Life is a Slippery Slope – Are you where you want to be?
Regardless of your awareness or engagement, life moves on. It doesn’t wait for you at all.
Have you ever thought questions like: “Where has all the time gone?” or “How have I stayed here for so long?” or “I can’t believe I’m ___ years old already!”
Whether you manage your life or it manages you – the journey continues. IF you are not being deliberate in managing the journey, you could find you’re self-slipping into decline (instead of growth) in any of the key aspects of your life.
Leading a life of deliberate decisions may sound easy to do, but it isn’t. You’d be amazed how quickly the fundamental elements of our life can drift down a slippery slope. At first, things get routine, boring and flat. Let unchallenged, the end of the road is bitterness, regrets and cynicism. I don’t want that for you.
If you want to lead a Deliberate Journey, consider this…
You have various components that make-up your life. The classics include:
- Professional – this is your day job; your professional identify; your contribution.
- Personal – this includes family, friends and life out of work; your ‘free time.’
- Intimate – this is your spouse or significant other; your intimate relationship.
- Recreational – this is the “extras” in life – the avocational, extracurricular & fun.
- Intellectual – this is your learning, growth and enrichment aspect of life
In each, you engage in many activities. The activities provide you with varying degrees of satisfaction, stimulation, reinforcement and/or joy.
The challenge is keeping your experience positive and rewarding (not static or stale). However, your experiences don’t automatically stay “great” or “exciting.” Left unmanaged, they evolve.
The cycle looks like this:
Alive – this is the fresh and exciting phase. The easiest way to understand this is to think of how it feels when you start a new job, get a promotion, begin a hobby or when you where newly wed or just had a baby. Great feelings right? It’s all fresh, new and invigorating. Things don’t have to be “new” in this phase, but they stay fresh, engaged and alive.
Content: For many, it is impossible to maintain such intense stimulation in all elements of life. For most, your experience softens over time and you experience contentment and well being. This is very nice, but not as noticeable every waking minute.
Groggy: Left unnurtured or managed, contentment can begin to drift toward groggy. This is that middle ground between “okay” and “not okay.” Your job is good enough to keep doing, but it is getting too mundane. Your marriage is fine, but you only seem to get the real spark once a year on our vacation. Your traditions and activities with friends and family seem okay, but are a little too familiar and predictable.
Numb: This is the “making donuts” phase. Somewhere along the way you simply started to go through the motions. Some of life’s key elements have fallen into autopilot and the months or years seem to be just marching by without much memory making or fanfare. This is living in default mode.
Bitter: If enough time and/or experiences slip by in “numb” mode – we enter the bitter phase. This is when regrets tend to hit us in the face. The consequences of our choice to ignore the numbness are real and we don’t like them. Getting fired because you let your performance slip, getting divorced because you didn’t invest in your marriage, missing great job opportunities because you didn’t invest in your skills. This list can be long.
Take the Test:
Stop reading for a minute and consider where you are in the five life elements listed above. Put a check mark for key life elements on the cycle of evolution. Where is each element?
So what should you do?
The first phase of The Deliberate Journey is “Investigate.” In brief, that means you need to wake-up and be aware of what is happening (or not happening) in your life.
As simple as this table looks, it is an engagement tool. You can now see if any primary element of your life is slipping down the slope.
If any element is in the ‘groggy’ or lower category, I challenge you to engage. Build a plan (at this point I don’t care how simple) to take action. Do something different, something deliberate at least once a week for any element in a lower category. Doing so breaks the pattern. It pushes you “up” in the slope and brings back the sparkle!
Will it change over night? No.
Will it change over time? Absolutely.
Life continues with or without you.
The choice is yours.