In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to avoid change.
Let’s explore how we can navigate our next steps, and go on this journey together for a while.
Whether we like it or not, every one of us can maximize the positive impact of this currently fast-paced, whim-based, commitment-free environment we find ourselves in by momentarily stepping out of the moment to look at the bigger picture – seeing the forest as a whole instead of jumping from branch to branch.
The big picture
Have you seen the Hunger Games movies?
In the second one, Katniss is back in the arena trying to figure out who’s a friend, who’s a foe, and why these massive life-threatening events keep happening. You know what she does? She climbs a tree to get a good look at her whole environment: hills around the edges, lots of trees and no open spaces, a lake with an island in the center, and one single lone tree standing high above all the rest. Now she and her support circle can make better decisions on how to move forward.
Let’s climb our own tree:
Here are five things we can do to get a better view of our big picture:
1. What are you good at?
Like me, you’re good at several things. More than you probably want to give yourself credit for, in fact – and there are reasons why your lack of belief in just how much you can do well isn’t humility, but trained thinking. Consider the diversity of this list:
- Performing classical & show music
- Leading meetings
- Event and project management
- Generating ideas
- Inspiring others
- Cycling and swimming
- Business operations
- Seeing bigger pictures
- Developing strategies
And that’s off the top of my head.
Write your list now.
2. What do you enjoy?
Several of the things I’m good at I really enjoy doing. There are several that do not excite me whatsoever, but I’m still good at them. Which ones do I focus on? Can I combine them? Do I have to do stuff I’m good at just because I’m good at it and it pays the bills?
3. You can do anything you want to!
I grew up in the generation that began learning that there are no boundaries to what we can accomplish if we only applied ourselves. And because that’s what we learned, my generation has passed that on to the next generation, and they in turn taught theirs (who are still pretty young!): “Be yourself – you can be anything you want!”
The problem is, that’s true.
The problem is, it’s not true.
In my youth I really enjoyed playing field hockey. I loved being outside and getting muddy, with a few bruises here and there, and getting clean afterwards in a hot shower after helping to score a few goals.
But I wasn’t very good at it, and it was not often that we won matches.
No matter how much I might want to ride horses and win races, I’m too big, too bulky and too heavy. I’ll never be a world class jockey at 5’2″ and 110lbs. I can definitely learn to ride a big Clydesdale horse, and even teach it to run a bit fast; but I’ll never be a Kentucky Derby or Ascot champ.
Be realistic about your dreams – and remember that they are allowed to change.
4. Get organized.
It is very easy to spend a great deal of valuable time and energy – neither of which you can ever get back – on silly things, like looking for keys, or trying to remember what you were going to do today, or looking for a document you need to submit a health insurance claim.
Look around you.
- Can you name the function of each piece of furniture?
- Can you see things you haven’t actually looked at and thought about in a month?
- Is there anything with a layer of dust on it?
- Where is your internet service provider contract?
- When was the last time you looked at it?
- Where are your keys right now?
Eliminating clutter from your physical surroundings will help, but even more valuable is keeping everything in the same place, always. Do you think master craftsmen keep their tools lined up neatly, sometimes even outlining which tool hangs where on the wall? You bet. Why? So they can find them quickly and easily, and keep thinking about what they’re creating, rather than have their mind wander while also figuring out where they left that darn #3 chisel.
Doing so also helps avoid damage to the tool as well as personal injury, should some tool be unseen and fall off the bench onto someone’s toe. (Don’t ask me how I know this…)
5. Hold your arrows loosely.
In the Hunger Games, Katniss was an archer. Her most precious resource was her bow. Her most precious tools were her arrows. Some she even made herself. They allowed her to hunt and eat, protect herself, and even escape her confines. But every single one of them was lost. Her most precious tool was gone forever. Even if they didn’t work as intended (ever missed a shot?!), she would simply have to replace them.
What you hold precious today may continue to be valuable tomorrow (your bow).
Then again, it may not (your arrows).
Your life path is not determined by the tools you’ve made along the way. Sometimes, we simply have to move camp off the shoreline or away from the cliff face. Digging your heels in may not always be beneficial for you or those you love. Be ready to let your arrows fly away.
Well, actually, I do.
And so do you.
We’ve already decided what we’re going to do next.
The trick is, is it still the most effective thing we can do that has an impact on our lives?
And that depends on your life values:
- Once you commit to something, do you uphold your commitments or do you wait to decide at the last minute whether or not you’ll actually do it?
- Are you constantly considering your reputation and credibility?
- Do you trust yourself to make amazing decisions that benefit both you and those around you?
Let’s keep going on this journey together.
Keep an eye out for my next article. I’ll announce it on social media. And who knows, maybe I’ll even reinstate my email list, if you really want to be “in the know!”