Today’s blog holds a very special place in my heart because I can relate with it in a very personal way. Maybe you can too.
At some point, you hit that patch where you’re just barely grinding along while everyone else seems to be in cruise control. It’s like having your car break down on the highway right in the middle of nowhere. You’re stuck while others zoom past with a hint of suspicion. You’re left there. All alone.
What do you do when you seem to be the ONLY one not making progress with their life pursuits? How do you cope? How do you find your way back on the road when your life seems slow?
1. Look Within.
It starts from inside, right? See, when things aren’t going as planned (or as fast), we naturally tend to scan the external environment for likely causes. Who’s doing this to me? Who’s to blame? The insensitive government and corrupt politicians? The harsh economic climate? That relative who broke their promise to help at the last minute? Ill-luck? Fate? You know, just something or someone we can point to and say “that’s the problem, not me”.
But placing blame (even accurately) is still not the answer. You want to make progress, right? You need answers. You need motion. That’s why you should look within.
I’m bothered when I hear someone say they’ve done everything to spark a change in their circumstances. I don’t doubt their sincerity, but I deeply question the accuracy of that claim. You may have done many things, but EVERY thing? Uhmm, I have my reservations.
Look inside. Be very honest with yourself (see, this is where many of us struggle- sometimes it’s just too painful to tell yourself the truth as it is).
In what ways am I aiding this period of stagnation in my life?
Is there something I must do that I’ve not done?
Am I the victim of my own fear, inaction, overanalysis or perfectionism?
How am I feeding this?
Is my attitude right?
Am I too passive? Too hasty? Too indecisive?
Check yourself. The answer may just be in the mirror.
2. Understand that Life is not a competition.
Yeah, we all accept this mentally. It’s one of the easiest things to say in self defense when others are blazing and you’re barely registering a flicker. But when it gets really R-E-A-L-L-Y personal, life sometimes DOES feel like a competition.
I mean, all your friends are getting plum jobs in top corporations, while you’re still sending CVs around the city and you’re starting to hate running into them. Life’s not a competition?
You’re slowly becoming the professional bridesmaid as all your friends get married and there’s no dude in your life (at least none with intentions for the ‘M’ thingy). You’ve caught more bouquets than you’d love to admit, still no dice. The girls are moving on, calling less and apologising more for being carried away by ‘family’. Hmm, life’s no competition, right?
It’s easier to agree with that philosophy when you’re also making some form of progress, when you also have some wins to share. But when your life is in gridlock, ah… you know what I’m talking about.
But really, the truth remains the same. Life is NOT a competition, at least not with others. It’s a competition with ourselves. When you feel the urge to do something rash just so you could catch up with your peers, remember,
Those who compare themselves with themselves are not wise
Nobody’s success stops yours. Your friend’s awesome testimonies do not in any way reduce your chances of having same. Yours is yours. Maintain your peace. Remember, God never instructed you to finish before others; He only expects that you finish YOUR race.
3. Define success- for you.
Success has been broadly described as the progressive accomplishment of worthwhile goals. So what is success to you?
What I’ve found is that for many of us as young people, success is simply having what someone else has- maybe a bigger, better, newer version of it. We sometimes act like kids who get different toys from the lucky dip goody bag- every one wants the toy he didn’t get.
Have you ever given this conscious thought? What counts as success to ME as an individual? What matters most?
When you do this sincerely, the pressure to compete is quickly deflated and that biting urge to frequently compare yourself with others dies. You become free to really be yourself and to go after those dreams you GENUINELY value, not what society, reality TV or friends define as important.
4. Seek counsel.
Sometimes, we need external help. It’s okay to look within, and in some cases we find the problem inside. But it’s always a great idea to have counsellors in your life; people you talk with, ask questions and learn from. We all have blind spots. We miss out certain aspects of our habits, attitudes and actions that may be holding us down. That’s why we need the help of trusted counsellors who are tough enough to tell us the hard stuff yet gentle enough to help us get past them.
When life seems slow, we feel tempted to cover up, to pretend that we’re doing just fine and there’s nothing to worry about. But that’s a self defeating strategy. It’s okay to reach out to others during those times when we desperately need motion. Speak up.
5. Wait. Joyfully.
Joyce Meyer said it beautifully:
Patience is not about waiting. Waiting is a fact of life. Patience is about having the right attitude while waiting.
That’s so true. After we’ve done all to get things moving again, sometimes, all that’s left is to patiently wait. I’ve shared this in a previous blog but I feel it’s worth repeating here.
SOME THINGS JUST TAKE TIME.
It’s not a sign of irresponsibility or laziness. Life operates in times, cycles and seasons, and whether we love to admit it or not, each one of us WILL pass through seasons of waiting in our lives, times when it seems like nothing (good) is happening. There may be days when it seems you’re the only one without any good news to share when you catch up with friends, times when you’ll dread being asked “so what’s been happening in your life lately? “.
We all pass through those days. I have. You have too. Probably you’re in that season right now, or you know someone who is. It’s not a pretty place to be I know, but that’s just the point- we PASS THROUGH, we don’t stay there.
With a good attitude of faith, patience and joy, we come out better than ever before. In fact, looking back through some personal experiences, I’ve observed that it’s became clear AFTERWARDS why I had to go through that season of waiting. There’s a beautiful change it can bring to your life- waiting matures us and prepares us for the new seasons we’re going into. Only kids always want stuff and want it right away. Practice active patience. Keep at it but understand that sometimes, it takes time.
So there we are. Hope this blessed you. Remember to share this with your friends. Someone else needs this today.
I have a question though and I’d love to hear from you.
How can we as young people differentiate between those times when we just need to wait and when we need to do something decisive to catalyse a change?
I’ll be looking out for your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for sharing!
Live by Design.