Bring Back the Excitement

images cat picture


Our family took Miles to the groomer at the pet store the other night. While the she struggled with a squirmy pug, we decided that we should walk around and shop. We picked up cat food for Biscuit and Joey and proceeded to check out the cat toys. My son wanted to buy catnip but I reminded him that we have the only cats on the planet that don’t have any interest in this substance. In the past, they’ve just sniffed it and walked away, disinterested.


And then we spotted it. It was a long stick with some feathers, bright shiny tinsel and a bell on the end. Although it had been a long time since I had seen our older cats play, I decided to take a risk and make the purchase. I was curious as to whether they would show any interest in this toy.


When I got home, I brought out the cat toy and called the boys. They came running in and immediately had interest in the new addition to their house. Before long, they were jumping, standing on two feet, and running around the room. I hadn’t seen them this excited in a long, long time.


In fact, the toy caused so much excitement in the house that I eventually had to put it away in a drawer for the night. They just wouldn’t stop attacking the toy, which in turn, revved up the dog beyond our tolerable limit.


The next day, I remembered that the toy was in the drawer, so I took it out to play. The cats came running and a replay of the night before ensued. In fact, they knew the sound of the toy and were present within seconds of me touching it. It kept their interest much longer than my interest in continuing the playtime. This time, however, I left the toy on the ground and walked out of the room.


The day after that, I spotted the toy and picked it up. I called the cats to play, but it took quite some time for them to arrive. I tried to engage them in play but it was a lethargic game, at best. Apparently, the toy was yesterday’s news.


By now, I bet you’re wondering why I’m sharing this story with you. What does a cat toy have anything to do with life? Well, you know how excited you are when you start something new? You know that feeling you have when you start a new job, create your own business, or begin a new relationship? It’s all novel, exciting and fresh. Life is easy because you’re full of energy and stoked about your new venture. After a while, however, reality sets in. The newness wears off and you fall into your routine.


This is the pivotal moment that separates the resilient from the less resilient; possessing the ability to hang in there and not give up or move on to something new and easier. This is a crucial step in finding your desired success. It’s also when you have the opportunity to truly gain and learn the most.


Making it through this period, past the initial shininess, enables you to build confidence for future endeavors in your life.


Overcoming the Mountain of Life

image ski


Today, I’m making my way back to the states from British Columbia.  My family had a great time skiing at Whistler Blackcomb Resort and I’m thoroughly exhausted. We spent four days up on the slopes, enjoying the non-stop snow and the fabulous food. On the last day, it dawned on me that skiing is a perfect metaphor for successfully navigating your life.


In the afternoon, we had a late lunch up on the mountain and then made our way outside to enjoy the last couple hours.  Wanting to take advantage of every last minute of skiing, we caught the chairlift for the very last run of the day. Suddenly, as we began our descent, a thick fog moved over the mountain. The fog coupled with my exhaustion was not a good combination.


My legs felt like jelly as I tried to keep up with my family.  It began to take all my energy just to stay upright on my skis. On a steep slope, I lost my footing and quickly went down.  I took the opportunity to remove my goggles, hoping it would improve my vision.  My visibility was almost non-existent— I could barely make out my husband and son halfway down the hill.


I could no longer see each hill— how steep it was as I made my way down, where the turn was, or where the obstacles were in the snow beneath me.  The fog was so thick that we couldn’t even see the signs that showed us the way back to the village.  At one point, we stood at the edge of the mountain having a deep discussion as to which way to go next.


My son insisted that we go straight while I wanted to follow the path to the right. I peered over the area that he pointed to but the fog was so intense that I couldn’t see a thing.    For all I knew, it wasn’t a route but the edge of the mountain.  Feeling a total loss of control, I knew that even the green run (the easiest run) would be difficult and absolutely terrifying.  Finally, we spotted another skier that seemed to know the mountain.  We asked his opinion about whether we should go straight and he informed us that it would be a mistake— it was a difficult black run.


Instead of panicking, I tried to keep my mind present and just focus on each movement I took. I would concentrate on the rhythm of the skis, back and forth.  Focusing on the present and continuing to work toward my goal enabled me to feel a sense of calm about the situation.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy as when I heard the sounds of the village and I realized that we had made it back.


Your career and personal life can often be quite similar to my experience on the mountain: you might not always be able to see where life is going to lead you.  No matter how careful, cautious and diligent you are, you can’t always anticipate each twist and turn, each obstacle in your path and each time you will fall to the ground. There will be times when you will feel panic setting in and a complete loss of control— however, it will serve you best to stay in the present, trust your instincts and just keep focusing on your goals for the future.


All you can do is keep putting one ski in front of the other and make your way down the mountain.





Knowing When to Fold

I was listening to a friend talk about her career the other day.  She told me that she was content in her first job right out of college when she decided to make the leap to a new position.  Within the first two weeks, she knew that she had made a huge mistake in this move.  Despite this realization, she stayed for another 4 years at this company. Why did she stay? She told herself that she needed to persevere and keep trying harder.


If you want to be a success in life, you need to try harder. You need to be inspired to push more.  You need to hold on tighter and never let go.  Just keep pushing yourself and keep trudging forward in your goal. I’ve read countless books, articles, and motivational sites that push this concept.


Is this truly the answer to finding success?


Not always.  Sometimes the right thing to do is to fold your cards and reassess your place in life. Take a step back and get in touch with your honest self.  As for my friend, she realizes now that she was trying to make something work that was never going to work.  She felt that quitting after one workweek showed weakness and that the strong thing to do, the right thing to do, was to persevere.


This really resonated with me.  I’m the queen of motivation and pushing forward in life.  That’s wonderful in most situations, but I can think of a few instances where it didn’t quite benefit me.  For example, there was the time I stayed at a certain job that was so incredibly wrong for me that it was obvious to everyone but me.  I fought the urge daily, thinking that it actually made me a stronger person to fight this urge.  I believed that I would persevere and rise above as the winner.


I didn’t. It was a romantic thought but definitely not based in reality. I wasn’t listening to my honest self. If I had listened to my honest self, it would have been screaming back at me to “exit as quickly as possible”.


This doesn’t only happen in your career. This happens in your friendships. At some point in your life, you will hold on to a friendship that is way past its expiration date.  At some point, you will realize that the friendship is imbalanced and not functioning well. Despite this fact, you will try harder and harder to make it work. You will take on more responsibility than you should and try desperately to breathe life into something that needs to be let go.  You will convince yourself that the right thing to do is to try harder, because that’s what strong people do. That’s what motivated, successful people do.


You’re wrong.


I don’t even want to get into intimate relationships.  I’m sure that you’ve had the experience where you’re working much harder than your significant other to build the relationship. You probably convinced yourself that it’s the honorable, right thing to do.  It shows strength and reveals your character.


You might be wrong again.


What I’m trying to say is that having perseverance is a respectable trait. Being strong and refusing to back down to your competition is admirable. However, there are going to be certain times in your life that it really doesn’t apply.  It calls for you to stop battling and take a step back.  Dig down deep inside and check in with YOU. Maybe the best thing for you to do is cut your losses and move on.


Sometimes it shows even more strength and success if you just walk away.