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How to reduce the pressure to “take the next step” in your life

FotoDuets - Shutterstock

Cecilia Zinicola - published on 07/21/21

Instead of rushing to get to the "next step," find peace and joy in focusing on the present.

“If you’re single, hurry and get a boyfriend or girlfriend! If you’re dating, get married! If you’re married, have children! If you have a child, think about giving him or her siblings!”

Sound familiar? Many people today live with the pressure to “take the next step.” 

It’s fine to want to move forward in life, but it can become dangerous if you lose sight of the value of the present moment. There are things to enjoy about each stage of life.

Pressure can also cause you to disregard your personal vocation. You might even make wrong decisions by acting in haste. Pressure can cause all kinds of problems.

When you feel that the pressure is getting the best of you, keep in mind these positive actions you can take:

1Create a peaceful environment

Think about how you can contribute to not creating more pressure than already exists around other people. Often the problem isn’t that we have bad intentions—we may even just be joking—but what we say can create unnecessary stress and pressure for others. Watching our words is important.

Try to find quiet spaces where you can connect with yourself and slow down. Cultivating a state of calm helps us not to take on more pressure or pass it on to others. The best state in which to make a decision is one of peace. 

2Share what you’re experiencing with others

Telling someone else about the pressure you’re feeling can help reduce anxiety and stress. It not only allows you to analyze your situation more realistically, but also to realize that what’s happening to you is normal. Talk to a friend or a person you trust. 

At the same time, put your desires in God’s hands, and don’t worry: He will take care of them. Learn to trust in the providential hand of the Father. He will always be there and will not let you down if you do your best to be faithful.

3Try to be truly present where you are

Sometimes it’s difficult to accept reality for what it is and to step out of the mentality imposed by so many expectations. Enjoy the moment you’re living and what you have right now, because you may not realize until later how valuable it was.

Take advantage of this stage of your life to give your best. Stop comparing yourself to others and be glad you can spend time learning to love yourself as you are where you are. 

You can learn a great deal, gain more ground and discover new skills when you dedicate yourself to what you’re doing with all your heart. This will help you occupy all your emotional energy in productive and exciting ways. It’s a grace to spend time learning to love and cherish what you have, whether it’s little or much. 

4Delve into the details of your vocation

Each person’s life is a work of craftsmanship and can be very different from that of others. Therefore, your purpose, joy, and fulfillment may be somewhat unique.

God has a beautiful plan for you, whether you’re married, with or without children, consecrated, or living as a single person.

Have you ever wondered what your vocation is?

Instead of spending your time being jealous of other people’s lives or gifts and comparing yourself to others on social media, take the time to ask God what your talents are and what He expects of you. This will help you embrace the unique and beautiful life He has given you.

Ask Him to help you use those gifts well to live to the fullest. 

5Respect your time and demand that others respect it too

Normally, making decisions such as starting a relationship, committing to married life, or having children requires emotional energy and effort. If you don’t think you’re ready yet, don’t rush it or force it simply because it’s the “right thing to do” or what others expect of you. 

Good things happen to those who wait. Be patient.

Taking the next step can be compared to eating a piece of fruit: It won’t taste good if you bite into it too soon or wait until it goes bad. If you know how to wait and watch, the right time to eat it will become evident. 

6Focus more on the task than on the outcome

If you’re single, it may be the perfect time to focus on all the opportunities that your current state in life offers you, such as a new project at work or a better use of your free time. If you’re married, strengthen your relationship, and it will make you invincible in life. If you don’t have children, take advantage of the extra rest. If you do have kids, learn more about unconditional love. What can you do today with who you are and what you have?

When you keep your focus on the task at hand, you can see the concrete steps you need to take, just like a student who doesn’t obsess about the final grade, but puts his attention on doing a great job. Spend less time crying and complaining to God about what you don’t have. Spend your time focused on the blessings you have in front of you, trusting that you will go far as long as He walks with you.

Tags:
Catholic LifestyleMental HealthRelationships
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