How to Change Your Life

stakeThat’s a tall order, huh? Okay… I might be overpromising.

I’m going to rewind oh, about five years. My then-husband and I were on the verge of a big move and I had narrowed our house search to a five-mile radius based on school district. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to change my life but I don’t want to change where I shop for groceries or get gas or drop off the dry cleaning.” When I wrote this in my journal later, I realized how silly it was. All those moments… grocery shopping, and getting gas and dropping off dry cleaning… add up all those moments… that IS life. Those were the activities that happened to fill mine at the time. If I wasn’t willing to change them, was I really willing to change my life?

That internal dialogue was what began my life-altering journey to… NOW. It has been a gradual process but looking back on the path that I’ve traveled, I’ve realized that all the stuff I read… you know, from Marianne Williamson (The Gift of Change) and Sarah Susanka (The Not So Big Life) were actually true! My external life reflected my internal one and I had a lot of cleaning up to do. One of the biggest lessons I learned… and there were quite a few in rapid succession was that in order to really live, I had to be willing to BE PRESENT in my own life. Self-evident? Perhaps for those who are much wiser than I.

I realized I had been sleeping… oh, for almost my entire life! I was quite adept at pressing the snooze button whenever an alarm would go off. It must have been because I had it set to a really mellow smooth jazz station. But I wasn’t going to get away with that forever. Apparently, I needed the hard rock station. I needed something loud enough to make the hair on my arms stand up, something big enough to knock all the crap that I’d packed away in boxes to come tumbling out so I could look at them.

Guess what? Where I was filling my gas tank was NOT really the question that was going to lead me to happiness and fulfillment. But it was a lot more comfortable to ask that question than the ones that really mattered, like “Who am I being?” “Who and what do I want in my life?” and “What gives me purpose?”

These are the questions that you shouldn’t ask or fully engage if you are NOT willing to invite change into your life. These are the questions Susanka asks when embarking on her life re-design project. Because these questions require you putting that stake in the ground… which means dirt gets under perfectly polished fingernails and lots of people (and/or circumstances) attempt to knock it down.

You ready for that?

Related Articles
Interview with Sarah Susanka (VIDEO 30 min) where she discusses Counterfeit Love Objects, The Hall of Mirrors, the Waking Dream and many other concepts she writes about in The Not So Big Life.

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.


  1. I’m glad my book helped you to see how internal and external experiences perfectly reflect each other, and to recognize that all of life is really a long and insistent alarm bell to wake us up to this fact. There’s so much more here when we do begin to pay attention, and when we see, as you have, that pushing the snooze button gets us no where.

    As I point out in The Not So Big Life, if you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten. So if you want something different, you have to make some changes. And the only way to do that is to become a keen observer of your own behavior, and to learn to wake up by becoming present in everything you do.

    Once the journey begins, and once you actually hear the alarm bells that have been going off for so long, everything changes, and you start to participate in your life in a whole new way. Congratulations to you for doing so and I hope you’ll come and visit on the not so big life community forums, where there are a number of people sharing their insights and their questions. I participate a lot there, and would love to have your contributions in the mix.

    All the best,


  2. Sarah, thanks for taking time to comment on my post. This one seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people, who commented on the facebook page:

    Yes, your book had a profound impact on me. I have been blessed with some wonderful companions and teachers on the journey, one of whom just reminded me again of what you say as well… if you want something different, you must make different choices! Seems so simple, huh?

    Thank YOU for your book and for being inspiring. I’ve shared it with many friends.

  3. It’s all in the quality of questions we ask, isn’t?

    Thank you Ria for reminding all of us that our external life is a relectionof our internal life. We can’t compartmentalize!

  4. I had occasion to look back on this post and then listen again to the interview we did with Sarah Susanka this fall. I felt very lucky and honored for the opportunity to connect with someone who was a channel for such transformation.

    The journey and the shift continues… and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has come to share it with me. I’m finding that when you are learning new things, there’s comfort and even joy in having people in the classroom with you. So if you’re contemplating a bit of renovation or maybe some small disaster has forced one upon you… don’t fall under the illusion that you are alone!


  1. […] pulled this book off the shelf the other day because I wrote a post called How to Change Your Life. Indeed, this book was an inspiration to me as I went about my recent life re-design. I hope it will […]