Life Transformation

Life TransformationToday somebody asked me, “How do you find the strength to keep pushing forward? You have improved so much from where you started, and I know a lot of people would have given up in your situation. I am just in awe of your story, and I want to know how you became so determined.”  I know what I want in life and I will run through a brick wall to get it.  I do not believe that there are roadblocks that are stopping us from achieving what we want in life, instead, we encounter obstacles that give us the strength that we need to get where we want to be.  With that said, there is no such thing as a hopeless situation as long as you never lose hope in yourself.  Life transformation is an internal journey, meaning that, if you cannot find content, or peace, within yourself, then you will never find bliss no matter where you go.  Life transformation is not about reaching a goal, it is about the journey, all of the hardships, all of the joy, all of the uncertainty, overcoming the challenges along the way and persevering the battles that try to hold you back, this is where life transformation takes place.  With that said, life transformation is not a destination, it is a journey where the process takes place.  Rick Warren once said, “Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.”  Life transformation does not happen when everything is going well, the life transformation process happens when you find yourself in an abyss and the transformation process happens when you embark on the journey to regain control of your life.  With that said, I am sharing with you Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and why keeping your back against the wall is beneficial for life transformation.


Life TransformationJoseph Campbell said, “They thought that it would be a disgrace to go forth as a group. Each entered the forest at a point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path. If there is a path it is someone else’s path and you are not on the adventure.”  This quote symbolizes the fact that we are all on our own journeys in life and the life transformation process cannot take place if we go down someone else’s path, try the life transformation process while being tethered to a group, or expect a life transformation to manifest without moving away from your sphere of familiarity and crossing a threshold into the unknown.  Life transformation takes us to a place beyond where we are now, which brings us into unfamiliar territory, and at a certain point we have to trust that we are going the right direction and take the opportunity to learn from the mistakes, and successes, that are made along the way.  For example, if you were to leave your comfort zone, and try something new, you would learn from that experience which could give you more life skills, change your perspective, and the journey as a whole can play a part in the life transformation process.  Joseph Campbell continues to say, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”  This “cave“ is a metaphor of the unknown territory that we charter when embarking on a new journey, which is the first step of the life transformation process.  Joseph Campbell illustrated the “monomyth,” or the hero’s journey,” which is a template used in pop films to tell the story of the life transformation journey of many characters and the storylines resonates with people all around the world because this metaphor is comparable to the life transformation process that many of us go through in our own lives.  Leave your thoughts and opinions about this, the heroes journey, in the comment section below.  I have included a video of the heroes journey so that you can see the illustration of the life transformation process that takes place using the Monomyth template.


Nolan McDonnell


Life TransformationRalph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  Opportunities for life transformation most likely will not occur if you are following someone else’s journey instead of your own.  Additionally, when you are on the path that you are supposed to be on things fall into place, opportunities reveal themselves,and the life transformation process happens organically.  Many people make great lives for themselves by following a path that is already laid by somebody else, however, life transformation often happens in times of uncertainty, become proactive in times of despair, and begin the journey of overcoming a hopeless situation.  Life transformation happens in many circumstances, however, personal growth is most prevalent in scenarios where we overcome challenges and continue to pave a path that we want for ourselves.  Randy Pausch, on the topic of life transformation, said, “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”  If life’s desires were easily obtainable then nobody would work for anything, material items would hold no value, and ultimately, nobody would go through a  life transformation journey.  



Life TransformationOne of the greatest things that I have learned about the life transformation journey, which I learned from recovering from my near death experience, is that when your back is against the wall, and you have nowhere to turn, pushing forward and making progress is the only option you have.  When you are in a position where you have no other choices, but to move forward, doors will open up for you where they were only walls and the life transformation journey will begin.  Additionally, you never know how strong you are until using your strength is the only choice you have, and in this process, the life transformation journey sets itself up and all you have to do is take action, or else you suffer.  For example, when I came out of the coma, and I was paralyzed from the neck down, My back was against the wall and I was left with two choices, prepared to suffer or prepare to heal.  From my personal experience, there is no better motivation to take on the life transformation journey than being in a do or die situation.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said, “What it also does for me is that I keep my back against this motherf*cker [points to wall] because it’s what I believe in. And when my back is against this motherf*cker then there is nowhere else to go but [forward].”  When you have no other choice but to suffer or move forward, taking action becomes much more motivating.  When you have been through that situation once, you should always remember where you came from so that the life transformation process becomes a state of mind and therefore a lifestyle.  Progress is not easy, it is uncomfortable, and there is a lot to learn in the process, however, if life transformation is something you want, it should also be worth working for.


Nolan McDonnell

Life Transformation

Life transformation


5 thoughts on “Life Transformation

  1. Thank you for sharing, it takes a strong person to look within oneself and find the way to overcome…. My TBI recovery has been very tough as well. Now I need to re focus as I am loosing my marriage.


  2. Thankyou for sharing. I have found things so difficult since having encephalitis. Its now been 5 years since it first got me. I do struggle sometimes but I look back to the start of this illness, I go through my diaries where my memory now lives and I can thankfully see progress.


  3. You are my hero and I enjoyed all three when I’m having a bad day (my stroke was February 7,2019) I always try to think about you. Everything you’ve been through and you still have such a positive outlook that is so encouraging to me. I hope I can keep pushing forward like you. Never stop because you have no idea how many people are watching you 💕🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻💕


  4. Great article buddy. I have the sane outcome of my tbi, walk forward not backwards, I never sit down in life and only look back if I need a reference what I should not do again from my past mistakes.


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