Standing still is harder than stepping forward

It’s harder to stand still than to walk. Art galleries and museums are so tiring because of the standing, occasional walking, then more standing.

  • Standing is not resting – when standing “still” you’re actually swaying back and forth using your ankle as the pivot point.
  • The demand on a few muscles is high whereas walking engages a lot more muscles – spreading out the fatigue.
  • Between strides you can rest some muscles – you’re on one foot at a time.
  • Blood flow is fresher when you walk – transporting more oxygen and nutrients.

It’s the same in life. Many think it’s easier to stand still, they might be scared of moving or don’t know where they would be going, so they try and standstill. They put a lot of effort into standing still.  

People hunker down and try to maintain their position. What they forget is that others are moving around them – skills are changing, technology is developing, people are joining and leaving the workforce, processes and systems are improving. 

Once you realise you have to move, it’s natural to ask yourself “where to?” But, this isn’t a taxi ride. You don’t need to be ready immediately when asked ‘where to mate?’ If you make a snap response it will probably be wrong or habitual. Most people need a bit of time to work it out. 

The main issue with the ‘where to?’ question in mid-life is that it’s fundamentally the wrong question. It focuses on the wrong thing. In mid-life, the journey is to become more of me – not someone else. So, the question needs to be about who rather than where. Who am I now? Who am I becoming? 

Who questions are bigger, they need new ‘knowing’, your old knowing isn’t enough. You need to discover rather than decide or explore.

  • Deciding is to choose, especially after thinking carefully about several known options.
  • Exploring is to search, think or talk about something in order to find out more about it
  • Discovering is to find new information, a place, or an object. It is about uncovering something that is there but unknown or unseen.

Discovering is definitely not a spectator sport. Discovering begins with being open – open to new experiences, new possibilities, new horizons, new noticing. There is a wealth of evidence that people who are more open-minded to new experiences are more successful, perform better and are more able to adapt to unforeseen life events. 

Bored in his work, Daniel realised he needed something to change – so he decided to say yes to every opportunity that presented itself over the next few weeks. And he did. Socially and professionally. He said yes to joining a local networking group, to a canoeing weekend, to a public speaking course, to becoming a mentor, to joining a quiz team – none of which he had done before.

He liked some more than others. Some were nerve-wracking. Some he wished he’d done them before. Whatever his reaction, they all taught him something useful. 

The uncomfortable truth is that standing still is not possible. The world around you are moving, so standing still isn’t really an option even if you wanted it to be. You are already changing – you may have been for some time – you can’t reverse.

You could wait and see if you discover what you need by accident – but there are no guarantees. You could step on to the pitch with an open mind and an open heart.

You could pay attention to what is going on for you and within you. You could take the time to discover your sources of meaning. You could pay attention to your purpose and what you want from the rest of your life. You could try new things and see what you dis-cover. 

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