There are certain times in everyone’s life where they feel they have reached a plateau, that the next level is just out of reach, for now, and they will just have to wait. I know there was a time in my life where I had no idea how I was going to go from where I was, working for a retail company with no future to where I wanted to be (rich?). I felt that I was performing the best I could in my current role, but outside of someone leaving the company, there was no room for growth, personally or professionally. But what I didn’t realize, is that there were plenty of opportunities all around me, that could better utilize my skill set (and help me learn new skills), I just didn’t see them.
Many of us are too close to the action of our lives to take a step back and plan accordingly. There are many ways of describing it, one of my favorites is “you will miss the forest, looking at the trees”, which basically means that we are too focused on the day-to-day of our lives, businesses, or w.e, that we are missing the big picture around us and potentially the solution to our problems. The saddest part is, many of us only look for those solutions when we have reached a point in our situation where we can not possibly go forward. How do we get to that point and what can we do to change the behavior?
The Water is Just Fine.
Have you ever gone swimming with someone and they tell you that the water “feels great”, only for you to jump in and nearly die from frost bite? (dramatic) What is the difference? Do they have some super-human skin that gives them the inability to feel cold? Likely not. It is more likely that they have been in the water much longer than you. As humans, we have an amazing ability to adjust to our surroundings, even getting comfortable in them. Now imagine that same scenario, only this time, you are the one in the water telling others to get in. The water started off at a very comfortable temperature and then slowly cooled off. When do you think you would notice that it is too cold? Obviously at a much lower temperature than those around us.
We often get to points in our life, where we just floated there, never checking the temperature. The only time we think to change is when we feel the pain, or everyone around us is telling us we have to change. We finally see the warning signs and signals. When do we realize that we need to change diets? Usually when none of our clothes fit us. When do we change our eating habits? When the doctor tells us we have XYZ wrong with us. When do we start to worry about our credit? The moment we want to buy something with it.
This happens to us, in part, because change is hard. Think about being in that water. No matter how cold everyone is telling you it is inside of the water, you know that once you step out, you will feel even more cold. So you stay in the water, because it is comfortable.
Like all things, change becomes more difficult, and more painful, the more we ignore it. Eventually, what was once comfortable, because the source of our discomfort with our current situation. That great job that we once landed has now become a dead end we can’t get out of. Or that amazing car we bought with credit, is now a financial burden.
The happiest people on earth don’t just accept change, they embrace it. They recognize that change does not have to be something that happens to us, but something that we can make happen for us. In order to do that, we must have a plan, otherwise we will end up at another impasse.
By taking 2 steps back from our current situation, we can make a plan that gets us out of it. We may unlock an entirely new field of view, that shows us a clear path to what we want, even if it means making some large changes. Those 2 steps backwards may very well be 2 steps in the right direction.