Monday, 5 March 2012

When it's OK to give up...

What? A life coach is telling me that it's OK to give up? Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and two of my friends took me skiing. It was my first time, while they were very experienced. I was nervous but they reassured me that I'd be fine. Well, surely I can't talk about making big changes and trying new things if I'm going to shy away from something like skiing! So, off we went.

So there I was in my sexy red ski pants, trying to walk in snow shoes. As I saw all those pros swerving down the mountains, I started to get nervous. I'd tried ice skating and roller blading, and while they assured me that it wasn't the same thing, I couldn't help but think I can't do things involving balance - what a negative, self-limiting belief! I just had to put it to the test and prove myself wrong!

Well, within two seconds of putting on those skis, I was flat on my ass. A few more tries, and I just wasn't getting in. People were watching, my face was burning and I just wanted to take the damn skis off and go home. A glance up at the terrifying ski lift didn't put my mind at rest, either. Frustrated, I told everyone to go ahead without me while I chilled out with some hot wine.

As I sat there, wishing I could just leave, I started to feel like a failure. My friends came down the mountain two, three times and I just couldn't pluck up the courage to try it out. If I couldn't stay on my feet for the few meters leading to the lift, how was I going to make it down a mountain? After finding a short, not-so-steep slope, I tried a few more times. I just couldn't get the hang of it. 

I was frustrated. But then, I realised something. I didn't really want to ski. I was there because my boyfriend wanted to go skiing, because I felt that I should fit in with everyone else. When I was truly honest with myself, I realised that I really didn't care whether I could ski or not. Besides, they were expecting me to do this without a teacher! It wasn't that I couldn't do it, just that I didn't know how. 

It got me thinking. How much energy do you waste on things that aren't truly important to you? Maybe it's your job. Maybe it's a project that you swore to yourself you'd complete but you just don't have the passion for anymore. Maybe it's something you've been planning for a long time. You've been caught up in the journey for so long, that you haven't stopped to think about the destination for a while. When you do, you might realise that it's no longer something that you really want. Investing your time and energy has become a habit. 

Do you know what I'm talking about, dear? That promotion you've been working your ass off for. Do you really want that job, or do you just feel as if you have to work up towards it? How about a relationship that you've been exhausting yourself over, that class you've been taking or that project that takes up all of your spare time? Take a moment to visualise how you will feel when you finally achieve those things you've been working for. How does it feel?

If it feels good, then great. If, like me with skiing, you don't really feel excited by it, then why are you investing so much of your time and energy? We're taught to think that we should never give up. We're made to feel like failures if we throw in the towel. But what about those things that you really want? What about all those things that you put off because you just don't have the time or energy? How much more could you do if you stopped plugging away at things you don't even want?

Had I carried on trying to ski all day, I would have been completely exhausted the next day. I might have beaten myself up over my failure, even though it's not realistic to expect to be instantly good at something. But after admitting to myself that skiing really wasn't something that I cared about doing, that I was happy to walk up the mountain, taking pictures and watching other people ski, I felt a lot happier. The pressure I'd been putting on myself disappeared, and I looked back at my embarrassing falls with a laugh.

So, what's the one thing that you could give up? The thing that you feel you should keep trying, that you've been working on for so long that you haven't even considered stopping? You might feel "I've put so much time and effort into it already; I can't stop now!" - but just think about how much more time and effort you would put into it in the future versus how much you can gain if you just give it up now. 

Some people feel as if they owe their "past self" something, and so they drain themselves by working on things that they no longer really want, that they have no interest in any more. You owe it to yourself to look at where your time and energy is going, and to ask yourself if the destination is truly what you want. If not, it's time to stop walking down that path and realise that there are a LOT of other ones available.


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1 comment:

  1. Wow I wish someone had said this to me years ago as clearly and concisely as you have laid it out here. I've just recently come to this conclusion, and it makes life a lot easier and more enjoyable. :D