the impossible I saw new journeys and adventures that had just not been experienced yet.
        I would add that one should also never feel guilty from making trade offs as long as they are doing so from a position of integrity.
        Thanks for a wonderful article. Kindest b.

        1. Thank you so much for your kind words!

          Yes, you are so right and I love that you have that perspective. Often we get advice from people that haven’t been where we want to go yet (the naysayers), which isn’t very helpful. So we need to be very picky about what advice we listen to, so we go down the path we’re meant to go.

          I also agree on what you said about guilt and making decisions from a position of integrity. This can be very difficult at times (I’ve struggled with it), but that’s the only right choice. Integrity is like a dear old friend, you don’t want to let her/him down 🙂

          Have an amazing day!

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