While you were busy sleeping with your eyes open, the one finite resource that every person on this planet shares an equal amount of in a given day, just slipped through your fingertips.
I’m here to tell you, you’ve waited long enough. The time has come to take some inspired action to shift that ingrained pattern of monotony that has overtaken your life. And experience has taught me that a close companion of that humdrum script is a series of unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that you habitually have on repeat about your life, yourself, and your relationships. But let me stop you right there and tell you one thing: you’re worth the effort it takes to tell those little mental gremlins to shut the hell up.
Why? Because life is short, and it won’t wait for you. If that stings, it should. Let this be a wake up call for you, my friend, because this life isn’t a dress rehearsal. We are here on this planet for a fraction of a fraction in time, and that fleeting blip in the sun is a gift to us, and a gift to others. My mother recently told me during one of those the-earth-seems-to-stop moments as she looked me right in the eyes, “Devon, you never really know when your ‘last’ of something is really going to be your LAST”.
It hit me like a ton of bricks because in an instant, I flashed back to all the intentions I’ve had along my journey to live out these iconic moments with family, friends, and my baby, that never actually came to fruition. For some, it’s not too late, but for others, that moment in time will never come again. The opportunity I missed the most was when my baby was first born years ago. I envisioned idyllic moments of family coming over to bask in baby bliss, cementing our family connection month after month while watching that little baby grow and stumble into toddlerhood, all while capturing it on film to treasure and store away for baby’s big wedding day two decades later. Well…. that never happened, not even the first week we brought baby home. Yes, we had a few family moments during major holidays where we frantically played catch up from the gaping holes of time that had passed since we last got together. We took a few blurry pictures, but it was NOTHING compared to what I believe it should have been to celebrate the miraculous life that was brought into this world after 5 full days and nights of labor. The me today knows that I should have campaigned more for those precious moments, despite the headache of scheduling conflicts with almost a dozen people in 5 different households. I would have created more opportunities for casual, t-shirt and sweatpants, impromptu hangouts, and I would have made my postpartum sadness and longing to be close to them a louder and more frequent cry for connection than I did. But that was then, and this is now. I’ve learned too well what isolation feels like. It feels hollow and empty. And it reproduces itself at an alarmingly rapid rate in the echo chamber of our idle minds.
Research by psychologists shows that as we age and pass through the first quarter of our life, time seems to speed up and before we know it, a decade has gone by. They call it “forward telescoping”, which is actually just a shift in our perspective of how time is passing. We know it’s not a literal increase in speed. The reason is believed to be due to the level of complexity of information we take in as children and young adults, and the constant variety of new situations and contexts compared to our overly scripted and predictable workweeks as adults. These things require a high degree of attention and focus, problem solving, and situational adapting – demanding much from our mental and physical resources.
However, as we age, we become desensitized to the new information that we encounter in the world as we familiarize ourselves with our daily schedule, the same route to work, the same people at the office, the same eateries for lunch, the kids’ school schedule, and especially with our partner. Congratulations, you’ve officially gone on autopilot.
While autopilot sure conserves a lot of energy, it also discourages us from diving into a robust well of energy, motivation, passion, purpose, and joy that is just sitting right there inside of us going unused. It is pure potential on tap.
My stance on personal growth is that it’s infinite and vital to healthy living. In fact, I’m highly driven to understand myself and to learn better ways of interacting with others and the world around me. I get a rush, actually a high, off of reading good books and watching enlightening documentaries. But I also believe that with the contemporary global shift of prioritizing the ‘development of self’ in the cult-like world of personal growth, that we can easily become overwhelmed with the feeling of inadequacy and the lurking suspicion that we could, and should, always be doing more.
My point in saying all of this is that you don’t need life-changing, monumental therapy or coaching over months and months to find relief, joy, inspiration, or motivation right now. You might very well need that too, depending on what type of elephant you’re trying to eat, but I have seen with my own eyes that there are millions of moments throughout each day that offer little nuggets of those coveted emotions that are often underestimated in our progress forward. Because what we usually underestimate about them, is that those little moments can and do become habitual if we repeat them often enough. And do you know what else? Beliefs are just thoughts that we repeated enough times that we eventually started to believe them.
Start where you are. Don’t feel like you need to start where someone else is, or where you wish you were. And remember that all those things you’d like to do in order to “work” on yourself, might never come to fruition, for a variety of different reasons. In fact, I’d even dare to say that they might not even need to come to fruition in order for you to accomplish your envisioned outcome. Sometimes life offers us shortcuts, detours, and alternative outcomes that are just as good if not better, and other times all we really needed was a shift in perspective about ourselves, our lives, and our relationships.
Start where you are. There is no shame in not being somewhere else. Because the race is really just with yourself, and in reality, there is no race at all.
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“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Oprah Winfrey