Even when we’re completely fed up with our current situation and have made the decision to move on, it can be difficult to walk away when the next step isn’t clearly visible. Put another way, we fear letting go of the vine we’re swinging on until the next vine is within our reach, or even securely in our grasp.
This can pose a challenge because sometimes the ONLY way to reach the next vine is to let go of the current one and take a leap of faith.
Whether a relationship, a career transition or another life change, it’s usually pretty tough to both stay where you are and also be fully present in the next place. In fact, it’s impossible.
Security is a value that’s well-ingrained in us from our caveman days. If we left the safety of our shelter without being sure the tigers were elsewhere, we ran the risk of death. Our survival instinct is just as strong today. It’s not that we want our cake and to eat it, too. Rather, we want to KNOW for certain the next step is the RIGHT one before we give up what we have, even when we KNOW that what we have is wrong (the “something is better than nothing” philosophy).
So, we stay in failing relationships because we worry about being alone. We linger in jobs that cause extreme stress because we fear not being able to attain another position. The problem? By staying in a situation that is well past its prime, we usually end up hurting ourselves and possibly others.
While scary, once we’ve determined our current path is no longer the right one, it’s best to move on, even if the next vine isn’t in sight. The time to leave your marriage is not after developing feelings for another and the way to quit your job is not by getting so angry that you storm out. At this point, we’ve waited too long to exit the situation gracefully, and have possibly missed out on other opportunities.
Consider these ideas when faced with making a leap of faith:
– Rely upon your past experience and the many instances where you’ve made successful transitions before. Although they may not have been identical, you can engage these same skills to help you make decisions and get through the current transition.
– Remember, it’s impossible to get to “great” if you’re too seduced by “good.” Another amazing feature of the human brain is our ability to rationalize. We can build a logical case for any argument. While being impulsive is rarely smart, wisdom lies in the ability to recognize when fear (vs. practicalities) are holding us back. If you utter, “Well, it’s better than nothing”, it’s time to leap!
– Realize that you can’t be in two places at once, at least not successfully. If you’re unable to let go of the past, a better situation may pass you by. While you may feel grief in letting go of the past, keep in mind that this emptiness is the space you need for something new to come fill you up.
– Engage support. Consult with a mentor, therapist or coach who can objectively ask questions that enable you to get “unstuck.”
So, what vines are you hanging onto? If you know your current situation is no longer right, can you take a leap of faith and reach for the next vine, even if it’s not fully visible?