Life is a maze, so how do you find your way out?

I was talking to a friend recently about life (I’m guessing most conversations revolve around life and life-oriented activities.) We were discussing the irritating combination of feeling both busy and blocked; having a lot to do but not making progress in preferred areas. Few things are as frustrating as this.

We ended up using a maze as an analogy for life. We wander through and come across blocked paths and others that are open and lead us either towards an exit or towards the centre (the goal or mission objective.) We can’t always be sure which roads will lead us to what. Some long and winding passages take us straight to a dead end, leaving us confused, exhausted and disappointed. Other pathways are short and blunt, throwing us to a finish before we were prepared for it. Paths that we might expect to be open are closed to us, and it goes on.

So, when you feel blocked or lost in life, what can you do?

Enjoy the maze for what it is

One approach is to accept that life is unpredictable by its very design, especially when so many options are available to us. ‘Going along for the ride’, just as you would in a real-life maze, can be a mindset that assists. You learn to embrace the long and winding roads and accept the short, blunt endings. Life becomes more about the journey rather than finding the middle of the maze.

How whole is your whole life?

In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers asks readers, ‘how whole is your whole life?’ She uses the example of a woman who puts her relationship at the centre of her life, only to find when the relationship ends, that she feels empty and without purpose. Susan reiterates the importance of establishing a grid for life in which we fit all of the things that matter to us, our career, our relationship, exercise, hobbies, education, self-care and so on. This approach not only makes us feel whole, but it also helps establish the approach you take to the maze.

If you know what kind of relationship or career you want (i.e. you know that you want marriage and children, or that you don’t, or you know that you want to become a vet or start your own florist business) then you can learn which steps will get you closer to your mission objective and which roads take you further away.

You will also be painting a picture of the life you want, which may not be the exact life you get, but it gives you something to strive for.

Stop, are you making yourself busier than you need to be?

If you ask people how they are, most will reply that they are busy. I do it a lot too.

‘Sorry I didn’t get back to you, I’m just so busy.’

‘I won’t have time to look at that today, I’m busy.’

‘I’m too busy to go to the gym today.’

The question is, are you really that busy? If so, do you need to be that busy?

Is it a matter of biting off more than you can chew, spreading yourself too thin or do you not have the appropriate coping mechanisms for what you’re doing?

If I were to present you with my own priorities, the list would look something like this, in no particular order:

  • Family
  • Relationship
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Career
  • Freelance work
  • My blog
  • My book
  • Friends
  • Travel
  • My time

That seems like a lot of areas doesn’t it? It can be broken down into even more pieces. Family might involve family functions, relationship might involve regular date nights, exercise might involve three days a week at the gym and meal plans.

On some days, my list might feel overwhelming.

‘How can I do all of these things and make all of these people happy?’

On other days, it can feel fulfilling and satisfying.

On other days, I might feel BORED, even with such a long list!

So, break your life down and see how busy you really are. What are your priorities and what can you strip back? If it’s all essential, how can you cope better with all that you have on your plate?

Simplify tasks

Getting through the maze is difficult when you go in with no real idea of what you’re doing. Would you climb a mountain without a plan? No. We can break down absolutely any task that we are faced with into smaller pieces, and this can make it clear to us if it’s what we really want to do, and if so, how to start. 

For example, say that you want to start eating healthier. You might make the following ‘plan’…

  • Buy a vegetarian cookbook
  • Watch What the Health on Netflix
  • Make a weekly meal plan
  • Make an ingredients list
  • Buy ingredients
  • Keep a food diary

More complex missions may have more detailed breakdowns. It’s also very satisfying to tick something off. Seeing something written down can stop it feeling like a butterfly swarming in your head that you can’t pin down.

So, when you start to feel busy and blocked, think:

Can I enjoy this for what it is?

How whole is my life?

How busy am I?

How can I simplify things?

 

All my love

K

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