You’ve heard the story of the frog that got boiled alive in a pot it could have escaped from, but failed to take action in time because the temperature rose so very slowly. At any point, the difference in the situation was never dramatic enough to create a sense of urgency. Yet over time it became great enough to turn fatal.
Life often presents us with similar “slow challenges.” It may be gradual deterioration in the quality of a relationship, or an ounce-by-ounce weight gain, or a slow obsolescence of our workplace skills. Whatever it is, we let it creep up on us. At no one distinct point is there a sudden change, an abrupt alteration that can serve as a bugle call for our emotions.
Solution? First step is awareness. Journaling, goal setting, daily and weekly reviews, personal accountability sessions: these all help. Reviewing your journal can be powerful in detecting patterns. Having a friend who is your coach, cheerleader, and sounding board (and you do the same in return) can be a significant source of feedback. Pick someone who shares your desire to have a meaningful life, a life lived on purpose.
The next step is to use your awareness to arouse yourself to action. To know and not do is to not know. Intellectual knowledge is not enough, there must be the motivation to take effective action. As a nation, we all know we need to eat less, spend less, invest more, exercise more. But do we? I find that visualization helps me create the motivation I need to take action.
Again, self-knowledge is important. It helps to know your own hot buttons. For me, avoiding being or acting “stupid” is tremendously motivational. If I picture myself in vivid detail doing something “stupid,” it helps generate a strong motivation to avoid that behavior, especially if I keep the tape rolling and visualize the consequences.
So when I find myself facing a slowly developing challenge, I imagine being a frog in a slow boiling pot and resolve to not be that mindless amphibian. “Don’t be a frog!” is my internal vow.