You’re out at the beach, spending the day in the sun. Warm sand beneath your toes, the gentle keel of seagulls punctuates the rhythmic, hypnotic roll of the waves. You slip into the cool water, swim out from shore, and float, buoyant on the water. When it comes. You drift into a sharp current of water, and suddenly are being propelled out deeper and deeper. Panicked, you start to fight the water pressure, swim back to shore. Stroke after stroke, your arms and legs flail to get back to the sandy oasis. You begin to make progress, when another wave of water knocks you back again, at speeds of 1-8 feet per SECOND. On and on you fight, coughing, gagging on the salt water, and feeling fatigue leaden your arms.
Thankfully, you will eventually hit the end of the current – but it may be MILES OUT by that time, and you’ve exhausted yourself fighting this inevitable propulsion.
Instead of fighting the rushing tide, though, you can shift your direction, change your focus. Shift 90 degrees, and swim out of the rip tide, parallel to the shore. This will bring you back to calmer waters, and then you can return to shore. Or just stop fighting, let the rip tide carry you to its end, and then easily make the parallel move till you can return to the beach.
This is so much like life when trying to reach a new career or life goal. We are bombarded with things we feel we “must” do. We must work, we must clean, we must check email, we must keep up on newsletters and current events, we must keep in touch with friends on Facebook, we must join a book club or learn an instrument… but can we stop some of those things? Can we shift our focus away from that flood, and minimize it?
Do you want to lose weight, but want a plan, and then end up spending day after day gathering recipes, plotting your workout schedule, and making motivational signs for your room? Or do you actually get to it and work? I don’t mean some general planning, but I mean Over-planning to the point it is becoming procrastination and an excuse to not get to business.
I have been collecting newsletters and career tips for ages, diligently saving them in Gmail under their appropriate folders. Sugar, Political food debates, cancer, etc. I swear that I’ll need them again, and that they’ll be important resources when I “someday” get to having my own practice. And one morning, after taking 4 hours to try to catch up on new listserve messages to see which would be important to save for “someday,” I realized that I was fighting my own rip tide. If I flood myself with current news and recent research on every topic out there, I will never have more than snippets of knowledge of them all. I need to shift my focus. Do I want to write a thorough article on “Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?”? Then I need to stop reading all the other topics, delete them (I can always research sources another day when immediately useful!) and just figure out what I want to do.
Stop fighting the flow of life, and either swim away from things that tire you out, or just ride it out until you are ready to come back to sandy shores, your foundation of a happy life.