Have you ever heard the statement ‘you are only ever six feet away from a rat’? Well, I think it’s probably true on both factual and metaphorical levels, but whether it bothers you or not is really a question of what you choose to give your energy to or your focus.
I love learning, and as is my habit, I happened to be watching a youtube talk today, which I generally find more interesting than tv, and I heard that very statement. It got me thinking about another common assertion that 'you are only ever a few steps away from making significant change in your life.' I believe that this is absolutely true. Whether or not we achieve those few steps to significant change, I would argue is not about ‘luck’ or about anything that does or doesn’t 'happen to us,' but how we react, what we do next, and whether we allow ourselves to be distracted by 'the rat.'
Of course, there are other factors such as the default human tendency towards risk aversion that is, in fact, more attractive than reward, means sometimes it is more comfortable to sit with what we know, as frustrating as that may be than it is to take the steps into the unknown; deal with the perceived obstacles or rather unexpected deviations that occur along the way. Having a son of my own and having seen the way he will battle seemingly endless, impossible, and unexpected scenarios on a video game, any one of which we wouldn’t even dream of tackling in real life, seems an amusing juxtaposition when considering how we approach real-life obstacles when we have a real-life goal to attain.
I think many would describe me as a very goal orientated person and most certainly driven when I decide I want to achieve something, but the one thing I realised I wasn’t doing enough of was regularly reassessing what my real desires and mission in life are or were, and am I doing the right things to achieve them?
Leo Tolstoy famously said on his deathbed, 'What if my whole life has been wrong?' Now, I don’t believe in regret: I prefer to think that each thing, good or bad, is simply a crossroad with choices that can take you in one direction or another. Again – I’m not going to squander my energy on ‘the rat’ – but I do believe that with reflection and thought, by ensuring the life I am leading is in sync with my mission, my values, and therefore my passion, I will lead a happier and more fulfilled life and in turn what I give to others will be of greater value, making a bigger difference. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have!
With all that said, there are many situations where you may feel that you have been dealt an unfair hand. Life is full of ‘difficult and unfair situations’ – that’s for sure. But where do you choose to put your energy? I believe like attracts like. If you are an essentially good person with energy and a desire to make something happen, then the likelihood is you connect with people who are of a similar mindset. And if you haven’t yet – then make it happen. Go to places where you will find people with common interests, common values, speak up, take those next steps, and see yourself ‘creating’ and ‘building’ the life that is right for you and can actually be yours.
Assessing your situation.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should just throw the towel in on their day job and walk away. Unless of course, your workplace or situation is so out of sync with your values that it is at great odds with your conscience and making life unbearable, in which case, have a plan and be bold. After all, you can take your steps, find your way around the obstacles, keep your eyes on the prize, and achieve your true aspiration.
I recently bought a ‘passion planner’ diary. Now I know the name sounds possibly a little dodgy, but I promise you, it is fabulous. It encourages you to map out your long-term, mid-term and short-term goals and plan your micro-steps to get there, holding yourself to account along the way. I love a good tick list. It really helps. And to keep your mind off ‘the rat’, it has great little sections that encourage you to record the good things that happen along the way. You’ll know by now that I love a life of gratitude!
Anyway, this blog's takeaway is really my reflection on keeping your eyes on your goal, mind, and heart on your values and ensuring you don’t waste energy thinking about the rats. They are and always will be around us. You don’t need to feed them or allow them to gain your attention. If you see one, just change direction and walk away.