One of the hardest things to do is to begin something new or make a change calling to us from deep inside. Paradoxically, simply beginning is all that is required to make that change and start the journey toward becoming our authentic selves.
How often do we find ourselves waiting for the exact right moment to make the changes we desire in our life? We tell ourselves that the timing must be correct and, often, that this is not the moment. We need the right feeling to start. We believe that the necessary person or people haven’t come along. We don’t have the resources or even maybe the correct equipment.
The reality is that those requirements often become excuses that keep us from taking the first step that will begin the process of transformation. Fear of change stops us before we start.
I call this “climbing the high dive.” When I was young, I would bravely climb the ladder of the high dive. Then I would wait and stare down at the imaginary death that would assuredly come from the jump. To this day, my mother says that I appeared to be unable to move as if frozen in time.
Much later in life, I recall “kicking the tires” of a sailboat for nearly two years. Something deep inside of me wanted to learn to sail. In fact, when I was very young, I drew a picture that matched, almost identically, the sailboat I was now thinking about purchasing. The resemblance was uncanny.
Still, I was frozen, not by what I wanted to do – I knew I wanted to sail – but by all of the external factors that might come into play. Was this really the right decision? What would my family say? What if I didn’t like it? What if I capsized? What if there were too many knots involved? I wasn’t a Boy Scout very long… surely these knots would be too hard. Maybe I should just wait.
Fortunately, at that time in my life, I was working with an executive coach. As I ruminated on the potential purchase, endlessly debating the pros and the cons in my head, one day, he finally said to me, “John, just buy the [explitive] boat.”
So I did.
I did not yet know how to sail, but I followed that stirring inside of me. The boat splashed into the water, and, haltingly at first, the wind began to propel me.
That little sailboat has given me memories that will last a lifetime. But it also gave me more than I imagined. Today, I use sailing as a metaphor on this blog and in speaking to now hundreds of lawyers about bringing about change in their own lives through the Five Factors. That was an unanticipated gift that was just waiting for me to take action.
We all have moments in life when something inside of us calls us to climb the ladder of the high dive, to begin something new. Sometimes we do not even know why. At other times, we know exactly what change we need to make, but we are frozen and unable to take action.
There is likely a stirring in your own life now that is pushing you to make a change, to try something new, to be something more. What is it? Why haven’t you started?
I am not saying be reckless. Many of these decisions are much harder than buying or not buying a sailboat. Having left a stable job to start my own law firm, later having made a major mid-career shift, and having experienced the complex pain of divorce, I understand that family and financial realities are, well, realities.
But the challenge of life, particularly when we feel stuck, or unfulfilled, or pulled in a different direction, is to listen to that authentic voice that belongs only to you. Then do the one thing necessary for the journey to lasting change and meaning in your life, begin to follow it.