I adore finding new music, but the time music becomes the most essential to me is when I’m going through an emotional transition in my life. After a break-up, quitting a job, moving house, or just having a long soul-searching session, a good relatable song can really help put my thoughts into perspective. If I need some help finding motivation to make a change in my life then I’ll pull up my iTunes and look for a little musical inspiration. If I need a little oomph to get out of the doldrums, music helps then too.

Life experience has taught me that there really is a set of seriously empowering songs that give me the strength and motivation I need when times get tough. This playlist has inspired me after so many life changes, and now I just had to share it with you in the hopes that these tunes will pick you up when you need a pick-me-up the most. So close your bedroom door, turn your favorite jam on full blast, and sing it at the top of your lungs. I can guarantee it will make you feel better, and if you pick the right tune it will make you feel ready for anything

So here’s my moving on playlist. There are a few famous songs that I’m sure you already have every lyric memorized to, plus a few not-so-famous ones that are well worth your while. Music might be just the reminder you need that you’ve got this.

“Defying Gravity” by Keri Ellis & Brian May/Wicked Soundtrack

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“I’m through accepting limits
Cos someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But til I try I’ll never know
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well if that’s love it comes at
Much too high a cost”

We can’t take this song 100% literally, because we’re not witches (or am I . . . ?) but forget about Oz for a second and let’s focus on the reality of the song, in particular the Kerry Ellis cover of the song which has slightly different lyrics than the original Broadway smash. Along with the message that you just have to let go of what doesn’t work anymore, and forget about what you can’t change, “Defying Gravity” tells us that sometimes we have to let go of people we love in order to fly. And we all deserve the chance to fly.

“Change” by Taylor Swift

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“Because these things will change
Can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
This revolution, the time will come
For us to finally win
And we’ll sing hallelujah”

So we see a lot of T. Swift on the daily, but I want to take you back to her breakthrough album Fearless. “Change” is the song from that album that every teenage girl needs to hear during her high school years, it’s a song that teaches us no matter how you approach life there will always be those who try to get in your way, and push you down. But if you believe in yourself, you’ll get back up. The bouncy anthemic tune will pick you up any time you feel a bit hopeless, I definitely got me through some tough times.

Sober” by Kelly Clarkson

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers
But I know it’s never really over
And I don’t know
I could crash and burn but maybe
At the end of this road I might catch a glimpse of me”

I listened to this song a lot when I was on the brink of my 20s. It was at that moment in life that I finally realized that a handful of my “friends” did nothing but bring me down; one constantly mocked me, one guilt tripped me senseless, and, well, I could go on all day. So I picked those weeds, and made the choice to fill my life with joy. Letting go comes with costs, but it can also make you realize who you really are, and what you need to make your life yours. You can cut out weeds in your life and still be strong, in fact you’ll be even stronger. So get out the shears, and take a deep breath.

Moving On” by Paramore

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“We got our own style
We got a way of living life
If they can’t get down
Well, we don’t need them around.
Well I could be angry but you’re not worth a fight
And besides, I’m moving on
I’ve counted to 10 and I’m feeling alright
And besides, I’m moving on.”

Although this is technically an interlude on Paramore’s self-titled album, I count it as a full song in its own right. If you have people in your life that you really wish you didn’t have to deal with, then Hayley Williams’ has some advice for you: forget about them, and don’t waste your anger because it doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you. So for all the arrogant classmates who think they’re better than everyone, or the co-worker who stole your idea; to heck with them, you can make your own way.

One Way Ticket” by Carrie Underwood

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“If you’re tired of your life and the way that you feel
Like a fish on a hook,
Like a bug on a dirty windshield, it’s ok
It’s time to take your chips and cash them all in
Cause it matters where you’re going
Not where you been, say hey
Goodbye yesterday”

Finally, a happier track! Though I find Carrie’s reassurance that we can just quit our jobs with a snap of our fingers quite naive, I also think that if we’re ever in the financially safe position to do that, then we should all just go for it and do what we really want. On a smaller scale; if you’re due for a holiday and you’ve been saving up for it then don’t be afraid; but that ticket! I listened to this song a lot when I was working retail, and I was miserable. Finally I managed to hit a turning point with my freelance writing and low and behold I made my first paycheck on this very article, which gave me the confidence I needed to leave the retail world. I listened to this song on the drive home from my very last retail shift. So if you need a boost to switch careers, or just take that dream vacation, then take Carrie’s advice and say hey, goodbye yesterday!

“Marry The Night” by Lady Gaga

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“I’m gonna marry the night
I won’t give up on my life
I’m a warrior queen
Live passionately tonight.
I’m gonna marry the dark
Gonna make love to the stark
I’m a soldier to my own emptiness
I am a winner”

Mother Monster’s fiery anthem “Marry The Night” took over radio stations everywhere when it was released, and it’s still just as powerful. On top of the fact that this song makes you want to skip and high-kick your way down a long dark road, it’s also a great example, lyrically, of turning a bad situation into something hopeful. I urge you all to watch the full version of the video, a short film if you will, and watch as the passionate dancer is forced to accept how her life is turned upside down. How does she do it? She gets up, puts on her fishnet gloves and gives a middle finger (metaphorically) to a system that looks down on her. We can all relate to that in our own way.

Warrior” by Demi Lovato

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“Out of the ashes, I’m burning like a fire
You can save your apologies, you’re nothing but a liar
I’ve got shame, I’ve got scars
That I will never show
I’m a survivor
In more ways than you know”

Demi Lovato has been a spokeswomen for many different issues, including mental illness, and anti-bullying. “Warrior” is an anthem for anyone who has suffered from either of those ills in their lifetimes — honestly it’s an anthem for all of us. It tells us that if Demi can push through horrible times in her life than so can we. She tells us to don our battle armor, and stand up tall, because no matter what you are never to blame for the abuse of others. You are not weak, and you will survive.

Do Or Die” by 30 Seconds To Mars

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“Fate is coming, that I know.
Time is running, got to go.
Faith is coming, that I know.
Let it go.
Here right now
Under the banner of heaven, we dream out loud
Do or die, and the story goes

“Do or Die” is the perfect song for making you seize the moment and take the plunge towards your dreams. If you ever find yourself unmotivated or stuck in a rut, then just remember that your story is always moving and always changing. I know that whenever I hear this song it makes me want to finish every project I’ve ever started, travel around the world, and bust out of my routine. Basically, it reminds me that I can change my life, and turn it completely around if I work hard enough to make it happen. A lot of the motivation I get from the track comes from the instrumentation, and Leto’s voice, heck even if the lyrics described something mundane like painting his house or buying his groceries it’d probably still push me into a confident place!

“Stronger” by Britney Spears

Lyrics that give me the empowerment feeling:

“There’s nothing you can do or say, baby
I’ve had enough
I’m not your property as from today, baby
You might think that I won’t make it on my own
But now I’m stronger than yesterday”

I couldn’t have a list of songs about moving on without mentioning the queen of reinvention, could I? I’m sure you all remember this song, it was the moment we realized that Britney could bite back.
If you ever need a strong boost of confidence after a harsh break up or after you get sick and tired of a friend or family member taking advantage of you, then just get on your best ’90s get-up, and blast this track. Like Britney, you’re much stronger than people may give you credit for, and you can make it, on your own.

Now, go take on the world.

[Images via X and X]