How to Not Get Caught Flat Footed
Life is constantly full of new seasons. If you haven’t felt the seasons changing for you, you’re probably not really living life - and that’s another blog for another day. New seasons in life can look like basically anything, from getting married or having a baby, to getting a job or moving to a new city, to buying a house or helping out aging parents. Most recently, we’ve all dealt with the completely unknown life season of quarantine, and we’re just stepping into the life season of opening back up.
I love watching how people handle new seasons. Some people struggle through it, some people survive through it, and some people embrace it and flourish through it. To put it simply: some people are ready, and some people get caught flat footed.
When someone gets caught flat footed as they go into new seasons, I kind of see it like the difference between a warm blooded creature and a cold blooded creature. Do you remember this from science class? Cold blooded creatures - think lizards, snakes - don't really produce their own body heat. That’s why they do things like sit out in the sun, because they need to absorb the temperature from the outside to stay warm. They can’t produce heat from within.
On the other hand, warm blooded creatures - think humans, other mammals - can self regulate. We CAN produce our own body heat. We don’t need anything from the outside to keep us going.
I see people and their adaptability kind of like that. Have you noticed that too? There are the people who let the world around them - their circumstances, the people in their lives - dictate what’s going on inside of them. How crazy is that? But it happens all the time.
If we’re going to make that current and specific, take a look at your life over the past year. How many of your thoughts - which guide your actions, by the way - were determined by the pandemic? Did you develop a spirit of fear? Did you sit and wait around for everything to be over?
Obviously there were situations where families were deeply affected by the virus and many who lost loved ones. Dealing with loss and hardship of that magnitude is a completely separate beast. But there were also plenty of people that really just had to deal with changes in life due to different regulations and restrictions. I’m talking to those people. I’m not saying you should have been reckless and abandoned the safety of your family, but there were plenty of ways you could have moved your life forward from home. Did you? Or did you get sucked into Netflix or a political battle on Facebook?
I know a kid named Pablo. He’s 21 years old. The pandemic happened to him just like the rest of the world. But instead of playing video games for a year like most of his friends, he decided to take that time and add over a thousand bucks a month to his income, outside of his job. Do you think that changed his life at all? Same circumstances, but he was ready. He dictated his own change.
I know people who are now in fantastic physical shape because of their schedule changes over the last year, and people who lost ground in their health & fitness during that same time. Some waited for their jobs to come back and will spend the next few years digging themselves out of debt and financial chaos, and others pivoted or completely reinvented their careers and will spend the next few years marveling at how quickly life can change for the better.
The pandemic was going to cause change no matter what was going on in your life beforehand. That’s the thing about life, though: the only thing that doesn’t change is that everything changes all the time. The pandemic was going to dictate the change in season - but that doesn’t mean it had to dictate the way that change looked in YOUR life.
I’ve seen the same thing when people have kids. That’s another very distinct change in season for a lot of people. There are the people who have kids who use them as an excuse to give up on their dream. They’re not ready for the change, they get overwhelmed, and they give up on everything they said they wanted and resign to just be parents.
Now, I have kids. Being a dad is one of the most important things in my life. But it’s not the only thing. I’ve chosen to use my kids as the REASON I get up and go after my dream, not an excuse not to. That’s me dictating how the change is going to affect my life.
So here are my thoughts on seasons and adaptability: be warm blooded. YOU dictate the change. YOU decide the trajectory of your life. If there’s nothing changing already in your life, that’s great! You direct the change. If there’s already a lot of transition happening, even better! You direct what that change looks like. Take the newness and turn it into something awesome and productive. When you go into new seasons with forward moving progression and momentum, that’s when life gets really exciting.
But what does that look like on a practical level?
Every day, things should be moving forward towards your goal. Things should be changing that quickly. Yes, you can only take one step at a time. And sure, it’s probably baby steps at the beginning. But you can take those baby steps at whatever speed you want. When my 20 month old moves, he moves fast. They’re tiny steps, but they pitter patter across the floor. It’s adorable. But here’s the point:
Small steps toward your dreams… don’t have to be slow steps.
People think that they can only move so far in a period of time. But you have to hit the reset button on how fast and big you think you can grow. You can get to that next part of your dream much faster than you think, because those small increments of growth can happen much faster than you know.
So yes, take small steps. But don’t take them slowly. When you’re taking steps quickly, you don’t get caught flat footed, because you’re always moving.
And that’s how you direct the change in whatever direction you choose. Here’s to hoping you choose the direction of your dream!