Stay on the trail
I talk with a lot of people who want to make some kind of change in their lives, but they have a hard time making that change.
Often, they’re torn between their own desire on the one hand, and pressure from external forces on the other.
Everyone sees them as being on a particular path, so the mere suggestion of stepping off the path to go in a different direction stirs up a lot of stuff.
Here are the most common pressures I’ve seen that stop people from making the change they want:
Other people’s needs
Nearly everyone has someone else they care about, and many people have someone they feel responsible for. You don’t have to be a parent or caregiver to feel obligated to another person’s needs in some way. It’s important to understand where those feelings of obligation are justified, and where they’re overblown. It’s also important to be intentional about obeying or forsaking those perceived obligations.
No matter where you come from, you drag that baggage with you. Cultural, societal, familial, and faith expectations are like “stay on the trail” signs. In a park, those signs are there to keep you safe and to keep you from harming the habitat. On the trail of life, though, many of those signs aren’t there to protect you; they’re meant to keep you in line and under control. When you see one of those signs, think about who put it there and why.
Limiting beliefs about themselves
The stories we tell ourselves can be empowering or limiting. When you think of trying something new, do you focus on your lack of experience or on your opportunity for growth? Sometimes the only thing holding you back is your own limiting beliefs about yourself. Remember to look back at where you started and see how far you’ve come. Remember that even the most successful people started as novices. Life is short, so you’re better off starting now if you’re going to start.
Limiting beliefs about others
Other people are more flexible and resilient than we give them credit for. We put people in boxes and predict how they’ll respond to everything we do. It’s like we pre-manipulate ourselves by blaming others for how they would manipulate us if we did the thing we want to do. The people who truly care about you don’t want to be your roadblock to happiness. Hold them capable of adjusting to change.
If you’re on a happy path that’s taking you where you want to go, then stay on the path. But if you’re looking for some kind of change, get very deliberate about examining what is holding you back from making that change.
And if you’re not sure what change you’re looking for yet, it’s okay to stay on the current path a little longer while you figure that out.
Sometimes, though, the only way you can find a new direction is to step into the wilderness and see what happens.
I can help.
I work with top executives and middle managers to improve their leadership skills, their workplace culture, and the effectiveness of their teams. I also help individuals identify and achieve their personal goals. Would you like to become more aware, be more effective, be more empowered, and feel fully prepared for your next steps?
You can help.
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