The other day I was sitting on my couch in my sunny home, listening to the birds merrily chirp outside my window, when all of a sudden one of them came tearing into my living room and flapped around like a maniac, clearly having succumbed to an evil game of birdy truth or dare.
He was all freaked out and slamming himself into window after window, desperately trying to escape. It was awful to watch – the poor guy was panting like crazy and throwing himself at the glass at breakneck speeds (think about that term for one moment. I’m now convinced it was thought up by a bird).
I managed to escort him out an open door, and spent a very bothered few minutes afterwards revisiting the painful scene. Imagine his frustration: “I can see the sky! It’s right there! If I fly hard and fast enough I know I can reach it!”
It made me think of the way so many of us live our lives. We can see what we want, and nearly kill ourselves trying to get at it, when in reality, if we just stopped and got quiet for a minute or two, we’d notice the door being held open for us by the nice lady in the bathrobe.
Answers are all around us, but we’re usually too busy working or freaking out or doing what we think we “should” be doing to notice them. We’ve all heard it a million times: Work smart, not hard, but so few of us do. We get comfortable in our patterns even if they don’t serve us as well as they should. We make up reasons why we can’t do it this way or that way or why we can’t be as successful as that person or how we’ve tried everything, EVERYTHING, but nothing seems to take us to the next level.
In order to get out of your own way, get some clarity and help yourself live the life you want, you need to slow down, breath and look around you.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Turn Off The Machine
Take time every day to get away from what you’re doing. Take a walk, hang out with a friend, exercise, knit, whatever, just make sure to take time out and step away. During these breaks you are unauthorized to think about what you’re working on. This is so important. If your brain is always working on figuring out your problems or where you should go next with your business you’ll never get a fresh perspective. Shut it off and see what new ideas flow in as a result.
2. Get a Mentor
There are sooo many smart, nice, generous people out there who would love nothing better than to sit around and talk about themselves and their businesses while you listen on, wide-eyed and enamored.
Find someone who’s higher up on the food chain than you are and ask them for guidance. We have so much trouble seeing things at the level we’re at because we’re in the middle of it (ever notice how it’s so much easier to dole out advice than figure out our own crap?) Other people often have a much clearer perspective on your issues than you do, so getting someone to help you who’s not only not living in your head, but whose own head is full of mighty brain power, is one of the smartest things you can do. Mentors, coaches, consultants – go, find yourself some.
3. Know What You Suck At
If you don’t know it’s broke, you can’t fix it. Sit down and figure out what you’re really bad at (book keeping, coming up with new products, hiring staff) and either take a class on it or hire someone smarter than you to take care of it. Constantly bumping into the same thing over and over and making very little progress is ridiculous when you can just get someone else to do it.
Yes, I live in southern California, yes I backpack, yes I like Neil Young, but I promise you, meditating is not just for hippies anymore. If you spend at least ten minutes every day meditating (sitting quietly pushing all thoughts out of your head) your life will be more serene, full of clarity, more peaceful, less stressful and more powerful. There is a vast and mighty universe out there and the more often you can shut off what’s right in front of you and hook into it, the bigger you’ll grow.
5. Get Out of Your Routine
Talk to strangers, wear something totally different, go to a new grocery store, join a new club, change toothpastes, meditate even though you think it’s totally weird, do things that pull you out of your routine and shift your perspective on your world and you’ll be amazed by what you might find. Have you ever been walking down the street you live on and suddenly notice a house you’ve never seen? A WHOLE HOUSE? HELLO? It happens all the time – huge things are right in front of us but we’re so stuck in our heads or stuck in our routines that we can’t see them. Anything you can do to shake it up a bit will help open your eyes.