I sat listening intently to my friend…
He uttered the words, “I will never forget the experience of being fired. I was thirty-six years old, with a wife and two small children.” After taking a deep breath, he continued.
“After telling my wife, we sat on the bed, cried a little, and realized there was no way out. But looking back today, I can see the jolt of that experience was the best thing that could have ever happened.”
I injected a question as he paused to reflect. “And why was that?” He then continued, “Shortly afterward, we began the greatest journey of change we had every experienced – because I had a wall. I had no other choice. There was only one answer – change or die.”
Perhaps you’ve hit your wall. I know that I have on more than one occasion.
Maybe you have been fired, divorced, filed bankruptcy or had a close call with death. If your life has been completely turned upside down and you’re at the end of your rope – then you have it easy.
That’s right – you have it easy!
As I listened to my friend, I was reminded that the most difficult aspect of changing your life is beginning — taking the first step. My observation has been that most people take the easy way out. They rationalize their options – anything to keep from changing. What most of us do not realize is if you hit the wall and have no other options, then your decision is already made. You’ve decided, and you’re on the way up!
But if you haven’t quite hit bottom yet and been jolted into reality, the choice is going to be much tougher. Your arguments might sound like this:
Sure I am frustrated with my job, but at least it’s a pay check, and lots of people are out of work right now.
I’m not really drinking that much, and after all, I could quit just about anytime.
Oh, I dreamed about a different life when I was younger, but it’s not really something that is realistic for me to pursue now.
I could advance faster if I got my college degree, but I work all day, so why should I spend my evenings going to class?
I could go on and on. I acknowledge that I don’t know your particular frustration, but I’m sure that you can come up with a million excuses for why you’ve never begun your journey to change. You haven’t hit your particular wall, so your life could easily go on for years or maybe your whole life. Perhaps what you don’t realize is that you’ve traded your dreams for a shallow, empty copy of what might have been.
The truth is, as long as we see any other way out, very few of us will muster the will to make real change – no matter how promising. But the good news is, hitting a wall can be our ticket for freedom because it forces us to change course and to do it now!
Several years ago, one of my friends thought he was doing fine until doctors discovered he had developed cancer of the esophagus. He had been a chain smoker for years. His treatment and recovery forced him to leave his business and literally took him out of everything for more than four years. Thinking his career was over, he nearly gave up.
But hitting the wall jolted him. The experience completely changed his perspective on life. As a result, he’s changed his thinking about his purpose for living and guess what? His cancer even went into remission, he went back to work and is still doing so.
Whatever your wall – getting fired, losing your home, receiving a dreaded medical diagnosis, forced to close your business, bankruptcy, divorce – it does not have to be the end. As terrible as the wall may be, you can overcome it if you use the moment to “jolt you back to reality.”
However, this one thing you must keep in mind at all times. You have to face the fact that circumstances won’t change until you change. Family members won’t change until you change. Your job won’t change until you change. And your future will never change until you make a decision.
Someone reading this column may be wondering why I decided to write on this topic. After all the subject is a bit depressing. The brief explanation is because I too was recently confronted with one of the “walls of life” in the form of a medical diagnosis. I was told that I had the dreaded “C” word – as in cancer.
Was I happy about the discovery in my body? Absolutely not. However, I am embracing the wall. I am facing the truth about my situation. I’m focusing my mind on the desired end results. Daily, I seek to find the joy in this another jolt in life.
In closing, when the jolts of life raise their ugly head and you hit the wall, perhaps for a second or third time, the big question is:
Would you rather live with the pain of tough choices now or the pain of regret later? The decision is yours, my friend.
Until next time…
Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 35 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years and is currently a member of the Lynnwood Civil Service Commission. Loren works as a consultant, writer, speaker and trainer. He is currently a member of the Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation.