Getting Unstuck from the Muck
Use dish soap, clearly.
Dad jokes aside, during this interesting time when roadblocks seem to be popping up in every direction, it’s actually a great time to start preparing for when those roads are made clear.
Let’s work on building a road map so you’ll be ready to successfully navigate life when the opportunity presents itself. To do this, we need to start by answering a few questions and participating in a few fun activities:
#1 Are you happy? Ask yourself this question and do it on a regular basis... like... legit once a week. At least. This one is the simplest but most important step in alleviating the weight of things that hold you down. If you can generally say yes, you are happy, feel free to read on, but it is likely that the choices you've made in life thus far have aligned with your intrinsic goals and you should keep following your intuition. If the answer is no, well, that sucks and I’m sorry. There is likely more than one reason for your unhappiness, so let's dive into that with this next question... #2 What in your life currently or continuously brings you happiness and unhappiness?
We've gone from baby steps to bouldering with this one. The challenge here is to not lie to yourself when answering this question. Be as honest as possible even if part of your answer is that you're not sure. That's fine, just make sure you include "not sure" in your list of responses... oh yea, this would be a good time to start making a list. But you do you. I’m not your mom. Some of the things you write down will likely be the exact opposites of each other. That's totally fine… and important. You should still capture these seemingly opposite things because sometimes the answers you are looking for lie in the hard-to-see, nuanced space between the two trains of thought. #3 Concoct a vision of your ideal life. Einstein figured out a lot of shit by practicing thought experiments and confirming his theories with physical testing. Mentally concocting a vision of living your best life is essentially a thought experiment intended to prove to yourself the viability of your idealized future. This process helps to identify the roadblocks you have not yet acknowledged along your path in order to prepare for them. There is no path to success without hardship, but hardships are easier to tackle when you know to expect them. This process also helps you to envision new opportunities ahead - the things that don’t presently seem possible due to existing roadblocks like financial troubles or time-sucking work demands. One of the most challenging aspects of this activity is to not allow any of those limiting realities to get in the way of your vision. Really lean into it. But also try to be honest with yourself. While you can actually become a millionaire by making smart financial moves today, you’re probably not going to become Michael Phelps if you currently don’t know how to swim. That being said, keep your mind open. While you might not ever become an Olympic champion, you might be able to compete in a triathlon and achieve something you never thought possible. #4 Establish a Plan The good news is, you've (hopefully) already started a list. The bad news is, it’s time to make a new one. The main point of the exercises thus far has been to see past the lies you tell yourself and be honest about what you want… what you ACTUALLY want. Now that you have honesty as your guide, it’s time to name what you believe needs to happen in order for you to achieve your as-close-to-ideal-as-it-comes life vision. You should refer back to your original list to make sure that you are addressing the things that make you happy, unhappy, and those gray areas you're not sure about. For the final step, do your best to group your responses under the following categories: time, money, and knowledge. This is now your plan. #5 Prioritize and Accept that Priorities shift Prioritizing is simple. You arrange a list from least important to most important and address the most important things first, right?
Priorities shift depending on where you are in your journey (or what resources you have available to you at a given time). A rule of thumb existists in the AEC industry (architecture, engineering, and construction) that you can only ever have two of three of the following: a beautiful project, a fast timeline, and an affordable execution. This logic is not disassociated from most other “projects” in life, of which include establishing a career, traveling the world, or pursuing your passion. The polarizing interpretation that you can only have two of three things is limiting and unhelpful for pursuing your ideal scenario. It is better to view these options as priorities that change depending on the phase of the processes you are in.
There’s no time like the present to start missing out on future opportunities. So be open. Be diligent in the things you know you need to learn. Be prepared for the road ahead. Don’t lie to yourself about the work that is still yet to be started.