The windshield was so smudged and grimy; I could hardly see out the front window in the bright sunlight. Looking for a less blurred section, I noticed friend’s initials smeared onto the glass, probably a remnant of McDonald’s run for french fries.
I decided I wouldn’t clean it for the young driver in my household but instead let her take responsibility for the mess and the resolution. After all, how long could she drive around with a clouded splodge in front of her face every time she got into the car.
Ok, if you’re a parent or someone who was once a teenage driver, you probably know the answer to the question of “how long can they tolerate…”
The answer is an incredibly long time.
We do it too, us adults. We stare at life through a haze and accept that as our reality.
This is all there is.
I can’t see beyond this moment.
The future? It’s cloudy.
I’m confused but don’t want to let anyone know since they’re clear.
There are a million more just like the statements above I’ve heard from coaching clients, friends, and I admit, from myself too.
It’s as if you get so used to living with a low level of murkiness that you stop seeking clarity. Who’s with me?
You can accept current circumstances AND work to change them by taking outer action and doing inner work.
When you live for a long time with inconvenience, you learn to integrate it (this is not changeable, so I better suck it up) and ignore it (That old mess? It’s been there forever) at the same time.
You Can Uncover Clarity and Ditch the Fuzz
Here’s how you create change in your life when you’re tired of looking through the blurred windshield in front of you:
1. Ask yourself: What do I want? What’s holding me back?
2. Identify tiny actions to take you incrementally closer to what you want.
Before trying to frantically do a zillion things and seeing what happens, take a moment to figure out what you want. What does your ideal work and life look like? Feel like? Who’s there with you? What are you doing? Let your mind wander and don’t talk yourself out of what pops into your head – go with it.
Now that you have some new clarity and energy around a potential vision, it’s time to put it into motion. Change happens when you take one tiny step after another. I mean, sure, you could make a giant leap, but we all know what happens with New Year’s resolutions – that all-or-nothing mindset is rarely sustainable.
Identify tiny steps. Think about each step like a rung on a ladder. The next step is far less scary because you don’t have as far to reach. Stop worrying about the top of the ladder and focus on the very next rung.
What is one tiny action you can take TODAY? Don’t think about it over the next week. What is one thing that you are willing to do? Read a book for 10 minutes before bed? Close your laptop for 30 minutes before the kids go to sleep? Walk the dog?
Whatever you choose does not have to be radical; you just have to do it. Every day you get to choose, will you do that tiny action again and again until it becomes a habit? Will you layer on another tiny action?
Change Takes More than Doing, You Also Need some Inner-Knowing
Remember, there is outer action and inner work. Don’t underestimate Step One above.
Talk to your mentor, partner, or trusted advisor.
Reflect in a quiet space.
Tune into your inner knower when you’re not clear on your next step. Clarity takes time, exploring, and patience.
Don’t underestimate the power of checking in with your gut as you navigate the road ahead. Find a regular check-in strategy that feels authentic for you. Some people hate journaling, others love it. Coaches are a great fit for some but not for all. There is no one right way forward.
Sometimes You Need A Helping Hand
As for our shared car, the one that my teen and her buddies have mucked up, I took a tiny step. Today, I went into the garage with a bottle of Windex and some paper towels in hand. Sometimes, you don’t realize how blurred your view of the world is until someone helps you clear the way to see new possibilities.
Today, someone may help you uncover some hidden truths. Tomorrow, you may choose to be the person who helps someone else on their journey. The key is to recognize that what you thought was clarity may be smears of french fry grease that you’ve gotten used to living with instead of clearing away.
Isn’t it time you clean your windshield and determine if you’re headed where you want to go, or turn the wheel and follow a new road?