Adulting strikes: Changing priorities and preferences

For those of you who followed my blog when I launched it in October 2018, you would know that Fashion is one of the areas I intended to write about. In fact, I had a full line-up of topics ready to feature. From local shop discoveries and recommendations from my recent travels, favorite clothing brands, my go-to and overused bags, to a seemingly endless list of things that I wanted to get for myself.

However, it gradually changed. My priorities and preferences shifted in plain sight. At one point, I couldn’t feel the joy of buying clothes anymore. It felt stressful to shop and find seasonal outfits I needed for my planned trips. I unconciously developed a formula of what to wear at work, on weekends and other errands – no more staring game with my closet figuring out what to wear the following week and I indeed bid goodbye to nearly 50% of my clothes (they found new owners through carousell, while majority were given away)

These and the other changes I went through recently didn’t happen in a day. I embarked on a journey of tedious thought process and pangs of guilt.

Why did I change? What are the reasons that paved way for my priorities and preferences to shift? Is that what everyone calls Adulthood? Or for my millenial readers, Adulting?

Adulthood is a stage in our lives in which we have attained maturity in many facet such as physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and so on.

Living in my early 30s, I can confidently tick off the first two – physical and mental. The emotional and intellectual aspect is what I believe to be the continuous work in progress ,and are pivotal to building an image that will echo to your circle of influence and your future family. Life decided to teach me important lessons and I couldn’t be more thankful that I encountered circumstances that allowed me to revisit my priorities and assess the validity of my preferences. Oh when adulting strike you, you should have all your senses wide open to make the lesson worthwhile.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein

I didn’t plan on changing and to begin with, I didn’t even know that it’s time for my priorities to change. It just happened naturally. What I am sure of is that my thoughts nurtured the idea of changing and so it took place.

Three driving factors that led me to change

1. Raw and unprecedented life happenings

2019 was a rollercoaster ride for me and my husband.

In January, my brother-in-law died after battling with sickness for nearly a year. Then in July, my dad’s congenital heart disease got worse and by September, he needed to urgently go through a bypass operation leaving all of us shocked and unprepared.

It is during these times that I cared less about how I look, what I will wear or what’s the next in my list of things to buy. My happiness had been predominantly driven by my dad’s progress, and my husband’s recovery from losing a brother.

On the other hand, our expenses skyrocketed so we needed to adjust our budget. As the “accountant” of our finances, I had to be more practical yet creative on what to prioritize which means cutting down individual allowances and discretionary funds (leave a comment if you’d like to know more about this). Ascribing to God’s faithful provisions and guidance, we were able to come out of the situation well.

There are other unprecendented situations that took place in between. All these naturally shifted my mind to think bigger and better. To focus on non-tangible things. To see through circumstances more than what meets the eye. Consequently, from being extra careful*, I turned into being extremingly careful when buying stuff. I reunited with my values which is one of the outcomes I that I will forever celebrate.

Pause for a moment to think about what your current situation is telling you about your priorities and preferences. Is there anything you think that you need to change or calling out loud for a change?

*When buying things, my decisions were based on many factors like the material, longetivity, where it’s made from, what it makes me feel when I buy it, and how I look. While these were helpful, I later discovered that basing it on your values, and why you need them are more than enough measure

2. Good old habit and lifelong passion

In my case are these: READING AND WRITING

I’ve always been a big fan of books but it’s taken a backseat for many years. I got so caught up with building a career and then the fast-paced working life in Singapore.

For some reason, after watching The Big Short on the plane, I became extra keen to read further as there were lots of nerve-wracking financial terminologies – I couldn’t catch up! I bought the book and devoured the pages instantly. My very observant and thoughtful husband noticed it so he surprised me with three more books to read. It was a fulfilling and refreshing experience to be able to read intentionally again. From two reads in 2018, I was able to finish 31 books in 2019!

One of those 31 books is Marie Kondo’s The life-changing magic of tidying up. It was coincidental with the process of change I was going through that time. Instead of fattening my wardrobe with new additions, it went through a complete overhaul. I sold a lot of clothes and didn’t feel the need to replace them with new stuff.

The revival of my reading habit gave me more room to think and books became my travelling companion. I transitioned from gluing my attention on my mobile phone to reading books. My screen time dropped significantly. Among the many benefits, I became less exposed to commercial ads that birth interests and influence our preferences. Subtle ads that trigger unnecessary ideas which impacts our values and sometimes have the power to translate our wants as absolute needs.

(Now this explains why I changed my fashion category to books!)

My reunion with books also reminded me of my lifelong passion – writing.

I attended a book launch event and out of curiosity, I asked the author how he fights a typical writer’s problem: writer’s block. His advice was indeed a defining moment –

“Don’t stress yourself if you can’t finish whatever it is that you are writing. Pause. Rest. If you have thoughts about the other pieces you are writing about, then go back to them. You’ll come to a point when your ideas will flow and when that happens take that opportunity and continue writing until you finish it. It doesn’t matter how long it will take. I have a short story that took me years to finish

This got me thinking about why I stopped writing. As an organized person, I feel uneasy when I can’t finish what I started within a set timeline. I stopped writing because I wasn’t willing to compromise my working attitude. I didn’t meet my passion halfway. I became the number one impediment to developing it.

That has slowly changed. I made peace with myself about the fact that there are times that I have to step out of my comfort zone and embrace different working styles. I eventually live out the fact that not everything can be done according to my timeline.

Before we go to the final factor, I’d like to leave you with this advice:

Don’t be afraid to pick up where you left off. Take the risk of beginning something new without hesitation. It’s not a convenient truth: part of adulthood is to go beyond just knowing what you want to do, it’s also about being mature enough to overcome the challenges that comes with it.

3. Determination to change

The final enabler to change succesfully is the determination to do it. No matter how much you want your priorities to change or your preferences to mature, it wouldn’t happen if you are not determined to go through the process of change.

Let me conclude this blog by sharing with you how I embraced change. Every step though challenging is a worth a try.

  • Look for cues and patterns

If there’s one phrase you can easily remember from this blog then it’s this: Everything happens for a reason. It’s cliché for a good reason and I am a huge believer of it.

Diminished interest in fashion, revival of my reading habit and the resurgence of my desire to write are all products of something that happened to me. My family struggle led me to reassess my budget allocations, that movie I saw paved a way for me to start reading again and the book launch I attended opened the door to learn from an author I’ve not met before. And the list goes on and on..

What I failed to capture in my previous change process (those that turned out to be unsuccesful) was my inability to identify cues and patterns that life was teaching me. I became so dependent on my own arguments about why this and that happens to me. I didn’t bother to consider changing my outlook. It took me a tragedy, random experience and a hard truth before I said yes to the change that adulthood was presenting me.

  • Seek for help, listen to others

I’m so blessed to have a husband who listens carefully and give advice without prejudice. In those moments when I was regretting the fact that I put my passion on the sidelines, for beating myself up because of silly habits, and hating myself for not facing situations maturely, he’s been there to shed a brighter perspective. I listened. I valued his opinions and suggestions and then I slowly find myself being consumed positively by change.

When you are going through adjustments or changes, talk it through with someone you trust. Be open as much as you can. Listen to what they have to say. Shut down any hesitations and widen your perspective. Finally, recognize your weakness while appreciating help from others.

  • Be kind to yourself

There is a part in the change process where you need to be gentle to yourself. The tendency is you will be flooded with pangs of guilt and regret for doing or not doing something. It’s a dreadful feeling but it’s not wise to walk away from reality and equally unwise to be critical to yourself. So where should you stand?

When I stopped regreting and blaming, I find the joy of changing.

I started to see things in a whole different perspective. I stirred away from should-have to will-try or will-do

I became more productive catching up with my passion and habits. I was able to streamline what I want to be doing without rushing

I accepted change wholeheartedly. I moved forward. I learned to be kind to myself and let it go through its own pace of transformation.

This is by no means make me an expert on handling change. I’m sure that there are still a lot to go through as an adult but next time it strikes me, I am more confident that I can handle (or at least try to) it more maturely.

Don’t ever forget that change is a process you need to grow. Some are easy while others are difficult. Some require a little amount of sacrifice while others require far more. Amidst all these, one promise that change brings is its ability to stretch you, and transform you. Will you let it get the better of you or will allow it to cause the better version of you?

Author: Anj Salvador

Travel tips and recommendations, books reviews and random reflections

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