Sometimes in life it feels like being in the trenches. You are standing in mud, feel like you are pinned down and stuck, backed into a corner, or have limited tools and resources to be able to get the kind of life you are seeking.
Your aspirations of buying a home, pursuing your hobbies, getting the promotion you want, or going on holidays seem so out of reach that you feel like flying the white flag and surrendering to your current lot in life and accepting mediocrity. Feeling this way can literally bog you down. You lose motivation, you start focusing on everything that is not working, even your posture changes as the weight of the world bears down on your shoulders. You start to think this must be as good as it gets.
Not so! It doesn’t have to be that way.
Firstly, you are never completely alone although it may seem like it at times. You just might not know where to look or what questions to ask. You are not the first person to ever think that you are the only one going through this. Here are four steps to getting out of the trenches and back into the flow of life:
Keep going and recognise that being in the trenches is a passing stage
Winston Churchill once said “If you are going through hell, keep going”, and they did and eventually the time in the trenches passed and the allies won the war.
There is one thing for certain. Time passes, seasons come and go and now might just be the time when you need to hunker down, batten down the hatches and ride it out. It is during these times that getting back to the fundamentals of life are important and getting back to looking after the simple things that make your life function on a day to day basis. Things like managing your time well, building long lasting relationships, watching your finances.
Recently I watched an interview with Simon Sinek explaining the millennial paradox and why you might be challenged when working with someone born after 1984. He claimed that there were four factors contributing to a disturbing trend in statistics where this generation is experiencing plummeting self-esteem, increases in addictive behaviour, depression, suicide and death due to drug overdoses:
Now I know plenty of well balanced, happy and responsible young people under 33 so I recognise that being categorised as a millennial in this context may seem like a gross injustice to you. In the same way that as a Gen X (that’s me) being tarred with the same general brush that my generation is typically being perceived to be disaffected and directionless ….. hmmm
But here’s the thing, you are likely to become parents too in the next few years so will your children befall the same increase in statistics as they say your generation is prone to?
The facts are that the statistics are rising which means there a greater proportion of young people experiencing depression and addictive behaviours than there was before (and probably across a broader generational range than we are talking about here).
Have you ever sat with a friend and they keep going over the same old negative stuff and don’t seem to be able to get past it?
Have you tried talking about a past issue, made some progress and feel like you have hit a wall in working it all out?
Can you openly talk about “it” without getting emotional but you think about “it” every waking moment with no respite when you are asleep?
Is everyone telling you to “get over it” and “it’s time you moved on” but it’s still stuck in your story and you feel like there must be something wrong with you?
Talking about past hurts and trauma is great and can help a lot of people and sometimes though it is not enough. Sometimes talking about it doesn’t bring the relief you thought it would or it only takes you so far.
That’s because your body still remembers what if felt like at the time.
Every experience we have from pure joy to absolute trauma invokes an emotional response which gets stored in your body at the cellular level. For example, when we experience the exhilaration of climbing to the top of a mountain or the warmth of a loved ones hug our body remembers elation, laughter, joy, love. Physically we stand tall, are relaxed, and feel pretty good with a warm glow spreading in our bodies when we recall the moment.
“You have got to be in it to win it” are the words mumbled the morning after the $50 million lottery is drawn and people in the game check their tickets over breakfast.
By the time breakfast is over and the email alert hasn’t pinged or the phone is silent there is resignation in the voice because “some other lucky so and so won it …. oh well maybe next time”.
The thing with playing lottery is that you can choose whether you want to spend your hard earned moolah on being “in it” or to spend it on something else. And yes you DO have to be in it to win it. Never a raffle prize was won without obtaining a ticket first.
What about the game of life?
Each morning you get up you have purchased another ticket in life. Some people hold a shiny golden ticket full of possibilities, opportunity and prizes, like the one the child in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had. Whilst others hold a dull and lack lustre ticket like the one you take at the delicatessen as you wait in line, waiting as others push in anyway.
The difference between the lottery and having the golden ticket in life is the amount of winning tickets available and the expiry date.
The lottery, footy raffle, and a TAB ticket all have one thing in common. That is the availability of winning tickets. There is only one set of winning numbers, one winning raffle ticket and only one greyhound will make it to the finish line first.
In the game of life anybody can have a winning ticket …. There is no limit and there is no expiry date.
Why is it that some people always seem to be the lucky ones, get all the breaks and seem to be holding the golden ticket?
There is nothing lucky about holding a golden ticket. ....
The days of reading maps and plotting courses with sextants and compasses have largely faded into the past. In the 21st century, technology has made finding our desired destination as easy as the click of a button. If you are in an unfamiliar city you can use a navigational aid to successfully arrive at your meeting or appointment. By searching for “nearest restaurants”, your smart phone will find one for you then proceed to tell you how to get there, and how long it will take depending on your mode of transport. It even does a risk assessment of sorts and produces a number of routes with information about tolls, roadworks or other obstacles along the way. Very little thought from you is required and no resources except you and your device.
A little less automatic and requiring a bunch of collective thought and resources depending on the complexity is a work or business project. Generally a Project Manager is engaged to undertake a project at work or in business using some level of project management plan, or roadmap. There is a project destination in mind (outcome or deliverable), a plan is developed from a whole bunch of inputs, a set of actions are produced , along the way progress is monitored via a set of milestones (smaller goals) and at the end there are a set of measures which determine whether you got to your destination. The course taken on the roadmap has considered resources required (time, people, cash, and infrastructure), the potential risks or roadblocks and strategies to mitigate them, and how the Project Manager will know that the project has met expectations and the project destination has been achieved. When things come up that throw the plan off track, the team can go back to the roadmap and make the appropriate decisions and tweaks required to get back on track.
Earle Nightingale, author of The Strangest Secret audio series said: “All you need is the plan, the roadmap, and the courage to press on to your destination”.
So what about your life?
So far there is no technological device in which we can access a satellite to determine where we are now with respect to our life journey. You can’t just type in the destination (the life you want to live) and then .. cool … up pops a road map.
My passions are nature, people, and building cultures of cooperation, harmony, sharing and reverence for life. I enjoy working with people to help them understand themselves and others so they can reach their full potential in life.