My entire life I’ve been active. From rambunctious little years to a teen who played every sport my parents would agree to drive me to practice to. As you well know, when you’re running and playing and jumping eventually you’re going to get hurt. It might be a misstep, a bump from someone else or just those aches and pains that come from extended muscle use.
As I’ve gotten older, I still enjoy being active. Mostly I hike and workout at home, but I run as well. As I was running today, an old injury began to flare up as it occasionally does. As soon as that pain hit, I wanted to stop. I did actually slow to a walk as I gave it a rub hoping I could ease the pain before it became sharper. I chided myself for slowing down so quickly and I realized something that had been simmering beneath the surface. I do this in other areas of my life. The first sign of difficulty and I slow down or even quit.
I’ve been pursuing an interest of mine for a few months. It is an entrepreneurial endeavor. I’m hoping it will become my work, because I would love to have a job that I both love and make money at.
As I’ve been working on this there have been so many times that I wanted to quit. It wasn’t because I didn’t like or believe in what I’m doing, but because there are aspects of it that have in a sense bought me pain. It hasn’t been physical pain of course, but a kind of mental pain. There has been discomfort in chasing this dream. Things I didn’t want to do, processes I didn’t want to figure out, activities that I didn’t feel were my strong suit and the feeling that others could do it better.
If we want to be authentic and brave there will be times of pushing through the weakness to hit the goal. There are going to be moments of discomfort. Pain serves a purpose. It shouts to us that something needs attention. Should we stop or push through? The answer isn’t always easy.
I’m no doctor, so we’re not going to talk about my hip pain when running, but here are several areas in life that we may sometimes feel pain and some thoughts on stopping or pushing through.
Goals or Dreams. In my case, aspects of starting a business that involve numbers and legal jargon feels overwhelming and makes me want to throw my hands in the air. Maybe the digital marketing that everyone seems to be doing and making look easy is totally lost to you. Or maybe you need outside accountability and encouragement to hit that next goal. As humans we’re just wired to take the easiest route, but we all know to get what we want out of life is going to take some hard work. Pay attention to those areas that are difficult to navigate and consider if its time to hire some help, take a class or workshop (there’s no shortage of those in the online world), or just continue to push through. There may be times when a “dream” actually ends up looking a little different than we initially thought, so don’t be afraid to make those left turns you didn’t expect. It might not be stopping, but changing course.
Home. Is your home stressing you out? Does it just not feel right? Before embarking on some retail therapy or deciding to remodel or paint or even move, one of my favorite things to do is to clear some clutter. Many times we do not consciously realize that the clutter in our homes is stressing us out, but it does. Its been proven that visual clutter adds to stress. I would also argue that known clutter adds to stress as well. Out of sight out of mind does not always work with our messes. Often in my mind there’s always that nagging thought that I need to clean out that closet or get to that kid’s room ASAP. Closing the door did not close it out in my mind.
Work. Are you in a job that you’re struggling to find joy and meaning in? Sometimes we stick with a job that isn’t our dream so that we can work on our dreams in the after hours. Not all of us are going to get paid to follow our passions, but seeing the bigger picture sometimes allows us to find the meaning in a job that isn’t the greatest. Sometimes the pain we feel in a job is signaling that its time to move on. This is one of those situations when wise friends and mentors can help to talk though whether its time to move on or help you see reasons to continue with it.
Schedule. Are you stressed out, overwhelmed, overbooked, and constantly on the go? We try to be everything to everyone and everywhere all the time. For me, the pain I felt from my schedule was because I was always committing to things that were not a high priority for me, which meant the things that mattered most to me, were being pushed back and not getting the time they needed and deserved. Simplifying our schedules is one of the quickest, but certainly not the most painless ways to create a little margin in our days and in our lives.
Decluttering. Sometimes we do a little here and a little there, but we end up more frustrated at seeing such slow progress than the freedom that so many minimalists proclaim. Sometimes we feel pain during decluttering because of attachments to items that we know its time to let go of. If you’re feeling frustration in decluttering consider a new method, ask a friend to help go through more difficult, sentimental areas, or just declare a break from decluttering and spend sometime doing things you enjoy with people you love
Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is only through labor and painful effort by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”
The realization I had when I was running is nothing new and I hope helpful to you as it was to me, to consider pain and discomfort as not necessarily a time to stop, but a time to consider the situation and determine our next steps.