Ahh, the great reflection time of a brand new year. Hopefully we’ve all had some time to think a little about what we want more of and what we want less of in 2019. When I took some time to reflect, I found that I was basically hunkered down in a cave. And not, like, a cute metaphorical Hygge cave, where I was resting and recharging with cozy socks, a blazing fire, and a mug of hot chocolate. It honestly felt more like a survival bunker.
Let me explain.
When we are a little too comfortable in our lives, I picture it being like a cave. A safe, quiet place with clearly defined walls, a means of entrance and egress, dressers and shelves for all our stuff; no undiscovered, surprise areas. Sure, it’s not always the warmest and there’s no natural light, but it’s okay. It’s solid, it’s shelter, there’s food and Netflix, and it might be more than most people have.
And I am grateful for the cave. For the shelter it provides and the food it keeps fresh. But…it’s still a cave. A lovely cave, but still a cave. A functioning cave but, again, still a cave. Sure, it’s possible to hang out here for a while, but I don’t think anyone wants to live in a cave forever.
Caves serve a purpose.
You may have just gotten yourself out from an emotional time, or a big upheaval. This is when caves feel amazing. They are sturdy and safe, and once the furniture is just where you want it, you start thinking, “This place isn’t half bad. Why don’t I just stay here?” You don’t. Relax. Enjoy the cave. I certainly did. I slept well, I ate well, I read and did yoga. As far as caves go, this one was top notch.
The thing is while it’s not inherently bad to stay in the cave, but you can no longer plead ignorance as to how you got there. It’s officially your choice. You hold the agency, and you are exercising it to stay in this cave. You decide on the circumstances that surround you, and you have decided that they are going to be this cave.
So, what happens when the cave starts to feel maybe a little too dark or small?
I’ve been in plenty of caves and I’ve overstayed my welcome. (Side note: I’m also a Cancer. Caves are a lot like shells; hunkering down until we are forced to leave is something I’m great at.)
We stay because the pain of staying is less than the pain of leaving. Even though we are starting to be mildly unhappy or uncomfortable, it’s still nowhere near the turmoil that might erupt from venturing out into the world. Now we can no longer wonder why things are only…fine. The great mystery has been solved.
So, what happens now? Do we leave or stay in the cave?
If you are ready to leave the cave, but have no idea what to do next. There’s a very simple way to answer this question: What would someone you admire do next? What would Cameron do next? What would the person you want to be do next? What would the 2019 version of yourself do? What would you do if you knew everything would work out perfectly?
What’s the first answer that came to your mind? Do that.
Don’t argue with it. Don’t ask if there’s a better answer. Don’t second-guess or start or poke holes in it. Just believe it, and then do it. Chances are it’s something you already know. Or maybe it’s not, but it feels too easy. Or, maybe it’s something that sounds easy, but feels hard. Whatever the case may be, do the thing.
If you’re afraid of what people will think, that’s okay. Be afraid. But do the thing while you’re feeling afraid. Yes, you can be afraid and take bold action. No, they are not mutually exclusive. It’s okay. You can do it. Just pull the band aid off. You’re really that strong. You will be fine.
If there are always going to be a lot of eyes on you, you might as well put on a good show. If you think people will notice you’ve started making decisions in a totally different way, they might. They also might not. People are funny like that. We can know them so well, and not know them at all. They might have a lot going on and not notice for weeks. They might be watching everything you do because they can’t handle looking at their own lives. Either way, these things have nothing to do with you and how you live your life.
All this is to say: If you know you don’t want to be where you are anymore, do something.
Even if it’s not the perfect action. Especially if it’s not the perfect action. If you’re not afraid of doing things wrong, you can do whatever you want.
Let’s say that one more time: If you’re not afraid of doing things wrong, you can do whatever you want.
If you truly don’t know what to do next, stay where you are. Stay in the cave. The answer will come soon enough. If you know what you need to do next, but are scared, I hear you. I see you. I know how much bravery is required to pull it off.
But, I also know you are already brave enough to do this. And not only just do this, but do it well, do it fast, and do it in a way where there are only good things on the other side.
Wherever you are, it’s all good.
Cave or no cave: put on a good show in 2019. We all love a good hero story. We love seeing a woman make her life amazing. So it’s really a win-win-win. You see how tough you are, everyone around you sees how tough you are, and you get to live an awesome life.
See? Win-win-win. That’s the plan for 2019.
What’s YOUR plan for 2019? Learn how to eliminate regrets and take positive action. Plus, why does Grad School always seem like the best answer? Sometimes, the more you seek, the less you will find.
SARA KRAVITZ helps women find jobs they actually like. She is a career coach, author, and speaker who helps helps people understand (but, like, really understand) that this doesn’t have to be life. You can climb out of every hole. It might be awkward and uncomfortable at times (in fact, you can probably guarantee it will be), but there’s always a solution. (Even for you.)
You can download her international, bestselling book, Just Tell Me What I Want, for free here.