How To ‘Change Your Stars’

One of my family favorite movies is A Knight’s Tale starring Heath Ledger. It’s completely…something. I mean, modern pop culture references in a medieval movie shouldn’t work, but it does

However, the overall theme of the movie is about whether or not a man can “change his stars.” After all, you have a commoner who wants to become a knight, something forbidden.

What does that have to do with anything?

Well, yesterday, I did something I kind of despise. I told people to change their lives if they don’t like it, but I really didn’t offer up a whole lot of actionable advice.

I offered up a platitude and put the onus on you, but all I offered was some vague comments about grabbing opportunities.

While I’m not a fan of trying to tell you how to live your life, I also have to understand that not everyone has a clue as to how to even begin to “change their stars.”

Today, I’m going to try and fix that.

First, you need to take a deep, long look at your life. What is working and what isn’t. Maybe you work a crap job and are in a dead-end relationship. Maybe you don’t even really have a life. You go to work, come home to watch TV, lather, rinse, and repeat.

Whatever it is, that’s the very first step you can take. Without that knowledge, there’s not a damn thing anyone can tell you that will make your life better. Nothing.

After all, if I told you that to change your life, you needed to go to school, would that really help? Sure…if you hate your job and want a different career. It doesn’t do much if you’re married to an abusive jackass (and abusive jackasses come in both male and female varieties).

Conversely, telling you to ditch your significant other is stupid if they’re nurturing and supportive but it’s your job that’s jacked up.

So in order to address anything, you have to first identify the problem.

This sounds like a nice case of “duh,” but it’s not. You see, it sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s simple. Simple does not equal easy.

It’s hard to look at yourself and your life with an objective eye. People are really great at justifying their decisions. They’re so good, in fact, that they can convince themselves that those rationalizations are the honest truth. They successfully lie to the one person who should be able to see through it.

But it’s also necessary. You have to do it and don’t be sparing. Everything should be on the table that can possibly be there.

Now, I qualify that because let’s say you really resent being a parent. Can you change that fact? No. Nor should you. That’s a responsibility and that’s where the line in the sand has to be drawn.

Beyond those responsibilities, everything has to be considered. 

However, once you identify the problem, you have to figure out a path toward fixing it. Again, that’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

For example, let’s say your marriage is unfulfilling. Your wife gets snippy with you and makes you feel horrible for what you fail to do, despite the many things you do well.

It’s easy for someone to look at that and think, “Dude. You need to get the hell out of there.” They may not necessarily be wrong.

But will that make everything better? If you love your wife and she’s doing this unintentionally, maybe just calling it quits isn’t the best way to deal with things. Talking to her, undergoing marriage counseling, speaking with a pastor, all are viable options that don’t involve attorney fees.

Part of why yesterday’s post didn’t include a whole lot of concrete plans is because you’re unique. Your set of circumstances are different from whatever hypothetical I can come up with.

Just understand one important thing: There is always a way to change your fortunes.

Don’t like your job? Find a new one.

Don’t like your career? Find a new one.

Don’t like bosses? Start a business or work freelance. Yes, it’s difficult, but I don’t exactly have bosses breathing down my neck.

Like both but cash is still tight? Consider what folks call a “side hustle.” Stuff like driving for Uber or Lyft or other ways to earn money on the side.

Marriage is a disaster? Try to fix it.

Don’t like having responsibilities? Get to counseling to figure out why so you can come to terms with that.

About the only thing you can’t deal with is a terminal, untreatable disease. If you’ve got one of those, I’ve got nothing on that front. I’m not the kind to recommend essential oils and cannabis as a cure-all for everything.

Beyond that, though, anything is possible.

Here in the United States, we live in the most open society in the history of man. You can be born to a poor teenage single mother in a time that wasn’t tolerated and still grow up to become the wealthiest woman alive.  Nothing is off the table in this country. Not really.

But it’s not guaranteed, either. There’s no obligation on another living soul to open the doors for you. If you want doors opened, you have to kick them in yourself.

It’s on you.

It’s always been on you.

First, though, you have to identify the problems. Do that, address them, and then move on.

You won’t be problem free. That life doesn’t exist. All you’ll do is find new problems. But those new problems will represent new opportunities to improve your life, so bring them on.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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