After you have been pushed from the comfort of the status quo and into your new normal and have absorbed the shock of the change that has taken place, the next logical thing to ask is: “What’s next? Where do I go from here?” The answers are never easy and straightforward.
Security agencies, for example, are still struggling to find the right balance between security, civil liberty, and privacy. Many families, companies, even governments are still trying to navigate their way out of our current financial challenges.
Closer to home, individuals can find the answers are just as difficult to come by. What if your job has become obsolete? Do you relocate or retrain? What if you are in the habit of displaying a certain type of behavior that is not conducive to sustaining a healthy marriage? How would a diagnosis with a terminal illness impact your lifestyle choices and priorities?
Getting married, the birth of a child, or purchasing a new house are changes that are not as jolting as the ones I mentioned before but can be just as challenging. Whether change is forced upon us in the form of national tragedy or a personal setback or comes in the form of a wonderful new direction in our lives, the pre-eminent question that needs to be answered is “Where do I go from here.” The old way of living and doing things has changed forever. It is time to get your bearings and find your way in this adventure called the new normal.
Dealing with our changed circumstances can prove to be both physically and emotionally draining; however, accepting our new normal can be refreshingly rejuvenating and clear. It is like flicking on the light switch in a dark room—the contours of the new landscape reveal themselves to you, and you get the sense that you can begin anew.
Acceptance allows you to cross the chasm between the old and the new normal to a world, which, quite honestly, though it is filled with angst, is also filled with an abundance of possibilities. Acceptance marks the beginning of the adventure and paves the way for both personal and professional growth.
Vision Points the Way
One of the keys to driving a bobsled is to keep your eyes peeled on where you want to go on the curve. Irrespective of what is currently happening or has just happened, the driver has to be constantly looking ahead, choosing the path he wants to take down the track. The same is true for operating a car or even riding a bicycle. If you keep your eyes glued to the ground immediately in front of you instead of looking ahead, you cannot be sure that you are moving along the path you want to take.
This same principle applies to our efforts to navigate life’s challenges. There is always a natural, and admittedly practical, tendency during a crisis to focus on the immediate. We tend to go into damage control, put our heads down and get to work. However, as the challenges of your new circumstances morph into your new normal, you still have to lift your head and look out onto the horizon to ensure that you are heading in the right direction and not right into another crisis. It is time to recast your vision and rethink your goals.
Maintain Rigorous Focus on Priorities
Crossing over from the old into the new normal will be difficult, but you will find that settling into the routine of the new normal will be even more daunting. Figuring out what you want your life to look like going forward and deciding on exactly what you want to accomplish is an important first step, but where do you go from there?
Your next move is to break down those goals into manageable bite-sized activities. Ask yourself, what are the main things that need to happen? What do I need to do each week, each day? You will need to prioritize these activities and maintain a high degree of focus in order to succeed. While at the outset the challenges may seem insurmountable, if you focus on doing the small things in a consistent manner, you will both survive and thrive in the new environment.
As noted author Chuck Swindoll once said, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
When you focus and prioritize, you realize your goals.
You should be mindful not to embark on this new adventure—the new normal—alone. Take advantage of the support structures you have in place—family, close friends, confidants, mentors, even a personal coach. As I always say, listen to all the advice you can get but reserve the right to accept or reject that guidance. In other words, remain open to the possibilities but do not abscond on your responsibility to chart your own course. The new environment will challenge and push you to the limit. Gaining insights through the experiences of others will prove to be invaluable.
I recently saw a sign at my gym that read, “Give in, Give up, or Give it your all!”
As our circumstances change and we find ourselves straddling the chasm between the old and new normal, we can choose to be swept away by the tide of change, or we can bring the full strength of our resolve to tackle this new landscape. The latter approach requires you to be persistent. It means staring adversity in the face, changing your strategy in order to achieve the desired outcome, and hanging in there. That means pursuing the only feasible choice—“Give it your all.”
Keep On Pushing!
As an original member of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team and captain of the 1992 and 1998 teams, three-time Olympian Devon Harris achieved his grand dream. His current dream is to inspire others to achieve theirs. Tapping the same energy, determination, and skills that enabled him to bobsled with the best in the world, Devon, as a motivational speaker, is now sparking audiences of all ages to dream big and take their “game” to the next level. For more inspiration from Devon, visit his website or check him out on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by XOques.