I took a different route to work yesterday. And I saw different things.
Suddenly, in a gap between buildings, I spied this view in the photo, above: stairs and a distant clock face above them.
A thought struck immediately:
“Take the steps to make the time…”
And then, a heartbeat later:
“… time for the things that matter.”
I had to stop for a second, to drink it in and let all the bustling commuters around me blur on by.
So what are those things for you? The things that matter?
Life can change at a moment’s notice – we all know this. Profound, unexpected change where the things we previously took for granted become the things we miss, for we can no longer experience them in quite the same way again. At least for now…
At the moment, I’m getting lots of reminders of this. Lots of losses, big and small, in my own life, and in the lives of those close to me.
I guess it comes back to our fragility. Our mortality. Our passage through the (limited) time we have. And our ability to recognise what really matters to us, so we can live it, love it, while it’s here in our hands.
How will you know that you’re ready to start? Once you’ve planned and perfected and plotted all your goals on a graph, like we’re so often encouraged to do. How will you know you’re ready?
It’s an important question, whatever change or dream or hope you might be facing. (And, life being what it is, it’s pretty rare not to be facing one of these sorts of things…)
So how will you know you’ve done enough preparing and perfecting of the plan - and when it’s time to just take the plunge?
Does the perfecting have a use-by date?
Or is it something you could get lost in the safety of and languish in forever if you wanted to?
Something comfortable, even?
Something that perhaps beguiles you with the promise of being able to predict and resolve almost any problem that may arise – before they appear, of course. (And in a universe of potentially infinite possibilities and permutations, is that even possible?)
Have you ever felt sometimes that your life was going ’round in circles? That you were stuck on some broken record? Repeating the same cycles – the same patterns? I know I have.
And it can be frustrating. Dizzying. Maddening. And hard to know what to do about it.
So what are some options?
Well, maybe it depends on how you look at it…
It’s easy to be seduced by the idea of “later”:
(I think I’m slightly addicted to it, myself…)
And the thing with this “later” business is that you have to believe that there always will be a later. That maybe you get some kind of say in how much “later” there’ll be (a lot, thank you). That your time – your life – can be controlled, planned, predicted.
Yet, existentially, none of us can really do that.
For the end of our days – the end of all our “laters” – will come when it comes, and however much we procrastinate, it seems that’s something that just won’t be put off. One day, it will simply be too late for your “laters”…
So then what?
Where does that leave you with “later”?
(And where does it leave you with now?)
There are enough limitations in this world.
Physical ones, depending on your age and agility and health at the moment. Existential ones, in terms of having a finite lifespan and knowing that death awaits us somewhere. And the limitations that the dominant social norms of society might like to try to contain you with (prescribing what we’re all “allowed” or “supposed” to do or be in certain situations).
So there’s plenty.
Yet do you find yourself sometimes adding to this list?
Creating even more barriers for yourself?
Arguing for yet more limitations and making a watertight case for why you can’t possibly try or succeed or excel?
(Isn’t there already enough holding you back?)
And is it possible to drop that baggage and move on with a little less weight and a little more possibility?
Have you started some new ways of being lately?
Or stopped some old ones?
Some life choices.
Whatever you call them, they can be challenging to maintain sometimes. Harder, perhaps, to keep in place than it is to kick them off.
So maybe you’ve stopped “emotional eating” (or wanted to).
Or changed the rate at which you turn to certain substances for support.
Maybe you’ve started a more nourishing routine in your life (adding more exercise or creativity or relaxation or fun).
Or perhaps you’ve tried starting something like this a few times, only to “fail”. Started and then stopped again. Started and stopped.
When you’ve “fallen off the wagon” like this, whatever your wagon of choice, it can feel like you have to start right back from the very beginning. From scratch. That you have to “start from zero,” like in the photo, above. (Only this time, with a heavier heart and the taste of discouragement and “failure” in your mouth).
But is that actually true?
The cycle of change model thinks it isn’t.
Let’s have a closer look.
Have you felt stuck lately? Going ‘round in circles? Trapped on a treadmill? Caught in a vicious cycle?
There are so many ways of describing this kind of experience.
And so many ways to get caught up in it.
Lured by the daily grind of repeated schedules or habits, it can be easy to feel your whole life is stuck on repeat… like you’re locked into an endless loop. So you scroll around to ‘yet another Monday,’ or you find yourself having ‘the same argument,’ or you catch yourself reaching for the same ‘solutions’ that have never quite worked – and the whole cycle ‘begins again’.
Or does it?
Wandering past this piece of street art the other day, I was drawn to the face and the detail of the design, and almost didn’t notice the writing:
It got me thinking…