We need to be the speed bump that makes us slow down and look at where we are, before blundering forward.
Too often we rush in without thinking.
In some cases, the consequences are minor- an outfit that didn’t pan out. But other decisions- work, relationships, or education can change our future in ways we never anticipated.
We think we have all the time in the world.
“I’ll eat better next year.”
“I’ll start exercising next month.”
“I’ll look at where I’m going and doing later.”
But the days and weeks and months add up, until years and decades go by without change.
Or the anger and frustration we feel at not getting the job, promotion, relationship, accolades we think we deserve fester until nothing can assuage our feelings of victimhood and loss.
Taking stock on a regular basis is important. To reassess our goals, where we are at any given moment and who we’ve become. What we want or envision our lives to be constantly changes. Checking in regularly to see if we’re going in the right direction prevents time from making the decision for us.
Be the speed bump that slows you down, lets you see where you’re at in life, and make a course change when necessary.
We all hit those pivotal moments when it’s natural to look at our options and decide the best path forward, graduation, marriage, children, job opportunities, or divorce. But waiting for only those emotional times to see where we’ve come and where we’re going may not be enough.
Catch the warning signs:
Gaining/ losing weight.
Angry all the time.
Complain but never take action.
Respond defensively to criticism.
Often we don’t listen or actually hear what our bodies are telling us, “It’s time for a change.”
Or we plow through thinking if we ignore the issues they’ll go away.
But they never do.
Eventually the body will shut us down in order to force us to see the truth. Persistent gastrointestinal distress, chronic fatigue, muscle aches, or isolation become the norm.
The job that’s so unfulfilling we can’t continue.
The spouse we can no longer live with.
The child so out of control they need help.
All possibly so earth shattering and life altering we’d rather put our heads in the sand than open our eyes and deal with the reality.
Other times it’s just a buildup of the day-to-day unhappiness and stressors that eventually feels suffocating and insurmountable.
We all tell ourselves a story that explains why we’re where we are now.
“Thing will get better, I just need more time.”
“If I’m just a little more patient, my relationship will improve.”
“What other options do I have?”
They give us meaning, direction and guidance. Often keeping us stuck in situations we are afraid to change. The question becomes “are these answers real or just a temporary patch?”
Not sure? Then it’s time to:
Take a breath.
Take a moment and feel what’s inside.
Are you happy, sad, excited for the next day to come? Scared and worried?
Whatever the feelings. Looking inside before it gets out of control can make all the difference in how well you move on from a bad experience. The more we’re worn down, the harder it is to break free and rebound.
Find someone you can talk to and be honest with. A friend, spouse, counselor. There’s nothing more courageous than being vulnerable. In a safe and healthy environment, it allows us to speak our truths, fears and worries.
Look at your decisions.
Were they decisions you’d pick again? Did they further your goals, feel good, productive? If not, change them tomorrow. If hurtful, own up and make amends. Each day brings a new beginning. This way you’ll learn more about yourself, what really matters.
See your future.
Picture where you want to be in 10, 20 years. How do you see yourself getting to that goal? Has it changed as you get older? This way you won’t be sitting in a rocker at age 90 wondering how it turned out so differently than you imagined.
Learn to be self aware.
We all fall into patterns that feel safe, give us a routine. Always joking when we’re scared. Walking away when we’re unsure or vulnerable. Striking before others can hurt us. Pretending nothing hurts. Stopping these reflexive actions takes introspection and the willingness to see those patterns honestly- as coping mechanism that just isolate and keep us entrenched in bad habits.
When we accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all, strive to be better and work on the relationships in our lives openly and honestly, we gain clarity and become less dependent on what others think. Fear and uncertainty stop guiding our decisions and life becomes hopeful and exciting again.