"If you do what you always did, you get what you always got."
I've heard so many variations on this old adage, and however it's worded, it seems to be true. But we all chase our tails at one point or another, going in circles trying to figure out what to do next.
The answer? 'Something else.' It's not easy, but it's simple. If what you are doing isn't yielding the results you want, do something else.
I don't purport to be a philosopher or a counselor or anything like that. I recently read a book in which the author stated that "we teach that which we need to learn." I haven't had enough time to observe whether or not that is true for people in general, but it certainly is true for me right now. My desire to share information is not out of any desire to appear like a know-it-all, or been there seen-it-all, but just to share what I've experienced, and reinforce (to myself oftentimes) what I am in the process of learning. If what I share leads you to something you can use--GREAT! I mean that. If not, okay.
So, that said, something I've been thinking about lately is the concept of "change". There is a certain comfort in things being the same day in & day out. Even if we hate a particular situation, if we know it like the back of our hand, we don't have to worry about dealing with potentially unpleasant surprises. We go to work, we push a pile of paper from one side of the desk to the other, we get paid, we come home, we eat dinner, we walk the dog, we go to bed. The next day we do it all over again. Sometimes we may dream of something different, but this is what we KNOW, and unless we become more uncomfortable in the situation than we are comfortable with the situation, this is what we will continue to do.
Plus, unless we are really screwing up and in need of intervention, we are given so many incentives to stay the same. If we stay at our job for 20 years, we will move up the ladder and receive various rewards along the way. Our families and friends take comfort in our stability and loyalty. Our colleagues respect us for being wise. WE take comfort in knowing that we will be able to pay the mortgage and make the Mercedes payment this month.
Let's say you bought the fly-est pair of shoes that your money could buy. Every time you walked down the street you felt like a million dollars. Your feet felt goood, people complimented you at every turn - you were what was happening, and people equated you with those phenomenal shoes. That was in 1977. The shoes (now vintage) are still wearable, but not like they used to be. Your feet have gone up a size, and they don't fit as well anymore. You still turn heads (because they now they are a fly pair of vintage shoes), there are other options out there that might suit you better. Still you wear the shoes. Not as much pep in your step these days and- "wait--is that a rock in my left shoe?" You continue on down the street, ignoring the obvious fact that your (shoe) situation has changed. Your shoes no longer suit you, and if you keep walking (especially with that rock in your left shoe) you are going to have a serious problem. I think our lives are like that. What suited us at one time, may not suit us (and may even damage us) today.
But if you knew you were going to die next week, what changes would you make THIS week? If you have a ready answer, THAT'S where your heart is right now. I'm not advocating IRresponsibility, but I am advocating that we EXAMINE what constitutes REsponsibility. You may have spent 17 years working at Widgets-R-Us, and you can retire in 3 more years, but you want to leave right now and go start a parasailing business on the Gulf. Lots of people would call that foolish and irresponsible, but it's up to you to decide if it really is. You've been married for 22 years, unhappily married for 21, and won't leave because you have invested so much and you'll be DAMNED if he's gonna hook up with some young chippy with her boobs up to there and be happy for the rest of his life after he's made so much of yours miserable.* Would you make the same decision if you knew you were only going to live for one more week? Would you keep wearing those too-small shoes with the rock in the left one? No? What would you do today if you knew you were only going to live for one more week?
*loosely based on an actual conversation with someone I know