02/28/2013 01:17 am ET | Updated Apr 29, 2013

How to Take a Step Back in Order to Make Huge Strides Forward

Sometimes you have to take a step back, a time out from your life.

Sometimes you have to leave behind everything and everyone you know in order to really, truly discover and connect with yourself. To regroup and recalibrate. There's nothing wrong with this, in fact, it's absolutely necessary in order to continue growing as an individual -- to continue moving toward a fulfilling and passionate life.

When you stay close to the everyday of your life -- sometimes even your family, old school friends and the community you grew up in -- you tend to stagnate. You fall in line with their expectations of you, the expectations of what kind of person you should be, based on who you were before and where it is you live. It's hard to become the person you're truly meant to be when you're in a stagnant situation.

You have to go somewhere where no one knows your name, the scenery is different and there are new people, ideas, experiences abound. Somewhere where you're free to just be you and take the time to explore who it is you want to become.

Far away from the stifling expectations of the people who think they know you best.

And when you're ready... you can go back, if you so choose.

You might find there's a much better community of people, job, house or style for you and make the decision to never return to where you were (or who you were) before. Either is perfectly okay, so long as you make the decision for yourself.

But what if you really can't just move across the country, travel abroad or completely uproot your life? How do you take that step back and reconnect with yourself? Remember, it's about taking a time out, not uprooting your life.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the phenomenal book Eat, Pray, Love has this to say about taking a step back, and I couldn't agree more:

If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared -- most of all -- to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself ... then truth will not be withheld from you.

You don't have to up and leave for Bali, quit your job or leave your husband to take a step back. You simply have to create space.

This could mean that you find 10 minutes every morning to start meditating. It could also mean signing up for a silent weekend retreat. Maybe it means booking a room in the next town over and staying overnight alone.

There isn't any right way to take a step back, but here are a few steps to get you started.

1) Get clear on what external expectations are stifling you.

Is it your job? Maybe it's your parents and what they want for you? Maybe it's your group of friends, the ones that haven't changed a bit since high school. Whatever it is, get clear on where you're feeling trapped by external expectations.

2) Plan your getaway!

Again, this doesn't have to be some major, life-changing event. You don't have to do anything drastic, but start putting a plan into place to create some space. Maybe it's time to cash in some vacation days and take yourself out on a hike. Nature is an amazing place to reconnect. Maybe it's a matter of attending some personal development seminars instead of the usual night out with "the girls."

3) Take action and start stepping back.

Look at your schedule for the next week or month, depending on what you need to do. Where can you schedule it in? What needs to shift for this to happen? Do you need to start saving up for a trip? Researching groups online? Make a clear, step-by-step plan for what you need to do to make this happen and schedule it.

Leave a comment below...

Let me know where you need to create space in your life and how you intend to do it. Share one thing you're going to do today to make it happen.

For more by Stephenie Zamora, click here.

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