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How to find and utilize a turning point

Turning point: a point in which significant change occurs. So how do you find yours, and what do you do with it?

NOTE: This is an older post from a past blog theme before the 2023 rebrand.

Photo by Cesira Alvarado

As someone who is guided by routine, the thought of any change (especially major!) is a nightmare to me. Any thought of changing up my ideal future made me very anxious and tended to influence my depressive episodes.

A little over a year ago, I had my job set in stone, knew where I would live the rest of my life, and planned how I would budget for my major life expenses. I’d graduate with my business degree, set up my life career in human resources in US Cellular, buy a house in my home city of Knoxville, and use one of my very fancy Excel budgeting templates to account for every dollar I made and spent. Only one of those has stuck after finding some of my turning points.

If you don’t really know how to recognize a turning point, know that I didn’t either. In fact, I didn’t know what a turning point was in relation to my own life. That’s because I hadn’t expected– or hoped– that I would have to change. Usually, a person does not have just one turning point. For me, I can name two big ones, and neither of them were expected.

My own major turning points
Marie Kondo's book sits pretty on a blanket

My biggest one was the event that lead me out of hoarding disorder and into eco-minimalism. That was when I came across Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up during an effort to find more decorative books. I wasn’t particularly concerned about tackling my hoarding, because why would I want to give up all of the pretty things I had collected? This book gave me the kick I needed to change my mindset and make one of the most significant changes in my lifestyle.

Without finding that initial turning point, I don’t think I would have recognized and utilized my next huge change: from desiring the American corporate world to finding my life abroad. From childhood, I had always thought I would live forever in my home city of Knoxville, Tennessee. However, over the course of a month-long study abroad trip necessary to meet a requirement for my degree, I had several little points help me realize otherwise.

Bigger turning points can encompass the little ones!

Feeding pigeons in el parque de Maria Luisa a few times a week after my Spanish classes made things feel so much less busy. Walking through the same park with the same pigeons and practicing my Spanish with my professor Isabel made things seem achievable. The simple act of hang-drying all of my laundry because I didn’t have a dryer made me realize how energy-intensive simple things are from my usual routine. Not having to drive or order an Uber or taxi to go anywhere made me realize I never wanted to drive again.

My favorite place – La Plaza de España

Overall, the event that causes the turning point doesn’t have to be major. It’s the results — the change — that makes the turning point significant. Feeding the pigeons in the park made me realize I want to live somewhere that isn’t as busy like my American home town. In addition to this, being able to walk everywhere and not have to drive changed the whole continent that I wanted to live on.

I felt my confidence change when I practiced Spanish with my professor. This not only changed how many languages I study, but gave me the confidence I needed to feel comfortable making bigger decisions.

Hang-drying all of my laundry permanently changed how I view our world’s resources. I no longer use the dryer in the States and now I watch my electricity consumption very closely.

It’s amazing how much these little details have impacted the way I am shaping my future. Now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else other than Andalucía, not walking or taking the bus to my daily destinations, not feeding my favorite flock of las palomas, and not letting my clothes dry in the sweet, Andalusian sun while I enjoy some churros con chocolate.

Finding your own

With this in mind, you can be more attentive to these little details and influence the impact they have. Helping an elderly neighbor by bringing them their groceries every week may change your desired career. Having a particularly noteworthy conversation with a stranger may help you discover what kind of person that you’d like to look for when it comes to life partners.

All of these changes, like finding a different career path, changing your entire lifestyle, figuring out what you want from a relationship, and even something as simple as a dietary change, can completely change the course of your life. Analyze what changes you for the better and make it your “aha!” moment. How can you use this little moment to change you?

Look it over. Dissect it. Take fancy notes on it with colorful headers and doodles all in the corners. If you struggle with depression like me, tackle it in a way that makes you feel comfortable and even lively. Print out or write up your notes and stick them on your fridge. Add little cat stickers or rip the corners off the page. For me, messing around in a note-taking app on my tablet and customizing my notes with graphics made things much more bearable and exciting!

Final thoughts

Now, you know my experience with ‘turning points.’ Maybe you’ve already started thinking about something that has stuck out to you in your life. As long as you’re still breathing, there’s hope for more turning points.

I’ve found a few of my own turning points, but I’m still looking for more. I don’t think I’m anywhere close to finding my last!

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I hope you’ve learned something cool!


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