Tell me why things have to get bad first before you decide to make things better? Is it that you have become so attached to the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Why wait for it to be broken if you already realise that this is the direction that it’s going in anyway?
Here’s the thing:
You don’t have to have a job that sucks before you decide to pursue another avenue.
You don’t have to be miserable before you feel you deserve to be truly happy.
You don’t have to have a bad marriage to want a better one.
Yet we settle. We settle and wrap ourselves in the comfort of “I’m doing better than most; my life is OK; I should be grateful, things could be worse;” Of course I am not saying that we should not be grateful human beings but we need to be on the lookout — using gratitude as an excuse to remain stuck.
There’s an anecdote that carries a wonderful lesson. It appears that a party of hunters, being called away from their camp left the campfire unattended, with a kettle of water boiling on it. Presently an old bear crept out of the woods and seeing the kettle with its lid dancing about on top — promptly seized it. The boiling water scalded him badly; but instead of dropping the kettle instantly, he proceeded to hug it tightly — this being a bear’s idea of defense. Of course, the tighter he hugged it the more it burned him; and the more it burned him the tighter he hugged it; and so on in a vicious circle, to the undoing of the bear.
This illustrates perfectly the way in which many of us have learned to hug our difficulties to our bosoms constantly rehearsing them to ourselves and to others. We’re sometimes getting ‘burnt’ but want to be thankful that it’s not as bad as the woman down the road. Is that really a good reason to do absolutely nothing about your own discomfort and pain?
Admitting that you want something more than what you’re presently experiencing is the first step. Believing that you do deserve something more is your second. However I must caution that sometimes the ‘more’ is elusive especially when what we define as the more that we need is not necessarily what we were after in the first place.
I once described to a potential client that finding out who you really are and what you want is a lot like going on an archaeological dig. It is painstaking and requires discipline and determination but just like Rome — you won’t get the answers you seek in a day. Think about how wrapped up and challenged we’ve become in today’s consumer-oriented, instant gratification world. We thrive on external benchmarks thrust at us — by income, bonuses, net worth, job title, size of responsibilities etc. We define each other by what we do for a living. And if we are in the company of someone we think is important then we’re only too happy to say that this is so and so the Managing Director of X Conglomerate International — my personal friend!
Clothes and brands are another way we keep score. Look around at all the faux brands being sold today and look-a-likes so everyone can ‘look like’ they could afford it. With all this keeping up, your voice is muted and you go along — only having enough energy left over to convince yourself that it’s alright and you are sorta, kinda, happy, compared of course to others who are ‘ketchin’ their behinds — but are you really?
One thing’s for sure — the desire for something more is not going to let you be — even if you won’t admit it aloud. One French teacher described her student, an impressive corporate attorney in her forties whose French wasn’t half bad, but she’d never been to France. It was her dream though at the time she seemingly lived the dream of a good job, husband, two kids, two cars and a house in a well to do neighbourhood. What she never had was the sort of life experiences that she could afford but because of her rigid life plan, never allowed herself the opportunity to travel to France (her something more). I know you’d tell me now about sacrificing for kids etc but my point is simply this: there has to be a powerful element of living life in the present in any balanced personal definition of success. We cannot pretend to know where our life is going to go. We are making plans after we’ve done X and Y and Z assuming that there’s an after!
Now is all you have and ‘something more’ is what your soul desperately needs. Why not go after it?