Life is not always going to be a “smooth sailing” kind of experience. Right now there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world – economically, politically, environmentally, even socially. In the world of your own life, how are you faring? Are you getting rocked by the waves and wondering to stay afloat?
This analogy of being afloat in a sea of change came to me after a recent family holiday at the lake. One morning, some family members decided to make a swimming/boating expedition to a small island a mile offshore. A few swam and I offered to man a canoe escort. But after we reached the island, I decided I wanted to try swimming back. While I’m a good swimmer, I’m not used to swimming great distances at all, so this was a bit of an out-of-the-box choice for me to make. Plus I have a fear of deep water and seeing the boulders and stones beneath the surface slightly freaks me out. But I decided to take the plunge anyway. After almost an hour, I made it safely to shore – a bit tired, but very pleased with myself. Plus, I learned some important principles that can help everyone stay afloat and thrive in life.
1. Don’t Be A Lone Ranger
A big mistake people make when setting off for new and distant shores is going it alone. The ego, fearing a risk of failure and exposure, might want you to stay separate and tough it out on your own. …..One of the reasons I decided to make that long swim was because there was a group with me. There was a boat that offered safety from other boat traffic and a place to rest en route if needed. I was in the company of other people.
Tip: Challenges that pull you out of your comfort zone are often easier and more fun when you’re in the company of a group of like-minded people who support you. Take advantage of the momentum and wisdom of a group.
2. Stay Present to Where You Are
When I checked on my progress after the first 5 minutes of swimming, I was disappointed to see that I hadn’t moved very far away from the island yet. My mind chatter started immediately kicked in with discouraging and critical thoughts. “This is going to take forever! I’ll never make it! It’s going to be so embarrassing when they have to haul me out of the lake onto the boat partway!”
Getting stuck in a negative mental spiral wasn’t helping, so I took a deep breath. I consciously turned my attention away from where I wasn’t (ie closer to shore) to where I was (ie in the middle of a big lake with people I love on a beautiful day).
Tip: Your power and sense of inner peace is really only available when you stay in the present moment. The real joy of the journey isn’t just about getting to your destination. It’s about living in the joy and discovery in each moment along the way.
3. Consistent Effort Gets You There
As I swam for shore, I was struck by how much of what I had to do was pretty rote. Kick legs, pull water back with my arms. There was no magic bullet to cover the distance I needed to travel. It was a series of small movements done over and over and over again. As I took those strokes regularly, I started to build up momentum and was able to glide and go further than when I was stopped. When I stopped taking action, my momentum and sense of ease slowed right down.
Tip: Never underestimate the power and acceleration you get from taking consistent action. As one of my teachers said, small, ordinary actions taken consistently are what lead to extraordinary results.
Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThrivePrinciples.com, empowering you to thrive no matter what your outside circumstances are. To get free tips on turning adversity into opportunity in order to improve your relationships, increase your self-confidence and reach your highest potential, visit www.ThrivePrinciples.com